Showing posts from October, 2007

When's Torture not Torture?

Do you remember the day when Attorney General nominee Michael Mukasey unequivocally denounced the use of torture and said that an earlier DOJ memo suggesting that the President could get around the law on torture was a mistake? I was fairly excited when I heard that. But as with previous Bush appointments, things aren't what they seem. It seems that someone got to him and told him that President Bush is against "torture," but the President wants to be free to decide what is torture and what isn't torture. This has led the candidate to backtrack and take up the Administration line. As detailed in an article carrying the inauspicious headline "Mukasey Punts on Torture," we learn that Mukasey won't say whether waterboarding is torture. The conflict between Bush and Congress put Mukasey in a bind. A refusal by him to condemn the practice as torture, makes greater Democratic opposition to his nomination inevitable. But if he were to have given Democ…

A Halloween Reminder

What better message for a Halloween preceding an election cycle. For more scary thoughts see my posting at Faithfully Liberal!

Importance of Intentionality and Christian Practices

Diana Butler Bass has uncovered a significant issue for churches of all sizes and shapes -- programs don't shape you or form you, practices do. Programs lead to dependence, practices to growth. We know this, but so often we fail to practice it. Diana notes that Bill Hybels, pastor of Willow Creek Community Church and guru of the Seeker-Oriented Church movement has recognized that they had missed the ball on this themselves. It isn't a slight on them, it's a recognition that we all falter. The fact that biblical illiteracy (Stephen Prothero) is so prevalent in this supposedly Christian nation is proof in the pudding. As I look at my own ministry and where it may take me, I have to ask -- where is the intentionality? Where is the Practice? Where is the Vitality? Clergy themselves enjoy dependent relationships -- I do believe -- but the church isn't healthy as a result. Instead, if we teach folk to grow in faith and practice, good things will happen.

Mormon Studies in California

With Mitt Romney running for President and Harry Reid the top guy in the Senate, Mormons are definitely making themselves felt in the mainstream. The Church of Jesus of Christ of Latter Day Saints has been with us for sometime -- it's not a new religion -- but until recently it was largely marginal to American life. But growing up in the West, the LDS church has had at least a degree of prominence. I've had my share of Mormon friends and while I'm not at all inclined to be a Mormon, nor do I find its theology at all compelling, the people as a whole are in my experience genuinely good folk. But, they aren't well understood. That Claremont Graduate University is launching a Mormon Studies program -- the first in California and the 2nd at a secular university -- is a good sign. That is, there is an effort underway to bring the study of Mormonism into the center of the academy. According to an LA Times report, the first person to hold the new chair (a visiting posit…

Why Rudy?

Nancy Kruh surveys a group of pundits -- mostly conservative -- on why Rudy Giuliani maintains his lead, despite statements from Dobson and others that they will not support him. The question that is bandied about concerns whether the Social Conservatives have lost their clout -- some of that is true of course. The newer crop of leaders has a broader agenda, or at least they're open to a broader agenda. They're also seeing that the political stridency of the fading generation has not worked well among younger folks. All of this is true.

Still the question is: Why Rudy? His positions on abortion, homosexuality, and other social issues, together with his own past "indiscretions," make him a most unusual candidate for the trending rightward GOP. Romney has had his flip-flops, McCain his maverick streaks, and Thompson just doesn't seem to have the drive. The only other GOP candidates that have raised any excitement value are two very different souls -- Ron Paul and Mi…

The Joys of Subbing

Today is an interesting day for me. I'm teaching 4th graders -- at my wife's Catholic school. Not sure why I volunteer to do this -- the pay isn't that great. But I do get to experience "the classroom," which pleases my longsuffering teacher-wife.

We all have our gifts -- teaching young children isn't part of my gift mix, but as they say, this is good for me.

Having posted about the myth of the good old days, when I sub I do wonder whether we were as squirrelly as these kids are. They just can't keep still and they all seem to be such social butterflies. So much fun!

I think I'll stick to my day job.

