Recommended Reading from 12-20-14:
- "One Sentence that Pastors and Church Staff Hate to Hear"--so very true!
- Test your Bible knowledge with "7 Common Misconceptions About the Hebrew Bible"
- I always think it is worth noting when I actually agree with something David Brooks writes, so here's one I agree with (mostly). He writes that police unions are a barrier to police reform and protestors must stay the course if they want things to really change in our nation's law enforcement. (His other comments about unions in general I'm not so sure about.)
- Have you heard the term "White Privilege" or had it said about you? What does the term really mean? Here are some thoughtful ways to consider the subject--including the idea that what we are talking about is really "Black Exclusion."
- Last weekend was the two year anniversary of the killing of 20 children and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School. This "Open Letter" from a teacher describes how things have gotten worse for school children not better since the massacre.
- You may think you're not racist, but science says you are--me too. Check out the data here.
- More science that proves you and I are not as open-minded as we think.
- Like millions of listeners, I've been captivated with the weekly podcast Serial, which reports over 12 episodes about a 1999 murder of a teenager in Baltimore and the conviction of her ex-boyfriend of the murder. Although the podcast didn't provide an answer of who really committed the murder, it did provide a powerful examination of the failures of our criminal justice system.
- I attended a "Pray-In" that was described eloquently by Dr. Molly Marshal, president of Central Baptist Theological Seminary here in KC in this essay: "Why not a 'Pray-In': We Aim to Transform Those Things Which Appear to Broken to Fix."
- I don't know whether to laugh or cry, about Texas governor Rick Perry justifying the poverty in his state with the words of Jesus: "The poor you will always have with you.". When Jesus said, said these words (Matthew 26:11, Mark 14:7, John 12:8) he was talking to his disciples who were rejecting the woman who anointed him prior to his death. They criticized her for anointing him with costly perfume rather than giving money to the poor. Jesus' point was that they did not understand his death was imminent and was a necessary part of his ministry. His point was NOT that we are relieved of caring for the poor as individuals or a society. (If you don't believe me read the Sermon on the Mount and his parables) It's not a prediction OR maybe it is and Jesus knew that there would always be politicians who would use religion to justify bad politics that oppress the poor and profit the rich. Either way these words of Jesus are not a justification for people--especially Christian people--to be apathetic towards poverty. Ugh!
- If you think all the protests about racism and police brutality are misguided, because neither Michael Brown nor Eric Garner were innocent angels, think again. Charles Blow has an excellent essay about why the "Perfect Victim" argument ignores the context of racism in our culture.
- Zach Phelps-Roper--grandson of Fred Phelps--is the latest defector from Westboro Baptist Church. I found this article about his life post-Westboro to be a fascinating read.
- Two weeks ago in my sermon, I mentioned an op-ed by Frank Bruni in the New York Times about the lack of empathy in coach class on planes these days serving as a microcosm of the lack of empathy in our society. Here's a link to that op-ed.
- The United Church of Christ response to the Torture Report.
- There's been a fatal school shooting every five weeks sine the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School two years ago--including one in metro KC.
- Three weeks ago a gunman shot up downtown Austin, TX. It turns out he was part of a Christian extremist group like many such "lone gunmen." Why doesn't the media call them "Christian terrorists" the same way they use the term "Muslim terrorist?"
- If you missed it, here is the wonderful story on KSHB 41 about same gender couples in our church making wedding plans in light of Jackson County's decision to give wedding licenses to same gender couples.
- Recently CCCUCC member Jim Turner advocated for renewable energy before a Missouri commission developing a statewide energy plan.
- In recent e-mails, I've shared links to blog posts by evangelical ethics professor David Gushee on what the Bible says/doesn't say about homosexuality. He has a new book out explaining his position and detailing how his mind (and interpretation of scripture) has changed from viewing homosexuality as a sin to being a defender of LGBT equality. I think his book would be a good thing to share with evangelical friends who are open to new ideas. Like so many people--myself included--it took a personal relationship to change his mind; In Gushee's case it was his lesbian sister. Here's an interview with him.
- Biblical literacy comes in handy in all sorts of circumstances. For instance, I'm a big fan of the AMC show The Walking Dead and this season Bible verses are showing up all over the place to highlight the themes of the plot. Check out this recap in Entertainment Weekly of the latest episode--the Bible verses referenced in the show are at the end.
LGBT magazine The Advocate named the United Church of Christ one of its finalists for its Person of the Year. The magazine did so because of the UCC's efforts to bring down the ban on same gender marriage in North Carolina.
- Much has been written about Brittany Maynard, the 29 year-old woman with inoperable brain cancer who chose to end her life. I've found a lot of statements by Christians about her decision to be pretty awful. This column by UCC minister Chuck Currie comes close to my thoughts on the subject.
It's easy to laugh at evangelical Christians who get all bent out of shape about Halloween, but this article wonders if more open-minded Christians fail to reckon with what the holiday says and doesn't say about our notions of what is evil.
- Ever wonder why some kids grow up and remain committed to their faith and others don't? It turns out the number one determining factor is the religious commitment of the parents.
- Here's a great piece about the toll bad Christian theology takes on LGBT people.
- Finally, here's a piece from the satirical newspaper The Onion: "Life Changing Epiphany Wears Off on Ride Home." I hope this isn't what happens to church members on their drives home from Sunday worship.