Showing posts from June, 2015

I Believe in the Church

I believe in the church; I believe in the church in America.

Yet, I also believe that Stanley Hauerwas is correct to claim that “God is killing the mainline church in America, and we g$%d*#n well deserve it. I believe he is right about non-mainline churches as well.
I believe in the church though we have little more than a few glimmers of it here. You have to look hard to find it.
Yet I believe in the church, even here in America, because I believe God raised Jesus from the dead. And some have already surrendered to the death of church as we have known it opening themselves to resurrection and new life.
For God will not leave himself without a witness.
And that witness shines most genuinely when a people of God live in simple solidarity with the desperate and downtrodden, those who hunger and thirst for the bread of life and the word of God, those who are fearful of and hopeless in this world.
When cathedrals become shelters and feeding centers for the poor, our liturgy after the l…
The Next Culture War
The Next Culture War
JUNE 30, 2015
David Brooks Christianity is in decline in the United States. The share of Americans who describe themselves as Christians and attend church is dropping. Evangelical voters make up a smaller share of the electorate. Members of the millennial generation are detaching themselves from religious institutions in droves.

Christianity’s gravest setbacks are in the realm of values. American culture is shifting away from orthodox Christian positions on homosexuality, premarital sex, contraception, out-of-wedlock childbearing, divorce and a range of other social issues. More and more Christians feel estranged from mainstream culture. They fear they will soon be treated as social pariahs, the moral equivalent of segregationists because of their adherence to scriptural teaching on gay marriage. They fear their colleges will be decertified, their religious institutions will lose their tax-exempt status, their religious liberty will come under g…

Hoping for Love

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My friend Alan Jacobs, a traditional sort of Anglican Christian, wrote this the day after the Obergefell ruling: Perhaps I am soft on sin, or otherwise deficient in serious Christian formation — actually, it’s certain that I am — but in any case I could not help being moved by many of the scenes yesterday of gay people getting married, even right here in Texas. I hope that many American gays and lesbians choose marriage over promiscuity, and I hope those who marry stay married, and flourish. I know what he’s saying. I felt that too. But I was thinking more today, What is that experience? For those of us like me who hold to a Christian view of marriage that contradicts the SCOTUS definition, what does it mean to be moved by scenes of gay marriage? Well, for starters—and I’m speaking for myself here, not necessarily for Alan—I think that for many, many (not all) gay people in America today, the options have not been (1) belong to a healthy, vibrant Christian commun…

Dylann Roof Was Wrong: The Race War Isn’t Coming, It’s Here

By Willie James Jennings (A)theologies, Front Page, Remapping American Christianities, StoriesJune 26, 2015
Dylann Roof was wrong. The race war isn’t coming. It’s already here. It began the moment the very first old world (proto-European) citizen stepped on the shores of Africa and the Americas and other soon-to-be-colonized places and said, “God has given this land and these people to me. This is mine.”

The belief in God-given possession flows like a vampire virus through the veins of this country. We eagerly draw lifeblood from as much of the world as possible, in land, natural resources, and cheap labor. What does it mean to be born in a place that measures your value, your worth, your very life by the calculus of possession? That calculus extends through time to us from those founding greed-filled moments invading our waking consciousness and driving us forward in a strange confession.

We believe in competition born of the desire to possess. We believe in striving against others for…

Gays win historic gay marriage battle - it's just a shame they picked the wrong fight.

Image Credit: G-Day
Published by: Robert Laurie on Friday June 26th, 2015
Another take.
I'll get this out of the way right up front.  A lot of you aren't going to like what I have to say. However, the boss doesn't pay me to tell you what you want to hear - or even what he wants to hear.  My job is to offer my opinion.  Dan gave you the social conservative reaction here, and my take is going to be substantially different. So here we go:

The Supreme Court got the gay marriage ruling right.

I know, social-cons hate it, but the SCOTUS made the right call under the equal protection clause.
I've written - for years - that the GOP's knee jerk desire to legislate morality has been both a mistake and massive failure. You're either for freedom and individual liberty, or you're not. I'll fight tooth and nail for your right to live your life and raise your families as you see fit, but your absolute right to do so ends when you use those morals to limit the secular r…

'Racism without racists'?

