Showing posts from December, 2007

It's almost 2008!

2007 is quickly coming to a close. In some ways, none too soon. One more year with the Bush-Cheney regime at the helm! I'm pretty optimistic, so I expect we'll survive this final year of their reign. 2007 was marked by scandal, death, and destruction. The War in Iraq has settled into a constant if not always eventful roar. The Presidential campaigns have gone non-stop (got to see Obama this summer). Lindsay and Brittany grabbed many a headline -- not for their acting skills or music, but for their inability to keep their heads on straight.

A New Year may be a good thing after all. This being 2008 (in a couple of hours), I begin my quest for the number 50. Yes, 2008 will mark the completion of 5 decades of life on this earth. During the coming year my son will turn 18 and graduate from high school. Cheryl and I will celebrate 25 years of wedded bliss (well not always bliss, but it's been a good run). I will discern my longer term future as I end my transitional ministry in …

News Press Loses Big Time!!!

I doubt you'll be reading this in the new Press, which never publishes bad news about itself. Because it is now a vanity press that must keep it's owner always in a good light, you will only read stories of how it has won a court battle. Well, apparently, as 2007 runs out, word comes from Craig Smith's blog that the Administrative Law Judge for the National Labor Relations Board has handed down its judgment and what a judgement it is.

Whether or not they'll want to return, eight reporters that were fired for protected union activities (that's not what the News Press claimed) have been ordered to be rehired. Others who were inappropriately given poor performance reviews and then denied bonuses were also given justice.
Whether or not this makes any difference in the long run as to how Wendy runs her paper, hopefully the people of Santa Barbara who continue to patronize her rag will see it for what it is. Now there are still good people working for the paper and …

Huckabee's Faith "Lens"

Mike Huckabee is the "Christian candidate." He made that clear in his "Christian leader" ad and later in his video Christmas card, which called on America to to get on board with the "reason for the season" -- the birth of our lord. Mike is a bright and charismatic guy. I think he probably was a pretty lively preacher and he seems to be a true "compassionate conservative," something George Bush pledged to be but never delivered on. Now, I believe that one's faith can and should influence our political views and actions. It can and should give moral foundation (as long as it doesn't verge into dogmatism and self-righteousness). The question is, can it be a hindrance to good governance?
Well it can if it so hardens a persons position that he or she is unable to see things differently. You believe you're right because it seems true to you faith position, and therefore any other way must be wrong. It is black and white, either/0r.
With th…

Christianity's Image Problem -- SoMA Review

I earlier posted a review of the David Kinnaman book -- "Unchristian," a book I found quite disappointing. A revised version of that review has been published at SoMA Review. Here is a clip from it -- but read the whole thing. Part of the problem with “unChristian” is the authors’ penchant for equating “Christian” with “conservative evangelical.” While they observe that only 9 percent of Americans are evangelical, no other position is recognized as legitimate. Kinnaman and Lyons worry that the church will respond to its disaffected youth by “hijacking Jesus” and “promoting a less offensive faith.” They’re concerned about balancing a “kindler, gentler” Christianity with one that remains staunchly true to their understanding of the “biblical worldview.” That worldview is narrowly evangelical, fixated on things like the absolute accuracy of the Bible, the perfection of Jesus, and the existence of a personal Satan. Nothing in this definition speaks of God’s love or how we tre…

Huckabee's "Umbrella" of Authority

I've been fascinated by Mike Huckabee's rise in popularity in Iowa. I was actually surprised that this didn't happen sooner as he's the one "true believer" in the GOP presidential fold. He has a lot of fans -- people who see him as a true moral leader who will be both President and Pastor to the nation.
So, it was with great interest that I read a piece by Bob Allen at Ethics Daily about Huck's connections to Bill Gothard and his "Institute of Basic Youth Principles." If you don't know about Bill Gothard, you might be interested in knowing that he advocates an extreme version of patriarchalism. One of his favorite illustrations is that of the father as the "umbrella" of protection over the family. Like Robert Filmer's patriarchalism of another era -- all authority is familial and goes back to Adam. Thus, the President is the umbrella of protection over the nation. Filmer's 17th century theories, were, of course used to…

Homecoming -- From the Holidays -- and Thoughts on the World

When you travel -- unless I suppose you're equipped with wireless and laptop -- blogging can be a problem. Indeed, even keeping up with the world can be difficult. My last post was a brief notice about Benazir Bhutto's assassination. That tragic event is still unfolding and makes Pakistan an even more unstable place. We worry about places like Iran, but Pakistan already has nuclear weapons that it can deliver. In the wrong hands great destruction can be meted out. India and Pakistan have a long simmering feud that is always on the edge of getting hot. Pakistan is on the border of Afghanistan and a number of other nations. We have made our bed with Pervez Musharraf, and such a decision can easily come back to haunt us. I would say it is already coming back to haunt us. So, I'm back from my road trip and now must dig out from things before I can comment on anything with any degree of competency!

