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
The Unity in whose loving presence the universe unfolds is inside each person as a call to welcome the stranger, protect animals
and the earth, respect the dignity of each person, think new thoughts, and help bring about ecological civilizations. - John Cobb & Farhan A. Shah
If you board the wrong train it is of no use running along the corridors of the train in the other direction. - Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Wendell Berry's Stunning Words on Condemnation and Hatred

Wendell Berry expounds on gay marriage
 
Monday, January 14, 2013Social Issues
by Bob Allen
 
Writing for Associated Baptist Press was founded in 1990 as the first and only independent news service created by and for Baptists. ABP is an autonomous, nonprofit news organization that offers news, features and opinion articles every business day for a global audience of Baptists and other Christians at ABPnews.com and its companion site, the ABPnews Blog.
 
 
A Kentucky farmer, essayist, writer and activist, sometimes described as a
modern-day Thoreau, criticizes theological strategies used to marginalize gays.

 
Wendell Berry
(Photo by David Marshall, Wikipedia Commons)


Christian opponents to same-sex marriage want the government to treat homosexuals as a special category of persons subject to discrimination, similar to the way that African-Americans and women were categorized in the past, cultural and economic critic Wendell Berry told Baptist ministers in Kentucky Jan. 11.
 
Berry, a prolific author of books, poems and essays who won the National Humanities Medal in 2010 and was 2012 Jefferson lecturer for the National Endowment for the Humanities, offered “a sort of general declaration” on the subject of gay marriage at a “Following the Call of the Church in Times Like These” conference at Georgetown College. Berry said he chose to comment publicly to elaborate on what little he has said about the topic in the past.
 
“I must say that it’s a little wonderful to me that in 40-odd years of taking stands on controversial issues, and at great length sometimes, the two times that I think I’ve stirred up the most passionate opposition has been with a tiny little essay on computers (his 1987 essay “Why I Am Not Going to Buy a Computer” published in Harper’s led some to accuse him of being anti-technology) and half a dozen or a dozen sentences on gay marriage,” Berry said.
 
Berry said he could recall only twice before when he commented publicly on the issue, in a single paragraph in a collection of essays published in 2005 and in an interview with the National Review in 2012.
 
“My argument, much abbreviated both times, was the sexual practices of consenting adults ought not to be subjected to the government’s approval or disapproval, and that domestic partnerships in which people who live together and devote their lives to one another ought to receive the spousal rights, protections and privileges the government allows to heterosexual couples,” Berry said.
 
Berry said liberals and conservatives have invented “a politics of sexuality” that establishes marriage as a “right” to be granted or withheld by whichever side prevails. He said both viewpoints contravene principles of democracy that rights are self-evident and inalienable and not determined and granted or withheld by the government.
 
“Christians of a certain disposition have found several ways to categorize homosexuals as different as themselves, who are in the category of heterosexual and therefore normal and therefore good,” Berry said. What is unclear, he said, is why they single out homosexuality as a perversion.
 
“The Bible, as I pointed out to the writers of National Review, has a lot more to say against fornication and adultery than against homosexuality,” he said. [And] “If one accepts the 24th and 104th Psalms as scriptural norms, then surface mining and other forms of earth destruction are perversions. If we take the Gospels seriously, how can we not see industrial warfare -- with its inevitable massacre of innocents -- as a most shocking perversion? By the standard of all scriptures, neglect of the poor, of widows and orphans, of the sick, the homeless, the insane, is an abominable perversion.”
 
“Jesus talked of hating your neighbor as tantamount to hating God, and yet some Christians hate their neighbors by policy and are busy hunting biblical justifications for doing so,” he said. “Are they not perverts in the fullest and fairest sense of that term? And yet none of these offenses -- not all of them together -- has made as much political/religious noise as homosexual marriage.”
 
Another argument used, Berry said, is that homosexuality is “unnatural.”
 
“If it can be argued that homosexual marriage is not reproductive and is therefore unnatural and should be forbidden on that account, must we not argue that childless marriages are unnatural and should be annulled?” he asked.
 
“One may find the sexual practices of homosexuals to be unattractive or displeasing and therefore unnatural, but anything that can be done in that line by homosexuals can be done and is done by heterosexuals,” Berry continued. “Do we need a legal remedy for this? Would conservative Christians like a small government bureau to inspect, approve and certify their sexual behavior? Would they like a colorful tattoo verifying government approval on the rumps of lawfully copulating parties? We have the technology, after all, to monitor everybody’s sexual behavior, but so far as I can see so eager an interest in other people’s private intimacy is either prurient or totalitarian or both.”
 
