Tuesday, December 28, 2010

What are we doing to the least of these?

The lack of income distribution in our country frankly scares me. It is a measure of injustice in my mind that the work of some is valued so much more than that of others and in such concrete ways. The graph above is from the Slate article "Why we can't ignore growing income inequality."
Today, the richest 1 percent account for 24 percent of the nation's income. What caused this to happen? Over the next two weeks, I'll try to answer that question by looking at all potential explanations—race, gender, the computer revolution, immigration, trade, government policies, the decline of labor, compensation policies on Wall Street and in executive suites, and education. Then I'll explain why people who say we don't need to worry about income inequality (there aren't many of them) are wrong.
Full article.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Chandler site picked for tolerance museum.

A local Jewish organization has picked Chandler over other Valley cities as the site for the nation's fifth Tolerance & Holocaust Museum. Museum will be hosting their first ever Fundraiser, Saturday, January 8th, 7pm at the Chandler Center for the Arts. Tickets for the event will be $25/ea and will go to support Museum’s continuing efforts.
The evening will consist of the Arizona premiere of the multipleaward winning documentary Rene & I. Rene and I tells the story of twins, Rene and Irene who survived experiments by Josef Mengele after being sent to Auschwitz at age 6. This is the true tale of how these twins survived the war, were separated and then amazingly were later reunited, and came to create a life and thrive in America. Rene and I is an uplifting story about overcoming adversity against all odds and is a tribute to tolerance, endurance of the human spirit, and the true triumph of good over evil.

The evening will also feature a speech by a Holocaust survivor.
Tickets to be held at will-call and can be purchased NOW by calling (480-897-0588). Tickets will be also be available for purchase on, www.evjcc.org, and at Ticketmaster.com.

Should we go as a group?

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Helpful interactive Map

This map is pretty amazing. As I just posted at PropheticProgress I think it is worth a look. MAP

It 1) links parts of history I have trouble with linking to others and 2) reminds us why peace has been so long denied from the Holy Lands.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

To Do List for Next Year

From our resident scholar Bob Howard:

Hating Muslims in America
By Juan Cole

Actions to take:

1) If you don't know any Muslims, seek them out. Take the time required for them to believe that you are sincerely trying to connect in meaningful ways.
2) Donate a copy of the Qur'an to the local branch of your public library. Heck, donate a copy to every branch!
3) If you are a Christian, organize an education opportunity for your community of faith -- a class, a special event hosting a speaker from a nearby mosque, etc.
4) Visit a nearby mosque, get to know the folks.
5) Oh, yeah -- read the Qur'an. And a book about Islam. Familiarize yourself with this historic religion, so you can:

6) Respond with informed truth whenever you hear bigoted comments or distortions. Juan Cole's writings are helpful in this regard.


Tuesday, December 7, 2010

"Gestation of Joy" by Bob Howard

From my recent reading, a snippet from Thylias Moss’s poem “A Man”:

“This was a more significant time in darkness,
gestation of forty weeks, than three days in a hillside morgue; he learned maternal heartbeat”

Teetering on the edge of joy, pulled back by grasping fingers of grief, we hear that the birth was good news. Angels delivered the package labeled “Good News of Great Joy,” better than the best FedEx or UPS. And yet it lingers on our doorstep. Joy. Somehow it can seem downright offensive, intruding into the sufferings of our days. Joy? When December brings another round of the “Holiday Blues,” when many of us face the season “without you” (as Elvis reminded us)? What possible “joy” could possibly even hope to inflict the tiniest crack in our fortresses of sorrow? Joy? When, with each breath we take, somewhere some child’s final breath slips away forever? What can “joy” do but slink away in embarrassed silence in the face of such monumental human pain?

Rejoice, they said. Good News, they promised. Your God is born this day. Born.

In the silent cave of Mary’s womb, the One called “God with us” learned. “Here I am,” she said to the angelic visitor, “the servant of the Lord; let it be with me as you say” (Luke 1:38). Her heart beat with the entire mix of human emotions: dread, hope, fear, elation, resolve. In silence, He learned. “My soul magnifies the Lord,” she sang to Elizabeth, scattering the proud, bringing down the powerful, lifting up the lowly, feeding the hungry, showing mercy to rich and poor alike (Luke 1:46-55). In silence, He learned. In God’s wisdom, the “maternal heartbeat” of Mary echoed the eternal heartbeat of God.

