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 Democrats the unambiguous statement they sought, he would have stripped the U.S. intelligence agents of an interrogation technique that the Bush administration says is necessary in the war on terrorism.
Mukasey informed senators that his legal opinion on waterboarding would depend on the facts and circumstances of the program and reminded them that he had not been briefed on the government’s interrogation program and techniques.
Wednesday, October 31, 2007
Tuesday, October 30, 2007
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 Mike Huckabee. Paul is the libertarian who opposes the war and the social agenda of the Right. Huckabee supports the war but is up front a social conservative. They draw excitement -- but they remain, at least for now, on the margins.
So, back to Rudy. I do believe the issue is war and fear. People are afraid. They don't like the way GW has handled things -- they see him as at best incompetent. But Rudy offers for some at least the sense of a sure hand. But what he offers most is a sense of authoritarianism that is attractive to many. Hitler, Stalin, Mao -- they were despicable characters, but they had their followers, many of whom saw in them a savior and a protector. I do think that many in this country are willing to exchange their freedoms for protection. Rudy promises them that -- though in the long run that could be more dangerous to the world and to the nation.
But Rudy isn't the first to use fear to gain the nation's attention. GW did it, Ronnie did it, indeed LBJ did it.
Monday, October 29, 2007
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.
Sunday, October 28, 2007
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!
But is this picture an authentic one, or is the camera aimed too narrowly?
Without a doubt, the 1960s was a time of change. During this tumultuous decade, the stifling rules of American life were questioned and in many cases thrown out. This was especially true in regard to issues such as gender roles (June would be freed from her dress), race (a more colorful world emerged from the shadows), and war (it became OK to question). Myths of a national consensus were revealed to be just that - myths.
I thought about these myths as I recently watched the wonderful movie musical “Hairspray.” This movie, which features wonderful performances by John Travolta as Edna Turnblad and Nikki Blonsky as her daughter Tracy, uses humor, song, and dance to remind us that the good old days might have been “peaceful,” but they weren't necessarily just. The walls that divided remained in place and could prove difficult to scale.
A theme runs through the movie: that it's good to question conventional wisdom. It's appropriate to protest and remove the walls that divide us. Stereotypes need to be challenged, and roles assigned by society that are unjust should be overturned. The 1960s might have been an age of chaos and rebellion, but do we really want to go back to the time before this transitional era to a time when everyone had their place and knew it? Do we really want to go back to a time when we trusted our leaders to such an extent that we allowed them to lead us blindly into places we'd be better off not going? As I reflect on that last question, I wonder how far we've come in that regard!
The present has its issues, and the future is full of uncertainty. It's easy to take refuge in the past. But it's the future that stands before us. It's the future that will ultimately mold us. As a parent of a young man who is soon to graduate from high school and take his place in the world, I'm just a bit anxious about his future - that's normal parental concern - but my hope is that the world he will enter is a better place than the one I was born into 50 years ago!
Saturday, October 27, 2007
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 walk across America told us they have faith but had found no spiritual community in which they felt at home practicing it. They felt spiritually disconnected and alone. (Asphalt Jesus, p. 105)
Friday, October 26, 2007
I am disgusted, concerned, appalled, and furious about the current saber-rattling of our government - so reminiscent of the buildup to the invasion of Iraq. My feelings intensify in many of our presidential candidates' forums, where each candidate seems to be in a hissing contest, declaring that he or she is the loudest hisser against terrorism - as if the only danger in the world is posed by an evil "them" and not by evil resident within us. Our Congress' bipartisan vote last month, which labeled the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps a terrorist organization, seems to me to be handing our president a "go to war free" card, another rather frightening development.
On top of these fears, I suspect that many of my fellow Christians will, in the name of God and Jesus and Christianity and the Bible, support and justify a preemptive war on Iran before and after it happens - no matter how unprovoked, no matter how brutal, and no matter how foolish and costly, both financially and morally.
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 later and take care of transgender people later. The compromisers are getting hammered. I think Barack Obama is a cautious liberal. He is strongly supportive of gay rights, but he’s not willing to dump a black gospel singer who happens to take anti-gay views. Barack is getting hammered.
My son discovered that he is a radical liberal – but he’s only 17 and time will tell. Many radicals have become more moderate and even conservative as they age. Now, I’ve gone the other direction. I’ve become more liberal as I’ve aged, but I’ve done this gradually, which is maybe because I’m a cautious sort of guy.
Radicalness is for youth – I’m in middle age. But I do believe that change is necessary in this nation and in this world. Sometimes that requires that we do something radical – and radical of course means “going to the root.” We need, it would seem, to get to the root of the things that keep us from being the people we’re meant to be!
