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?