Archive for the 'Liberation theology' Category


Soiled Goods – a Reflection on Acts 8:26-39

Reading: Acts 8:26-39

Then an angel of the Lord said to Philip, “Get up and go toward the south to the road that goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza.” (This is a wilderness road.) So he got up and went.

Now there was an Ethiopian eunuch, a court official of the Candace, queen of the Ethiopians, in charge of her entire treasury. He had come to Jerusalem to worship and was returning home; seated in his chariot, he was reading the prophet Isaiah.

 Then the Spirit said to Philip, “Go over to this chariot and join it.” So Philip ran up to it and heard him reading the prophet Isaiah. He asked, “Do you understand what you are reading?” He replied, “How can I, unless someone guides me?” And he invited Philip to get in and sit beside him. Continue reading ‘Soiled Goods – a Reflection on Acts 8:26-39’


Recovery – A Poem of Survival


Children survive.
They seem to be built to survive almost anything.
The pain of loneliness, war, crime, rejection,
being ignored, being abused,
being smothered, being used,
predation, exposure,
abandonment, over-protection;
these are just some of the things kids endure.
Continue reading ‘Recovery – A Poem of Survival’


Imperialism, Colonialism and “Disciple-Making”

The adherents of Christian religions include upwards of 2 billion people – almost one-third of the world’s population, according to David Barrett, an Evangelical Christian who is the compiler of religious statistics for the Encyclopedia Britannica.[1] While Christianity began in the Middle East, it is generally considered a European/American religion. Those areas, however, do not encompass the majority of adherents. More Christians, in fact, are found in the “third world” – those areas that were formerly colonized by various European powers.  The story of the spread of the world’s most prolific religion during the second millennia of Christianity is at least interesting, if not informative of the current political and military efforts of the West, most notably the U.S., seemingly aimed at making converts of another sort – disciples of Western democracy and capitalism. Continue reading ‘Imperialism, Colonialism and “Disciple-Making”’


Post-Christian or Pro-Christlike

“A remarkable culture-shift has taken place around us,” Mohler [R. Albert Mohler Jr.—president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary] wrote. “The most basic contours of American culture have been radically altered. The so-called Judeo-Christian consensus of the last millennium has given way to a post-modern, post-Christian, post-Western cultural crisis which threatens the very heart of our culture.” When Mohler and I spoke in the days after he wrote this, he had grown even gloomier. “Clearly, there is a new narrative, a post-Christian narrative, that is animating large portions of this society,” he said from his office on campus in Louisville, Ky. ” Quoted from Jon Meacham’s The End of Christian America.

My good friend, Daniel, posted a link on to the above article in order to start a conversation about what “Post-Christian” might mean. Daniel, a former Assembly of God member now more comfortable with Buddha, has an attitude about Christianity that may best be descibed using Gandhi’s statement, “I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.” Continue reading ‘Post-Christian or Pro-Christlike’


Homophobia, Apartheid, et al

           Periodically, I suffer from the delusion that culture and society can actually be understood, and that I can speak with some knowledge towards that understanding. This fabrication in my mind, fortunately, passes with time, saving poor innocent bystanders the terror of witnessing the inner workings of my mind. Alas, this is not one of those times.

Reader beware! These may be nothing more than the ramblings of a madman.

           I am recovering from my former life – being a recovering addict, recovering economic exploiter, recovering sexist, recovering racist and recovering homophobe. In my newer life, I am a combatant in a war against all manner of exploitation, oppression, manipulation and dehumanization of any and all people. There is, as you know, no worse critic that someone recovering from a particular expression of a disorder. Continue reading ‘Homophobia, Apartheid, et al’


Wrestling with Personal Theology

Over the last few years, one of my favorite preaching topics has been the abandonment of self-interest, selfish ambition and conceit that is extolled in Philippians chapter 2. The call to humility contained within that passage culminates with “work out your own salvation with fear and trembling,” (2:12) which, I remind the congregation I am addressing, is difficult to do with someone else’s theology tucked under your arm. To be free of your own conceit requires being free of theological tenets that establish authoritarian norms of belief. It is to acknowledge that certainty is the opposite of faith, not doubt. Continue reading ‘Wrestling with Personal Theology’


Road Trip to Love

When driving on a long trip, the route I take depends on whether I am driving for pleasure or expediency. If my schedule is tight, needing to travel a long distance in the shortest time possible, I prefer to travel on the interstate. I want to get where I’m going quickly; I print off a map, set the cruise control, zoom past the sights and stop only when absolutely necessary. But when time is not a big factor, and the sun is shining, my priorities change. Then, I avoid the interstates whenever possible – they’re boring. I drive on state routes and even occasionally back roads, enjoy the scenery and occasionally stop in interesting towns even if I don’t need to gas up. I always have several options for getting from one place to another.

When Jenna is with me, a third way to travel sometimes develops. You see, Jenna is kind of averse to going too far without stopping to see something interesting, or to enjoy a moment of peace. Generally, she reminds me that I also need this kind of break in the journey – generally. Continue reading ‘Road Trip to Love’


What Do the Numbers Actually Say?

It’s no secret that the the American Religious Identification Survey, conducted by researchers at Trinity College of Hartford, Conn, had some interesting, if not troubling, news for U.S. churches. In a culture and age in which numbers take precedence over other indicators, the results of the survey are sending shock waves down the spines of many denominational hierarchies. As is customary, however, the concentration is on solving the numbers problem, rather than taking a good, long look at the causes. That would require collective introspection – not a process at which mainline denominations are adept. As is not uncommon, it is those outside of the fray that often give the most reasoned critique of the situation. Continue reading ‘What Do the Numbers Actually Say?’


