Monday, December 24, 2012
At the church I now serve, a "real" family plays the Holy Family roles, if the calendar works out. (By calendar working out, I mean, did anyone have a baby in he past few months? And will they be in town for Christmas Eve?) This year, a charming little four-week old girl will play the role of baby Jesus. And her mother and father will dress in costume as Mary and Joseph. The best part is, the dad is Muslim. He's not exactly "practicing" or especially "religious." But by birth and tradition, he is Muslim.
So, Jesus is a girl. S/he had two mommies. And his daddy (or is that step-daddy?) is Muslim.
My grandmother had a huge yard filled with flowers, fruit trees and statues. And every year in December she set her manger scene in the middle of it. It was the plastic kind where you stuck up a light bulb up their robes. But my grandmother wasn't content with that. She hauled over the rest of her statuary -- a terra cotta swan that was really a flower pot, a concrete boy with a fishing pole who normally lived at the fish pond, a ceramic frog. By Christmas Eve, a bizarre cadre of critters surrounded Jesus. None of them matched in style, size, or material.
Sweet little Jesus girl with two mommies and a Muslim daddy. An odd-sized boy with a fishing poll, swans, frogs, sweaty shepherds, befuddled scientists from the east, maybe a braying donkey, a pregnant teen-aged girl, a decree-sending emperor who had no idea he was part of the tale.
Christmas is a universal story. Fear, faith, longing, home, misfits, new life. Those are universal ideas.
"God bless us everyone," as Tiny Tim said. And, "Peace on earth, goodwill to all."
Friday, December 21, 2012
Wayne LaPierre, head lobbyist for the NRA, held a press conference in Washington today. He said, "The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun."
Jesus of Nazareth, is said to have been a carpenter like his daddy. One day he sat down in a field of weeds near a lake and said, “You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I say to you, ‘Do not resist an evildoer. If anyone strikes you on the right cheek, turn the other also.’ You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, ‘Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.’”
One of those guys makes an annual salary of $970,000, by the way. The other one was killed on a cross near the town dump and tossed in a borrowed grave.
Two different visions for life.
Sunday, August 12, 2012
Thursday, July 19, 2012
A friend of mine sent me an email on another topic. In the midst of his writing he described the church thusly:
“A Hebrew Bible passion for justice
a Gospel commitment to abundant grace
and a contemporary church always open to welcome and serve all God's children...
is still our work.”
Seemed worth sharing.
Wednesday, July 18, 2012
Monday, June 4, 2012
Sunday, May 27, 2012
Wednesday, April 25, 2012
But at least we can still be the center of the earth, right? With chest-thumping hymns of national exceptionalism or mind-numbing thoughts of personal egotism, we can put ourselves where we belong: on the pedestal of me-first-ism.
Then this comes along...
- Sunday I was reminded that there are more members of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in Congo than there are in North America. Interesting since the CC(DOC) claims to be the first denomination born in the United States.
- And I heard on NPR this morning that car-making icon General Motors sells more cars in China than it does in the United States.
So, where do we fit? Does all that make you feel small? Or right-sized? I wonder...
I'd like to hear from you.
Tuesday, March 27, 2012
I heard a college basketball player this morning describe an on-court dust-up with another player. The player apologized "if" the other player "took it the wrong way." A conditional apology isn't really an apology, is it?
Last week, New Orleans Saints coach Sean Payton apologized for his role in the "bounty" scandal where his players paid their teammates for injuring opposing teams. Payton said, "I am sorry for what has happened." Kind of makes you wonder, was he sorry for the bounty, or just sorry he got caught?
A few weeks before, President Obama apologized to the president of Afghanistan for Korans that were burned on a U.S. military base. Former Senator Rick Santorum snipped that Mr. Obama's apology showed "weakness." Newt Gingrich went further, saying that president "surrendered" by apologizing.
NPR apologized for a broadcast of "This American Life" that falsely described working conditions at an Apple factory in China. Then they spent an hour retracting and dissecting the false episode.
But the best apology of all in the news lately, belongs to Harold Camping. Camping is the radio preacher who said the world was going to end in May of last year. When it didn't, he changed the end-date to October. That date came and went.
Then, earlier this month, Camping broke his awkward silence to apologize. "We humbly acknowledge we were wrong," he wrote. The mistake was a "painful lesson," Camping said. Then he went on to call his own ideas "incorrect and sinful." Lest anyone still not understand, Camping threw in a few more "humbles" and spoke of himself "trembling before God."
Wow! Now that's an apology. The prediction business didn't turn out so well for Mr. Camping. Maybe he could go into the apology-writing business. Lots of work to be had there.
Monday, February 20, 2012
First of all, beginning on Inauguration Day, the new President Santorum will stop shaving. And I guess he will force all men to stop shaving as well. (It’s in the Bible.) Will the FBI enforce beard lengths or will that be left up to the states?
