Monday, June 30, 2014

Worth re-posting on this day...

"The most glaring inconsistency between Hobby Lobby's ethical proclamations and its business decisions concerns the matter of religious liberty. The craft store chain is hailed by conservatives as standing up to Uncle Sam and fighting for religious freedom. Yet Hobby Lobby imports billions of dollars worth of bric-a-brac from a nation that denies 1.35 billion citizens freedom of worship."

--Jonathan Merritt, Stop Calling Hobby Lobby a Christian Business, The Week

Sunday, June 29, 2014

"Culturally conservative Christians are taking a pronounced turn toward social secession: asserting both the right and the intent to sequester themselves from secular culture and norms, including the norm of nondiscrimination. This is not a good idea. When religion isolates itself from secular society, both sides lose, but religion loses more."

--Jonathan Rauch, The Great Secession, The Atlantic Monthly

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Charisma magazine's News site has posted a particularly mean-spirited and grace-less op ed about churches who welcome, include and affirm persons who are LGBTQ.  The author of the editorial claims--with the absolute and exclusive certainty that is the hallmark of fundamentalism--that such churches are demonic and a sign of "the Great Apostasy" which some Christians believe is a precursor to "the End Times."  The author prays for a "Third Great Awakening" that will "sweep through the nation and cause people to turn back to God."

Here is the comment I left:

So shrill. So unquestioningly self-righteous. So dependent upon a very particular method of Biblical interpretation and a historically peculiar eschatological framework.

Here is one of the few statements in the article that I think has credence: "My research shows there's a long and growing list of gay-affirming denominations, including the Affirming Pentecostal Church International." This list, which also includes Charismatic Christians, will continue to grow.

Have you considered, dear fellow Christian, that what is occurring regarding the inclusion of persons who are LGBTQ is not "the Great Apostasy" you imagine, but rather is a move of the Holy Spirit? Is it possible that you are making a similar error to those early Christians who "called unclean what God had made clean" in regards to God's inclusion of a group that they despised? They too assumed that both scripture and tradition supported their claim, but the Spirit was doing otherwise. They too elevated non-essential things up to the level of core doctrines and, in doing so, neglected what was weightier.

I have been in the midst of hundreds of LGBTQ Christians worshipping Jesus with all of their hearts in the presence of the Holy Spirit. Could it be that the "third Great Awakening" that you have prayed for is happening, but it does not look like you assumed it would?

Friday, June 27, 2014

“For a leader in the religious right, the last three decades weren’t so bad. Today however, they are approaching their twilight years. During a time when many would think of retirement and the opportunity to sit back and admire their accomplishments, these religious leaders are left to simply look over their shoulders at a building that is crumbling and beginning to catch fire. This is precisely what has them so angry: they’ve lost most of the power and control they once had, and what’s left, is quickly slipping through their fingers.”

