Posts

Showing posts from August, 2007

The Way to War

As I continued my reading in Dom Crossan's God and Empire, a book that suggests that empire, civilization, and violence have historically run together, I came across this haunting recounting of a conversation with Herman Goering, Hitler's partner, during his time in a Nuremberg Jail. US intelligence psychologist Captain Gustave Gilbert records these words of the former German leader: Naturally, the common people don't want war; neither in Russian nor in England nor in America, nor for that matter in Germany. That is understood. But, after all, it is the leaders of the country that determine the policy and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy or a fascist dictatorship or a Parliament or a Communist dictatorship . . . . The people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to…

Peace Through Victory

I'm just getting started with John Dominic Crossan'sGod and Empire(Harper SanFrancisco, 2007). I will admit I've not read as much Crossan as I've read Borg, but I find this to be a very intriguing and poignant read. The parallels are explicit here between the Rome of Old and the New Rome. We're reminded here, early on, that the U.S., like Rome of old, is an empire -- an empire of bases rather than territories but an empire nonetheless. As Crossan writes as a biblical scholar it's not surprising that he does lift up the role of religion in this story -- what he calls Roman Imperial Theology (rather than Roman mythology or Emperor cult). He does this to set up the contrast between Augustus and Jesus (and the opposing theologies of Roman state and early church). What is interesting is the comment about Roman imperial theology being summarized in the phrase "peace through victory." During the Cold War we often heard the phrase "Peace through Stre…

Out of the Closet?

My friend Steve Kindle -- at Open Hearts, Affirming Pages-- has posted an important statement on the Larry Craig situation. He speaks of the closet, which heterosexuals have created to essentially ghettoize gays. The result of this are risky, even self-destructive behaviors essentially imposed on them. Some effects of the closet on GLBTs include:
Clandestine sexual practices
Anonymous sexual practices
Inappropriate marriages
Self-loathing (internalized homophobia)
Magnet for disease (STD and otherwise)
Truncated sense of wholeness (disempowerment)
Superficial relationships with straights and gays
Imposed hypocrisy
Sheer pain of not being oneself
Intense loneliness of not being wholly possessed by or possessing a life companion
What should we do? Senator Craig and Ted Haggard are the victims, not of hypocrisy, but of the closet—a closet of our making. This is a true case of blaming the victim when the finger should be pointing at us.

A corollary is at work here. Just as the closet makes this behavio…

Your Calling as a Christian -- Review

Image
Timothy L. Carson. Your Calling as a Christian. St. Louis: Chalice Press, 2007. 88 pages.


What does it mean to be a Christian? There are many answers to that question, many of which are narrow in scope. Timothy Carson, pastor of University Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) of Fort Worth, offers in brief scope an outline of Christian faith from a progressive Protestant perspective. This is a sort of Mere Christianity for the 21st Century, and it should prove valuable to many seekers as well as long term Christians seeking a primer of their faith.

While this is written by a Disciples of Christ pastor and represents a Disciples of Christ perspective, its use will extend well beyond these denominational boundaries. Carson has sought to address the questioner/seeker that is interested in the Christian faith but is uncomfortable with the typical presentation that focuses on a narrow but expansive creed and a moralism focused on sexuality. In an opening chapter entitled “Why Should I Care…

Is Spong's Jesus Radical Enough?

I know that a lot of progressives love John Spong and I hear he's a nice guy, but I must confess I find him to be just a bit silly. He lacks the sophistication of a Marcus Borg and makes claims about the Bible that on one hand seem extreme and yet seem to reflect what was radical in the 19th century. His scholarship is outdated and more in line with Christopher Hitchens or Sam Harris, both of whom show little awareneness of the full spectrum of Christian scholarship. Ben Meyers at Faith and Theology has written a review of Spong's latest -- Jesus for the Non-believer. I've not read the book but trust Meyers' judgment here, so I think I'll pass. What I find interesting is Meyers' judgment that Spong's interpretatin of Jesus isn't radical enough. What we have here is a Jesus who is the champion of Western values of inclusiveness and tolerance -- a sort of PC guide. Now I'm for inclusiveness and tolerance -- but the Jesus of the Gospels -- texts that Sp…

