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

Monday, March 31, 2014

Gay Rights, World Vision, and the Evangelical Pushback to Both



The Christian agency World Vision ran into the acerbic buzz saw of the evangelical machine last week and lost big time. Singularly proving yet again evangelicalism's adamant refusal to lawfully admit gay civil rights into the evangelical workplace by utilizing popular media outlets such as Christianity Today to acerbate public discord in an ungracious temper. It also betrayed its own disturbing religious judgment by deftly refusing to extend God's divine love towards all men and women, specifically the LGBT community. As well as by upholding its own discriminatory views towards any church, or church-related organization, that wishes to stand in solidarity with the gay community pertaining to individual civil rights in the workplace. Clearly this is wrong and has done very harmful things to intelligent, sensitive Christian organizations wishing to protect gay rights without projecting discrimination, bigotry, or bias.

It is an issue that is heart-felt by many and as plainly conflicted as it is maligned in the public conservative Christian press. And yet, we are talking of individual civil rights and freedoms that must have as much legal standing before a civil court of law as would any straight, non-gay, married, or divorce couple. Legally, this is not a sin issue. It is a civil rights issue. And it was this latter intent that World Vision had wished to rectify with disastrous results at the behest of its primary supportive constituents in the conservative world of evangelicalism. It is a disgrace which has been met with disgraceful behavior and intemperate words (see Huffpost's quotes below) not beholding to any proper church dogma or doctrine except those built upon social exclusion and religious intolerance.

The Lord of the Harvest, the I Am who I Am, the Holy One of Israel, Immanuel, the Son of God and Son of Man, Jesus, spoke to the religious bigots of His day and found them distasteful to his tongue and speech. Jesus had far more gracious words to say to the harlot and tax collector than He did to the Jewish priest and scribe of His day. And it is as true now in today's amalgamation of church polities and ethics as it was then in Jewish society's politics and religious culture. It would be foolish to pretend to those religious zealots speaking hate with hateful actions that they are not fearfully heard and seen by the Judge of this good earth. That this God of grace and wrath does not listen to the plea of the sinner nor see the intemperate wrath of the unrighteous. Who Himself is that same divine Good Samaritan who hears the cry of the robbed and beaten. Who stops to kneel, bless, and assist, those lost souls of this land of ours in deference to the religious bigots that walked by with nary a concern or care to help or attend the harmed and despised. Nay, as a zealous evangelic pinned upon the pride of his or her religion, it would be a fearful thing to fall into the hands of God's holy judgment without seeking repentance from deed and work. Of doctrine and dogma. Of religion and faith until met with favor by the God of all grace who listens to the cries of all His children. And not just to those whom the religious church deems are favored by God and man, institute and press, organization and feckless law.

The Parable of the Two Sons

Matthew 21.28 “What do you think? A man had two sons. And he went to the first and said, ‘Son, go and work in the vineyard today.’ 29 And he answered, ‘I will not,’ but afterward he changed his mind and went. 30 And he went to the other son and said the same. And he answered, ‘I go, sir,’ but did not go. 31 Which of the two did the will of his father?” They said, “The first.” Jesus said to them, Truly, I say to you, the tax collectors and the prostitutes go into the kingdom of God before you. 32 For John came to you in the way of righteousness, and you did not believe him, but the tax collectors and the prostitutes believed him. And even when you saw it, you did not afterward change your minds and believe him.

Thus and thus is God the God of all grace, and not just some grace. Nor is He a God of a conditional grace. Or a bullying grace that is discriminatory and bigoted. He is a God who is present in His people as much to bless as He is to discipline and correct. And it should be a prayer amongst all His children that the winnowing fork held within God's holy hands not fall upon His redeemed people at the behest of this disgraceful thing that was done this past week towards an outstanding Christian organization wishing only to serve the impoverished family and orphaned child while conscientiously recognizing the civil rights of its serving employees, whether gay or not. Even so, it would be a hearty recommendation here that both board and staff let all go and proceed forthwith as a newly reorganized post-evangelic corporation re-committed to the rights and protections of all men and women everywhere. And not to those few whom it elects are religiously unworthy for corporate protection. To proceed forthwith and not look back to the unjust institutions of a discriminating church gone amiss in doctrine, speech, and deed.