He arrived after the usual number of weeks, born into a condition that merited anything but joy. And yet they said that he came into that precise situation, “to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death” (Luke 1:79). For those who must sit in darkness, he learned in darkness.

And then he arrived, to bring light into our lives. To start his work, learned from maternal heartbeat. Rejoice. Because our darkness will not last. The tears which yet sting our eyes will be wiped away. For, as the angel whispered to Mary, “nothing will be impossible with God” (Luke 1:37). In those fleeting gaps of silence this Christmas, listen with ears eager to catch the eternal heartbeat of Love. Learn from Him, learn with Him, the maternal heartbeat that will sweep you into its embrace. Yes, rejoice, yes.


Monday, December 6, 2010

Economic Justice

This is a really amazing video about the change of wealth over time. It is rare data subjecct to much interpretation. I'd love to hear your thoughts.


Tuesday, November 23, 2010

A Challenge for Christians

The following video is a bit of my story and challenges those who support
me as a gay Christian to be vocal in their churches and to remain silent no longer.
I also want LGBT people of faith and their supporters to know that there are
churches that are welcoming, affirming and supportive of LGBT Christians
using their gifts in service to the church and to the community. The conservative
Christian church does not speak for all Christians.

How cool is this?


Here is an article about Admiral Mike Mullen, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, who had the courage to say it was wrong to ask service members to lie about who they are. Link.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Report from the Border

From Bob Howard:

Friday afternoon, RJ & I accompanied the East Valley youth group (from four churches) down to Tucson, to help some folks from Humane Borders refill water stations in the desert the next day. On Saturday we headed west from Tucson, into the desert, checking the levels of 8 water stations (they didn't need refilling -- which is itself suggestive of a number of explanations). These are a few of the dozens of stations placed all over southern Arizona to provide water to keep illegal immigrants from dying. As it is, almost 300 have died so far this year, but who knows how many lives were saved by the water stations. In the desert, the human body needs at least a gallon of water a day. If you can't keep up with the "coyote" (person who you pay to lead you across the border), you are left behind. Some stumble onto a highway and sit beside it, waiting to be picked up. Others wander for days until they collapse. In the summer, the heat can reach 120 Farenheit, in the winter (starting now, really), nighttime temperatures can dip below freezing. And the current afternoon humidity is in the teens, which sucks the moisture out of even healthy bodies. The wind picked up between 9:30 & 10 am, raising the dust, and accelerating dehydration. So, in order to try to reduce the deaths of those who are coming over the border anyway, and specifically as an act of Christian love, the Humane Borders group (and others) started setting up barrels of water along the most-traveled desert routes taken by the immigrants. With the erection of the fence along the border in the past few years, the route has shifted to even more forbidding terrain. The picture here shows one of the less difficult places where water was set up -- and it was 15 minutes away by car from the nearest even semi-graded road.

The stations have two barrels (obtained from the Coca-Cola company), which have a spigot at one end, and a blue flag on a 40-foot pole (you can see the pole in the picture, but not the flag). Why blue? Because it is the easiest to see against the desert terrain & vegetation. Sometimes there is a barrel for trash as well. At another location, we cleaned up some trash left behind in an arroyo, including various plastic bottles, a Bit-O-Honey wrapper, and also a hat, a jacket, and a backpack semi-buried in the dirt (which tells that they had been there for a while) -- all the time keeping a lookout for snakes, and prying up the debris with a long stick before picking it up and dropping it in a trash bag. At the final water station we checked, we held hands in a circle and prayed for all those who traveled the desert, that these stations would preserve their lives.

Chances are that at one or more of the water stations, we were observed by immigrant travelers who were hiding in the brush.