Reclaiming the Bible

I am at once a liberal and an evangelical, catholic and a particulist (I'm Disciples of Christ). I, like most Christians, live on a continuum of understanding, and I've been moving along that continuum leftward for some time. Since Tom Wright and Marcus Borg are friends and dialog partners and former students of G.B. Caird, I can safely say that I'm somewhere in between the two of them. I sense I've grown closer to Marcus Borg's "historical-metaphorical" position, and yet I still want to hang on to some of the supernaturalism of the biblical story -- parts of the story that Tom Wright seeks to defend in his books.

Marcus Borg speaks in the video clip below of reclaiming the Bible for Mainline Protestants -- which he sees as responding to the issue of biblical literalism -- both in its hard and soft forms. It is the soft form that Wright represents, I think, and it's the form that I've been content with over the recent path.

As Borg speaks here of a …

Leaving Public Schools?

School is back in session for many young people across the country. If not this week then surely in the next few weeks. Once again we're hearing attacks on our public school system, with the Southern Baptists taking charge of things. Al Mohler of SBTS and Daniel Akin of Southeastern Baptist Seminary are calling for exit strategies and the formation of Christian schools -- because apparently without them our children will become secularized. Akin and others in the SBC are charging the public schools with being hostile to religion. Now I live out here in the West and not the South, but I really don't think the schools are hostile to religion. Unless of course, you mean, that schools can't indoctrinate children with Christian theology and practices. That is, after all, our job as the church. I don't send my kid to school to learn what he should learn in church. I do think there's a place for teaching about religion in school -- but with an eye to breadth of know…

Religious Right Retirement Party

Image
When you oversee an empire it's hard to let go. Pope's don't retire, they just die. Succession is determined later. Protestant mega-church pastors are usually entities unto themselves and they more often than not determine their own successions. Bob Schuller passed his aging empire on to his son. Jerry Falwell died in office, but the keys to the kingdom are being shared by his sons. Pat Robertson is hanging on, but his son is taking a great role in the "TV Ministry." Fortunately I'm not a mega-church pastor because my son has no interest in the family business!
But then there's D. James Kennedy, Pastor of Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church -- proponent of the ever precarious idea that America is and was and shall be (if he can help it) be a Christian nation. When I first heard of James Kennedy it wasn't in relationship to conservative politics. His was the Evangelism Explosion of the 1970s. We watched a film about how his church evangelized the community …

Dangers of Hypocrisy

Image
Let me say up front -- we all engage in hypocrisy. Our walk doesn't always coincide with our talk, which is why Jesus warns us about taking care of the log in our own eye before we go to work on the splinter in our neighbor's eye (Matthew 7:3-5; Luke 6:41-43).
This warning about taking care of yourself before focusing on others has an interesting corollary in the relationship of verbiage by Religious and Political conservatives about matters relating to sex with the spate of scandals emanating from within the Republican Party. Remember Mark Foley and the pages scandal? Then more recently David Vitters, the Louisiana conservative Senator whose name appeared on madame's list of contacts, and now Larry Craig of Idaho. Foley had been a strong opponent of homosexuality in the House, but it appears that he had for some time been living a double life, but took such strong positions as a cover -- in order to remain in good stead with GOP leaders.
Larry Craig is an even more interes…

The humanness of a saint

Image
In life Mother Teresa was one whose very life breathed holiness. When you thought of Jesus and his ministry, you thought of her. In death, even Protestants acclaim her one of the great saints of the church. Her willingness to give totally of herself remains a challenge to us all.
That she struggled with her faith, that the ecstasies she once experienced gave way to silence and dryness seems at first odd, and yet there's something quite compelling in this story. Even as she gave herself to a ministry of care to the least of God's children, she took on their pain and experienced their aloneness. That she longed to hear the voice of Christ, is understandable. We do long to hear God's voice speak to us.
The blogosphere is of course abuzz at the news of her "dark night of the soul" as it's revealed in a most important Time Magazinecover story. In her letters to her superiors and to her confessors she revealed a side of herself that none of the rest of us had access…

Rip City -- what a shot

Watch as Barack Obama has some fun -- and then makes a brief comment about investing in school construction across the country.




