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.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Going After the Church

The World Council of Churches has condemned proposals to tighten U.S. sanctions on Cuba that would restrict humanitarian aid to groups like the Cuban Council of Churches.

The group Pastors for Peace largely works through such organizations. They draw support from a number of mainline protestant bodies who have relations with them and with sister churches in the Cuban Council of Churches, such as my own congregation.

The WCC said the idea represented "a gross violation of religious freedom." Indeed. How Bush gets identified as a supporter of religion when his administration goes after churches, such as in this instance, is lost on me. Rev. Kobia went on to say:

"We strongly feel that it is completely inappropriate for the U.S. Government..to determine who is and who is not a legitimate national council of churches, and to restrict or deny Christian fellowship and humanitarian assistance to any particular national church council"

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Some Links

Here's some sites I've come across which I thought I'd highlight. Quaker Agitator, a left social justice blog I plan to link and So Far Left I'm Right, a Disciple pastor's site which seeks to re-imagine religion and the church, who I plan to link.

Rejection Hurts, a UCC website, "where "people can share their personal stories of how they felt unwanted or alienated by organized religion." The site "encourages you to share your story with us and other like minded people. You are not alone in your spiritual journey."

And Word to the Faithful, a site out of Sen. Reid's office which highlights the democrat's work and faith. But it's not been updated since they unveiled it a year ago. I've been contacting Reid's office but so far haven't found out what they plan to do about the site.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Faith and Politics

"We don’t support inclusion and justice in spite of our faith in the Christian Gospel, but rather because of it. If we don’t, then we start to move towards becoming a vaguely spiritual action committee for the DNC."

I would use different language than this post, but I agree with the essence. Yes I'm a liberal Christian, but politics is not the substance of faith even if it may be an application of it. To claim this word has more to do with ways of working out religious beliefs and practices.

It's one reason I'm concerned with the content of several recent books which seek battle with the religious right and define a religious left. Too often they leave out discussions about God, scripture, the nature of the religious life and instead focus on today's political battles.

But I think it's a shame, because people really are trying to find *religious* alternatives to fundamentalism, we should be giving them bread not stones. I may disagree with Spong on some points but his books aim for this. The new generation of books largely don't.

I'll be reviewing two of them in the future to see where they come down on this. Why the Christian Right is Wrong by Robin Meyers and Big Christianity by Jan Lyn. These two books are written by mainline ministers so the conversation seems fitting for this site.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

The Resurrection

A Presbyterian pastor raises the question of whether Christian faith could be had if one could find the body of Jesus. He argues yes and that it is possible to see the language of resurrection as metaphoric or symbolic.

The responders larger quote Paul 1 Corinthians chpt 15 that if the resurrection did not happen our faith is in vain. But it's highly selective to do that, especially when one ignores Paul's treatment of what resurrection means in the same chapter.
"How are the dead raised? With what kind of body will they come?" How foolish!When you sow, you do not plant the body that will be, but just a seed.

It is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body. If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body. The spiritual did not come first, but the natural, and after that the spiritual.

The first man was of the dust of the earth, the second man from heaven. And just as we have borne the likeness of the earthly man, so shall we bear the likeness of the man from heaven.

Flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. The perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality.
Their may not be agreement over such verses except to suggest that the notion of a spiritual body is a way of integrating a number of contrasting ideas into one. Also that forcing the resurrection into a physicalist framework is to ignore what Paul is up to.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Living Together

An interesting quote: "As a member of an evangelical community that is committed to be a "fifth Gospel", I would like to see my Shiite sister happily and safely reading the Quran in front of our evangelical church."

I would like to see our Shiite and Sunni guests feel that not all evangelicals are apt to watch them getting ready for the battle of Armageddon. I would like to see the destruction of evil and the elimination of violence, but not by counter evil and violence.

I do not have in mind any tendency towards syncretism of religions. However, I do believe that people of various religious backgrounds can and must learn how to live together and to respect one another." Rev Riad Kassis, Director & Chaplain J. L. Schneller Institute

Monday, August 07, 2006

Not a New Direction

Here's a piece on the direction of the Southern Baptist Convention. First is the rejection by the new denomination's president not only of women's ordination but also including women as deacons.

That's an odd stance because women are certainly deacons and recognized as such by Paul in the last chapter of Romans. I'm not sure how one is able to relate the SBC's stance and Paul's assertion that our central identity is found in Christ, not on our gender.

The new president also argued that the denomination needs to set greater parameters in defining beliefs for its members, especially its leadership then what Baptist Faith and Message has. An example was speaking in tongues which he would forbid in the church.

And with this we can be sure that soul competency, congregationalism and non creedalism is dead in the Southern Baptist Convention. Rather a church which regulates individual conscience has been put in it's place. No one has to worry about moderation from this church.

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Prayer for the Middle East

On July 19, UCC General Minister and President John H. Thomas released the following churchwide prayer in response to escalating war in the Middle East:

You did not make us, O God, to die in bomb craters or to huddle through the night in basement shelters. You made us to play under olive trees and cedars and to sleep soundly with animal toys and gentle lovers. Lord, have mercy.

You did not make us, O God, to hold hostages for barter or to rain deadly fury on innocent children and beautiful coast lands. You made us, O God, to welcome strangers and to cherish all creation. Christ, have mercy.

You did not make us, O God, to oppress in the name of security or to kill in the name of justice. You made us, O God, to fi nd security in justice and to risk life in the name of peace. Lord, have mercy.

While leaders..pander to ancient fears, claim the mantle of righteous victim, and pursue their little empires in the name of gods of their own devising, the people of Lebanon and northern Israel are made captive to fear, true victims whose only advocate is You.

Save us from self-justifying histories and from moral equations that excuse our folly. Search our hearts for our own complicity. Spare us from pious prayers that neglect the prophet's angry cry.

Let us speak a resounding "no" to this warring madness and thus unmake our ways of death, so that we may be made more and more into your image. Kyrie eleison. Kyrie eleison. Kyrie eleison.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Lebanon

Sorry for the blogging hiatus, it's summer what can I say? The last post with reference to the middle east received a number of comments so I thought I'd clarify my position.

As somone who has written against divestment and one who has always been keen that mainline statements on this subject should be made in light of dialogues with the Jewish and Muslim community, I'm concerned about the way such issues are treated.

Given this, I cannot suport Israel's actions of the last few weeks. To take what constituted a border skirmish and expand it to an all out war especially on the urban areas of Lebanon has put civilians, including children in a brutal crossfire.

And it won't succeed. Such a bombing campaign only increases hatred against Israel as well as increases the status of Hezbollah in the eyes of many in the region. Could one expect a different reaction from those who have lost family members, friends, etc?

What's particularily disturbing is the US opposition to a cease fire, something which all the major world Christian bodies have called for. Also the report that the US gave the green light meaning that we are likewise complicit in the violence happening in the region.

Seeing some evangelical groups and leaders providing fervent support for what they see as an unfolding apocalyptic drama makes me wonder if we could possibly be following the same religion for the religion which speaks of peace and reconciliation is not found here.

Correction:For the same reasons that violence will not work on Israel's part, likewise it will fail for Hezbollah. Every attack on Israeli citizens, every missile launched makes a future peace less likely. The question is whether it's peace folks want or victory?