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Resolved: Quitting the Progressive Christian Internet in 2014

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/zach-j-hoag/resolved-quitting-the-pro_b_4524150.html
Posted: 12/31/2013 5:33 pm
I have a New Year's Resolution to share. It isn't quit smoking (never started). And it isn'tlose weight (well, it probably should be). It isn't even one of those vague ones like be happier or be healthier or take more time for me (the latter, of course, being impossible when one works for a living and has two tiny humans to keep alive and happy). No, this Resolution is somewhat non-traditional. But it is, by my reasoning, vitally necessary:
I'm quitting the Progressive Christian Internet in 2014.
No, I'm not quitting blogging or Twitter or de-friending a couple hundred people on Facebook (though I'll likely do a bit of trimming for the new year). Nor am I giving up on certain topics that might be deemed by some to be "progressive" and "Christian." Rather, I'm quitting a conversation that has come to define the "Progressive…

What Do You Get When You Cross Ecclesiastes and Lamentations?

I doubt there’s a literary category for such a monstrous hybrid. But there is surely and existential one. And that is where I find myself these days. I don’t think I’m depressed—been there and know what that feels like. But I am sad, and somewhat adrift. And I’d like your prayers, those of you who are praying types.
I’m a child of the 60's and 70's. A time when it truly seemed possible that significant structural and systemic change in America could happen. And that there was a generation committed enough to live sacrificially that such might happen. Forty-five to fifty years hence, I hold little to no hope for any such change, at least in the direction of equity and justice. This is not a democrat or republican thing—the rich have gotten richer under Obama (Eccl.5:10), the environment has degenerated (perhaps past remediation), oppression is rife (Eccl.4:1-3), the Occupy movement has generated some good ideas, but good ideas scare no one in power (Eccl.8:4). Apart from some su…

The Crisis of the Middle Class and American Power

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http://www.stratfor.com/weekly/crisis-middle-class-and-american-powerGeopolitical Weekly Tuesday, December 31, 2013 - 04:01 Print Text Size Stratfor Editor's Note:The following Geopolitical Weekly originally ran in January 2013.
By George Friedman
When I wrote about the crisis of unemployment in Europe, I received a great deal of feedback. Europeans agreed that this is the core problem while Americans argued that the United States has the same problem, asserting that U.S. unemployment is twice as high as the government's official unemployment rate. My counterargument is that unemployment in the United States is not a problem in the same sense that it is in Europe because it does not pose a geopolitical threat. The United States does not face political disintegration from unemployment, whatever the number is. Europe might.
At the same time, I would agree that the United States faces a potentially significant but longer-term geopolitical problem deriving from economic…

Great Visual for Understanding the Introvert

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Saving the Lost Art of Conversation

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http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2014/01/the-eavesdropper/355727/ In a fast-paced digital age, an MIT psychologist tries to slow us down. Dec 22 2013, 9:25 PM ET
“I am going to be a little boring,” Sherry Turkle announces as we sit down to tea in the living room of her sprawling Boston townhouse. “And you’re going to be a little boring, too.”

Turkle, for the record, is not boring. She is a psychologist and a professor at MIT whose primary academic interest—the relationship between humans and machines—is especially relevant in today’s networked age. Her most recent book, Alone Together: Why We Expect More From Technology and Less From Each Other, explores our reliance on devices that can isolate us under the auspices of connection. Published in 2011, it poured 384 pages’ worth of water onto technological optimism at a time when most of the culture preferred to focus on the promise and allure of digital devices. In this environment, Turkle has be…

Karl Barth’s Prayer for the New Year

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Posted: 28 Dec 2013 10:05 PM PST
O Lord, our Father!
We have gathered here at the turn of the year
because we do not want to be alone but want to be with each other,
and together be united with you. Our hearts are filled with somber thoughts
as we reflect on our misdeeds of the past year.
And our ears are deafened by the voices of the radio and in the newspapers,
with their numerous predictions for the coming year.
Instead we want to hear your word, your voice, your assurance, your guidance.
We know that you are in our midst,
and are eager to give us all that we need, whether we ask or not. On this night we ask for one thing only:
that you collect our scattered thoughts,
getting rid of the confused and defiant thoughts that may distract us,
and thus enable us to concentrate on your limitless generosity to us.
You were abundantly generous to us last year,
and will be no less generous to us next year, and in every year to come.
Fill us with gratitude to you. - Karl Barth (from Trevin Wax…

Embers and Ashes

Twenty-plus years a pastor in a local church (Presbyterian Church U.S.A.), college ministry, and national educational ministry have convinced me of a few things. But only one that seems to really matter.
And that one only matters because the church in our time and place is in such shitty shape. Yes, shitty — that’s what I said and what I mean. But not because the people in the church are often shitty — that’s a given! It’s because the institutional structures of the church inhibit just what seems to me necessary for it to enable shitty people to stand the stench of each other and still hang together and bear a credible witness to the God and Father of Jesus Christ.
Reinhold Niebuhr once quipped that he could only stand the stench inside the church because the stench outside it was a little worse. And that’s how we’ve operated. Proud that we could consider ourselves better (even if only by a little) than the world outside our walls, a faux-righteousness overtook us and eroded our capa…

Hafiz on God's Love - Wonderful, Terrifying, and True!

"Love wants to reach out and manhandle us,
Break all our teacup talk of God.

If you had the courage and
Could give the Beloved His choice, some nights,...
He would just drag you around the room
By your hair,
Ripping from your grip all those toys in the world
That bring you no joy.

Love sometimes gets tired of speaking sweetly
And wants to rip to shreds
All your erroneous notions of truth

That make you fight within yourself, dear one,
And with others,

Causing the world to weep
On too many fine days.

God wants to manhandle us,
Lock us inside of a tiny room with Himself
And practice His dropkick.

The Beloved sometimes wants
To do us a great favor:

Hold us upside down
And shake all the nonsense out.

But when we hear
He is in such a "playful drunken mood"
Most everyone I know
Quickly packs their bags and hightails it
Out of town."

~ Hafiz

My Version of "Twas the Night Before Christmas"

'Twas Christmas Eve worship, when all thro' the church
drowsy worshipers awoke, and stood up with a lurch;
The paraments were hung by the staff with great care,
In hopes the baby Jesus soon would be there;


The children were told stories of God in their stead,
While visions of the great city danc’d in their heads,Mama had swept the pulpit, and I’d run off the vermin,
The congregation settled in for a long winter's sermon —


When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter,
I sprang from my seat to see what was the matter.
Away to the belfry I flew like the wind,
Looked over the railings, boy, did I bend.


The light was uncanny and lent the world a bright splendor,
Gave the luster of fulfillment straight from its Sender;
When, what to my wondering eyes should appear,
But a Lion-like Lamb with wounds so severe,
and seven eyes and seven horns, it couldn’t be a stranger,
I knew in a moment it was the child in the manger.


More rapid than eagles his angels they came,
Saying “Fear not, o…