Leave it to the Beav

Faith in the Public Square
Lompoc Record
October 28, 2007

Theodore Cleaver, better known to the world as “The Beaver,” turns 50 this fall. Although I was too young to watch it when it came out - I was born during the first season of the series - I've been watching reruns since I can remember.
For some reason I've always liked this show, especially when the Beaver was younger. There were so many great characters - Wally, Lumpy, Eddie Haskell, Gilbert, Whitey, Larry Mondello, and the rest of the gang. Beaver could get into mischief, but nothing too devious or destructive. By the time the episode ended everything had worked out, often because Ward, the Beaver's Dad, resolved the problems.
Ah, those were “the good old days,” back when “things were simple.” Dad worked and Mom stayed home. While Ward would come home and change from his suit coat into his sweater, June always wore a dress - even when she was gardening. Yes, those were the days! Of course that was a mythical world - …

Tending to the Spiritually Homeless

In reading the excellent new book by Eric Elnes, Asphalt Jesus (Jossey Bass, 2007), I came across his discussion of the issue of spiritual homelessness. I find this an intriguing idea. Diana Butler Bass speaks of tourists/nomads and pilgrims, but this concept is more troubling. Eric Elnes writes in the context of his walk across America -- a trek that essentially put him and his compatriots in a position of being without their normal abodes for a time. Noting that the polls say that somewhere around 90% of Americans speak of themselves as being Christian, but on any given Sunday maybe 20 to 30% participate. There is, then, a tremendous disparity between those considering themselves to be Christian and those actually participating. He then writes: Apparently two-thirds of all Christians in America feel so alienated or so indifferent or see church as so irrelevant that they aren't showing up. I call these Christians the "spiritually homeless." Many of those we met on our wal…

Oregon Ducks Win!!!

I may live in Southern California -- have for much of the last 25 years of my life -- but ultimately I'm an Oregon Ducks fan. And today the #5 Ducks beat USC. It was a tough game, but all I can say is. We won!


Troubling Rhetoric On Iran

Every day, it seems, the rhetoric about Iran gets ratcheted up. There was that Congressional resolution about the Republican Guard. There were statements from the Veep on making sure Iran doesn't get its hands on nuclear weaponry (stated in ways reminiscent of statements made about Iraq prior to an earlier unwarranted invasion), and then the President's eerie warnings about preventing WW III -- ironically by starting it, if we read between the lines correctly -- then there were the statements of policy most recently by the Secretary of State. Taken together the statements are ominous. Hopefully Congress is awake and not asleep at the wheel. "Pre-emptive" war against Iran will only inflame the region and drive a wedge more fully between the US and any allies it has left. That "coalition of the willing" will be indeed small. Brian McLaren writes a strongly worded response in God's Politics, that needs a good hearing. He writes:

I am disgusted, concerned, a…

The Cautious Radical

Previously published at Faithfully Liberal:The Cautious Radical
By Pastor Bob Cornwall

I was talking to a friend of mine who had concluded that I am by nature cautious. I think that’s a fair statement. I’m pretty analytical and I weigh my options carefully.

My son, who is taking the AP US Government class brought home one of those self-analysis pieces. This one focused on political identity. He asked me a couple of questions and then plotted the answers. To no one’s surprise I came out as moderately liberal. Alas, not only am I “faithfully liberal” – why else would I write for this blog – but I’m also “moderately liberal.” And you know the curse of the moderate – they get run over in the middle of the road!

Cautious people tend to be pragmatic. They often try to split the difference; take what they can get; knowing that it’s better to get something than nothing. That’s the tactic being taken on the ENDA legislation – better to get something for gays and lesbians now, and then go back lat…

A Hunger for a Positive Faith

Cross posted at Faithfully Liberal:A Hunger for a Positive Faith
By Pastor Bob Cornwall
I’m bewildered sometimes by the anger I see coming from so many sectors of American society. You find it on the left and on the right and maybe even in the middle. The polarization is seemingly at an all time high – I doubt its true, but it feels that way. I wonder how we might do things differently. How we might make a difference. I’m at the halfway point in reading Eric Elnes’ Asphalt Jesus, and I’ve found reading the book to be spiritually moving event. The book, which tells the story of a group of progressive Christians led by progressive UCC the pastor from Scottsdale, AZ, offers a different take on what’s really happening. We discover along the way that while many churches and their leaders are closed to conversation there are whole sectors of the community that are hungry to hear of a new way of being human and even being Christian. This group CrossWalk America sought to bear testimony to the

Just Proofread!!

Being that I'm an editor myself -- and hate to proofread -- here is a too funny comedy routine that speaks to the problems of not proofreading and then depending on the spell checker! So, have a laugh -- while you head off to proofread! Oh, I hope I didn't mess anything up!

