Monday, November 29, 2004

Martin Luther King Jr. - Strength to Love

I came across a quote from Martin Luther King Jr. in reading materials for one of my bible studies tonight. I've read it before, but found it moving and meaningful yet again.
From his book Strength to Love:

"To our most bitter opponents we say: 'We shall match your capacity to inflict suffering by our capacity to endure suffering. We shall meet your physical force with soul force. Do to us what you will, and we shall continue to love you. We cannot in all good conscience obey your unjust laws, because non-co-operation with evil is as much a moral obligation as is co-operation with good . . . . But . . . we will wear you down by our capacity to suffer. One day we shall win freedom, but not only for ourselves. We shall so appeal to your heart and conscience that we shall win you in the process, and our victory will be a double victory."

Ever-timely words to inspire us.

Saturday, November 27, 2004

wesley blog

another blog to check out - wesleyblog, by shane raynor. this is a much more conservative/evangelical -whatever label you want to use - blog than most i link, including my own. but i appreciated very much this post about the UMC Taco Bell boycott. Now, shane himself doesn't agree with the boycott, at least not the practice/strategy of it, etc... but what caught my attention was that he posted a whole entry from a friend of his who disagrees with him and gives a totally different point of view. i like it when someone is not afraid to put thoughts out there that are different than their own opinions, calling into question their views. we don't like to suggest, humans in general, that we might be wrong about something, or that thoughtful others might hold very different views than us. so its refreshing to see someone put it out there in the open!

Friday, November 26, 2004

Eco-Justice Notes from Peter Sawtell - Thanksgiving

want to share these thoughts from the latest edition of Eco-Justice Notes from Peter Sawtell, which you can find online here.

He writes,
"Yesterday, I preached at an ecumenical Thanksgiving service. As I was searching for a text that would ground my sermon, I kept being pulled back to a passage that portrays a person in prayer lifting up heartfelt thanksgiving. "God, I thank you that I am not like other people: thieves, rogues, adulterers, or even like this tax collector." (Luke 18:11)
That's not a typical Thanksgiving Day passage -- but it may be quite revealing about how we often deal with thanks.
We give thanks for what we are not. I'm thankful that I'm not like some other people: poor and hungry, sick or suffering, homeless, or living in a war zone.
We figure out thankfulness by looking at others who are worse off than we are, and being grateful that we're not inflicted with their problems. Our thanks are comparative, and depend on our relative advantage over others.
Implicitly or explicitly, did our Thanksgiving Day prayers sound like the Pharisee of Jesus' story? "I thank you, God, that I'm not like those other folk who have the audacity to be poor."
As citizens of the richest nation on Earth, as members of a society that uses a wildly disproportionate and unsustainable share of the world's resources, do our prayers of thanksgiving really say, "I thank you, God, that I have wealth, advantages and privileges that most people in this world can never hope to have?"
When we catalogue our wealth, are we saying, "I thank you, God, that I have had the opportunity to benefit from the unconscionable plunder and destruction of your creation?"


I see in his writing my own attitudes toward thanksgiving - 'thank God i have so much.' Sounds a lot like that Pharisee, eh? It may be the day after Thanksgiving, but it is not too late to consider Sawtell's words...

Thursday, November 25, 2004

"Apocalypse (Almost) Now"

My friend sent me this article from the New York Times, which talks about the popular Left Behind series. Very appropriate given this week's Advent 1 lectionary text! Check it out:

(you'll need to register for free to read the whole thing)

Apocalypse (Almost) Now

By NICHOLAS D. KRISTOF
Published: November 24, 2004

"If America's secular liberals think they have it rough now, just wait till the Second Coming.
The 'Left Behind' series, the best-selling novels for adults in the U.S., enthusiastically depict Jesus returning to slaughter everyone who is not a born-again Christian. The world's Hindus, Muslims, Jews and agnostics, along with many Catholics and Unitarians, are heaved into everlasting fire: 'Jesus merely raised one hand a few inches and . . . they tumbled in, howling and screeching.'
Gosh, what an uplifting scene!"

