Tag Archives: rigidity

Wherein I shake my head….

So, this happened.

Seems a pastor that prayed alongside leaders of other religions (to include scary Muslims and Jews) was reprimanded by his church and apologized. I’m guessing because he committed that awful sin of attempting to participate in the communal grief of his hometown.

That’s his journey. My frustration would lie more with the bishop or regional minister rather than the local pastor. He’s trying to keep his job.

Several years ago, I was endorsed by a fundamentalist organization. Fine people. Didn’t actually have much to do with me. I guess as long as I paid my dues, they were happy to take them (to the tune of 160 bucks a month. Yes, I paid this group $160 a month for the privilege of ministering in the military. There’s something wrong with that, but hey, that’s another post when I’m feeling particularly froggy…).

They didn’t call. They sent a card once in a while. They didn’t keep up with me. I sent in reports and heard nothing back.

Till I dared use this phrase in my blog at the time: “I’m becoming more open and ecumenical.” Within weeks, this group, who had not interacted with me for years in a real way, sent two men (there would only be men in leadership of this group) to meet with me to test my orthodoxy. We sat at in a Golden Coral and they asked me questions relating to the substitutionary atonement. I gave them the answers they needed to assuage their conscience. After all, if I answered wrongly, they could pull my endorsement and I’d be a civilian again. When your jobs on the line…

They left telling me that no chaplain in their organization should ever “share the stage” with a Mormon and Catholics should be understood to be kind but hell-bound.

I started searching for a new endorser that day.

At a time when Christianity itself is losing relevancy; when in a 200 member demographic, 60+ will be “No Religious Preference,” we’re still going back and forth over whose the “real Christians” among us.

So, I shake my head…

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Filed under Chaplaincy

We – lets be honest eh?

The thing that gets me about politics – yes, I have political opinions and for all my “I’m above all that” attitude I like to believe about myself, I continually get sucked into the muddy slog that is politics in this country – the thing that gets to me is the spin. I know, I know – it’s all spin right?

Of course it is, I know it, and it still gets to me.

I’m fine with a party or viewpoint understanding and expressing the world as they see it. We all do it! I do it! It starts to bother me when a person is doing that and not understanding that they are doing it. When they get all puritan about their particular belief as though they don’t do the very same thing.

It gets to me when, to defend the viewpoint, we tend to not acknowledge when our viewpoint is just another expression of the opposite one.

Like when liberals, in defense of good and effective government, don’t admit that there are parts of are government that are, in fact, way to big, too inefficient, and needs to get smaller.

And conservatives, who, in defending the idea that we have too much government imply that they are these independent folks that don’t ever take anything from government!!

Of course we do. We ALL take from government.We ALL use government subsidies. I really enjoyed this clip on “Here and Now” about that very idea. It is right and proper to talk about how much and how efficiently our government spends our money – lets just be real about it.

To paraphrase my CPE Supervisor – lets stop talking about “them out there” (who clearly are evil, greedy, socialist, bleeding heart whatever, them who are not us) and start talking about We. We who benefit from our government. We who all pay taxes is so many ways. We who are responsible to hold our representative accountable for how they govern. We who would rather do just about anything then get informed. We who are the problem and believe that “them out there” are the problem.

We need to fix this. All of us. Honestly.

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Filed under General

Humility and Humanity

My point is that, even as religion has moved to the center of American political life, humility has moved to the periphery.

This thought, written by Stephen Prothero in response to Eastwood’s speech at the RNC highlights something that I am addressing in my sermon tomorrow. The text this week is from Mark 7 where Jesus hammers the Pharisees for missing the boat in relationship to God. They were so focused on their identity as expressed through obedience to the Law (their interpretation and extrapolation of it) that they missed the dynamism of actual relationship. Rigidity in the doing stymied relationship in the being.

Its not all bad for them. I note in the sermon that history teaches us that these rigid followers of the Law were faithful and committed people; their writings not legalistic (for their time) but rather demonstrate vitality, a gracious vision of God, a yearning for justice, and a desire for people to live faithfully. They really believed that they were the closest to what God wanted from humans. Of course, they got a little lost in that.

Its not like we’re all that different – in our drive to rid ourselves of abortion, we miss the fact that we’re to be loving, kind and willing to sacrifice to take care of unwanted humans. In our drive to “uphold freedom” and rid ourselves from any vestige of that dirty word “socialism” (early Christians very much were socialists) we  abandon the chronically poor and those that are most vulnerable in our society. Sure, we get our “pure”  religion right but miss the point of the whole thing.

I think the Pharisees were sincere. I think they were faithful to the revelation they had – they just missed the further revelation of Jesus Christ – are we missing the same thing?

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Filed under Sermon