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.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Quote of the day

We can reinvest our resources into campus ministries — reviving existing ones and launching new ones. Is a college that lacks a Presbyterian witness located within ten miles of your church? Do any colleges existing within the bounds of your presbytery lack an active Presbyterian student organization? Then you have some work to do.

This quote from Presbyterian Outlook could apply to all mainline protestant denominations at this point.


At 2:48 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear Dwight,

I apologize for contacting you through your comments but I could not find an email address on your blog.

In April 2009, Anansi Press will release the U.S. edition of THE JESUS SAYINGS: The Quest for His Authentic Message, by award-winning journalist Rex Weyler. Would you like to receive an advance review copy?

Weyler is a social commentator, historian, ecologist and co-founder of Greenpeace. His books examine society and dynamic social change ranging from historical analysis to future visions for human society. In THE JESUS SAYINGS, Weyler examines the evidence of an historical Jesus, his original message, and his relevance to our social and ecological predicament today.

THE JESUS SAYINGS traces modern archaeology and text scholarship in the search for an historical Jesus and his authentic message. New revelations in this book appear from surveying some 200 early documents that attest to an historical Jesus and his words, taking the reader far beyond conventional gospels. The book follows archaeologists into remote desert villages where rare documents were uncovered, and surveys the scholarship that interprets these documents. The book reads like a mystery investigation, digging into evidence and stories. The Jesus Sayings includes material about Mary Magdalene, her gospel, the Thomas sayings collection, and uncovers shocking revelations about the real, historical Jesus and his most likely authentic words.

Why is an ecologist and Greenpeace founder writing about Jesus? Because Weyler is interested in how societies change. His book examines the dynamics of social change, and the first century social movement of Jesus, Mary and their band of radical Galileans, remains analogous to modern civil rights, women’s rights, and ecology movements.

Would you like an advance copy to consider for review on A Religious Liberal Blog? For more information, please visit http://www.rexweyler.com. Thank you for your consideration.


At 2:45 PM , Blogger Marleen said...

Dwight, interesting that you should mention this as I was talking today to a colleague about the move by organizations to hide their Christian identities in order that their ministries might catch on. A different issue, to be sure, but a related one.

It pains me that “Christian” has become a dirty word. But as we all know, the word "Christian" is cultural shorthand for Biblical literalist, hypocrite, and/or bigot.

In a recent conversation, a 19-year-old college student explained to me why she thought that the word "Christian" should not be used by a particular Christian organization that is involved in social justice work here. She said that if the word "Christian" is attached to it, no one will know what a “cool” organization it is. In other words, no one will learn of and then participate in its important work.

The word “Christian” or the mention of any denomination (which is meaningless to most young people outside of it, except that it means Christian) would also imply that there was some hidden conversion agenda to that organization.

Following this advice is admitting defeat. It means losing the word “Christianity” once and for all to the fundamentalists. However, it's becoming clear that rejecting that advice means limiting the scope of our ministries and that's self-defeating as well.

At one point are we ready to lose our Christian identity in order to effectively do Christ's work?

At 8:31 AM , Blogger Dwight said...

I suspect the problem is that there is something tied up with how the church engages the world, social justice wise, with it's faith. That is, the church isn't like any other social service agency or left political group because its purposes and reasons for what it's doing has a religious bent to them the resources it draws from gives indication of that. Once the word Christian is lost, you're right that the word Christian is then lost and given over to the fundamentalists but also I think it soon transforms the group into a secular one, which while doing good work, will loose out on those religious resources that made it vital in the first place.

An example: The YMCA does great work in communities. Even has a name of course indicating it's Christian heritage. But it no longer provides a religious grounding for young folks. Btw that grounding was thoroughly progressive, interfaith, etc But where do kids get that today? There are some secular groups that try to fill in the gap but mainly it's fundamentalists who have taken that call up. And that means that an alternative religious resource was shut down, doesn't exist, isn't an option.

In the case of the Gaia House of course, they don't do anything uniquely Christian (no worship, no Bible study) but my beef with that is a.there is a need for a liberal protestant presence at SIU. That was their original founding basis, so it's a shame that there is that vacuum now and b.They continue to receive funding from the churches (and in their fundraising letters it's clear they present themselves as if that is what they are doing) So honesty and transparency (or the lack there of) adds to the problems of that campus ministry.

Those are some initial thoughts, but interested in what further thoughts you might have on this?


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