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.
It may have been the asphalt that stuck to our shoes as we entered Hereford on Saturday, but we left on Monday with something else stuck to us that we would not be able to shake for the rest of the walk: an awareness that one of the great forces of change in our country will not come through the power of rhetoric or even through the power of “superior” beliefs but through people following Jesus crossing lines, and becoming friends. (Asphalt Jesus, Jossey Bass, 2007, p. 83).
Thursday, October 25, 2007
Oh, I hope I didn't mess anything up!
Hat tip to Tony Jones
The strength of any church is the sense of mutual support and common mission," said S. Scott Bartchy, director of UCLA's Center for the Study of Religion.
"If anything, when the building is lost for any reason, that sense of mutuality and common purpose is not at all weakened. Rather . . . adversity tends to strengthen those values," he said.
John C. Holt (Ph.D. 1977) is the William R. Kenan, Jr., Professor of the Humanities in Religion and Asian Studies at Bowdoin College. He has been named the Divinity School's 2007 Alumnus of the Year. The Alumnus of the Year Address, in which Dr. Holt will lecture on "The Spirit(s) of the Place: Buddhism and the Religious Culture of Laos," will be held next Thursday, November 1, at 4pm in the Swift Lecture Hall.
Wednesday, October 24, 2007
Reader: I'm not a believer. I am an agnostic in the wise sense of T.H. Huxley, who coined the word in identifying such open-minded skepticism as the only rational position because, truly, one cannot know. Nonetheless … I have a great respect for religion. The subject has always fascinated me, beyond almost all others (with a few exceptions, like evolution, paleontology, and baseball). Much of this fascination lies in the stunning historical paradox that organized religion has fostered throughout Western history, both the most unspeakable horrors and the most heartrending examples of human goodness in the face of personal danger.I believe with all my heart in a respectful, even loving, concordat between the magisteria of science and religion … on moral and intellectual grounds, not a merely diplomatic solution. [This] also cuts both ways. If religion can no longer dictate the nature of factual conclusions residing properly within the magisterium of science, then scientists cannot claim higher insight into moral truth from any superior knowledge of the world's empirical constitution. This mutual humility leads to important practical consequences in a world of such diverse passions. We would do well to embrace the principle and enjoy the consequences.
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.
But as far as we know, Dumbledore had not a single fully realized romance in 115 years of life. That's pathetic, and a little creepy. It's also a throwback to an era of pop culture when the only gay characters were those who committed suicide or were murdered. As Vito Russo's The Celluloid Closet: Homosexuality in the Movies (1981) points out, in film after film of the mid-century—Rebel Without a Cause; Rebecca; Suddenly, Last Summer—the gay characters must pay for their existence with death. Like a lisping weakling, Dumbledore is a painfully selfless, celibate, dead gay man, so forgive me if I don't see Rowling's revelation as great progress.
Firestorms Rage Across Southern California
Firestorms continue to rage across southern California. A million people have been evacuated. Hundreds of thousands of acres have been engulfed, and more than a thousand homes and other structures destroyed. Fierce Santa Ana winds continue to fuel the flames, and many of the fires remain zero percent contained.
Week of Compassion is in regular and frequent contact with the regional office of the Christian Church in the Pacific Southwest and as many local pastors as we can contact. We have learned that numerous Disciples families, especially in the San Diego area, have been evacuated. WOC is also in contact with Church World Service in assessing needs and possibilities for long-term recovery responses.
WOC has begun to garner resources to respond promptly to Disciples families affected, as well as support larger church-related community responses that will develop. Designated gifts can be made to WOC and will be used in their entirety for relief and recovery efforts from the wildfires. Gifts can be made via the WOC website: http://www.weekofcompassion.org/ or sent to WOC, attn: Elaine Cleveland, P.O. Box 1986, Indpls, IN 46206.
WOC will continue to post Updates as we gather additional information over the next few days. Donate Online to California Wildfires
Tuesday, October 23, 2007
Monday, October 22, 2007
It would appear that we must open our eyes to the realities swirling around us! Read on:
-- 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 know, and the social scientists know, that in a time when individualized "spirituality" has its vogue, we are to remember that there are all kinds of ways to be in touch with the transcendent, to be in tune with the infinite, and to reach for the moral life.
We know that, but by observing other cultures, especially those of Western Europe, we also know that the desertion of the Catholic church in former strongholds such as Ireland and Spain, the emptying of Lutheran churches in historic bastions like Scandinavia and eastern Germany, or the bleak attendance at Anglican or almost all other churches in England, even on Easter morning, changes more than church statistics. Such cultures can "coast," for a while, with the memory of a faith that did shape society and culture, for better and for worse. But as generations pass and distance grows, so do the values which issued from the body of believers gathered in communities called, for example, "the church."
