A weblog by seminary students in the Graduate School of Theology at Abilene Christian University. The views expressed in this blog are of the blog authors only, and do not reflect the views or policies of Abilene Christian University or the Graduate School of Theology.
Tuesday, August 24, 2004
God is not a Republican...Or a Democrat.
Sojourners, as many of you may by now know, has undertaken a campaign to bring religious issues into the political arena that go beyond the agenda of the Religious Right. In the face of Falwell's and Pat Robertson's callings for Christians to vote for the only God-ordained candidate (George W. Bush), this group has issued a petition, which they hope to run as an ad in the New York Times, calling Christians to take back their faith and take a hard, long look at major issues other than merely abortion or gay marriage. I strongly recommend you take a look at what they have to say and think seriously about signing their petitions at their website
As I think about politics, I am reminded that Monday morning, ACU opened its 99th academic year with the annual opening ceremony. For those unfamiliar, this ceremony involves a procession of the faculty and administration in full regalia, the ACU band, a chorus, devotional songs, Scripture readings, prayers, an address by a public figure (usually a politician), a procession of flags representing each of the States and countries from whence students have come to ACU, and finally a special musical tribute of allegiance during which the Battle Hymn of the Rebulic is performed, followed by a reading of the Preambles to the Constitution and Declaration of Independence, after which everyone recites the Pledge of Allegiance consummated by a huge American flag unfurling from the ceiling of Moody Colliseum. Yes, Christians doing obeisance to the great American Empire. If Christians are to truly take back their faith, then we're going to have to learn how to rightly relate ourselves to the state, which I think would include an understanding of God's sovereignty and work in the world that does not give the state a place of privileged authority beyond mere sword-weilding. It's one thing to punish wrong-doers and say that it's a good thing that the state does such things. It is an entirely different thing to equate any human government with the kingdom of God, or at least in some sense to turn a blind eye to the evil promulgated by a nation-state, especially the one in which you live.
Posted at 05:27 pm by Theologian Guy
Tuesday, July 13, 2004
Here I Rant Again on My Own
I want to scream curse words at the top of my lungs while tearing out my hair with one hand and flipping the bird with the other(I wish we had a more violent way of telling someone we didn't like them) and kicking holes in the wall with my feet. The cause of all this rage? 1) 24 and not married, possible but not really 2) fantasy baseball team in the basement for good, nope were solidly in 4th place
Or is it 3) People who call themselves Christians, but spend all their voice on things that don't matter as much. [BINGO, We have a winner. Tell them what they've won Bob.]
Yesterday I was flipping the channels and I saw Mr. Focused on the Family on TV encouraging christians all across the country to call their respective senator and tell them that they support a Constitutional ammendment defining marriage as man vs. woman. I have no problem with that. Personally I think that homosexuality is contrary to the order God established, but I think that there are more important causes out there that require us as Christians to stand up and tell the world that we acutally care.
Case in point. Later Yesterday I was continuing to flip the channels on the television when I saw the NIghtline special concerning the AIDS epidemic in China and Russia. Here were people who's own nation didn't really give one good damn for their suffering. China is only now waking up, and Russia is still asleep. What really broke my heart was the one doctor in St. Petersburg who was running an orphanage for children (repeat children) who were HIV positive. Was the phone rining off the hook with good Christian people who wanted to love these children whom no one else, but this doctor and his small staff would? No, it was ringing off the hook by people who wanted to send their children to this place. We fight and scream for what we think is important in the world, while at the same time there are perfectly lovable children who aren't, and that makes me Angry.
Posted at 11:22 am by Editor-Bishop
Tuesday, June 29, 2004
This morning I read this article
. This kid whow was barely yet a teenager had published five books of poetry before his death. He was friends with Jimmy Carter, who gave the eulogy at the funeral. His poetry and his life were committed to peacemaking. But young Mattie had a very rare form of muscular dystrophy, for which he was also an advocate. It took not only the lives of his older siblings before him, now it has taken his. His funeral was well-attended--even Oprah came, not to mention firefighters, and Harley Davidson afficionados who support the Muscular Dystrophy Association. People who never knew this boy came to meet him and to celebrate a life dedicated to making peace. As he goes on to await the resurrection from the dead, his spirit lives on through his poetry. Surely, blessed are the peacemakers.
Posted at 08:14 am by Theologian Guy
Wednesday, June 16, 2004
SBC: Gettin' Fundie with it
Well, the big religion news right now is that the Southern Baptist Convention, the largest protestant denomination with over 16 million, is leaving a larger alliance of over 200 Baptist denominations as part of the SBC's continuing conservative swing. You can read more about it here
Issues cited for leaving ranged from a liberal view of Scripture (the SBC's hold that it is inerrant), gay-friendly churches in the alliance, and growing anti-Americanism among other alliance churches. Characteristic of fundamentalist churches--Scripture is inerrant and infallible, gays are to be avoided or at least unwelcome in church, and the United States and its foreign policies are to be upheld as carrying out the will of God.
