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Blog Entries The Political

A Fresh Start And the American Election

Growing up I remember learning about the atrocities of slavery, what happened to the Native Americans, and the many harmful, and violent things that were done in the name of freedom or of Christ. I personally have often felt ashamed by much of this country, it’s a narrative I was born into but didn’t identify with at all.

Voting yesterday for me (as for everyone else) was different from all the other times I’ve “pulled the lever,” because I did it with the feeling that I was voting for the kind of America I want to identify with. Not only was I voting for a candidate I actually wanted to see president, but it was a candidate who stood for a fresh start in America’s history.

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Blog Entries Church in Mission Featured Reviews The Cultural The Political The Technological The Theological

The McCain-Palin Taste for The Secret

McCain-Palin Taste for the Secret

We live in a culture of increasing secrecy. Despite claims of being the ‘age of information,’ one might goes so far as to say we live in a culture of ‘the secret.’ Not only has there been a flood of recent secular books all pointing to new secrets being discovered like the strange self-help philosophy of “The Secret,” the blockbuster movie, “The Da Vinci Code” or the new pseudo-history, “Liberal Fascism: The Secret History of the American Left.” Christians have been getting in on the secret as well with tons of books recently published around, “The Secret Gospel of Judas,” “Discovering the Secret of a Man’s (or woman’s) Soul” and of course, “The Secret Message of Jesus.”

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Featured The Political The Theological

Younger Evangelicals Weigh in on Abortion and Other Issues

Once thought to be in the pocket of the Religious Right, many American evangelicals today are discovering a deeper understanding of what it means to be pro-life.

Kenny Hiser, communications director from Sojourners sent this article to me that will be their cover article in November, it’s called “The Meaning of ‘Life.'” For the article the authors interviewed 21 Christians from nine cities around the country, representing 6 ethnicities and aged between 26-66, they were asked about the issues that matter most to them. The key discussion that takes place in this article is that ‘life’ is still a really important issue for Christian Evangelicals and for a majority of the people interviewed here it is being interpreted in far broader than has been typical for those influenced by the Religious Right.  I appreciated reading through this and seeing how politics for at least some Evangelicals is starting to shift and I think you too will appreciate the holistic outlook that comes from these Christians, even if you disagree on some of their points. Click “read more” to see the article.

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Blog Entries Reviews The Political

The Imagination of Politics – William Cavanaugh’s Theo-Politics

I’m currently working through Catholic theologian William T. Cavanaugh‘s book ((here is a listing of his bibliographic works), “Theo-Political Imagination: Discovering the Liturgy  as a Political Act in an Age of Global Consumerism,” for a lecture I’m doing later this quarter. I cannot recommend this book enough to those of you who are doing work in the area of theology and politics. First, he suggests that politics in America requires a disciplined imagination, one where citizens respect borders, and contracts that don’t actually exist. He then traces out the historical development (in true genealogical fashion) of the nation-state as a competing soteriology to Christianity. Third, he moves on to deconstruct the idea that civil space is a neutral, or religion free, space within society, instead he makes the compelling point that civil space, or the public square (a la Neuhaus), is itself a secular theological construct. Finally, in the last chapter Cavanaugh looks to globalization not as the end of the nation-state (where the local gives way to a perceived diversity) but rather, he argues that globalization is an extension of the nation-state project which seeks to dominate the universal. Here globalization can be read as a secularized “catholicity.”At the end of every chapter Cavanaugh returns to the church and mines liturgical and sacramental resources for responding to this counter-theology.

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Featured The Political

McCain: “I know how to heal the wounds of war”

I just finished watching the debate and it left me feeling like our country and economy will be safer and better off with Obama at the helm. What caught me off guard about the debate came at the very end in a line McCain gave. While I’ve noted that a number of Christians have pointed out McCain’s constant drawing on a warrior/hero/Maverick narrative to catch the hearts of Americans (a move meant to appeal to the deep ethos of our country’s history), I found it preposterous that he would so unhesitatingly appeal to the messianic:

I guarantee you, as president of the United States, I know how to heal the wounds of war, I know how to deal with our adversaries, and I know how to deal with our friends.

