Showing posts from September, 2007

John McCain -- Christian America?

I was astounded by what I saw and heard in a Beliefnet Video Interview. John McCain is being interviewed and asked about whether America is a Christian nation -- whether the Constitution establishes the nation as a Christian nation -- something 55% of Americans believe, even though there is not one word in the Constitution says this. Well John says, yes he'd agree -- why because the Constitution is founded on Christian principles. Here is a transcript of that response: I would probably have to say yes, that the Constitution established the United States of America as a Christian nation. But I say that in the broadest sense. The lady that holds her lamp beside the golden door doesn't say, “I only welcome Christians.” We welcome the poor, the tired, the huddled masses. But when they come here they know that they are in a nation founded on Christian principles.
John, you've been in the Senate a long time -- go read the thing. The Constitution is based on Enlightenment princ…

The Bullying Pulpit

This past Monday the President of Iran, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, spoke at Columbia University. There was much opposition to the invitation --and a great deal of protest. The latter is a way of life in America, an example of our freedom to speak (even if what we sometimes say is rather silly or asinine). Columbia President Lee Bollinger -- perhaps feeling some heat for issuing the invitation -- chose to introduce his guest in the rudest of ways. In many ways he showed America at its worst -- as the bully we can often be. The Iranian President -- whose own power is limited -- showed himself to be out of touch (no gays in Iran?) and more. But as he himself noted, if one is invited to speak in Iran (that is of course a big if) one is treated with some respect. Americans seem not to understand the idea of honor/shame which is very prevalent in many cultures -- including most Islamic cultures. The LA Times has offered to op-ed pieces the past two days that address this. First, today, Wil…

Can Religion Be a Force for Good?

If you listen to Harris, Hitchens, and Dawkins religion is not only bad it's dangerous. They don't like liberals and moderates because they supposedly give cover to Fundamentalists. On the flip side they tend to be more literalist than the literalists and declare that only Fundamentalism is true religion and since Fundamentalism is dangerous, Religion is dangerous. The recent protests in Burma suggest otherwise -- that people of faith can be a force for good and for change. They can be the moral conscience -- although one need not be religious to be moral -- of a people. They can also be contributors to violence and hatred. Religion speaks of the divine and seeks to be in sync with the divine, but its practitioners are very human. In an LA Times op-ed piece Ian Buruma reflects on the positive force that Religion can be -- with the Burmese Monks as his focus. He writes: Nevertheless, faith has an important role to play in politics, especially in circumstances in which secular libe…

Beyond Megachurch Myths -- A Review

Scott Thumma and Dave Travis, Beyond Megachurch Myths: What We Can Learn from America’s Largest Churches. Foreword by Rick Warren. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 2007. (HB) xxvii + 224 pp.

Is the mega-church a bane or a blessing for American Protestantism? This is a question that has received much attention in academic, clergy, and lay circles. Everyone seems to have an opinion – with some loving them and others hating them. There are, of course, others – like me – who are somewhat ambivalent. As a Mainline Protestant small church pastor, I have my questions, but I’m willing to learn transferable lessons.

Beyond Megachurch Myths seeks to correct the perception that megachurches are not only bad for the soul; they’re dinosaurs in danger of dying off. As one would expect from a book carrying the imprimatur of Rick Warren, this is at least in part an apologia for the megachurch movement. The authors, Scott Thumma and Dave Travis, believe in megachurches and they believe that they’re here to s…

Four Empty Lecterns

There is great symbolism in the four empty lecterns that “graced” last evening’s GOP “All American Forum” at Morgan State University. The debate, which was hosted by Tavis Smiley and broadcast by PBS, was announced last February. While the lower tier candidates found time to be there, those empty lecterns represented the four leading candidates for the GOP crown – Rudy Guilialini, Mitt Romney, Fred Thompson, and John McCain – and from the looks of things, its they who count. The absent candidates pleaded busy schedules, but it’s not as if they didn’t know about ahead of time. The debate was announced long before anyone started their campaigns, and besides, schedules can be amended.