While I'm sure that for the Baptist World Alliance the split was saddening, it may be for the best. The SBC will further alienate themselves from society and the rest of the church as they become more conservative, sectarian, and closed-minded. It sounds like another little denomination I know of...
Posted at 09:18 am by Theologian Guy
Saturday, June 12, 2004
I am a huge movie buff. I love to go to the theater, rent DVD's and watch filmed entertainment. I think it not only entertains, but sometimes it can even portray more accurately what it means to be human than some dusty old books of theology.
Last night I saw the new film starring Mandy Moore--Saved!
The film has been heavily criticized by, you guessed it,Christians
Did you read that article? I did. I also saw the movie. Apparently, the reviewer and I both saw two different movies, because I did not see the film as an attack on my faith, or on Christians in general. I think it exposes some of the underlying cultural and behavioral assumptions of conservative/fundamentalist forms of Christianity. Especially insofar as the Mandy Moore character is willing to use force and subterfuge to carry out what she thinks God's will is. That is exactly how I would describe any attempt by Christians to enter politics and rest power for themselves in order to legislate what they claim would make a good or better society. When Christians take on the mantle of power, or assume for themselves a dominant role as some sort of majority, not only do we blind ourselves to our true nature as resident aliens, but we fall into the Constantinian trap--a watered-down faith, and an ethic which harms rather than heals. In the end, that Mandy Moore character comes to a crisis point where her hypocrasy is exposed, and she experiences forgiveness and reconciliation with those she has hurt in her blind zeal.
The film also relates another lesson. The ungodly--homosexuals, non-Christians, people who lose their faith, unwed mothers, and a variety of other "sinners"--may just reveal to us more accurately what it means to love than the "righteous ones." During his ministry, Jesus had the most harsh criticism for those who set themselves up as the religious establishment. And he had the most compassion and patience with those who were outside that establishment. The main character in the film learns what it is to go from the inside to the outside, and to feel God's graciousness coming from outsiders rather than insiders.
One more thing, and this is about that article I linked up. When we view films like "Saved!" as attacks on our faith, and we don't hear echoes of the gospel resound when the screen fades to black, then we have set ourselves up in a defensive position. The author of that article comes across, to me, almost with a victim-mentality. The author feels as if Christianity and Christians are hated for who they are and what they do. The film does not convey hatred at all. Instead, I think it lampoons and satirizes Christianity quite well, and very sharply, while at the same time telling us something about God's grace--which is the real heart of faith. Christians who feel threatened by such a movie had better do some reflecting on their faith. But, and again this comes across in the film, accepting accurate criticism and accepting a depiction of God's mercy which you didn't expect, well, that takes a good measure of grace, humility and open-mindedness, pressed down, shaken together, and running over.
Posted at 10:04 am by Theologian Guy
Wednesday, May 26, 2004
I've been spending the last couple of weeks digging myself out of the hole I dug last semester. To do that has required me to spend much time contemplating the book of Philippians. Paul in this book lays out what it means to be a citizen of heaven. What does the Christian life look like?
He talks at length about imitating the example of Christ demonstrated in the Gospel. He pontificates ad nauseum about imitating people who imitate the example of Christ (namely Timothy, Epaphroditus, and himself). He describes for them a new way of approaching the world around them through the self-emptying example of Christ.
My identity in Christ is grounded in the Gospel shaped life I live. Do the actions/reactions of my life demonstrate the Gospel or repudiate it? Philippians is a dangerous book.
Posted at 10:55 am by Editor-Bishop
Thursday, May 20, 2004
I am reading Leonard Sweet's Post-Modern Pilgrims: First Century Passion for the 21st Century World - here is a piece that caught my eye as I work with both youth (this summer), college ministry (I'm coming Kansas), and yet am a part of a body of believers that embodies many generations - and both moderns and postmoderns.
'I plead guilty, and am guilty, of being a man of his time. We are all time travelers. Even Jesus existed in time. The question I have to face in my wn ministry is this: Will I live the time God has given me? Or will I live a time I would prefer to have? Postmodern culture is my here and now. I will take the church back to the cyberage, or will perish in the attempt. I live my life between two metaphors: (1) the pioneer who has arrows in his back, and (2) the slow buffalo who always gets shot I am constantly aware that the difference between a leader and a martyr is about three paces.'