And I feel sorry for the person that Mr. Santorum appoints to be Secretary of Agriculture. The USDA is likely to have a tough time with the National Pork Producers Association after the new administration bans pork chops, bacon, and sausage. (No pork. It’s in the Bible.) Wonder how that will affect business at the IHOP?
And that sheriff out in Arizona, the Republican who supported Romney, then announced he was gay and said he was having an affair with an immigrant whose visa was expired? Tough call there. After all, the Bible says over and over that you should love the stranger in your land and treat him well. (Leviticus 19:34 and other places). The sheriff certainly loved—or really, really liked -- at least one stranger. But I guess President Santorum may have to kill the sheriff anyway. That’s in the Bible, too. (Leviticus 20:13. Ouch!)
Yes, it will be tough for Mr. Santorum to put into place a government based on the Bible. But there’s good news as well.
We won’t go to war since the Bible says, “Do not kill,” “Love your enemies,” and “Turn the other cheek.” (Yep, they’re all there. Pretty clear.)
And even though Mr. Santorum wants to shrink federal government, I’m sure his new Bible-based rule will allow for a new Department of Forgiveness. After all, that’s a big part of biblical theology. (Who do you think he will appoint to be Assistant Secretary for the Confession of Sins? Newt Gingrich? Bill Clinton? A lot of us could go to work in that bureau.)
One final hope: Maybe this new Bible-based government will help the economy. After all, I’m guessing that millionaires like Mr. Santorum and Mr. Obama and gazillionaires like Mr. Romney will “sell all that they have and give the money to the poor.” (It’s in the Bible.)
Friday, February 10, 2012
Thursday, January 19, 2012
So, Rick Perry’s decided to quit his presidential hunt, leaving quirky Ron Paul to be the man from
But believe it or not, Perry, Paul and Bush aren’t the only brand of
But in the interest of fairness to my fellow Texans, here are ten Texas politicians you need to know:
1. Mirabeau B. Lamar. As second president of the
2. Elisha M. Pease. As governor in the 1850s, Pease created the Permanent School Fund, a big chunk of money that helps
3. Miriam Ferguson. Okay, Miriam “Ma”
4. Dan Moody. As governor Dan Moody reorganized the state’s prisons. He redid the state highway system to make roads connect, which meant he cut highway costs in half and meant he stood up to the road-builders and their lobbyists. He had the state started auditing its accounts.
5. Maury Maverick. Maverick served only four years in Congress, representing
10. My Uncle George. Okay, he was actually my great-uncle. He served as
Wednesday, January 11, 2012
I’m kind of tired of people saying that they like Jesus, but they don’t like religion. (This little rant is prompted by a recent Facebook/YouTube clip, saying, “I hate religion, but I love Jesus.”)
There’s a whole other subset of folks who opt for the “spiritual, but not religious” track. That’s a different deal. Today, it’s the “Love Jesus, Hate Religion” mindset that’s bothersome.
I get the surface points – Jesus was about treating other people with kindness, honesty, justice, grace, compassion and love. Religion (or what people say is bad or false religion) sometimes (maybe oftentimes) squelches those virtues. Fair enough – on the surface.
So, to get by the squelching, some people – with earnest, hipster-like angst – want to opt out of religion. I think that’s selfish.
Following Jesus is cool. Devoting oneself to kindness, honesty, justice, grace, compassion and love – that’s the point of life, whether you love Jesus, Buddha, Zoroaster, or Bugs Bunny.
But I don’t think you can do those things in vacuum. That is, you can’t be kind, honest, just, graceful, compassionate and loving and never interact with another person. And the minute you interact with another person, you’ve started in on “religion.”
Religion is the process of living out a values system or a faith system. Religion is two or more people trying to follow Jesus, Buddha, Zoroaster or Bugs Bunny. And the minute two people start to interact, there is conflict, or at least the potential for conflict.
“We should demonstrate our devotion to Bugs Bunny by dressing up in rabbit suits and passing out carrots,” says Adherent Number 1.
“Should they be organic carrots,” asks Adherent Number 2.
And that’s when the trouble starts. That’s religion.
The way to avoid it is for Adherent Number 1 to withdraw, to love Bugs but hate religion, to avoid Adherent Number 2.
Maybe that would work for followers of cartoon rabbits, I don’t know. But I don’t think it works to be an independent, religion-averse Jesus-lover. I think being kind, honest, just, graceful, compassionate and loving requires being religious – that is, it requires being in connection with, in cooperation with, in community with – maybe even in disagreement with – other people trying to live out those same values.
You don’t have to call your community a church or a congregation or a coven or a klatch. But you can’t act piously and sanctimoniously above the fray of religion either. It’s part and parcel of following Jesus.
Rather than “hate” religion, I think we are called to embrace it, to recognize its inconsistencies, to laugh at its foibles, to admit our own contributions to its shortfalls, to transform it as best we can.
See, “religion” (i.e., people) has done some terrible, horrible, inexcusable things. And along the way, “religion” has had a fine moment or two as well. But to “hate” religion seems to be rather sanctimonious. To take part in religion seems like hard work that keeps us humble.