Showing posts from July, 2009

Healing of the Nations -- A Disciple Commitment

Isaiah speaks of the healing of the nations. A great hymn does as well. The "Healing of the Nations" is the theme of this years Disciples of Christ General Assembly. The Rev. Cynthia Hale, Pastor of Ray of Hope Christian Church in Atlanta, got the conversation off to a rousing start last night, taking us back into the creation story, reminding us that we are a people (humanity that is) created for a purpose -- fearfully and wonderfully made, as the Psalmist put it ( Psalm139:13-14).

The Assembly theme rests on the Disciples new "mantra" -- A Movement of Wholeness in a Fragmented World." We're not perfect agents or messengers, but this is our calling, to live out God's vision of wholeness in a very fragmented and broken world. It is a powerful calling, one that will certainly struggle with in implementation, but still a most powerful invitation to move into the future. My expectation is that we'll continue the conversation -- in worship and in…

Foundational Texts, Interpretation, and Playing the Game - Sightings

The Sotomayor hearings are over, the Committee has voted, essentially along party lines, to send the nomination forward for a nearly party line vote to confirm (the way things are now done). Ingrid Lilly, a professor of Hebrew Bible and Jewish Studies, writes today in Sightings (the last issue till September), about the religious -- hermeneutical debates --underpinnings of the recent hearings. Is there not a similarity in how both text of Scripture and text of the Constitution being approached? Take a read, offer your thoughts.


Sightings -- June 30, 2009
Foundational Texts, Interpretation, and Playing the Game:
The Religious Underpinnings of the Sotomayor Hearings -- Ingrid LillyFollowing the Senate Judiciary Committee hearings for the nomination of Sonia Sotomayor to the Supreme Court, Mike Seidman, law professor at Georgetown, argued that the proceedings revealed only the “official version” of the American judicial system: that “fidelity to uncontested…

General Assembly Day One

I'm at the Disciples of Christ General Assembly in Indianapolis. Drove down this morning, heard our General Minister and President Sharon Watkins give a sense of the church, and will worship tonight with Cynthia Hale as preacher. General Assemblies are generally an enjoyable time for me. I get to see old friends, make some new ones, worship, fellowship, learn -- and do some voting. Voting has its place, but its not the primary reason we're here. We could do that by phone or computer. What's important is connecting with one another, reaffirming ties that bind, while recognizing that we're simply part of the broader church of Jesus Christ, which forms a part of the whole human community. I'm not sure to the extent that I'll be posting, but I'll try to keep things updated as best I can. If you're reading this and at the GA -- I hope I run into you. Blessings from Indianapolis!

The Evolution of God -- Review

THE EVOLUTION OF GOD. By Robert Wright. New York: Little, Brown and Company, 2009. 567 pp.

The idea that God has evolved may be off-putting to some and welcomed by others. How one responds to this idea may depend both on what is meant by the phrase and where one stands in regards to the idea of God. A believer may take this idea differently than will an unbeliever. Philip Clayton, in his book Adventures in the Spirit(Fortress, 2008) encourages believers in God to welcome dialog with science and philosophy, and not to fear any challenging implications to faith. It is with that sense of openness that I came to Robert Wright’s fascinating study of the evolution of the idea of God, from its origins in hunter/gather societies to the development of the great religions – especially the three Abrahamic religions. Wright admits that he approached this study with an agnostic sensibility. Indeed, the focus here is not on whether God exists, but how humans have envisioned and approached …

Giving -- Sightings

With the economic downturn many churches and other non-profit agencies report decreased giving. If you don't have a job, you don't have money to give. But, apparently giving to religion and to public support sorts of non-profits has not gone down all that much, if at all. Yes, giving to cultural and recreational sorts of entities might have fallen drastically, but not religion. Anyway, Martin Marty speaks to this issue and in doing so looks back to the Great Depression and makes some interesting comparisons.

I invite you to take a look and offer a thought! What is your experience?


Sightings 7/27/09
Giving -- Martin E. Marty Giving USA Foundation last month reported on “giving, U.S.A.” under a headline, “Giving in worst economic climate since Great Depression exceeds $300 billion for second year in a row,” but “a 2 percent drop in current dollars over 2007,” as well as “the first decline…since 1987” and the second …

The Birthers? What Gives?

Okay, folks, what's this about a birth certificate? Why is Lou Dobbs, Rush Limbaugh, Alan Keyes, Gordon Liddy, and others on the far right fringe, so concerned about Barack Obama's birth? Why does a Republican Congressman from Delaware have to defend Obama's citizenship in front of a hostile town hall -- and get booed when he says that Obama is a citizen? Oh, and why does Lou Dobbs still have a job at CNN?