Ironically, even so did Lot proceed from his own Sodom and Gomorrah as his dithering wife reconsidered God's very words and looked back upon its destruction to never again look forward to God's blessings so overcome with the salt of the gospel spilling out from her pores. A gospel that can leaven as much as it can kill if unwisely applied by only a secular wisdom. Was this backward look a longing for an old familiarity? Perhaps a fear of moving forward into an unknown wilderness at the hand of God? Or was it perhaps a more selfish wish to see God's vengeance fall upon a land hardened to His grace and mercy? Even so, it is a fearful thing to pretentiously be judge-and-jury upon God's holy creation if the Lord of Creation has said otherwise. Did not even Jonah condemn the Lord's mercy and seek his own death rather than preach the saving grace of God? Or the prodigal son flee his own Father than to serve at his right hand? The church need not give this lost world any more reason to hate the gospel. Its greatest enemy can be its very self. A thing which we wish to undo and not present should Christ be preached, lived, and exampled to all the nations, fiefdoms, gangs, and despots of this world. The church must not become that very thing it would preach against. It is made of a finer cloth, truer intent, and purer soul. Yea Lord, let it be so.

So then, let us do what is right in the sight of the Lord and not what is evil. It is right to proceed forward in recognizing the civil rights of all men. Even that of the gay community. And to share the grace of God to all men. Even to those whom we would judge and condemn. Part of that sharing is by altering both social conscience and legal constitution even as slavery was disallowed within the union to the great distaste and unholy judgments of its Christian churches and religious communions at the time. Henceforth did wickedness quickly arise to divide an already turbulent civil union of states bent upon unholy greed and illicit welfare when these godless acts did thus proceed and were not stopped, apprehended, or reconstituted, as a right of equality to all who lived within the American union. Whose discriminating laws protected only some of its population that were of the right colour, class, race, or gender, as deemed right-and-proper by its blinded slave masters to mammon and sin.

Even so dear Lord, have mercy upon your church and give to it your holy wisdom. Even now come into our midst to judge the work of our hands, the thoughts upon our overzealous hearts, wishing only to honor you but knowing not how aside from a contemptible legalism that is graceless and unwise. Give to us this day of Thy great grace and compassionate mercy in a time of much suffering, strife, and confusion, within the midst of Thy people seeking only to obey you but so easily led astray by the fears of our hearts. The spurious words of religious men and institutions. And the sin of our condemning hearts. Give to us your holy Spirit to guide and direct into your ways of grace that would impart a peace and goodwill to all - even to those unlike ourselves. Amen.

R.E. Slater
March 31, 2014


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World Vision


World Vision, Gay Marriage and Taking a Stand on the Backs of Starving Children
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/kristen-howerton/world-vision-gay-marriage_b_5025749.html

Kristen Howerton Headshot
Disgusted by your cowardice. How can you recognize a "marriage" that is not even recognized by God? This is disgraceful, and I am deeply saddened that I will no longer be able to support my child of 8 years because of your misguidance. You lost way more Christians today than you will gain in homosexuals. So so sad.
Tragic and unwise decision today. I hate that I have to pull my sponsorship but I will as soon as your phones open tomorrow since I can't do it online. The loss of support for kids and people around the world is the responsibility of those who made this tragic decision, not those who were given no choice but to pull their support.
WV, my wife and I will be pulling our contributions because of your stance in homosexuality. I am very saddened for the poor people you have compromised. The gospel cannot be taught by an organization who contradicts such a clear position in the bible.
These responses are so sad to me. We've sponsored children through World Vision for over 10 years, and anyone who sponsors a child knows that World Vision creates a very personable relationship between the sponsor and the child.


We currently sponsor Santiague, who is 15 and lives in Haiti, and Dalvin, who is 7 and lives in Uganda. Santiague lives with his parents, three brothers, and two sisters. His parents struggle to provide for the family. His mother and father are farm laborers, but they aren't able to meet their family's needs. With our help, Santiague is in school, and his community is provided with seeds and training on new farming methods. Dalvin lives in a community gravely affected by the HIV/AIDS epidemic and has lost his parents. He lives with his sister and grandmother. Our sponsorship helps meet his basic needs and also provides health-care improvement for the entire community. It has been a blessing to get updates over the years and watch them thrive.

It is unfathomable to me that people would choose to punish and drop the child they sponsor over a difference in doctrine -- or, in this case, an organization's decision to allow for differences. I visited the World Vision Facebook page and was so incensed by the number of people announcing their dropped support of sponsored kids. As my friend Nish said on Twitter, "Wanna piss me off? Pick debatable doctrine over giving a child food, water, healthcare, safety and education."