Bhutto Assassination

The continuing violence in Pakistan and elsewhere continues unabated. We watch in horror as lives are taken -- innocent lives -- as a society descends into chaos. While Benazir Bhutto isn't a sainted leader of her people -- there have been many accusations of corruption -- she has stood as a symbol of possible change.

Her death -- a shooting accompanied by a suicide bomb -- places her nation in a difficult place.

I would ask you to join me in prayers for the nation of Pakistan, that justice will of course make its way felt, but also that the nation will remain calm. Perhaps the silver lining will be such horror that the people will choose to sit down and find a way toward peace.

Fashion Update for an Ancient Book

Back in the day -- back when I was a lowly seminary student (early 1980s) I worked in a Christian bookstore selling Bibles. Back then there were quite a few options, but nothing like today. The NIV was brand new and I was still a fan of the NASB. But as far as editions it was pretty much hardback, leather, paper or imitation leather -- color choices ran from black to burgundy. There were a few study bibles, but not that many. Even then making a decision could take some time.

Well how things have changed. Not only are there many more translations available -- I'm partial to the NRSV (see my bookstore in the sidebar) -- but there are many other choices. Stephanie Simon wrote a Column One piece yesterday (Christmas Day) entitled: "Selling the Good Book by its cover." The focus was primarily on Zondervan, which has sought to bring the Bible up-to-date with all numbers of fabrics and colors, as well as niched bibles for every age and interest (personally I'm wai…

Merry Christmas

It's Christmas Night and all through the house are creatures trying to stay awake after eating turkey and the trimmings. Nothing more needs to be eaten lest we burst.

Each of us celebrate or choose not to celebrate in our own way. We're with family this year -- last year we went to Vegas. My brother stayed home alone -- his only day off in 2 weeks -- and enjoyed the quiet.

I'm learning that it's more and more difficult to buy gifts - especially for my wife. But you try your best.

So to everyone I say -- Merry Christmas -- and as you consider the day that is ponder the one we honor. Of course we know not the date or time of his birth nor the manner either. We don't even know the place. Tradition says Bethlehem while logic suggests Nazareth. Whatever the case, we celebrate the one in whom God's light is present to us.

A Renegade Bishop in California's Central Valley

The smallish Episcopal diocese of San Joaquin has gotten plenty of press recently -- largely because it is the first diocese to officially split with the national church. The split is largely the work of its 69 year old bishop, John David Schofield.

The LA Times has published today (Christmas Eve of all days) an interesting profile of this bishop. Having been bishop for two decades he has taken this already conservative diocese further to the right, or at least a recent diocesan convention vote would lead one to that observation. It will take time to discern the degree to which this is true. That is, how many congregations will actually leave with him. Word is that at least six will stay with the national church with others not yet sure. I still find it hard to believe that all but six of 47 congregations would be that conservative that they would break from the national church and align with a province in South America.
As expected the Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori will de…

Competing Visions for the Present World

Our vision of the World influences to a great degree how it operates. Walter Russell Mead, in his God and Gold, a book I've been blogging about, speaks of three competing visions.

1. Reason

Reason is advocated by those "who believe that universal logic, principles, and law are the only suitable or even feasible basis for an international system." (p. 405). This vision of the world has its advocates especially in Western Europe and America. They believe that systems need to be developed, which can enforce "the global rule of law." Advocates see things in a very universal way -- focusing on universal human rights and "universally valid legal principles." This is the Enlightenment perspective.

2. Religion

Many in the world believe that religion must be the "foundation for any just international order." You can find advocates among Wahabi Islam, Shi'a, certain Roman Catholics, and many Protestants and Pentecostals. These groups may disagree on t…

Competing Visions for the Present World

The world we live in is defined in large part by the visions that we have of it. Walter Russell Mead, whose book God and Gold I've been blogging about, speaks of three competing visions.

1. Reason

Reason involves universal logic, science, the rule of law, concerns about human rights. It's guided by the Enlightenment values. You could say it is very Western and it has numerous advocates in Europe and in America as well.

A Christmas Message

Tonight I will share in our Christmas Eve service. It is this little service that draws us all close to the true meaning of Christmas -- one that ultimately can't be overshadowed by the commercialism that surrounds it.

My sermon this evening is entitled: "Emmanuel -- God With us." I take it from Isaiah 7:10-16 and Matthew 1:18-25. These are actually the texts for yesterday -- but I think they fit Christmas Eve even better.
Here is how things begin. Then click here and read the rest at Words of Welcome!
Merry Christmas.

The wait is over. If you’re not finished with your Christmas shopping, it’s too late. By the time we’re finished singing the last carol, the stores will all be closed. In fact, even Starbucks will be closed. And so it’s time to put aside the hustle and bustle of a season that starts earlier every year.
Now that the day is here and the children are eagerly eyeing the presents under the tree, hoping that their every wish will be fulfilled, it’s time to…

A Carol for the Day -- I Wonder as I Wander

I wonder as a I wander, out under the sky, how Jesus the Savior did come for to die, but poor ordinary people like you and like I; I wonder as I wander, out under the sky. Appalachian Carol (1934)Sung here by Vanessa Williams

Bush's Blunders -- How Not to Get Along in the World

On September 12, 2007 the world was pretty much one -- in support of the United States. We had more friends than we knew we had. That good will was quickly squandered by a President who not only carried a big stick but liked to stomp with a swagger. Now we live in an increasingly global world where it is important for nations/peoples to get along.

Walter Russell Mead in a chapter near the end of his book God and Gold-- which I'm almost finished with -- takes up the sticky issues of living together as nations. That is -- the issues that make for problems and the resistance that is present on the part of those who aren't fans of a nation as powerful as the US. Here is comment on the Bush administration and the ways in which it has alienated not only foe but friend.
The first four years of the administration of George W. Bush were almost a textbook example of the dangers that American foreign policy faces when it ignores the enduring importance of collective recognition in interna…

Love Made Visible

Faith in the Public Square
Lompoc Record
December 23, 2007

Today, with my church, I will light the fourth candle of Advent. Like the candles that I and many other Christians have lit in the preceding weeks (candles of hope, peace, and joy), this candle brings with it an important message. The message this candle brings is one of love.
It is said in the Christian Scriptures that love is the greatest of the virtues, and that without love even martyrdom is without any value (1 Corinthians 13). These same Scriptures declare that God is love, and that if one does not love, one does not know God (1 John 4:7-8). It is a sad truth that we who claim to be people of God so often fail to heed this message.
For the majority of Christians who celebrate Christmas a few days from now, the season's message is one of love. If, as Christians believe, Jesus is God in the flesh (incarnate), then those who would truly celebrate his birth and life will be a person who loves. A person, however, doesn't h…

A Christmas Song

After hearing an Obama Carol, we have to listen to a real classic --Nat King Cole singing Mel Torme's The Christmas Song. Enjoy:

Merry Christmas!

An Obama Carol!

Barack's given us his holiday card and now one of his supporters offers us a song: "It's looking a lot like ... Obama will win in Iowa." It's a nice take off and something I'm hopeful for as the New Year begins.

Now the singing is at times a bit off key, but the words are right on.

Take a look:

The News on the News Press

I don't get the local paper anymore, which means I'm often at a loss to know what's going on. It's too bad, I used to enjoy reading the News Press. Now I have to take solace in reading about the News Press. Fortunately much is written about the former award winning paper, just little that's positive.
With NP watcher Craig Smith in China, we're not getting as much news on the NP as usual. But Craig did let his loyal readers know that the LA Magazine had an article about Wendy McCaw and her fight with the paper and the community. And, I must say that while Wendy doesn't speak in it (she didn't return the calls apparently), we learn much about her.
The question raised here and really in much of the coverage has to do with the issue of public trust. Is the News Paper a public trust? As the article makes clear, in a town like Santa Barbara, which is fairly small, the community does put great trust in its paper. It is the vehicle by which we keep tabs on our co…

Hope as a Tactic for Change

The former President and hopeful "First Husband" has become quite pointed about Barack Obama's lack of experience and the apparent experience of his wife. Now Hillary has strong abilities, but her claims to experience stretch things just a bit. She has been in the Senate 4 years longer than Barack. That's not a huge number. While it is true that she knows her way around the White House, I still can't figure out how being First Lady is qualifies her to be President. If being First Lady is sufficient experience, then why not elect Laura or Barbara or even Nancy? So, we're really left discussing their time in the Senate and his other political experience in Illinois. The continued statements that Barack is inexperienced leads to the further insinuation that his talk about hope is a sign of naivete. But is it? Mark Schmitt in an American Prospectarticle talks about three theories of change as exemplified by the three leading Democratic candidates. O…

Interview with Congresswoman Lois Capps

Interview originally published at Faithfully Liberal

Living on California’s Central Coast I had the pleasure of being represented in Congress by Lois Capps(D-23rd District). Lois came to Congress in March 1998 after her husband Walter, a long-time member of the University of California at Santa Barbara (UCSB) religion faculty, died in office. That was not long before my arrival in Santa Barbara. Over the years I’ve had the opportunity to be in different events and forums and conversations with her, and I’ve come to know her as a genuinely committed person, whose faith has formed a compassionate and gracious person. I’ve also been impressed by her willingness to meet with and listen to religious leaders of the community.

As you’ll discover in the interview, before serving in Congress, Lois was a nurse — or better yet she remains a nurse to this day — one of three serving in Congress. A RN, she was for many years a school nurse in the Santa Barbara School District (and for part of that te…

An Obama Christmas!

I confess I'm biased here, but i find the Obama video Chrsitmas card much less calculating than Mike Huckabee's. Huckabee seems desinged to trade on the "War on Christmas" mentality and send a message to his would be followers that he's not only running for President but that Jesus is the Master. It's a message not of unity but one designed to set him apart as the truly Christian candidate.

Obama on the other hand has a nice sentiment expressed focused on what unites us as a people. It brings in the whole family as well. Nice touch. Like I said, I'm biased, but I like the video -- check it out:

Scrooge in Reverse

There are certain Christmas specials that have passed the test of time -- Scrooge (in its many forms), the original Grinch, but perhaps best of all is Charlie Brown's Christmas. Greg Ruehlmann has written a wonderful piece at SoMA Review about the power of this simple story. He entitles it "Scrooge in Reverse," hence the title of this post. Ruehlmann confesses his oncoming "Scrooginess" because of the over commercialization of the season (which now begins as he says " before teenagers have time to vandalize my Halloween decorations." His season is, however, saved by Charlie Brown's journey to understanding of the season. He writes: While “A Charlie Brown Christmas” gently scolds America for its exploitation of the season, it really centers on the education of its main character. By letting commercialism spoil his Christmas, Charlie Brown becomes the prototypical “Scrooge in reverse.” As Linus wisely tells him, “You’re the only person I know who can …

Why Do They Hate Us?

The Ugly American is a phrase heard around the world. Americans wonder -- why do they hate us so? George Bush suggested that the world hates us because we believe in freedom and democracy, but the reality is -- things are a bit more complicated. Walter Russell Mead in his book God and Gold uses the term "Waspophobe" to describe an overarching feeling that has been around for a very long time. Before the Americans became the focus, it was the Brits. We're seen by many as vulgar, brutish, uncouth, arrogant . . . . And the list goes on. What is interesting is that the world's people seem to be talking at rather than to, and no one seems to understand the other. So, for the past 400 years, Mead says, two discourse have emerged. The Anglophones [English speaking countries] have seen themselves as defending and sometimes advancing liberty, protecting the weak, providing opportunity to the poor, introducing the principles of morality and democracy into international life, and…

Axis of Evil and Evil Empires

George W. Bush set us on our current political course by announcing that as a nation we faced an axis of evil -- Iraq, Iran, and North Korea. That pronouncement of course led to war in Iraq and current stand offs with Iran and North Korea (one hot war, 2 cold ones).
Ronald Reagan, of course, had his "Evil Empire." That empire fell, but seems to be reconstituting itself.
The point of these pronouncements is that there is evil in the world and we are on the side of right.
Of course, this is nothing new. Walter Russell Mead, in his book God and Gold, which I'm currently reading, suggests that the Anglo-American self-understanding posits our being on the side of God.
For Elizabeth I that evil was Spain and the Catholics. Oliver Cromwell had a similar axis of evil -- but his included royalists, Catholics, and their Continental supporters.

England's enemies, he said, are all the wicked men of the world, whether
abroad or at home . . . "

"Truly," said Cromwe…

A Cry from the Cross

It is Christmas shopping season, but it's never too soon to do your Lenten-Easter shopping. With that in mind I'm pleased to announce that my book: A Cry from the Cross: Sermons on the Seven Last Words of Christ (CSS, 2008) is now available direct from the publisher. If you're interested you can go to the site by clicking here.

About the book:

A series of seven sermons, A Cry from the Cross explores each of the last seven statements given by Jesus as recorded in the gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. As each statement is explored, Robert Cornwall offers deeper insights into the meaning and significance of the cross as it relates to the Christian faith. I'll be posting more about this soon. But, hey, it's never too soon do some shopping!

Open and Dynamic Societies

I'm reading Walter Russell Mead's fascinating book God and Gold: Britain, America, and the Making of the Modern World (Knopf, 2007). I'll be writing a review for Congregations, so a full review here will have to wait till that is published. However, the book is full of interesting ideas that warrant comment. ***** Mead believes there are certain characteristics that mark the Anglo-American identity that has fueled their rise to dominance in the modern world. Part of this is rooted in an adoption of capitalism, but there are other elements to this. These characteristics haven't always made either the Brits or us very popular -- "Why do they hate us? However the world might look at us, there are social/psychological factors within our culture that have made our adoption and use of capitalism so easy. Borrowing from Henri Bergson and Karl Popper, Mead speaks of open/closed societies and static/dynamic societies. Britain and the US have, since the turn of the …

Merry Christmas from Mike Huckabee

When you're running for President there is no such thing as standing back from politics or that there's no political calculus in a statement or ad. So, when Mike put out his little Christmas ad on the eve of the Iowa Caucuses, the question has to be raised -- who is his audience? The answer has to be -- conservative Christians who want one of their own in office. It's understandable, really, but the question is: what's the message? Here's what Mike had to say in his own defense: "If we are so politically correct in this country that a person can't say enough of the nonsense with the political attack ads could we pause for a few days and say Merry Christmas to each other then we're really, really in trouble as a country," Huckabee said. Well, the problem Mike is that you are playing on those "Bill O'Reilly" inflamed "Christmas warriors" who want their President to be not just commander-in-chief but pastor-in-chief. It's …

Crossan Speaks About Christmas and More

There was a time when biblical scholars lived in ivory towers and talked to themselves but rarely to the general public. Preachers were supposed to carry the news from study to pulpit, but rarely did you get it right from the horses mouth. Well things have changed.
On the Evangelical side there's Tom Wright, the scholarly Bishop of Durham. On the more liberal/progressive side Marcus Borg and Dom Crossan are the most recognizable voices. And now, through a magnificent interview with John Spalding at SoMA Review, we hear directly from Crossan (I must say here that I'm amazed with John does as an editor and an interviewer. When he's published pieces I've written they look so much better than what I sent him I wonder who the author is!).
I had long steered clear of Crossan, even as I dipped into Borg (you know how it is with Borg: "Resistance is Futile"). But lately -- I think it was the jointly written book The Last Week that got me more interested in Crossan. T…

Huckabee -- Clergy and the Declaration of Independence

Myths of our Christian origins as a nation have proven important to those, who like Governor Mike Huckabee, wish to grab the "Christian vote." There is great fear in certain sectors of the nation that the Protestant (Judeo-Christian) hegemony is threatened with extinction. In response they retell the myths of a golden age when all were Christians.

Well, apparently in the recent GOP Debate Mike Huckabee made a bit of a goof the other day. In establishing his opposition to Abortion, he recounted the "Christian origins" of the nation -- insisting that that many of the Declaration's signers were clergy.

HUCKABEE: There are some real issues out there in this country we need to be fighting for on behalf of the people. Now, one of them, quite frankly, I do believe, is the sanctity of human life...


... because I do believe that it is one of the defining issues of our culture and civilization in that it expresses our understanding that every single human being in…

Torture is a Moral Issue

With Congress arguing with the White House and with the Justice Department about destroyed tapes that allegedly showed CIA Agents using waterboarding to gain information, it is important to state categorically that "torture is a moral issue." If it is being practiced by this nation, then something evil is eating at the nation's soul.

Watch this video from the National Religious Campaign Against Torture and sign the statement.

On Global Warming -- Sightings

With Al Gore having received his Nobel Prize for his advocacy in the battle against Global Warming. There are still a few people out three who downplay the risks or who throw up their hands and say there's nothing we can do -- so let's drive those Hummers until the oil wells run dry! Scientists give us any number of nightmare scenarios as to what might happen -- from drought to rising coastlines to a Big Freeze. All are complicated scenarios, but suggestive that things might get difficult in coming years. I might be dead by then, but what of my son and any possible grandchildren? What about them? Well adding to our fears, martin Marty points to an article by historian Philip Jenkins, a researcher in touch with the church in the global south. According to Marty, Jenkins has written a scenario of nightmare proportions about what could happen -- from ethnic cleansing to interreligious warfare. Not bed time reading, it appears. But there is some hope and Jenkins suggests its …

It's Time for a Little Joy!

Faith in the Public Square
Lompoc Record
December 9, 2007

December is rapidly moving to a close, and a new year is on the horizon. It is full of promise, and yet it's full of uncertainty. Uncertainty often breeds fear and timidity. We can even get a bit cranky - especially during a time as stressful as this current season (whatever you choose to call it).
For me this is still the season of Advent, a season of preparation and self-examination. To this point, I've lit candles of hope and peace, and this morning it's time to light a third candle, the candle of joy. Although the carol “Joy to the World” will be sung in many a church come Christmas Eve (and perhaps earlier), for many this season is anything but joyful. The times are serious and the challenges many. There's the war and the elections (Iowa caucuses just two days after New Year's). The economic situation in the nation distresses many, especially those who are being laid off or perhaps struggle to make ends mee…

A Contrast in Styles? Obama and Giuliani

For a moment I'm going to step out of Primary Mode and share these two contrasting pieces from the New York Times. One speaks to Obama's personality, background, and presence on the world stage. The other speaks of Giuliani's way of doing business. On one hand we have a man whose own life story and background is unlike any other in the political field. He has an understanding of the world that is influenced by time spent in schools in Indonesia, Muslim relatives, and family in Kenya. Besides that, he has brown skin. Some might hold all this against him. But think about how differently he will be perceived by the broader world? The question posed to Barack Obama concerned whether he was tough enough to be a world leader. His answer is yes. But listen to his definition of what it means to be tough enough: “What I’ve always found is people who talk about how tough they are aren’t the tough ones. I’m less interested in beating my chest and rattling my saber and mo…

The Next War -- On Christmas

You got a love it! This captures Bill and his cohorts to a T! hat tip to DB and McQ

No More Waterboarding!

The House of Representatives in a near party-line vote (222-199) has passed a measure that would require the CIA to adhere to the same methods of interrogation of prisoners as used by the Military and would require them to adhere to the Geneva convention. The Senate must now pass a bill before it goes to President George "We don't Torture" Bush, who has threatened a veto. The belief that torture and dehumanizing interrogation techniques will protect us (Ala Jack Bauer) is rooted in fear and stands contrary to the American ideal. We talk about holding others to a high standard of justice and let our own nation fall below international standards. This is simply not acceptable. But perhaps Drew is write in a comment he made to an earlier posting on waterboarding: I am getting the sense that the real issue here is that the Bush does not view the suspected terrorist as a fully human being. This makes the definition of torture technically not apply to them in that sense. It …

Speaking from Ignorance -- Huckabee and Mormons

We all do it -- we say things we probably shouldn't and do so out of ignorance. I know I do it -- I'm as guilty as the next person. So, I do have some empathy for Mike Huckabee's little blunder -- when he suggested he doesn't know much about the Mormonism of his key rival in Iowa -- Mitt Romney. But you still have to wonder about his question: "Don't they believe that Jesus and the devil are brothers?" Gov/Rev Mike has since apologized for the remark, but you do have to wonder if the way it was posed didn't have just a bit of malice to it. I mean Jesus and the devil as brothers? But this question whether meant pejoratively or not is symptomatic of a general lack of understanding of other faith traditions. Actually Stephen Prothero has suggested that believers don't know much about their own faiths, so it's no wonder they know little about others. Mormonism is an enigmatic religion that leaves most Americans bewildered by seemingl…

December Dilemma

Faith in the Public Square
Lompoc Record
December 4, 2005

(I am republishing here a column originally published in the Lompoc Record in 2005. It deals with the issues that confound so many and makes December a dilemma to those who are not Christian)

December poses a dilemma for some, though this may come as a surprise to many. I find December to be a joyous and blessed season. I may complain occasionally about the commercialization of Christmas, but I still enjoy the lights, the trees, and the music, especially the carols. I really have no complaints.
Christmas celebrates the birth of Jesus and it reminds me that God has drawn near to us in a baby born in a far off corner of the world. It is a festival that carries a message of peace and good will, of angel's songs and divine visits. Yes, for me, “Jesus is the reason for the season.”
As joyous as December may be for me, I know that Jesus is not the reason for the season for all. There are those in our community whose history includes s…