--Benjamin L. Corey, 3 Key Reasons Why Religious Leaders Are So Angry

Thursday, June 26, 2014

"God is not totally independent from the world--and indeed, from the image of God brooding over the waters in Genesis, to God's wooing of a people in the lore of Jewish history, to the incredible nature imagery of the Psalms and wisdom literature, to the intimate images of relationship between God and the Jews in prophetic literature, to the story of God's incarnational activity in the Gospels, to the images of God's Spirit brooding over and through the church in the epistles, to the culminating image of God's renewal of all creation in Revelation, does not the Scripture itself contradict the notion of a God totally independent of the world?  Our texts portray a God deeply involved with the world and its events, with God wooing the world to deeper modes of community and caring, wooing us towards deeper relation with one another and with God's own self.  So imagine, as the Scriptures suggest, that God is not independent of the world, but interdependent with the world.  Imagine that the God of the universe, like flowing water, is in intimate relation with all elements throughout the universe, and therefore with all our earth as well.  Imagine that God, in creative relation to the earth, woos the earth so that it becomes a world, and woos the world in the hope that it might yet become a peaceful and just reflection of the divine image.
[T]he image of God I am proposing is of a God pervasively present, like water, to every nook and cranny of the universe, continuously wooing the universe toward continuous transformation toward its greater good. ... I am proposing an image of a God who interacts with the universe not partially, but totally.  Such a God creatively gives to and receives from all forms of existence. ... God gives creative and suggestive energy to the world, and the world gives the results of what it has done with this energy back to God.  Prayer in such a world is an openness to God's own creative energy, and to the good that God intends for us.  It is also an offereing back to God, giving God the gift of ourselves. ... God's creative power works with the world's creative power--and sometimes against the world's resistant power.  For the world can resist God.  It cannot eliminate God, and it cannot change God's self-chosen character; it cannot defeat the divine faithfulness, and it cannot rid itself of the divine presence.  But the world can distort the guidance of God; it can refuse the possibilities given for its transformation.  It can reject God moment by moment.  Alternatively, the world can open itself to God, becoming a co-laborer with God, exercising its influence in conjunction with God's great aim towared deeper modes of human communities of caring.  The world can respond to God in love, and know its own love to be a uniquely creative reflection of God's deeply wooing love.  And whether we respond to God in rejection or in love, God inexorably experiences our response--God inexorably experiences us. ... [P]rayer is God's invitation to us to be willing partners in the great dance of bringing a world into being that reflects something of God's character."

--Marjorie Hewitt Suchocki, In God's Presence

"To my mind at least, same-sex marriage is not so much a radical break with our Protestant American tradition as it is a logical extension of this trajectory and shift that can be found within it. Once you dispense, as most contemporary Christian Americans have, with the two elements that have dominated traditional understandings of marriage throughout history and across the globe, namely, patriarchy (that marriage must include a man and a woman because it is of the nature of men to rule and the nature to women to be ruled), and procreationism (that marriage is essentially about making babies and raising children) then it becomes increasingly hard to exclude two people of the same sex from this institution without special pleading or duplicity."

--Heath Bradley
Why N.T. Wright is Wrong:
Part 1
Part 2

(via AZSpot

"Based on the Southern Baptist resolution, one might think that accepting those who are gender non-conforming goes against Christian teaching. That is simply not true. Prejudice against gay and transgendered people is not a matter of faith. It is a matter of conservative politics. While some Christians oppose transgendered people, many others don't. By not only accepting a transgendered priest as a member of its denomination but also but also having him preach at the National Cathedral, the Episcopalian Church has loudly demonstrated its inclusive message of acceptance for the transgendered community."

Episcopalian Church sends a message: Discrimination is not a Christian value

Sunday, June 22, 2014

"For almost the entirety of its ancient existence, Israel/Judah was politically and militarily insignificant. Although it enjoyed some periods of relative strength and security, it was dwarfed by the wolves that surrounded it.  At various times, the Egyptians, Assyrians, Babylonians, Persians, Greeks and Romans were some of the imperial powers that extended their dominion over minor states within their grasp, including Israel/Judah. Subjugation and assimilation was a ceaseless threat.  It is within this political context that the Bible presents the notion of salvation. That is, biblical 'salvation' means salvation from empire."
--Craig Evan Anderson
(Excellent Q&A in the Comments section also)

"The upside of our silence is institutional harmony; the downside is that we relinquish our prophetic voice. Moderate Christians can rarely be found in the vanguard of social change. When the shooting starts, we head for the bunkers and wait to see which side will prevail. If no winner emerges, we stay in the bunker. Many pastors can’t imagine life outside the bunker. They are people without opinions, skilled at navigating around the elephants in the room. Tragically, our world is now so full of elephants that avoidance is no longer an option."

--Alan Bean, Why We Need a 'Third Way' on Gay Rights

Saturday, June 21, 2014

"There was a time in my life when I used to sound a lot like Rick Perry. In fact, for more than ten years I was one of the nation’s leading spokesmen for the 'ex-gay' movement. I traveled the country telling audiences that being gay was a preventable condition, and it could be treated if only you followed a simple plan, obeyed God and sought repentance for your sins. ... I wanted my homosexuality to change, but the truth is: For all my public rhetoric, I was never one bit less gay. Behind closed doors, many of us in the 'ex-gay' leadership at Focus on the Family would even admit this to each other — and we had this conversation many times: 'We know our orientation hasn’t really changed.' ... One incident in particular hit me very hard. In 2013 I was confronted by a man in a coffee shop who was angry and had tears in his eyes. 'The kind of message you preached kept me in depression for most of my life,' he told me. 'My parents wanted me to change, I tried for years and I couldn’t do it. It devastated my life until I finally accepted I was gay.' What he said moved me to tears, and I apologized to him."

