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What happened Saturday in Washington on the Steps of the Lincoln Memorial?

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As the nation prepared to observe the birth of Martin Luther King, Jr. this weekend, while a partial government shutdown over a border wall, other news caught our attention. This had to do with a set of encounters as separate marches and protests collided on or near the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. You may have seen or heard of a viral video that appeared to show a young man clad in MAGA clothing, with what appears to be a smirk on his face, standing in the face of a Native American man singing and drumming. Many jumped on this sight and proclaimed the young man to be a racist and that he was being disrespectful. Thus, this young white male was deemed a poster child of white supremacy. It didn’t help that he represented a Catholic school and he and his fellow students were attending an anti-abortion march. All of this—the Trump gear, the anti-abortion purpose for the visit, and attendant visuals cast the high school students in a bad light. As more information came out, the story g…

Celebrating the Word of the Lord - Lectionary Reflection for Epiphany 3C (Nehemiah 8)

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Nehemiah 8:1-10 New Revised Standard Version (NRSV) 8 1 all the people gathered together into the square before the Water Gate. They told the scribe Ezra to bring the book of the law of Moses, which the Lord had given to Israel. Accordingly, the priest Ezra brought the law before the assembly, both men and women and all who could hear with understanding. This was on the first day of the seventh month. He read from it facing the square before the Water Gate from early morning until midday, in the presence of the men and the women and those who could understand; and the ears of all the people were attentive to the book of the law. The scribe Ezra stood on a wooden platform that had been made for the purpose; and beside him stood Mattithiah, Shema, Anaiah, Uriah, Hilkiah, and Maaseiah on his right hand; and Pedaiah, Mishael, Malchijah, Hashum, Hash-baddanah, Zechariah, and Meshullam on his left hand.And Ezra opened the book in the sight of all the people, for he was standing above…

Anxious to Talk About It (Carolyn Helsel) - A Review

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ANXIOUS TO TALK ABOUT IT: Helping White Christians Talk Faithfully about Racism. By Carolyn B. Helsel. St. Louis: Chalice Press, 2018. 127 pages.


If you are white, like me, you will not have experienced racism in quite the same way as a person of color. In other words, you will never have profiled by police because of your race or have been followed in store due to your race. You won’t have stories to tell about family who were placed in internment camps. I could go on, but you get the point. When the #BlackLivesMatter movement erupted after a series of incidents where black men and women were killed by white police officers, along with acquittal of George Zimmerman, many white folks suggested that a better term would be #AllLivesMatter. Although it’s true that all lives matter, arguing that point misses the larger point, which is that while all lives do matter, it would appear that in many cases that hasn’t always included black lives. That call for an #AllLivesMatter movement also r…

Concerning Spiritual Gifts -- A Sermon for Epiphany 2C (1 Corinthians 12)

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1 Corinthians 12:1-11

Spirituality is in vogue. Religion is not. Growing numbers of people call themselves “spiritual but not religious.” They desire spiritual things, just not the institutional baggage that comes with religion. But what does it mean to be spiritual? That question forms the heart of Paul’s first letter to the Corinthian Church.
Our Wednesday Afternoon Bible Study is working through 1 Corinthians, and from what we’ve seen so far, you might say Paul is a bit frustrated with this congregation he had planted a few years earlier. He’d been away for a couple of years and in his absence things had gone awry. Reports were coming in from all quarters of the congregation about quarrels and all kinds of misbehavior. So Paul wrote this letter to put things right. Standing at the center of the problems faced by the congregation was a misunderstanding of what it means to be spiritual. 
While this congregation may not have lacked in spiritual gifts (1 Corinthians 1:7), in Paul’s mind i…

What's in a (Religious) Name? -- Sightings (Cynthia G. Lindner)

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What is the place of faith in the public square? That is a question that I am very interested in. I've even written a book focused on such questions titled Faith in the Public Square.Cynthia Lindner, a Disciple minister and Director of Ministry Studies and Clinical Faculty for Preaching and Pastoral Care at the University of Chicago Divinity School, addresses some of these issues in this Sightings essay. She begins be looking into the latest reports on the religiosity of Congress, which is still over-represented by Christians and is markedly short on the fasted growing religious group in the country -- atheist, agnostic, does not state. While two Muslim women were elected for the first time to Congress, what does all of this mean?  From that conversation she moves to our southern border and the move to seize land on which a Catholic church has been sitting for more than a century. What rights does a congregation have when faced with having its property seized for something it deem…

Religion in the Years Ahead -- Sightings (Martin Marty)

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Many in my profession are bemoaning the state of things religious. Our congregations are getting older and smaller. The number of full-time positions are also on the decline. I'm relatively close to retirement, so I will survive, but many of my younger colleagues are more leery of things. So what might prognosticators have to say? How do they know what the future holds? Martin Marty, takes a look at such things, beginning by taking notice of recent concerns about the apparent waning of liberal democracy, and a turn to authoritarian visions. As for religion, he takes us to the prognostications offered by Andrew Greeley in 1969. Greeley was relatively hopeful, though may be a bit off the mark. Nonetheless, there is always reason for hope. I invite you to read and if you would like offer your own take on the future. What might it look like in the years ahead?