Showing posts from July, 2016

Does Paul support or condone slaver in Philemon?

Is Paul, then, condoning slavery as an acceptable societal institution?
Of course not! But raising the question does give the opportunity to look at a basic principle of biblical interpretation. Briefly stated, this principle is that the cultural context which the gospel encounters is descriptive not prescriptive.
The gospel makes a home for itself in all cultures but is captive to none. What we have in the New Testament are descriptions of how it made a home for itself in the various cultures it encountered in the Greco-Roman world of the first century. Our task is not to replicate the way the gospel took shape then and there but to carefully observe the intention and direction the gospel reshaped those relationships and discern how it can reshape ours in the same direction and with the same intention in the changed and changing situations we find ourselves in.
Far, then, from accepting or condoning slavery, Paul objects vigorously to the way it forms relationships between human bein…

God Is a Neoliberal Centrist

God is not a Republican, God is not a Democrat and God does not believe in American Exceptionalism Tony Fratto, George W. Bush’s former Deputy Press Secretary, made a salient observation when tweeting about the DNC: He felt like he was “watching Democrats talk about America the way Republican candidates used to talk about America.” If the RNC featured conservative faith mobilized for the xenophobic hate spewing from Donald Trump, the DNC displayed an incredible amount of religious and secular faith justifying the militarism, imperialism, neoliberalism and American Exceptionalism of the Democratic Party. Once the hallmark of the Religious Right, a liberal version of these values have found a comfortable home in the centrist coalition being formed by the Democratic Party and its presidential nominee, Secretary Hillary Clinton.

Democrats rebutted Trump’s slogan “Make American Great” with the affirmation that “America is already great.” As the DNC featured speaker after speaker—from cele…

I Know You Love Me — Now Let Me Die

Jan 16, 2016
In the old days, she would be propped up on a comfy pillow, in fresh cleaned sheets under the corner window where she would in days gone past watch her children play. Soup would boil on the stove just in case she felt like a sip or two. Perhaps the radio softly played Al Jolson or Glenn Miller, flowers sat on the nightstand, and family quietly came and went. These were her last days. Spent with familiar sounds, in a familiar room, with familiar smells that gave her a final chance to summon memories that will help carry her away. She might have offered a hint of a smile or a soft squeeze of the hand but it was all right if she didn’t. She lost her own words to tell us that it’s OK to just let her die, but she trusted us to be her voice and we took that trust to heart.
You see, that’s how she used to die. We saw our elderly different then.

Trump and the American Trinity

Well, it finally emerged at the end of Trump’s acceptance speech last night. Running around and through his whole campaign, it now came out in the open. His “Make America Great Again” slogan bared its teeth. “Freedom, Independence, and Strength” Trump intoned is the trinity underwriting this program.
There’s nothing in this, really. Freedom is the master value that energizes all things America. Independence is our characteristic way of doing thing. And strength is power by which we get things done.
What Trump’s foregrounding of this American trinity does is place the onus on those evangelical Christians and leaders to explain their support for such a trinity. They owe the rest of the Christian community a theological accounting of their advocacy for this way of “doing” politics and life.
The master value of freedom has devolved over the last several centuries to a pale, diminished shadow of its former self. Now it merely asserts the “right” to be unconstrained by external forces in its …

The pretense of lesser evil voting

Ballot box image via John C. Nugent07/19/16 Evangelicals are rapidly endorsing Donald Trump, who seemed anathema to them only months ago. In their mind, he represents the “lesser of two evils.” Sure, he’s not vey moral, he’s politically inexperienced and he routinely alienates minority groups and women, but “crooked Hillary,” to use Trump’s words, is considered much worse.
I wonder whether Christians have any business resorting to lesser evil calculations. Would God authorize us to choose evil at all? Those without hope have been conditioned to think that a life without a vote is hardly worth living. But are Christians so obligated to participate in national elections that we must do so even if we believe that both viable candidates represent evil in one form or another?

