Archive for May, 2009

28
May
09

Dallas Principles

 

LGBTfront

No-one has commented on more lucidly, nor collected articles about, The Dallas Principles than Lawrence at First Light. I am posting his comments and articles he cited here, minus any identifying details, since First Light is a membership based list serve. Feel free to go to the link and sign up if you are allied to the cause of LGBT equality.

The meeting in Dallas which produced “The Dallas Principles” is another in a recent series of efforts by grassroots and out-of-the-mainstream activists to stimulate greater popular initiative and control over lobbying to achieve greater TLGB equality. In many ways, it seems to me that it’s at least partly a reaction against the failure of ‘official’ activist groups to defeat Prop. 8 in California last year, and partly an expanding anger and unhappiness over the go-slow approach of national groups like The Human Rights Campaign, which seem to be unwilling to make hard demands of persons in power.

The strength of the Dallas 24, who met to hammer out some foundational goals of the TLGB community in 2009, seems to me to be that they are not tied to top-heavy bureaucracies with huge budgets that support highly-paid staff with power, status and positions to protect. Perhaps their weakness is pretty much the same: they have no official standing, no ongoing structure, little serious connections to the people in power, and are just as much self-selected as the organizations which they believe are failing to achieve community goals quickly enough.

Despite a flurry of media releases, they’ve gotten precious little mainstream news coverage. What they have going for them are basically internet blogging audiences (how large? unknown), some potential funding resources (how much? unknown) and initial enthusiasm and desire to make an impact (how lasting? unknown). The Dallas Principles are scarcely arguable, but their influence is very much up in the air. But if you’re weary of the questionable pace and product of the ‘big boys’ of community lobbying, you have nothing to lose by checking out the Dallas bunch. Continue reading ‘Dallas Principles’

27
May
09

A Personal Journey in Leadership

The attitudes about leadership that I brought into my first church assignment as an administrator were saturated with bias, largely because I equated leading with managing. In retrospect, I had witnessed very few examples of leadership, as I now understand it. I had, however, been privy to and used many management styles, most of which were based on the manipulation of people and situations to satisfy corporate and/or self-interest.

Eventually, I resigned from the business arena because I couldn’t reconcile my role, or generally accepted management practices, with a newly developing worldview after becoming a Christian. After a semi-reclusive period spent building furniture and helping develop small group ministries at my church, I re-entered the public world as a church employee, only to encounter the same management attitudes that had repulsed me in the business environment. On the first night of a class on church leadership some years ago, we listed words describing leadership. If I remember correctly, my only contribution to that original list of words was ‘manipulative’.

Any description of my leadership style will be somewhat nebulous, as I am still processing the significance of concepts contained in various books and discussions and, most importantly, experiences from life in church. This will not be an exercise that ends with my last call.

Continue reading ‘A Personal Journey in Leadership’

26
May
09

The Republicans Have Learned Too Much from Church

The Republicans showing their ass.

The Republicans showing their ass.

Right now there is a power struggle that seems to mirror that which has kept the Christian Church from doing its mission for far too long. There is what appears, on the surface at least, to be a three way struggle for dominance between only two factions.

Rush Limbaugh, in his usual inimitable way, has manipulated being given the mantel of conservative Republicanism’s top dog. He is, as usual, only half right. Vying against him for the same demographic, as if he hasn’t already damaged the party enough while in office, is former VP Dick Cheney. Over and against those with a conservative bent is the more moderate or centrist Republicans represented ably by Colin Powell.

Two against one hardly seems fair, unless the one is Powell, whose approval ratings are better than Cheney and Limbaugh combined. Continue reading ‘The Republicans Have Learned Too Much from Church’

24
May
09

Even the Scottish Presbyterians are more progressive than the PC(USA)

A story from CNN that speaks for itself:

A gay minister at the center of a row about his appointment to a church in a Scottish city said he was “humbled” after the Church of Scotland upheld his appointment.  Scott Rennie rehearses a sermon at Brechin Cathedral in northeast Scotland.

In a ground-breaking move, the church’s ruling body voted by 326 to 267 in support of the Rev. Scott Rennie, the church said in a news release Sunday.

The 37-year-old’s appointment at Queen’s Cross Church in Aberdeen, on Scotland’s northeast coast, provoked opposition from traditionalist members of the church and has led to fears it could cause a damaging split. Continue reading ‘Even the Scottish Presbyterians are more progressive than the PC(USA)’

24
May
09

Twin Sons of Different Mothers

It is hard to fathom, at least for me, how two people with similar conditions can be so very different. To coin a title from a Tim Weisberg album we are in many ways “twin sons of different mothers.”

