A Religious Liberal Blog

This site hopefully can provide some vehicle by which I can comment, complain, and once in a while praise the state of religion in this country and around the world from a liberal protestant perspective.

Saturday, November 01, 2014

My Choices this November


Even though it is never a surprise who I plan to support during elections I'll share my vote and the reasoning behind my choices. In years past I have voted Green, Republican, and Democrat but this year given the issues and how the parties have aligned themselves, I'll be voting straight ticket.

Connie Johnson for US Senate: Oklahoma has an unusual situation where because Sen. Coburn is retiring early, we have 2 senate races. Connie Johnson could fill that seat and she was easy to get excited about because of her track record as a progressive champion of causes in the state senate and her issues based campaign. There are few progressive events and causes that I've been a part of where Connie was not involved with and given a public voice to.

Matt Silverstein for US Senate: Matt is running against Sen. Inhofe, which by definition makes him a favorite for me. But I was worried initially because as he started his campaign he seemed to want to avoid talking about issues and only focus on a generic change in Washington. But he won me over in the last few months by picking up on economic justices issues in particular. Both are much needed voices in Washington.

Joe Dorman for Governor: His avoidance of social issues, especially as marriage equality has become a reality in the state worries me. But Oklahoma has faced some of the worst education cuts in the nation and he plans to reverse that. And he has campaigned for Medicaid expansion which would insure 144,000 Oklahomans in one fell swooped.

Cathy Cummings for Lt. Governor :has run the kind of campaign I wish could happen more. She has visited every community and nook and cranny of the state, using in person meetings over advertising to reach people. And she has run on the issue of wages and the need for a living wage. In Oklahoma, which has one of the lowest incomes in the country, this is essential if our state is going to build a middle class.

Other Races: Joe Cox for Superintendent of Instruction with his experience in the public schools and his support of protecting teacher's retirements as well as resisting the "teach to the test" formulas. Mike Workman for Labor Commission and Bert Smith for US Congress who stands with the labor movement. But I need advice on the judicial races. Feel free to message me about them.

Tuesday, February 05, 2013

Greatful for support of domestic partnerships


I’m writing to express appreciation to the Sheridan Press and to Sheridan’s legislative delegation in their support of HB 168, which would have recognized domestic partnerships in Wyoming. This legislation would have extended important legal rights and responsibilities to gay and lesbians and their families. It would have insured that such families were not legal strangers to each other on important matters from medical care decisions to parental rights. While I’m disappointed that it failed to pass the state house, the fact that in Sheridan, it was supported sends a wider signal of welcome to all people and it gives me hope that the Equality state will, sooner rather than later, live up to its motto.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Post Election Pastor's Column


“All this is from God...who gave us the ministry of reconciliation” 2 Corinthians 5:18

Another election has come and gone. Some of the candidates I voted for won. And some of my candidates lost. Soon I’ll be visiting family for Thanksgiving and we’ll discover that some of us in the family voted different then others. And we’ll still come together at the same table, enjoying the blessings of food and fellowship together on this holiday.

How is that possible? When I read the newspaper and watch television, I am told that there are two Americas. There is a blue and a red America. And neither the twain shall meet. We live in different neighborhoods and towns, consume different products, and watch different television shows, for news as well as entertainment. Do you like NASCAR? Do you listen to NPR? Do you like steak or are you a vegetarian?

Micro targeting voters has become key in winning elections. And our lifestyles, where we live, who we associate with, what we do for a living, have all been calculated by pollsters to tell us how we will vote and to which America we belong. This movement has intensified over the last generation so that this fragmentation has become reflected in lopsided vote totals and the leading of lives where we rarely run into folks who disagree with us. How does one live with difference in such a situation?

The nice thing about family is that more often then not you’re stuck with them. While much of our lives are chosen, this is an area that is largely not, even for those of us who were adopted. And so the question of living and relating to folks who think differently is built in or at least should be during the holiday season. I think we need more of those kind of situations, where the relations and connections we have with one another are stronger and deeper then politics or whether someone agrees with us or not.

 Could the church be that kind of place? For the apostle Paul, the church’s mission is that of reconciliation, to be a movement for healing and wholeness in a fragmented world. And yet churches often fall into the same trap as the culture, with blue and red churches, where folks are expected to fit a certain set of beliefs before they can belong.