You'll notice vegetation in the picture. The Sonoran Desert is a semi-arid desert, which means that it is not just vast expanses of sand, but has all sorts of trees, bushes, cacti, underbrush, and even grass -- and most of 'em with thorns. We drove over dirt roads, some of which were scarred by runoff ruts, while others had sand or dust several inches thick -- kind of like driving through loose snow, with all of its lovely worries. If you weren't the lead vehicle, you learned to keep the windows closed, lest you breath (& wear!) a bit of Arizona dust.

On the way back to Tucson, our caravan passed through a Border Patrol checkpoint. We were told by the Humane Borders worker Lance to lower our windows as we approached the agents. They looked in each vehicle while a drug-sniffing dog and its handler circled it, and asked if we were all U.S. citizens. When we said we were, the waved us on with a "have a nice day."

Did our act encourage illegal immigration? How can it? They are not coming over for the water. We were simply trying to save the lives of those who were already here. The presence or absence of the water stations in no way affects governmental policies or numbers of human beings coming to the U.S. But it is definitely intended to reduce the numbers of deaths in the desert.

That's why we went, and that's why I'll go again.


Cheap Shrimp: Hidden Costs

A friend of mine from High School taught the students who produced this series of stories. It is pretty impressive from a production stand point, and, although there is no uncertainty about the point the investigative journalists are making, I think it gives enough information to have a more moderate opinion. Which I think is really cool. Link here.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Scary Story Scarier Comments

The link is to a story about a woman who graduated from ASU Law with me. Alma is working to help victims of domestic violence. Almost as alarming as the tales of violence are the comments that show what happens when we allow racism to run unchecked in our dialogue. Why exactly do we so hate newcomers who evade our administrative requirements? What other administrative requirement would engender such hatred?

Thursday, November 11, 2010

A troubling study from this fall

The Pew Foundation conducted a study that looked at the views of Americans on various issues of social justice. Immigration, Death Penalty, Abortion, Environment. What the study shows me is the (1) White, mainline Protestants have typically justice-oriented views on these topics, BUT (2) White, mainline Protestants do not see any connection to these views and their faith.


Monday, October 25, 2010

Read This

Reverend Miller preached about community yesterday, acknowledging that the virtual community has its place. Well, one example of that is this post that Rita Nakashimi Brock brought to my attention via facebook. If you are a liberal, you should click on the link and read this. Link.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Monday, October 18, 2010

Justice in the ER

This is a post from a friend of mine that has been an ER doctor for quite some time. It is moving on multiple levels for me.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Myth of Orthodoxy

At Chalice, we are reading the Future of Faith by Harvey Cox, in which he dismantles the myths of permanent orthodoxy and apostolic authority. The Smithsonian has an interesting article challenge the my of orthodoxy related to American History and religious tolerance. Check it out.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

What form of Government Promotes Justice

"In those days Israel had no king; everyone did as he saw fit." Judges 17:6, 21:25. The shorter lament, "In those days Israel had no king," appears twice more. Judges 18:1, 19:1. These comments appear in a section of judges that accounts some pretty horrible conduct by the local leaders.

However, in the Chapter 8 of First Samuel, we read about all the horrible things that a king will do. It even kind of hurts God's feelings that the people are rejecting God as their king.

Local versus national control is not a foreign issue for Americans. What do you think? Does either system promote or inhibit justice? Does either system encourage or discourage creating a Kingdom of God?

Friday, October 1, 2010

Figuring out what justice is...

Last night a group of people met at Chalice for discussion of a Resolution that has been presented for adoption by the Christian Church in Arizona at our Regional Assembly October 23. We call this once-monthly discussion event The Forum, and each time we aim to discuss a challenging or controversial topic with the aim of increasing understanding and building relationship. Jim Barton led this challenging, civil discussion in a style that allowed us to navigate a reading of Arizona's SB 1070 and a page of scripture references to the treatment of "aliens," and voice our opinions on the Resolution in just over an hour. Many opinions were expressed, many questions asked, with no evidence of universal agreement on where we stand on the resolution. We left wanting more discussion.

