Against the Powers

October 31, 2013

A long-overdue return to the topic of this particular conference I attended in 2009. Previous entry here. The plenary sessions left me with a lot to chew on, and I may as well acknowledge that I’m still trying to take it all in. There were three speakers: Walter Wink, Stanley Hauerwas, and Marva Dawn. Read the rest of this entry »


So, this is how it works.

1.  Start with unreconstructed conservative Christianity, which takes as one of its premises that it possesses a uniquely true creed which offers the only genuine salvation in a world where every human being is headed to either damnation or salvation.  Then, roaming among the enormous and highly varegiated world of Christians, find some Christians who sincerely believe that being a Christian obligates them to offer their proprietary “salvation solution” to everyone who is not a Christian.  Then note that, with the stakes as high as eternal-life-or-eternal-suffering, the question of what it actually means to be a Christian is freighted with angst.  So some of these Christians feel anxiety, not only about the easily-identified damned (e.g. atheists, witches) but those whose piety is too lukewarm or not Christ-centered enough, or not belonging to the right tradition.  

2.  Now take a man who’s an unreconstructed conservative patriot.  His father graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy.  He himself was an honor graduate from the U.S. Air Force Academy.  For ten years, he serves as a Judge Advocate General in the Air Force.  He’s a White House lawyer for Ronald Reagan for over three years, and also serves as general counsel for Ross Perot.  When his youngest son goes to the Air Force Academy, he’s the sixth member of the family to attend.  (At one point he does the math: in his immediate family, there are over a hundred years of combined active-duty military service from every combat engagement from World War I to Iraq/Afghanistan.)

3.  Make the man – we’ll call him Mikey, because that’s what everyone calls him – Jewish.  Then let his kids, as they attend the Air Force Academy, encounter some of these Christians who don’t understand the discourtesy involved in telling someone, “Your whole family is going to hell, and unless you join Team Jesus, you will, too.”

Read the rest of this entry »

The blogger Jeremy Hooper has posted one of the most fascinating documents I’ve ever had the pleasure of reading, through all my reading related to the collision of gay rights activism and conservative Christian activism. A man changed his mind. Wow. It does happen, people. The man is named Louis Marinelli, and for a while he had a very close relationship with the organization NOM, which (in spite of its acronym) is not about the ravenous consumption of yummy food but instead is attempting to agitate and lobby against the institutionalization of same-sex marriage. Marinelli went from being an enthusiastic supporter to a repentant sinner asking for grace. Not to misrepresent things: the man is not a Christian. (More fascinating still, he is not exactly a supporter of the set of sexual choices often called “homosexuality.”) This is not a man who has switched camps. He just recognizes that there is a truth external to our biases and leanings and sometimes a day of reckoning comes when you have to adjust your point of view in accordance with that truth. We who profess faith should all have such a spiritual experience!

Hooper emailed him, asking: “On record, I’d ask you to go through the list of comments you have written/ Tweeted/ blogged/ Facebooked and repudiate any/all that you now see were objectionable.” Marinelli’s response is below. Read the rest of this entry »

Social Justice

February 22, 2011

from Cardus, as part of a series of short pieces on social justice:

Sandra McCracken writes:

Conversation is a form of activism.
—Marilyn Chandler McEntyre, Caring For Words in a Culture of Lies

Social action begins with conversation. Action comes out of the words we speak with our family.

Should I yell at my son to convince him to obey? Or could I appeal to him more creatively?
Should I make time to ask about the needs of my neighbour? Or just stay inside?
Who is my sister in Africa? Am I using my resources to bring awareness to her needs?

On a good day, I battle my ego. My constant inward gaze has caused spiritual cataracts that impair my ability to seek out love in action and conversation. It is easy to fight for my own rights. It’s not so easy to fight for somebody else’s.

My husband and I moved from the suburbs into the city in 2005, chasing down this idea of what it is to love your neighbour. One practical way I have found to combat self-protection is to get out there and mix up my “rights” with someone else’s. To care about sidewalks and housing codes for the poor is to live among the poor, so that those sidewalks and housing codes become mine.

As a follower of Jesus, social justice is something I am called to do perfectly. I fail. But Jesus has accomplished social justice on my behalf. This reality, like a new birth, liberates me to engage with my neighbours in mercy and humility. In the words of John Bunyan,

Run and work, the law demands,
but gives me neither feet nor hands.
A better song the Gospel sings:
it bids me fly, and gives me wings.

In word, song, and deed, may the Gospel elevate our conversation.

There’re no simple answers when it comes to Grail, not even to the simple question, “How did the Grail come into your life?” So I’m going to approach it from a few angles. Read the rest of this entry »

We are all waiting, Lord. Read the rest of this entry »