Not including age (unfortunately I am the older son), we share interests such as cars and woodworking, similar levels of intelligence, senses of humor, music, recreational activities, introversion (even down to Myers-Briggs results). Heck, we even pack our excess weight in the same place. And, as mentioned in previous post, Karl and I are both bipolar.

The differences in our personalities, lives and how being bipolar plays out in our daily existence are somehow perfectly mirrored in the conditions of our garages and workshops. I am left wondering if every person’s personality could be understood and analyzed based on the condition of their garages. Forget the house, the furnishings, the kitchen and the yard! If archeologists a thousand years from now were to delicately uncover our perfectly preserved work spaces, they could peg our personalities down to a “t”. Continue reading ‘Twin Sons of Different Mothers’

22
May
09

Being Prodigal

The Prodigal Son becomes a new creation – reconciled with his loving father. Among other things, this story is a wonderful story that exhibits the flow of worshipful life perfectly.

All the elements are there – the son turns his back on his parent and heritage – takes his material wealth as if it were his own just reward – squanders it on the things that the worldly things that he knows his father would disapprove of – eventually recognizes his own poverty of spirit – reluctantly returns in contrition to his father, prepared to confess and accept his punishment – and encounters a loving parent, willing to accept the slings and arrows of his culture for forgiving his child, and running to him with arms wide open to accept him back into the household.

If that is not the flow of life, what is? It is a beautiful parable, is it not? It is a true work of art being told by Jesus to illustrate a point. But, sometimes, in appreciating the beauty and warmth of the story, we neglect to realize the real purpose Jesus told it. We gloss over the most important aspects. Continue reading ‘Being Prodigal’

21
May
09

Road Trip

usarvblogmap-747526I am looking forward to the first of two road trips this summer. This one, in which we will end up in Iowa for Leah’s high school graduation, is a warm up for the Montana trip in late June for Jenna’s late father’s memorial service. A stopping point on each trip will be our dear friends Karl & Sue in Central Ohio. I was going to call them brother Karl and sister Sue, but then I’d have difficulty explaining the two children they have together. They are like family to Jenna and I. I feel this especially for a couple of reasons.

The first is that I have no siblings or parents living in the states. Apart from my children, who I dearly love but do not relate to as siblings (obviously enough), my family is in Australia. It has been four years since I saw my mother, and 15 since seeing my sister and brother. The role Karl & Sue play in my life, therefore, fills an enormous void. Continue reading ‘Road Trip’

18
May
09

Scarcity Trumps Abundance Almost Every Time

Jesus is asked to intervene in an inheritance dispute, and responds by telling a parable about greed. Obviously, Jesus has decided that greed is the underlying motivation of the person who asks for their share of the inheritance, and that this is a good time for a lesson about greed in general.

Quite simple, really. Hardly much point in preaching about it, since it’s just so obvious, eh?

There is more here than is initially apparent – to find it we have to delve a little deeper into the text. And my job is to do that without turning this into a geek fest of language and theological study that leaves you groping for the back button in a bored stupor. Continue reading ‘Scarcity Trumps Abundance Almost Every Time’

18
May
09

… to Each According to Need

While this exact phrasing is allocated to Marx, there is a biblical equivalent to “From each according to ability, to each according to need.”

The pericope from Acts 4:34 & 35 is:
“There was not a needy person among them, for as many as owned lands or houses sold them and brought the proceeds of what was sold. They laid it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to each as any had need.”

While I have attended churches that lived fully into this concept, one has made it into the news. CNN reports in “Church gives fresh meaning to ‘offering’ plate” that a Texas church has opted to follow this example in its Sunday worship. As the plate goes around, people are asked to give what they can and take what they need. Continue reading ‘… to Each According to Need’

17
May
09

A Failed Rationale for Ministry

This is the rationale for ministry I developed for the church I served until recently. In the end, while many in the congregation were enthused, the leadership rejected it wholesale. Because of the way the relationship was terminated, I will probably never know why this raised the ire of the leaders. This was not delivered as one document, but as several. I have compiled it here and I would love to have feedback from readers telling me where I went wrong. Don’t worry about being subtle or reserved – brutal honesty would be appreciated. Continue reading ‘A Failed Rationale for Ministry’

17
May
09

Mary’s Song – Magnificat Not Just for Advent

Normally, we hear this passage in Advent. It prompts images of the gift of God that coincides nicely with our gifts at Christmas. The gift of God in the person of Christ, however, is not limited to one short period in the Christian year – it is ongoing 24/7, 365, year after year. It is the gift that keeps on giving no matter the season.

In return we are meant, as Christians, to be a gift to the world – again, not just at Christmastime, but in all times. This is not a passage for one season, but one for all seasons. Even though we tend to reserve Christmas for the anticipation of the coming Messiah, that too is a constant expectation.

