Showing posts from February, 2007

Blessed are the Persecuted -- Desmond Tutu

I hope it's okay, but I'm reprinting Desmond Tutu's post at the On Faith blog. He tackles the issue of homosexuality in a way that is compassionate and straightforward. It is a very welcome comment from a man of great moral stature: Blessed are the persecuted
On race my faith told me that each of us is of inestimable worth since each is created in the image of God.
Thus this worth is intrinsic and not dependent on such irrelevancies as skin color or ethnicity. Thus it was totally unacceptable, just as a matter of justice, to penalize people about something they could nothing, a given, their ethnicity, their race.
Equally my faith convinced me that it was fundamentally unjust to penalize individuals for their gender and so sexism was as unacceptable as racism ever was.
It is being consistent to assert that I cannot condone penalizing someone for something about which she or he can do nothing. It would be bizarre in the extreme for a person to choose to be gay or lesbian in a s…

U.S. Change of Heart on Iran and Syria

Good news in today's papers -- Condi Rice has announced to Congress that the US will participate in a couple of regional conferences to discuss the Iraq situation that will include Iran and Syria. The US unwillingness to talk with these neighbors is really self-defeating, but maybe we're on a new track that can bring some peace to the neighborhood. According to Glen Kessler in the Washington Post: The first meeting, at the ambassadorial level, will be held next month. Then Rice will sit down at the table with the foreign ministers from Damascus and Tehran at a second meeting in April elsewhere in the region, possibly in Istanbul.
And this in a quote from Leon Panetta in Kessler's article: "Better late than never," said Leon E. Panetta, a onetime White House chief of staff who served on the panel, headed by former secretary of state James A. Baker III and former congressman Lee H. Hamilton. Panetta said that the announcement is "an important step in trying to b…

Prizing Holy Ignorance over Religious Certainty

I've finished Barbara Brown Taylor's Leaving Church: A Memoir of Faith, and I've found it to be a moving and wonderfully written book. Very much worth reading, so if you've not gotten it then click on the title and Amazon will welcome your order! I'm planning to include a review of the book in the upcoming issue of Sharing the Practice(of which I'm the new editor).

But back to the book and it's portrayal of life and death, faith and certainty. I came across the paragraph that will follow. It's worth considering (and of course reading in its full context). It is found in a description of her dealings with her father's death. In that time of waiting she writes: "I discovered that faith did not have the least thing to do with certainty. In so far as I had any faith at all, that faith consisted of trusting God in the face of my vastly painful ignorance, to gather up all the life in that room and to do with it what God alone knew how to do."


Inquiry and Sensitivity

I've posted here several times on Mitt Romney and his Mormon faith. Being a left of center Democrat I'm not planning to vote for Mitt, but that being said I don't find anything in his LDS faith that precludes him from being President of the United States. He will listen to his conscience, just like everyone else. It is difficult to check one's faith at the White House door, but at the same time I would hope any candidate would recognize (and I think Mr. Romney has) that this a diverse nation and that he or she must represent the whole of the nation. Remember that George W. Bush is a United Methodist! Because we base so much of our viewpoints on stereotype, its not surprising that the LDS practice of sacred undergarments would come to the fore. I must confess I've always wondered about them. And yet, even though growing up I had good friends who were Mormons, I've never pursued it with them. But while many of us would find this an oddity, why? Is a …

"When Sensationalism and Faith Collide"

John Spalding of SoMA Review, offers a bit of "wisdom" about the alleged discovery of Jesus' tomb in Jerusalem -- comparing it rightfully to Geraldo's opening of Capone's vault. So--yippie!--this coming Sunday we've got Cameron's TV documentary, "The Lost Tomb of Jesus," to look forward to. Never mind that, for example, Professor Amos Kloner, the archaeologist who oversaw the work at the tomb in 1980, calls Cameron's claim "completely impossible. It's nonsense." Just ignore the naysayers and savor the excitement, even if you don't watch the show. Jesus' DNA--holy shit! The possibilities! Maybe they'll match it one day with the DNA of Nicole Brown Simpson's real killer! Or, as my priest friend Puck Purnell suggested, maybe the DNA will prove that Jesus was the real father of Anna Nicole Smith's baby!
I must confess, I doubt I'll watch the documentary. I think I've got a date with my wife to watch De…

War in Iran --- "The Bible Tells Me So?"