Christology – Borg vs Wright

If I can be allowed a brief introduction, I have a comment about the perceived theological location of each of the authors. During 2003/2004, while attending Westminster College, Cambridge, I heard three out of four lectures given by N.T. Wright about “New Perspectives on Paul”. More interesting than the lectures was the diatribe from the various seminaries regarding Wright. The Evangelical Anglicans, conservative as opposed to traditional (self-description), denounced him as “apostasy on two legs”, while the Anglican Catholic half of the Church of England considered him a defender, albeit somewhat radical, of traditional theology in the current age. The United Reformed Church (Westminster), a mixture of very traditional (reformed) to very conservative, generally considered him to be a liberal Catholic. (All that being said, the lecture hall was packed to the rafters.) Overall, the book we’re now reading was described in Cambridge seminaries as a conversation between liberal (Wright) and very liberal (Borg). The book’s cover, claiming representation from liberal and conservative camps, seems to be heavily dependent on one’s point of view. Very few conservatives in Wright’s home country view him as anything but liberal. Still, overall it appears that both authors fit somewhere in the less-than-extreme centrist majority of the imaginary liberal-conservative spectrum and, as such, posit stands most Christians should be able to get their heads around.

Continue reading ‘Christology – Borg vs Wright’


Book Review – Between Vengeance and Forgiveness

How do nations or societies respond after periods of mass violence, indescribable episodes of systematic torture, rape and slaughter of minority or marginalized populations, or even ethnic cleansing and genocide?  Historically, of course, the most common response of populations freed from such oppression has been retaliation in at least equal measure, if not more profoundly violent and obscene in character. Despite the world, in the twentieth century, experiencing atrocities of more magnitude and frequency than ever before, Martha Minow somewhat optimistically details several societal responses aimed at seeking collective healing and reconciliation. After discussing the poles of vengeance and forgiveness, Minow expounds on the strengths and limitations of legal remedies, truth commissions and efforts at reparation, before finishing with other possible efforts for reconciliation. Continue reading ‘Book Review – Between Vengeance and Forgiveness’


Mission Prayer

This is a prayer to be said by those going to and coming from immersion mission trips. It is a reminder to hold sacred what others trust you with, especially their hearts. Continue reading ‘Mission Prayer’


I Will Be Your God, and You My People

Following an oracle about a new ethic of personal responsibility, we find in Jeremiah 31 the announcement of a new covenant: a new picture of the relationship between God and God’s people. Something ‘new’ is not a frequent theme in the Hebrew Bible until it emerges with the prophets. Parallel to the new covenant of Jeremiah, two other significant references are the ‘new thing’ and ‘the new creation’ in Isaiah 43 and 65, and the ‘new heart’ and ‘new spirit’ of Ezekiel 18.

The style of Jeremiah varies – sometimes it reads like poetry, sometimes like prose. Jeremiah was a prophet – a preacher – and he had a scribe, Baruch, who took notes for posterity. We don’t know if they intended their work to end up being part of a timeless international best-seller, but that’s what happened. Continue reading ‘I Will Be Your God, and You My People’


The Scandal of Jesus Christ – Three Perspectives

For much of the last two thousand years there have been scandals associated with, or hindrances to, belief in Jesus Christ as savior. What is so outrageous about the claim of salvation in Jesus that offends the moral or rational sensibilities of at least certain segments of society? In examining this question, three authors – Jan Milic Lochman, Elizabeth A. Johnson and Justo L. González – discussed the traditional orthodox views of salvation through faith in Christ in light of modern interests. The authors had particular agendas, openly declared in each of their works, around which they developed their arguments. These various arguments were in close agreement at some points and in discord at others but, when viewed collectively, created an interesting sampling of some of the opinions that make up modern Christian thought. Continue reading ‘The Scandal of Jesus Christ – Three Perspectives’


But, How Do I Know I Will Possess It?

The Reading:  Genesis 15:1-12,17-18

Setting The Theme:

God cut a covenant with Abram. While I realize much can be made of the nature of this covenant, I also know that I am addressing people who have already wrestled with these implications. Some have expounded on the unilateral nature of this covenant – that God is the only participant. Some have gone further and said that God has taken all the risk of the penalty – an utterly humiliating death – for both parties in the contract. From there it is not difficult to see the trail being blazed to Christ on the cross.

If I had the definitive answer to this conundrum, I think I would still be unlikely to change the minds of many people. Since I don’t have the answer, I am not even going to try.

The reason for the covenant is rather more interesting. What prompted it? Continue reading ‘But, How Do I Know I Will Possess It?’


The Myth or Reality of American Civil Religion

The term “civil religion” was first used by Jean-Jacques Rousseau, an eighteenth century philosopher and writer, and refers to “the religious dimension of the polity“, or the intertwining of religious presuppositions with the political and social aspects of life. It is easy to understand why Rousseau would be critical of religion, since in 1717 he was born and subsequently raised in Geneva, at that time a still flourishing theocracy – in other words, a civil society under the rulership of God and scripture. His cynicism gave Rousseau a keen perception of the role of the power of suggestion in social life, which is illustrated in this famous quote, “The first man who, having fenced in a piece of land, said, “This is mine,” and found people naïve enough to believe him, that man was the true founder of civil society.”  Continue reading ‘The Myth or Reality of American Civil Religion’


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.

Readers since Jan 2009

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