Posts Tagged ‘cultural competence



29
Apr
09

LGBT Equality and Justice Day – NY Capital

The caucus gathering

The activists gathering

Yesterday, the Empire State Pride Agenda held it’s annual E&J day – a day that includes both political activism and a very visible public rally. The turn out again this year was phenomenal. Having had same-day and pre-registation in previous years, there was already a full roster of activists before the actual day arrived. Anyone showing up on the 28th with the hope of being part of the lobbying effort were sorely disappointed. Many of those did, however, stick around for the rally. Continue reading ‘LGBT Equality and Justice Day – NY Capital’

24
Apr
09

Thanks, Emproph

cartoon-1

24
Apr
09

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’

24
Apr
09

The Parable of the Sower – Matt 13:1-23

SOWING OUR SEEDS

“Listen!”  That’s a word meant to prick up the ears of the hearer; a word meant to get people to pay attention. And where do we hear, “Listen!”, but in Jesus’ first parable in the Gospel of Matthew. (You can read the passage here.)

The parables, for me, represent in blazing color the fact that scripture is not to be taken simply at face value. It is meant to be worked through, to be wrestled with, to be mined for meaning and relevance. The parables not only defy an easy understanding, but they are designed to be thought about and reflected upon. How do we know that? From the word itself. The Greek is paraboley, and means to compare – literally “to put things beside each other”.

With this parable, we have a little easier time than with many. While the parables, in general, use concepts that would have been very meaningful to people of that time, but not so clear to us today, this one makes use of symbols that are just about universal. We hear about seed, paths, rocky soil, fertile ground – in short, we hear about agriculture. That should make it easy to understand – right? Unfortunately, it’s not that easy. Continue reading ‘The Parable of the Sower – Matt 13:1-23’

21
Apr
09

Recovery – A Poem of Survival

RECOVERY

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’

21
Apr
09

Integrity over Doctrine – A Brief Look at Erasmus

During the Renaissance, an age when tensions and aggressions were rising in the church, many were seeking to cling to their positions of power, prestige and wealth within the ecclesiastic structures. Reformation was brewing, both inside the Roman Catholic Church and outside, and a new age of appreciation for classicism and scholarship was developing. Critical alliances were being created and restructured between various feuding parties and the religious rift called the Protestant Reformation was materializing. Orthodox doctrine and traditional praxis were the most significant religious dimensions necessitating debates, with ecclesiology and sacraments being key elements in the discussions. At risk were the equally important treasures of eternal souls and temporal assets. Within this fray stood Erasmus, a great religious mind, exegetical thinker and biblical scholar, being courted by both sides of the battle but aligning himself fully with neither. Continue reading ‘Integrity over Doctrine – A Brief Look at Erasmus’

20
Apr
09

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”’

18
Apr
09

Still Called to Ministry?

They all had to be a little out of their minds. Asking a church business manager to deliver a message from the pulpit – not even a life-long Christian, but a converted one at that – seemed ludicrous in the least. It had been bad enough giving my testimony in the Lenten service. Not that I was embarrassed to reveal my colorful past. After all, my life was now an open book – all of the torn, ruffled, deeply stained pages as well as the very few that were tidy, clean and still legible. It was one thing to find that my experiences spoke to others’ hearts, and quite another to think I could somehow manage to prepare and deliver a sermon that had any value to a congregation.

Now they really had to be crazy. How can they possibly see a pastoral presence when they look at me? Twenty-five years in business, with nary a thought to scruples or ethics, and they want me to go into ministry. What would God want with one more recovering control freak in the pulpit? I’m positive there are plenty in churches already. Surely, when God touched my heart, changing my life that much could not have been in the picture. I have nothing to offer but my own brokenness and imperfection. I’m just meant to stay in the pews. Continue reading ‘Still Called to Ministry?’

16
Apr
09

Witnessing to Our Own Culture

The reading: Luke 24:36-48.

The women returned from the tomb to tell the other disciples what they had seen and heard – Jesus was gone. They had been told by angels that Jesus had risen to fulfill what had been foretold in the law and the prophets. The women believed. But the rest of the disciples did not believe. Peter went to see for himself. We’re told that he saw the empty tomb and left questioning what had happened. Later it is recorded that Jesus appeared to him.

