Musings of an Anglican/Episcopal Priest

Month: October 2013 (Page 2 of 2)

The Shocking Power Of A Word Of Love

“It is no small thing to hear, and to say, in a violent and brutal world, in a world where many easily use others for pleasure and profit, “God is love.” When there has been no real love in your life — and my wife has another such story, for being a pastor’s daughter means little — then the most important question you will ever ask, and you will ever want answered, is “will someone ever love me?” It may be tawdry and sentimental and demand little from far too many comfortable folks who fill churches (though to be honest, so does supporting the troops and opposing abortion and loving Israel, mostly because such things as political postures require little discipline or sacrifice, and they don’t really form people in the image of Christ — and this is true also of mistaking the welfare state for the Kingdom), in many of the churches I have been in — in rough places, hard places, places full of broken, unwanted people — there is nothing more important than to grab hold of that love and know that despite all the world does and has done, that love is yours.It is no small thing.It is no small thing to love those who come to you so broken by violence and hedonism. To truly love them. It is no small thing to say, love your neighbor. and then actually love your neighbor as Jesus loves. No small thing.”

A longtime reader wrote to say that he mostly enjoyed my Time essay about why Pope Francis’s apparent laxness will not cause this ex-Catholic to return to Rome.

Read it all: The Shocking Power Of A Word Of Love

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The Strangelove Republicans

“The Republican Party has driven the country to the brink, and this morning, House Republicans bolstered their ranks by … standing together and singing Amazing Grace. It’s Strangelovian. Maybe there won’t be a long-term fallout from this, but I tell you, it’s very hard to see entrusting power to a party that behaves this way, that manufactures crises like this for its own short-term political gain. The Republicans, having lost their mind, have destroyed their brand.

Amazing Grace. They cause this looming disaster — which, make no mistake, would be a global disaster — and then stand there singing a freaking hymn amid the ruins of their party, and the potential crash of our economy! Raving loonies, the lot.”

Today I heard an update on the radio from the fiscal crisis in Washington, and thought, “The Republicans really are going to push us over the edge.” I hope I’m

Read it all: The Strangelove Republicans

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Why Christians Should Oppose the Debt Ceiling Charade | Acton PowerBlog

“When it comes to political policy, Christians in America have a wide-range of opinions about what should be done. Even when we agree on a general principle, we tend to disagree about how that informs our policy choices. We recognize, for instance, that we have an obligation to care for the poor but differ on the type and degree of government involvement.Such differences can lead us to believe that there is nothing we can agree on. But I don’t believe that is true. There are indeed some issues that all Bible-believing Christians should be able to agree on.

One such area of potential agreement is paying debts. The Bible is clear that believers are to pay what we owe. The Apostle Paul tells us, “Pay to all what is owed to them: taxes to whom taxes are owed . . .” (Romans 13:7). Similarly, the Psalmist warns that, “The wicked borrows but does not pay back . . .” (Psalm 37:21). And Proverbs tells us, “Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, when it is in your power to do it. Do not say to your neighbor, “Go, and come again, tomorrow I will give it”—when you have it with you.” (Proverbs 3:27-28).

The Bible is clear that when an individual incurs a debt they are required, to the best of their ability, to pay what they owe. But does this same principle apply to governments?”

When it comes to political policy, Christians in America have a wide-range of opinions about what should be done. Even when we agree on a general principle

Read it all: Why Christians Should Oppose the Debt Ceiling Charade | Acton PowerBlog

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Tea Party Yankees | Jacobin

Interesting on several fronts…

“The United States has the least competitive elections in the rich world; the lowest participation by voters; the most infrequent turnover in its legislature. For a century and a half two entrenched parties have periodically manipulated election rules to exclude competitors with the blessing of the courts, in ways that would probably draw formal sanction by E.U. monitors if it were happening in Kazakhstan.”

In the past few weeks – really, the past few years – a cottage industry has grown up on liberal websites and op-ed pages, in Facebook memes and political magazines, trying to make historical sense…

Read it all: Tea Party Yankees | Jacobin

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The Theological Fusion of Social and Economic Conservatism

Looking for comments on the Club for Growth from traditionalist conservative and Christian perspectives, I came across this piece on the bargain struck between libertarians and traditionalists.