So, what does it say to the nation when you must go fundraising (McCain was apparently delivering a foreign policy address) rather than face questions from a non-White panel and audience about issues that face the African American community? And this isn’t the first request that they’ve tur…

GOP No Shows

I'll write more tomorrow -- both here and at Faithfully Liberal about tonights -- All American Presidential Forum -- hosted by Tavis Smiley. This was a debate that lacked four important candidates -- the top 4. The candidates were asked to speak to why they were there and offer any response to those who chose not to attend. Some said they were embarrassed by the lack of the front runners. Sam Brownback invited African Americans to register GOP and vote for one of those present.

I watched about 50 minutes of the debate to get a sense of things. I'm not a Republican and won't be voting in the GOP primary, so these aren't my candidates. That being said, it's good to see what the other side has to say, even if this is the second tier.

So, Tom Tancredo spoke about immigration, Ron Paul about liberty (get rid of taxes and drug laws -- sort of ), and then there was Alan Keyes (I didn't know he was running).

Of the candidates on the stage and really in the GOP primary, ev…

Essay Contest: Are Civil and Gay Rights Movements Equivalent

Earlier today I posted a portion of an interview that I did with Steve Kindle, Executive Director of Clergy United for the Equality of Homosexuals. Be sure to read the complete interview at Faithfully Liberal. One thing I didn't ask Steve about in the interview was his essay contest -- a contest he's been advertising in places like the Christian Century. Disciples World, the unofficial magazine of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) has a story about the contest on its website. The article quotes Steve and describes the contest: This belief of Kindle’s inspired the topic of the essay contest. Clergy United will award $500 for the winning 2,000-2,500 word essay on why the gay rights movement is the moral equivalent of the Civil Rights movement. In the interest of stirring up discussion, the organization will also award $500 to the winning pro-gay rights essay arguing why the gay rights movement is not the moral equivalent of the Civil Rights movement.Even among Christians…

Advocating for Gays in the Church

My good friend, Steve Kindle, is a happily married, straight, Disciples of Christ pastor who has heard a call to advocate for the equality of gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgender persons in the church. I did an interview with him for Faithfully Liberal, a blog that I also write for. Here is the beginning of the interview; you may continue reading at Faithfully Liberal. Interview: Rev. Steve Kindle, Executive Director of Clergy United -->

By Pastor Bob Cornwall

The Rev. Steve Kindle has a unique ministry. He is Executive Director of Clergy United for the Equality of Homosexuals , a consulting and education organization focused on the inclusion of homosexuals and transgender persons in the church. Originally ordained in the conservative Churches of Christ, in whose colleges and seminaries he received his theological education, today he has standing in the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and the United Church of Christ. Before founding Clergy United, he served as pastor of tw…

The Witness of the Buddhist Monks

We are witnessing a most powerful and intersting expression of religious life in Burma/Myanmar. Burmese Buddhist monks have taken to the streets, facing soldier's bullets, to defy a repressive regime. As "Faithful Progressive" points out, this expression of nonviolence is proof of religion's value to human life. Here is just a clip from his comments: The events in Myanmar are a classic illustration of why the New Atheists, in general, and Richard Dawkins in particular, are wrong about the value of religious belief in human history and evolution. It's pretty simple: the Buddhist monks have moral authority. It is hard earned. They live a disciplined life that focuses on compassion. They have been politically active, and brutally put down, since the 1930's. But they endure, as do their fellow Buddhists in Burma/Myanmar. Together, the monks and the people are strong; strong and pure like their belief in Buddhism.With these comments are added clips from several …

Perils of Religious Ignorance

Regularly someone, usually a good Christian soul who isn't a radical Christian fundamentalist, sends me an email with blatantly untrue and slanderous information about Islam or some other religion (usually Islam these days). They're all quite sure that Muslims are by nature evil people seeking to take over the world and impose Sharia law on us -- or if not that blow us to smithereens. They're quite sure of this. A recent Pew Forum survey on religious understanding shows just how little people know about Islam or other religions. Here is a clip from a LA Times piece -- with key statistics in bold: The survey of 3,002 Americans was conducted last month by the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press and the Pew Forum on Religion and Public

Although 58% of respondents said they knew little or nothing about Islamic practices, 70% of non-Muslims said Islam was very different from their own religious beliefs.