Christians watching could not help but be reminded of the biblical text:

“But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed.” (Isaiah 53:5 NIV-G/K)

Both candidates have at times wrongfully, in my position as a Christian, appealed to the rhetoric of nationalism at different points and this is an area I think all Christians need to challenge. To put it more strongly, I think Christians are the only ones who can challenge nationalism because we operate out of a fundamentally different loyalty than those who are not Christians. But McCain’s suggestion that he knows how to heal the wounds of war betrays a subtext, a symptom, of the kind of religious role politics plays in our country. This is none other than idolatry, and hopefully Christians will take their loyalty to the Kingdom of God seriously enough to challenge this kind of role-reversal of the messianic. Whoever becomes president is a person with gifts and faults, not the messiah who will do the work of Jesus Christ. Only Jesus can heal the deep wounds of war, abortion, racism, hatred, and fear.

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The Political

Dress Down Friday | Political Irony and the Messianic

With Sarah Palin being picked the VP last week things in the political news world have gone to another level of seriousness, but fortunately there are plenty of people also having a little fun with the whole thing as well:

Paris Hilton even gets into the action, responding to this ad.

To a few more serious posts:

Halden critiques the Messianic appeal in both McCain and Obama’s campaigns.

Dan Morehead looks at frank speech to make the point that virtue is lacking from much of our public discourse, and the role those play “who speak in irony to the vulgar.”

Henry Jenkins looks at the growing interest around Sarah Palin as an subject/object for “Photoshop Democracy.”

And finally, over at Nevermind the Bricolage, there’s a post asking, “Do We Need Another Hero?” A post that especially probes the appeal oft appeal to fear in political rhetoric and the ‘hero’ motif that surrounds McCain’s campaign.

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Featured Quaker The Political

Peace Church Colleges Debate Having Armed Guards

The other day in a Washington Times article there is a discussion about peace church colleges working through questions about whether to employ armed guards for student protection. Two Church of the Brethren schools have recently decided to authorize their guards to carry firearms. Given the catastrophic campus shootings of Virgina Tech and Northern Illinois University, not to mention all the other school shootings in recent years, it’s not hard to see why this is becoming an important question to address (even though statistically these campus crimes have been decreasing in the last ten years). In the article they also mention two Quaker colleges: Guilford and Earlham, both of which do not have armed guards but do have good working relationship with local law enforcement who understand their position on the matter. This is also true for Mennonite Goshen college in Indiana where our former pastor is president. I like what Donald Kraybill had to say about it:

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Blog Entries Quaker

Quaker Teacher Fired For Not Taking an Oath

This may be old news for some of you but last week Quaker Wendy Gonaver, an American Studies professor at Cal State Fullerton here in LA, was fired for refusing to sign the loyalty oath.

The LA Times reports:

As a Quaker from Pennsylvania and a lifelong pacifist, Gonaver objected to the California oath as an infringement of her rights of free speech and religious freedom. She offered to sign the pledge if she could attach a brief statement expressing her views, a practice allowed by other state institutions. But Cal State Fullerton rejected her statement and insisted that she sign the oath if she wanted the job.

“I wanted it on record that I am a pacifist,” said Gonaver, 38. “I was really upset. I didn’t expect to be fired. I was so shocked that I had to do this.”

(From Teacher fired for refusing to sign loyalty oath – Los Angeles Times)

This is the second time in the last year that a Quaker woman has been fired from a teaching Job in California for this reason. I personally am inspired by their witness in this situation, I can’t imagine how difficult it must be. But I have reflected on how I would like to respond if I were in their position. I certainly hope to teach someday, and I wonder if I would be able to lay my job on the line for something I too believe it.

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FAQ: Are There Modern Day Prophets?

Frequently Asked Questions (of a theologian) is a series I do from time to time as a means of answering good questions that come across my desk. Sometimes I answer the questions, sometimes others do, if you’re interested in seeing some other Q & A’s check it out here.