Wednesday, December 26, 2007
You are given the power to kill people simply by thinking of their deaths and twice repeating the word "good-bye." People would die a natural death and no one would suspect you. Are there any situations in which you would use this power?"
-book of questions, #11
Sunday, December 16, 2007
The teachings of Jesus continually call us stoop down, or perhaps recognize that we are already stooped, and look into the eyes of the oppressed, marginalized, exploited, hurting, and ravished. The theme of the New Testament? "Become a servant to all". We are constantly called to give up our right to ourselves for the benefit of the other. To defend the cause of the widow and the orphan. To reveal the corruption which attempts to hide from us while controlling us. Love God, Love Others, again and again and again.
The year started out with a bang. Everyone was hyped up. The message seemed new and distinct from the Christianity we've heard for the last 200 years in America. But now is a call to action. A call to spit in the face of our own excuses for not caring for the poor, befriending the friendless, encouraging the disheartened.
This takes time, energy, resources, and forces us outside of our comfort zone. So today, as i spoke about the third week of Advent, of how Jesus caused the blind to see, the deaf to hear, the lame to walk, cured the leper, raised the dead, and proclaimed good news to the poor...i wondered, "Are they getting tired of this yet?"
Then i passed around the sign up list for volunteers to help distribute 5000 lbs of food, and over half the congregation signed up.
Lord, help us to not grow weary in doing good.
Saturday, December 08, 2007
Sunday, November 25, 2007
Kinda like "name dropping", it just reflects poorly. It isn't any different when you name drop, oh say... "Jehovah".
i found myself in a very awkward position the other day when a friend arrived at a gathering and started doing this spiritual, name dropping talk. We were mixed with people from all different belief systems whom i try as hard as possible just to be normal around, especially since it's already awkward enough for them that i'm a "pastor". That alone makes people wonder what you think about them.
So when the conversation started turning toward God's divine intervention concerning a job, i began to squirm, because it just sounded, well, loony. i could tell the person was trying very hard to be "a witness" and not to be "ashamed" of their faith, but i was all shades of embarrassed and wanted to go hide under the couch.
Being socially awkward doesn't make for a good "witness". Talking about the voices in your head also is a bit deterring. Let's practice being normal, nice, empathetic, compassionate, good listeners, helpful, loving, available, supportive, encouraging, and level headed. These are attractive behaviors.
The best thing to be is yourself. i learned this lesson from a "They Might Be Giants" song once. Check it out:
Saturday, November 24, 2007
Let's be careful not to make Christianity into the latest fad or technique. No, it doesn't tell us which herbs to use as medical cures, or who will be president in 2040, or how to pray for specific molecules of the body to bring about divine healing, or why Evangelicals should support anything and everything Israel does, or who the anti-Christ is, or what stocks to choose, movies to watch or music to listen to, candidates to vote for, or any other pet item on our agenda. It does not serve us, but calls us to serve others.
Making a fad or gimmick out of Christianity strikes me like a forwarded e-mail from Microsoft.
Wednesday, November 14, 2007
Thursday, November 08, 2007
i hold no ill will against Pat. But do let me say, i've always openly rejected him as my spokesperson or Jesus' for that matter (and i've got the blogs to prove it).
i do think this is one of the funniest shows since Seinfeld.
Pat Robertson's endorsement of Rudy Giuliani for president is simply astonishing. Robertson - the television preacher who founded the 700 Club and once ran for president himself - has made opposition to abortion and same sex marriage his political north star and has been a relentless champion of traditional marriage and family values.
Remember Robertson's merciless attacks on President Bill Clinton's lapses of sexual morality with Monica Lewinsky? Or his comments about how the 9/11 attacks were the result of America's tolerance for homosexuals and abortion?
Now Robertson is for Rudy, a thrice married adulterous husband, who is estranged from his own children and is both pro-choice and pro-gay rights. According to Pat Robertson's twisted moral logic, forgiving the social conservative shortcomings of Republicans is a Christian virtue, so long as the same virtue is never applied to Democrats. But Pat thinks Rudy can beat Hillary, and Pat really cares about winning for the Republicans.
What exactly goes on in Pat Robertson's head has puzzled many of us for a long time. This endorsement ranks as one of the most unprincipled in recent political memory. Maybe principles never mattered much to Pat Robertson after all. Perhaps the pro-business economic conservatism of the Republican Party was always more important to the televangelist than saving unborn lives. Robertson's longstanding support of murderous Liberian dictator Charles Taylor and his diamond investments thanks to Zairian dictator Mobutu Sese Seko speak louder than words when it comes to Robertson's ethic of life. And that's not to mention the more than $400 million Robertson's empire made when he sold his International Family Network to Rupert Murdoch, after building it on tax deductible contributions of thousands of CBN donors, many of modest means. He has been putting profits over principles for years.
