Archive | November, 2012

A true tale of power gone bad and the need for a real Advent

November 30, 2012

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Want reasons for the restoration of the penitential Advent? Surf to the PBS News Hour website and click on its November 23rd broadcast. Watch the segment entitled, “Iran Cracks Down on Dissidents, Human Rights Attorneys, and Journalists.” Behold the microcosm of twisted humanity – complete with perverted, wrong-is-right ethics, evil rulers who think they’re good, and imprisoned innocent mothers. Stop this world. I want to leap off and land in a universe where love is not just a word in a bar-room pick-up line.

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De-mangling political religion, Part One

November 25, 2012

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We’re beyond the mere need for civil discourse. Our minds are askew. We actually believe our own rhetoric as an article of faith. We no longer know how to talk because we no longer know how to think. We’re thrusting religious categories onto politics, and that’s true of both pious and secular fundamentalists. Classical politicians are pragmatists in their heart of hearts. They’ve wended their way through local and state governments, where the grand debates center around zoning regulations, potholes, sewer lines, schools and budgets. Old school city pols made sure Mrs. O’Leary got her groceries and medicine. It was practical vs. impractical and useful vs. unworkable, all under the umbrella of the law and agreed-upon values. We’ll compromise with our opposing “friends” because the people elected them as well. Sure we have ideals, and we’ll salute Old Glory with relish, but that’s because Old Glory symbolizes our practical approach. Political ideals serve people, not vice versa.

No longer. We’ve forgotten something subtle and yet crucial, articulated well by Dutch theologian/statesman Abraham Kuyper: Politics and religion occupy two distinct, although sometimes overlapping, spheres. Our religion can and should inform our political beliefs (remember Gandhi, Aung San Suu Kyi and Martin Luther King: “The church must be reminded that it is not the master or the servant of the state, but rather the conscience of the state.”), but the two categories cannot be confused. They’re linked but not enmeshed. Otherwise, we view fundamentally practical questions (should we repair that bridge?) through a spiritual grid. Everything is moral vs. immoral and evil vs. good. We demand Messiahs, not effective representatives and administrators. We insist our presidents become pastors.

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A pastor implores his colleagues: No more blindness on climate change

November 8, 2012

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My colleague, Tom Carr, has been involved in environmental issues for over twenty years.  He’s been fighting the good fight on climate change, and he e-mailed the following to 130 of his fellow clerics.  With his permission, I indulged my fetish for editing (just a little bit), and I’ve posted it here, hoping it will […]

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After filling in the ovals …

November 6, 2012

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Knowing that the world faces issues far deeper than any one election can address — and knowing that most of the choices before me presented capable people who, nevertheless, make lousy Messiahs, and knowing that some of these capable people portrayed themselves as near-Messiahs while hinting that their opponents were the devil incarnate, and knowing […]

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An election-day prayer

November 6, 2012

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My friend Alexei Laushkin published the following prayer on his site, FOOLISHCONFIDENCE (find it here).  I can’t really improve on it:  Lord we acknowledge you as Lord over this land. We pray for wisdom as we set out to vote today. Help us see your heart for the unborn, the marginalized, the poor. Your heart […]

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