--John Paulk, To Straight and Back: My Life as an Ex-ex-gay Man

Friday, June 20, 2014

"Please know that the same triune God in whom we place our hope, faith and trust in is still in control, and that the Assembly’s action today is the result of deep discernment to hear God’s voice and discern God’s will."

Official statement from the Presbyterian Church (USA) regarding the change in their stance on same-sex marriage...

"What I remember is the backpack in the corner, larger than the typical student model, which attracted my gaze like a dark star. And I remember the student’s response to my carefully scripted question about a possible plan to harm himself or others: 'If I were going to pull a Virginia Tech or a Columbine,' he said, 'I wouldn’t tell you about it, would I?'”

Was This Student Dangerous?
Julie Schumacher, New York Times

Thursday, June 19, 2014

"During most of the debate, I sat with a group of friends who are young LGBTQ seminarians, seminary graduates, and ministers. I have heard these folks preach — standing up in their particular location and saying this is where I see the good news of Jesus Christ — and here is what Christ is calling us to do. They preach from a social location of knowing what it is to be other, of what it is to be treated as somehow less-than. And they have found their voice — each wonderfully their own — and they preach with compassion, not flinching from speaking sometimes-hard truths.  I have seen them lead — leading student communities, leading national advocacy organizations, and leading churches. When I am in their company, I cannot help but overflow with hope for the church."

--Rev. Scott Clark, Blogging the PCUSA General Assembly

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

“Quakerism offers a very special 'form' that I personally find extremely appealing: A unique form of devotion, coming together, and worship, namely silent meditation.  Modern Quakerism offers many things that are in heavy demand today: A healthy blend of calm and activity, self-responsibility, personal experience of God, and human sympathy. At least, that’s their promise.”

Huffington Post: 4 Things We Can All Learn From One Of America's Oldest Religious Communities

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

"The most glaring inconsistency between Hobby Lobby's ethical proclamations and its business decisions concerns the matter of religious liberty. The craft store chain is hailed by conservatives as standing up to Uncle Sam and fighting for religious freedom. Yet Hobby Lobby imports billions of dollars worth of bric-a-brac from a nation that denies 1.35 billion citizens freedom of worship."

Stop Calling Hobby Lobby a Christian Business

Friday, June 13, 2014

"The scientist's quest, however positivistic he may claim it to be,
is colored or haloed - or rather is invincibly animated,
fundamentally by mystical hope."

--Pierre Teilhard De Chardin
From Eugene Cho, pastor of Seattle's Quest Church:

"What would Jesus do with guns?  Would he own guns? Sell guns? Perform miracles and multiply guns for 5000 people? Would he use guns? Would he ask his followers and disciples to own guns? I’m no expert on the topic of Jesus and guns but I do know Jesus and for this Jesus who encouraged people to 'turn the other cheek' and gave encouragement to be 'peacemakers',  my guess is that he wouldn’t be a member of the NRA."

(via AZSpot)

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

"Our culture which has for generations been so radically pro-gun that it has opposed any sort of reasonable, middle ground approach on the issue, is now experiencing what Jesus meant when he said: 'if you live by the sword you will die by the sword'”.

