Showing posts from May, 2016

Doing God in Politics: Christianity in a Time of Secular Liberalism

Michael JensenABC Religion and Ethics 31 May 2016
Whatever politics we pursue, some notion of the transcendent good is invoked. Secular liberalism has its own faith. It just pretends that it isn't there. Credit: cosmonaut 
The Rev. Dr Michael Jensen is rector of St. Mark's Anglican Church, Darling Point.
At 9am on 20 February 1547, a red-headed nine year old boy named Edward Tudor stepped onto the barge that would carry him to his coronation as King of England. Disembarking at Whitehall, the soon-to-be-styled Edward VI was robed in ermine-trimmed crimson velvet, and then processed to Westminster Abbey followed by a train of nobles, gentlemen, servants and guards.

In the richly decorated Abbey itself, a damask and gold throne had been placed on a dais. On this throne the young King was to sit for the duration of the seven-hour ceremony, raised on two cushions, because he was so small.

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Thomas Cranmer - by this stage sporting a beard …

The Main Reason Things Happen as They Do in Our Country

Brian Ross, FB 5.26.16 As a society, we often create our own problems, and then we fumble creating solutions. Why? Because of our faulty "faith" commitments.
Many progressives assume that historical ethics and spiritual narratives are a danger to society. Human beings should be free to be anyone they want.
Then, when evil happens, the answer becomes: legislate, legislate, legislate. Not realizing that their own narratives helped to grease the wheels towards evil. They have dismantled thick narratives of transcendence that serve as a check on human actions and motives.
Similarly, many conservatives (who pay lip service to historical ethics and spiritual narratives) assume that any check on unfettered markets is quite ridiculous. Human beings, economically, should be free to do whatever they want. And to entice anyone they want to- with the widgets they have for sale.
Then, when evil happens, the answer becomes to preach more and more about historical ethics and spiritual narrativ…

Power, Privilege, Heresy, and Playing Poker: Some Thoughts Post #UMCGC

We United Methodists of late don't appear to be united on many things, but for the most part we are opposed to gambling. Our Social Principles state,

Gambling is a menace to society, deadly to the best interests of moral, social, economic, and spiritual life, and destructive of good government. As an act of faith and concern, Christians should abstain from gambling and should strive to minister to those victimized by the practice. Where gambling has become addictive, the church will encourage such individuals to receive therapeutic assistance so that the individual's energies may be redirected into positive and constructive ends. The church should promote standards and personal lifestyles that would make unnecessary and undesirable the resort to commercial gambling-including public lotteries-as a recreation, as an escape, or as a means of producing public revenue or funds for support of charities or government (¶ 163G).
I'm very much in agreement with our position on gamblin…

Corporate Idiocracy and the Manufacturing of ProducTrump

byGabriel Rockhill by
Millions of people around the country—and around the world—are asking themselves the same simple question: how could such a blathering dummy be in a position to become the next president of the United States? There is no need to mention any names here, of course, because the dimwit is all too well known. This, in fact, is precisely one of the problems. As Amy Goodman, an unrivaled torchbearer for alternative media, has recently reminded us: the simpleton’s name has been one of the most oft repeated on all mass media platforms in this election cycle. Let us not, then, utter the dummy’s name but instead call for a general moratorium on it. It is time to recognize it for what it is—a product of the media-money complex—and talk only of productrump, or more simply product rump.

The term ‘dummy,’ like its synonyms, might sound disparaging to some, but I use it here in a purely technical sense. I am referring to the mindless puppet used by ventriloquists to channel th…

Stop saying “love” when you really mean “liberal tolerance”

Sunday, May 15, 2016 — Adam Kotsko
I’ve noticed that among progressive Christians, “love” works as a kind of rhetorical trump card. Christians are supposed to “love,” hence you should be nice to people, hence you should be a liberal — or something to that effect. Are you worried about illegal immigration? Stop worrying and deploy some love. Does acceptance of homosexuality bother you? Well, I’ve got bad news — accepting homosexuality is a form of love, therefore you should do it. Case closed!
Presumably this rhetorical tactic does work in some individual cases, Read more at

The Meaninglessness of Our Political Discourse: A Lesson from George Orwell

By Randall Smith
In his famous 1946 essay, “Politics and the English Language,” George Orwell noted “the special connection between politics and the debasement of language.” “When one watches some tired hack on the platform,” wrote Orwell,
mechanically repeating the familiar phrases—bestial atrocities, iron heel, bloodstained tyranny, free peoples of the world, stand shoulder to shoulder—one often has a curious feeling that one is not watching a live human being but some kind of dummy: a feeling which suddenly becomes stronger at moments when the light catches the speaker’s spectacles and turns them into blank discs which seem to have no eyes behind them. And this is not altogether fanciful. A speaker who uses that kind of phraseology has gone some distance toward turning himself into a machine. The appropriate noises are coming out of his larynx, but his brain is not involved, as it would be if he were choosing his words for himself. . . . And this reduced state of consciousness, if no…