TAC readers are no doubt intimately familiar with Frank Meyer’s theory of “fusionism”: a political bargain of sorts between cultural traditionalists and l

Read it all: The Theological Fusion of Social and Economic Conservatism

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5 Tensions Every Small & Mid-Size Church Encounters

Very helpful thoughts here, especially number 5, as it hits on the tension many smaller congregations feel to keep up with the larger congregations–sometimes mega churches–up the road. The balancing point is that we also have to be willing to stretch ourselves to faithfully meet the challenge of where we are.

“5. The desire to do more, not less. As you grow, you will be tempted to do more. Every time there are more people/money/resources, the pressure will be strong to add programming and complexity to your organization.

Resist that. Just because you can doesn’t mean you should. Often the key to reaching more is doing less. By doing a few things well and creating steps, not programs, you will help more people grow faster than almost any other way. The two books that have helped me see this more than any other resources are Andy Stanley, Lane Jones and Reggie Joiner’s Seven Practices of Effective Ministry and Thom Rainer and Eric Geiger’s Simple Church. These two books helped our team resist the pressure to do more simply because we could.

Often complexity is the enemy of progress.”

A recent post I did on why most churches never break the 200 attendance mark really seems to have struck a nerve. People clearly have strong opinions and emotions about the size of churches. When I…

Read it all: 5 Tensions Every Small & Mid-Size Church Encounters

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A Letter from the Ku Klux Klan | First Things

A powerful piece on a troubling topic:

“This pathetic letter—filled with obvious misspellings and misinformation—represents the impotence and irrelevance of the contemporary Ku Klux Klan. The FBI penetrated the Klan during the last several decades, gutted it as a domestic terrorist organization, and left its remnants to rot. In my many years of living in the South I have never seen a public or even semi-covert endorsement of the Klan. My students (many of whose grandfathers and great-grandfathers were undoubtedly active members) consider it so queer, distasteful, and repulsive that it has absolutely no appeal to them. But let’s retain some perspective: There was a time when the Klan controlled massive amounts of American political and social life. Lest we think of it as merely a Southern problem, let us remember that the Klan’s most numerous, powerful, and vicious branches were in Wisconsin and Indiana.

How could such a vicious and anti-American organization have come to wield such power of the minds and actions of so many Americans? As a scholar of the Constitution and the Founding, perhaps I have a tendency to view American life and history through the “high-end” dimensions of the thoughts and writing of the Framers. It is the very sobriety of the Founders that is relevant here. Madison knew that we—even we Americans—are not angels. Moreover, he never expected that the constitutional system would turn us into angels. All the Constitution can do (and has done, I would argue) is to contain and moderate as best possible the occasionally illiberal and bigoted elements of society in a framework of liberty, law, and political leadership. But they are still out there.

Despite these reflections, I still feel a “sting” born of the fact that, even though we never met, I am this man’s enemy. As a Jew and academic, there’s a bit of the Socratic expectation of “dialectical openness” on my part to any human mind who will listen, a bit of Mishnaic willingness to confront and embrace the thoughts of those with whom one disagrees. But between this man and me that can never, never happen. I only exist as his enemy—and an enemy of the human race.”

Several years ago, I received a personal letter from the Ku Klux Klan of Upstate South Carolina. A colleague of mine in my colleges Religion Department had asked me to conduct a model Seder for…

Read it all: A Letter from the Ku Klux Klan | First Things

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CHART: Bipartisanship and the margin of victory

“The math is stark. Of the 199 Democrats in the House at the start of the 113th Congress, a majority — 51 percent(!) — won their race with 67 percent of the vote or higher. Among the 234 Republicans elected in the last election, 67 — or roughly 29 percent of the GOP conference — won with 67 percent or higher.

Add it up and you have 168 seats in which the current incumbent won with 67 percent or more of the vote. That’s 38 percent of the entire House with virtually no concern about losing a general election.”

Four in ten House members won with more than 67 percent of the vote in 2012. That’s a problem for bipartisanship.

Read it all: CHART: Bipartisanship and the margin of victory

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