Friday, March 31, 2017

Recommended Reading 3-31-17 edition

Regularly, if somewhat spasmodically, I share a list of things I'm reading, watching and listening to with my congregation.  If I remember to do so, I also post it here on my blog:

United Church of Christ in the News
Recommended Podcasts
  • "An 'Intimate Portrait' of Dorothy Day, the Catholic Activist With a Bohemian Past"--To be honest, I'm not sure if I will ever get around to reading this biography of Dorothy Day, but this interview on NPR's Fresh Air with her granddaughter, who wrote the biography, was a fascinating glimpse into the life of this 20th Century saint.
  • "Advocacy" an episode of The Liturgists Podcast--A minister friend recommended to me "The Liturgists" podcast a long time ago, but it has taken me a while to get into it. This week's episode on "Advocacy" hooked me, however. A thoughtful reflection on how to do advocacy in the age of Trump that is actually Christian--including praying for our leaders, praying for those we disagree with, making time for contemplation and moving from reflection to action.
Supreme Court
  • "What is Neil Gorsuch's Religion? It's Complicated"--Really interesting read about Gorsuch's religious views. Surprise, surprise! Like most American Christians, he's hard to categorize. As a progressive Christian, I'm heartened that he and his family are actively involved in a progressive Episcopal church in Boulder, CO, but then I'm also concerned about his siding with the owners of Hobby Lobby in Hobby Lobby v. Sebelius. Mixed feelings about this guy who will have such a huge impact on our country. I do find it astounding, however, that one conservative commentator felt Gorsuch should be held to the same standard as Obama and his then pastor Jeremiah Wright--and by that standard the conservative writer did not like Gorsuch being a part of such a liberal Episcopal church!!!!!
Federal Budget
The Muslim Ban and Immigration
  • "When the Irish Were the Immigrants Americans Detested"--From this column: "Saint Patrick's Day was yet another reminder that Christians in America are going to have to decide at some point whether or not the teachings of scripture will have an authoritative place in our lives or not, because the command to welcome the stranger is clear and unwavering through our entire holy text."
  • "The Muslim Ban and American History"--Great article, especially when you get past the first few paragraphs which contain criticism sof the Trump Muslim ban that have been well-articulated elsewhere. The brief overview of US immigration policy in the second half of the article is eye opening! I had no idea that Hitler praised the 1924 Exclusion Act in Mein Kampf or that the Third Reich was inspired by that act in its own policies on immigration, race and ethnicity! (the 1924 Exclusion Act BTW is what White House advisor Steve Bannon has publicly praised!)
  • "Is There a Christian Double Standard on Religious Violence?"--Short answer is yes.  Nearly 80 percent of Christians don't think a terrorist acting in the name of Christianity is Christian. But more than half say terrorists acting in the name of Islam are Muslims.
  • "Stuffing shoe boxes for the worldâ€'s poor? Maybe you should reconsider"--A decent explanation of why giving to Operation Christmas Child actually makes things worse for poor people in developing countries. Although some of the alternatives mentioned in the article, IMHO, are just as bad, because they are all about making the giver feel good about his/her charity instead of about actually changing for the better the circumstances of the person on the receiving end.  (Oh and Franklin Graham is a homophobic, Islamaphobic jerk.)
The Religious Left?
  • "Is the Religious Left Emerging as a Political Force?"--Yeah, I saw the recent Reuters article taunting the "rise of the Religious Left" and shook my head. As this essay shows people have been making that (false) claim for years. Religious liberals are too diverse and don't want authoritarian leaders like the Religious Right. A Religious Right vs. Left is a false dichotomy. (I was shocked, shocked to also read in this essay that people don't care about the religious views of their ministers. Shocked!)
Other Stuff I Think is Cool
  • "I Loved My Grandmother. But She Was a Nazi."--These sound like important words for our time: "My grandmother heard what she wanted from a leader who promised simple answers to complicated questions. She chose not to hear and see the monstrous sum those answers added up to. And she lived the rest of her life with the knowledge of her indefensible complicity."

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