-- Benjamin Corey, When We Worship The God of Fear (the idolatry of gun culture)

"To all those condemned by the Southern Baptists today: Please know there are people and churches ready to welcome you with the open arms of Christ." -- Rachel Held Evans

Read: The Southern Baptist Convention throws transgender people under the bus by John Shore

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

A [Conservative] Religious Guide to Sabotaging Your Life:

1. Begin with the premise that there is something hopelessly and incurably wrong with you.

2. Believe that your humanity is an affront to God, an obstacle to overcome, and an evil to repress or eradicate.

3. Pin your hopes on the afterlife, and don’t get too interested in the herelife.

4. Mistrust what you most deeply feel.

5. Give others the power and authority to determine what your beliefs, values, opinions, goals, desires, and views are.

6. Fear, reject, condemn, and close yourself off from anything that doesn’t fit with what you got from the above.

7. Focus on behavior modification, checklists, do’s and don’ts, obedience, and keeping the rules when it comes to living your life.

8. Give up or kill off all your needs and desires as a sign of spiritual maturity and call it "dying to self."

9. Make sure everything and everyone in life is assigned a label or put into a box.

10. Label science, psychology, and art as “secular,” “carnal,” or “worldly,” and stay away from it.

11. Consider talk of love, unity, harmony, peace, beauty and oneness as childish, foolish, idealistic, or dangerous.

12. Draw a line between "sacred" and "secular" and divide up the world accordingly.

13. Divide humankind up into "us" and "them," and stay away from "them" and judge “them” from a distance.

14. Lock up and throw away the key to your sexuality and get busy focusing on something that is holy.

15. Put forth a valiant effort to project and maintain an image that lines up with the expectations of your religious community, and hide the ways you don't.

16. Don't ask questions, rock the boat, challenge authority, think for yourself, or listen to that voice inside... just keep doing or believing even if it violates something deep inside of you.

(Source: Jim Palmer, Notes from (Over) the Edge)
"New Testament scholar James Brownson, who wrote the 2013 book Bible, Gender, Sexuality, concurs. He told me, 'Male-male sex in the ancient world was episodic. It was mainly young boys with older men or male slaves and masters. It was not mutual. These were not relationships, they were not marriage and they were not meant to turn into marriage.' Brownson said to compare what ancient writers viewed as heterosexual 'sexual excess' — akin to gluttony — with the modern concept of sexual orientation is misguided.' ... This is not a matter of molding biblical teaching to satisfy a personal belief. ... 'The issue of sexual orientation represents new data that the church needs to ask itself, 'Should this change the way we look at this?'  The church has done this before on issues ranging from slavery to the solar system."


Monday, June 09, 2014

Statement from SPU Student/Hero Jon Meis

"When I came face to face with the attacker, God gave me the eyes to see that he was not a faceless monster, but a very sad and troubled young man."

(Source: Seattle Pacific University)

"I pity the man or woman who sets boundaries around God’s love.  I used to be that man."

(Source: )

Sunday, June 08, 2014

The Split-Personality of Quakers?

Sometimes I think we Quakers struggle collectively with a form of split-personality disorder.  On the one hand Friends value peaceableness, respect and gentle care for others, as exemplified by the likes of John Woolman and Elizabeth Fry.  On the other hand, when I read the writings of George Fox, William Penn, Lucretia Mott, and many other olden Friends, I see a rhetorical pugnaciousness that speaks truth without pulling punches, unabashedly calls out hypocrisy and subverts injustice.  One picture of the quintessential Quaker is that of the irenic quietist, the other is of the determined and outspoken (and sometimes obnoxious) activist.  I love Thomas Kelly, but I also love Benjamin Lay.

Sometimes these two Quaker archetypes clash, such as when Levi and Catherine Coffin were expelled from their staid Yearly Meeting because of the dangerous activities they undertook in the Underground Railroad on behalf of fugitive slaves.  The peace-loving Quakers can lean towards inoffensively maintaining the status quo, while the activist Quakers can incite controversy, discomfort, embarrassment and trouble.

But these are really two sides of the same coin and ought to be integrated.  Quakers are deeply spiritual people.  That spirituality fosters a humility and tenderness but it also fuels a stubborn zeal.  Both are needed.  As William Penn wrote, "True religion does not draw men out of the world but enables them to live better in it and excites their endeavors to mend it."

Postscript:  My friend and pastor Lorraine provided the perfect summation of what I'm trying to say:  "It is a paradox, which is at its best when the creative differences are held in tension without letting one overpower the other."