Having heard Scott Ritter lay out his scenario for an American war with Iran, and its devastating effect, I was interested to read today at Ethics Daily, a Bob Allen piece, detailing Ed Hindson's belief that the Bible predicts such a war. Now, whether they are jumping for glee back at National Liberty Journal and Liberty University about such possibilities, the fatalistic reading of the bible that comes from such literalism must contain a bit of glee. If only they could be proven correct the Bible would be proven correct, except that the Bible isn't meant to be read in such fashion. I'm continually amazed at what I read in these circles. To take prophesy seriously isn't to take it in some fatalistic and literalistic fashion, it is to respect its context and purpose. Good essay though from Bob Allen. By the way, Mr. Hindson is assistant to the big cheese himself, Jerry Falwell. I'm sure that what Mr. Hindson wrote, Mr. Falwell supports.

Ten Propositions on Ecumenism

Maybe it's my own journey, but I've been interested in ecumenism since early in my seminary days, if not before. My attraction to the Disciples is in part explained by the movement's commitment to pursuing Christian unity. It is my concern for unity that causes much of my sadness for the broken state of the church today. Kim Fabricius has outlined ten propositions that cover the basic ecumenical issues and is worth looking at. I'll give a couple, just to give you a taste, but I'd recommend checking them all out!Even if you don't accept everything here, it is thought provoking. I'll point especially to Prop 5, which lists a small but precise creed. I have no problem with it, but I know that some would feel excluded -- especially the point about the Trinity. Propositions include (all are quotes): 1. To adapt a famous saying of Emil Brunner, the church exists by ecumenism as fire exists by burning. Church unity is not an optional extra, or AOB on the parish or p…

Discerning God's Presence

In Leaving Church, after she had left her parish and began to experience life after church, Barbara Brown Taylor records her new sense of God's presence: Gradually I remember what I had known all along, which is that church is not a stopping place but a starting place for discerning God's presence in this world. By offering people a place where they may engage the steady practice of listening to divine words and celebrating divine sacraments, church can help people gain a feel for how God shows up -- not only in Holy Bibles and Holy Communion but also in near neighbors, mysterious strangers, sliced bread, and grocery store wine. That way, when they leave church they no more leave God than God leaves them. They simply carry what they have learned into the wide, wide world, where there is a crying need for people who will recognize the holiness in things and hold them up to God.
I believe that this is a word of wisdom worth hearing -- church isn't the end place, it's t…

What Will the Religious Right Do with the GOP?

A most interesting article appears in US News online -- It tells about the divide within the GOP "religious" base. Mitt Romney has made a pilgrimage to Pope Jim Dobson to seek his blessing, but apparently Jim's not sure that Mitt's sound enough, and the 2nd tier of Brownback and Huckabee seem unable to get traction. Dobson's apparently definitely not supporting John or Rudy, so who is left? Consider this: The Christian right's consternation over Giuliani, McCain, and Romney is a remarkable turnabout from 2004, when the movement was united behind the re-election of George W. Bush. White evangelicals, who made up roughly a quarter of the electorate in 2004 and 2006, accounted for nearly 4 in every 10 Bush votes. "I don't think any of the three are remotely acceptable, and I don't think I'm an outlier," says Michael Farris, a top Christian activist who organized meetings between Bush and evangelical leaders for his first presidential ru…

Obama's Numbers Looking Good

I know that polls are almost meaningless at this point, but I find this Zogby poll intriguing. Although Hillary leads Obama by a shrinking margin (35% to 29%) and Rudy leads the GOP field, Obama beats both Rudy and McCain. Like I said this is early and likely meaningless. I'm still not convinced that Rudy can survive the primaries and if he does, I wonder if Christian Conservatives, for whom abortion and gays are the only issues, won't stay home or embrace a third party come November 08.
Go Barack!

Thanks to Daily Dish for this.

Resistance to an Iranian War

I mentioned in a previous post about attending a presentation by Scott Ritter warning of a likely attack on Iran. Today I read at the Daily Dish that there is growing concern about Dick Cheney's saber rattling. In a Sunday Times article (London), it appears that such a policy is strongly opposed by many in the military and that if ordered a number of upper echelon generals would resign in protest. In the New Yorker Magazine Seymour Hersh writes about a Cheney led administration policy change that would abandon a pro-Shia policy and embrace one putting them on the side of the Saudis and the Sunnis in the region. Such a policy might lead to an attack on Iran. I surely hope not! It's time to rein in the powers that be!