This blog is committed to being a voice for doing justice. Justice is a very complex notion. The Levitical laws about treatment of "aliens" include a requirement that they keep the law as a citizen kept the law, be subject to the same punishments a citizen could receive, in exchange for being treated with the same dignity a citizen would receive, along with a reminder to treat the "alien" with compassion and empathy. Several participants last night noted the irrelevance of Levitical law concerning aliens to our contemporary immigration laws. Indeed we do not live by Levitical law. It does, however, inform our faith as followers of Jesus. So what can we learn from scripture about justice? Justice involves rules and consequences for either following them or breaking them, and it seems that justice also includes fairness and compassion, even toward outsiders. How on earth are we to construct, define, do justice?

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Forum on SB 1070 at the Oasis

To the right you will notice a suggested reading list. That is because we will discuss the highly controversial Senate Bill 1070 at the next Forum at the Oasis. The Forum will be held on September 30. Don't miss it.

(For that matter, don't miss some sweet Jazz and Jesus on Thursday September 23!)

Friday, September 17, 2010

The Wealth of Religions

Is Islam the faith of the poor and Christianity the faith of the wealthy? If so, is that ironic given the attitude of each of their founding figure's toward money?

From wealthiest to poorest: blue, green, purple, red.
Cross-posted on Prophetic Progress.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Economic Justice with Pictures

Here is a link to a slide show about various people centered economic factors. In other words, not Gross Domestic Product, but wages and ratio of wages and share of wealth.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

More Interfaith Conversation

Tomorrow, September 16, 2010, come to the Forum at The Oasis where we engage in open dialogue about social and cultural issues. Our guest will be Imam Ahmad Shqeirat from the Islamic Cultural Center in Tempe.

Join us at Chalice Christian Church, 15303 South Gilbert Road, Gilbert, Arizona.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Justice for those in Prison

Here is something that many of us just can't fathom. Innocent people confess to crimes. The NYT reviews a study on how it happens here.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

It's not just in Micah

"Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices—mint, dill and cummin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law—justice, mercy and faithfulness. You should have practiced the latter, without neglecting the former. You blind guides! You strain out a gnat but swallow a camel." Matt. 23:23-24.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Children of Abraham come together

This event was AMAZING. The storytelling was wonderful. Well crafted tales that fit the moment. Well over 200 people overfilling the space to come together in the name of understanding on 9/11. Wow. I mean, just wow!

Children of Abraham

The terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001 were an attempt to rip apart the children of Abraham. Al Qaeda's goal was to create a war, not between the United States and Al Qaeda, but between Christians and Muslims. One way that those of us who oppose Al Qaeda's and its mission can prevent this from happening is to foster understanding. This September 11, 2010 some a little group of Abraham's children are getting together to hear sacred stories from each of the Abrahamic faiths. I've been to these story telling event before; they are quite compelling, even without such a powerful goal. I hope you can come.

Details: A Storytelling Concert will be held on September 11th at 7pm at the Islamic Cultural Center of Tempe, 131 E 6th St, Tempe. This will be a celebration of diversity and an act of solidarity. Tempe Imams, Pastors and Rabbis will tell Beloved Stories from sacred scripture—Qur´an, Torah, and Bible. Make plans now to honor your September 11th Patriot Day with this special interfaith event.

From the Veteran's Way Metro stop it is one block south on College and one block west on 6th.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Preferential Treatment

"No, the Fifteen is twenty-four minutes late, so I don't know when--." I told Pat to hold on as a bus with its identification sign smashed stopped for me at the corner of 15th Ave & Jefferson. The corner where I had been waiting for ten minutes was eerie but not scary. By 8:10 p.m., Jefferson had become a one-way, four lane street, completely empty as far as the eye can see, no cars, no people--nothing. After the driver told me this was the One bus, I confirmed she went to Central Station and sat down. I told Pat not to worry about picking me up; I would call her again once I was on the train. I noted the contrast of me still in my going to court suit and the clearly homeless people riding the bus. At the shelter stop a man boarded with an all day pass. I heard the machine beep to acknowledge the ticket was valid, but the driver said, "Excuse me, sir, I don't mean to be rude, but you didn't pay." "Yes he did," I thought to myself. As he turned to her, she explained, "No, not you, him," gesturing to me. "Oh my gosh," I exclaimed and got up to scan my metro card as the bus moved on to the next stop. She laughed about.