The new threat: 'Racism without racists'
By John Blake, CNN

Updated 9:32 AM ET, Thu November 27, 2014

Source: CNN
(CNN)In a classic study on race, psychologists staged an experiment with two photographs that produced a surprising result.

They showed people a photograph of two white men fighting, one unarmed and another holding a knife. Then they showed another photograph, this one of a white man with a knife fighting an unarmed African-American man.

When they asked people to identify the man who was armed in the first picture, most people picked the right one. Yet when they were asked the same question about the second photo, most people -- black and white -- incorrectly said the black man had the knife.

Even before it was announced that a grand jury had decided not to indict a white police officer in the shooting death of an unarmed black teen in Ferguson, Missouri, leaders were calling once again for a "national conversation on race."

But here's why such conversations…

The Way of Christ or the Way of the Zealot: Some Further Reflections on Charleston

Last Friday, the world witnessed the way of Jesus Christ in Charleston, South Carolina. The family members of the victims in the horrific shooting at an historic AME Church in Charleston, SC spoke to the racist young man that perpetrated the crime of killing nine people during a Bible study. Their words were nothing less than moving; and to a world that so often believes violence is the answer to violence, they were almost shocking. Those who spoke to Dylann Roof did not speak in anger telling them they hoped he would burn in hell for his crimes. Instead they spoke through tears of grief and pain, not only telling this young racist how he had devastated their lives, but they did something that their faith demanded they do-- they forgave him.

A daughter of one of the victims said, "I will never be able to hold her again. But I forgive you and have mercy on your soul," she said. "It hurts me, it hurts a lot of people, but God forgive you and I forgive you."

A sister of…

What Do You Hear? (from Matt Gunter)

A monk needed to go for a day-trip to a big city, accompanied by an acquaintance. In the midst of urban’ uproar the monk claimed to have heard a cricket, though... his companion did not believe him. Crossing the road and looking carefully under a tree the monk found the cricket, to the astonishment of his relative.

You must have a superhuman hearing!

No. My ears aren’t different from yours, said the monk. But everything depends on what you’re used to listen with them.

No! I would not be able to hear a cricket in this noise!
 It all depends on what is important to you, reiterated the monk. Let’s make a demonstration. So the monk took out few coins from his packet and dropped them quietly on asphalt. And despite of the loud noise of the city, all the people around them turned their heads thinking that the scattered coins could’ve fallen from their packets.

Do you understand now? It all depends on what is important to people … If we watch or listen to the contentions daily news on t…
BY LEE WYATT Though we live (or have lived) in the age of the Emerging/Emergent Church, I have a different proposal for a new vision of church. I call it the Submerging Church! Am I serious, you ask? Maybe. Maybe not. Maybe both. Read on and see what you think.
The Submerging Church, as I see it, is radically subversive, relentlessly incarnational, and ruthlessly hospitable. It dives deeply into everyday life, sharing it with others, while at the same time questioning and critiquing the conditions of that life we share. Since this community lives from its center, the risen Jesus Christ, its boundaries are porous and permeable with arms outstretched to everyone who encounters it. Here are some characteristics of the Submerging Church: §first, it is hard to find because it is small and spread throughout the community; §second, it is difficult to join because “membership” is relational and based on a shared journey towards the center; §thirdly, it is culturally atheistic, that is, not committe…

The 'trickle down theory' is dead wrong

By Alanna Petroff@AlannaPetroff

Replay America: Land of shrinking opportunity

Wealth does not trickle down from the rich to the poor. Period. That's not Senator Elizabeth Warren talking. That's the latest conclusion of new research from the International Monetary Fund.

In fact, researchers found that when the top earners in society make more money, it actually slows down economic growth. On the other hand, when poorer people earn more, society as a whole benefits.

The researchers calculated that when the richest 20% of society increase their income by one percentage point, the annual rate of growth shrinks by nearly 0.1% within five years.