Pew Forum senior fellow John Green said that respondents…

Wendy McCaw Revealed!

The NLRB trial in Santa Barbara that has focused on whether the Santa Barbara News Press illegally fired reporters for union activities is nearing an end. Featured at the end of this trial has been the testimony of owner-publisher Wendy McCaw. As described this morning in Craig Smith's blog -- what we have running the local paper is an angry frumpy woman who has created a hostile workplace -- especially for any reporter who would write on matters of wildlife. The animal rights activist finds bias in any report that would suggest that her precious feral pigs and coyotes don't deserve the utmost in protection -- even if the pigs are destroying the environment on the Channel Islands.

What we see in the way she runs the paper is first pure hypocrisy and second a demand that the reporting of news follow the lead of the editorial page. In other words -- bias is in the eye of her beholding!

Again, it is too bad that a city like Santa Barbara is left with a daily paper that isn't w…

Back to School Night -- 1 last time

Every fall for 13 years I suppose, Cheryl and I have gone off to Back to School Night at Santa Barbara High School. First it was to check out the kindergarten class back in Manhattan, Kansas -- Marlatt Elementary. Then every year we would make that pilgrimage and get a sense of what the year would be like. Since Cheryl is a teacher, she has seen this kind of event from both sides of the podium.
Now Brett is off to his senior year and we make our last pilgrimage of this sort. We'll meet teachers -- actually he only has 2 new teachers, the rest he's had before. We'll get the run down about the semester, and begin looking forward to that big day when he walks the plank (I mean across the platform).
It's hard to believe we've come to this point, but it does happen. A senior year is often a turning point in young person's life. They gain a certain confidence from having reached this stage of life. Freshmen look up to them. They walk with a certain swagger. They wear…

Separate but Equal -- Redux

In the 1950s it was determined by the Supreme Court that the principle of "separate but equal" wasn't just and therefore unconstitutional. And so desegregation began. The question arises now concerning gay marriage. Some have proposed civil unions rather than marriage for gays -- but in almost all cases the "rights" granted under civil unions -- including tax benefits -- don't benefit gays. So is it fair and just -- the mayor of San Diego, Jerry Sanders, a Republican with a lesbian daughter, has said no. Interesting! Steve Kindle, at his "Open Hearts -- Affirming Pages" blog has taken up this issue along with the corresponding issue of companionship -- the idea that we find in Genesis that it is not good that one should be alone. He writes: Ultimately, the refusal of marriage to same-sex couples is a denial of their humanity. When the church denies marriage to gay couples it is saying that you are not worthy of having your loneliness relieved i…

Children's Health Held Hostage

George Bush isn't shy about spending billions on an ill-advised war in Iraq, but for some reason increased funding of children's health care is unreasonable. He claims the carefully crafted compromise bill extending the S-CHIP programming-- one carrying the co-sponsorship of such liberals as Orrin Hatch and Charles Grassley -- is simply a liberal Democratic political ploy. Years ago Ann Richards spoke of a silver spoon in GW's mouth. That silver spoon has come back to haunt him. Whether or not this will lead to increased government involvement in health care is irrelevant. If we don't increase health care funding more and more children will fall through the cracks -- many of them in the middle class. But then cowboy George wouldn't know about that. He likes to play good old boy -- cowboy, but he's the product of a wealthy aristocratic legacy. Spending money now to provide quality health care for children just might save a whole bunch of money later on. S…

All Saints Probe over but questions remain!