"Smearing Like 2003" -- E.J. Dionne

You would think that with the Scooter Libby trial in its final throes that Dick Cheney would be a bit more discreet about his attacks on the motives and values of others, but such isn't the case. E.J. Dionne writes in the Washington Post about just this problem of smearing others in the same way he and others bullied America into an ill-conceived war in Iraq.

It is also, as Dionne suggests, why the Bush administration has lost the respect of the American people:

The fabricate-and-smear cycle illustrated so dramatically during the case of I. Lewis "Scooter'' Libby explains why President Bush is failing to rally support for the latest iteration of his Iraq policy. The administration's willingness at the outset to say anything, no matter how questionable, to justify the war has destroyed its credibility. Its habit of attacking those who
expressed misgivings has destroyed any goodwill it might have enjoyed. Bush and Cheney have lost the benefit of the doubt.

We need a g…

Another Da Vinci Code Mystery?

There is great fascination about the possibility that Jesus was married -- and married of course to Mary Magdalene. So, apparently there is a new documentary coming out entitled "The Lost Tomb." James Tabor of the University of North Carolina is involved.

The tale as it's told in a Toronto Star story is that during excavations in Jerusalem in 1980 a tomb with 10 ossuaries was found (though one is now missing -- supposedly the James Ossuary that was so talked about recently), the tomb carrying the names of Jesus, Mariamne, Maria, Matthew, Jude son of Jesus, etc. And supposedly this has been confirmed by DNA. That this may be true -- their relationships -- doesn't prove that this is the tomb of the Jesus Family. Let's just say I'm skeptical that a finding such as this -- 26 years old -- of a tomb containing a group of people whose names are familiar to the biblical story, but names that were also extremely common during that day, would lead back to the Jesus of…

Why So Authoritarian? Conservative Christians

Martin Mary in today's sightings examines the question of Conservative Christianity -- as it has been laid out in a recent book by Andrew Greely and Michael Hout, as reviewed in the Church Times by John Whale -- in England.

Marty suggests that things may not be as the first appear. But I'll just let you read it for yourself.

Sightings 2/26/07
Baptists, Biblicists, and Beyond-- Martin E. Marty

"Myths of the Baptists" is the mis-worded headline above a story reporting from across the Atlantic that does not treat all Baptists, and that also deals with more than just Baptists. John Whale of the Church Times and the Sunday Times reviews Andrew Greeley and Michael Hout's survey-rich study The Truth about Conservative Christians: What They Think and What They Believe. A quote from the book: "Our findings confirm those of other academic researchers who continue to point out the glaring gap between religious and political conservatism." And from Whale: "…

America and its Iconic Bible

Robert Cornwall Faith in the Public Square Lompoc Record February 25, 2007 A controversy concerning the use of the Koran in Congressional oath-taking ceremonies raised the question of the Bible's place in American life. Radio host Dennis Prager laid down the gauntlet in a much publicized column when he said, “Insofar as a member of Congress taking an oath to serve America and uphold its values is concerned, America is interested in only one book, the Bible. If you are incapable of taking an oath on that book, don't serve in Congress.”
If the Bible is America's Holy Book, what exactly does that mean? It's true that the Bible is regularly used in a variety of public ceremonies, from swearing in of witnesses to oath-taking by public officials. It's believed that using the Bible in such a way guarantees truthfulness, although there's little evidence that such use prevents either corruption or perjury.
When we talk about the Bible as America's Holy Book, we're not…

First Freedom Project --- A caution from the NCC

I thought it appropriate to reprint the caution statement from the National Council of Churches concerning Alberto Gonzalez's announcement of a Justice Department effort to confront religious discrimination. We'll see where this goes.

NCC suggests Gonzales cast interfaith net on religious freedom plan

New York City, February 22, 2007 – The National Council of the Churches of Christ in the USA welcomed a new U.S. government initiative on religious discrimination but expressed concern at its narrow, single denominational introduction.
"We are pleased to see the Bush administration focus renewed interest on religious freedom," said the Rev. Bob Edgar, NCC's general secretary, in a statement issued today. Religious liberty is "a topic that has found deep and continuing concern within the National Council of Churches since its founding more than 50 years ago," he said.
"We do find it unsettling," says Edgar's statement, "that only a singl…