The disciples were still discussing this when the two disciples returned from Emmaus and related their interaction with the risen Christ. The man they met opened up the scripture – the resurrection foretold in the law and the prophets – he opened them up in their minds. They recognized the man as Jesus when he broke bread with them – they too saw, heard and ate with the risen Jesus. The disciples declared that, “Christ has risen indeed.” The fact of Jesus’ resurrection was incontrovertible – there were just too many people who had seen and heard – too much evidence.

Then in the midst of this discussion – immediately following the declaration that all believed in the resurrection of Christ – Jesus appears to them saying, “Peace be with you.” And, of course, all immediately recognized Jesus as the risen savior – they were all in wonder at this fulfillment of what had been foretold, they all saw for themselves what they knew to be true. Right?

Wrong! Continue reading ‘Witnessing to Our Own Culture’

14
Apr
09

Then Comes New York

A week ago, I asked, “Where is New York?” Vermont’s legislature had just passed a marriage equality bill, and Empire State Pride Agenda’s Executive Director had just made a press release. New York’s legislative bodies, however, have been bandying the notion around, but seemed reticent to bring it to the floor.

Now enter Governor Paterson of New York. After ordering New York state departments to recognize same-gender marriages performed out of state, and to extend insurance and other rights to same-gender partners, Gov Paterson today announced that he will introduce legislation to allow same-gender marriages in New York. The full story can be read on CNN at http://www.cnn.com/2009/POLITICS/04/14/ny.same.sex.marriage/index.html.

Citing New York’s history of involvement with civil rights issues, the governor said, “There is clearly a problem in that those individuals who are gay or lesbian who would live in a civil union are still not entitled to somewhere between 1,250 and 1,300 civil protections” available to married couples. We would like to try to address that at some point in the near future.” It is time to start wotking in earnest on our state senators.

12
Apr
09

Resurrection – Pain & Joy

Ah!  Easter Sunday!  Christ has risen.  Alleluia. 

I always imagine the early morning Easter sun breaking through the darkness of the night.  I picture the angels Mary saw dressed in white.  There she was, standing in a garden filled with the color and the smell of Easter lilies, hyacinths, and azaleas.  Okay! So it’s not exactly accurate, but it is, for me, a brilliant and dazzling scene – a scene that inspires me and brings hope.

There are substantial differences in the four Gospel versions of the resurrection story. Much has been made of these differences – perhaps more than has been made of the other differences that exist in scripture.  There are enough differences that, while each depicts a brilliant and dazzling scene, it is tough to know which, if any, may be historically accurate. Continue reading ‘Resurrection – Pain & Joy’

11
Apr
09

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 Soulforce.org 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’

31
Mar
09

Tending the Garden

Not being accustomed to gardening in the Northeast, I am somewhat amazed to see perennials starting to shoot out green in March. Past winters, except for the one spent in England a few years ago, have been suffered in less hospitable climates than upstate New York. I remember the stares of incredulity as I planted Iowa gardens before Mother’s Day, as well as covering up those plants in early May to protect them from a deep freeze. Of course, there’s nothing to say that I won’t have to do the same here.

I view gardening as one part of participating with God, in some small way, in the act of creation, Continue reading ‘Tending the Garden’

31
Mar
09

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’

29
Mar
09

Covenant Stressed

COVENANT STRESSED – Why Ministers and Laity Leave Church

Much has been written, over the last several years especially, about the level of stress experienced by clergy. Stressors are cited as reasons for clergy infidelity, sexual misconduct, power abuse and the number of professionals leaving ministry. Conflict, usually at the local church level, is the most common type of stressor cited. Quite understandably, much of the work done in this area of study uses the techniques and language of sociology and psychology. Covenant, however, is not a concept strictly, or even commonly, associated with either of these disciplines, while it is a central tenet of the bulk of Christian pastoral effort. Covenant is a mutual relationship. Church members, clergy and officers are equally important in the relationships of the church, and can fall prey to exactly the same kinds of stresses. In my estimation, studying the role of covenants, or rather broken covenants, might yield far more meaningful results for understanding church stress generally, and the reason so many leave the church specifically. Continue reading ‘Covenant Stressed’




... or, preaching from both ends

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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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