Christ Asks Us to Choose His Way, Not Caesar’s.

. . . switch sides from Caesar’s way to Jesus’ way – before it is too late.* – Brian McLaren “Caesar’s way” stands for secular, temporal government or authority. The usage derives from Jesus’ saying, when asked about paying taxes: So give back to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s. (Mt 22:21) Jesus does not promote treason – even against the brutal tyranny of Rome. He does not in fact promote the idea of protesting against the government by refusing to pay taxes. But Jesus clearly draws a line between God’s interests and Caesar’s. It’s obvious to us that 2000 years ago Jesus’ way and Caesar’s way were quite opposed to each other. It’s funny how today some tend to assume that Jesus’ way just offers support of Caesar’s way – as long as the Caesar in question is American. Is that too blunt? It seems to me that being good Christians is often assumed to mean being good Americans first, at least as energetically as we are Christ-followers. Some folks even, unfortunately, think those are one and the same thing. “Caesar’s” powerful way is powerfully seductive, … Continue reading

God Doing Improv !

[A Review of Resurrection City: A Theology of Improvisation, by Peter Goodwin Heltzel. 2012. Wm B Eerdmans Publishing Co.] 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. 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

Activism, with Prayer and Silence

(This is my review of Occupy Spirituality: A Radical Vision for  a New Generation, by Adam Bucko and Matthew Fox. 2013, North Atlantic Books.) 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 … Continue reading

Wear Your Diagnosis Lightly – It’s Not Really You

A lot of us have “been diagnosed” with specific personality or mental conditions. I don’t formally have such a diagnosis (I’ve not yet seen anyone qualified to do it for me); but I’m sure there are several people around who’d be glad to offer suggestions! The thing I worry about is the effects I have seen such diagnoses have on people – the self-defining, self-shaping label it provides. It does affect one’s self-perception, expectations of what they can probably do, or not do, and how they are likely to behave. It really does, in my experience. So it narrows a person’s view of themselves and their world – and thus clearly restricts their potential. … Continue reading

“With Malice Toward None” – A Necessary Standard!

In pretty much his last words to the American people, Abraham Lincoln began the wrap-up of his Second Inaugural Address with these famous, beautiful ideals: With malice toward none, with charity for all . . . And I think he really meant it. In a nation that was an ocean of anger and blaming and malice, he asked us to move forward without malice. “Malice: Intention to harm or deprive in an illegal or immoral way. Desire to take pleasure in another’s misfortune.” [Wiktionary] … Continue reading

When the Government – or Society – Is Against You: What Should Christians Do?

Some American Christians worry that we are being “persecuted” and that our “freedom of religion” is being infringed. That’s always true to some extent – and the idea is scary. How did Jesus deal with it? Jesus practiced non-violent non-cooperation toward evil persons. The results of his courage were both short-term and long-term, mostly good, some brutally bad. Jesus’ immediate followers – the Christians of the first century, also faced lots of suffering. They suffered government harassment, even arrest and execution. They suffered from neighbors and fellow-citizens – the insulting or aggressive behavior of others around them in society. They suffered all the normal pains and sorrows of human life, of which there are many. … Continue reading

Limbaugh Has Judgment Problems? That’s Dangerous to Us – and Not a New Discovery.

I think the (verbal) behavior of Rush Limbaugh is a moral issue, and has a strong negative impact on the quality of citizenship in society. So, that needs to be said. This is my letter to the editor published in May 2006 in a small-town Nebraska newspaper. Some of my best friends are Limbaugh addicts (“dittoheads”). You don’t always agree with all your friends, right? I personally am sad to hear Rush is coming back to McCook airwaves. I fear he will undermine habits of good citizenship, and will damage families and spiritual lives. Unfortunately, he behaves like what Isaiah calls a “scoundrel.” … Continue reading

The Two Most Obvious Facts of Life

Here’s my ex-temp ramble in response to the line “momentum succumbs to entropy” seen elsewhere . . . + and you can say entropy succumbs to momentum. – but you have to have an energy source for momentum. + well, the plants and animals find energy to bloom and bear seeds and run and climb; so can we – but they all die + and more come – but the energy-supply machine (the sun) is running down

Heat Makes Things More Complicated – That’s One Reason Global Warming is Dangerous

How many times this winter did you witness something like this: you’re watching the snow fall straight east instead of to the ground and someone says, “Wow, that’s a hot batch of global warming isn’t it?” The intention is to mock the idea that the global climate system is actually warming up – because look how COLD it is right now! But think a minute. If there has been heat added to the incredibly complex global weather system, what should we expect? Certainly not more uniformly balmy sunny days. Add heat into a complex and volatile system like earth’s weather system and you will get MORE volatility and unpredictability.

This Health Care Reform Will Reduce the Budget Deficit

Some things cost money; we MUST put out some shekels one way or another for some of what we want or need. That’s part of living in human society. So to say we should not have health care reform because it will cost some money is not really facing the question. The question is more like, “Do we NEED this or not?” Lots and lots of Americans think we do. And so do millions watching this battle from other nations – where they settled the issue long ago to the great benefit and relief of their populations. But what if we find out that this reform package will actually REDUCE the budget deficit?