The privileges one enjoys as a middle-aged white guy wearing suit are pretty impressive. What reason do I have to fear the streets at night? Of course the bus driver assumed I had the fare, but was just absent-mindedly boarding without offering it. I wonder if such preferential treatment will be eliminated if Arizona Voters pass Proposition 107. Cross posted on Prophetic Progress.

Sunday, September 5, 2010


Here's the link to the EV Tribune. Past experience tells me that the Republic will call. Let me know if anyone else sees something. (Bob Howard, thanks for the heads up on this.)

Also, Linda was contacted by a new resident of the valley who is Muslim and was happy to read our letter, and even offered to entering into dialogue about Islam with us.


(Don't bother with the comments. They are, as always, exactly as enlightened as what you find on the bathroom stall.)

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Justice on Labor Day

As the members of Chalice Christian Justice Ministries worked hard to discern on what area of injustice we should focus our efforts many ideas were suggested. Unfortunately, we have an abundance of injustice in our world. One of the topics that sort of made it to the finals was economic injustice. Today's piece by Scott Simon on All Things Considered so poignantly acknowledged the hurt that comes with unemployment that I thought it worth sharing.


Thursday, September 2, 2010

Survey Question

Does it require us to do something different to address the issue of creating a pro-reconciling / anti-racist world, than to address the issue of justice for the GLBT community? I mean this is practical terms. We went to a couple of rallies last year and we put on a big symposium. We are approaching the anniversary of the symposium and we have nothing big planned. What should we do?

Chalice has some exciting stuff going on with upcoming Forums on Thursday nights. Perhaps a good mission this year is to support these Forums with our attendance. We have put together a letter to the editor. Maybe we should seek out such oppotunities. Although not particularly public now, the blog itself could become a ministry.

I guess I just wanted to take your temperature on where we are going with CCJM.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Letters are submitted.

I submitted our letter to the East Valley Tribune and the Arizona Republic. The hyperlinks will take you to their webpage that allows submitting letters to the editor electronically. They must be submitted with a name, so I used mine with my contact information. If anyone knows of other publications, perhaps those that are more local, that take letters to the editor, you can either (1) let me know and I will try to send them our letter, or (2) copy the text of the letter from the previous post and send it along under you name.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Possible Letter to the Editor

We are considering sending something like this to various papers:
It is not Christian to be anti-Muslim. The members of Chalice Christian Justice Ministries are alarmed by the increased anti-Muslim sentiment being expressed in our country, particularly in the name of Jesus Christ. In the fourth chapter of John, we learn of how Jesus responded to a Samaritan woman--someone who, like the Jews, worshipped the God of Abraham but in a radically different fashion. Jesus treated her with respect and kindness, and when she brought up their religious differences, He told her what matters is “truth and spirit,” not where you pray. The members of Chalice Christian Justice Ministries are also troubled as Americans to see one of our most treasured national values--religious tolerance--trampled as a result of fear spawned from misinformation. Perhaps those in the church fanning the flames of hate should remember that the only people against whom Jesus Christ directed anger were those in the Church who perverted the faith for their own financial and political gain. As an old song goes, “for the buyers and the sellers were no different 'fellas' than what I profess to be, and it causes me pain to know I’m not the man that I should be.”
Before we send it off, some kind thoughtful feedback is welcome. I know from experience that if it is published, the comments will be neither kind nor thoughtful.

UPDATED: 1:24pm

Monday, August 30, 2010

Response to Linda's Message

Linda's sermon yesterday focussed on difference. She was responding to questions like: Why did God make us different? Does God make mistakes in the creation? In so doing, she made an observation that I think is very important for those from the dominant culture. It is often difficult to recognize the privileges enjoys as a member of the in crowd. Such privileges can easily become transparent.

I'm a MAWG--Middle Aged White Guy--who has heard many other MAWGs complain that they never received any advantages. These men were being sincere. They just assumed that all law students had professors encourage their progress and admire their past acheivements. They just assumed that everyone enjoyed tax breaks for the family they chose to raise, and that the law ascribed a default inherentance policy that matched their desires. They assumed that everyone was trusted not to steal something while shopping, that everyone's contributions to society were lauded, and that everyone was welcomed as a valued potential member when they showed interest in joining a group.

