Posts Tagged ‘Ethics



07
May
09

Prayer For a Caring Community

Bumped

A PRAYER FOR CARING COMMUNITY

(adapted from the Ten Commandments)

 Save your people, God who is our God:

From not loving you as we should;

From the worship of the gods of material wealth and comfort;

Continue reading ‘Prayer For a Caring Community’

05
May
09

A Vision of Inclusion

The crux of chapter 9 of John, which you’ll be reading shortly, is found at the beginning and end. In between, we find examples that illustrate the points being made.  The verses that make up the middle paragraphs are rich with symbolism, but there’s only so much that can be covered in one page. So I will concentrate mostly on the beginning and ending. This is a powerful testament to including rather than excluding those we deem unacceptable. Continue reading ‘A Vision of Inclusion’

04
May
09

Open Letter to Legislators of NY – Same-Sex Marriage

Whenever one writes letters to legislators it is always better if it is short, sweet and to the point. The problem with that is that the lack of logical arguments that can fit into a short letter tends to limit their educational and persuasive value. Short letters simply allow room to state an opinion – one among a plethora of opinions fielded by constituents – that do little to edify, persuade or even debunk opposing arguments.

Faced with this dilemma, I am writing a letter that is in two parts. The first simply states my opinion as a constituent and asks that my opinion be considered in deciding on the merits of legislating for same-sex marriage. The second part, which can easily be ignored if the legislator is so inclined, or read if he/she sees fit to consider logical arguments, outlines various points using opponents’ logic as a springboard.

Part 1.

Very briefly, I would like to state my opinion that it is a travesty that same-sex relationships are not afforded all the same civil benefits in New York as heterosexual married couples. Continue reading ‘Open Letter to Legislators of NY – Same-Sex Marriage’

03
May
09

Dignity For All Students

I have been asked repeatedly why I am a straight ally of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) sisters and brothers. Whether it is because of things I write, things I say (for instance on the floor of my presbytery) or where I choose to be activist, the fact that I am straight and a minister seem to stand out significantly. There is, at the same time, suspicion and excitement that a straight minister would care enough to be visible in support of LGBT.

Jenna and I ran directly into this while present and active at the Equality and Justice Day put on by Empire State Pride Agenda. No less that a dozen times we were asked if we would allow our picture to be taken and placed on websites or blogs. We also entered into numerous conversations, all concerning the role of the church in oppression and anti-GLBT equality.

One specific effort of Pride Agenda is Dignity For All Students, a bill in New York that seeks to address bullying for any reason including sexuality and gender expression. When asked, I responded that my interest in this is very personal. I was on the receiving end of homophobic bullying in grade and high school simply because I was slightly built (hard to imagine now) and a little effeminate. My young life in school, along with some friends, was hell that left me contemplating suicide many times during my high school years.

While meeting with an aide of Senator Farley to make the case for Dignity, I stated the reasons for my interest and followed up by saying, “We have a moral obligation to protect the most vulnerable, and no-one is more vulnerable than our children.” As an expression of our concern in this issue and the dangers faced by those deemed by peers to be different, Jenna and I will be attending “train the trainers” classes for the Trevor Project, a nationwide hot-line for children and youth at risk and contenplating suicide.

To end of bringing as much attention to the issue as I can, I am reprinting the NY Times commentary by Charles Blow. Continue reading ‘Dignity For All Students’

02
May
09

Beyond the Cross – Mark 1:8-15

We can get so used to hearing the longer versions of this story in the other gospels that we forget how very brief, but fulsome, this version is. It is the paucity of words that this story of Jesus’ forty days in the wilderness that opens it up to us to make it our own. We can at times so easily get caught up in the frantic performance and goal-directed activity of 21st century life. And then, perhaps, we have created a soothing routine that runs along automatically so that we avoid the need for decisions. Only the secure knowledge that on Monday there is chicken for dinner, friends to call in the afternoon, or news to watch at 6:00. On Tuesday it might be book club or classes. On Wednesday, maybe it’s the weekly shopping. We could rely so heavily on routine that it robs us of the times necessary for reflecting on our own journey – for spending our forty days in the wilderness. Continue reading ‘Beyond the Cross – Mark 1:8-15’

01
May
09

Unequal Yoke

While this decidedly Christian phrase is usually reserved for marriages between people of different faiths, or a relationship where one partner has no faith, it can really refer to any relationship that should be covenantal. It should be used in church situations in which people who see the role of church as ministry are pitted against those who wish to follow a secular, business model. It should be used in the strained relationships between the various ecclesiastical levels. It most certainly should be used when describing the all too common broken contracts between governments and constituents. In decidedly counter-cultural fashion, I would like to suggest that it applies to all things economic – that, in a just society, all transactions would be covenantal and mutually equitable. Continue reading ‘Unequal Yoke’

30
Apr
09

Mary & Martha – True Disciples

Reading: John 12:1-8 

Stark contrasts and interesting characters seem to be the order of the day for the readings this morning. Sandwiched between passages about life and death, we have a seemingly simple vignette of a dinner party. The hosts and guests of the party are intrinsically related to what has come before and what will yet be.