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

exodus 23:2

i was doing my lesson for the Disciple Bible Study I'm leading at my church, and stumbled on these verses from Exodus 23:
(NRSV)

:2 - You shall not follow a majority in wrongdoing; when you bear witness in a lawsuit, you shall not side with the majority so as to pervert justice;

I don't know - that verse just struck me - perhaps a verse of encouragement for social justice advocates who sometimes feel overwhelmed by seemingly small numbers. No matter - wrong is wrong, and we're commanded to go a better way.

Monday, November 22, 2004

another blog

anothew new blog to check out, found via chuck currie:
NewsBlog - "Speak from the Heart: Progressive Christian Voices
We heartily welcome you to this blog that is designed to present postings that present the views of 'progressive' Christians who seek to present, apply, and live out the Gospel of grace, faith, love, reconciliation, and inclusiveness. At a time when much of what is proclaimed in the name of Christianity polarizes our society and Christianity itself, there is a need for scholarly voices of love and compassion to present their views, share them with others, and enjoy vibrant dialogues regarding theological, political, and social issues."

Saturday, November 20, 2004

Ecumenical Advocacy Days for Global Peace with Justice

check it out:
Ecumenical Advocacy Days for Global Peace with Justice:
"Make All Things New is the theme of the third annual Ecumenical Advocacy Days gathering in Washington, D.C. addressing urgent global issues. It takes place in the context of a new presidential term, a new Congress and a new opportunity for people of faith to learn together and raise their voices in advocacy for a more just and peaceful world.
Ecumenical Advocacy Days will highlight the urgency of pursuing wise and peaceful solutions to conflicts and the need for aid, debt and trade policies that benefit our impoverished brothers and sisters throughout the world.
Participants will examine U.S. policy regarding the Middle East, Africa, Asia, Latin America, global economic justice, global security, eco-justice and U.S. domestic issues. There will be challenging speakers, issue briefings and training in advocacy.
Comprehensive briefings will precede visits with members of Congress or their key policy staff assistants."

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

two new blogs

two new blogs to check out that will soon be added to my blogroll:
jockeystreet, which is my big brother's blog. not religiously oriented, but certainly left and progressive and political, and with more edge than mine :)
and also:
the liberal mind, who describes his blog this way:
This blog will be the outlet for my Liberal Mind to find solace. I'm not expecting everyone who reads my stuff to agree with it (actually, I'm kind of expecting most people to disagree with it). But in a world where everyone is quick to throw a label on something which means something else, I figured that everyone will have a different opinion of what exactly a Liberal Mind is. Thus, those who actually stumble across this blog will find the musings of this Liberal Mind.
I found this blog because of a comment left on my site, and was very humbled by a post about my blog that he wrote. it's nice to know they're people out there reading, and nice to feel like something i do makes an impression - thanks!

Thursday, November 11, 2004

syracuse peace council

this week my brother and i finally managed to get ourselves to the syracuse peace council to volunteer. we were looking for something to do post-election to make us feel not-so-helpless and useless. we're signed up to get to work.

happily, spc also launched their own blog this week. visually not the prettiest (hey, i just use blogger's templates, so who am i to talk?) but still exciting.

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

worship and liturgy ideas request

it's the most wonderful time of the year...
or coming soon, anyway.
my brain is already trying to organize and plan christmas services, and i've got a couple requestions for the blogging community:

1) I'm looking for a monologue to use on christmas eve for the message. i like to do something different for our early service - last year i used a monologue from the perspective of the innkeeper. Most i'vve found are a)cheesy b)theologically questionable c)uninteresting. know of anything that is thoughtful, challenging, good?

2) We're having a Blue Christmas service this year on the 27th of December, which is a service created around the themes of loss and grief and sadness that often are stirred up during the holidays. Know of any good liturgies for this? I'm still looking.

Saturday, November 06, 2004

election thoughts from Social Gospel Today

From one off of my frequent-read-blog list, Social Gospel Today, some election thoughts that I thought worth quoting:

"A comment on our last post suggested that a great many Americans no longer vote with their pocketbooks. How true. For many of those people, it is a different book that they think they are voting with - the Bible.