Hat tip to Tony Jones

A Church Recovers From Fire

The good news is that the winds have died down and the firefighters are better able to get a handle on the many fires raging across Southern California. The other good news is that the estimated number of displaced persons is much lower than the earlier estimate of a million. It's still rather warm but the conditions are improving.
One of the stories of this fire has focused on Malibu Presbyterian Church, a congregation my wife attended while a Pepperdine student back in the late 1970s. It was one of the first buildings to go, and as a pastor I know how important the building is to the life of a congregation. Yes, it's the people and not the building, but as is true here, the building has its own life. There are mementos that are irreplaceable, records lost, pictures, resources, books, of all kinds. But the good news in this is the spirit of the congregation to reemerge like a phoenix from the fire, more committed than ever to mission and outreach.

The LA Timesquotes UCLA Reli…

The Public Face of Buddhism -- Sightings

The pictures of Burmese Buddhist monks marching peacefully through the streets of Rangoon, protesting a brutal military dictatorship, caught the world's attention. When the military struck violently back at the peaceful protesters we were horrified. John C. Holt writes in today's Sightings contribution from the Martin Marty Center a piece that helps us understand the context of this protest. He helps define in brief, the public face of Buddhism as seen in these protesters. He also notes that the junta has in essence declared war on Burmese culture. For those of us not all that familiar with Buddhism, this is a very helpful essay.

Sightings 10/25/07

The Public Face of Buddhism -- John C. Holt

When most of us in North America think about Buddhist monks, the image we are likely to conjure is one of ochre-robed contemplatives engaged in the quietude of meditation. But in fact, there has been a debate within the Buddhist sangha (monastic community) over …

Beyond the Atheism-Religion Divide

Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens, Sam Harris -- they continue to make the bestseller lists with their strident critiques of religion, which they consider to be both insipid and dangerous. Harvey Cox, a theologian and author of one of the 1960s biggest sellers -- The Secular City -- offers a different view. Cox appears on Krista Tippett's Speaking of Faith and shares his view of the current state of the religious world. Back in the 60's, when he wrote The Secular City conventional wisdom on the part of sociologists and other observers was that religion was heading for the margins. The secular city was on the road to dominance. Science not religion would be the dominant voice. Four decades later religion is still very much with us. While the New Atheists seem to have tapped into the angst of many observers of the bad side of religion, their critique isn't anything new nor is it especially sophisticated. Cox finds a more cogent conversation partner in the late …

The Outing of Dumbledore

Sexual identity has become a more complex and intriguing concept. Even in children's books, or at least children's books that become more mature, we find it important to understand the sexual dynamics of a character.

Word is out that Albus Dumbledore, the late headmaster of Hogwarts (He dies in volume 6) was gay. The object of his attraction was his arch-nemesis -- Gellert Grindlewald -- a sort of precursor to Voldemort. Grindlewald had been his closest friend and then an enemy he was forced to defeat.
I'm pretty dense so I didn't recognize the sexual tension in the books, but apparently other had and they'd speculated, so J.K. Rowling chose to make the revelation.
So, what do we do with the news? I expect conservative Christians who already see it as a devilish series in support of witchcraft will see this as further proof of its Satanic nature. Others will be confused and wonder about his time spent with young boys. Still others perhaps will see this as an opportu…

SoCal Fires and Week of Compassion

SoCal Inferno

We're far enough north of the fires in Santa Barbara and in Lompoc (I pastor in the latter, live in the former) so that we're in no danger (at least for now), but the skies are full of smoke from the fires burning across the region. It's hot and windy -- more so to the south of us. This isn't anything new. Santa Ana winds blow every year and given the right conditions can unleash fire storms. This past summer we experienced the effects of the massive Zaca Fire here in the Santa Barbara area, but that fire was confined largely to the back country. But if that same fire had been alive during Santa Ana winds it could have blown right into Santa Barbara. That is the problem with this situation. Fires have started right in the middle of highly populated areas. Our thoughts and prayers are with those caught in the middle of what is best termed an inferno. It would seem that the Federal Response is once again belated. It is now Tuesday, major resources won't get here perhap…

Choosing Freedom in a Time of Fear

I contributed a commentary to Disciples World on Galatians, which was published this month. I'm posting the first paragraph and then invite you to follow the link to the Disciples World web site, where you can finish reading the piece. ******* Why would anyone trade freedom for slavery? Although we’d like to think we’d never do such a thing, fear can be a compelling reason to choose slavery over freedom. Fear isn’t rational, and it can overwhelm our best instincts. Freedom involves a degree of uncertainty and insecurity, making it a bit unsettling to our spirits. Slavery, on the other hand, while abhorrent to us, involves its own sense of security — the security of not having to take responsibility for one’s self. Click here to continue reading.