Updates on Anglican Conflict

Rebecca Trounson offers an insightful overview in today's LA Times of what's been happening in Dar-es-Salaam this past week as Anglican leaders gathered. The focus has been primarily on the American Episcopal church and the question of gays and lesbians in the church. Of course there are other issues, but apparently this is the most important one. One interesting point in this article concerns the demand that the Episcopal church respond to the convocation's demands to cease ordaining gays and blessing homosexual unions. Trounson points out that the Episcopal Church in America is a fairly democratic organization (even if hierarchical in structure). The bishops really can't formulate a response, that would be left to the Convention and the next one isn't until 2009. A rock and a hard place, it would seem! In the meantime, a sort of ceasefire has been declared. The Episcopal church is supposed to have a moratorium on ordaining homosexual bishops and blessi…

Eucharist -- Giving Thanks

The Lord's Supper has from the earliest days of the church been central to Christian worship. The understanding of that rite has evolved and changed and been debated down through the centuries. For me it is one of the most important if not the most important elements of worship. As I think about the Eucharist I think about the many nuances of this act. Yes, it has meanings that are difficult to reconcile with modern theology, but there is much to be gained by both the celebration and the reflections upon it. Having said this, tonight's post offers a definition of the word Eucharist. Eucharist is an oft used term, but many people not know what it means or why its important to be used here. The simplest answer is that it reflects one of the actions/words that Jesus is said to have spoken at the Last Supper (I realize there is considerable debate as to whether this practice goes back to Jesus -- I've not been convinced that the essence of this celebration couldn't go back …

First Freedom Project

I first heard about the First Freedom Project from Melissa Rogers' blog -- and I'm waiting for her analysis. Today a report is given at Ethics Daily by Adelle Banks.

First announced by Attorney General Alberto Gonzalez at a meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention, this is supposedly a Bush Administration effort to combat "religious discrimination." That it's being hailed by the SBC, the Family Research Council, and the Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America, and questioned by Bob Edgar of the National Council of Churches (they're taking a wait and see and want more information) and Barry Lynn of Americans United for the Separation of Church and State raises some red flags.

The question is who is being discriminated against and how? Is this just some red meat being thrown to the base or is it rectifying a real problem? I'm skeptical, to say the least.

On to Tehran?

As the war in Iraq goes badly and calls for the redeployment of troops is heard, what of Iran? Tonight I went to hear Scott Ritter, the former UN Weapons Inspector, Bush Critic, and author of Target Iran. He is convinced that the Bush administration is planning to attack Iran, and there is a possibility he's correct. The administration refuses to talk with Iran and it's made much of Iran's pursuit of nuclear something --whether power or weapons, remains unclear to most.

Iran is a major player and its major deterrent -- Iraq is in chaos. I'm not sure I buy the whole Iran gambit, but I think we need to be aware of what is going on and to hold our Congressional leaders accountable. The only real way of preventing an attack is to withhold the purse. I hope and pray that Congress will act appropriately to deter any precipitous act.

I found an interesting column that Scott Ritter wrote last year in the Nation about Iran. I think it's worth reading and consider…

California's Prisons -- A travesty

California's prisons are severely overcrowded, making them dangerous and unhealthy. Recidivism is on a rise and there seem to be little hope for resolution -- except spending millions to build more prisons. The other answers, such as rethinking a failed 3 Strikes policy, which has compounded the problem, is politically unthinkable, though ultimately necessary.

Steve Lopez writes in his Column One essay in the LA Times about this problem and offers some possible solutions -- one has to do with dealing with the issue of mental health. With so many inhabiting the prison population suffering from mental illness, and with little effort to resolve these problems, it's no wonder that the prison population continues to rise. Take a look at the column!

Giving Up Lent for Lent

Diana Butler Bass has given a most poignant reflection on the power and weakness of the season of Lent. Just last evening I participated in a joint Ash Wednesday service that included four congregations (UCC, Disciples, UMC, and PCUSA) and six clergy (2 retired, 4 active). I find this a meaningful service and not at all morbid, but as Diana shares I too find it difficult to follow all the disciplines seemingly inherent in this tradition -- after all I had a burger and fries at lunch. I leave you with these words from her contribution to the God's Politics blog: When I gave up Lent for Lent, it become clear that I needed to give up the idea that certain religious disciplines would bring me closer to God. This belief had plagued me since I was an evangelical teenager struggling with my congregation’s expectation for a “daily quiet time.” Never able to maintain this program of spiritual rigor, I felt like a Christian failure. When I finally admitted that I could not do it, I experienc…

Can a religiously defined state be a democracy?

