Saturday, August 27, 2016

Are real cross-party political conversations possible? (Revisited from 2012)

Four years ago, we were in the midst of an election cycle.  The candidates for President in 2012 (in case you've forgotten) were Barack Obama, the incumbent, and Mitt Romney, his Republican challenger. The conversation that year was pretty bleak, but here we are four years later and if anything the conversation has gotten even worse.  Below is what I wrote four years ago on this very day. I invite you to read and consider the current state of affairs.  I'm leaving it as is, so you can ignore the announcement for the conversation about my book Faith in the Public Square.  That being said, I do recommend reading the book, and what appears below! 


For the past few weeks my Monday posting has answered a political question offered by my publisher.  The intention was for a conservative voice to join me in a conversation or debate.  I didn't really like this described as a debate, because debates tend to separate rather than bring people together.  Although I am, according to a little Pew Research Quiz a radical left winger, I don't see myself in that way.  My own self-perception is of a person a bit left of center.  Back to the conversation with Elgin Hushbeck (at the time my conservative conversation partner) -- I found his answer over the top and decided I couldn't go further.  You can decide for yourself whether I over-reacted. In any case the conversation is on hiatus, but with the start of one party's national convention this week and politics on everyone's mind, I thought it worth devoting at least a little time to the conversation -- after all, on Wednesday evening I'm hosting a conversation on Faith in the Public Square that will include a book signing,

Friday, August 26, 2016

Study Guide for David Gushee's Changing our Mind!

I want to share news that my Study Guide for Changing Our Mind: A pastor helps classes and small groups study David P. Gushee's book about the Christian acceptance of LGBT men and women is available in e-book format from the publisher (Read the Spirit Books). David's book Changing our Mind and his presence at Central Woodward Christian Church proved immensely helpful to our move toward Open and Affirming Status.  

I created a study guide for use by our congregation and I'm pleased that David and his publisher wanted to make it available for other communities who are moving through the process of discernment. David's book is important because he comes at the question from the perspective of an Evangelical who concluded that it was the right thing to do on the part of the church to move toward full inclusion of LGBTQ sisters and brothers. Like many of us, relationships, especially family relationships proved eye-opening and might I say Spirit-moving.  The links above are to the Amazon Kindle version. There are several other options if you don't use Kindle. They are:



Google Play/Google Books:…/Rev_Dr_Robert_Cornwall_Changing_O…

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Justification -- Sightings (Martin Marty)

A year from this October 31, the world will observe the 500th anniversary of Luther's famous nailing of the 95 Theses to the door of the Wittenberg Cathedral, thereby launching the Protestant Reformation. It also launched centuries of conflict, sometimes violent, between Protestant and Catholic partisans. In recent years there has been rapprochement as conflict was replaced with conversation. It's not that all of our differences have been ironed out, but then we Protestants have our share of differences inside the "family," but there has been great movement towards one another. Standing at the heart of our differences is the question of justification and communion. Recently steps were taken by Lutherans and Catholics to bridge that divide. Martin Marty, a Lutheran, offers his take on that movement in this essay. Won't you take a read?

By MARTIN E. MARTY   August 22, 2016
Last week, while the sports-loving public watched timed Olympic events, viewers relearned the values of timing, measuring, and scorekeeping. Some races were decided by 1/100th of a second margins. The substantially smaller, microscopically observable religion-news-watching public did not always have to measure outcomes quite so close. Thus on August 18 the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, during its Churchwide Assembly in New Orleans, voted to approve a document called “Declaration on the Way” relating to a document, “From Conflict to Communion,” approved earlier by the Vatican and the Lutheran World Federation. The vote, by more than a whisker? 931-9.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Endangered Gospel (John Nugent) -- A Review

ENDANGERED GOSPEL: How Fixing the World Is Killing the Church. By John C. Nugent. Eugene, OR: Cascade Books, 2016. X + 220 pages.

                Surveys have suggested that people are turned off to Christianity because churches and church people are too political. At the same time churches are criticized for being too concerned about themselves and not about their communities. There is also that growing trend of people, even within Christian circles, of people distancing themselves from the church. Many say they are "spiritual but not religious," while others continue to claim the Christian mantle but don’t seem to believe that the church is necessary to the task of planting and expanding God’s realm. These are not easy days for those of us in the church business!

                 There are, of course, counter arguments that seek to claim a space for the church. Indeed, there are numerous voices suggesting that God has chosen the church to be the vanguard of God’s kingdom work. Thus, outside the church there is no salvation! Among those voices is that of John Nugent, professor of Old Testament at Great Lakes Christian College in Lansing Michigan. Nugent has become an important interpreter of the works of John Howard Yoder, and in this book he follows a path that seems rather counterintuitive. He argues in this book against the missional vision that suggests that God is already at work in the world and the church should get on board. In contrast to that vision, which is quite popular today, John argues that God is creating in the church an alternative community that is called to exhibit God’s vision of a better place. He affirms the principle espoused by missional folks that people are seeking a better place, he just doesn’t believe that there is any hope of making this world a better place. Only God can do that, so in the meantime the church is a beacon. It’s primary message to the world isn’t a social justice one, it is an evangelistic one.  By trying to make this world a better place those who embrace a “world-centered” vision of the kingdom are killing the church.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Where Do I Sit? - Lectionary Reflection for Pentecost 15A

Luke 14:1-2, 7-14 New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)

14 On one occasion when Jesus was going to the house of a leader of the Pharisees to eat a meal on the sabbath, they were watching him closely. 2 Just then, in front of him, there was a man who had dropsy. 

7 When he noticed how the guests chose the places of honor, he told them a parable. 8 “When you are invited by someone to a wedding banquet, do not sit down at the place of honor, in case someone more distinguished than you has been invited by your host; 9 and the host who invited both of you may come and say to you, ‘Give this person your place,’ and then in disgrace you would start to take the lowest place. 10 But when you are invited, go and sit down at the lowest place, so that when your host comes, he may say to you, ‘Friend, move up higher’; then you will be honored in the presence of all who sit at the table with you. 11 For all who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.” 

12 He said also to the one who had invited him, “When you give a luncheon or a dinner, do not invite your friends or your brothers or your relatives or rich neighbors, in case they may invite you in return, and you would be repaid. 13 But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, and the blind. 14 And you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you, for you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.”

                Proverbs 25 offers a brief but pointed piece of wisdom: “Don’t exalt yourself in the presence of the king, or stand in the place of important people” (Prov.25:6-7).  In a hierarchical society where the king was viewed as being close to divine if not divine, this is definitely a word of wisdom.  Even in a modern democracy such as the United States, a person doesn’t just go up and start talking to the President.  If the President, or a member of the staff, invites you to join in conversation with the President, well that’s a different story, but you can’t just jump into the front of the line and expect to be well-treated by the President, staff, or the folks around you.  It is wise to know one’s place!