Richard Land, spokesman for the Southern Baptist Convention, has taken a more consistent position. Land has clearly said that he won't support Giuliani if he becomes the Republican nominee, explaining in a recent Newsweek interview, "I'm not willing or able to violate my moral conscience. It would be like asking an African American to choose between Strom Thurmond and George Wallace, or asking Abe Lincoln to vote for a pro-slavery candidate. I personally can't do it." Land predicts that many social conservatives will just sit out this election if the Republicans decide to run Rudy. That's called standing for principle.
Pat Robertson clearly has taken another position. His endorsement of Rudy Giuliani will seem to many to be unprincipled hypocrisy.
Tuesday, November 06, 2007
The problem: No relationship. True social justice occurs when people become equal and enter into relationship with others. This is the same for true "ministry". Here's a good summary of what's happening:
Faith-based nonprofits can too easily be the mirror image of secular organizations, maintaining the same hierarchies of power and separation between rich and poor. They can too easily merely facilitate the exchange of goods and services, putting plenty of professionals in the middle to guarantee that the rich do not have to face the poor and that power does not shift. Rich and poor are kept in separate worlds, and inequality is carefully managed but not dismantled.
When the church becomes a place of brokerage rather than an organic community, she ceases to be alive. She ceases to be something we are, the living bride of Christ. The church becomes a distribution center, a place where the poor come to get stuff and the rich come to dump stuff. Both go away satisfied (the rich feel good, the poor get clothed and fed), but no one leaves transformed.
Shane Claiborne, The Irresistible Revolution
Sunday, November 04, 2007
Friday, November 02, 2007
One year ago, I worked with Richard Land of the Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Commission and others to create Evangelicals for Darfur – an effort to bring evangelicals from across the spectrum together to urge President Bush to take strong action to stop the genocide in Darfur. We ran a national ad campaign and met on several occasions with high White House Africa staff. I wrote that they " assured us of the president's commitment on this issue, and readily agreed that much more needs to be done."
It's a year later, and not much has changed. Ceasefires are announced and then violated, peace talks between the Sudanese government and rebel groups begin and end, U.N. resolutions are passed – but the terror, rapes, and killing goon.
This week, Michael Abramowitz of The Washington Post wrote a long piece on how the U.S. Promises on Darfur Don't Match Actions. His conclusion?
Many of those who have tracked the conflict over the years, including some in his own administration, say Bush has not matched his words with action, allowing initiatives to drop because of inertia or failure to follow up, while proving unable to mobilize either his bureaucracy or the international community.
He documents that, despite the president's strong passion, internal problems of a turnover of top administration staff on Darfur, covert and overt opposition by officials throughout the bureaucracy, and a lack of follow-through on decisions made have prevented stronger action.
Three international factors have also played a role:
Bush has complained privately that his hands are tied on Darfur because, with the U.S. involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan, he cannot be seen as "invading another Muslim country."
Some U.S. officials saw another reason for the reluctance to get involved: preserving a burgeoning intelligence relationship with Khartoum, which had begun sharing critical information about al-Qaeda and other Islamic extremists.
The Sudanese government has resisted cooperation at every step in the saga and has been shielded at the United Nations by China, its main international protector.
The biblical injunction we cited in our ad last year still calls us to "rescue those being led away to death." (Proverbs 24:11) The president should put his faith and commitment into action by demanding that the people who work for him stand up to China, press for strong and effective sanctions, and prioritize lives over intelligence information.
Thursday, November 01, 2007
i find that a lot of Christians confuse Capitalism with Christianity. Both words begin with "C" but shouldn't be considered synonyms. In Christianity we see Christ giving all he has for those who didn't even realize they had a need. We then are called to help meet the needs of others whenever possible, in-as-much as it is truly beneficial for them and we have the capability. Capitalism on the other hand gives only out of necessity, to pay its workers only what it needs to make a profit. Profit is the bottom line, while giving is incidental and only done as absolutely necessary to generate profit. Therefore, giving is motivated by greed, which is the fuel of capitalism. It is the best system to date.
My father-in-law says we need to separate the responsibility of the church and the government (which means cut taxes for big business). i agree to an extent, in that we should never fail in our own personal obligations to carry out this task. Yet Scripture records God as judging nations that failed to care adequately for it's people, and sometimes for failing to care for other nations. My question to him was, "When have you ever seen God judge a nation for taking care of it's poor, marginalized, or exploited?"
We can argue all day about whether it's the governments obligation to care for the basic needs of it's people, but you'll be hard pressed to present a case that suggests God would be displeased by it.
Friday, October 26, 2007
Thursday, October 25, 2007
Within the thoughts of Scripture are often found dichotomies. This was never a problem in Ancient Near Eastern [ANE] thought which maintained that humanity had limited understanding. To the Western mind though, this is shear nonsense or worse...contradiction. Proverbs 26 reads as follows:
So which is it? The ANE mind says: Yes.
So it is with grace and works. It is only by grace that we are saved. We are all fallen, broken, and relatively self-centered. As much as we make progress in overcoming such a state of being, we will always remain in some way all of the above. By grace alone then, we are restored to relationship with God.
