God Doing Improv, In OUR Towns!

I. OUTSIDER PERSPECTIVE. Resurrection City is substantial and consistently stimulating. Heltzel is an associate professor of theology at New York Theological Seminary, with a strong grounding in Biblical values, Christian theology, Black theology, American history, and current justice concerns in American and world life. And he has a strong interest in jazz music. Nice mix! A white boy from Mississippi, he manages fairly well to achieve the perspective of an outsider to the American mainstream – primarily an African American perspective. This is always of value when done responsibly; the Biblical prophets to whom he appeals were often in comparable situations. II. HIS BURDEN “Meanwhile, outside the prayer closet, it’s another day of extortion in the marketplace, bribery in the courts, and intentional ignorance of the orphans, widows, immigrants, and prisoners.” p126 Heltzel applies that … Continue reading

Changing this World: Activism with Prayer and Silence

I was very pleased with this book.  It is a conversation between a young activist and an old one.  Adam Bucko (late 30’s, raised a Catholic in Poland, helps run a ministry to homeless youth in New York City) and Matthew Fox (late 70’s, a thinker, educator, author, and former Dominican, was evicted from “The Church” by the Vatican – in effect for talking too much, sorta like Socrates.  He then became an Episcopal priest). It is full of wisdom and good examples deriving from the integrity of the authors’ own spiritual searching and service.  There’s a strong Christian flavor, but don’t go here to learn conservative American Evangelical theology.  They show some preference for Christ and his teaching but are open to a wide variety of spiritual theories and practices. “The Bhagavad Gita, for example, talks about the importance of service, but it’s more about fulfilling your role or duty … In Western traditions, there is more of a concept of individuation.  You’re literally called by name to a specific kind of task.  In this way, sensing your calling becomes a very deep connecting point with life and God.” (Bucko, p29) They think and study carefully, they actually practice … Continue reading

Eisenhower on Security – and Moral Bankruptcy

there is no way in which a country can satisfy the craving for absolute security “No way.” No way. As in not possible in this world. but it can easily bankrupt itself, morally and economically, in attempting to reach that illusory goal through arms alone. – President (& General) Dwight D. Eisenhower In other words, you can’t buy enough guns (etc) to make yourself safe. But you can go completely nuts trying. Eisenhower quoted by Brian McLaren in Everything Must Change, p 167.   … Continue reading

“Faith … a Busy, Active, Powerful Thing” – Luther

Martin Luther apparently liked to write about faith. I love his saying that faith “does not even ask whether good works SHOULD be done”! God made humans. God loves the human race. It is the nature of the beast that when a human responds to God in faith there is engendered an impulse to do something or other GOOD. O, this faith is a living, busy, active, powerful thing! It is impossible that it should not be ceaselessly doing that which is good. It does not even ask whether good works should be done; but before the question can be asked, it has done them, and it is constantly engaged in doing them. Certainly we can disagree about the effectiveness or long-term wisdom of some people’s acts of goodness – including our own. … Continue reading

God – Comfort and Radical Challenger

Here’s a 24-year old (“Jeff G.”) talking about his relationship with God. God, for me, is like someone who’s already up when you’ve come downstairs in the morning and you’re stumbling to get that cup of coffee and he’s already there with his. And you sit on the front porch in a rocking chair and the sun is just starting to rise over the horizon and he says, ‘It’s a beautiful sunrise!’ And I say, ‘Yeah.’ And that’s it. Yes!

Reputation: Portraits in Power [a book review]

This is a reveiew of Reputation: Portraits in Power, by Marjorie Williams, 2008, PublicAffairs. I wrote it for LibraryThing.com I think this book – or rather this collection of 12 short biographical portraits – is just excellent. Marjorie Williams wrote these for the Washington Post and for Vanity Fair during the 90’s. They are long enough to be substantial and short enough to be easily accessible. I love to find books like this, where you can get a frequently elegant introduction to a certain era or a certain place through the very real lives of very real people. It seems to me to be much more effective than the summary or analytical works that are so much more common. A person must have a lot of depth and profound powers of observation to write so penetratingly and believably, … Continue reading