I've not taken up this birther issue so far, in part because I'd rather not have a bunch of nut cases overwhelm my blog with comments I'll likely end up having to delete. But, this thing has legs and is being put out there by people working for CNN. I might expect this from Fox, but CNN? Anyway, I was listening this morning to an interesting conversation on NPR's On Point show with Tom Ashbrook. The primary guests included Ben Smith of Politico, Michael Medved, a conservative talk show host (who called on conservatives to denounce categorically t…

Reflections -- Going to the General Assembly

Early Wednesday morning Cheryl and I will head out toward Indianapolis. We'll pick up two other members along the way, one a youth delegate. Our destination is the Disciples General Assembly. There we will worship, participate in learning activities, attend luncheons and banquets, and do the business of the church. There will be about 6000 or so other folk there with us.

This is work related, but I've come to enjoy the event. No, not the business portion. I find that at times to be tedious. But, it's important that we discuss issues of importance, even if we don't have sufficient time to devote to each issue. Sometimes these conversations are contentious, but in many ways the current rules have limited the nature of the debate. We have fewer social justice type resolutions, the most conservative activists have already departed, so that part of the Assembly is, rather mundane.

But, why go? Why spend money on a week such as this? Besides giving me the opportunit…

The Power of Understanding -- A Sermon

Reposted from Words of Welcome

Ephesians 3:14-21

I’ve heard it said that "the more you know, the more you know, you don't know." That may not make much sense, but there’s truth in that statement. Because the universe is so vast, it’s simply impossible for anyone, no matter how smart, to know everything about everything. Not Einstein, not Stephen Hawking. When I was younger, I didn't understand this truth. In fact, I’ve heard it said that I was a “know it all.” And this wasn’t said in positive terms! Hopefully, with growing maturity, I’ve become less of a “know it all!” Now, that doesn’t mean I don’t have opinions on things, because I do! I expect that what’s true of me, is true of most of you as well.

Speaking of understanding, Our Disciples tradition has always prized a “reasonable faith.” From the very beginning we’ve valued the life of the mind. Our very name signals this value, for to be a disciple is to be a learner. If we’re learners, then we mu…

Racial Profiling in America

Do you believe that America is color blind? That racism is a problem of the past? If so, then you're probably white. If you're a person of color, your experience is likely different. The recent fracas initiated by the arrest of a distinguished Harvard professor for "disorderly conduct," an arrest that led to a probably unadvised comment by the President -- which of course set off the Rush Limbaugh set. This comment about stupidity, gave Rush the opportunity he's been waiting for to call the President a militant black. Mind you, militant probably means "uppity." Remember back during the presidential campaign, when Obama was called an "elitist"? I think that this meant he was "uppity."

Anyway, we'll likely never know the complete truth of this encounter. We have two different stories, and you have to decide who is telling the truth -- the white police officer or the Harvard professor. While we may never know the truth in …

Health Care Reform -- A Pastoral Letter from Sharon Watkins

I have posted several pieces on Health Care Reform. Having received a pastoral letter from the Rev. Dr. Sharon Watkins, the General Minister and President of my denomination -- Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), I decided to share it with you. She reports having come from a meeting of other religious leaders with political leaders, including officials from the current administration and the Bush administration and Congress. I encourage you to read it and consider the message.


July 24, 2009

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

You are no doubt aware of the debate on health care reform currently taking place in the United States. I recently attended a conference on health care, organized by and for religious leaders to help us understand the current discussion. We heard from health care policy experts, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Mark McClellan (who served in the Bush administ…

Outing the Good Samaritan --Reprised

Several years ago I wrote an op-ed piece on the parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37). It's possible, considering that the parable is found only in Luke, that it doesn't come from the lips of Jesus (both Matthew and Mark include a conversation about the Great Commandments, but not the illustration). I don't know; I'll let the NT scholars fight that one out. But, I do believe that it has a strong message for us today -- especially as we debate such things as immigration reform and health care reform. What is the nature of compassion? And, is compassion central to our faith? And if so, how does impact our politics. So, here is my meditation for the Lompoc Record published in 2007. Think about the parable as you consider the events of the day.

The picture above is of a fresco painted by Ben Long for First Presbyterian Church of Charlotte, NC.


Outing the Good SamaritanBy Bob Cornwall/Faith in the Public Square
Do you want to be known…

Ten Commandments for a Biblical Psychology -- Sightings

When I hear the phrase biblical psychology or maybe biblical counseling, someone like Jay Adams or Bill Gothard comes to mind. Their view of counseling is pretty much to quote scripture at people, with little thought as to its context or meaning. It's all propositional -- proof-texting to the maximum.