So, this morning, we’re going to continue to wait, while listening again to the song of Mary. Read Luke 1:46-55. Continue reading ‘Mary’s Song – Magnificat Not Just for Advent’

16
May
09

U.S. State Dept Treats Foreign Workers as Commodity

In a new revelation, the full story of which can be found at CNN’s “State Department: Non-Americans making $3 to $4 a day“, we find the State Department paying the equivalent of slave labor in our missions overseas. The State Dept corrected an earlier report that discussed some workers earning less than $1 a day after realizing they had made a currency conversion error.

You’d be hard pressed to find a sweat shop in the least developed country paying less, unless the workers were indentured servants or slaves. Doesn’t our government have any ethics at all? Even most trans-national corporations look downright scrupulous compared to the State Dept. The report includes details that, in order to exist, some employees have to eat once a day and send their children panhandling and begging in the streets. It also includes a complaint from the State Dept that it cannot keep workers. No shit! Continue reading ‘U.S. State Dept Treats Foreign Workers as Commodity’

16
May
09

I’d Like to Thank …

The One and Only Bella Award

The One and Only Bella Award

… my mother who made all this possible. She always said I should be a writer and be published (you know what moms can be like). Now, I realize this blog isn’t what she had in mind, but life can be a bugger sometimes.

Awards have always meant so very little to me. They always seemed to come with backlash. I mean, really, why should I face expulsion from high school simply because my superlative was “the most likely to die of an overdose while studying transfinite numbers”? Then I was awarded the “youngest master optician” award and what do you know, I got old. In seminary, someone dubbed me the most likely to change the world, and they’ve been blaming me ever since.

So then, when Sam at Crying in the Night awarded me the Bella Award, why should I be so touched? Is it because the Bella Award graphic reminds me of my grandmother’s couch? Maybe. Could it be that I have a weakness for Ponzi schemes? That certainly could be since the Bella Award rules say:  Continue reading ‘I’d Like to Thank …’

15
May
09

A Tradition of Equality?

flagThe summer seems to be a great season for patriotism. It begins with Memorial Day and ends with Labor Day, well not officially, but certainly in practical terms. Both these holidays celebrate what has made and still makes the U.S. the U.S. – people. In between these holidays, of course, we have Flag Day and Independence Day. July does seem to represent the peak of summer and, I think, the peak of summer patriotic fervor, perhaps a lasting effect of the fireworks and cook-outs. Between the celebrations of people, we celebrate nationhood, freedom and this great land.

Just like a church, however, a nation does not exist without people. The land certainly does, but it is the people who make it a social, political and communal place. Freedom is an empty concept without people – the freedoms we celebrate are those that are the inalienable rights of the people of this land. But just who are these people, you know, the ones who have had this freedom? Continue reading ‘A Tradition of Equality?’

14
May
09

Love & Forgiveness – Reflections on Romans 12

Romans 12: 1-3 and 9-18                                          

I appeal to you therefore, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you may discern what is the will of God—what is good and acceptable and perfect. For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of yourself more highly than you ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned.

Let love be genuine; hate what is evil, hold fast to what is good; love one another with mutual affection; outdo one another in showing honor. Do not lag in zeal, be ardent in spirit, serve the Lord. Rejoice in hope, be patient in suffering, persevere in prayer. Contribute to the needs of the saints; extend hospitality to strangers. Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with one another; do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly; do not claim to be wiser than you are. Do not repay anyone evil for evil, but take thought for what is noble in the sight of all. If it is possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.

 What is “church”? What is its purpose? How is it meant to be or act in the world?

Recently, with a small church, we had to wrestle with the intended nature of the church – what the church should be, and how it should conduct itself – both inside and outside its own structure. For churches, these questions are no less monumental than, “What is the meaning of life?”  In many ways members of the congregation objected, some vehemently. There is no doubt that these are important questions for ministers. But they were equally important for the people of the church. Continue reading ‘Love & Forgiveness – Reflections on Romans 12’




... or, preaching from both ends

WELL, HELLO! YOU’RE HERE.

That's too bad - I'm so sorry. Oh, well, just try to make the best of it. What you'll find here is a variety of essays and ramblings to do with things theological, social, whimsical and, sometimes, all three. I don't write to get famous - trust me, I've been told how futile that would be - but to express myself. I love to communicate and browbeat - ummm, I mean dialogue - about the things I find intriguing. Since you're here, and the door's locked, why don't you stay a while. There's a page bar under the header with links to information about us - I mean me. Don't forget to tell me what you think - in a nice way, I mean.

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