According to some Christian outlooks we were made for another world. Perhaps, rather, we were made for
this world to recreate, reclaim, and renew unto God's future aspiration by the power of His Spirit. - R.E. Slater
Secularization theory has been massively falsified. We don't live in an age of secularity. We live in an age of
explosive, pervasive religiosity... an age of religious pluralism. - Peter L. Berger
Exploring the edge of life and faith in a post-everything world. - Todd Littleton
I don't need another reason to believe, your love is all around for me to see. - anon
Thou art our need; and in giving us more of thyself thou givest us all. - Khalil Gibran, Prayer XXIII
Be careful what you pretend to be. You become what you pretend to be. - Kurt Vonnegut
Religious beliefs, far from being primary, are often shaped and adjusted by our social goals. - Jim Forest
People, even more than things, need to be restored, renewed, revived, reclaimed, and redeemed; never throw out anyone. - anon
... Certainly God's love has made fools of us all. - R.E. Slater
An apocalyptic Christian faith doesn't wait for Jesus to come, but for Jesus to become in our midst. - R.E. Slater
Christian belief in God begins with the cross and resurrection of Jesus, not with rational apologetics. - Eberhard Jüngel, Jürgen Moltmann
Our knowledge of God is through the 'I-Thou' encounter, not in finding God at the end of a syllogism or argument.
There is a grave danger in any Christian treatment of God as an object. The God of Jesus Christ and Scripture is
irreducibly subject and never made as an object, a force, a
power, or a principle that can be manipulated. - Emil Brunner
Ehyeh Asher Ehyeh means "I will be that who I have yet to become." - God (Ex 3.14)
Our job is to love others without stopping to inquire whether or not they are worthy. - Thomas Merton
The church is God's world-changing social experiment of bringing unlikes and differents to the Eucharist/Communion table
to share life with one another as a new kind of family. When this happens we show to the world what love, justice, peace,
reconciliation, and life together is designed by God to be. The church is God's show-and-tell for the world to see how God wants
us to live as a blended, global, polypluralistic family united with one will, by one Lord, and baptized by one Spirit. - anon
The cross that is planted at the heart of the history of the world cannot be uprooted. - Jacques Ellul

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Pre-Marital Ideals and Expectations

An Open Letter to Donald Miller on Your Engagement
http://blog.christianitytoday.com/women/2011/06/an_open_letter_to_donald_mille.html

First, congratulations. Second, let's talk about that list of qualities we should want in a spouse.

by Karen Swallow Prior
posted June 23, 2011

Dear Donald,

First of all, I’m a fan. I’ll admit I’m not young enough or hip enough to have discovered you on my own, but the college students I teach help me to keep up with the times, and they introduced me to your work some years ago. I love it all, especially A Million Miles in a Thousand Years. I wish I’d had your books when I was languishing in youth group hell many years ago.

0623weddingring.jpgI’m thrilled to learn of your recent engagement. As someone who’s been married for 26 years—to the same man, no less—I can fully rejoice with you and Paige in your anticipation of the blessings, challenges, joys, pains, and memories this covenant relationship will bring.

In addition to two and a half decades of marriage, I bring the second-hand experiences of a fair number of hook-ups, break-ups, engagements, broken engagements, marriages, searching, longing, and questioning on matters of love and marriage: when you work with college students, you get to live through a lot of this with them. I’ve had the chance to watch a lot of young people make good decisions and bad. (And I made a few of each in my day.)

So when I heard about your recent post, “What are You Looking for in a Spouse? Why not Create a List?”— I was intrigued. It’s a good thing to know one’s self well enough before entering a lifelong partnership to be able to identify in a potential mate a handful of deal-breakers. For the Christian, of course, the first of these non-negotiables is being equally yoked. There are likely a few qualities that are essential to one’s being and therefore non-negotiable. One such non-negotiable for me would be a love of animals. Not an abstract kind of love, but the kind that turns pets into family members who share the furniture with the humans. A spouse who didn’t share this value would doom one or the other, and therefore both, to perpetual misery. I encourage my students to identify such non-negotiables when they seek my advice, as they often do.