MAWGs can be so oblivious to their privilege, that when efforts are made to address a social injustice caused by repeated exercise of their privilege, there will be "backlash" against it. The greatest example is affirmative action. MAWGs who enjoy tremendous over representation in almost every high paying position first fail to suspect there is anything fishy about the demographic imbalance, and second, quickly lose patience with any effort to address it.

Affirmative Action, sometimes recast as "preferential treatment or discrimination," includes efforts to recruit diverse students or employees, it includes accounting for a candidates background in recruiting, it can include everything that falls under the much more popular phrase Equal Opportunity.

Read the text of Proposition 107, link here, very carefully. Feel free to discuss it with your friends.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Let’s Keep the Cold Water Flowing

Here is another compelling poem from Jim Corner. Thanks, Jim!

Let’s Keep the Cold Water Flowing

The son of man shoved northward
toward Sychar – a place of controversy.
It was near Mt. Gerisim, almost 3000
feet high near the city of Askar. It was
a thirsty and hungry route – but with
purpose. His followers knew not.

More than curiosity, thirst or hunger,
universal hospitality was the need.
The northern clan felt shut out
of the flock. Thirst stopped the group
while the leader inquired where to fill
their cups. “I will bring you the water
so you may fill them. I’m surprised
you stopped here.” “Well” he said,

I just wanted see how you guys are
doing up here in the north. By the way,
I’m sending a plumber up here to talk
about cleaning-out Jacob’s well
and attaching a facet for convenience.
He’s a young guy -- just out of the hospital,
he was beaten by a group on the border
so be kind to him.”


Minor Outrage

I was reading the introduction to a work by Willa Cather. The short biographical essay contained in the Great Book of Western Civilization* noted that Ms. Cather wore short hair when she went to college and that she had several meaning friendships with women. C'mon. Really?

According to Wikipedia there is some serious controversy over whether this author was a lesbian. It is wrong to cover up the sexual orientation of gay artists, but it is also wrong to state as fact that an artist is gay based on rumors. So, I get being balanced in presenting the information. But, she had short hair?!? What an obnoxious way to signal that she may have been gay. Give me a break.

*These books are published by Encyclopedia Britanica, which may make the decision to so obliquely reference the author's sexuality more or less offensive.

Note: Cross-posted on Prophetic Progress.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Social Justice

Jim Wallis is a champion seeing Christianity as a call for social justice. He and I do not always see eye to eye on what Christianity calls us to do, but hey, that's what you get with thinking people. I thought this post was worth sharing. I apologize for the highly partisan source, this article is for social justice minded Christians of any political stripe.


Monday, August 23, 2010

Source of Clarification

This Sunday Linda preached about the various movements that authored the Hebrew Scriptures. One insight she offered was that some of the authors were in a point in the Hebrew's history when the people saw God as a war god. By contrast, other authors took the point of view that God was a god of love. Hence, the outsider is treated radically different in passages composed by these different groups. I think it is a keen insight for those considering issues of justice, particularly with regard to race, and turning to the Bible for guidance.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Equal Benefits for Equal Work

Is it unjust for the State to only give partner benefits to married people? Maybe. But it is rational to allow the state to limit its benefits to long term, committed relationships. If your relationship isn't one that involves marriage, then maybe it isn't the type the state wants to pay benefits for.

Is it unjust for the State to only allow heterosexuals to morry? Yeah, I think so. But I suppose I can understand the viewpoint that the state sets what relationships can be recognized by the government. I'm having a more and more difficult time listening to advocates of discrimination based on sexual orientation; but, I recognize it is not an insane point of view.

Is it unjust for the State to at the same time offer benefits only to married people and tell homosexual employees (and all homosexuals) that they cannot marry? Yes.

The case is Collins v. Brewer and here are some knowledgable folks discussing it on Horizon.

What can the church teach the nation?