"Redefining Marriage"

I was listening to a radio program called Catholic Answers the other day while driving.  They dedicated the entire show to discussing their opposition to same-sex marriage, repeatedly railing against the "redefinition of marriage."  This is perhaps the most disingenuous statement I hear from those who oppose same-sex marriage: that to allow it is to "redefine marriage."

I find the use of this term "redefining marriage" to be disingenuous for three reasons:

1.  To extend or expand something is not to "redefine" it.  There is a restaurant here in town that serves awesome pancakes.  They recently added the option for gluten-free pancakes to their menu.  In doing so, they did not "redefine" pancakes.  They simply added on to their definition of what constitutes a pancake in order make pancakes available to more people.  Traditional pancakes are in no way endangered or diminished.

2.  Even if we accept the term "redefine marriage," any cursory investigation of history and sociology will show that cultures have continuously "redefined" marriage.  For example, polygamy is not the norm in our culture, whereas it has been the norm in other cultures, including the culture of the ancient Hebrews.  One can make a pretty good case that polygamy is a form of "biblical" marriage, as far as the Hebrew scriptures are concerned.  Yet by the time of Jesus, the culture had become more urbanized and Hellenized and, as a result, marriage had been "redefined" and monogamy was the norm (though polygamy, such as Levirite marriage, was still practiced).  But the monogamous marriage practiced in ancient times was markedly different from the monogamous marriage practiced in 20th and 21st century America.  Marriages in the past were typically entered into by teenagers as a result of matches negotiated by their parents, often for socio-economic purposes.  It was not unusual for the bride and groom to barely know each other prior to their wedding.  This is still the case in some cultures.  The norm in our Western culture of a young adult couple dating, falling in love and choosing to wed is a "redefinition" of "traditional" marriage.

3.  Marriage in our culture exists on two levels:  Civil and religious.  Those who wed can choose the civil ratification of their commitment but opt out of the religious validation of that contract.  This means that for any given marriage there could be two definitions: the legal and the religious.  In some cases, such as legal marriages that are not recognized as valid by the Catholic church due to one of the partner's prior marriage not being annulled, these two definitions don't sync up.  Conversely, I know of situations where folks (such as elderly widows and widowers) have entered into "common law" cohabitation but did not get legally married because to do so would cause them to lose benefits (such as pensions) upon which they depend--and yet these committed unions were blessed by their churches as marriages. 

The current sea change in Western culture has to do with extending civil marriage to same-sex couples.  It does not force a "redefinition" upon the current interpretation of marriage held by conservative religious organizations.  Further, history shows that the parameters of the religious definition of marriage have continuously evolved and adapted based on cultural conditions.

Now, I'm going to go eat some pancakes...

Saturday, June 07, 2014

The shooter at Seattle Pacific University was (once again) a young man beset by mental illness, yet also described by those who knew him as good and kind. He was not--and is not--an evil person. He was a troubled, struggling person who did an evil thing (it has been remarkable to see the grace and concern being extended to him by the students and faculty at SPU, a Christian college). That there are those among us who struggle with mental illnesses is a fact of the human condition, and a subset of those may seek to hurt themselves or others. Our cultural fixation on violence and the ridiculous ease with which someone can obtain guns adds fuel to the fire, enabling a troubled person to harm not just him/herself but also potentially scores of complete strangers. We are not going to cure mental illness anytime soon or develop reliable methods of identifying who is going to become a mass murderer. While that work continues, the obvious and practical thing we can do is closely regulate the distribution, sale, ownership and storage of guns (as so many other developed countries have successfully done).

Additionally, what provided a window for the SPU gunman to be stopped by a heroic student was when he paused to reload. This is also what allowed bystanders to take down the 2011 Tucson shooter. This is also what enabled 6 children to escape from Sandy Hook Elementary. Conversely, what empowered the Aurora shooter to kill and wound so many was the 100-round magazine he was equipped with (he was finally stopped when his gun jammed). How can anyone disagree with the simple logic of limiting ammunition and outlawing high-capacity magazines?

