Church and Politics

I recognize that, taken together, these two subjects are about as welcome as talking about sex and income, but the faithful life cannot be lived outside of politics.  Considering a recent academic study that revealed the third most common reason young people leave the church is because they “disagreed with the church’s position on political and social issues.”   The disagreement on social and political issues happens with both conservative and liberal young people.  Lest we think this is a modern phenomenon, consider two of the disciples of Jesus, Simon the Zealot and Matthew.  Simon’s extended name, “the zealot” indicates that he was actively involved in the Jewish movement to overthrow the Roman government.  Matthew, on the other hand, was a tax collector.  Although he was Jewish, he made his living in collusion with the Roman occupiers.  I seriously doubt if Matthew and Simon ever agreed on anything politically, but we do know that the labored tirelessly together to build the church. Read more…



Rivers in the Badlands

“Forget about what’s happened; don’t keep going over old history.  Be alert, be present. I’m about to do something brand-new.  It’s bursting out! Don’t you see it?  There it is! I’m making a road through the desert, rivers in the badlands.  Isaiah 43:18-19 (The Message) Read more…



Sound Bites and Dialogue

Thanks to the video-ization of modern culture, humans have shifted our cognitive skills to largely visual with short attention spans, now shorter than a TV commercial.  This means that anything that is not visual, i.e. auditory or kinesthetic, is discounted.  This also means that anything that takes more than about 13 seconds of our attention is either discounted or ignored.  Hence, quickly pronounced “sound bites” have taken the central role of truth in our society, over and above having a substantive dialogue about a topic.  Heaven forbid that any of us would be required to engage our rational thinking skills more than 13 seconds. Read more…



Anxiety and Inflation

Caveat: I am not an economist.  I took two econ courses in college. 

Having warned you, I must ask, why do we have inflation?  Why must the prices of goods and services go up in a never-ending cycle while we avoid the dreaded deflation?  Economists will give all kinds of reasons for this and many are very valid.  Having observed this “macro” phenomenon for decades I wonder if there might be one more factor – anxiety.


Twin Devils (part 1) – In the Hopeful Season of Advent

The question posed (for now) is hypothetical, but poignant, nonetheless.  I imagine my teenaged grandchild asking me this question, “Grandpa, you’re a scientist and a priest, what did you do to prevent all those Christians who wanted the world to end soon from carrying out their plans?”   Some people advise that we tolerate other Christians’ beliefs, but what should we do when those beliefs cause real harm to generations of people?  Beliefs like vaccinations cause autism or because some Christians want to be part of God’s chosen elect who get taken up in a cloud after the end of the earth, they desire the destruction of governments and the planet for their own self-interests.  Do we tolerate murderers coming at us with a weapon?  Do we tolerate people who want to see the planet burn up?


History

I hated history in high school and college.  Maybe it was the monotone, no-nonsense droning lectures.  Maybe the classes were during my most-of-the-day sleepy period.  For whatever reason, I grudgingly studied the subjects and made B grades.  Fast-forward to age 40 in seminary, and history began to make sense.  I don’t know what happened.  Having lived through civil rights, the Vietnam war, the sexual revolution, Ronald Reagan, Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton and more, history was at once, entertaining and frightening. Read more…



Reconciliation

Reconciliation   noun

  1. the restoration of friendly relations.
synonyms: reuniting, reunion, bringing together (again), conciliation, reconcilement, rapprochement, fence-mending;

We come together as a community out of mutual love, respect, caring for one another and compassion.  In open, honest conversations, mistakes are made.  The challenge lands in our lap immediately.  When we are the recipient of a remark or action that we interpret as rude, thoughtless, careless or even hostile, what action do we take?  Do we go to the offending party later in private to work things out?  Or do we hang onto the ugly feelings and let it out by counter-attacking, gossip or leaving the church? Read more…



Rend your hearts

Scarcely a week goes by lately without one person telling me that they are full of hope and optimism for the future … that their world has never been better.  And often, in the same week of hearing such cheerful perspective from one person, I hear the exact opposite – that others are full of dread and gloom.  For them, the world appears to be headed downhill, fast.  I am proud of our parish that we can embrace a wide latitude of perspectives, but when our collective sense of hope seems to be bipolar, what should our spiritual response be? Read more…



Not my people

Then His mother and His brothers arrived and standing outside they sent word to Him and called Him.  A crowd was sitting around Him, and they said to Him, “Behold, your mother and Your brothers are outside looking for You.”  Answering them, He said, “Who are My mother and My brothers?”  Looking about at those who were sitting around Him, He said, “Behold My mother and My brothers!  “For whoever does the will of God, he is My brother and sister and mother.” Mark 3:31-35


Kicking the Dog

In last week’s Theology Pub, we discussed how the Romans viewed Christians in the first and second centuries.  After the mad Emperor Nero blamed the Roman Christians for setting the fire that burned most of Rome in AD 64, he began a series of persecutions such as letting wild animals attack and eat groups of Christians in the arena as public entertainment.  He also had them burned alive as illumination for the circus maximus.  I won’t go into any more detail, but the depravity and sheer inhumanity staggers the mind and depresses the heart. Read more…