At the same time we learn that faith without works is dead. We read in Mt 25 that in as much as we fail to do onto the least of humanity, we have failed to serve Christ, and he bids us depart from him and his kingdom. In 2 Timothy we are told to run the race to the finish, and that it is a struggle. The idea is that we might give up the struggle and forfeit the race.
What is it then, grace or works? The answer cannot be works, so it is Grace. Yet grace apart from works? No. Somehow the two cannot be fully separated.
Again, the dichotomy.
Tuesday, October 16, 2007
Something about it frustrated me. It's not that i don't believe in sin, but what is it? Today i spent a number of hours talking with a friend who was the king of metaphors and slang. A number of times i had to say, "Could you give me a concrete example?"
What is sin?
i understand sin to be a lack of love. It is a departure from the Jesus Creed: Love God & Others. In this case, we are all "sinners". In fact, you'll find many in the Church who actually seem guilty to a greater extent than those they call "unbelievers". i think we need to level the playing field. We are all guilty of sin: Failure to love.
It is this failure to love that leads to broken relationships, from the home to international tensions. Yes, i think we need to repent. But let's not show "sinners" the way of "sin". Instead, let us actively reveal the pathways of love, by loving our neighbor as ourselves. Jesus does not call us to be revealer's of sin, but of love.
Sunday, October 14, 2007
Last evening I attended a reception and dinner in Washington for evangelical Christian leaders, which is not an unusual event here. But the topic and, especially, the main speaker would seem highly unusual to many. The event, called "A Global Leaders Forum," was hosted by the National Association of Evangelicals and the Micah Challenge, a global advocacy campaign focused on achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), which are aimed at cutting extreme global poverty in half by 2015. The topics that brought 250 evangelical leaders together from around the U.S. and world were indeed global poverty and the urgent issue of climate change. Both issues are now firmly on the agenda of the evangelical mainstream, as last night's impressive list of leaders demonstrated.
The speaker for the evening was none other than Ban-Ki Moon, the new secretary general of the United Nations, which is driving the MDG initiative. Growing up in the evangelical world, I remember the great debate about who was the real "Antichrist" as described in biblical prophecy--it was either the pope or the United Nations. As Washington Post writer Dana Milbanks noted this morning
In the wildly popular Left Behind series of evangelical Christian novels, the Antichrist takes the form of the secretary general of the United Nations, sets up an abortion-promoting world government and becomes the Global Community Supreme Potentate. Last night, the National Association of Evangelicals met for dinner at the Sheraton in Crystal City. The keynote speaker? Why, the Antichrist himself.
Last night, the supposed Antichrist was listening to gospel music, speaking of his own faith, quoting scripture, celebrating a new alliance with "the evangelical church" on the critical issues of poverty and global warming, and bringing the conservative Christian crowd to its feet in smiling agreement with the secretary's agenda.
Indeed, leader after leader insisted this was a biblical agenda. A prominent leader from the Religious Right came up to sit right next to me, and then engaged me in an amazing conversation about finding common ground. This dramatic shift in the public agenda of the evangelical community is affecting American politics in very significant ways and promises to change them, especially if the political labels of left and right slowly slip away and are replaced by a common commitment to focus on the key moral issues of our time. Those issues are now defined more broadly and deeply than before and include the plight of God's poorest children and the fragile state of God's creation.
Friday, October 12, 2007
Tuesday, October 09, 2007
It was a rehash of the old apologetic (defense of the Christian faith). Two problems: It held too many false dichotomies, and it used circular reasoning. Works great for tricking baby boomers who thrive on misguided scientific evidence. Not good in a postmodern world where empirical evidence is always suspect and somehow less convincing than personal experience.
First, the argument ran something like this: 'There are only two types of religion, those without a savior and those with a savior. Only Christianity has a savior and all other religions are based on a system of works'. Sounds good, but it is a false dichotomy. There are many religions and belief systems that don't see a need for either works or a savior, but simply enlightenment or moral responsibility. My guess is there are also other faith systems that do include a savior. Also, we can't forget that even in Christianity we declare that "Faith without works is dead". You can spin this any way you want, but in the end, works are necessary, even if it just reveals the validity of faith.
Second, you can't prove the Bible by using the Bible. Most of the seminar was taken up by showing how Old Testament prophecy was fulfilled by Jesus. What did they use to prove this? The New Testament. This is a circular argument because in order to believe these OT prophecies were fulfilled, you must hold an apriori belief that the NT is an unbiased, God inspired account of historical events. If you do not start with this presupposition then you will simply conclude this: 'A bunch of Jewish people who were very familiar with Jewish prophecy, penned an account that showed how Jesus fulfilled those prophecies. Since i believe the NT is a fabrication, i therefore do not buy the proof that these prophecies were actually fulfilled. End of argument.' (assumed argument of non-Christian, not my personal view)
The same idea goes when you start talking about Paul who was a Jewish persecutor of Christians and then converted. The argument goes like this: "Why would Paul, a persecutor of Christians, become a follower of Jesus and die for this cause?" Answer: "NT is True". This sounds like a convincing argument to a Christian, but not to a non-Christian who simply says: 'There was no Paul' or 'Paul just made that up to make his case sound stronger'. And then the Christian says, "No, it's all recorded here in the NT". And the non-Christian says, "You mean the book that i think is a fabrication?"