A church is an organization made up of organisms. Members of the church (organisms) may have expertise in everything from investment counseling to evaluating group dynamics to operating small businesses or nuclear power plants. The organization itself, however, can have areas on which it is uniquely suited to comment. What can the church teach people?

I'll help with a list of potential areas (note, this is decidely not a list of answers I would endorse, but conversation starters), but please don't limit your responses to my examples.

Fiscal Responsibility
Financial Planning

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

I think this is good

The opinions of JimII do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Chalice Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) or any of its members or associates, but I think this is a pretty excellent stance for a church to be able to take, and I really wish it could say DOC where it says UCC.

Anti-Muslim fear is behind resistance to NYC mosque, UCC leaders insist

I will email this to some of my favorite disciple clergy to remind me why a truly congregation driven polity is so great. ;)

Monday, August 16, 2010

Did the Terrorists Win?

When Al Qaeda attacked the United States on September 11, 2001 was it successful in destoying religious tolerance as an American value? Did those terrorists start a war between the United States and Al Qaeda and its supporters, or did they acheive their goal and start a war between Christians and Muslims?

Friday, August 13, 2010

"Raise your voice . . .

. . . even if it trembles." Probably my favorite bumper sticker. Here's a story from the New York Times about how the DOJ is now enforcing a law to encourage more voices be raised and votes be cast by the least of these. NYT Opinion.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Some links

We have our first CNN poll showing a majority of Americans support gay marriage. Question: Has the church largely missed its chance to show leadership in this area, or can we help by bringing along those who don't understand what the Bible really says?

The Senate is spending more money to secure the border. Question: If stronger and stronger border enforcement leads to fewer deaths in the desert in the summer months, and a shortage of workers that results in pressure from businesses to increase legal immigration quotas for unskilled workers, isn't that a good thing?

Tuesday, August 10, 2010


From Contributor Bill

I was watching the Daily Show with my spouse when Scott Liveley with Defend the Family was featured. They showed him saying crazy things about gay people and saying they weren't morally fit to be in the military and that Hitler used gays in the military due to this lack of morality. My spouse told me that this was a made up group and that it wasn't true, and it made me wonder.

I went to the website for Defend the Family and it exists. There is a comment abount the Daily Show which says the interview was "edited beyond recognition".

I did look to see what the group believes and found the question What do we mean by "pro-family"? Here is the quote:
We believe that the natural family was created by God to be the starting place and model for all human relationships. The natural family is one man and one woman and their children by birth or adoption, or the surviving remnant thereof. Marriage is God's institution to protect the natural family from forces such as promiscuity which would otherwise destroy it. To be pro-family is to actively promote and protect the natural family as the foundation of human society and culture.
I'm not sure Abraham, Sarah, and Hagar meet this definition very well and I don't see the group putting down the patriarch's in the Old Testament. In fact, I see lots of plural marriages and concubines when I read. While Adam and Eve meet this definition I'm not sure many other Old Testament families meet this definition.

As for today, I have met and come to know many non traditional families and have found them to be strong; exhibiting love, support, maturity and and other the other attributes I associate with committed families. I believe that strong families are defined by the people in them, often strengthened by a faith in God.

I don't know what actions Defend the Family takes to strengthen families. This example of belief seems to weaken families.

Monday, August 9, 2010

A Real Question

How does one work for justice without being constantly angered by the lack of justice?

During election years, I find myself getting so wrapped up in the issues of the day, that I periodically have to take a break. When the source of my frustration was purely the horse race aspect of politics--is my party winning or loosing/being treated fairly or poorly by the news--just a news break was fine. But as my interface with politics becomes more and more about justice, I do not think pure detachment is a good enough answer. (At least not for an adherent to Western religion.) So, what do I need to do?

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Figured it Out

Here is another poem. This one from Dr. Robert Howard, one of the many ordained ministers associated with Chalice Christian Church.

In light of the poem, I offer this question: Is peace a justice issue?

You'll need to click on the image, like with the music.


