Friday, May 26, 2006

Tooting My Own Horn

About a month back, The Nation ran an excellent piece on the state of progressive faith. I wrote them this letter, an edited version of which will apparently run in this week’s print edition. It is important to write these things to publications, to Congress, to each other. And hey, every once in a while one will get noticed.

Thank you for Dan Wakefield's challenging "Taking Back the Faith." I'm sorry that Wakefield didn't visit with more people of faith in his travels because he might have found that there are communities and faith leaders walking the same path that Coffin, King, Heschel and the Berrigan brothers trod. On Easter Sunday, reflecting on the empty tomb and the missing body, I said to the congregation I serve in Arlington, "The Jesus who came preaching good news to the poor, release to the captives, recovery of sight to the blind, liberation to the oppressed and the year of jubilee (Lk. 4:18-19) has been stolen by Christians who don’t seem to care much about public policies to help the poor, the imprisoned or the sick, who preach a hate-filled message to gays, lesbians, bisexual and transgendered persons, and who embrace a gospel of prosperity for the affluent and but remain indifferent to the impoverished and indebted of the developing world. This Jesus has been stolen by those who call you a saint when you feed the hungry but call you a communist when you ask why people are hungry. This Jesus has been stolen by those who call you a good Christian when you pray for the safety of the troops in Iraq but call you un-American when you question the wisdom of the war. This Jesus has been stolen by those who call you pastor when you do a wedding for a man and a woman but call you a false prophet when you suggest extending the same rights to same-sex couples." I am not laying any personal claim to the mantle of the great leaders of the Civil Rights and peace movements of the past century, but the people we have been waiting for are among us already. The challenge lies in organizing effectively, raising voices repeatedly and getting the media -- including The Nation -- to focus on what is being said and done today rather than on what was said so eloquently four decades ago. Come and see.

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