It's time for a new apologetic and i don't think it should be based on empirical "evidence". We can keep the old apologetic for NT theology classes. It is a great tool for the Christian faith, just a poor tool for proving the gospel.
Saturday, October 06, 2007
MadHatterDay is a holiday in October. It fills the need for a second crazy day in the year, almost exactly half a year from April Fools' Day. The real spirit of MadHatterDay is turnabout: The nonsense we usually have to pretend is sane can be called madness for one day in the year; the superficially crazy things that really make sense can be called sane on MadHatterDay.
MadHatterDay is 10/6. The date was chosen from the illustrations by John Tenniel in Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, wherein the Mad Hatter is always seen wearing a hat bearing a slip of paper with the notation "In this style 10/6". We take this as inspiration to behave in the style of the Mad Hatter on 10/6 (which is October 6 here, although in Britain MadHatterDay occurs on June 10...but I digress...) Some astute observers have noted that the paper in the Mad Hatter's Hat was really an order to make a hat in the style shown, to cost ten shillings sixpence. However, it is well known that Time Is Money, and therefore Money Is Time, and therefore 10/6 may as well be the sixth of October.
Learn more here!
WASHINGTON (AP) -- President Bush signaled a willingness Saturday to spend more than what he had recommended for a popular children's health program, but provided no specifics on how much higher he would go.
Dr. Gwen Wurm checks Christina Brownlee, 5, at the University of Miami Pediatric clinic on October 3.
The president on Wednesday vetoed legislation that would increase spending for the State Children's Health Insurance Program by $35 billion over five years. Bush has called for a $5 billion increase. Several Republicans in both chambers have sided with Democratic lawmakers on the issue.
"If putting poor children first takes a little more than the 20 percent increase I have proposed in my budget for SCHIP, I am willing to work with leaders in Congress to find the additional money," Bush said in his weekly radio address.
Democratic lawmakers say votes to override the president's veto will be held in mid-October. That effort is not expected to succeed.
The program provides health insurance to children in families with incomes too great for Medicaid eligibility but not enough to afford private insurance.
Bush used his radio address to once again make the case that he believes the spending increase sought primarily by Democrats is a step "toward their goal of government-run health care for every American."
"Government-run health care would deprive Americans of the choice and competition that comes from the private market," he said. "It would cause huge increases in government spending."
Wednesday, October 03, 2007
There is a chasm occurring in the Evangelical Christian ranks. Many of us are waking up to our Scriptural mandate to meet the needs of those in need. Through the prophets we witness God calling nations to account. Even non-believing nations. They are called to account for how they treat their marginalized citizens and for failing to care for the basic needs of their people.
Pastors, such as myself, in increasing numbers are teaching the full message of the Scriptures. That is, Love God and love others. We are teaching our congregations that there is no Christian political party. We are telling them that neither the left nor the right can continue to determine faith issues any longer (especially the right), because both have failed, focusing on only a couple of peripheral issues.
SCHIP is an issue that we hold dear to our hearts. Vetoing this will be the Christian equivalent to the 'shot that was heard round the world'. You would be supplying the bullet. The echo will reverberate off the walls of our sanctuaries.
I stand with Sojourners and a great multitude of Evangelical Christians in saying this:
The reauthorization of the State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) has overwhelming bipartisan support. I urge you to reconsider your position and sign this important legislation.
Rev. Keith J. Foisy
Saturday, September 22, 2007
I am a constituent and member of ONE, as well as a local pastor. I am writing so that you will consider supporting the Global Resources and Opportunities for Women to Thrive Act.
In many ways women are the backbone of our society and world. i never knew my biological father, and the guy i did call dad walked out when i was very young. It was my mother who supported and raised us. This is the story of many American and international children.
Women care about families and are willing to work hard to provide for them physically, emotionally, and spiritually. Let's give them all the support we can by sponsoring the GROWTH Act.
Thank you for considering this request, and i look forward to your response.
Rev. Keith J. Foisy
There are no Christian political parties, simply a need to pray for all who govern. In Romans 13 we learn that governments were meant to be God's servants. In Revelation 13 we learn that they are also able to serve the devil. Governments can be used for good or evil, so we are called to pray for them, and not just them, but all people, because God desires that all humanity be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth.
In 1 Timothy 2:1-7 we are called to pray for peace. It is when we seek peace, not war, that we are seeking godliness.
(Lectionary reading based on the Revised Common Lectionary)
Thursday, September 20, 2007
Saturday, September 15, 2007
Perhaps you wonder what i am talking about. You haven't heard of any modern day prophets. Perhaps you would more readily recognize them under their more common modern day name... "Heretics"
i had to laugh when CNN introduced Greg Boyd as "The Heretic" in their recent program "God's Warriors". i know Greg, and he's anything but. He has a prophetic gifting, and prophets have always been hated by the religious.