"As generations pass." A review in the October 16th Christian Century by Brian D. McLaren, a leader in "the emerging church," of Princeton sociologist Robert Wuthnow's important new book After the Baby Boomers: How Twenty- and Thirty-Sometings are Shaping the Future of American Religion is a potential wake-up signal, an alarm blast. Those who think that Sightings does not frequently enough isolate and treat that generation might conclude after reading McClaren and Wuthnow that one reason we do not treat the topic often enough is because people aged twenty-one to forty-five are hard to find among church members and regular attendees.
Wuthnow writes, "If I were a religious leader, I would be troubled by the facts and figures currently describing the lives of young Americans, their involvement in congregations, and their spiritual practice." He advises: Don't draw conclusions "from where the action is," but on the basis of "a full consideration of where the action is not." He wants religious leaders to do more than strategize how to help congregations survive, but instead to work for their vitality.
Wuthnow's main conclusion is that "young adults are marrying later, having fewer children and having them later, moving more often, going to college in higher numbers, living with more immigrant neighbors and therefore more ethnic and religious diversity, and living in the suburbs even more than their baby boomer parents." Changes like these (more than TV, the Internet, "secular humanism," or "relativism") give rise to the startling trends and statistics that Wuthnow uncovers in interviews. He finds find that this generation talks about religion more than any other, and that their core beliefs remain stable—except beliefs about how the spiritual life and God-talk are to be related to communal life, worship, and common action. Wuthnow's advice? Have babies, and much more. McLaren's advice: "Listen to young adults," and then reform and act.
Martin E. Marty's biography, current projects, upcoming events, publications, and contact information can be found at www.illuminos.com.
Sightings comes from the Martin Marty Center at the University of Chicago Divinity School.
Sunday, 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.
But when will it be a good time? A similar resolution was pulled from a House vote in the 1990s at the insistence of the Clinton administration because of Turkish sensitivities - and there was no war being fought at the time.
Questions have been raised about the timing of the legislation, but perhaps the most important reason for taking this step is that our continued silence not only adds to the anguish of our nation's Armenian community, but it undermines our moral voice when speaking on other genocidal actions - such as Darfur or Zimbabwe.
I have a good friend, a retired Methodist pastor, who is Armenian. He has told me of the suffering that continues to haunt the Armenian people. That pain cannot be lifted, he tells me, until the truth is told.I believe in the power of forgiveness. It stands at the center of my faith. Paul the Apostle speaks clearly about the possibilities of reconciliation. He speaks of all things being reconciled in Christ, so that all things might be made new. This is my hope and my prayer, that confession by the Turks will bring reconciliation with the Armenian people. May victim and victimizer show us the way forward so that genocide will become a term of history and not a description of present day realities.
October 21, 2007
Saturday, October 20, 2007
We thank you, O God, for those whom you have called through the centuries to serve in the ministry of the church. Pour your blessings on those whom you have called today and especially on your servants Don and Susan whom we now remember; that by word and deed they may bear witness to your saving love and power and enable your people to grow up into him who is the Head, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, to whom be praise and honor forever. Amen.
Friday, October 19, 2007
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 ministry of welcome and hospitality with a clear awareness of power and patters of inclusion and exclusion” (p. 11). In the course of writing this small book Spellers emphasizes the issue of power, or more specifically the willingness to cede power in the process of creating a space where “the Other” might find a home. It is an attempt to create a space for mutuality, and for this to happen, it must be done intentionally.
Radical Welcome involves conversion – on the part of the church itself. It is rooted in a theology that assumes that God is seeking our transformation and seeking to be in relationship with us. Our call to welcome “the Other” is rooted in God’s identity as the God of Welcome. God we learn is one who reaches out to all and not just to us. God is the one who seeks out the Prodigal – this is not a passive God, but one who actively loves.
This isn’t a along book, but it covers a lot of ground. It deals with matters of theology and practice. It illuminates our points of resistance – that is our fear of change and fear of “the Other.” It shines light on our discomfort with letting go of power. Radical Welcome moves beyond inviting, which seeks to bring others in through assimilation. “The Other” is invited in, but the expectation is that they will change, not us. They will, in the end become us. It also moves beyond inclusion, which Spellers defines as “incorporation.” A place is offered to the other to dwell safely, but the institution doesn’t change. Radical Welcome, on the other hand, is best defined by the term “incarnation.” It is a process where we enter into mutually transforming relationships. This is the goal of Radical Welcome.