This shows that "the benefits do not trickle down," the researchers wrote in their report, which analyzed over 150 countries.

By contrast, when the lowest 20% of earners see their income grow by one percentage point, the rate of growth increases by nearly 0.4% over the same period.

Related: Class war locks poor kids out of top …

a faith crisis in the Bible (and don’t let some 60s hippies tell you otherwise)

June 15, 2015 by 0 Comments

In 1965, the Byrds had a big hit with a song written by Pete Seeger and based on chapter 3 of Ecclesiastes: “Turn, Turn, Turn.”

Everything on earth has its time and place—its “season,” as the writer (Qohelet) puts it.
There is a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; a time for war, and a time for peace, etc.
The Byrds’s tune features great harmonies and gives off a feel-good-be-at-peace-with-the-world-Zen vibe. You know. The ‘60s.

But these ancient words are anything but harmonious and peaceful. We are seeing a faith crisis happening right in front of us.


Powerful Warning about Judging Others

"Once on Mount Athos there was a monk who lived in Karyes. He drank and got drunk every day and was the cause of scandal to the pilgrims. Eventually he died and this relieved some of the faithful who went on to tell Elder Paisios that they were delighted that this huge problem was finally solved.
Father Paisios answered them that he knew about the death of the monk, after seeing the entire battalion of angels who came to collect his soul. The pilgrims were amazed and some pro...tested and tried to explain to the Elder of whom they were talking about, thinking that the Elder did not understand.

Elder Paisios explained to them: 'This particular monk was born in Asia Minor, shortly before the destruction by the Turks when they gathered all the boys. So as not to take him from their parents, they would take him with them to the reaping, and so he wouldn't cry, they just put raki [a Turkish drink close to vodka] into his milk in order for him to sleep. Therefore he grew up as an…

Rachel Dolezal Syndrome

Posted on June 12, 2015 by Ali Michael

Rachel Dolezal is a fascinating case study in White racial identity development.* She is stuck in the immersion/emersion stage, in which White people, having learned extensively about the realities of racism, and the ugly history of White supremacy in the U.S., “immerse” themselves in trying to figure out how to be White in our society, and “emerge” with a new relationship to Whiteness. Only in the case of Dolezal, her way of dealing with the pain of the reality of racism, was to deny her own Whiteness and to become Black.

She is an extreme example of a common phenomenon. The “immersion” stage is typified by White people taking more responsibility for racism and privilege and often experiencing high levels of anger and embarrassment for racism and privilege, which they sometimes direct towards other Whites. They sometimes try to immerse themselves in communities of color, as Dolezal did. She’s not alone.

I definitely experienced this. There was a ti…

Atonement as Payment or Forgiveness?

June 13, 2015 by Michael F. Bird4 Comments

Over at the Missio Alliance, Pastor William Walker has an article on Payment or Forgiveness: Putting the Gospel Back into the Atonement. In the article, Walker claims that folks like Wright and McKnight have brought a great corrective to evangelical theology by trying to integrate the big-picture story of the kingdom with the theology of Jesus’ death (and here I’d add the excellent work of Jeremy Treat too). However, Walker thinks that they have not gone far enough and they have not addressed the major problem which is the penal nature of substitutionary atonement.

Walker offers accolades for Tony Jones’ new book on this topic entitled, Did God Kill Jesus? Searching for Love in History’s Most Famous Execution. I’m currently reading Jones’ book, he writes well, he asks some good questions,he  makes some salient observations, but on the whole his book does for atonement theology what Rush Limbaugh does for the cause of reggae music. A fuller revi…