There is a movement that has been underway for nearly a decade, and it is gaining steam and bringing about change. Not without resistance of course. i want to give a shout out to these heretics (i mean prophets) for making us ask the tough questions and question the pat answers. Thanks for not shrinking back:
Greg Boyd, Brian McLaren, Tony Campolo, Doug Pagitt, Scot McKnight, Tony Jones, Spencer Burke, Leonard Sweet, Ann Lamott, Rob Bell, Jim Wallis, Phyllis Tickle, N.T. Wright and the countless others who are not nationally recognized but play the vital role of effecting their local communities!
They've all been called heretics, but what prophet hasn't? It's a title to wear with pride. And as a well respected professor once told me, "Orthodoxy = Mydoxy".
Take a moment to remember those who have died as martyrs for Christ, many at the hands of the Church.
Can you think of some names that need to be added to the list of contemporary prophets?
Wednesday, September 12, 2007
This got me thinking...
i wasn't sure i could disagree. Who is more of a Christian, the one who believes the right way or the one who lives according to the "Way"?
Perhaps i offer a false dichotomy. Maybe the solution is knitting the two together.
Even so, i began second guessing myself some months back when i shared a message from Matthew 25 where Jesus paints a picture of the final judgment. In this judgment scene the sheep are separated from the goats. What is the criteria? Not belief. Belief is never mentioned.
"For in as much as you gave a cup of water to one of the least of these, you did so onto me"
"For in as much as you did not give a cup of water to one of the least of these, you did not do it onto me"
The sheep are separated from the goats based on the failure or success of showing compassion onto others.
What is more important, believing the right way or living the way?
Tuesday, September 11, 2007
What is it they are saying? Are we listening?
Why was the World Trade Center attacked? What was the motive? Did we ever think to ask?
You can't barter with a fundamentalist. i know religion...it's my job. But you can gain insight into their perspectives. Understanding is the first step to bridging a gap.
"It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it." Aristotle
Sunday, September 09, 2007
The House passed its version of the bill on July 27, 2007. The Senate is to take up debate in the coming weeks. Kate Andrews is a Field Organizer for the One Campaign. You may remember the One Campaign from celebrities wearing white wrist bands. She is pictured speaking at The Ohio State University.
For those that are not familiar with the Farm Bill, it doesn't seem like it should be such an important issue to the majority of Americans. Although farmers are important to our country's economy and to our hard-working, rural roots, many of us don't see the impacts of the Farm Bill day-to-day - or so we think. Until I became involved with the ONE Campaign, I didn't think much of it. Now, I think about it on a daily basis along with my fellow members of the Farm Bill Working Group of Ohio which is a coalition of NGOs (Oxfam America, Sojourners, Bread for the World), local faith groups and individuals in Ohio that are working towards reform in the Farm Bill.
The Farm Bill is a very robust piece of legislation. In fact, many people would be surprised that it deals with 14 different subjects including subsidies, food stamps and conservation. Every five years the Farm Bill goes through a reauthorization process so if we don't take action now we have to wait another five years for the process to start again. During September, the Senate will be discussing the Farm Bill and we know that by building momentum in the blogosphere and throughout Ohio, the Senate will listen and take action for a better Farm Bill.
Although there are some great aspects of the Farm Bill, there are also many concerns. The Food Stamp Program, Rural Development and subsidies are just a few of the major concerns. For instance, many people have known for years that $3/Day in food stamps is not enough to provide healthy meals to those in need. In the case of rural development, a program which is drastically needed - it is also drastically under funded. The Farm Bill should work for more farmers that need the most help in the U.S. The current subsidies program not only benefits a very small portion of farmers (often big corporate farmers) but they also drive down the international price of many crops which forces many farmers around the world to sell their crop for less than it cost to produce it. The U.S. can and should develop alternative ways to support our farmers in ways that will not ruin the livelihood of international farmers trying to provide for their families and community.
You can help. The Farm Bill is not a conservative or liberal issue. It has an impact on everyone and our state should have a voice in the reform process. If you're a blogger, blog. If you are a teacher, teach. Use your talents and your connections to talk and write about the Farm Bill as much as you can so that others are educated and informed about the Farm Bill. Calling, writing and meeting with Senators Brown and Voinovich is also a great step in making sure our voices are heard in September. Take care and stay active!
- Katie Andrews
Wednesday, September 05, 2007
All the best stories incorporate sacrifice and redemption. This week i finished reading the Harry Potter series and rewatched the Matrix trilogy. Both had christological allusions of sacrifice. Check out this interview with J. K. Rowling, who ironically enough is a Christian and intentionally placed Christian themes into the storyline. i'll now also recommend "Pan's Labyrinth"
The sacrifice of the One is for the good of the whole. But the sacrifice has to be a willing one. Caiaphas says, "It is better that one should die for the people than have the whole nation destroyed". In saying this, Caiaphas was unwittingly prophesying Christ's redemptive death. What he really meant was, "It is better that we murder this one person, than have Rome destroy us all." Jesus, on a macro level, had already determined that it was better that one should give up his life for the good of the many.