Hat tip to Aaron Krager at Faithfully Liberal for this clip.

Good Bye Alberto Gonzalez!!

Image
First it was Karl and now it's Alberto. Yes, finally, for the good of the country, one of the most partisan and ineffective Attorney Generals ever will leave. Gonzalez makes you long for John Ashcroft and maybe even John Mitchell -- oh well maybe not Mitchell.
He leaves an AG office that had turned partisan politics into an art form -- the most visible example being the firing of the US Attorneys -- but it also involved things like the wire tapping, surveillance, his apparent support for what appears to be torture, the hiring of people simply for political reasons. This is good news and may open things up for more transparency -- depending on who GW chooses as a replacement. The name being bandied about so far is Michael Chertoff -- Homeland Security Secretary. To my mind that's not a good choice. Besides, he already has a job that needs tending to. Pull someone in from the outside, someone with integrity and independence. At one time a suggested replacement was John Danforth …

Senior Year Arrives

Image
Today my son headed off to school to begin his senior year at Santa Barbara High School. My how time has flown since we walked him down to Marlatt Elementary School in Manhattan, KS to start kindergarten. Since then he's spent time (doesn't that sound like prison language) at Peabody Elementary, Santa Barbara JHS, and now three years at SBHS. A senior year is like no other -- full of promise, much uncertainty. College beckons for Brett -- wants to be a film maker -- but where is yet to be decided.

This Fall is heavy on band and the social sciences -- Black studies, AP US Government, Senior English, and Film -- besides 3 band classes. I'm excited about this year -- a bit emotional I suppose -- but excited to see what will come of things. And, as I've been reminded, senior years go by fast.

So, while I'm a Mighty Pelican of 1976 (Klamath Union High School), Brett is a Don of 2008 -- the slogan for the school is this: "Once a Don, always a Don." So hurrah for…

Is America a Christian Nation?

Faith in the Public Square
Lompoc Record
August 26, 2007

Is America a Christian nation?
If by that question one means, “Which religion is dominant in America?” then, yes, America is a predominantly Christian nation - indeed it has a decidedly Protestant cast.
But that's not the way the question is usually asked. To put it more precisely: “Is America a Christian nation the way Saudi Arabia is a Muslim one?” That may be putting it a bit too starkly, but the way the question is usually asked concerns the role Christianity should play in determining the cultural, legal, and political dimensions of American life.
There are a great many Americans who believe that Christianity should have a privileged place in American society and that it should set the tone for American life. Others would disagree vehemently, even suggesting that religion should have no place in public life.
This debate has become increasingly bitter as we move into a hotly contested presidential election cycle. In the course …

Torture's Usefulness?

Image
I saw this at Levellers -- Michael Westmoreland-White's site. I think it speaks for itself!

Obama Gets it Right on Cuba

Whatever your opinion of Barack Obama, you have to admit that he's not afraid to ruffle feathers or suggest a new direction. On Cuba he's the first candidate in a long time to have the courage to say that this 50 year embargo doesn't work. Fidel Castro is in poor health and the country is being run by his brother. Because the Cuban American community won't be happy until they're back in power, we're about the only nation in the world to have little or no contact with Cuba. Our efforts have failed and its time to admit it. Fidel Castro has outlasted 10 US presidents, half of whom are long dead. The LA Times agrees with Obama but rightfully says he doesn't go far enough. Here's their opinion: Regardless of the political implications, Obama is clearly right -- the only problem is, his proposal doesn't go far enough. The travel ban should be lifted for everybody, not just Cuban immigrants. It is the height of irony that Americans can freely travel to …

