economics


Advocacy sometimes means getting off the fence!

You know by now that I am a passionate advocate for human rights which include dignity and justice. I don’t however put my name on very many public petitions. But this one I felt needed my participation, especially in light of so many other conflicting statements from we Christians regarding healthcare.

Here is what I signed today-

As a Christian, I believe my faith calls me to view all people, regardless of citizenship status, as made in the “image of God” and deserving of respect; to show compassion for the stranger and love and mercy for my neighbor; and to balance the rule of law with the call to oppose unjust laws and systems when they violate human dignity.

These biblical principles compel me to support immigration reform legislation that is consistent with humanitarian values, supports families, provides a pathway to citizenship for immigrant workers already in the U.S., expands legal avenues for workers to enter the U.S. with their rights and due process fully protected, and examines solutions to address the root causes of migration.

I believe the current U.S. immigration system is broken and reform is necessary. I call on Congress to pass comprehensive immigration reform with the above elements by the end of this year.

Signed by: John Paul Todd, Berea, Kentucky

Confessions of A Liberal Christian Churchman.

I really didn’t have to listen to our President’s State of The Union address to get that it was about the “ECONOMY”. So what’s new in 80 years of progress- from 1930 to 2010?

In trying to live up to the “prophetic” part of the E4Unity blog, I went in search of a prophetic voice from the 20th century and found this tasty morsel from Paul S.Minear. As I started reading this essay which was written in 1980, I was blown away by what he said about his experience and convictions about the hard times of the 1930’s.

Paul S. Minear 1980

“In 1930 I was at Yale, beginning my graduate study of the Bible. The Great Depression was in its early stages; it would be ended only by World War II with its employment of millions of the unemployed, and with its armaments’ explosion and the subsequent development of the military- industrial-technological empire.
 But in 1930, millions were unemployed and hungry. There was immeasurable destitution, disillusionment, despair. The American dream had turned overnight into the American nightmare. Political anarchy and economic civil war were daily possibilities. There were explosive demands for economic justice; each of these demands touched off reactionary forces that were in a position to use the powers of government to fend off any substantive change in the social structure.
In New Haven, I was in constant contact with workers’ families whose only protection from extinction was to stand in endless breadlines or to work the streets peddling apples or pencils. I was kept from sharing their plight by the fact that I was a student, and my wife was in the employ of the university.
 The Depression signalled a cold war between economic royalists and radicals, both seeking to use the powers of government to fulfill self-interests. No one can tell how near the country came to revolution, but it was near enough to create an anti-Communist hysteria from which the nation has never since been free. To a great degree the cold war between America and Russia has been one of a pair of identical twins: the other twin being the internal cold war within America, between left and right.
What role in this struggle was played by Christian congregations? Two answers can be given. (1) The life of congregations appeared to be totally irrelevant to the solution of the critical issues. Nothing they did, or could do, had the slightest effect. (2) When congregations did take up positions, they lined up solidly on the side of economic and political reaction. Right-wing forces could count on their fears of radical change. The acronym WASP was an accurate symbol of actual collusion between religious and political establishments. Or so it seemed to me. This collusion was nowhere more obvious than in those sections of the country where Protestantism was, in effect, the state religion.

And the Bible? In many ways, the Bible appeared to be wholly irrelevant to finding ways of dealing with the successive crises. But where it did become relevant, it was in support of the collusion between religious and political establishments. The more reactionary the congregation, the more it gave recognition to the authority of the Bible. Loyalty to the Bible contributed directly to loyalty to Mammon, to Mars, to Caesar. “Bible-Belt” became a term referring to a region simultaneously super- patriotic, economically reactionary, militaristic, anti-union, and racially exclusive. All these were solidly identified with Christianity, and this Christianity was solidly identified with the Bible.

In 1930, I was convinced that before Christian congregations could be emancipated from such idolatries, their dependence on the Bible must be dynamited. I held the authority of the Bible at least partly responsible for the stance of the churches; therefore that authority must be undermined.”

 

Excerpt from “The Bible’s Authority in The Churches”.

Full text available as Authority-in-the-Churches

 

SMITHSONIAN CHANNEL this weekend

“At that moment . . .there was a feeling. . .HOPE: it was the feeling that something better was going on, and what you’re doing has some special meaning! I was lucky to live at that moment.”