How our cars, our neighborhoods, and our schools are pulling us apart

Share on FacebookShare on TwitterShare on LinkedIn Share via EmailMore OptionsShare on WhatsappShare on PinterestShare on Google PlusShare on Google PlusShare on PinterestShare on TumblrResize TextPrint ArticleBy Emily BadgerJune 9
This image, from San Francisco, courtesy of Flickr user Ken Walton under a Creative Commons license. Americans are pulling apart. We're pulling apart from each other in general. And, in particular, we're pulling apart from people who differ from us.
The evidence on this idea is varied, broad and often weird.
We are, as Robert Putnam famously put it, less likely to join community bowling leagues.
We're more likely, as I mentioned yesterday after a police confrontation with a group of black teens at a private swimming pool, to swim in seclusion, in gated community clubs and backyard pools that have taken the place of public pools.
We're more likely to spend time isolated in our cars, making what was historically a communal ex…

The Secular Challenge

Fr. Stephen Freeman 6 Comments

Fr. Alexander Schmemann held that secularism was the single greatest challenge of the modern era. I took up this understanding and made it the heart of my book, Everywhere Present: Christianity in a One-Storey Universe. It is at the heart of every serious challenge the Church faces in our time. The news is not so good.

A recent article by Damian Thompson in the British publication, The Spectator, estimates that at the present rate of decline, British Christianity will cease to exist by 2067. The numbers are simply staggering. The most precipitous decline is within the Church of England (Anglican). The culprit, well-noted in the article, is secularization.

Secularism, in the sense that I use it, is a view of the world in which God is optional. God, if He is seen to exist at all, is in no way an inherent part of life. The world is a neutral zone, not good, not bad, not religious in any way. Religion, God, etc., is nothing more than a belief system that some m…

A Modest Proposal on Our Sexual Disagreements

The church, as we all know, is hopelessly divided an deadlocked on all manner of issues surrounding sexuality. Quite likely, there will be more and more separation and division among churches and Christians on account of it. I don't have any magic bullet or new answers to this issues. All I have is a modest proposal that will likely not satisfy anyone in the present volatile atmosphere. Yet, I, a hetero-sexual male, keeping pondering an praying over the all this, my feelings and reactions, and the seeming hopelessness of the church enduring no more division.

Some are certain they know what they believe – on each end of the spectrum. They will have the most difficulty I'm afraid with my proposal. I know what I think, but I'm not a zealot for it. I'm more interested in discovering what the “in love” part of “speaking the truth in love” is all about. And it seems to me ironic that the vast majority of churches have found ways to live with deep divisions over war and viole…

The Radical Perspective on Paul – Part 1: A Guide for the Perplexed

June 11, 2015 by Michael F. Bird1 Comment

At the moment the state of Pauline scholarship could be divided into four basic camps:

(1) Traditional Protestant. Paul was preacher of grace that stands in contrasts to the legalism/nomism of second temple Judaism. In some versions, this is accompanied with an implied or even explicit supersessionist view of the church as replacing Israel.

(2) The New Perspective on Paul. The problem with Judaism was not legalism, but ethnocentrism. Paul was arguing that Jews need to accept that God has acted in Christ to bring Jews and Gentiles into the new saving event ahead of an eschatological consummation.

(3) The Apocalyptic/Barthian Paul. Paul proclaimed God’s invasive and cosmic act of salvation to rectify and renew the whole creation rendering the old order with its religion as obsolete.

(4) The Radical Perspective on Paul. Paul was Jewish and Torah-observant. He tried to bring Gentile communities into closer fellowship with Jewish communities while prote…

But Should We Really Respond Like It's a War?

"The Church is In Post-Christian Exile – But Should We Really Respond Like It's a War?” is the title of Karina Kreminski's article on Missio Alliance today. She's responding to another piece on the church entering Phase Two of our exile and how we should respond. And her responses are wise and to the point. It's not her responses, though, that I want to say a few words about. It's the imagery in her title, “But Should We Really Respond Like It's a War?”

I want to say a vigorous and unrepentant “Yes” to that image! First, though, a clarification or two. I do NOT have in mind actual military conflict or the use of weapons in any fashion. I'm a pacifist and I believe the church should be too. Nor do I mean the strident, angry, mean-spirited culture war type of warfare. Both of these types of conflict are antithetical to participation in God's mission in the world. Yet . . . we are in a war! A war whose decisive and climactic battle has already been wo…