There is no greater love than this, that a man should lay down his life for his friend.
How many ways are there to lay down our lives for our friends?
Wednesday, August 29, 2007
(from the introduction to the book of Amos in the Bible paraphrase The Message)
Check it Out: Is Nuclear Power the Answer?
"A day after one of the largest workplace immigration raids in Ohio, the Hispanic community in Cincinnati's suburbs was scrambling to track down missing family members and arrange care for children whose parents were caught up in the raid." *
These aren't dogs. We can't just lock them up, deport them, and pat ourselves on the back at the end of the day for a job well done. These are people who are trying to provide a better life for their kids. Kids who are now wondering where their parents are. Local law enforcement doesn't feel it is their responsibility to make sure these kids are o.k. i understand that laws are there for a purpose. That purpose is defeated when we don't consider the bigger picture or fail to treat human beings as such.
From a scriptural perspective i wonder God thinks of our treatment of the "stranger", "sojourner" or "alien". What would he think about our tearing families apart and creating orphans? Here's what Sheriff Jones thinks about it:
'Butler County Sheriff Richard K. Jones, known for his tough stance against illegal aliens and a longtime advocate for enforcement of immigration laws, said he was "pleased" by the results of the multijurisdictional law-enforcement initiative.
"This is what can happen when we all work together," Sheriff Jones said. "This is how the system should work. I fully expect that efforts like today's will continue. To those companies that employ illegal aliens, I say: 'Take heed. You could be next.' " *
i applaud the efforts of those churches that have become sanctuaries for the sojourner and aliens among us. Acting not simply in accordance with the law, but with the spirit of the law of God.
Perhaps we should let the Native Americans determine who the immigrants are and deport whoever doesn't 'belong'. i'd like to hear them determine the status of Sheriff Jones.
Tuesday, August 28, 2007
Thursday, August 23, 2007
i was so proud of my former pastor Greg Boyd. After showing all the Christian fundamentalists, they did a spot on Greg. It began with the caption "The Heretic". i couldn't have been prouder. Greg offered a sane voice to the conversation. He spoke of the first Iraq war, and how he cried when he saw thousands of Americans stand when the symbols of the American flag, three crosses, and fighter jets were all integrated. He said he realized that American Christianity had a deep problem when you can mix Jesus ("blessed are those who make peace) with machines of death and destruction and somehow think the two are meant to be merged.
Thank you Greg, for being a true prophet. They call you a heretic, but remember what God's people did to the prophets he sent to them.
Boyd clip from God's Warriors
Boyd's reflections on the clip
Wednesday, August 15, 2007
"What, the land of the free? Whoever told you that is your enemy"
The only problem was that i didn't know what to do about it. So i complained and began to question things like Manifest Destiny, and whether the mass genocide of an entire people group was really God's will and blessing for me and those who looked like me. And i wondered how the Land of the Free could so readily enslave and oppress another entire people group. i wondered if we were still oppressing people groups. But i didn't know what to do about it.
Rage Against the Machine broke up after Zack decided it wasn't doing enough to put people into action for the causes most dear to his heart. But recently they've appeared together again on a number of occasions and have plans to continue to show up at special events. i wrote the band to encourage them to show others how to put their voice to action and show people how they can help bring about change.
To their credit, their website does contain a "Take Action" link showing local organizations and events people can rally with. This is a great first step. i too am learning how to do more than just complain. i believe people want to be part of making the world a better place. They just don't understand the issues or what they can do to effect change.
Let's help inspire people to take action
Monday, August 06, 2007
It is a reaction against extremists of any religion, who portray God as ‘Wicked Judge’, war criminal, hate monger, side-taker, and generally disgruntled. Rather than complaining, Sinead works toward reclaiming, restoring, exonerating, recasting, reshaping our understanding of God. In essence, she is on a para-rescue mission to seek out and set God free from the prison of the fundamentalists, wherever and whoever they are.
God is LoveThanks Sinead, for helping us reclaim anew an old concept.
An Introduction to Theology
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Wednesday, August 01, 2007
We need to directly challenge the single-issue voting that comes from shrinking all our religious and moral values down to only one or two issues, and all candidates should be examined by measuring their policies against the complete range of Christian ethics and values. On that wider and deeper list of religious and moral values are poverty, the environment, war, truth-telling, human rights, our response to terrorism, and a “consistent ethic of human life” that included abortion, but also capital punishment, euthanasia, weapons of mass destruction, HIV/AIDS and other pandemics, and genocide around the world.
From: God's Politics
Thursday, July 26, 2007
i reject this notion of salvation. Not that there isn't a such thing as hell, but that it's not how i've heard it described (fire and physical torment) and it's not what salvation is primarily about.