Friday, August 6, 2010

Perception of Gay Marriage

When Dr. Rita Nakashima Brock spoke at Chalice, I was struck to realize just how little the Bible said about marriage. I don't mean gay marriage; I mean marriage, in general. If you think about it, the Love Chapter has nothing to do with the romantic love between two people. There's the Wedding at Cana but, frankly, the wedding is guide of just a literary device in the story. It isn't a story about marriage.

Question: Is the absence of Biblical treatment of marriage partly to blame for the enormous variety of opinions on the topic from community to community?


Thursday, August 5, 2010

Believe Out Loud Music

Well, it appears this is the best I can do until I hear back from Mr. Lohman. Perhaps those interested in the music can enlarge their screens, or copy this into a program that you can blow it up or something.

UPDATE: Click on the images to get a legible view. Yeah!

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Judge says no to voters saying no to a judge saying no . . .

In California today a federal judge struck down Prop. 8. CNN story here.

This means that a judge rejected the voter approved initiative, which rejected an early court ruling, which rejected California law, which rejected the recognition of the marriage between two people of the same sex.

There are subtle legal issues to discuss, but not to discuss here. What I'd like to raise here is a concern with this type of decisions. I think the courts provide a strong mechanism for ensuring civil rights are upheld, but I think they are a poor vehicle for establishing civil rights. Rather, I think public opinion must be swayed. The tug of war nature of litigation, as so well illustrated in this controversy, is a limitation on the power of litigation to cause change.

What do others think; especially those who saw Brown & Roe change the political landscape?

Monday, August 2, 2010

A Question

I have a poem & a hymn that I will post as soon as I figure out the formatting issues. Blogger does not let give you as much control over spacing as I would like.

In the meantime, consider the following question regarding the major social justice issues of our time: gay rights and immigrant rights.

Assumption: The Hebrew Scriptures require harsh treatment of gays, but gentle treatment of aliens. You can tweak these, obviously. The scriptures actually address gay sex, and only between men. Likewise, the discussion of aliens in our land doesn't touch on documented versus undocumented immigrants. Nonetheless, I think it is fair to say the Bible is kind to immigrants and unkind to GLBT folks.

Question: Are you required to be consistent in how you treat these scriptures in analyzing these issues? If you say the scriptures on gays dictate the social policy on gays for which you advocate, must the scriptures on aliens dictate the social policy on immigrants for which you advocate? Put another way, if you relegate the scripture on gays as "merely" cultural, must you treat the scriptures on aliens similarly?

Friday, July 30, 2010

Offs and Ons of Integrity

I hope we can use this space for more than announcements and links. I am working on getting a justice focused hymn posted, and asked Chalice's Poet Laureate to give us something beautiful about justice. He came through and here it is:

Offs and Ons of Integrity

Twenty four years ago black
farmers lost their land. Now I’m
helping a white woman keep
her terrain. A remembrance
in a speech given by a black
woman in March. Obviously
innocent pieces were torn out,
put on-line as unfit for a regime’s
worker. A strain for all, but
is made straight for Justice in
a White House union – free
speech stands while she allows
a president to sit and wonder.


Thursday, July 29, 2010

Cool Links

I just added a couple of cool links to the right. Suggestions are welcome.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

New Laws

Tomorrow laws passed by the Arizona Legislature that did not contain an emergency clause will go into effect. This includes the well known SB1070 that targets people living in this country who entered or remained in the country without documentation. It also includes the less known prohibition on creating "animal human hybrids," the anti-mermaid law.

What these two laws have in common is that they were enacted out of fear. Ultimately, I think that is the problem. Whatever are problems are as a society, when we act in a reactionary fashion out of fear we will fail.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

First Post

This blog is a collaborative project of Chalice Christian Justice Ministries. Chalice Christian determine a little over a year ago that it was not enough for the church to do charitable work. The church was also called to follow Jesus Christ in standing up for justice. During our first year, we proclaimed our support for the GLBT community and specifically held a symposium to consider how our faith called us to support marriage equality. This year we have turned our attention to advocating for an anti-racist, pro-reconciling world.

Posts here will likely cover a range of justice topics. Justice for the poor, and justice for our descendants through treating the planet with respect are other areas of great passion at Chalice.

Yours in Christ,
Jim Barton II