So, here comes today's edition of Sightings, which speaks of Biblical Psychology, and I'm confronted with something else. Here is an attempt to offer a contrast to a Greek based, deterministic, kind of psychology. Dr. Kalman J. Kaplan explores this contrast and offers a view into a more hopeful/positive sense of psychology. Take a look, and offer your thoughts.


Sightings 7/23/09 Ten Commandments for a Biblical Psychology -- Kalman J. KaplanFifty years ago, Dr. Erich Wellisch wrote, “The very word ‘psyche’ is Greek.The central psychoanalytic concept of the formation of character and neurosis is shaped after the Greek Oedipus myth…

Health Care Redux

I didn't watch the President's press conference. I was out with 11 other church members eating great ice cream and playing miniature golf (we had to switch the order due to rain at the beginning of the outing). Great time for all!

But, I'm sure there was enough there to get all the tongues wagging and the spin doctors working. I heard Bay Buchanan say that from an "objective" point of view he didn't accomplish his goal. I'm sorry, but I've never heard Bay offer any objective view before, and I expect that she didn't last night -- nor will I!

So, here's the deal. We can argue all we want about the details and the pace, but something must be done. We have the highest cost health system in the world, which works for some, but is increasingly not working for loads of Americans. Remember the car industry -- the one that got battered so badly? Well, part of the cost of American cars and trucks is health care, which in Europe and Japan is pro…

Health Care Debate

During the Presidential debates, both Barack Obama and John McCain agreed that every American had a right to affordable health care. They differed on their approaches, but not on the imperative. Now, six months into his administration, with the different parties (not just political ones) digging in for a fight, President Obama is calling on America to act, and act boldly to deal with a problem that has been festering for decades.

The President has made health care reform a top priority, and many are saying this will make or break his presidency. Indeed, some in the opposing party, with no real ideas of their own (remember when the GOP was the party of ideas) have decided that if they obstruct this effort they can regain power. They've complained about a lack of bipartisanship, but I've really not seen any big ideas flowing from their side into the conversation.

So, tonight, even as health care costs and insurance rates continue to rise at an every expanding rate, the Preside…

A Little Jazz for your enjoyment -- from Lito Hernandez

Watch for the name Raul (Lito) Hernandez in a few years. He's a friend and former band mate of my son's at Santa Barbara High School. Brett is a year a head of Lito, so Lito just graduated. We've known him since the two were in Jr. High band together. We could tell then that he was a gifted musician. He's also a great young man! Now he's off to college.

Anyway, the other day Brett told me he'd seen a video of Lito's 2008 performance at the Grammy Spotlight Award Program -- Lito was Jazz Instrumental Runner up. Don't know who beat him out, but I think you'll enjoy his music! And Remember, this performance was a year ago -- when he was just a junior in high school.

Obama the Anti-Christ?

Back during the heated days of the most recent presidential election, Barack Obama was accused of many things. These ranged from being a non-citizen (I guess being born in Hawaii makes you a foreigner), a closet Muslim, and most intriguing of all -- the anti-Christ. Having come of age while Hal Lindsey and his Late Great Planet Earth reigned supreme, back when apocalyptic-tinged songs rang out on our record players (yes, we still had record players in the 1970s), I'm familiar with the ever-changing complexion of the anti-Christ. Over the years the AC (for short) has been identified as the Pope, Hitler, FDR, among others. Now, in the minds of some, Barack Obama is the new Anti-Christ.

Why? Well, people oversees like him -- that has to a bad mark on him. For some reason Americans take pride in being hated by "foreigners." We consider this perspective a matter of jealousy. So, if Obama is popular then he must be a -- traitor? Or, a weakling?

He's promising to ma…

Jimmy Carter and the Elders --- Sightings

The title of this piece sounds as if Jimmy Carter, the former President and global elder statesman, just started up a jazz combo composed of senior citizens. But, alas, that's not the point of yesterday's Sightings post by another elder statesman (in the religious community) named Martin Marty.

Marty reports on a small group of elderstatespersons, including Nelson Mandela (now 91), Desmond Tutu, Aung San Suu Kyi, and others, who have dedicated themselves to working behind the scenes to challenge some of the persistent problems facing our world. The issue they have dedicated themselves to at this point is the repression/suppression of women.

The Group calls itself the Elders. We're fortunate to have such elders working to make a better world.

Sightings 7/20/09Jimmy Carter and the Elders -- Martin E. Marty Two years ago last weekend in Johannesburg, South Africa, twelve senior statespersons met to form a group called, yes, t…