(Please don't misunderstand this to mean that Sweet expects the church to become completely postmodern. He is however aware that the church has completely neglected postmodernity - and is calling the church to realize the times in which it exists - a call to the greater cuture around it - but not a call to conformity -
in fact Sweet uses the term no po mo in his notes to refer to the church saying no the postmodern culture.)
Just my rambling thoughts between shower and sleep
Posted at 01:53 am by The Cheese and The Worms
Wednesday, May 19, 2004
The Sock monster and other Things
This is a recent post from my own blog, editorbishop.blogdrive.com
I've often wondered at why the world doesn't make any sense to me. From the sock-eating monster in my washer and drier to the strange, perverted insanity that NPR tells me about the situation in Iraq, the world is not the way its supposed to be.
Man has struggled with this issue for quite some time now. I am not the first, I will not be the last. I believe that it is the world's nature to be chaotic. It is this chaos that early humanity personified and set in oppostion to their deities. The universe was created in the titanic struggle between the divine forces and other divine forces. Zeus and his kin struggling against the Titans. Marduk slaying the chaos dragon. These are the ways humanity sees the world. It is a world of struggle, combat, conflict. The chaos hasn't ended because one side claimed victory. It seems that the battle still rages and the gods must continue to fight for order.
Enter the God of the Hebrews in Genesis 1. Here there is not conflict, there is only chaos personified by the waters churning and raging under a mighty wind. Here the chaos is transformed into order by the spoken word of God. Here there can be no doubt that the victory over the chaos of the world is final. With all due respect to my friends who speak of reason. It is unreasonable to believe this. We do not live in a world of order, but of disorder. It does require faith to believe in the midst of evidence to the contrary though.
That is what I ask for today. Faith to believe when all the evidence points to the opposite.
Posted at 09:14 am by Editor-Bishop
Wednesday, May 12, 2004
Something non-controversial (Yeah Right!)
Disclaimer: What follows is the beginning of my thought on this issue not the end. If you become offended, fine. Let us discuss.
Every morning I wake up and turn on National Public Radio (sometimes before I wake up) and get my morning dose of Iraq with yesterday's body count. This has been the case since 'major combat operations' began last year. Every morning I am reminded of what Jesus said, "To him who strikes you on one cheek, turn to him the other also." Violence breeds violence.
In thinking about this I have come to a sticking place in my own life. The theorhetical situation, "someone breaks into your home and threatens to [insert violent verb here] you wife and children, what do you do?" comes to mind. Is that moment a time for turning the other cheek?
I would say, no. That is a moment for summoning up the neanderthal force and protecting what is under your care. (I do not mean to be patronizing by that, I can find no other words at the moment is all.) It seems to me from my reading of the prophets, that those of us with power have the duty to protect those of us who have no power. It is called justice. Usually those means are non-violent, but occasionally the situation calls for the use of violence. A caveat, though, even just violence is not without its consequences.
There, discuss . . .
Posted at 08:58 am by Editor-Bishop
Thursday, May 06, 2004
Withholding Holy Communion
I found this article in the New York Times this morning to be rather interesting.Governor Puts Communion Aside After Upsetting New Jersey Bishops
Bowing to pressure from New Jersey's increasingly outspoken Roman Catholic bishops, Gov. James E. McGreevey said Wednesday that he would no longer receive holy communion during Mass because his support for abortion rights and other social causes contradicts church doctrine.
During the past month, bishops of Camden and Trenton have stepped forward to declare that Mr. McGreevey, a former altar boy who attends services at St. Thomas Aquinas Church in Princeton, is not a devout Catholic because of his stance on several political causes that are opposed by the church, including domestic partnership for gay couples, abortion rights and the use of human stem cells in medical research. The Camden bishop said he would refuse to give Mr. McGreevey communion.
Christians (Catholic, Orthodox and Protestant alike) seem to have a hard time being in community with people whom they disagree with. If your political ideologies or theological positions differ from us, then you need to find yourself another place to worship. Why can't Christians with radically different positions exist in the same church? Does Christian unity mean uniformity? Are there some things, even political hot issues such as abortion rights and partnership for gay couples, that Christians can disagree on and still be Christians living in community?
Making issues such as abortion, gay marriage, and stem cell research the litmus test for being "Christian" is a horrible mistake. Christians are not people who subscribe to a set of beliefs, but who are committed to a way of life. The table of Christ at which Christians gather for communion is a table that should unite us, not divide us. The beauty of the Eucharist is that Christians of all races, genders, ages and political parties are united in the sharing of one loaf and one cup. May the table of our Lord be a place known for radical inclusion, not withdrawal.
Posted at 08:30 am by Married Guy