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.

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Missing Molly

Molly Ivins, has been for me a political mentor of sorts. I've never met her before, it's that her columns and books have served as the backdrop for my own interest in politics ever since I was in high school.

Her columns always had wit and were dead on even when funny (in that sort of how can politics be that way kind of funny). And her clarity about Bush and the war and the issue of torture was a dose of truth which in the early days of this disaster was hard to find.

Even though she just lost her battle with breast cancer, hopefully her spirit and her sense of the absurd remains a part of those fighting for a better world. Her last column has these parting words for us, a challenge of sorts worth taking on:
We are the people who run this country. We are the deciders. And every single day, every single one of us needs to step outside and take some action to help stop this war. Raise hell.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Edwards for President

Maybe. I'm still perusing my options as more candidates get into the race but I admit that John Edwards, more than any other candidate has perked my interest and raised issues that need to be addressed.

Edwards focus on poverty, first as director of the UNC's Center on Poverty, Work and Opportunity, and now as presidential candidate is refreshing. I can't remember a time in my life when poverty has been put on the agenda by a presidential candidate.

And the clarity that he uses in speaking against the war sets him apart. His speech at Riverside Church, where he called on congress to deny funds for an escalation, stood in stark contrast to other candidates who are still searching for a position on Iraq.

Along with the use of torture, poverty and the war strike me as the key moral issues of today. How a candidate stands on them and if they are willing to challenge this administration on them ought to be key in deciding our next president.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Religious Values of Disney?

So I was in Orlando for a week, then school started which makes campus ministry a happening place. But when I was in the Disney parks, particular themes became evident. Here's some:

The Circle of Life: If one wanted to find an illustration of the interconnected web of existence, it's found throughout the parks. From the ecology tale of Simba at Epcot to most of the exhibits in the Animal Kingdom and at the center of it all, the Tree of Life.

The Promise of Cooperation: Epcot is largely the center for this from the role of communication in the spaceship earth ride to the amazing ending of the park's day called Illuminations that features a huge globe that has images of humans working together for a future.

Imagination & Technology: If we're willing to dream big, if we're willing to throw in some elbow grease, there's nothing we and this country and world can't accomplish. I suspect this isn't as big as it used to be (but land of tomorrow and epcot has some of it).

Are there other religious values you can think of? I imagine if one expanded it to the movies we could pick up more. But it was all a bit inspiring, to see it so much granduer (yes the parks have a sense of that) in one setting.

We ended up working this topic on the progressive Christian radio show I work on with friends called Faithfully Subversive. Also started up a site to connect progressive Christian campus ministries but as you can tell it's very much in the beginning stages.

Monday, January 15, 2007

MLK Quotes

Here's some quotes of Martin Luther King. It's a yearly tradition for me to post them on MLK Day but they point to a social and a religious vision that rarely gets a hearing today but ought to:

The universe is on the side of justice. One knows that in the struggle for justice he has cosmic companionship. (There is) some creative force that works for togetherness, ..that works to bring the disconnected aspects of reality into a harmonious whole. There is a creative power in the universe that works to bring low gigantic mountains of evil and pull down prodigious hilltops of injustice.

All life is interrelated. We are all caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied into a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly. We are made to live together because of the interrelated structure of reality.

This call for a world-wide fellowship that lifts neighborly concern beyond one's tribe, race, class and nation is in reality a call for an all-embracing and unconditional love for all men. When I speak of love, I am not speaking of some sentimental and weak response. I am speaking of that force which all of the great religions have seen as the supreme unifying principle of life.

Agape is love seeking to preserve and create community. It is insistence on community even when one seeks to break it. The cross is the expression of the length to which God will go in order to restore broken community. The resurrection is a symbol of God's triumph over all forces that seek to block community. The Holy Spirit is the continuing community creating reality that moves through history.

Therefore, If I respond to hate with a reciprocal hate I do nothing but intensify the cleavage in broken community. I can only only close the gap in broken community with love. If I meet hate with hate, I become depersonalized, because creation is so designed that my personality can only be fulfilled in the context of community.

In the final analysis, agape means a recognition of the fact that all life is interrelated...all humanity is involved in a single process...

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Changing the Debate

Here's an encouraging piece on the role the Religious Coalition for the Freedom to Marry has played in the gay marriage debate in MA.

The coalition includes more than 700 clergy, rabbis, churches, and groups from 23 different faith traditions. They've recently won an award for their work.
Rabbi Devon Lerner, the coalition's director, said RCFM's higher public profile "has shown to the GLBT community that many religious communities support full marriage equality, even within their own denominations, a fact not known to many."

RCFM's public advocacy "has shown citizens and legislators alike that more and more people of faith support marriage equality." "Legislators told us that they were visited by more clergy and people of faith than ever before"
This is what ends up shifting the debate on religion and the public square in a way that represents the diversity of religious life in this country. As a side note, I'm off to Florida for a bit of vacation so my blog posts will resume in a week.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Good Sites

There's been a recent spat of articles on the "new atheism" and what that challenge represents in terms of religious faith. These include Karen Armstrong, John Spong, and Miroslav Volf . They all focus on the way that small conceptions of God need to be broken down.

"The choice between the theism of the church and the atheism of those who reject the God of the church is to me a sterile and lifeless choice. Such a meeting between believers and atheists might lead us to examine what Paul Tillich called “the God beyond the gods of men and women.”- John Spong

Some other sites: The progressive Christian radio show I help put together with some friends now has a website. We'll be posting podcasts of the show in the future so check it out. Also adding a Disciples of Christ pastor's site that includes some good pieces on society and the church.