The Los Angeles Times reports that the IRS has dropped its probe of All Saints Episcopal Church in Pasadena. The whole sordid thing began back in 2004 when Rector Emeritus George Regas happened to challenge George Bush's Iraq War policy. Someone complained to the IRS who threatened to pull it's tax exempt status and demanded all kinds of documents from e-mails to sermons. The church fought back, refused to comply, and now months later they say they're dropping the probe. The only thing is, they insist that All Saints broke the law -- they just don't say how they broke the law. Well, according to the report, All Saints wants both clarification and an apology -- and both are due them.
What is interesting about this case is that the church has discovered that the Justice Department -- you know the one run by partisanship run amok Al Gonzalez -- was involved in all this. Additionally, the IRS never allowed the church to respond to the charges and provide explanations.
It lo…

Mother Teresa's Agony

What makes religious faith so durable? Why don't people "face the facts" and abandon religon? Mother Teresa's life and message continues to inspire people to hold on even when faith isn't easy. Here is Martin Marty's thoughts for this Monday.

Sightings 9/24/07

Mother Teresa's Agony
--Martin E. Marty

Once when Mormon origins were being radically questioned by a man who turned out to be a forger, I asked Jan Shipps, foremost Gentile scholar of Latter-Day Saints, what if the publicized fake documents turned out to be authentic? Wouldn't such shaking of the foundations bring down the whole edifice? No, she reminded me: The faithful have ways, indefinite and maybe infinite, of responding with new explanations. Without cynicism, Shipps noted that religions do not get killed by surprises that would seem to necessitate revision.
I thought of Shipps' dictum this month when a beautifully sad or sadly beautiful book by the late Mo…

Visit of Iranian President to US

I'm not a fan of the Iranian President -- Mahmoud Ahmadinejad -- In fact I think he's kind of a nutcase. But he has taken on an air of populism and defiance to American pretensions of power that has caught the eye and ear of many around the world. It's no surprise that he's not being warmly received in the United States, his message is a vitriolic one. Some say he shouldn't be allowed to speak at forums such as the one at Columbia University. The question is why? What do we have to fear from him. Let him speak, let's hear his rhetoric. If we judge it inappropriate or incendiary, then so be it. If all he brings are words, then there's nothing to fear. To try to silence him only gives him power. The key is to ask why he has reached the ears of so many, even of those who are not natural allies of Iran? Consider this from the LA Times. I've posted on this at Faithfully Liberal.

Ruling By Divine Mandate?

Faith in the Public Square
Lompoc Record
September 23, 2007

In a recent conversation with a close friend I was stunned by his insistence that God chooses our presidents for us. Apparently God is guiding the nation's voters - or at least the Electoral College. My friend finds the constant criticisms of the president, including my own, troubling and inappropriate - for we're to honor our leaders and support them.
His beliefs, which I don't think are unique, have a long history - they're rooted in a tradition of “divine right monarchy.” This ideology of earlier years held that because God is sovereign and God chooses the ruler, from family to nation, we who are ruled should not resist that person's judgments. We should, instead, trust in the ruler's judgment - for surely they know more than do we about the affairs of state.
The idea that our leaders lead with a divine mandate often seeks to draw from biblical precedents, such as David's reticence to touch Saul beca…

Evolution and Wonder

Darwin is often spoken of as a sort of high priest of secularism, or even a spokesman for the Devil. He's portrayed as a force completely hostile to religion. But was he really? Or is his story more complex than we're often led to believe? This week Krista Tippett's Speaking of Faith show explores Charles Darwin's impact on both the world of science and of religion with James Moore, a Cambridge University professor and biographer of Darwin. The program is titled "Evolution and Wonder: Understanding Charles Darwin." In the program Moore notes that in the Origin of Species Darwin spoke very respectfully of the Creator even if he was challenging how people of his age understood creation. One of the points that Moore makes concerns Darwin's context. Darwin came of age in the middle decades of the 19th century. In that day, society was stratified and everything had its place and order -- a place and order determined by God. To say that we have evolved not on…

Jesus Walks

I'm not a hip-hop fan, but this video I found at Chuck Currie's site, raises important questions about our nation, the church, and the continuing prevalence of racism.

Whence the Resurrection Body?