In the debate over the future of Israel and the Palestinian Territories the question of the status of Israel as a Jewish nation is always central to the conversation (and conflict). Israel is defined as being a democracy (and it is) that grants religious freedom to its citizens, but it also seeks to be a Jewish State. With 20% of its citizens being Arab, the question is how does this reality square religious and national identities. Richard Boudreaux's article in the LA Times entitled: "Arabs say Israel is not just for Jews" describes a manifesto written by mainstream Israeli-Arabs that call for power sharing, and by that create a bi national state. These Arab leaders want more representation and a greater sharing of resources -- thereby ending what they see as a second class status within Israel. This has, as one would expect, created considerable angst within Israel's regnant Jewish community, both left and right. What the article does is raise the difficu…

Religion and Presidential Candidates

With all the questions swirling about concerning Mitt Romney's religious beliefs, I found this column from Rich Mayfield to be "spot on" to quote my British friends. Professions of belief or religious affiliations rarely have ultimate influence on one's public life. In many ways, that's too bad, but as Mayfield points out Luther preferred a competent pagan to an incompetent Christian as ruler. Mayfield seemingly gloats at the Lutheran's good fortune to never have had a president to claim as their own, for it has saved them from acute embarrassment. Alas, for me that's not possible. The Disciples are small in numbers, but we've had three of our own -- and you'll have to decide whether that is to our embarrassment: James Garfield (the only preacher to have been elected President), Lyndon Baines Johnson, and to correct Mr. Mayfield (at least on a technicality) Ronald Reagan was one of ours as well. Although he worshipped with the Presbyterian…

My Theological Worldview -- What's Yours

I took this quiz at Interesting results, though I wonder about this. As a mainline pastor I don't feel alienated from older forms of church. But still, it's interesting. Now, what's yours?

You scored as Emergent/Postmodern. You are Emergent/Postmodern in your theology. You feel alienated from older forms of church, you don't think they connect to modern culture very well. No one knows the whole truth about God, and we have much to learn from each other, and so learning takes place in dialogue. Evangelism should take place in relationships rather than through crusades and altar-calls. People are interested in spirituality and want to ask questions, so the church should help them to do this.

Emergent/Postmodern68%Evangelical Holiness/Wesleyan64%Neo orthodox61%Classical Liberal57%Roman Catholic57%Modern Liberal57%Charismatic/Pentecostal36%Reformed Evangelical36%Fundamentalist4%
What's your theological worldview?
created with

Arab-Israeli-Palestinian Peace: From Crisis to Hope

I pass on this summation of a much longer document dealing with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict that has continued to fester now for more than half-a-century with no end in sight. This letter was sent to President Bush and included the signature of the General Minister and President of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), Rev. Dr. Sharon Watkins. I single her out because she is the leader of my denomination.

From Global Ministries:

In December 2006, 35 Jewish, Christian and Muslim leaders urged the United States to make peace in the Middle East a top priority. You can help by contacting your Senators and Representative in support of this appeal.

Excerpts follow, full text at

Arab-Israeli-Palestinian Peace: From Crisis to Hope

As Jewish, Christian and Muslim religious leaders, our shared Abrahamic faith compels us to work together for peace with justice for Israelis, Palestinians and all peoples in the Middle East. As Americans,…

Believing or Beholding

With all the problems being experienced by the Episcopal Church, a divide being created by debates over biblical interpretation and doctrinal affirmations, I found this paragraph from Barbara Brown Taylor's Leaving Church interesting and challenging. "I had become an Episcopalian in the first place because the Anglican way cared more for common prayer than for right belief, but under stress even Episcopalians began vetting one another on the virgin birth, the divinity of Jesus, and his physical resurrection fro the dead. Both in Clarkesville and elsewhere, the poets began drifting away from churches as the jurists grew louder and more insistent. I began to feel like a defense attorney for those who could not square their love of God and neighbor with the terms of the Nicene Creed, while my flagging attempt to be all things to all people was turning into a bad case of amnesia about my own Christian identity. My role and my soul were eating each other alive. I wanted out of the …