“The oddest of the strategies to condemn and isolate homosexuals is to propose that homosexual marriage is opposed to and a threat to heterosexual marriage, as if the marriage market is about to be cornered and monopolized by homosexuals,” Berry said. “If this is not industrial capitalist paranoia, it at least follows the pattern of industrial capitalist competitiveness. We must destroy the competition. If somebody else wants what you’ve got, from money to marriage, you must not hesitate to use the government – small of course – to keep them from getting it.”
 
Berry said “so-called traditional marriage” is “for sure suffering a statistical failure, but this is not the result of a homosexual plot.”
 
“Heterosexual marriage does not need defending,” Berry said. “It only needs to be practiced, which is pretty hard to do just now.”
 
“But the difficulty is not assigned to any group of scapegoats,” he said. “It is rooted mainly in the values and priorities of our industrial capitalist system in which every one of us is complicit.”
 
“If I were one of a homosexual couple -- the same as I am one of a heterosexual couple -- I would place my faith and hope in the mercy of Christ, not in the judgment of Christians,” Berry said. “When I consider the hostility of political churches to homosexuality and homosexual marriage, I do so remembering the history of Christian war, torture, terror, slavery and annihilation against Jews, Muslims, black Africans, American Indians and others. And more of the same by Catholics against Protestants, Protestants against Catholics, Catholics against Catholics, Protestants against Protestants, as if by law requiring the love of God to be balanced by hatred of some neighbor for the sin of being unlike some divinely preferred us. If we are a Christian nation -- as some say we are, using the adjective with conventional looseness -- then this Christian blood thirst continues wherever we find an officially identifiable evil, and to the immense enrichment of our Christian industries of war.”
 
“Condemnation by category is the lowest form of hatred, for it is cold-hearted and abstract, lacking even the courage of a personal hatred,” Berry said. “Categorical condemnation is the hatred of the mob. It makes cowards brave. And there is nothing more fearful than a religious mob, a mob overflowing with righteousness – as at the crucifixion and before and since. This can happen only after we have made a categorical refusal to kindness: to heretics, foreigners, enemies or any other group different from ourselves.”
 
“Perhaps the most dangerous temptation to Christianity is to get itself officialized in some version by a government, following pretty exactly the pattern the chief priest and his crowd at the trial of Jesus,” Berry said. “For want of a Pilate of their own, some Christians would accept a Constantine or whomever might be the current incarnation of Caesar.”
 
 
 

Why is God Angry in the OT and Forgiving in the NT?

What’s God So Mad About, Anyway? (or, why is God so mad at an evolving creation?)
http://www.patheos.com/blogs/peterenns/2013/01/whats-god-so-mad-about-anyway-or-why-is-god-so-mad-at-an-evolving-creation/
 
by Pete Enns
January 21, 2013
Comments
 
Here’s something I’ve been thinking about for a while.
 
How often do we read about God’s anger, wrath, etc. in the Old Testament?
 
What are the kinds of things–specifically–that make God angry?
 
What does God do to the offenders because of his anger?
 
I’ve been wondering about this since I started thinking more seriously about evolution a few years ago. Why? Because according the Genesis 3 and Romans 5, death is a result of God being angry about something.
 
According to an evolutionary model, death (and the violence that goes with it) is part of the natural way of things. In fact, death is evolution’s friend. Without it to weed out the weaklings, you wouldn’t have the survival of the fittest.
 
On the other hand, the wrath of God that leads to death means death is unnatural, imposed onto the world. I think this is one of the biggest conflict areas between Christianity and evolution. Why is God so mad with an evolving creation?
 
So, that got me thinking more specifically about God’s anger in the Old Testament (that and reading through the prophetic literature last summer).
 
Take the Adam and Eve story. Death was God’s punishment for Adam and Eve disobeying God in the garden by eating the forbidden fruit. Of course, this raises the follow-up question: why was death the proper punishment?
 
Same for the flood. People become sinful, and it gets so bad that God regrets he ever populated the earth. Drowning everyone seems to be the only solution.
 