But upon reading your post—which includes a list of qualities that your fiancée, Paige, sought in the man of her dreams long before she had met her future husband—my intrigue grew into concern.

You see, a list like the one in your post—a list of more than a dozen traits the dream husband should exhibit, most of them self-centered, focusing on how a future spouse will treat “me” and make “me” feel—doesn’t leave a whole lot of room for God to bring a partner who can meet needs we don’t even know we have, needs God knows more intimately than we or our spouses can ever know.

While Paige wrote that her dream spouse would be someone who “is always thinking about me,” I can pretty much guarantee that neither your first fight nor your 91st will be about how much thinking you did about her on any given day. It will be about who forgot to mail the credit card payment or who didn’t roll up the car windows before it rained, or whether or not you really need more towels, again.

Yet, this matter of the list isn’t really my greatest concern.

0623husband.jpgMy greatest concern is that you both realize that whatever qualities each of you identifies as non-negotiable must be already present in the other person. Here’s my plea, to both of you: Don’t enter into marriage with the expectation that one or both of you will “change,” at least not in some pre-determined, pre-scripted way.

You don’t put it quite this way in your post (in fact, Paige says you have all 15 qualities of her dream man already), but the idea creeps in rather stealthily (as such ideas are wont to do) when you say that one “great thing about creating a list is that Paige helps me become this man,” and later, “Paige is helping me become her dream come true.” This sounds as though you’re both banking on her changing you.

This notion that a man will change for a woman goes all the way back to Adam’s bite of the apple, but has more salient and recent precedents in Victorian thinking and Romanticism. It’s Victorian to think it is the woman’s role to “civilize” a man and make him a more suitable husband. It’s romantic to think such a thing is possible.

Of course, both husbands and wives do change over the course of a long marriage. Indeed all people change over time. They just don’t necessarily change in the ways we want or expect. And that’s not a bad thing. The long-haired, skinny guitarist in a rock band that I married years ago is now a mild-mannered school teacher who’d rather swing a golf club than a guitar axe. Likewise, the waif my husband wed who hid her insecurities behind too much black eye make-up and aspired to change the world as a social worker has become a cynical academic with few wifely qualities, save an overindulgence in footwear that borders on neurotic.

Yet, each of us is for the other, I firmly believe, what God knew we needed. Through God’s grace, we have brought out the best in each other over the years, even though that best wouldn’t likely have been found on any list either us might have written so many years ago.

I pray for the same grace for you and Paige as you grow, both as individuals and as spouses to each other. And I pray that the changes each of you undergoes in your great marriage adventure are both delightful and surprising.

Your fan,

Karen

The Civil Rights of Gay Marriage


As an introduction, let me say that I nearly turned this video off because I was so offended by its visceral content until about halfway through when a small twist occurred to the initial plot lines. Consequently, I've added this video more than a year after writing my original article below because it so powerfully dovetails with its argument for equality and respect to people different from  what we perceive as "mainstream America."

And while listening, remember that Snider is speaking from a passionate heart to the ills and abuses that he is observing in an American society of intolerance and short-sightedness created by a Christian culture built of fear, labeling, bullying, and misunderstanding.

R.E. Slater
November 5, 2012


OFFICIAL Preacher Phil Snider gives interesting gay rights speech





Where Do We Stand as Christians?

Obviously the topic of gay rights will have strong arguments from both sides of the referendum yet the article below is not given to say either "yea" or "nay" to its passage, but to show the many political sides of institutional change that must come as state's review their subsequent policies and practices. As example, adoption agencies that are state-funded will be forced to withdraw from budgeted funding, state legislatures will need to rewrite a variety of exclusions and exceptions - both religious and civil - to their newly adopted bill, public forums and elections will be more polarized than ever, and the list could go on and on.