Bearing the Cross

Posted on May 8, 2016By Chris Hedges

Mourners follow the hearse carrying the casket of the Rev. Daniel Berrigan during a procession after his funeral service at the Church of St. Francis Xavier on Friday in New York City. Berrigan, a Roman Catholic priest and peace activist since the Vietnam War, died April 30 at 94. (Mary Altaffer / AP)
NEW YORK—I arrived early Friday morning, after walking through the rain, at the St. Francis Xavier Church in Greenwich Village for the funeral of the Rev. Daniel Berrigan. I stood, the church nearly empty, at the front of the sanctuary with my hand on the top of Dan’s rosewood casket. It was adorned with a single red carnation and a small plaque that read: “Rev. Daniel J. Berrigan. Born May 9, 1921. Entered S.J. August 14, 1939. Ordained June 21, 1952. Died April 30, 2016.”


Stanley Hauerwas on Mother's Day and Other Perversions in the Church

I assume most of you are here because you think you are Christians, but it is not at all clear to me that the Christianity that has made you Christians is Christianity. For example:
—How many of you worship in a church with an American flag? I am sorry to tell you your salvation is in doubt.
—How many worship in a church in which the Fourth of July is celebrated? I am sorry to tell you your salvation is in doubt.
—How many of you worship in a church that recognizes Thanksgiving? I am sorry to tell you your salvation is in doubt.
—How many of you worship in a church that celebrates January 1st as the “New Year”? I am sorry to tell you your salvation is in doubt.
—How many of you worship in a church that recognizes “Mother’s Day”? I am sorry to tell you your salvation is in doubt.
I am not making these claims because I want to shock you. I do not want you to leave the Youth Academy thinking that you have heard some really strange ideas here that have made you think. It is appropri­ate …

The Book of Revelation: A Different Kind of “Apocalyptic” Text

Larry Hutardo
May 3, 2016
Prompted by a recent guest lecture on the Book of Revelation given here, I pondered to myself again how unusual the book is. We (scholars) typically associate Revelation with a body of ancient texts that we classify as “apocalyptic” writings. But, actually, Revelation stands out in a number of interesting features that may signal something historically significant.
Typically, for example, “apocalyptic” texts are pseudonymous, fictively ascribed to some ancient figure such as Abraham, Moses, Enoch or Ezra. And typically, the texts pretend to be revelations given to such a figure about events that were “future” for him, but are actually recent/past events for the real readers.  Examples include the Apocalypse of Abraham, the Book of Jubilees, 4 Ezra, 1 Enoch, 2 Baruch, and a few others. But perhaps the most well-known example is the book of Daniel in the Old Testament, especially Daniel 7–12.
The intended message in these texts seems to be to say to readers that t…

The Only Vote Worth Casting in November

Alasdair MacIntyre
University of Notre Dame When offered a choice between two politically intolerable alternatives, it is important to choose neither. And when that choice is presented in rival arguments and debates that exclude from public consideration any other set of possibilities, it becomes a duty to withdraw from those arguments and debates, so as to resist the imposition of this false choice by those who have arrogated to themselves the power of framing the alternatives. These are propositions which in the abstract may seem to invite easy agreement. But, when they find application to the coming presidential election, they are likely to be rejected out of hand. For it has become an ingrained piece of received wisdom that voting is one mark of a good citizen, not voting a sign of irresponsibility. But the only vote worth casting in November is a vote that no one will be able to cast, a vote against a system that presents one with a choice between Bush's conservatism and Ker…

Democracies End When They Are Too Democratic

By Andrew Sullivan
That’s what’s scariest about Donald Trump.
Democracies end
when they are too democratic.
And right now, America is a breeding ground for tyranny.
As this dystopian election campaign has unfolded, my mind keeps being tugged by a passage in Plato’s Republic. It has unsettled — even surprised — me from the moment I first read it in graduate school. The passage is from the part of the dialogue where Socrates and his friends are talking about the nature of different political systems, how they change over time, and how one can slowly evolve into another. And Socrates seemed pretty clear on one sobering point: that “tyranny is probably established out of no other regime than democracy.” What did Plato mean by that? Democracy, for him, I discovered, was a political system of maximal freedom and equality, where every lifestyle is allowed and public offices are filled by a lottery. And the longer a democracy lasted, Plato argued, the more democratic it would …