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 14, 2008


I just got tickets to see Bill Maher here in Indy. He's funny, has great political observations, and enjoys skewering religion. But if there's a Q&A I might ask about his take on religious liberals.

The Disciples of Christ is considering doing away with "sense of the assembly" resolutions at the General Assembly. Avoids controversy but it also takes away one of the only instruments in the Disciples to bear public witness. That's a problem for this church.

The United Church News spoke of this year as a turning point in doing outreach to young people. That's great! I hope that means that despite tight budgets the UCC will increase support for existing and planting new campus ministries across the country?

I've never ventured into the subject of Russian US relations. But I'm talking to friends who have some background on the issue. Finding peaceful ways forward strikes me as key. Btw the Church World Service, is providing aid to victims in this conflict.

And the National Council of Churches and the World Council of Churches, with Orthodox bodies from both nations, have statements on this issue. These statements stand as a contrast to McCain's opposition to negotiations and those on the right itching for war.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

The First Test

McCain argues that the recent incursion of Russia into Georgia is the first test of his and Obama's foreign policy experience and that their respective responses indicate how they would govern.

If so, McCain's response alarms me. There was McCain's casting his stance as a defense of a Christian nation. A troubling rationale. There was no effort to acknowledge some issues in the conflict. And there was McCain's beligerent language against Russia.

McCain argued for punishing Russia by kicking them out of the G8 nations and developing a more confrontational stance against them. Obama rejected that stance arguing that the US has to have some cooperative relationship with Russia, for our own security needs.

I agree that Russia's invasion cannot be justified and that we have serious differences. But to develop a new cold war with Russia is in no one's interests. And there's an unfortunate history between our two nations since the end of the cold war.

It's consisted of the US ignoring or sidelining Russia on issues that could have brought the two nations together. Since the Clinton and Bush years, we've worked to expand NATO right along Russia's borders without including Russia within a common security arrangement.

Clinton sidelined Russia's potential role to help resolve the Kosovo conflict. And Bush abrogated the ABM treaty. The result has been a Russia who has seen the US as a nation that wishes to contain them, not a potential partner. Is it any wonder that we have no standing?

Bush's pleading with Europe to intervene suggest the power of friends but it also highlights the impotence we face in dealing with Russia. McCain's hostile rhetoric only fuels the problem. Obama measured response show how he passed and McCain failed our first test.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Caring for Children After Birth

To the question of the commitments of anti-abortion folks to children after they are born, one evangelical site has a response; look at the acts of charity done by various pregnancy centers and individuals.

But it’s helpful to have a distinction between justice and charity. Justice as moral requirements for a community which includes ensuring that all have access to the basic goods of life. Charity as individual acts which go beyond the requirements of justice.

One shouldn’t be used to dismiss the other. You work for health care reform? Great, but charity at the individual level is still required. Provide blankets for pregnant women? Great, but it doesn’t mean you can side step societal obligations like ensuring kids get an education.

One can't dismiss the moral demands of a just society because one does individual acts of charity. While there folks doing great stuff on all sides, highlighting them doesn’t indicate what most folks are doing on either side, which is most likely nothing.

In any case many clinics do have counseling programs, some of them involve religious clergy to provide spiritual support. And there are pro-choice individuals and groups who work with women through the whole process. I know and count many of them as friends.

Caring for kids; a few do a lot. But to the degree that anti-abortion politics are tied to a view that has argued against societal provisions for kids, this question comes up. And it should despite what some individuals do since it's a justice question.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Hell: A Proposal

Silent Dave raises questions about hell to Christians, so I figured I'd try to take a shot at it. Of course I'm a liberal protestant so my view may not be very representational but here's a proposal:

I don’t take hell or heaven to be spatially located. To the degree that the past is taken up in the future then our actions for ill or good somehow become permanent facts in the history of our universe, and therefore contribute something to God’s story/history

To the degree that God that has an ongoing relationship with our universe it may be that hell or heaven has little to do with us and everything to do with God’s “experience” of the world. Can we live life that makes a positive difference for God and the world?

Friday, August 01, 2008

Return to Blogging

So I've been absent from the blog with my recent move and job hunting. But I miss blogging because it keeps me engaged with a range of religious questions and the excellent writing of others.

Some new blogs that I hope to keep up with include Fr. Jake Listens to the World, the Gifts of God which are positive reflections on faith and the world.Theology Schmeology are the reflections of a new catholic seminarian. All are worth checking out.

After five years of blogging, I'm hoping to work on the direction of this site. The prospects for the mainline, presenting a progressive faith in a public setting, engaging other authors, and a dash of politics will remain the same.

But a big reason to write is to change public perceptions of the faith. A post like this where Christianity is taken as a means to shut out people reminds us the work to be done if the resources and possibilities of this faith tradition is ever to be taken up for many.