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Showing posts from October, 2017

book report - A Bigger Table by John Pavlovitz (2017)

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John Pavlovitz appeared on my social media radar during the 2016 presidential campaign. He expressed the same dismay I did with America's conservative church's enabling of Donald Trump. At the same time, he continued to find hope despite the circumstances. Then his book came out! I heard a sermon of his a few weeks ago via Gracepoint Church podcast in which he spoke of the big themes of this book.

What if church could be more like his Italian American family's kitchen when he was growing up, always making room for one more, where conversations could be loud, where disagreements could be had in the safety of love, where no one was left out?

I sat down and read through the book in a few hours. The premise is so simple. Instead of deciding who is in or out, just find them another chair. But this story is more than that, because it is his story of process. He was raised by a loving safe family in the Catholic church where he acquired a predisposition to guilt. A fresh start in …

"They have closed their heart to pity"

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"They have closed their heart to pity, and their mouth speaks proud things." A line from today's lectionary reading reminds me of the American political climate. It's from Psalm 17, a lament about the writer's enemies and appeal to God for deliverance.

How can this not be the prayer of everyone except white men in this country? Men assault women with impunity like their president. White nationalists who welcome nazis into their ranks march unhooded to protest immigration of brown people and the removal of white supremacy statues, men called by their president as "very fine". Adults who were brought to this country without documents when they were children, only knowing this country as theirs, fear arrest and deportation, because the current dominant political party, refuses to pity them as the previous administration did. Sexual minorities are summarily dismissed from the armed forces by their president. White men can carry guns in protests and point th…

"Through God's grace" from a 13th century mystic

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I want to start with a long quote from this 13th century mystic. It can be read online here, but the physical book is a worthwhile purchase. I will quote this in full, because it's the struggle in my own faith journey to letting go and letting God.

Someone imagines that he can rid himself of his negative qualities by means of his own labor and striving. When he struggles and makes every effort possible only to be disappointed, God says to him, "You thought it would come about through your own power and action and effort. That is the law I have established, that is, that whatever you have you should expend it in My Way -- only then does My grace arrive.
"We say to you, 'Travel this infinite road with your own weak legs.' We know that with your weak legs you will never be able to accomplish the journey -- in a hundred thousand years you would not complete even one stage of the journey. But when you make the effort and collapse and fall down, unable to take another s…

If I were on Trump's evangelical advisory team

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Not that I ever would be invited to be on this council of evangelical advisers, because of many reasons, I don't pastor a large wealthy church, I didn't endorse him, I don't flatter him by calling him God's chosen leader, and I'm not fundagelical anymore....but....if I was asked to serve, I'd consider it a Good Samaritan opportunity to help a deeply wounded enemy of mine who has little good will for me or my neighbors, especially brown skinned neighbors.

In the liturgy readings last week, I encountered again the obscure Hebrew prophet, Micaiah. King Ahab, a notorious Jewish king in the Hebrew scriptures, had a bunch of flattering court prophets who agreed with any plan he had and always told him god would support him. But this other Jewish king from the south wanted to hear from prophets from his school of theology. Ahab shrugged and was like, "yeah, I have one of those, but he's so negative, but sure I'll get him over here." Micaiah shows up …