Thursday, June 23, 2016

Race in a Post-Obama America (David Maxwell) - Review

RACE IN A POST-OBAMA AMERICA: The Church Responds. Edited by David Maxwell; Foreword by Otis Moss III. Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 2016. Xix + 139 pages.

                Racism is referred to as America’s “original sin.” It is a sin that led to the genocide of much of the Native American population. It was expressed in chattel slavery of persons brought to this continent from Africa. It was also expressed in laws that denied persons from Asia from either immigrating or gaining citizenship in the United States. It has also been expressed in the treatment of Latinos/as—a community of peoples, many of whom trace their ancestry to a time before much of the Southwest was part of the United States. The ramifications of these original sins remain with us. We might like to believe that all of this lies behind us, but the truth is, racism remains a scourge on the American psyche. Many hoped that the election of Barack Obama as President of the United States would mark the dawn of a new post-racial era. While his election was an important milestone in American history, the past seven years has seen not the decrease of racism but an increase in its public presence.

                Even as attempts are made to build relationships, educate against racism, and reform institutions change has proven to be slow. Indeed, the names Trayvon Martin and Michael Brown that gave birth to the #BlackLivesMatter movement, along with the rise of the Birther Movement, and growing Islamophobia are all signs that there is much work to do. Simply claiming to be color-blind will not suffice.  

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Hate is Mobile - Sightings (Martin Marty)

I once served as project coordinator for the Santa Barbara ADL's No Place for Hate Campaign. I was tasked with helping schools, congregations, businesses, etc. find ways to be educated about becoming places where hate was not present. Of course, hate is present in many places as seen in the recent attack on a gay nightclub in Orlando as well as the murders of church members in Charleston the year before. How do we create a world where hate no longer prevails? Martin Marty does some reflecting on these topics in this week's posting, which I would like to share with you. Take a read and offer your thoughts. 

Hate is Mobile
By MARTIN E. MARTY   JUNE 20, 2016
Demonstrators show support near funeral service for Christopher Andrew Leinonen, victim of Pulse nightclub shooting, outside Cathedral Church of St. Luke, June 18, 2016, in Orlando, Forida.     Credit: John Raoux / AP Images
Three week-end stories about mass murders help frame crisis issues. The first recalls the murders of nine blacks in and during church in Charleston, South Carolina, exactly one year ago by a white supremacist. (New York Times, June 16). The same paper, the same day, front page, dealt with “Young New York Muslims, Robbed of a Respite” because of anti-Muslim speech and actions after the mass murder in Orlando. The third, same day, in the Wall Street Journal, dealt with “Orlando Shooting Leaves Gay Survivors, Mourning Families Struggling with Secrets,” also by reference to the Orlando killings.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Don’t Look Back! - Lectionary Reflection for Pentecost 6C

Luke 9:51-62 New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)

51 When the days drew near for him to be taken up, he set his face to go to Jerusalem. 52 And he sent messengers ahead of him. On their way they entered a village of the Samaritans to make ready for him; 53 but they did not receive him, because his face was set toward Jerusalem. 54 When his disciples James and John saw it, they said, “Lord, do you want us to command fire to come down from heaven and consume them?” 55 But he turned and rebuked them. 56 Then they went on to another village. 
57 As they were going along the road, someone said to him, “I will follow you wherever you go.” 58 And Jesus said to him, “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests; but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.” 59 To another he said, “Follow me.” But he said, “Lord, first let me go and bury my father.” 60 But Jesus said to him, “Let the dead bury their own dead; but as for you, go and proclaim the kingdom of God.” 61 Another said, “I will follow you, Lord; but let me first say farewell to those at my home.” 62 Jesus said to him, “No one who puts a hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.”

                I’ve read a number of books of late that raise concerns about the pursuit of certainty. Peter Enns calls it a sin. “The need for certainty,” he writes, “is sin because it works off of fear and limits God to our mental images. And God does not like being boxed in” [The Sin of Certainty, p. 19]. Enns is responding to the need on the part of some to hold fast to correct doctrine, but doesn’t being faithful to God require our complete attention? Shouldn’t we be all in or not at all? Isn’t look back and wondering if we’re on the right path problematic? Look what happened to Lot’s wife! So, if you’re going to follow Jesus, really follow him, shouldn’t you abandon your previous life and embrace him solely. St. Francis did it. Bonhoeffer spoke of discipleship in terms of dying. If you know nothing else from the pen of Bonhoeffer, you know that he declared that “when Christ calls, he bids us come and die!” So, are you in?

Monday, June 20, 2016

Tending the Margins

I was on vacation this past week, thus there were new blog posts. When I last sat down to write a posting it was Sunday June 12. I woke up that Sunday morning to news that at least twenty were dead and scores more wounded at a night club in Orlando. By afternoon we were clearer about the who and the where. The victims were mostly gay and lesbian folks who had gathered for an evening of dancing and fun at a well known gay night club. In theory this was supposed to be a safe place to gather for those in the LGBT community. By the time church ended the death toll had risen to fifty, with fifty-three wounded. 

As for the perpetrator. He, Omar Mateen, was a Muslim, of Afghan ancestry. Apparently he claimed in phone message to 911 that he was acting in the name of ISIS. So, this was an act of terrorism. ISIS had hit the homeland. Donald Trump reiterated his call for bans on Muslim immigration and travel to America. He crowed that this mass murder had vindicated his vision (except that Mateen was American born and a citizen, not an immigrant). 

Thursday, June 16, 2016

What is the Lord's Table's Role in Worship?

This essay is reposted from August 11, 2011.It is another reprised post as I'm not able to post at this moment.
For me the Table of the Lord is the central act of worship.  Regular attendance at the Eucharist serves to remind us all that Jesus is truly present with us as we take this journey of faith. Bread and wine stand forth as witnesses that the Logos of God became flesh and dwelt among us (Jn 1:14).   AI am the bread of life@ Jesus tells the crowd in John 6.  In him we find the answer to our spiritual hunger and thirst.  Come and eat, Jesus says to us, eat of the bread of heaven.