Living as we do in a modern age that must attend to the insights of scientific discovery, an age in which it's pretty difficult to imagine that heaven is up above past the clouds and hell down below our feet, we must attend to the question of what resurrection might entail. In previous discussions on this site I know that some find this idea problematic at best. But there are alternative views to consider, ones that allow us to fathom the idea of eternal life and even resurrection. I posted earlier from Hans Kung's book Eternal Life. Kung notes that modern anthropological insights do not allow for a body/soul dichotomy. So, when we think about resurrection we can't understand it as the "natural continuance of a spirit-soul independent of our bodily functions." Thus, we are a new creation, a transformation of what was to what is. He writes further: Is it then a bodily resurrection, a raising up of man with his body? yes and no. No, if we understand "body…

No More Barry

I've been a San Francisco Giants fan from before I can remember -- back in the days of Willie Mays, Willie McCovey, Gaylord Perry, and Juan Marichal. It was back when a young Bobby Bonds patrolled right field and gave a fair imitation of the guy manning center next to him. I've watched through the ups and downs of the franchise -- seen them at their best and their worst.

Though the didn't win that night, I went to one of the 1989 World Series games -- the postponed game after the city was rocked by the earthquake. I watched in disbelief as they fell five outs short of winning the 2002 series in six games -- if only Robb Nen had 2 innings left in him. Ah, the San Francisco Giants and I are about the same age -- and I'm still waiting with them for that elusive championship.

So, tonight we learn that the Barry Bonds era is coming to an end. Playing their last two home series of an otherwise forgettable season, the Giants have told Barry they're moving on. If he's g…

Charge Church -- Stifle Speech

I posted yesterday about the City of Simi Valley, CA charging a UCC church 40,000 for police protection after protesters showed up to picket the church, which was serving as sanctuary for a woman appealing deportation orders. Word in the LA Times today is that the City is standing by a City Council decision to bill the congregation, but in so doing is sending a chilling message to churches. The City Manager made the following comment: "We're sensitive to the moral issues here, but it's still against the law," to be in the country without proper documentation, Sedell said. "We warned [church officials] that if they flaunted it in the public, then these [protests] will occur and there will be consequences."
I'm not sure how the church flaunted in public. The protesting group -- Save our State -- had protested a Long Beach church the night before. They seem to be following the woman, essentially harassing her and anyone who is willing to giver her a pl…

Dobson's losing his Seat

From all appearances, Jim Dobson, that paragon of evangelical righteousness and kingmaker, isn't happy with his choices. It looks as if he's not at all sold on Fred Thompson -- Fred doesn't go to church all that often and he's not going to talk about religion. I'd really be surprised if he and Rudy could get along. He doesn't like McCain and Mitt's a Mormon (while on most values issues their on the same page, theologically he doesn't fit). So he's he left with -- Mike Huckabee. Huckabee would be the perfect candidate -- he's an ordained Southern Baptist Pastor, Southern governor, doesn't believe in evolution, and is right on gays and abortion. But so far Jimmy's not buying. See Marc Ambinder's comments here. Now as for talk that Huckabee could be VP material. I'd be surprised -- I remember him earlier hinting that if the nominee wasn't toeing the line on gays and abortion he'd consider running as an independent. …

The Empire's Tentacles

This war in Iraq has more twists and turns than Mulholland Drive. We knew that much of the support work for the military was being outsourced to private companies and we heard rumors that the CIA was doing the same, but now we are discovering that more and more of the "security" in Iraq and elsewhere is being handled by murky mercenary groups. These companies, which can hire out foreign nationals at a much lower salary than must be paid to American soldiers -- and without them having to count against our losses -- this is a win-win situation. You can read more about this in a Rosa Brooks op-ed in the LA Times. But here is an important section: The White House's motives are obvious. Why fight another war, with all the bother of convincing Congress, if you can quietly hire a private military company to fight it for you? Why interrogate suspected insurgents if you can outsource the whole messy business? Why go through the tedious process of training Afghan judges if DynCorp w…