The setting:

Bethany – the home of Martha and Mary, and their brother Lazarus. There are a few scriptural references about Jesus, Mary and Martha – and most of them include closeness – an intimacy of friendship. Bethany, it seems, was a frequent stop for Jesus and, from what we are told, it seems like this is where Jesus may have come to regenerate – to relax a while – a place to be Jesus the person as opposed to Jesus the Messiah. Jesus still taught – people still listened, but there appears to be a kind of intimacy in this house that draws Jesus.

The story before the reading: Continue reading ‘Mary & Martha – True Disciples’

29
Apr
09

Racism, sexism, classism, et al

The great list of “-isms” could go on and on. As a society, we always tend towards separating – discriminating between people like us and those not like us. In the extreme, it is called xenophobia – irrational fear of the stranger. While it can be argued that cultures having European roots have perfected many of the “-isms”, they are in no way limited geographically. Even the most basic building blocks of society – tribes – were many times based on a sense of “them vs us.” The jury is still out on whether this is an integral part of human existence or a learned trait spanning hundreds of generations. It is clear, however, that it is part of the human condition that we must strive to overcome if we are to live fully in the coming Reign of God. Continue reading ‘Racism, sexism, classism, et al’

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’

27
Apr
09

The Theology Behind Church Financial Practices

As a church administrator, I have been asked several times to “review” the procedures of larger churches. It has become my habit to write briefly about the financial systems and procedures, unless of course there are significant problems, and then spend a good amount of time telling the board or session what their financial reporting communicates in terms of theology and praxis. This has been, many times, unwelcome, but I have yet to do this with a church that has not taken seriously at least some of the items I pointed out and begun to take a hard look at their practices.

This report is from a couple of years ago, and is fairly representative. I offer it, not for what it says about this church, but for what it says about the general atmosphere of church “business”. While for some it is inconceivable, I contend that finances may be the truest indicator of a church’s practical theology. In this case, the message communicated was counter-productive to the goals expressed by the Board. Continue reading ‘The Theology Behind Church Financial Practices’

27
Apr
09

Administration Issues in Small Churches

This opinion paper is rife with generalities. Suffice it say that the opinions expressed herein refer to the majority of churches, as opposed to all churches. This, by the way, will be a very untidy post.

 The mainline church in the U.S. has long pursued adoption of “sound” business practices in its member congregations, spurred on by the increasingly rigorous legal and social demands that have resulted from a long and growing list of ethical transgressions. The two most prominent areas of concern are sexual misconduct and financial/property mismanagement. In my opinion, the interest in the first has been spurred not primarily by a sense of protecting and safe-guarding children and people otherwise at risk of sexual predation, but by the financial fallout that may consequentially occur. That which has garnered the full attention of concerned parties is the potential “price” of abuse. Increasingly, changes have occurred with the development of “sound” church business practices that have moved the basic ethical underpinnings of church oversight and administration from spiritual and social concerns to financial matters and risk management. Routinely financial, staff and property management are referred to as the “business” of the church, with the real business of the church – ministry, mission and education – receiving far less attention. Continue reading ‘Administration Issues in Small Churches’

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’

22
Apr
09

Calvin’s Spirituality – Not an Oxymoron

Within the first few pages of Elsie Anne McKee’s John Calvin – Writings on Pastoral Piety, I was stricken with disbelief. Incredibly, McKee used ‘piety’ and ‘spirituality’ interchangeably.[1]  “Now I know piety and it’s not spirituality,” I said in no uncertain terms as I looked it up in my dictionary and read “having or exhibiting religious reverence; earnestly compliant in the observance of religion; devout.”[2]  Hmmm. I then thumbed to spirituality and found “the quality or state of being spiritual; pious; heavenly-mindedness.”[3]  It appeared my negative understanding of piety as rigid, dogmatic and judgmental belief was based far too much on my early experiences with the somewhat puritanical Christian Reformed Church in Australia. Continue reading ‘Calvin’s Spirituality – Not an Oxymoron’

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’




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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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