If you skim through the Old Testament page-by-page you see that God is quite often angry and imposing physical discomfort or death seems to be his preferred method of resolving the matter. Here, too, the question is why? You may answer, “because of sin.” OK, but what exactly did the people do to warrant death, etc.? ”Sin” is the easy answer. But what were they doing that was sinful and why was death so often the best solution?
 
I’ve never done it before, but it would be an interesting project to catalogue every instance of divine wrath/anger, etc. in the Old Testament and give (1) the passage, (2) the offending party, (3) the precise offense, and (4) the divine reaction (either threatened or carried out).
 
I would be very happy to welcome serious comments engaging this issue.
 
And here’s the flip side of that issue. In the New Testament, God seems different. Some of the things that God commanded the Old Testament, where disobedience resulted in some form of punishment or death, seem to have gone by the wayside in the New Testament.
 
I know God is not a senile old uncle in the New Testament, but he is less–well, reactionary about certain things. Comedian Lewis Black wonders if having a son mellowed God out a bit. You might not like the joke but you can get the point.
 
I would welcome thoughtful comments on this idea, too: how does the wrath of God in the Old Testament compare to the New?
 
These aren’t new questions, of course, but I do sometimes wonder if we are too casual about all this.
 

 
~  Please refer to comments section above for more discussion ~
 
 
 
 

Cornel West Speaks Out re Martin Luther King's Meaning of "I Have a Dream" for America



Cornel West Explains Why It Bothers Him
That Obama Will Be Taking The Oath


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=96d_CzrfxsM&feature=player_embedded

Published on Jan 20, 2013
January 19, 2013 C-SPAN

Dr. Cornel West - Government can be Oppressive

Dr. West gives a passionate speech about governments' love for power, and the fact of government oppression. MLK could have been jailed without due process under the NDAA or killed without due process under the present administration

Wikipedia BiographyCornel West

Cornel Ronald West (born June 2, 1953) is an American philosopher, academic, activist, author and prominent member of the Democratic Socialists of America. West is a 1973 graduate of Harvard University and received his Ph.D. at Princeton University. He is currently a professor of African American Studies at Princeton and of Religious Philosophy and Christian Studies at the Union Theological Seminary in New York.

The bulk of his work focuses on the role of race, gender, and class in American society and the means by which people act and react to their "radical conditionedness." West draws intellectual contributions from multiple traditions, including: the black church, Marxism, pragmatism, and transcendentalism.[1][2][3][4]


Historical Background: Wikipedia - I Have A Dream


MLK's Address in Washington, D.C.
August 28, 1963
17 minutes


http://www.americanrhetoric.com/speeches/mlkihaveadream.htm

Audio mp3 of Address
http://ia700402.us.archive.org/29/items/MLKDream/MLKDream_64kb.mp3

[AUTHENTICITY CERTIFIED: Text version below transcribed directly from audio. (2)]

I am happy to join with you today in what will go down in history as the greatest demonstration for freedom in the history of our nation.

Five score years ago, a great American, in whose symbolic shadow we stand today, signed the Emancipation Proclamation. This momentous decree came as a great beacon light of hope to millions of Negro slaves who had been seared in the flames of withering injustice. It came as a joyous daybreak to end the long night of their captivity.

But one hundred years later, the Negro still is not free. One hundred years later, the life of the Negro is still sadly crippled by the manacles of segregation and the chains of discrimination. One hundred years later, the Negro lives on a lonely island of poverty in the midst of a vast ocean of material prosperity. One hundred years later, the Negro is still languished in the corners of American society and finds himself an exile in his own land. And so we've come here today to dramatize a shameful condition.

In a sense we've come to our nation's capital to cash a check. When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir. This note was a promise that all men, yes, black men as well as white men, would be guaranteed the "unalienable Rights" of "Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness." It is obvious today that America has defaulted on this promissory note, insofar as her citizens of color are concerned. Instead of honoring this sacred obligation, America has given the Negro people a bad check, a check which has come back marked "insufficient funds."

But we refuse to believe that the bank of justice is bankrupt. We refuse to believe that there are insufficient funds in the great vaults of opportunity of this nation. And so, we've come to cash this check, a check that will give us upon demand the riches of freedom and the security of justice.