First and foremost i believe salvation is deliverance. This is what the Hebrew term means. So then we have to ask what we need deliverance from. Generally speaking, we need deliverance from being separated from God and his creation. That is relationship. Life is about relationships. These relationships are oft times broken, or at a minimum, strained. Hell is the uttermost lack of relationship, while salvation is the restoration of whole, healthy relationships. With God and with each other.
Yet Salvation goes beyond this and becomes unique to each one of us. Generally speaking, we are "saved" or "restored" to proper relationship or at least working toward proper relationship(s). Expanding the boarder though, we are each saved/delivered in a unique way from a number of things. One person explained thier salvation like this:
To know the joy of reconciling when I've been estranged; to experience the ecstasy of forgiveness when I've been bound by guilt; to feel passion and energy when I've been sick; to see clearly when I have been spiritually blind; to be comforted when I've been grieving; to be empowered when I've been paralyzed with fear; to be inspired when I've been depressed; to let go when I've been attached; to accept the truth when I've been in denial; to be back on purpose when I've been floundering—each of these is a precious face of salvation.
Wednesday, July 25, 2007
i believe living in a fallen world is all about redemption. We live to continually enter into acts of restoration. When i was five, i was adopted. i took my dad's name as my own, though we don't have the same blood running through our veins. It was one of the proudest days of my life. Now my children have that name.
He wasn't the best dad, but he was my dad. i loved him unconditionally. Why? Because he adopted me when i wasn't his responsibility. So i adopted him too.
Living in redemption is living a life of adoption. Adopting those who are not our own as though they were. Entering into the lives of others with unconditional love, even when we feel no kinship responsibility to them.
This is not always easy for me. i meet people i'm not particularly drawn to (that's the way i say it so you don't think poorly of me). But i am committed to these people. We choose to love and seek to learn the best way to love. Love is revealed, expressed, and experienced differently by different people. In order to enter into covenant community with others, we must adopt them. This is an act of redemption.
He has adopted us as his sons and daughters. We are to do what we see him doing.
Sunday, July 22, 2007
One of the biggest trends in postmodern culture is an increasing suspicion toward institutions linked to modernity. Even though religions like Christianity trace their history far back before the dawn of modernity, many people view the institutional church today as a product of the failed modernist project.
...the future of Christian faith lies in its ability to capitalize on the nonreligious dynamics of contemporary global society.
From: A Heretics Guide to Eternity
Thursday, July 19, 2007
Let us remember Christ, who laid down his life for us even while we were his enemies. Let us also remember the dangers of empty religion and shallow legalism which often masks a malicious heart.
Anything else is not the Way.
Wednesday, July 18, 2007
i think i could have done a better job. We had a funeral two days before. It was my first time developing two sermons in one week. The funeral went well, but i was sure to disappoint come Sunday. First, i preached on the judgment of God. i try to stay away from that. Yet it was necessary. Second, it wasn't put together very well. It could have been smoother. But that takes a lot of time and work. i didn't have enough of either.
This week i deviated from one of the Psalms that i was scheduled to preach. It was too harsh. Instead i chose another OT passage from Amos, which was also in the lectionary for this week. It too is about human justice. In fact, all the writings of the prophets have to do with human justice (or injustice) and God's judgment as a result. So here we go again. i suppose there won't be too many people telling me how they were blessed by the sermon again this week.
Should i mention the part about how America began with the mass genocide of a people mistakenly called "Indians" but who were not Indian but Native Americans, which means we are all illegal immigrants? Or how we attempted to prosper this land of liberty on the backs of the oppressed African people? Should i ask when exactly it was we were a "Christian" nation?
Or do i try to keep my job?
i have a great congregation, but we're new to each other. We like each other right now. This is what i fear:
"If you make people think they're thinking, they'll love you; But if you really make them think, they'll hate you"
- Don Marquis
i pray my fears are unfounded...
Tuesday, July 10, 2007
Today i received an e-mail from someone i respect very much. The e-mail was a forward, which went through Obama's background, having a former Muslim father and having been enrolled in Muslim & Catholic schools when he was a child. Up to this point the e-mail is accurate. Then it goes on to speculate [though stating as fact] that Obama is still really an extremist Muslim. Apparently he only 'adopted' Christianity to get ahead politically.
Now, Obama strikes to me as being a surprisingly authentic person. i have an inkling that the person who forwarded this to me hasn't listened to any of Obama's speeches.
There were no references listed on the e-mail, as to where it came from or what the facts were based on. My suspicion? Yeah, propaganda from the opposing party or at least by a supporter of an opposing party. Yet here it goes, spinning through the Christian spam channel as though it were written in red letters.
till another comes forward and questions him."
Wednesday, June 27, 2007
Ann Coulter is almost sexy, until she opens her mouth. Stop calling yourself conservative Ann! To be a conservative Christian has more to do with how you relate to others than it does where you stand on a couple select issues.