"For the Bible Tells Me So" in Santa Barbara

At long last I will have the opportunity to see the documentary "For the Bible Tells Me So." It is being featured at the 2007 LBGT Film Festival in Santa Barbara. As you can see, I'll be making a somewhat official appearance. Once I've seen the film, I'll give you all a report and a review. Saturday, November 3, Metro Four Theatre 2:15 pm --- For the Bible Tells Me So Dan Karslake's provocative, entertaining documentary brilliantly reconciles homosexuality and Biblical scripture, and in the process reveals that Church-sanctioned anti-gay bias is based almost solely upon a significant (and often malicious) misinterpretation of the Bible. Through the experiences of five very normal, very Christian, very American families—including those of former House Majority Leader Richard Gephardt and Episcopalian Bishop Gene Robinson—we discover how insightful people of faith handle the realization of having a gay child. Informed by such respected voices as Bishop Desmo…

On Wuthnow -- Sightings

There are statistics and then the interpretation of statistics. America remains a largely religious nation, especially in comparison to Europe. But there are alarming trends, especially among younger Americans. Religious life isn't what it used to be, or at least that's the trend. Martin Marty takes a look at the alarm set off by Robert Wuthnow's new book After the Baby Boomers and Brian McLaren's review.

It would appear that we must open our eyes to the realities swirling around us! Read on:


Sightings 10/22/07

On Wuthnow
-- Martin E. Marty

Demographers, statisticians, sociologists, and some theologians serve the culture and the religious institutions within it by measuring the stated beliefs and observable religious behavior of citizens. Church attendance is one of the most conspicuous and measurable of these behaviors. Yes, we know that counting church members and attendees only measures church membership and attendance. We kn…

The Power of Forgiveness

Faith in the Public Square Lompoc Record October 21, 2007
Nearly a century ago, an estimated 1.5 million Armenians died in Turkey. By any measure, this example of ethnic cleansing deserves to be called genocide, but unfortunately Turkey continues to deny that genocide occurred during the final years of the Ottoman Empire. Even as discussion of this event is taboo in Turkey, geopolitics has left much of the world silent as well. It's not surprising - Turkey is an important American ally and is in general considered moderate and western in its policies. So, there is a conspiracy of silence regarding the Armenian genocide.
When the House of Representatives recently voted in committee to send a non-binding resolution to the full House, Turkey recalled its ambassador and the Bush administration tried to distance itself from the resolution.
Everyone here seems to agree that something horrible happened nearly a century ago - even the Turks recognize that the Armenian people suffered during th…

Celebrating a New Ministry

Today we gathered -- we being the Pacific Southwest Region of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) -- to formally elect (in the morning) and then install (in the afternoon) Don and Susan Gonzales Dewey as Co-Regional Ministers of our region. It was a grand day, one presided over by our General Minister and President, Sharon Watkins. Don and Susan are good friends and I'm excited about their new ministry. This is both a challenging and an exciting time to be in church leadership. I'm confident that Don and Susan are the kind of visionary leaders we need, just as Sharon has shown herself to be with the General church. Because we're not a hierarchical church, Don and Susan can only do as much as the churches allow them to do. They have a vision of empowering and releasing people to do ministry. They believe that the gifts are there, to be released. Because of the diversity present within this region -- both in the churches and even more so in the broader communi…

Radical Welcome -- A Review

Stephanie Spellers. Radical Welcome: Embracing God, The Other, and the Spirit of Transformation. New York: Church Publishing, 2006. xi + 180 pages.

Every church wants to be known as the “friendly church” or the “welcoming church,” even if they are neither friendly nor welcoming. Many a time a person has entered the doors of a congregation to find the welcome mat withdrawn or at least absent. Even churches that seek to live out their slogan of friendliness and welcome can fall short of expectations. Stephanie Spellers, an African-American woman Episcopal priest offers churches that seek to be truly welcoming an important resource and a strong challenge. It is a challenge to become more than an inviting and inclusive community faith to become one that is “radically welcoming.”

