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Open-handed - a posture personally, theologically, and politically

Last night a friend from church asked me what side I fall on politically. Old labels carry too much baggage though. I know who I have been and I know who I want to be. I want to be someone who loves God and loves my neighbors. In the parable of the Good Samaritan, when Jesus explains through a story who
The Parable of the Good Samaritan by Jan Wijnants (1670) shows the Good Samaritan tending the injured man. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)  qualifies as a "neighbor" (anyone in need) and what it looks like to love them (generosity of time, space and money), I see an all encompassing philosophy of life. It's a philosophy that is unhindered by artificial social barriers. It sees unity with all who bleed. No one in need is excluded. All are included. The examples of villains in Jesus' story are those who cannot be bothered with the inconvenience of aid, who cannot forget past grievances, who transfer the faults of a group onto the individual, who delight in justice instead of m…

Not everything biblical is Christian part 24: great, greater, greatest

Today's gospel reading in the lectionary got me thinking about this problem I used to have with the Bible.
Mark 12:28 One of the religion scholars came up. Hearing the lively exchanges of question and answer and seeing how sharp Jesus was in his answers, he put in his question: “Which is most important of all the commandments?”
 29-31 Jesus said, “The first in importance is, ‘Listen, Israel: The Lord your God is one; so love the Lord God with all your passion and prayer and intelligence and energy.’ And here is the second: ‘Love others as well as you love yourself.’ There is no other commandment that ranks with these.”
 32-33 The religion scholar said, “A wonderful answer, Teacher! So lucid and accurate—that God is one and there is no other. And loving him with all passion and intelligence and energy, and loving others as well as you love yourself. Why, that’s better than all offerings and sacrifices put together!”
34 When Jesus realized how insightful he was, he said, “You’re alm…

me the Pharisee and Trump the publican

This story is the context for my thoughts on President Trump.

Luke 18:9-14  (NIV) The Parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector 9 To some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everyone else, Jesus told this parable: 10 “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. 11 The Pharisee stood by himself and prayed: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other people—robbers, evildoers, adulterers—or even like this tax collector. 12 I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.’ 13 “But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner.’ 14 “I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”
In the King James English, a "publican" is a tax collector. In Jesus' times, the Romans recruite…

a true parable about christian art and iconoclasm set in summer camp

I went to Christian summer camp quite a bit as a kid. We sang a lot of choruses with catchy melodies. They were fun and theological. One of my favorites when I was 12 started out with the line "Somewhere in outer space, God has prepared a place, for those who trust him and obey." Here is a cute video of some kids singing it.

I was a very enthusiastic singer of this song back in the day, though I'm not keen on its theology anymore. The song moved me so much I was inspired to draw a picture about it. I drew my cabin flying through space, including comets and moons and spiral galaxies in the background. I had my multi-color pen with me at camp so it was also a polychromatic picture and the cabin was drawn in perspective! I spent a lot of time on that picture, probably an entire free period. I was quite proud of it when I finished and showed it to my cabin counselor, who was nice about it.

I left it on my bunk and went to dinner and evening chapel. When I got back that night…

church abuse by white men

Pope Francis writes this week a letter to the People of God in response to the horrific abuse unsealed by the Pennsylvania Attorney General.

It is essential that we, as a Church, be able to acknowledge and condemn, with sorrow and shame, the atrocities perpetrated by consecrated persons, clerics, and all those entrusted with the mission of watching over and caring for those most vulnerable. Let us beg forgiveness for our own sins and the sins of others. An awareness of sin helps us to acknowledge the errors, the crimes and the wounds caused in the past and allows us, in the present, to be more open and committed along a journey of renewed conversion.
I think this is a good example for other churches to follow as Evangelical churches are facing it's own #metoo and #churchtoo scandals, e.g. Bill Hybels and Willow Creek.

If only churches would get ahead of these before they become public scandals. If only the church could proclaim, "we heard complaints, we believed the victims, we …

Not everything biblical is christian - raspberries

The wild raspberries in my yard are in full flourish! We've been picking them for the past couple weeks, but have not pulled in a haul like this one last night! I could have picked more if it were not 90% humid, if the mosquitos were not picking me, and if I had more than shorts on to protect me from the thorns. I do have a few scratches because the delicious fruit kept beckoning me. If I could just stretch a little further...each scratch from the thorn was worth going in a little deeper into the hedge.

But what if I cut off a bunch of the thorny raspberry canes and sent a picture to Instagram with the caption, "can't wait to eat these raspberries, stems, leaves, thorns, and fruit" #itsallgood #allfromGod #nopartwasted #highfiber? People would think I was nutty and may even be concerned with my health, risking perforation of my esophagus, stomach, and on down. On the other hand, people who were part of the #eattheentirecane movement would cheer me on. They would defe…

The parable of the wicked immigrant

In the early 1600's religious separatists fled their country from fear of persecution. The location was known to other explorers, but an epidemic had left the native population decimated and weak. The immigrants considered the epidemic and the stores of food left behind as God's blessing. However, they suffered terribly adjusting to the new world, nearly half of them died. The indigenous people had mercy on them and helped those remaining.

Other immigrants came and joined the struggling outpost. They made treaties with the people who owned the land and cared for it for hundreds of generations. Then they violated those treaties, over and over and over. Not one treaty was kept. Natives were captured and sold into slavery in the sub-tropics where they died. Since they were no good as agricultural slaves, african slaves were imported. The natives were continually pushed out of their land, even the ones who converted to the immigrant religion.

Natives were promised an entire territ…

I'm an ex-vanglical but not an ex-christian

There is a lovely chap on Twitter, Blake Chastain, who I first heard use the appellation "exvangelical." He even has a podcast about it. I find it a helpful term and want to explore it in my own experience. This has been a long evolution and I will use my blog to look back on my spiritual journey out of white american evangelicalism.

I have written 359 book reports. I have read more books than I have written about, but I read a great deal on genocide, inspired by the atrocities recorded in the bibilical story of Joshua, conqueror of Canaan. In his story, his god tells him to have no mercy and kill men, women and children. This was explained to me by my evangelical leaders that it was more merciful to kill the kids then raise them as their own.

Lesson learned, evangelical cognitive dissonance is real.To be widely read is dangerous in a small minded theological construct. Studying genocide makes such absurd explanations even harder to swallow. Even then I found the dis…