Friday, June 06, 2014

"Think of water as a different metaphor for God.  Water rushes to fill all the nooks and crannies available to it; water swirls around every stone, sweeps into every crevice, touches all things in its path--and changes all things in its path.  The changes are subtle, often slow, and happen through a continuous interaction with the water that affects both the water and that which the water touches.  Particles of sand and sediment change the color of the water, and the water's action changes the stone, and the land, and the life that can be supported.  The water doesn't exert its power by being 'single-minded' over and above these things, but simply by being pervasively present to and with all things.  It does not evoke the 'command' of power over its creation; it is more like a 'persuasive' power with and around its creation.  Its power is a power of presence.

What if God is like that?  Could we not imagine a God pervasively present throughout all the universe, filling all its vast and small spaces, its greatest galaxies and its tiniest motes of stardust?  If God's power works through presence, and if God's presence is an 'omnipresence,' then one could say both that there is no center to the universe and the everything in the universe is center to all else.  There is no center, for all things are 'equidistant' from God, and the centeredness of God is unbounded.  But, paradoxically, we can say that all things are center, for if all things are in the presence of God, then it is God who centers them. ... For if God is omnipresent, centering all things, then God is like the rushing water of the universe, filling all spaces, honoring all spaces, centering all spaces through the specialness of divine presence.  Prayer in such a universe makes eminent sense--for God is always present.  And perhaps this divine presence invites us into communion."

--Marjorie Hewitt Suchocki, In God's Presence

Thursday, June 05, 2014

"I have had a handful of Christians over the years tell me that my questioning some traditional biblical interpretations is just giving into this demonic temptation to doubt what Gods says.  There are a couple problems with this response. First, as a rebuttal to a new proposal, it is inadequate because it assumes what it is trying to prove. It assumes the traditional interpretation is what God really said, and then accuses the other of refusing to accept it (thus rejecting God), when the whole question in the first place is, 'What does this text really mean?' So, just logically speaking, it begs the question.  Second, and I think more interesting, is the fact that this objection actually backfires on itself because it ignores the actual biblical story it appeals to. When the serpent says to Adam and Eve, 'Did God really say…?' the serpent was not trying to cast doubt on what God actually said. God, as Eve helpfully points out, never said that they couldn’t eat from any tree, there is only one tree they are not to eat from. Which leads to an observation that could actually work against the conservative use of this analogy.  You see, Satan’s oldest trick isn’t to get us to doubt what God says. Satan’s oldest trick is to get us to think that God said something that God never said. The serpent appears to be trying to get Adam and Eve to doubt the goodness of God by making God’s commands seem harsher and more restrictive than they actually are."

Wednesday, June 04, 2014

Look closely...


I attend a Quaker church.  When we meet together on Sunday mornings for worship there are two periods during our corporate gathering when anyone who cares to can speak to the congregation.  The first of these periods is called "God Stories."  This occurs at the beginning of our meetings.  During God Stories, people can share their good news or bad news or prayer requests or accounts of what God has been doing in their lives.  This helps us to stay connected with one another and be aware of what is going on in each other's lives.  The second period when anyone can speak is called "Open Worship."  Open Worship is the heart of our Sunday morning gathering.  It is to us what the Eucharist is to Catholics.  During Open Worship we sit together in stillness and silence in the presence of the Lord, waiting and attentively listening for God to speak.  If anyone feels that they have an inspired message to share, they do so, while the rest of us listen carefully and respectfully, discerning what God's message is for us.  This can be a very profound and holy and reverent experience.  Often, through the vocal ministry of people scattered around the room a very clear message from God emerges.

Because there are people in our church who are hearing impaired, we utilize a hand-held wireless microphone and assign someone each Sunday to microphone duty.  During God Stories or Open Worship, if someone wishes to speak they raise their hand and the microphone is brought to them.  Frankly, this is a bit of a hassle, but we do it because we want every voice to be heard by every one of us.  We value one another that much and we believe that God can speak to all of us through any one of us.