Is children's access to food, water, and education trumped by keeping gay people out of a job at a nonprofit? If we want to serve people, we should not make distinctions about whom we serve, and we should not deny those we serve out of disunity or division. It's astounding to me that Christians would take food from starving children because a gay person might have helped in getting it there.

I'm concerned that children who are served by World Vision will suffer, and I'd hate to see that happen. I'm also concerned that the exiling of Word Vision from certain Christian circles will further erode the divide between believers who are at odds over the issue of same-sex marriage, when their entire purpose was to avoid the division inherent in this issue. Are we really ready to excommunicate one another over this issue? I'm so tired of Christians trying to remove a seat from the table to keep away people who have different views on this.

I'm also just so, so dismayed that this is yet another instance in which Christians are telling the world that their feelings about gay people are stronger than their compassion, that their anger over gay employees is greater than their anger over starving children.

I am thankful that this does not represent all of us. I would love to see people who are concerned about this pick up the slack from the Christians who are dropping their children over this. I've decided today to sponsor another child. Will you consider it?




Sponsor a Child through World Vision



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Jacquelline Fuller, Google Executive Resigns
From World Vision Board Over Gay Marriage Decision
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/04/03/world-vision-google-board-member-resigns-gay-marriage_n_5085554.html?ncid=fcbklnkushpmg00000051

AP
Posted: Updated:

SEATTLE (AP) — A World Vision board member has resigned in protest after the Christian aid group quickly reversed its decision to hire employees in same-sex marriages.

Jacquelline Fuller, director of corporate giving for Google Inc., said in an email Wednesday to The Associated Press that she remains a "huge fan" of the group's work on behalf of the poor, but she resigned Friday "as I disagreed with the decision to exclude gay employees who marry."

She declined to comment further.

Last week, World Vision U.S. was at the center of an uproar after confirming it would hire employees in gay marriages. The charity, based in Federal Way, was started by evangelicals and grew to become a nearly $1 billion international relief agency.

Some prominent evangelical leaders condemned the decision, and several thousand donors canceled their child sponsorships over the new policy. Within two days, the charity backtracked, causing a separate backlash, this time from evangelicals and others who supported recognition for married gay employees. Washington is among the states that recognize same-sex marriage.

Fuller had served on the board for just over two years. World Vision President Richard Stearns released a statement thanking Fuller for her service.

A World Vision spokesman, Steve Panton, said no other board members have resigned. Panton said the board of directors met Wednesday and will meet again within the next few days "to assess our past and future actions."


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Follow up articles to read

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How Christian Orthodoxy must separate itself from
the Evangelical culture of conservative politics


April 5, 2014

"What millennials are calling for is for the old guard of Evangelicalism to return to orthodoxy and to stop putting their political and social positions on top of their definition orthodoxy and then using them as a measuring rod to determine who is in and who is out. We are calling leaders of Evangelicalism to repent of making Jesus in their own image by imposing on the Christ of the Scriptures social and political ideas that were completely foreign to him. And most of all, we’re calling the leaders of Evangelicalism to stop demonizing the next generation who is doing our best to worship, obey, and follow Jesus Christ in a cultural context that they know little about.

There are unique challenges that face the way millennials live out our faith in this ever-expanding new world that require us to rethink and reform what it looks like to be Christian. All of us truly desire to see our world transformed by the Gospel of Jesus and the way that is going to look for us will be radically different then the way it looked for them.

"At the end of the day, I think the unfortunate reality is that many in the old-guard of Evangelicalism are going to continue to refuse to hear out the millennial Evangelicals and continue to perpetuate the myth that we’re just trying to rid ourselves of orthodox theology and embrace hipster, social justicey, teddy bear forms of Jesus.

But this opposition should not stop us from pursuing Jesus with our whole lives. I no longer fear being called a “heretic” by more conservative Evangelicals, because I am confident that as long as I am pursuing Jesus as he has been revealed in the Gospels, then I am going to be okay. And it is precisely my love and desire to follow Jesus that is fueling my passion to do justice in the world. To work to un-politicize the Gospel. To work for a better world for all people. Jesus is my motivation. He’s my goal. And I firmly believe that for most millennial Evangelicals, this passion for Jesus will continue to empower and spur us on to a much more robust faith, hope, and love."

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