Tag Archives: Chuck Redfern

Viewing Good Friday Through Luther, Augustine, and Barth

April 19, 2014

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Perhaps not surprisingly, I find thinkers from previous ages more gripping than the moderns. Three especially shine: Augustine, Martin Luther, and Karl Barth. Each made colossal mistakes – with Luther’s chilling essay against the Jews the most inexcusable – but each understood that theology was a discipline offered to the Church at large, not merely to academia. What’s more, each wrestles with God. They’ve glimpsed transcendence. They’re doing theology on their knees. They’re imperfect because they see things through a glass dimly, but at least they’ve tried. I tried finding what each said about Good Friday. It’s allowed me to gaze at the day through their insights.

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Liberating Advent and escaping the mire

December 10, 2011

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I feel the ground rumble as the panic-stricken advertisers stampede. Someone just told them we should rescue Advent from its kidnappers and let it roam all year. Advent was meant to be a season of prayer and fasting, with the look and feel of Lent. The shopping malls would open late and close early. We would slow down and dwell in Christ. Activists would join contemplatives in the ancient disciplines of stillness, meditation and contemplation — all of which would kindle a cool fire enflamed with resolve, conviction, compassion, and contentment. We’d be peaceful enthusiasts, free from the allure of gaudy knick-knacks forged from the fossils’ ooze.

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A well-motivated bad idea

August 23, 2011

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So impassioned, so compelling, and so misguided: Starbucks Chairman and CEO Howard Schultz has called for a nation-wide strike against politicians. He’d have us speak the only language they know, money. We would withhold all donations from each and every one until they honestly negotiated, compromised, and resolved their conflicts. Our country will work once more.

How enthralling. I’m almost ready to fold my checkbook – but then I remember the call’s three fatal assumptions: First, believe it or not, not all politicians are equally culpable for the gridlock. Remember the “gang of six” and their noble compromise attempt as the debt ceiling approached? What about those yielding their (reasonable) positions on moderate tax hikes for the rich? And think of Olympia Snow and Susan Collins, the last remaining Republican moderates. Do we abandon them as they guard their party’s historic turf? Even Independents and Democrats can wish them well.

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Surprise-surprise: Fox was very bad

August 8, 2011

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So our president funds his own 50th birthday bash, invites a slew of guests from all races and ethnicities, and has everything but hip-hop music played. How does the blog owned by Fox News cover it? Look at the picture below. Look at it again. Feast your eyes on the cheap shot par excellence. Fox Nation finds scandal where there is no scandal and litters it with racist hints as subtle as earthquakes. No doubt they’ll respond to objections with that we’re-just-kidding look.

The real scandal, of course, lies in an alleged “news organization” that fronts for a propaganda machine. I wonder if the Fox owner Rupert Murdoch is finished answering questions on that phone hacking scandal in Britain …

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A shocking, real-life drama: calmness and tranquility may be round the next bend

July 18, 2011

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Run – do not walk, but run with blistering, heart-attack speed – to the mall’s Rock-em Sock-’em Religious Magazine Store and pick up the latest copy of Christianity Today. There’s hope. Gobs of it. Sanity is making a come-back even amid the shrill cry of the shrinking religious right (“I’m melting!”).

First is the cover story profiling the new Focus on the Family boss. Read the tag line: “Why Jim Daly doesn’t care whether you know who he is or whom he supports for president.” Say whuh? The organization is returning to its original purpose and calling: Nurturing godly families and helping children. No one says Focus employees will be wearing Che Guevara T-shirts (although the old formal dress code has dropped to “business casual”), but at least they won’t implicitly christen the GOP as “God’s Own Party.” Daly’s own compelling personal saga of alcoholic parents and foster-care abuse gives him empathy for the downtrodden.

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Life Would Be More Simple If Our Dead Ancestors Followed The Script …

June 6, 2011

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Let’s say hundreds surround you while cameras snap and fans grovel and journalists bark. You might commit a gaffe. You might say “British” when you meant “American.” We’d all understand. Joe Biden put televisions in our Roosevelt-era homes and Jimmy Carter said “Huber Horatio Hornblower” and President Obama called a senator a “jackass.” It was an “oops” moment. Shrewd leaders immediately correct themselves and throw in self-deprecating humor: “I meant to say ‘American,’ but I was distracted because I can see Russia from my house.”

Take that, Tina Fey!

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Saintly heights and wretched depths: Catholicism’s triumph and despair

May 20, 2011

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Don’t stop me. I’m doing it. I’m throwing every stitch of clothing into a pack, including those wool socks for polar weather and the straw hat to fend off Amazon bugs. I’m on a world-wide quest, an expedition, a voyage, a mission. I will find the great reset button in the sky and I will press it. Brace yourself for a sudden jolt and then bathe in Wonderland’s warmth: Closeted skeletons will vanish and doors will creak open and formerly crazy aunts will roam free. Best of all, cardinals and bishops won’t listen to attorneys any more. They’ll remember the Church is strongest when it embraces weakness and they’ll follow their Lord to the cross, not their lawyers to the negotiating table.

I must find the button because things are now askew. On the one hand, the US Conference of Catholic Bishops rang eloquent in a May 5th letter in which they called budget-debating senators to remember the poor; on the other, fallout in the wake of recent indictments involving the Philadelphia archdiocese suggest magisterium still doesn’t get it. They’ve stalled. They’ve withheld information from its own sexual-abuse review board. They’ve tarnished the church’s reputation while skating the legal ice, naïve of their own harm and supplying fodder for their many opponents. Just to confuse things even more, a

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Good Friday, 2011

April 22, 2011

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An Infinite Being confronted with horrible but finite Evil could choose from infinite options. He could sweep Evil and its allies into the fire – and many would cheer until they felt the flame’s heat and met the Being’s glare …

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Thieves in the Temple

April 19, 2011

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I’m hearing whips crack, coins clink, and benches flung against walls. The hawkers and peddlers and venders race for the gate as sheep bleat and doves fly. A furious Messiah is taking his temple back a day after Palm Sunday. He’s not negotiating. As the dust clears, I can’t help but wonder: Are there money-changers in our temples? Even worse, have we become the hucksters? Have I? My answer: Yes to each. There are thieves in our temple, and I’ve been one of them.

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If only I had the guts to say what needs to be said …

March 30, 2011

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My problem: I’m all mush, an absolute coward. I’d stand my ground if I were really courageous. I’d emphasize how all sides push us over the intellectual cliff when they type-cast each other.

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