Here is a buffet bar of thoughts from this past weekend:
1. On Immigration
The struggle for Illegal Immigrants right’s will be, as the LA Times wrote yesterday, the Civil Rights Struggle of our generation. There have been staged walkouts and then this past Saturday a 500,000 person peaceful protest hit the streets of downtown LA to protest the upcoming Illegal Immigration Act congress is trying to pass.
I didn’t know about the rally or I would have tried to go, it sounds like it was amazing. Yesterday our church, Pasadena Mennonite, wrote letters to Diane Feinstein our senator, encouraging her to oppose the Illegal Immigration Control Act (HR 4437) that is being debated this week in the House. It was great to be a part of a faith community owning this and taking some responsibility in helping our fellow humans. This is what the whole church needs to be doing, and I certainly hope (and expect) the Quaker community is owning this as a movement to aid in as well. I hope that for this Civil Rights Movement the church will not be so slow in realizing its responsibility to all those in need. God is for the oppressed, the marginalized, the outcasts, widows, orphans, the poor and the alien. His favor falls on their side, and so must the church. The church is to only be concerned about one citizenship, and that is how they are representing Heaven and God’s Kingdom. National citizenship means nothing when it comes to helping those in need and living out the kingdom of God. We cannot, as the church, begin to distinguish ‘us from them’ either in ethnic distinctions or national ones.
If you have enough time to get your friends, family, church or small group involved and write a few letters to your rep I encourage you to do so. I wrote recently about writing letters and offered a few links for resources on finding your representative etc. I have also uploaded a copy of the letter we used as a springboard for our own letters at church. Feel free to download it and use what you would like for ideas, I got permission to use this from one of our pastors Bert Newton.
I finished reading Peace on Earth: Roots and Practices from Luke’s Gospel (Joseph Grassi) this past Friday. Its a book about the practices of peace that overwhelm the Gospel of Luke. I was really interested to read his points on vegetarianism as well. Grassi Approached it from the perspective of Jesus’ care for the treatment of Animals. Without going into much of his argument (its worth the read and its a short book), he says that Jesus was not a Vegetarian in the first century but today he very well might be one because of how poorly the animals we eat are treated. For instance, many most Chickens live in their own feces, with both alive and dead animals caged in around them. Most animals we eat also live in extremely confined areas.
I would add that the grain that it takes to feed one cow, feeds upwards of 50 people in hunger-stricken countries around the world. One cow typically feeds only a few Americans. Grassi argues that for a family to eat meat in the first century would be a huge sacrifice (literally) and would only happen for very special occasions. Finally, the meat that was eaten was the flesh of their own beloved animal (like a pet) – consider the fatted calf in the prodigal story. This being said, the animals that were eaten were happy??? animals that were taken care of as pets and when they died it was as a sacrifice for some special occasion (like the son returning home). I am not a vegetarian evangelist, I am not even a full fledged vegetarian, but I do care about the treatment of animals and the more I think about how the animal was treated that I may be eating (if I choose a burger verses a bean and cheese burrito), I find myself not wanting that burger anymore, out of my concern for those animals. I am moving in the direction of only eating happy??? animals – those that are cage free, well feed, organic, etc. And because that is an expensive route to take, cutting down on meat intake is a great way to peacefully protest the treatment of animals. Care for creation is yet another thing that the church should be more concerned about.
3. James Cone at Fuller
James Cone, the father of Black theology, was at Fuller on Friday. I got to listen to him while I manned the corresponding book-table. He said one simple thing that will stick with me forever. When asked by my good friend Jamie Pitts, what he would like to see white American theologians do to help with the issues of race in America he said, One simple thing, if they are going to do theology, ‘Christian theology’ then they must deal with the racial divide in America, in the whole world too, but especially in America. Theology must be always written with this separation and these issues in mind. He is right, race is of primary importance to Christian theology, in so far as it deals with at least these three main things – helping those oppressed by other races, care for God’s whole creation and reconciliation. If the church isn’t about these things, what good is the church?
4. Door of Hope
Finally, some of us in our small group went to Door of Hope in Pasadena to help out on Saturday and it was a great time and great place to go help. It was great to be in a place that is working with many poor and marginalized people and offering them hope. If anyone in the Pasadena area is looking for a place to serve talk to Jim, the director there, he is a really nice guy and their ministry is fabulous. They help homeless women with children and husband and wives with children.