Justice rooted in Faith -- William Wilberforce

With a new film coming out -- Amazing Grace -- attention is being given to the effort of one man, William Wilberforce, to rally a nation to the cause of justice -- in his case the abolition of the slave trade. For Wilberforce this was a 20 year ordeal, but one he never flagged in. Finally, he achieved his goal when Parliament voted overwhelmingly to abandon a lucrative but dehumanizing practice. Of course the slave trade and human trafficking remain with us today, as a stain upon humanity. Joseph Loconte's essay in the LA Times ---"British Abolition's Faith-Based Roots," lifts up Wilberforce and offers him as an exemplar to a faith based advocacy for humanity. Most important, he was unafraid to invoke the moral obligations of the Gospel to challenge the consciences of slavers and their supporters in Parliament. In his "Letter on the Abolition of the Slave Trade," published in January 1807, Wilberforce placed the brutish facts of human trafficking agai…

Ash Wednesday Reflections

Essay published originally February 26, 2006
Faith in the Public Square
Lompoc Record

Time of Reflection Marked with Ash

Mardi Gras gets bigger press than the day that follows. It's not surprising. Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of a 40-day Christian observance of fasting and penance in preparation for Easter. Penance and fasting don't sound as exciting as Mardi Gras parties and parades, but these acts of piety help us take an inward and backwards glance at our lives, allowing us the opportunity to take responsibility for our mistakes and misdeeds, while calling us to live differently in the future. Before forgiveness can happen, the deeds must be remembered, acknowledged, and dealt with. We would rather let bygones be bygones, but first we must take care of the past, lest we fall victim to arrogance and folly.
Sin isn't just the act of the individual; it can just as easily be corporate and systemic. The actions and choices of societies and nations can have a lasting impact…

What effect -- Christian Community? -- Bonhoeffer

What effect does Christian community have on us as we venture from the safety of the Christian community and enter the broader world? Dietrich Bonhoeffer provides an important idea:
“Every day brings to the Christian many hours in which he will be alone in an unchristian environment. These are the times of testing. This is the test of true meditation and true Christian community. Has the fellowship served to make the individual free, strong, and mature, or has it made him weak and dependant? Has it taken him by the hand for a while in order that he may learn again to walk by himself, or has it made him uneasy and unsure? This is one of the most searching and critical questions that can be put to any Christian fellowship.” Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Life Together, (SCM Press), 67From Intellectus Fidei -- thanks for the quote and the picture.

The Eucharist and Mithraism

Mike asked about the Eucharist and its possible relationship to Mithraism. I have to be honest up front and say, I don’t have a lot of information on this question. But I’ll share my thoughts about the alleged connection. If you look at the web you’ll find many sites making claims that Christianity, and especially its practice of the Eucharist, originated in Mithraism. There is no denying the seeming parallels between these two religions, as well as with other Greek and Roman mysteries. Both grew to prominence within Imperial Roman culture at about the same time. It is also quite likely that the December 25th date for Christmas comes from Mithraism – Mithra was apparently born on December 25th from a rock. Ironically Mithraism essentially became the religion of the Empire (Sol Invictus) on the eve of Christianity’s ascendancy in the Roman Empire.

Mithraism was a Roman mystery religion with long roots in Ind-Aryan culture, and most especially in Iran, where it competed with…

Anglicans Haven't Split -- Yet!

Word comes, via the LA Times, that the meeting of Anglican Primates has concluded without schism -- yet. Not that everyone is happy that the schism hasn't been finalized. But the word that has come out suggests a solution that ultimately is untenable. It simply puts on hold for a short period what's inevitable. The American Episcopal church has already moved to far along the road to go back. To ask the American Church to not only stop (for now) offering services of blessing or to ordain gay priests simply isn't going to work. And to ask that they apologize -- that definitely won't work. Rowan Williams has done his best to bring the parties together, but the Archbishop of Canterbury lacks papal authority to bring the warring parties to the table. I don't envy him for this predicament. I know where he'd like it to go, but such is not possible at this time.

What does this mean for the future? I guess it means a divided Anglican communion, but in reality it's al…

Time to Play Ball -- Giants Spring Training 2007

Ah, the scent is in the air! Springtime and Baseball!

As a die hard and life long San Francisco Giants fan -- I remember listening on the radio to games in the day of Mays, McCovey, Bobby Bonds, Gaylord Perry, and Juan Marichal. I can remember a late inning home run by Bobby Bonds to beat the Dodgers and more. I got to attend a game during the 1989 World Series at Candlestick and a grieved when the Giants seemed on the verge of taking their first World Series in 48 years (2002).