What's with those Imprecatory Prayers

Image
The recent episode involving SBC pastor and VP Wiley Drake's call for imprecatory prayers -- cursings -- of a couple of leaders of the Americans United for the Separation of Church and State has raised a number of issues about how we should pray for those who we might disagree with or those who obstruct what we think is right. I've been tempted on occasion to pray some nasty things about certain people, but never took that step. In an LA Times article written by Connie Kang, this question of "imprecatory prayers" is addressed. Apparently, as I suspected, he's not gotten a lot of support in his call to prayer or in his interpretation of Scripture. Drake used Psalm 109 as his guide to prayer, a psalm that asks that God leave certain people fatherless and widowed. But such use of the Psalms is inappropriate -- he was using it in a prescriptive way, but in reality the Psalm is simply an example of a prayer of frustration and anger. I appreciate what Fuller Seminary…

God's Christian Warriors

Onward, Christian soldiers, marching as to war, With the cross of Jesus going on before. Christ, the royal Master, leads against the foe; Forward into battle see His banners go!
Refrain
Onward, Christian soldiers, marching as to war, With the cross of Jesus going on before.
I remember singing that song with gusto back in the day. It's quite stirring, really, but what's the message? What's the mentality? Isn't it that crusading spirit that merges imperialistic pretensions with a gospel cover? Fortunately it's not in our Disciples Hymnal (Chalice Hymnal), but it's still a favorite of a lot of people. As I think about last night's episode of Christiane Amanpour's God's Warriors, which focused on militant forms of American Christianity, this hymn comes to mind. We hear a lot these days about culture wars, about taking America for Jesus, about defending the faith. One of the sections of last night's show focused on Ron Luce and his organization -- Ba…

Obama -- the Pragmatic Foreign Policy Guy

I've not said much recently about my guy Barack Obama. Although he's let a fairly large gap develop between himself and Hillary, I still think that this gap will narrow considerably before the Primary season gets up and running. He's still the best candidate to take on the GOP and he's learning how to lay out his message. I did find interesting a Washington Post op-ed piece that suggests that Obama is setting the foreign policy debate and getting the better of his critics. David Ignatius writes: Indeed, you can argue that over the past month, Obama has been shaping the foreign policy debate for the Democrats -- and getting the best of the arguments. By last Sunday's televised debate in Iowa, nobody else seemed eager to challenge Obama's postulate that "strong countries and strong presidents meet and talk with our adversaries." And there was little repetition, either, of the tut-tutting that greeted his statement that he would be prepared to go after a…

George Bush Still Doesn't Get It!

Image
Yesterday's speech by the President that compared a withdrawal from Iraq to the ending of the Vietnam War demonstrates that he hasn't a clue of what's going on. The South Vietnamese government fell not because American troops had left (as agreed upon in a peace deal) but because the South Vietnamese government was corrupt and incompetent and had failed to command the loyalty of its people -- in that there is a good analogy to the current situation. But if I hear the President correctly we should have remained in Vietnam indefinitely -- and thus we must remain in Iraq indefinitely.
He is wrong about the idea we should have stayed in Vietnam, and even more wrong about the current situation. It's possible we could have stayed longer in Southeast Asia -- we had a draft that allowed the government to replenish the troops regularly. In the current situation we don't have such a thing and right now our troops are spread increasingly thin and are serving increasingly longer…

What is a Hate Crime?

Geoffrey Stone has written an important op-ed piece today for the LA Times. He responds to those conservative Christians who oppose pending hate crimes legislation because they think it will preclude them from speaking out against homosexuality. Now, I don't think there's any reason why we need to be preaching against gays from our pulpits, but needless to say this legislation won't ban preachers from speaking against homosexuality. Stone mentions 3 reasons why anti-gay preachers need not fear this legislation: 1. The "Matthew Shepherd Act" doesn't prohibit "attempts to incite" -- only infliction of bodily harm. 2. It is settled 1st Amendment Law that unless "an individual cannot constitutionally be punished for attempting to incite others to commit crimes unless the speaker expressly incites unlawful conduct and such conduct is likely to occur imminently." If you're leading a mob intent on doing bodily harm because a person is g…

Taking the Bible Seriously?

The other day I had a phone call from a man who asked which Bible I preached from. I said the NRSV, but that we had the Good News Bible in the pews. He didn't seem to know about either of them, but what he was looking for was a church that preached the KJV only. I guess it's that old idea that if it was good enough for Paul, it's good enough for me. But seriously, the KJV was a good translation in its own day, but this is the 21st century and not the 17th (and even the KJV has been revised over the years). So, is reading the KJV only taking the Bible more seriously? Marcus Borg speaks of taking the "Bible seriously but not literally." I kind of like the modification made to that phrase by my friend David Matson, "Taking the Bible seriously, but not necessarily literally." There are at least a few passages that I take more literally than does the distinguished scholar from Oregon State University. With that said, I find interesting the review Eli…

The Pentagon's Next Crusade

Quite a bit has been made about "Operation Straight UP" (OSU), a fundamentalist organization that seeks to send Christian goodies like Josh McDowell books, bibles and of course the infamous "Left Behind" game. Apparently the group, which features bad boy actor turned evangelist Stephen Baldwin, was going to do a little Christian entertainment gig in Iraq called "Military Crusade." As Michael Weinstein and Reza Aslan point out in an LA Times piece today entitled "Not So Fast, Christian Soldiers," Muslims kind of "bristle" at the word Crusade. Fortunately the Pentagon at the last hour came to its senses and realized that baptizing the Iraq War as a Christian holy war wouldn't do much for winning the peace. The problem is that in our volunteer army fundamentalist Christians are both big supporters and eager volunteers, making an already problematic war even more problematic. The authors of this op-ed piece write: American milita…

Armenian Genocide Recognized by ADL

Word comes that the Anti-Defamation League will officially (albeit somewhat reluctantly) recognize the Armenian Genocide as Genocide. The ADL, which provides a great service to many communities regarding issues of hate crimes and its prevention, has had a hard time dealing with the Armenian Genocide -- in large part because Turkey won't recognize it as a genocide and Turkey is one of Israel's few friends in the Muslim world. A rebellion in the Boston office pushed the ADL to do this, but such recognition is long overdue. Apparently this issue has been a divisive one within the Jewish community, whose own experience of genocide is and should be a reminder of what humans can do to each other. This is step in the right direction and hopefully the Turks will eventually recognize that they will be better off accepting rather than denying the complicity in this action of nearly a century ago. Here is the ADL statement by it's president, Abe Foxman:
In light of the heated controvers…

God's Warriors

Episode 1 of Christiane Amanpour's God's Warriorsappeared last night on CNN. This is a six hour, three night event, which highlights militancy in Judaism (last night), Islam (tonight), and Christianity (tomorrow). Last night's episode focusing on Judaism, and more specifically the Settlement movement, was enlightening. Although I had heard and seen aspects of this story, Amanpour did a great job of showing the whole story. What we learn is that the settlement movement has had tacit support from within the Israeli government, that it continues unabated despite official US opposition (but opposition that is muted by political pressure placed on Congress), and that is at the heart of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. We hear from settlers, some who have engaged in violence, others who have been victims of violence. We learn how the law is circumvented -- both Israeli and international. We learn that from the beginning there have been people within the Israeli government -- for…

America's Islam -- with a female face

Image
In this world of fear, a large swathe of Americans fear Islam -- both the Islam residing in the Middle East and the one(s) found here. Politicians, of course, make great gains by emphasizing the threat and certain Christian groups find Islam a convenient enemy (sells lots of "prophecy" books.


But Islam isn't of necessity a threat, nor need it be an enemy of Christians or Jews. Historically we've gotten along at times and not so well at others. The modern era, with a combination of colonialism and Western secularism a seeming threat to the Islamic world that ability to get along has been challenged.

But America offers an opportunity for something different. My experiences with Muslims has been, by and large, positive. Many of them live with one foot in American life and the other foot in the Muslim World. They're being tugged in two directions and only time will tell how this interaction will influence not just American Islamic society, but the Islamic world as a wh…

Rudy the Strongman and the Religious Right

GOP Evangelicals face a dilemma -- the most "evangelical" candidate is Mike Huckabee and he's shown little life, has little money, and little Internet presence. As one pundit said, Sam Brownback is doing little more than tearing down similar opponents and should get out of the race -- but he's the other Religious Right candidate. Politically conservative Evangelicals aren't comfortable with Rudy Giuliani, whose views on abortion and gay rights, plus a less than stellar family life, stand at odds with their typical litmus tests. But the issue that draws them to Rudy is fear -- specifically fear of Islam and Islamic based terrorism. Rudy talks like an old style strongman. He's a "Decider" like the current president (and as I've heard -- if you like GW you'll love Rudy). In this age of anxiety, many Americans are willing to give up their freedoms for a sense of security and Rudy promises to provide that. I think that one reason why conse…

When Welcoming is More than Toleration

An article by Steve Kindle, first published in Sharing the Practice -- the journal that I edit for the Academy of Parish Clergy -- is reprinted on Steve's blog -- Open Hearts -- Affirming Pages. He writes: Pastors are well aware of the courage it takes for many first-time visitors to find their way into our sanctuaries. They often have to deal with poor signage, lack of a welcoming face, and even hostility over where they choose to sit. In many ways visitors are as much a threat to a congregation as promise.

Imagine then what it takes for a gay person to show up for worship. All the above is compounded by a real or perceived sense of animosity toward who they are, even if it is not obvious at first sight. After all, the church’s reputation in the gay community as a hostile environment for them is well deserved.

I often attend P-FLAG (Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays) meetings, and have spoken quite often. My congregation was officially “Open and Affirming,” and I was well know…

A Night of Jazz

Image
As passionate as I am about the music of Neil Young, I'm equally passionate about Jazz. Last night my wife and I spent the evening at the Santa Barbara Bowl, an outdoor venue with hard metal bench seats, but a great opportunity to hear the best in the business.
This was I think my third time at a Diana Krall concert. She took us through her standards of Nat King Cole, Cole Porter, and Irving Berlin pieces, all done with perfection. She shared some humorous comments about her recent birthing of twin boys. All in all, a typical Diana Krall night. Great music from one of the best in the business.
The night began with a powerful hour of music by trumpeter Chris Botti and his band. In some ways the contrast between Botti's high energy, driving jazz and Diana's laid back ballads can't be more different, and yet it made for a great night. I first heard Chris a couple of years back when he came to town with Dave Koz's Christmas tour. Then he was part of a smooth jazz all sta…

Dick got it right -- In 1994

Who knew that Dick Cheney got things right about Iraq -- in 1994! Back then he asked: "If you take Saddam's regime down, who are you going to replace him with." If he'd listened to himself the world would be just a bit safer.

Here Jon Stewart's reminisces:




Thanks to Michael Westmoreland-White for this most insightful piece of video!

Sexualizing Girlhood

I don't know if it started with the Barbie dolls or not, but it seems that little girls are looking more and more like 20 something young women every year. Even as women have fought to break the glass ceiling and a woman has a serious chance of being the next President of the US, women are increasingly allowing themselves to be objectified as sex objects.

Blogger and Psychologist Richard Beck reports from the APA meeting in San Francisco some interesting information. He writes:

Later in the symposium, Sharon Lamb, author of the book Packaging Girlhood, spoke of how in the media childhood, particularly girlhood, is becoming sexualized. Girl models in the media are made to look like sexy adults and adult models are often dressed like little girls. The total effect is a sexualizing of childhood and innocence. Much of this can be read by downloading the report from the APA Task Force on the Sexualization of Girls. One disturbing trend they found: Apparently thong underwear is being…

Muggles, Mudbloods, and other objects of bigotry

Faith in the Public Square
Lompoc Record
August 19, 2007

No one likes to think of themselves as bigots, but unfortunately bigotry remains a present challenge to our society. Discussions of immigration policy, national security, even marriage often contain veiled and not so veiled statements about “them.” “Them” is code for those we deem undesirable; those who would steal our jobs, pollute our culture, waste our tax payer dollars, or undermine our morality. Yes, bigotry remains a problem in our day.
I happen to be a big Harry Potter fan, having just finished reading “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows,” and as I read I couldn't help but hear the book's author speaking to this very issue that plagues our world today. Supposedly this is a series of children's books, but they are much more, for many adults have found not just hours of enjoyment, but deep meaning in this increasingly mature series of books. The books offer insight into such virtues as friendship, loyalty, being t…

Getting Clarity on Climate Change

I found this video at Real Live Preacher. It is deceptively simple and amazingly helpful as it lays out the possibilities of doing nothing or doing something about Global Climate Change. We're encouraged to move from row thinking (is it true or false) to column thinking (consider the consequences of doing nothing versus doing something).

I think you'll find this profound. And if you find it compelling then pass the word.


Neil Young -- "Let's Impeach the President"

As I've said earlier -- I'm not sure impeachment will work and at this late hour likely isn't the proper course of action. That being said, GW has taken us down a dangerous path that is impeachable. So, let's just sit back and let us listen as Neil Young tells us why we should do it!


Ernst Bloch -- A vision of Hope

Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, and Christopher Hitchens all say that religion is a delusion and a dangerous one at that. None of these folk seem able to distinguish between fundamentalism and progressive versions of faith. But German Marxist Ernst Bloch was different. He not only recognized the difference, but his idea of hope proved to be influential in Jurgen Moltmann's development of a theology of Hope. Peter Thompson, of the University of Sheffield and an atheist himself, writing in the Guardian points to Bloch as a more nuanced understanding of religion, one that sees progressive faith as pointing forward -- toward home. Thompson writes: Enlightenment does not mean merely shining a light into the darker recesses of the world but must also mean a liberation of people out of darkness into the light. What progressive religious thought has to contribute to that process of liberation in an age of tumultuous social change is the preservation of human dignity against both reactionar…

Oh, My, I'm addicted

News Press Union Certified!

For a little local news -- I do that once in a while: It's a year in the making, but the NLRB has overturned the objections of the Santa Barbara News Press. The union is recognized and the News Press must negotiate with it. Now, it's likely they'll not do so in good faith -- it's interesting that the judge in the case pointed out the lack of truthfulness in the testimonies given by Travis Armstrong (the editorial page editor who rules the news -- making this nothing more than a gossip rag) and the associate editor Scott Steepleton. It's telling that the NP can't hire an editor. The story is told in full by the Santa Maria Times -- and as I hear it, nothing is said in the News Press, which continues to live in denial of reality. While this is going on, there is another hearing in Santa Barbara that deals with the issues faced by those who were unfairly fired for their union activities. Although the NP has its supporters, it's no longer a paper worthy of …

Faiths of the Founding Fathers -- A Review

Image
David L. Holmes. The Faiths of the Founding Fathers.New York: Oxford University Press, 2006. 225 pages.

There is great debate about the piety of the nation’s founders. There are those who claim that ours is a Christian nation and that the founders – with perhaps the exception of Thomas Jefferson -- were pious Christians. On the other side of the coin there are those who insist that the nation was as pluralist as today and that the Founders were to the man (yes they were men) non-Christian Deists. In large part this debate has political implications, for it is a debate about how great a separation there is between church and state.
Historian David L. Holmes, himself an Episcopalian, takes on the task of faithfully laying out the views and practices of the Founding Generation of Americans. He begins with a survey of the state of religion in America circa 1770. We learn that New England is Congregationalist, the Middle Colonies more mixed, and the South having originally a more Episcopa…