Intimidating a Welcoming Congregation

When a church follows its conscience and welcomes the stranger into its midst -- that shouldn't be too controversial. Our mandate as people of faith is to give asylum and care for those in need. Apparently the city of Simi Valley -- not far south from where I live -- doesn't see it that way. In fact it seems that this city doesn't like having such an entity in its midst. When the other day protesters from an anti-immigrant group chose to picket the church, the scene made our local news. The video of this scene pictured a bunch of angry white folk protesting one small church's actions. This act of kindness on the part of a congregation is an expression of the New Sanctuary Movement and is an expression of social justice. It is in fact a considered response to our government's unwillingness to deal with immigration. How then did the city deal with this outbreak - -they billed the church approximately $40,000 for police protection. Now this came in spite of…

Blog Rush Invite

Bloggers want readers, at least I think that's why we spend precious time opining on all manner of issues. If you're a blogger, you should check out Blog Rush. I just installed it and am learning the ins and outs.

You will notice on my side bar the Blog Rush widget. Check it out, click on the little tab, and look to add Blog Rush to your blog. Or just click here.

Understanding the Resurrection

I mentioned earlier that I would be leading a memorial service for one of our members, a gracious and loving woman, who will be greatly missed by all. As a pastor speaking hope to my community, I take much hope in my belief in the resurrection and in the afterlife. It is not an academic issue, but is in fact a matter of life and death. But, having said that I can't just flippantly say I believe, the question is what do I believe? The question arises about the nature of resurrection. In the next couple of days I want to post some quotes from Hans Kung's book Eternal Life?(Doubleday, 1984). It's not a new book but its a helpful one. So here's the first: It is obvious then that biblical and modern anthropological thinking converge in their conception of man as a body-soul unity, a fact that is of crucial importance also for the question of a life after death. When the New Testament speaks of resurrection, it does not refer to the natural continuation of a spirit-soul indepe…

The Role of Churches in Immigrant Life

Living in Southern California, where the cultural landscape has been changing dramatically over the past several decades, I see the impact of immigration. We are reaching a point in time where there is no "ethnic majority" in the State. Hispanics are the largest ethnic grouping, but as with all ethnic groupings even that community is not monolithic. An article by Bob Allen at Ethics Daily served to remind me of the importance that religion plays in immigrant communities. It is, he points out, an often neglected part of the immigration reform debate. Religious communities -- churches, mosques, etc. -- provide a cultural bridge, a place of sanctuary in the midst of a new environment. One thing that I noticed when pastoring a church that rented out space to a Hispanic congregation (Guatemalan based) was that they met as often as possible. Our congregation met on Sundays and then occasionally for women's groups or whatever -- but in the case of the Hispanic congregat…

For the Bible Tells Me So -- Updates

The documentary For the Bible Tells Me So, a film dealing with homosexuality and the role of religion in the oppression of gays and lesbians is due out in at least some theaters in October. My friend, Steve Kindle, was involved in the program and is actually seen in this clip to follow -- a trailer from it.

We're hoping to get it here to Santa Barbara, but if you go to the web site you'll see where it is scheduled to appear. Take a look at the trailer and then keep your eye out for it!

Join Me at Faithfully Liberal

I want to invite you to join me over at Faithfully Liberal, a blog run by a couple of guys late of Chicago Theological Seminary. Aaron Krager is the head honcho over there and he's asked me to contribute to that blog. So, on most Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, you'll find me posting over there as well as here.

You can find the Faithfully Liberal blog and my first post here. So won't you join me in the conversation over there as well as here?

The GOP -- The White People's Party?

Has the party of Lincoln, Radical Reconstruction, and Teddy Roosevelt become the "White People's Party"? A Washington Postarticle this morning raises just this question -- or more specifically party leaders are beginning to wonder about the practices and rhetoric of the leading GOP candidates. They have consistently turned down opportunities to debate before minority groups. This is on top of the anti-immigrant rhetoric that is being used to satisfy a nativist base. Listen to former VP candidate Jack Kemp: "We sound like we don't want immigration; we sound like we don't want black people to vote for us," said former congressman Jack Kemp (N.Y.), who was the GOP vice presidential nominee in 1996. "What are we going to do -- meet in a country club in the suburbs one day? If we're going to be competitive with people of color, we've got to ask them for their vote."Indeed! I close with this from Tavis Smiley, scheduled to host one of thos…