However, I do sympathize with the passing of New York's Gay Rights bill (as soundly stated in J.R. Daniel Kirk's previous article - http://relevancy22.blogspot.com/2011/06/gay-marriage-in-new-york.html) and will elucidate more my reasonings in later articles. And yet, it is important to note that passage of major political bills like this one will require major societal re-structuring in outlook and demeanor for many years to come.

A simple example of this "political struggle of wills" would be that of the 1960s Civil Rights movements that America is still "working through" these past 40-50 years - and now well into the 21st Century. More to the point, had minority rights been a part of the American platform at the founding of its 13 Colonies addressing the disallowal of acts of slavery in each state's original charters, then the Civil War may not have been fought with the same bloody consequences and destructive toll that it had placed upon its divided citizenry. And even at that, had Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation been properly adopted by both the federal and state legislatures of the United States at the conclusion of the Civil War, then subsequent civil rights acts, abuses, practices and grievous infractions would not have been so horribly endured by America's black citizenry for as long as it had with so many negative consequences. Nor would the Civil Rights Marches (Civil Rights movement) have occurred nearly 100 years later after the Emancipation Proclamation was made!

I say all of this not only as a form of history lesson, but to state that we as American citizens must work to preserve our unions in a more peaceful state of harmony and not disruption. When we see so many examples of badly conducted individual rights, a corrupt and divisive government, unlawful acts of personal shame and harm being enacted before us and nearly everywhere around us - from the workplace, to sports teams, to the town halls, and worship centers around America. We can do better than that. For this is not a plea to lessen our beliefs and opinions, but to better express them in more personally responsible behaviors, speech and actions.

For thus was America so formed - to protect the rights of all individuals and not just our own. To understand why another's rights are so important to protect; to work together as a society towards civil agreements; and towards a more tolerant, pluralistic union of, for, and by the people. A people who on better days can show a truer humanity than ever was witness by mankind. Who seek the life, liberty and justice of every man, woman and child America has come to represent. And must now determine to argue and debate in far better form than we have in the past, realizing that all citizens - as all people everywhere - must be represented in government and not just the loudest, the best politically organized, nor by the fearful, who dread acts of change to "traditional societal norms". This is the America that is supposedly based on the Christian principals of truth and justice, each tempered in love. So then, let us dedicate and commit ourselves to these very purposes as hallowed acts of grace, longsuffering, charity, mercy and forgiveness. Let us not be negligent of them. For these are ours both to keep as well as to share.

skinhead
June 28, 2011
* * * * * * * * * *
New York Approves Gay Marriage

by Tobin Grant
posted June 24, 2011

New York will become the sixth state to approve same-sex marriage (the District of Columbia also allows gay marriage). Because of the state's large population, the number of Americans living in states that allow gay marriage will more than double. With New York, 35 million Americans will live in states with gay marriage, one in nine Americans.

The New York Senate approved a new same-sex marriage bill tonight by a vote of 33 to 29. Even though nearly all Republicans voted against the bill, the Republican-controlled Senate passed the bill because of four Republicans who voted with the Democrats. Only two Republican Senators openly backed the bill until just before the vote when Sen. Stephen Saland (Rep.) said he would give the bill the 32nd vote needed for passage. Only one Democrat, Sen. Ruben Diaz, voted against the measure. Only two Republican Senators openly backed the bill prior to the vote.

Additional votes were gained only after a majority in the Senate reached agreement on religious protections in the bill. Shortly before the gay marriage bill vote, the religious exemptions were reportedly passed by a 36-26 vote. The bill passed by the State Assembly included protections for clergy and churches. It did not include explicit protections for faith-based nonprofits. In Illinois, for example, the recent civil unions law has meant that Catholic Social Services could no longer receive state funds for its foster care and adoption services. The nonprofit has a policy against placing children with same-sex couples.