We have also come to this hallowed spot to remind America of the fierce urgency of Now. This is no time to engage in the luxury of cooling off or to take the tranquilizing drug of gradualism. Now is the time to make real the promises of democracy. Now is the time to rise from the dark and desolate valley of segregation to the sunlit path of racial justice. Now is the time to lift our nation from the quicksands of racial injustice to the solid rock of brotherhood. Now is the time to make justice a reality for all of God's children.

It would be fatal for the nation to overlook the urgency of the moment. This sweltering summer of the Negro's legitimate discontent will not pass until there is an invigorating autumn of freedom and equality. Nineteen sixty-three is not an end, but a beginning. And those who hope that the Negro needed to blow off steam and will now be content will have a rude awakening if the nation returns to business as usual. And there will be neither rest nor tranquility in America until the Negro is granted his citizenship rights. The whirlwinds of revolt will continue to shake the foundations of our nation until the bright day of justice emerges.

But there is something that I must say to my people, who stand on the warm threshold which leads into the palace of justice: In the process of gaining our rightful place, we must not be guilty of wrongful deeds. Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred. We must forever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline. We must not allow our creative protest to degenerate into physical violence. Again and again, we must rise to the majestic heights of meeting physical force with soul force.

The marvelous new militancy which has engulfed the Negro community must not lead us to a distrust of all white people, for many of our white brothers, as evidenced by their presence here today, have come to realize that their destiny is tied up with our destiny. And they have come to realize that their freedom is inextricably bound to our freedom.

We cannot walk alone.

And as we walk, we must make the pledge that we shall always march ahead.

We cannot turn back.

There are those who are asking the devotees of civil rights, "When will you be satisfied?" We can never be satisfied as long as the Negro is the victim of the unspeakable horrors of police brutality. We can never be satisfied as long as our bodies, heavy with the fatigue of travel, cannot gain lodging in the motels of the highways and the hotels of the cities. We cannot be satisfied as long as the negro's basic mobility is from a smaller ghetto to a larger one. We can never be satisfied as long as our children are stripped of their self-hood and robbed of their dignity by signs stating: "For Whites Only." We cannot be satisfied as long as a Negro in Mississippi cannot vote and a Negro in New York believes he has nothing for which to vote. No, no, we are not satisfied, and we will not be satisfied until "justice rolls down like waters, and righteousness like a mighty stream."¹

I am not unmindful that some of you have come here out of great trials and tribulations. Some of you have come fresh from narrow jail cells. And some of you have come from areas where your quest -- quest for freedom left you battered by the storms of persecution and staggered by the winds of police brutality. You have been the veterans of creative suffering. Continue to work with the faith that unearned suffering is redemptive. Go back to Mississippi, go back to Alabama, go back to South Carolina, go back to Georgia, go back to Louisiana, go back to the slums and ghettos of our northern cities, knowing that somehow this situation can and will be changed.

Let us not wallow in the valley of despair, I say to you today, my friends.

And so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream.

I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal."

I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia, the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.

I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a state sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.

I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.

I have a dream today!

I have a dream that one day, down in Alabama, with its vicious racists, with its governor having his lips dripping with the words of "interposition" and "nullification" -- one day right there in Alabama little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers.

I have a dream today!

I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, and every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight; "and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed and all flesh shall see it together."2

This is our hope, and this is the faith that I go back to the South with.

With this faith, we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope. With this faith, we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. With this faith, we will be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to go to jail together, to stand up for freedom together, knowing that we will be free one day.

And this will be the day -- this will be the day when all of God's children will be able to sing with new meaning:
My country 'tis of thee, sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing.
Land where my fathers died, land of the Pilgrim's pride,
From every mountainside, let freedom ring!
And if America is to be a great nation, this must become true.

And so let freedom ring from the prodigious hilltops of New Hampshire.
Let freedom ring from the mighty mountains of New York.
Let freedom ring from the heightening Alleghenies of Pennsylvania.
Let freedom ring from the snow-capped Rockies of Colorado.
Let freedom ring from the curvaceous slopes of California.
But not only that:
Let freedom ring from Stone Mountain of Georgia.
Let freedom ring from Lookout Mountain of Tennessee.
Let freedom ring from every hill and molehill of Mississippi.
From every mountainside, let freedom ring.
And when this happens, when we allow freedom ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God's children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual:

Free at last! Free at last!


Thank God Almighty, we are free at last!3



- Martin Luther King, Washington D.C., August 28, 1963

http://www.americanrhetoric.com/speeches/mlkihaveadream.htm