Radical Welcome is, according to our author, a spiritual practice. It’s not merely a means to an end; it is a fundamental aspect of being Christian and church. Radical Welcome “combines the universal Christian minis…

Entering Uncharted Waters

I love the Jungle Cruise ride at Disneyland. It gives you a taste of adventure without having any risks involved. You get to see the back side of water, a safari group climb a pole at the tip of rhino's horn. Trader Sam will trade you two of his heads for one of yours. The best thing about the ride is that you can check out how the operators modify the script. Adventure without risk -- all waters charted, because, well you're riding on a track. That's the D-Land offering. But life isn't quite the same. It has a lot more risk involved! We don't know where the road will lead. Last night I submitted my ministry profile to the national office. I'm doing this not because I'm unhappy with my current congregation, but because it's part of my covenant with the congregation and with my region. When I began my current ministry -- after a year of interiming in Lompoc -- as "transitional pastor" it was agreed that I could submit my name for co…

Then Sam was gone

Apparently it's official, that doyen of the Right, that voice of Conservative Christianity, Sam Brownback, is calling it quits. I'm kind of surprised that Sam never caught on with the Religious Right. Remember back when he and Barack appeared at Rick Warren's church to talk about AIDs or something like that? He seemed on his way to becoming a voice for the Values voter. And yet, he flamed out royally. Boy was I wrong about his chances -- then again I never thought Hillary would run.
When you see the Religious Right leadership scrambling to find a candidate who will carry their standard, you'd think either Sam or Mike would be a great choice. But faced with Rudy, Mitt, and Fred, they could never rally behind the ones who were most in line with their values.
Now I'm no Brownback fan -- haven't been since I first ran into him living in Kansas -- but I'm interested in what this portends for the future of the presidential race. his support might be small, but …

SHAME!! -- S-Chip Veto Override Falls Short

It is a shame that in a nation spending some $200 billion a year to fight a war we shouldn't be in can't find $35 billion to cover 10 million children in the US with health insurance. As reported in the NY Times the override fell 13 votes short. It already had sufficient support in the Senate. The arguments about coverage of middle class kids or adults is bogus. The idea that it doesn't have support nationally is bogus. I mean if you have Charles Grassley and Orrin Hatch as supporters, a bill like this isn't a Democratic proposal. I mean if %70 of Republicans support this, as reported by the NY Times, then hey the Republicans who voted with the President need to have their heads examined. Here's my response. If you voted with the President, expect to be booted out of office. I'm fortunate that my representative -- Lois Capps -- voted correctly, but there are 156 people who chose the wrong direction. This bill, however, will be back and next time thos…

TV's Leap of Faith -- Sightings

We often bemoan the absence of religion on TV -- or if not the absence of respect for religion on TV. Not that religion has ever had a major role on TV -- though the Beaver occasionally went to church, as did Tim the Tool Man. But interestingly enough religion has become a staple of prime time cartoons -- such as The Simpsons and South Park. Mark Pinsky, a highly regarded religion writer, and author himself of a book on religion and The Simpsons, speaks to this issue in today's edition of Sightings. I think you will find it intriguing. By the way, I'm sorry to say I can't figure out how to keep the King of the Hill video from starting up. Just click the play button and it'll stop -- but be sure to check it out anyway, as it fits today's subject.

Sightings 10/18/07

TV's Leap of Faith
-- Mark I. Pinsky

Imagine the Hollywood pitch meeting: Producers try to convince cable television executives to green light a new series about a burned…

Mukasey says no to torture

Although GW's pal Al Gonzalez thought it okay for the President to authorize torture and the President dances around the issue -- while the Veep is all for doing whatever in undisclosed locations -- it's good to know that there will be at least a bit of sanity in the Bush administration. Michael Mukasey seems very adamant that we're not above international law nor is the memo suggesting that the President was free to disregard rules on torture appropriate. He calls it a mistake -- and it is a mistake in the most serious of senses.

The new AG will likely be conservative, but he seems like he's the kind of guy who will do what's right. Too bad GW took so long to turn to the grownups!

Watch the testimony in the hearings.

Inviting, Inclusive, Radically Welcome!