I wish that I could say that that was a good thing, or even a Christian thing to do. But as we have said on this blog numerous times, worshipping the Bible - or more accurately, how certain biased ministers and preachers claim to interpret and teach it - does not necessarily mean that you are following in Jesus' footsteps. Sometimes, it can even mean just the opposite.

What saddens me the most isn't that 'Christians' in America cannot grasp the fact that EVERYTHING is a moral issue (not just abortion and gay marriage, but war, taxes, poverty, criniminal justice, etc etc), nor that ingenius Republican strategists have convinced them that the only Christian vote is a Republican one. The part that saddens me the most is that the Democratic Party failed to get in touch with the America that DESPRETELY NEEDS THEM to stand up for their needs. "


Especially like the "EVERYTHING is a moral issue" emphasis. Yes! Yes! Yes!

And in another post:

Consider these numbers from CNN's exit polling data:

Kerry carried:


72% of minority voters.
88% of African-American voters.
63% of voters making less than $15,000 per year.
55% of voters making less than $50,000 per year.
64% of voters in a household that lost a job.
Can a Republican party that carried only the votes of the powerful really be the party of Christianity?


And one more:

...I know two things:

(1) God isn’t going anywhere: if the Democrats continue to cede the religious vote to the Republicans, and if they let their party be dominated by secular pragmatists, they will continue to face devastating defeats.

(2) Jesus’ clear mandate that we serve poor and oppressed isn’t going anywhere: if we continue to let ourselves be duped by the narrow vision of Christian values offered to us by the right, and if we ignore the Republicans’ horrific records on social programs and social justice, the Kingdom of God will continue to retreat in this country.


All around well-put sound stuff.

Thursday, November 04, 2004

The Revealer: Gay Marriage, GOP Secret Weapon

Please check out this very interesting article by Jeff Sharlet at the revealer:
The Revealer: Gay Marriage, GOP Secret Weapon 03 November 2004

Jeff asks, "Was the 'moral value' of homophobia this election's X-factor?"

Also take time to read the comments - a great conversation that developed out of his post.

I'm not sure yet what to make of the election and what happened and why. I'm very discouraged, and like many, I think, wondering what to do next. Surely, there's more to be done than shake our heads and sit around for four more years waiting. But I'm looking for direction. I think Sharlet's article, is, at least, thought-provoking, and an issue that is plaguing my denomination and many others. So, if you have a few minutes, check out his article.

Monday, November 01, 2004

Family Values

from this article at cnn.com:
Voters in 11 states to get say on gay marriage
Sunday, October 31, 2004 Posted: 10:51 AM EST (1551 GMT)

(AP) -- Each side says the fight was forced upon them by the other, and now the climactic showdown is at hand: Voters in 11 states will decide Tuesday whether to impose constitutional bans on same-sex marriage.

The arguments about same-sex marriage in religious circles are used in so many times and places that it is hard to say anything new - like we are as a country in terms of tomorrow's presidential election, so we all seem set in stone in our totally opposite camps in the Church as well. But I must say, I am so tired of people talking about the Bible's mandate of "one man-one woman" and the family values of the Bible. What Bible are these people talking about? As I mentioned before I attended the Tipple-Vosburgh lectures at Drew Theological School last week, and heard Peter Gomes speak, among others, and this idea of family values in the Bible was one of the recurring themes.
If people believe homosexuality is wrong, I can 'accept' that they have a view that I don't hold - but when the basis of said view is this idea of a Biblical ethic of family values, I have to question: what Biblical family values?
Tamar tricking Jacob into sleeping with her?
Dinah being raped?
David sleeping with Bathsheeba and killing her husband?
Lot's daughters sleeping with him?
Jesus refusing to claim Mary as his mother at one point in the gospels?
Jesus repeatedly urging the disciples (and others) to leave everything to follow him - even family?
Paul urging people to stay unmarried?
Solomon's wives and concubines?

Now, all that said - I think the Bible does give us an ethical basis for making decisions, including decisions about relationship and families. I just get concerned when we lift individual texts to support any claims we have about "what the Bible says".

My rant for the evening.

If you haven't yet: Go vote! Just a couple more hours in many states...