To accomplish this goal, a church must be clear in its mission and vision, it must understand it’s identity, and discern not only what it is, but who is missing. Ministries must be designed so that they aren’t paternalistic. While leadership issues center on power, questions of worship will focus on finding ways to exhibit the diversity present.
Becoming a church such as the one described by Stephanie Spellers will require much of a church. She recognizes that such a community won’t emerge over night. In fact, it will likely come in stages, moving from inviting to inclusive and finally to radically welcoming others. There are important obstacles that range from tradition to power structures. The most important obstacle, however, is fear. Our fears are natural, even instinctive. In a world of constant change, many look to the church as a point of stability, and so change is not welcomed.
There is another fear that Spellers names and its one we tend to skirt, and that is the “fear of ‘the Other’.” The answer that many of us propose is relational. If we get to know each other we discover that we’re more alike than different. Spellers challenges that assumption. It is true that underneath we may be all the same, but in many ways we are all very different. Our cultures, languages, expectations, are very different, and these differences have to be accounted for. To accomplish we must create what she calls a “holding environment” – places that allow us to build trust and contain the stresses of change.
The book begins with theory, moves to identifying the issues, and then offers guidelines for accomplishing the goal of creating churches that are radically welcoming. The book is rooted in a project launched by Spellers in conjunction with the Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts, which she serves as Minister of Welcome at the Cathedral Church of St. Paul in Boston. The objects of her study are Episcopal congregations around the United States that have sought to become “radically welcoming.” Their stories and their struggles are chronicled here, and they give depth to her words of wisdom.
In the closing pages of the book, the reader will find a lengthy list of online resources – resources the author has created for the purpose of taking the journey. These resources include questionnaires, workshop outlines, bible studies, lists of practices, and assessment tools. Following that is a significant bibliography. Everything, it seems, that’s needed, is provided. It only requires of us a commitment to follow God’s leading and become the body of Christ.
To read the book is to hear a call of God on the church to become more than it is. If you’re like me, you will discover that while you’re on the way, you’re a long ways from the finish line. But this resource will spur you on and it will help you discern the path. If you are white and part of a predominantly white church – as I am – then you will be challenged by the call to give up power, to share power, all of which requires us to take risks that can be painful. But, the end result will be worth taking the journey.
If you are seeking to become a truly welcoming congregation then this book is essential reading. It was recommended to me while I was attending the Disciples of Christ General Assembly. I had visited the booth of the “Gay and Lesbian Affirming Disciples” (GLAD) and when I asked what I needed to read, this was the book that was suggested. It’s not just about issues of homosexuality, though inclusion of gays and lesbians is part of the conversation, but it is bigger than that. It is a process of broadening and diversifying the church so that all voices are authentically welcomed and all who participate in the community are transformed by the encounter. Essential reading, that’s the conclusion.
Thursday, October 18, 2007
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 out Oklahoma City homicide detective named Grace. She smokes, drinks, swears, looks for love in all the wrong places, and is played by Holly Hunter. So far, so good, the money guys say, but what's the gimmick? Well, there's this cantankerous but folksy angel named Earl who tries – without much success – to save her from herself (and hell). Hence the show's title, Saving Grace. Hmm, an angel of redemption who sounds like a Southern Baptist, having no luck convincing a lapsed Catholic to mend her ways.
Where do we communicate most effectively to young people about faith? Certainly not in the sanctuary or the classroom. "More theology is conveyed in, and probably retained from, one hour of popular television, than from all the sermons that are delivered on any given weekend in America's synagogues, churches and mosques," Phyllis Tickle writes in God Talk in America.
After decades of avoiding religion for fear of alienating viewers and sponsors, prime time television discovered an audience for faith-related shows. That is, as long as the series were upbeat, inspirational, and rarely (if ever) used the word "Jesus." Michael Landon's Highway to Heaven begat Touched by an Angel and 7th Heaven; all enjoyed ratings and commercial success. But for shows taking a more complex look at faith – Nothing Sacred, The Book of Daniel and Joan of Arcadia – the outlook has been bleak. So far, Saving Grace has survived its first season on TNT (next season, writers say, the title character will date a Jew), but students I spoke with recently at Southern Nazarene University in Oklahoma City were barely aware of it.
However, the real breakthrough in fostering grassroots discussion of religion hasn't come in TV programs premised on religion, but in the growing number of shows about people in whose lives faith plays a part. Increasingly in dramas and comedies, the "Christian character" is becoming as ubiquitous as the "gay character" (and, before that, the Hispanic and African American character). The "Muslim character" may not be far behind – a new CBS comedy, "Aliens in America ," has at its center a Pakistani exchange student.