Words describe realities and when it comes to the way churches live, we need to pay attention to the words that describe us. I've posted earlier about Stephanie Speller's intriguing book, Radical Welcome. I'm moving through it, along with a couple of other pieces, so it's taking time. As I was reading I came to a chapter describing three ways of being church. In one sense all three are positive, but two of these fall short of what we're called to be. Inviting: For Mainline Protestants, inviting someone to church is a big step. We're pretty excited when we get up the nerve, but while it's a start, Spellers suggests that more often than not we stop here. To be an inviting church is to be focused on assimilation. We want people to come, but we wish them to become like us. Thus, our inviting tends to focus on the ones most like us -- those who assimilate the most easily. Being transformed by the encounter with the other isn't on the menu. Inclus…

King of the Hill Goes to a New Church

I'm not a fan of King of the Hill, but I found this video intriguing. It was recommended by Pomomusings. It's full of stereotype, but it's a humorous look at church --- especially it's megachurch forms. To get a sense of what's going on in the megachurch, you might check out Beyond Megachurch Myths, which is reviewed here.

In the meantime, watch and add your thoughts!

Courtesy of

Colbert 08!

With Hillary seemingly running away with things, perhaps it's time to change my loyalties -- not to Hillary, but to Stephen Colbert!! Yes, why not? We need a bit of laughter. Stephen will make promises he intends to break, and will admit it --- which is refreshing isn't it?

So, take a look!

Time to Override the S-CHIP Veto

If you have listened to the President talk lately, he seems to be emulating old Chicken Little -- for surely the sky must be falling!!! If we spend that extra $35 Billion then surely we're headed to that dreaded socialized medicine. Surely if we pass this measure than millions of middle class folks -- like me -- will abandon their private insurance and go on the public dole. And as we know, private is better than public. That's why GW and his friends send their kids to nice private schools -- right!!! But the reality is likely far different from the scary scenario painted for us by our "Dear Leader." The reality is, without an override tomorrow, a whole lot of kids will go uninsured. That in my mind isn't wise. His solution -- tax credits -- is just fine, if you make enough money so tax credits make a difference. So, Congress please tell President Bush that you will not be bullied by his scare tactics and do the right thing!!!

W. E. B. Du Bois's "Credo"

I am reading to review elsewhere -- I'll let you know where when it's published -- Edward Blum's W. E. B. Du Bois: American Prophet (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2007). In the book, which focuses on Du Bois' religious beliefs and values, he mentions Du Bois' "Credo" published first in 1904. I went looking for it to share, for it is an important statement of faith, race, and human unity.

Originally published in Independent 57 (Oct. 6, 1904): 787

I BELIEVE in God who made of one blood all races that dwell on earth. I believe that all men, black and brown and white, are brothers, varying, through Time and Opportunity, in form and gift and feature, but differing in no essential particular, and alike in soul and in the possibility of infinite development.
Especially do I believe in the Negro Race; in the beauty of its genius, the sweetness of its soul, and its strength in that meekness which shall yet inherit this turbulent earth.
I …

To Change the World

Previously posted at Faithfully Liberal --- To Change the World -->
By Pastor Bob Cornwall
Evan Almighty, recently released on DVD, is really a silly movie — but it’s still fun and it has a nice message. Steve Carell is local anchor man who becomes a congressman who is sucked into the seductiveness of power politics who prays and is visited by God – played so well by Morgan Freeman. I think that says it all – at least it sets things up. At the heart of the movie is Evan’s campaign slogan – “To Change the World,” or at least something like that.

To change the world, that is a tall order. It is something that sounds good, and yet is difficult to pull off. In the movie, which I finally watched with the family on Saturday evening, the Noah story is recast as a kind of anti-development/pro-environment story. I think most readers of this site can get on board with something like this. But to change the world requires something that is mentioned often in the movie – at least through the lips…

Paul, the Law, Identity

The Ann Coulter interview, which I've posted on a bit, raises a number of questions. Coulter is not a good theologian, in fact, she has no clue as to the meaning of the Christian faith. In her mind Jews seek to earn their salvation by carrying the heavy burden of the Law. This is similar to the charge that Catholics seek to earn/merit salvation. Protestant Christians, are different, they don't have to obey any laws, they just have to say -- I believe and then everything is groovy. Or at least that's the way it's told sometimes. What Coulter espoused is what Bonhoeffer called "cheap grace." It is a kind of grace that doesn't seek transformation. The problem, of course, is understanding what Paul means by the law. Biblical scholars are still arguing about this, and likely will for some time to come. So, I don't profess to have any final answers. But because the issue has come up, and I'd like to post on the issue of the relationship of J…