The Role of Christians in the Black Lives Movement

1. Your attitude toward the plight of African-Americans in this country reflects your theology.
Sekou: If you tell me what you think about Jesus, I can tell you what you think about Ferguson. Christianity in and of itself is not simply about the redemption of the world, it's about some peasant articulating a vision of the world and the state crucified him and he rose again. 
Knox: God is always committed the poor and the marginalized and those who are disconnected. God is constantly rearranging power. That's what justice is. It's about rearranging power. How are we as churches rearranging power in our own lives? We need a theology from below, not a theology from above. That means taking into consideration what minorities have to teach us about life, about economics, about power, about justice. Theology from below is taking into consideration of something you don't have control of.
2. White churches don't need to become multicultural. They need to show up.
Sekou: The jo…

Why Terrorists Hate America

by William BlumInternetWhy do terrorists hate America enough to give up their lives in order to deal the country such mortal blows? Of course it,s not America the terrorists hate; it,s American foreign policy. It,s what the United States has done to the world in the past half century -- all the violence, the bombings, the depleted uranium, the cluster bombs, the assassinations, the promotion of torture, the overthrow of governments, and more. The terrorists -- whatever else they might be -- are also rational human beings; which is to say that in their own minds they have a rational justification for their actions. Most terrorists are people deeply concerned by what they see as social, political or religious injustice and hypocrisy, and the immediate grounds for their terrorism is often retaliation for an action of the United States.Most Americans find it difficult in the extreme to accept the proposition that terrorist acts against the United States can be viewed as revenge for Washin…

Why "All Lives Matter" doesn't matter.

"All Lives Matter" suggests we're all in this together facing a common problem. We're not. We have different problems that must be addressed in different ways.

"All Lives Matter" suggests that we all get along in the world in our continuing inequitable ways, only that we stop killing each other. The latter is certainly desirable but the former is not.

"All Lives Matter" is disingenuous because white lives have always mattered and no one questions that.

Justice, real justice - political, social, and economic equity is the non-negotiable basis for any claim that "Black Lives Matter. Having parades together and singing "Kum Ba Yah," while important as a beginning point must be followed quickly be concrete steps in the right direction. Otherwise it's just so much hot air.

Excuse me if this sounds negative. But I don't trust that white America will willingly cede power and resources to Black America. I hope that happens with …

Stations on the Way to Freedom

Stations on the Way to Freedom
If you set out to seek freedom, then you must learn above all things discipline of your soul and your senses, lest your desires and then your limbs perchance should lead you now hither, now yon. Chaste be your spirit and body, subject to yourself completely, in obedience seeking the goal that is set for your spirit. Only through discipline does one learn the secret of freedom.
Not always doing and daring what’s random, but seeking the right thing, Hover not over the possible, but boldly reach for the real. Not in escaping to thought, in action alone is found freedom. Dare to quit anxious faltering and enter the storm of events, carried alone by your faith and by God’s good commandments, then true freedom will come and embrace your spirit, rejoicing.
Wondrous transformation. Your hands, strong and active, are fettered. Powerless, alone, you see that an end is put to your action. Yet now you breathe a sigh of relief and lay what …

"Black Lives Matter" Doesn't Mean White Lives Don't

-"Black Lives Matter" doesn't mean white lives do not. That's never in question in America so it seldom needs to be said.

-Beyond the question of personal culpability and responsibility no one "caused" the shootings of the last few days. Racism did. It holds all of us, whether we personally hold racist views or not. It's an "us"-problem not a "them"-problem.

-It's one of those "principalities and powers" thingies Paul talks about that should have functioned to keep and make h...uman life human but rebelled against God and has distorted life in racist ways. But Christ has defeated these powers and in himself created a zone of freedom called the church which should display the new life we were created for.

-politics, law, et. al will not solve racism (though their contributions will be important at various points). Only a demonstration of freedom from it in Christ will demonstrate its reality to the world. And because i…

What the Declaration of Independence really means by 'pursuit of happiness'

By Laura Douglas-Brown | Emory Report | June 28, 2016

Religion professor Brent Strawn advocates for a "thick" understanding of happiness that includes social concerns and even encompasses sorrow.
Editor's note: Since this interview was originally published on June 30, 2014, it has consistently ranked among the most read articles in the Emory News Center. As the Fourth of July holiday again approaches, Emory Report spoke with Professor Brent Strawn about why a "thick" understanding of "the pursuit of happiness" may be even more important in our current political climate. His additional answers appear at the end of the interview.
More than just fireworks and cookouts, the Fourth of July offers an opportunity to reflect on how our founders envisioned our new nation — including the Declaration of Independence's oft-quoted "unalienable right" to "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness."
But our contemporary understanding of "pu…

Christians Who Feel Marginalized Should “Go Local”

By Trevin Wax on Jul 04, 2016 07:10 pm
We’re in the midst of a seismic shift in terms of culture and worldview right now in the United States of America, and orthodox Christians who seek to order their lives according to Scripture will likely lose access to institutions of mainstream influence.
Such is already the case in most secular universities and in the mainstream media. More marginalization is sure to follow.
But here’s a question we should raise: is life at the margins as bad as we think?
Is the Common Culture As Important These Days?