Studs Terkel WPA writer

Studs Terkel WPA writer

I caught part of Bob Edward’s program on PRI this morning and it was fascinating. Turns out it was about a program that the Smithsonian channel is showing this Labor Day weekend:

FDR’s Works Progress Administration (WPA) funded four arts program.  One of those, the Federal Writer’s Project, employed thousands of writers and started the careers of some of America’s most famous authors like Studs Terkel, Ralph Ellison, Richard Writer, Saul Bellow, and Zora Neale Hurston.  Bob talks with writer David Bradley about a new documentary that tells the story of the Federal Writer’s Project.  “Soul of a People: Writing America’s Story” premiers on the Smithsonian Channel this weekend.

 I had never heard of this WPA project before. Evidently at the time it uncovered more than a few of America’s “dirty linen” such as the extent to which “slavery” was still alive and well in the 20th century. But there is a lot more I’m sure about the strength of America’s grass roots communities immediately following the ravishes of the Great Depression.

I hope you get to listen to Bob’s program sometime soon and for sure take time to see the special on SmithsonianChannel.

PREVIEW Sneak Peak (video)

Did You Know?

Related subsequent post: Rare Letter to College Students

Stirring up the pot in the blog world

One of the blogs I occasionally check out to see what’s going on is internetmonk.com. On May 27th he posted about something he evidently had mentioned before. It really struck a nerve in his followers and he has had over 175 comments posted. Because I think the subject and the interest represents a very real wrestling going on with one particular theme with religious people today, I want to say something about it myself. (who knows, someone might actually post a comment or two)

“It still concerns me. Not whether all things are centered in, related to, dependent on, destined for and exist to glorify God, but whether some expressions of Christianity can become so God-focused that the significance of what is not God- including all things in human experience– are devalued and even distorted to the point of confusion in the minds of God loving/God believing people.” (emphasis added)

The crux of the discussion centers on this sincere concern that Michael has, a concern that finally led him to put it on  the net. By the way, he enjoys a pretty large audience and is said to be one of the most recognized bloggers in the “Christian” community. I think if I understand him at all, the main point of his concern is the phrase, “some expressions of Christianity” that place such an emphasis on God-centerness (as in the Calvinistic resurgence within Southern Baptist churches and others), that ” all things in the human experience” are neglected or even distorted. Because I too recognize the reality of this danger-a danger that for that matter, has always existed in Christianity, I am very interested to know what your own first-reaction is.

First, I will place here one of the responses to give you some idea of just how some were able to dialogue from their own life-situation.

30 May 2009 at 6:09 pm grimtraveller
To Patrick Lynch at post 105 {or thereabouts}

“I’ve been thinking about your response and I have a couple of thoughts in reply. First off, while I understand the analogy with one’s lover {and scripture points to it sometimes}, it has certain limitations. Personally, I don’t think in those terms. I dig being with my wife but there’s never been a time when she was the only thing on my mind. When you’re part of one another’s world and being, for me such a thought just can’t be quantified. And so it is with our Lord. He wants to be our all in all. But what does that mean exactly ? I think good relationships ebb and flow. They bounce from weak to strong to intense to slow to fast to complacent to still to whatever else, you know ? Whatever my struggles, doubts, joys, frustrations, etc, I know he’s always with me. I really mean that.

“There’s this song that’s been kicking around church circles for yonks, called “Draw me close” and it has this chorus of “You’re all I want – You’re all I’ve ever needed”. I love the melody, the way the chords interact with the lyrics and the build up and all that……but I can’t stand the words because for me, it’s simply not true. I’ve been causing a bit of a ruckus over the last 12 or so years when I say things like “I don’t like the words of that song. I find them shallow or not steeped in real life” in relation to many of the big church hits. For the record, I do that with all songs ! Those lurve songs that declare “limitless undying love” or “I would climb mountains and swim across oceans for yooooooouuuuu!!!” are lyrically ridiculous to me, even though I might love the actual song. But going back to “Jesus, you’re all I want”…..for me that’s not true. Paul the apostle gave the impression that was how Christian life was meant to be lived, but then, we don’t really know what he thought of many things because in the letters of his that we do have that are part of the NT, feelings on art, politics, and a whole range of other things weren’t his brief.

