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.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Opening for GLBT ordination?

I haven't been following the Presbyterian Church USA as often as I should. I was surprised that the General Assembly voted today to drop the prohibition of GLBT non celibate clergy.

The removal of the prohibition is a change of the constitution which requires support from PCUSA's regional bodies called presbyteries. I'm not sure that the support is sufficient in these presbyteries but the last time we've had a discussion like this was 2001, so we'll see.

From the AP: "The assembly also voted to allow gay and lesbian candidates for ordination to conscientiously object to the existing standard. Local presbyteries and church councils that approve ordinations would consider such requests on a case-by-case basis."

"That vote was an an authoritative interpretation of the constitution rather than a change to it, so it goes into effect immediately. This supersedes a ruling from the church's high court that said there were no exceptions to the "fidelity and chastity" requirement."

So the ordination of people called by God and their presbyteries in the PCUSA regardless of sexual orientation is here. How this affects the church conflicts in the PCUSA will be seen. But as for me, my respect for the PCUSA has significantly gone up today.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Dobson's Outburst

James Dobson's recent radio broadcast lambasting Obama was disconcerting but the issue which struck me, as a Christian, was how religious discourse in a democracy was being conceived by these two men.

Obama spoke of a universal language which we are all able to speak to communicate the commitments we have. Dobson mocked the idea that we have to adjust anything to speak with each other. While I think both are wrong, Dobson's position is more worrying.

I'm not sure what universal language Obama has in mind? A secular one? I don't think this is a universal language because we have so many religious folks in the world and because with such varying beliefs I'm not sure there is *a* language that communicates with all.

But we do have a responsibility to communicate, to persuade. It's not an article in the constitution but it is the heart beat of democracy. And that means mutually modifying our language so that we can be understood and understand each other.

Paul did this in one of my favorite Bible passages; Acts 17, where he uses Stoic and Epicurean categories to communicate God. He did this to be understood. But the language he used wasn't so foreign, it was the moral and religious language of the Hellenized world.

Some folks feed off of confrontation and not being understood. But living in the US in the same period of time, we are not so foreign to each other. But we have to be willing to find out how to modify our discourse so as to understand each other.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Religion and Knowledge

"There are plenty of examples of science proving a religious claim wrong. There are no examples of religion proving a scientific claim wrong. Are there any examples of religion proving science wrong?"

This was raised by Friendly Atheist. But it buys into the science vs. religion frame. That's not a good opposition. As a religious person I believe we ought to work with the best of what we know. Anything that increases understanding of our world ought to have significance.

But if I was to give my answer to the question I'd say that most of the major world religions have a more potent answer to the question of human nature. For instance, Augustine gives us more to work with than most psychological theories in the last century.

Because he gave us the language to speak about evil apart from ignorance. In the West, I believe there was an advance in knowledge when that move was made. Are there other examples of a faith tradition adding to our knowledge in a way missed by the sciences?

Saturday, June 21, 2008

A Victory?

I wanted to comment on a ruling a month ago. "The highest court of the PCUSA found that a Northern California minister did not violate church law when she officiated at the weddings of two lesbian couples."

That's a good thing. Ministers should not face church trials for solidifying the love between people. When they bless mutual love they appear to be living out the Gospel, more so than the numbers of church trials which make the church appear in the worst light.

Was it because the court recognized the value of the love between two people? Or that they recognized the right of individual conscience? No. Rev. Spahr was innocent because "The court found that the ceremonies Spahr performed were not marriages."

The PCUSA constitution defines marriage as between a man and a woman. Since Spahr officiated at same gendered weddings, she didn't violate the constitution. The right had a field day with this obvious word play. But it should disturb those of us who favor equality too.

For Rev. Spahr and for those couples participating in these weddings, these are indeed marriages. To be told that they are not marriages has to be insulting for them as well as those of us who support marriage equality in the church and the wider society.

Rev.Spahr as officiated at another wedding since the California court case legalized gay marriage. Let's pray there is no church trial or if there is one that individual conscience, the holiness of mutual love, or some actual principle is appealed to and not some word game.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

I've Moved

Sorry for the blogging hiatus. But I have made the move to Indianapolis. Still looking for a job.I'll be attending Christian Theological Seminary in the fall but now trying to get myself situated now in the city. Blogging will resume in the next day or so.