Thursday, October 12, 2006

Pastors & Politics

It's not surprising, but it's still worth reading about how the so-called Christian Right is pushing voters toward the Republican party. I particularly love the advice to tell folks that Jesus would be more concerned about gay marriage than about war and peace. Now there is no endorsement of any party or candidate implied here, but I do think it's time to be afraid, be very afraid. There's an election coming and the "Christians" are on the loose. (The cartoon comes from the blog of Bill Sanders, retired cartoonist from the Milwaukee Journal.)

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Midweek Despair

The news is never good these days. War and rumors of war. Climate catastrophe in the making. Scandal. Violence. Injustice. The Braves missed the playoffs. It is enough to bring despair.
We rest uneasily between two countervailing pressures. One imagines a way out of the present malaise by longing to go back to an imagined past that never was. The other longs to imagine a way forward. Yet the work of imagination necessary for that way forward is blocked by the desolation of the very institutions necessary for that imaginative work.
For example, take Congress ... please. The people's house will not or cannot not tend to the people's work. It will not because too many of its members are beholden to those who long to go back to that imagined past. It cannot because its structures are corrupted by money and vested interests that do not want a way forward.
For another example, take the church ... again, please. It will not or cannot cast a vision and do the work of imagination necessary in these times. It will not because it is too timid and too tepid to shake the foundations of the status quo. It cannot because, again beholden to or cowed by those who long to go back, it no longer attracts those who have been graced by the prophetic imagination so crucial for such a moment.
At such a time as this ... well, it's a good time for a mystery novel and a doughnut.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Reimagining Christianity 1.2

Affirmation 2: Loving God includes listening for God’s Word which comes through daily prayer and meditation, through studying the ancient testimonies which we call Scripture, and through attending to God’s present activity in the world.
Perhaps this stuff seems tame. Maybe it's old hat. Or perhaps it is, in its own subtle way, so powerful as to be overwhelming. Certainly the first affirmation, that the way of Christ is not the only way to God, is heretical according to a traditional orthodoxy. Next to that, this second affirmation does not seem to say much.
On the other hand, as Karl Barth observed, "to clasp the hands in prayer is the beginning of an uprising against the disorder of the world."
Indeed, prayer is not seeking to bend God's will to that of the world, but rather seeking to bend ourselves to God's will for the world. If we pray that God's will be done "on earth as it is in heaven," then we are calling forth a social order of love and justice out of the chaos and disorder of a world in which power flows from the end of a gun or the bottom line of a bank statement.
Daily prayer and meditation are the power practices of an alternative community of compassion that casts a vision for a politics of justice. There is, indeed, a politics of prayer and it runs counter to the prevailing politics of empire.
Affirmation 1 may challenge the orthodoxy of Christian theology. Affirmation 2 challenges the orthodoxy of empire.