“I might want lots of things. I wanted a wife, kids, friends, family, recording equipment, a job, albums, the list is endless. None of that is incompatible with being in Christ because he is number one. None of the things I want or like or have to do are the centre of my existence. I can make loads of decisions myself – that is not incompatible with being led by the Spirit. I can dig many things in the world and equally detest many things in the world. Hating horror movies or porn doesn’t mean that I’m God centered. Not subscribing to the standard Christian norms of daily bible study or one hour prayer or whatever doesn’t make a person a reprobate. It’s been hard, but I’ve learned over the years to cultivate a relationship with the Lord on the move and in the stillness and quietness and in the hubbub of company. I’ll talk with him anytime and anywhere about football, music, war, sex, his church, history, my kids, my wife, buses, the shower, politics, pain, things I understand, things I don’t, telly, friends, attitudes, work, riding a bike, you name it. Nothing is verboten. I’ll talk and try to listen as I drive, walk, watch TV, listen to music, joke with the kids, play the guitar, read, argue, work – you name it. Is that God centered ? Sometimes, we won’t chat extensively or with depth for days and days. That does not mean that he plays second fiddle or that “the world” has or is crowding him out. In fact, I think that when we have to think of life with the Lord in this way, maybe we’re the ones who really haven’t really grasped what it is to be led by him. There is one powerful NT example {among many} that stands out to me and that’s when Paul brought back to life the kid that fell out the window and died. In the record written, there is no mention of God. But that Paul simply went and confidently prayed for the guy says something. He often moved in the life of God within him. But this is the same guy who, when the disciples in Tyre urged him through the Spirit not to go to Jerusalem, he ignored them and went. This indicates to me that being led by the Spirit is what the Lord truly desires for us because I doubt many of us would argue that Paul wasn’t God centered. But he was a bloke like half of us and human like all of us and didn’t get it always right. I also realize that for the rest of our days we’ll be learning, ebbing, flowing, but hopefully closer to and more led by our God. I don’t want “Heaven” to be the place where I tell him I love him and know I mean it. I want Kingsbury in London or wherever I am at the time {regardless of what I’m doing or how I feel} to be that place.”

Excellent related post: Get Human!

 

Once again we are seeing that MUSIC has a universal language that can be a great unifying message across cultures, races, economic classes, and nationalities. On NPR this morning I heard about a project that I knew I had to google as soon as I could find time today. The amazing tool of the internet and YouTube to put together the talent that’s already out there is just amazing. See what you think about the project just getting started known as , “Playing for Change“”. A global movement of peace through music.

Playing for CHANGE website

Are Americans being given another chance?

It was 1956. From the steamy jungles of Ecuador, news spread around the world that five young American men were mercilessly killed by members of the Auca tribe (now known as the Waodani)-a people those young men had gone to serve and befriend and ultimately take the Gospel of Jesus Christ to. That seemingly senseless tragedy a half century ago has become an inspirational marvel as that tribe is now friends with the families of those they killed! This is the story of one of those brave torchlighters–Jim Elliott.

jim-elliott

He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose”. – Jim Elliott, writing in his personal journal in 1949 while a student at Wheaton College.

As I come to the final months of involvement in the “Year of Saint Paul” emphasis proclaimed by Pope Benedict XVI, its time to try to come to some conclusions about what I’ve learned. I didn’t lay all this out in the beginning. I had an idea in general where it was heading but I didn’t check the calender for example and see how Easter and Holy Week would be a perfect time to coincide with the great themes of the Apostle. But here we are and I could not have planned a better time to “cut to the chase” as they say about what He was all about.

We’ve shown that he was all about the Gospel- the full Gospel in contrast to the truncated versions so prevalent in America. The one who truly understands the Gospel of Christ as God’s own testimony concerning what He has accomplished for the human race, understands it as a summons from God to His rebellious children to give up their rebellion and be reconciled to their Heavenly Father.

Jim Elliott, just one of the thousands of Christian martyrs of the 20th century, understood the same thing the Apostle Paul did in the 1st century. He understood that by obeying the summons to enter the Kingdom of Christ, he also accepts an obligation to no longer live for his own ego, but for the glory of another. Is this not exactly what Christ told his very first disciples:

If anyone desires to come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, and whoever losses his life for my sake will find it. For what is a man profited if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?

The Apostle Paul, in a real way, represents the second generation of disciples who were given the same summons to follow Christ. Here is how he expressed his reasoning: “For the love of Christ constrains us, because we judge thus- that if One died for all, then all died; and He died for all, that those who live should live no longer for themselves, but for Him who died for them and rose again.”

Is it not painfully clear that America has been reminded about just how fleeting the material treasures of our rebellion are and how at any moment they can be evaporated into thin air? Who is the real fool then, the one who insists on keeping his toys or the one who answers the summons to enter the eternal Kingdom with treasures we cannot imagine?