Hope in the midst of death

Every day we hear that people die, but when it strikes close to home you reflect more on it. I was listening this morning on my way up from Santa Barbara to Krista Tippett's interview with British theologian/physicist John Polkinghorne. He was talking about the interaction of religion and science -- especially in what he refers to as the cloudy places. When it comes to things like resurrection and after - life -- Polkinghorne (who is in tune with panentheism) is a big proponent of both. Anyway, he was talking about eschatology and after life and our basic intuition that there must be something more. You can't prove it scientifically. You can't necessarily see it, but you know it has to be. Thus our intuition is the key. Today one of my members died. I spent the afternoon at the hospital as the doctors tried to save this wonderfully gracious and loving woman. But it was not to be. I was there to pray with her husband and her family. I was there to give voice to the…

Honoring the Constitution

Yesterday was Constitution Day -- the 208th anniversary of the passage of this document that guides our nation's life. Like with the Bible, we continue to argue about the interpretation and application of this document. I must confess that I've not read the Constitution as a whole recently -- though I probably should -- I know the contents of certain parts of it. I know that the first amendment guarantees freedom of speech, religion, and press, but I had forgotten that it also guaranteed freedom of assembly and the right to petition. These five freedoms are important to the life of our nation, and yet we tend to forget about them and many of us are willing to curtail these constitutionally protected rights -- when it suits our needs. Our ignorance of the contents of this document can have unforeseen consequences. The fact that a recent poll suggests that 55% of Americans believe that the Constitution enshrines Christianity is worrisome. So is the fact that " "…

A Balm in Gilead -- A Sermon from 2001

I am set to preach on Jeremiah 8:18-9:1 on Sunday. It is the same text I preached from six years ago -- in the weeks following the events of 9-11. I will be using the basic theme and title from that sermon this Sunday, but I thought, having offered here my sermon from the Sunday after 9-11, that I would offer the one that followed. As you read this overly long sermon, consider the criticism offered of me by some of my mmebers -- that I didn't deal with 9-11. **********************

Sermon preached:
By Rev. Dr. Robert Cornwall
First Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)
Santa Barbara, CA
September 23, 2001

Jeremiah 8:18-9:1

In last Sunday's News Press, David Foy's column begins: "Healing is not the goal." He is right, we must not trivialize or lessen the loss we feel from the events of September 11, and justice must be done, but is their no balm in Gilead? Lance Morrow, in his Time Magazine commentary, writes: "for once, let's hav…

Ambivalence in a Time of War

In this week's edition of the Alban Weekly, Katie Day offers an insightful response to the upcoming Ken Burn's piece -- WAR -- a piece on World War II. World War II has come to be seen by many as a necessary, just, and ultimately good war. But as Day points out, at the time there was great ambivalence on the part of those fighting and those at home. Churches were conflicted -- not wanting to bless the violence of war they felt constrained to be of service to nation and word. As Day points out, many of the leaders of our churches were part of that fight or were children of it. This may be why we struggle now with what to do about the Iraq War. She writes: Although the church’s role in public issues has been dissected in just about every other context, one of the least studied is its role during the Second World War. For good reason: major Christian traditions were bogged down in internal debates about entering into the war, torn between the pacifism that had been in vogu…

New Atheists -- Sightings

Martin Marty is always insightful. He has seen enough American religion to understand the nuances and offer helpful insight to those of us who have trod this path a much shorter time. Many of us are troubled by the loud and often ignorant rantings of the "New Atheists." Their arguments, as Marty points out, aren't new. David Hume pretty much said what needed to be said back in the 18th Century. Darwin raised important questions but Darwin didn't overthrow God -- we have just had to figure out how best to adapt to Darwin's discoveries. So, in this Monday's contribution to his Sighting's newsletter, we are treated to some important questions to be reflected on.

Sightings 9/17/07

The New Atheists
--Martin E. Marty

"For the first time in living memory, religious skepticism is hot," writes Katha Pollitt in The Nation (September 24). In a sensible one-page column, she points to best-sellers and talk show appearances by "t…