In every church I attended prior to becoming a Quaker only a select few had access to the microphone.   Predominantly it was the pastor.  He spoke, we listened.  Access to the microphone was closely guarded.

A microphone is a tool but it is also a symbol.  It can be a tool and symbol of control and domination and narcissism or it can be a tool and symbol of humility and mutual respect and openness.  It can be a tool and symbol of exclusion or of inclusion, of hierarchy or of egalitarianism, of limiting God's ministry or of widening God's ministry.

A microphone is a powerful thing. 

Tuesday, June 03, 2014

Bodies of 800 babies, long-dead, found in septic tank at former Irish home for unwed mothers

To paraphrase Pascal, people never do evil so completely and so cheerfully as when they do it from religious conviction...

"The grim findings, which are being investigated by police, provide a glimpse into a particularly dark time for unmarried pregnant women in Ireland, where societal and religious mores stigmatized them. Without means to support themselves, women by the hundreds wound up at the Home. 'When daughters became pregnant, they were ostracized completely,' Corless said. 'Families would be afraid of neighbors finding out, because to get pregnant out of marriage was the worst thing on Earth. It was the worst crime a woman could commit, even though a lot of the time it had been because of a rape.'”


The Harbinger

Driving to work this morning and flipping through the stations, I heard a snippet of a distinctive voice from my past: James Dobson.  Many years ago Carla and I were devoted followers of Dobson and his organization Focus on the Family.  He was our "go to guy" for family and parenting advice--some of which was good and some of which we now regret.  We diverged from the Focus on the Family path many years ago and had lost track of Dr. Dobson, so I decided to listen in and find out what he is up to.  I do recall that in January 2013, in the wake of President Obama's reelection, Dobson wrote in a newsletter, "Nearly everything I have stood for these past 35 years went down to defeat."

But he is still on the radio and this week Dr. Dobson is promoting a book entitled The Harbinger: The Ancient Mystery That Holds the Secret of America's FutureThe Harbinger was written by a "messianic" rabbi in New Jersey who lacks formal theological education but claims to have uncovered a "hidden prophecy" in the book of Isaiah which foretells the fall of the United States.  The book extrapolates from two verses in Isaiah (chapter 9, verses 10 and 11) that there are nine "seals" or harbingers of America's destruction which began unfolding on 9/11/2001.  In other words, God cryptically embedded warnings in an ancient Jewish document roughly 2,500 years ago that were intended specifically for the U.S. of A. in 2014 and have just been discovered in the nick of time!  Needless to say, the hermeneutical approach employed is questionable.

The reason, according to The Harbinger and to Dobson, for America's impending destruction is, sin.  The only way to forestall God's imminent judgment is by national repentance.  I'm pretty sure that in Dobson's view this would entail not only sackcloth and ashes but also repealing same-sex marriage rights, turning back Roe v.Wade and dismantling Obamacare.  If Hillary is elected as our next president, we're toast.   

So, this is the same old fundamentalist fear-mongering claptrap, but amped up to a whole new level of nuttiness.  

I'm a bit more optimistic about America's future, but it seems as if Dobson's empire has already fallen.

You can listen to Dobson's program about The Harbinger here:

Monday, June 02, 2014

“[I]n recent centuries we often discern the most striking efficacy of the power of creative transformation in the scientist, artist, and philosopher who stand outside the churches because they have rejected them or been rejected by them, or because they have been simply too bored by the churches to take them seriously. ... In each generation much of the creative energy expressed outside the churches was originally generated within them. … One reason for the separation of the actual effective presence of Christ from the celebration of that presence in the church is that the churches lost their nerve. … Of course, the church had always intended to be faithful to its traditions, but throughout the early and medieval times this faithfulness was achieved by a dynamic process of rethinking the past in the light of current experience and of the best knowledge available. On the whole the most creative minds were the leading thinkers of the church. … It is only in more recent times that Christians have defined their beliefs in contradistinction to the most imaginative and critical thought of the day.”

Sunday, June 01, 2014

A very, very powerful sermon.  When this Southern Baptist pastor got up to speak he knew it might be the last sermon he would ever be allowed to give in his church or denomination.