Opponents of the Assembly bill also wanted exemptions for individuals and businesses who objected to gay marriage for religious reasons. These individuals could be in violation of local ordinances. They could also be forced to allow gay couples to use their facilities. For example, without exemptions, critics argued, a business that rents its facilities for weddings could not refuse a couple simply because they were a same-sex couple.

Even the broadest religious exemptions would not be enough for some opponents of same-sex marriage. Family Research Council's Peter Sprigg said “the principal objection to homosexual 'marriage' has nothing to do with religion.”

“At its heart, marriage is neither a civil institution nor a religious institution. Instead, marriage is a natural institution—rooted in the order of nature itself,” Sprigg said. “The core message of the opposition to homosexual 'marriage' is not just, 'Don’t make us perform same-sex weddings in our church.' Instead, it is: 'Society needs children, and children need a mom and a dad.'”

The new bill still needs to be approved by the Assembly (because of the new religious exemptions) and then be signed by the governor. The Assembly is expected to approve the new language quickly. The signature of Gov. Andrew Cuomo is all but certain. The governor has been an outspoken advocate for same-sex marriage in New York. The measure will go into effect 30 days after he signs it.

The outcome of the bill has been in doubt for weeks. The State Assembly has passed same-sex marriage legislation four times in the past five years. The Senate has never approved it. In 2009, the Senate voted 38-24 against same-sex marriage. After the 2010 election, Republicans gained control but the Senate lost some key opponents to gay marriage. By the end of last week, a handful of senators from both parties announced they would be changing their positions, bringing the number of announced supporters to 31, one shy of the number needed for passage.

GOP Senators debated whether to allow the bill to be considered. Part of the delay was reportedly due to negotiations over more religious exemptions for groups such as adoption agencies. With more protections, Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos (Republican) decided to let the bill be considered.

Prior to the vote, the New York capitol was filled with protesters for both sides. One side singing hymns and spirituals chanting “God says no.” The other side included a smaller group of Jewish and Christian leaders calling out “God is love.”

Opponents of same-sex marriage delivered 63,000 petitions and held a press conference outside of the Republican conference room. In addition to featuring leaders like National Organization for Marriage President Brian Brown, the press conference included New York Giants receiver David Tyree.

Tyree was the hero of the Giants Super Bowl win in 2007. Tyree told the New York Daily News he “probably would” give up the Super Bowl to stop same-sex marriage.

Nothing means more to me than that my God would be honored,” Tyree said. “Being the fact that I firmly believe that God created and ordained marriage between a man and a woman, I believe that that's something that should be fought for at all costs.”


* * * * * * * * * *


The Futility of the Theological Argument over Gays and Lesbians
An Interview with Theologian Walter Brueggemann
by Nancy Rosenbaum, producer

July 3, 2011


Listen to the Interview here -


Protestant theologian Walter Brueggemann once compared LGBTQ people to canaries in a coal mine, likening these proverbial birds to society’s most vulnerable members. Determining how the canaries are treated, says Brueggemann in an interview with The Witness, “is always the test case about whether we are following Jesus.”

Earlier this spring, Krista sat down with Brueggemann in our studios. In the audio clip excerpted here, he explains why he thinks gay and lesbian sexuality “has such adrenaline” in and beyond church communities. For Brueggemann, there’s no point in having a theological discussion about homosexuality. He thinks homophobia is a proxy for people’s ill-defined fears about an old world order that’s rapidly disappearing:
“It is an amorphous anxiety that we’re in a free fall as a society. And I think we kind of are in free fall as a society, but I don’t think it has anything to do with gays and lesbians particularly.”
Last week in New York, that collective “amorphous anxiety” got trumped by Governor Andrew Cuomo’s dogged push for social change with the passage of the Marriage Equality Act by the state legislature.

According to The New York Times, Governor Cuomo gathered all of the state’s Republican senators at his home to plead his case for the bill’s passage. “Their love is worth the same as your love,” he reportedly told the senators. “Their partnership is worth the same as your partnership. And they are equal in your eyes to you. That is the driving issue.”