But as they say, there's always next year and next year has arrived, as position players arrive at Spring Training in Scottsdale, AZ. This is a big year, after two losing seasons, for the beloved Giants. There is a new manager -- Bruce Bochy and with Barry Zito and Matt Cain, the Giants have a star and a star in the making anchoring their pitching rotation. And yes, I'm excited about that! The starting rotation is definitely the strong suit of the team (especially if Matt Morris, Noah Lowry, and Russ Ort…

Public Christian or Public Church?

If we choose to reject an iconic faith where America and it's symbols are sacralized or a priestly faith that "confuses nation with church," but we still want to be engaged in the public square -- what are our choices? Mark Toulouse, writing in his book God in Publicoffers two possibilities, both of which have found representatives in the contemporary American situation. These are the Public Christian and the Public Church. The Public Christian affirms the role of the Christian in public life, but deems it improper for the church itself to engage in political/social activism. It's theological roots can be found in Augustine's "Two Cities" and Luther's "Two Kingdoms." For both of these pre-eminent theologians of Christian history, the church is spiritual. The church's role is to provide pastoral care and seek to evangelize the world. In the contemporary world, Toulouse points to Carl F. H. Henry, a founding member of the Fuller …

Being A Radical Christian -- Simon Barrow

There are Conservative Christians and there are Liberal Christians (better known these days as Progressives), but Simon Barrow of Ekklesia offers another possibility -- Radical Christianity! I think if you read this through you'll find that the Gospel is quite radical and world transforming.

What is radical about Christianity? -Feb 19, 2007 -- by Simon Barrow.

My experience of being a Christian is that of a surprising, continual and contested process of reformation and rediscovery. In the events and narratives concerning Jesus, which remain central to my life, everything I thought I knew about the world, myself, God and humanity turns out to be nothing like what I expected, and indeed finds itself in need of ongoing transformation. The social and political challenge of the Gospel flows, it seems to me, from its radical core. But ‘radical’ has become something of a dirty word, implying (for many) extremism, intolerance or violence; and (for others) an abandonment of historic commitm…

Ethical Implications of the Lord's Table

The Lord's Table is an open Table, but it also has ethical implications. Read closely 1 Corinthians 10 and 11 and you'll discern that something ethical is under consideration -- that is, the way treat each other in daily life is related to how we gather at the Lord's Table. Having quoted from Clark Williamson in my previous post on the Lord's Supper, I return to him once more. Clark notes 2 specific ethical implications, which I'd like to highlight. 1. [P]eople may not be barred from participating in the Lord's supper because they are members of the wrong race, age, class, ethnic group, or denomination, or have the wrong sexual orientation. In the Lord's supper we share in God's gracious gift to us and practice the open hospitality of Jesus, welcoming the stranger. It is self-contradictory to allow such forms of discrimination to rule our social, political, and economic arrangements in "the world" or in the church.
This speaks clearly to the ope…

Mitt Romney's Religion -- Martin Marty's Perspective

Martin Marty in this Monday's Sightings post takes a look at religion and the presidency and how Mitt Romney's membership in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints is relevant to our conversation.Sightings is published by the Martin Marty Center (see below).

Sightings 2/19/07 Romney's Religion-- Martin E. Marty

We who began "sighting" religion in American public life a half-century ago had to open a file on "religion and presidential candidates" when "Ike" ran against "Adlai." Presidents Roosevelt and Truman were very religious, but Roosevelt's form of mainstream Protestantism was seen as inoffensive, and Truman disdained the "use" of religion in political contention. Then came Adlai Stevenson, who was controversial because he was a Unitarian -- and, of course, he was utterly dismissed by religious conservatives (pre-Reagan) because he had been divorced. Dwight Eisenhower ushered in the new era with what a critic…

Islam in America

Islam, like every religious tradition, has more than one face. This is especially true in America, where Muslims hail from many different nations, cultures, and contexts. Some are rabidly fundamentalists, while others are liberal, tolerant, and even secular in their orientation. Some Muslim Women cover themselves completely, others simply wear a scarf over their heads, and others dress just like every other American woman, which is to say, with great variety. It's politically expedient to create a monolithic picture, but once you get to know a few Muslims, you'll discover that the stereotypes don't fit very well.

The LA Times today runs a review by Marjorie Gellhorn Sa'adah of Paul M. Barrett's American Islam: The Struggle for the Soul of a Religion (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2006). I've not read the book, though I've thumbed through it on several occasions at Borders. From the review we learn that Paul Barrett tells the story of seven Muslims who range f…