 But the one advantage the church has, the one thing we can offer is the communion table. Like the family table around thanksgiving, the communion table is a place where folks can overcome difference with food and fellowship and a deeper set of bonds.

Those bonds are not determined by whether we are democrat or republican, black or white, gay or straight, tea party or occupy, hunter or vegetarian, cat owner or dog owner, single or married, city or rural, old or young. They are not determined by whatever demographic that a micro pollster has put us into.

 Rather such reconciliation happens because of what God has done for us. The communion table can happen, like family tables not because of our chosen lives but because of the fact that we are chosen, by adoption or birth or circumstance, to be included as family. It is to that which we belong by virtue of God’s love for us.

Now not all churches or families function this way. And the holiday seasons can be a painful time as a result. But my prayer is that they would. And that whatever it is that estranges us from one another, God can help us find those connections and relations that can make us whole, as individuals, as a community, and as a country.

Blessings,

Rev. Dwight Welch
First Congregational (United Church of Christ)
Sheridan WY

Monday, January 18, 2010

Martin Luther King Day

A few things worth noting for Martin Luther King today. Here's a link to some MLK quotes which highlight his thought. And here's a piece which situates King within a complex set of relations on the left, in the social gospel, and in the work of Reinhold Niebuhr.

The only thing missing is the personalist tradition which King picked up from at Boston University. Personalism, has much of the same metaphysical commitments as process theology does but it takes God's personality, our own, the universes' as central to defining not just what should be but what is.

Admittedly I'm apt to think that this is an over extension of the term. Much of the universe strikes me as "indifferent" if not an obstacle to the development of personality. Personal consciousness is quite an unusual thing which has developed in the history of our planet.

Thus I can see the ethical import that King and other personalists derived from importance of creating the conditions by which persons can develop but I'm not sure I can share the metaphysics behind it. I'm too much of a hide bound naturalist on that score.

But I think as a tradition it's worth noting, being attentive to, and drawing what resources we can from it as well from the social gospel movement, the democratic left, etc. Otherwise all we'll have is a sanitized King that fails to challenge our society. And that would be the worst response to his legacy.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

I'm a "sort of" Calvinist

This is to say that there are themes in the writings of John Calvin, a French Reformation leader, that I take as my own while leaving other parts behind. I thought I'd highlight what some of the themes I've taken.

1. The natural world tells us all of God that we are in a position to know. That's a robust natural theology! Special revelation is not new information beyond our world. It illuminates something already at play in our world.

2. Theology starts with anthropology. To know something of God is to know something about ourselves and our relationships to each other and our wider world.

3. Sin, pride, impiety is an over (or under) estimation of ourselves in relation to one other and our world. Any number of cruelties (to use Niebuhr for a moment) against each other and nature occur when we ignore those relations.

4. Sin and grace are bigger than individuals. They both indicate significant features of a world that draw us either to inordinate self regard or other regard. The ambiguity is living in a fallen world that yet gives signs of God's redemptive purposes.

4. Calvin was just as able to draw from Seneca as Scripture. As a French Humanist he saw the Christian tradition as a wisdom tradition, a philosophy almost that could draw from the best, including non Christian resources.

5. Like Augustine, Calvin also believed that all knowledge was from God. Science, literature, philosophy, any field and discipline was a gift not something to be wary of or at war with. In fact it can set us on a path to discern our proper place in our world and relations.

6. God's redemptive work is for the whole of creation. So there is no way to cut off some part of the world, the secular, or some area of life as not religiously significant.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

More Updates

I'm torn between closing this site or revising it. But as one can tell it's in a holding pattern. But I've updated the links and the picture Unfortunately yahoo killed geocities which is where I was held my posts that I had written while I was at blogstudio.

And the Church World Service page which has updates on the relief work being done in response to the earthquake in Haiti. It's in those stories of responding to the disaster that one finds evidence of God at work. As for Pat Robertson, the only response that can had is satire.

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

I'm back

I'm going to, in the 6th year of operation, to try to restart and revamp this blog. I may stay here or move to a new location. But after a number of months of absence I'm missing an outlet for my theological quips. And seminary is providing more such thoughts.So something needs to be done. As that proceeds, I'll try to keep folks up to date.