Sunday, June 24, 2007
Somehow, somewhere along the way, faith stopped being used to bring us together and started being used to drive us apart.
At every opportunity, [the Christian Right] has told evangelical Christians that Democrats disrespect their values and dislike their church, while suggesting to the rest of the country that religious Americans care only about issues like abortion and gay marriage, school prayer and intelligent design…
…But I'm hopeful because I think there's an awakening taking place in America. People are coming together around a simple truth – that we are all connected, that I am my brother's keeper; I am my sister's keeper. And that it's not enough to just believe this – we have to do our part to make it a reality.
…[W]e all have it within our power to make this a better world. Because we all have the capacity to... to rise above what divides us and come together to meet those challenges we can't meet alone....So let's rededicate ourselves to a new kind of politics – a politics of conscience... [I]f we can embrace a common destiny – then I believe we'll not just help bring about a more hopeful day in
America, we'll not just be caring for our own souls, we'll be doing God's work here on Earth.
Tuesday, June 05, 2007
Here's an article about a new group called the "Red Letter Christians". This article was taken from sojo.net
Who We Are
The Red Letter Christians are a network of effective, progressive, Christian communicators urging an open, honest and public dialogue on issues of faith and politics. We believe and seek to put in to action the red letter words in the Holy Bible spoken by Jesus. The goal of the group is to advance the message that our faith cannot be reduced to only two hot button social issues - abortion and homosexuality. Fighting poverty, caring for the environment, advancing peace, promoting strong families, and supporting a consistent ethic of life are all critical moral and biblical values.
What We Are Doing
Across the nation, the thirst for biblical truth and justice is creating a movement of progressive ideas and voices. The Red Letter Christians, with their distinguishable faith backgrounds and biblical knowledge, are speaking out and leading this movement. Through their writing, visits to college campuses, sermons in churches, and media coverage, their Christian perspectives of compassion and justice are being heard by an ever-growing audience.
Why We Are Speaking Out
For decades, leaders of the Religious Right have attempted to convince Christians and the American public that people of faith and strong moral values have only one option when it comes to voting. This narrow view continues to overshadow the majority of Christians in America whose faith motivates them to care deeply about a range of ethics and values. Our nation is hungry for an open dialogue on moral values and its role in the public square. God is not a Republican or a Democrat, and candidates should be measured by examining an array of social and economic issues.
"Red Letter Christians" by Rev. Jim Wallis
"What's a 'Red-Letter Christian'?" by Rev. Tony Campolo
Thursday, May 31, 2007
Sunday, May 27, 2007
"We believe these perverts should not be allowed to march on the streets of Moscow, the third Rome, a holy city for all Russians," said Igor Miroshnichenko, who said he was an Orthodox believer who had come to support the riot police.
"It (homosexuality) is satanic," he told Reuters. One man holding a crucifix threatened to beat-up any gay person he saw.
Richard Fairbrass, a gay singer with the British pop group Right Said Fred, was punched in the face and kicked by anti-gay activists while speaking to Reuters in an interview.
"We understand this is a gay event and so we came down here today," Fairbrass told Reuters before being hit. Blood dripped from his face after the attack.
While i hold a conservative view of sexuality, based on what i believe to be God's revelation and intention for creation, i also hold a conservative view of how we are to treat others.
"Love your neighbor as yourself"
"Love your enemy"
"Do onto others as you would have them do onto you"
"Bless and do not curse"
"In your anger, do not sin"
"Those who live by the sword will die by the sword"
“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be children of your Father in heaven; for he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the righteous and on the unrighteous. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet only your brothers and sisters, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect."
"I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”
"You shall not hate in your heart anyone of your kin; you shall reprove your neighbor, or you will incur guilt yourself. You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge against any of your people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the Lord."
"Hatred stirs up strife,
but love covers all offenses."
i don't believe gays and lesbians are our enemies. The point is, if this is how we are to treat our enemies, then what excuse do we have for the way we've treated this community?
A bit after writing this post i found a good post on this topic on Greg Boyd's blog. Check it out!
i'm glad for my freedom, and democracy to an extent, but the history of my country really bothers me. i just thought i'd mention it.
Today, i told my wife that i was a bit bothered by where we were moving. One of the main reasons is this: There are lots of blacks in the area whom i feel i ought to integrate with. But i do have a fear. i fear black culture, especially hip hop gang mentality, and the angst i sense against white oppressors, which i believe to be absolutely reasonable. What else can we expect after hundreds of years of oppression and suppression of a people group. Yet i feel hopeless in redeeming these relationships. i want to retreat to my white neighborhood and feel justified in the idea that there just aren't any blacks around and if there were...of course i would befriend them.
i related to the following video on two levels. First, i am ashamed of a large portion of my cultural history. Second, i am part of the problem which perpetuates this history, due to my own fears.
Recently Boyd wrote a book called "The Myth of a Christian Nation: How the Quest for Political Power is Destroying the Church". The following is an interview with Boyd hosted by Charlie Rose: