Showing posts from May, 2006
Da Vinci Code -- The Movie

Well, I saw it last night. My friend, Rabbi Arthur Gross-Schaefer, invited me to join him at the movie and then a conversation about the movie afterwards. So, what do I think? Without spoiling the surprise -- there are some differences between the movie version and the original. It seems that Ron Howard tried to soften the edge of the book by making the character of Robert Langton less committed to either the divine feminine principle and Priory of Sion. That is left to Leigh Teabing -- who ultimately is the bad guy. Opus Dei comes off poorly, as does the Catholic Church -- except that Howard again softens things by suggesting that the bad guys are a small council operating on its own to keep the Priory of Sion underground. The ending is different as well from the book -- but I won't give that away if you've not seen it.

The issues remain, however, the way Dan Brown either does not know the history of Christianity or has chosen to play fast and loose w…
American Gospel -- by Jon Meacham

Jon Meacham's new book, American Gospel, is a truly important work. Whether religious or secular, Christian or not, it is a truly valuable introduction to the relationship of religion and American cultural and political life. Check out my review of the book on the Disciples World web site:

Meacham is Managing editor of Newsweek Magazine. Thanks also to Rebecca Woods of Disciples World for asking me to write the review.
Published in the Lompoc Record
Sunday, May 21, 2006
Faith in the Public Square
Cracking the Code -- the Da Vinci Code, That Is!

Three years on the bestseller lists, now a major motion picture directed by Ron Howard and starring Tom Hanks, Dan Brown’s The Da Vinci Code is a can’t miss block-buster. This mystery-thriller takes on the Roman Catholic Church, Opus Dei, and Christianity in general, while mixing in the Knights Templar, Masons, Gnosticism, the Holy Grail, and famous works of art. The book and its conspiratorial claims have drawn a great crowd of fans and elicited a considerable industry of critical responses.
As a piece of literature, The Da Vinci Code doesn’t rank with Steinbeck or Updike, but something about the storyline is intriguing. The story centers on a secret that if exposed would rock Christianity to its very foundations. The secretive "anti-Catholic" Priory of Sion guards this explosive secret, which a conservative Roman Catholic group – Opus Dei – is willing…
Presidents, Religion, and Moral Values

With the Republican Party making great hay on the issues of moral values and family values, I was pleased to read Jimmy Carter's new book that responds by offering a counterpoint. In a sense, George W. Bush and Jimmy Carter offer two perspectives on how Christians should view themselves and their relationship to the nation and to the world. Both perspectives have long standing presence. I recently wrote a piece on this topic for the Lompoc Record -- which has now gotten picked up by Sojourners -- a voice for the other side of things.

Take a look:
Ten Commandments Day

A group of mostly conservative Christians (with a few conservative Jews thrown in) declard today to be the first annual Ten Commandments Day. It's really a politically motivated effort to try to pursue causes that include but don't end at public display of the Ten Commandments. As a Christian I'm all for the Ten Commandments, but I also know that their value comes in relationship with the covenant making God who called the people of Israel out of the bondage of slavery and set them free to become a nation who would walk in relationship with God. As a Christian, I find myself within this people of God only by adoption.

Anyway, if you're interested, I took another stab at the Ten Commandments today in my Lompoc Record column. Why not take a peek and let me know what you think.
Our Covenant Relationships

Today I had the opportunity to share in a clergy retreat with Dr. Michael Kinnamon -- Disciple theologian, ecumenist, and professor at Eden Theological Seminary. Michael came to talk to us about our covenant relationships as the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) -- of which church I'm a pastor. He spoke to us about the centrality of covenant language to our existence as a church, and our abysmal record of living out or even understanding those relationships.

As a church we have seen ourselves as being in covenant relationship but too often we operate as autonomous entities with no real forms of mutual accountability present. Congregations tend to flout their autonomy -- saying that the General Church and Regions can't speak for them or even to them. Ultimately this is a question of wrestling with issues of authority -- how do we keep each other accountable without either hierarchy or coercion. As a pastor there is the question of how I speak and …