Viewers seem to accept light-hearted treatments of serious religious issues in animated sitcoms even more readily than in live action shows. A chief example is The Simpsons, now in its 19th season and just off its first feature film (which earned over half a billion dollars in theaters worldwide). This smart show features a family that is incidentally (rather than centrally) praying, church-going, grace-saying and Bible-reading. With sophistication and sympathy, The Simpsons has portrayed mainline, evangelical and Pentecostal Protestantism; Catholicism; Judaism; Hinduism; Buddhism; religious cults; and Western missionaries in the Third World. Bible stories, the Ten Commandments' relevance, gay marriage, the soul's nature, and the tension between science and religion have also been front and center. Less obviously, dozens of other episodes include jokes and images about faith's role in characters' lives, especially in the evangelical next door neighbor, Ned Flanders.
Other animated shows have waltzed through the door that The Simpsons shouldered open. Futurama, also from The Simpsons' creator Matt Groening, had an award-winning episode focusing on God's nature and divine intervention. King of the Hill has considered women ministers, "extreme Christianity," and mega-churches. Even the cruel, harder-edged Family Guy, which gleefully crosses the line into blasphemy and sacrilege, says some serious things about issues like Catholic prejudice toward Protestants.
No show has been more fearless than Comedy Central's South Park, which regularly mines the territory between scatology and eschatology. The show has tackled radioactive topics like clergy sex abuse, Scientology, and portrayals of Islam by Western television. An episode dealing with Mormonism was simultaneously satiric and respectful, without once mentioning polygamy. South Park has produced devastating critiques of Mel Gibson's The Passion of the Christ and Christian "reparative therapy" programs for gays. Naughty, nasty and nihilistic, the show's pint-sized potty-mouths have literally eviscerated Bill Donohue, the show's tormenter from the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights.
These shows matter because they reach millions of viewers weekly – where they are. Lounging around living rooms or dorms, younger viewers tend to drop their customary veils of skepticism as the small screen entertains them. In an age of evaporating attention spans and the dumbing down of serious discourse, at least someone is talking about religion.
Mark I. Pinsky, religion writer for the Orlando Sentinel, is author of The Gospel According to The Simpsons: BIGGER and Possibly Even BETTER! Edition (Westminster John Knox, 2007).
Sightings comes from the Martin Marty Center at the University of Chicago Divinity School.
Wednesday, October 17, 2007
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.
In the meantime, watch and add your thoughts!
Courtesy of ChristianClips.com
So, take a look!
Tuesday, October 16, 2007
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 believe in the training of children black even as white; the leading out of little souls into the green pastures and beside the still waters, not for pelf or peace, but for Life lit by some large vision of beauty and goodness and truth; lest we forget, and the sons of the fathers, like Esau, for mere meat barter their birthright in a mighty nation.
Finally, I believe in Patience -- patience with the weakness of the Weak and the strength of the Strong, the prejudice of the Ignorant and the ignorance of the Blind; patience with the tardy triumph of Joy and the mad chastening of Sorrow -- patience with God.
Life doesn’t work that way, of course. But, the fact is, changing the world, which is the heart of the gospel (2 Corinthians 5) requires much of us. Sometimes more than we wish to give. Isn’t that part of the message of the cross – being agents of reconciliation may require everything of us. Being a bit of a pragmatist and now more realist than idealist at times, I hear the word of encouragement, take it one step at time and be patient. Perhaps that is the course we must take, lest we give up in frustration. What do you think?
Monday, October 15, 2007
Yet, what did Paul mean when he denied (three times) in this passage [Gal. 215-16] that justification comes "by works of the Law"? The context of the passage makes clear that the concerns were circumcision (at Jerusalem) and the dietary laws (at Antioch); it is these that Paul has in mind. [James] Dunn and Alan Segal make it clear that when we find negative statements about the law in Paul, the context is always one in which "membership requirements" are under discussion. Paul's positive statements about the law, on the other hand, reflect contexts where questions of behavior are raised. Circumcision and the dietary laws were widely looked upon as peculiar to Jews. To Gentile outsiders they functioned as "identity markers," identifying their practitioners as Jews; to Jews they worked in the same way, function as "badges of covenant membership." Their role was similar to that of Baptism and the Eucharist in the church today; it is almost impossible to think of the church without them ("almost" because there is the
Society of Friends). In any case, this is what Paul attacks: "the idea that God's acknowledgment of covenant status is bound up with , even dependent upon, observing of these particular
regulations." (Williamson, p. 95 -- final quote from JDG Dunn).