A few weeks back I pondered the difficult question of adoption and abortion. I asked the church why adoption isn’t standard practice in the face of abortion.
Well, one church has answered. Pastor Vic Pentz of Peachtree Presbyterian Church in Atlanta promised in a recent sermon that his church would “care for any newborn baby you bring to this church.” They’re partnering with the adoption agency Bethany Christian Services to make that acutally happen. It’s a bold statement and doesn’t get into any of the many complicated issues involved in adoption (it’s not exactly as simple as bring a baby to the church), but I love it. It’s a strong step forward for the church.
If the church is going to value life, I think they need to truly value life. And that means stepping forward to care for babies that would otherwise be unwanted. That means walking alongside moms and dads who would consider abortion because they don’t think they have the resources to care for a baby. That means doing whatever it takes for life, whether it’s keeping families together or creating new ones.
We talked about gays in church yesterday, so how about gays at Christian rock festivals today? Po-mo emergent guy and fellow Twin Citizen Tony Jones offers an interesting recap of a panel discussion held at the recent Cornerstone festival titled “Gay Rights or Wrongs.”
I’m very interested in this conversation as it relates to Christianity because it’s so difficult. But that also makes it dangerous. It’s easy to stick your foot in your mouth (or in someone else’s) and easily offend. That’s not my intention. And I’ll be honest and admit that it’s an issue I don’t have a solid stand on. I’m swayed by arguments on both sides and see positives and negatives to both cases.
At any rate, I thought one particular comment in Tony’s piece was interesting:
What, I asked, does the church do to a boy who is born with undescended testicles? Is Jesus’ day, he would have been thrown into a field to die of exposure, but we would consider that inhumane. However, where does that person fit in our communities of faith?
The first century response is shocking. But if we harbor prejudice or worse, outright hostility, to someone in that situation, are we any less inhumane? If we’re not willing to welcome a hermaphrodite (or anyone else for that matter) into our congregation with open arms then we’re just as inhumane as the first century people who toss that infant into the elements. We think we’re civilized because we’ll save that child. But if we give that child a cold shoulder or a strange look when we encounter them as an an adult then we’re just as uncivilized.
Considering I attend an Episcopal church, the process of writing the blog entry and the article it links to (an NPR story on the continuing battle over gay bishops) hit close to home. The point I made over at Church Marketing Sucks is that theology comes before marketing.
That’s not exactly what the Episcopal Church is doing (I was writing to warn of that danger in general, not pointing to an explicit example of it). But I think they may be putting procedure before marketing. Granted, I’m not as familiar with all the ins and outs of this debate as I should be (but I’m more familiar than I’d like to be), but here’s what I mean:
The gay bishop debate is all about procedure. At no point did the Episcopal Church sit down and decide theology (that I’m aware of). Instead, they began debating theology through procedure. Should we or should we not ordain gay priests? How about gay bishops? What about blessing same sex marriages? What underlies all these procedural arguments is theology.
So why not just debate the theology? It seems a lot simpler to me to just get to the root of the problem.
Update: I’ve been Snoped. Ouch. It appears the stats in this video are of questionable accuracy. They’re not denied outright, but there are significant questions. Despite all the rhetoric (my own included), perhaps the real question this post should raise is how should we respond to news of the growing population of a different faith? I’d contend that the negative overtones of this video aren’t helpful. End update.
I saw what I consider to be a bat-crazy video today. Take a look and tell me what you think:
The Episcopal Bishop Gene Robinson appeared on NPR’s Talk of the Nation last week following his appearance in Washington, D.C., to deliver the invocation at Sunday’s inaugural concert. His prayer wasn’t carried by the live broadcasts, which prompted a flurry of protest (sounds like it was an organizational snafu, not an intentional snub). For those who don’t know, Robinson is the gay priest who was elected as a bishop in 2003, causing the current upheaval in the Episcopal church. Though I attend an Episcopal church which is still reeling from that 2003 decision, I’m not that familiar with Robinson and his theology.
He had some interesting things to say on NPR as they took callers and he answered questions. Some things I agreed with, some I didn’t.
But one of the most bizarre was an exchange with a woman who described herself as a “God-fearing, Bible-believing Christian.”
Redefining Christmas has been on my mind this year. As I was editing a like-minded blog entry for Church Marketing Sucks, I realized how insane it is that people go into debt for Christmas. How crazy it is that we’re so obsessed with shopping that people get trampled. How sad it is that people feel the need to apologize when they can’t buy as many presents as they bought last year.
How ironic that the celebration of a baby born in shit and straw has become so materialistic. Mary and Joseph had very little in that stable. They didn’t have a fancy crib with a light up mobile. They didn’t have an iPod to soothe the crying baby. They didn’t have a credit card to reserve a better room. But they had more than they needed.
Wouldn’t it be cool if Christmas was a time when people got out of debt instead of into it?
Wouldn’t it change your city if instead of trampling people to get gifts, we lined up to serve one another?
“The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on me,
because the LORD has anointed me
to preach good news to the poor.
He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
to proclaim freedom for the captives
and release from darkness for the prisoners,
to proclaim the year of the LORD’s favor.” (Isaiah 61:1-2/Luke 4:18-19)
Last Sunday the sermon at church covered a little known bit of Jewish law called the Sabbath Year and the Year of Jubilee. I had heard about the latter in 1999 with Jubilee 2000 and the Drop the Debt Campaign (this perhaps marked the beginning of Bono’s most public crusader years), and produced perhaps my favorite quote from Bono which nicely summarizes the concepts:
“I’m learning more and more about Jubilee—the biblical concept that every seven days there’s a Sabbath and every seven years the land is to lie fallow and every seven times seven, i.e. in the 50th year, a year of grace, your debts were forgiven, slaves set free, etc. Quite punk rock for God. In fact, there are a lot of squeakies involved in Jubilee (Christians are hard to tolerate, I don’t know how Jesus does it … I’m one of them).”
What an incredible concept. Leviticus 25 details all the rules (interesting that nobody ever quotes that bit of Leviticus) and Wikipedia gives a vague overview
Came across a very interesting video from John Piper, pastor of Bethlehem Baptist in Minneapolis and head of Desiring God, a nonprofit religious organization that advocates the “supremacy of God.” I’ve done some work for Desiring God and I always find them very interesting to deal with. Piper is intensely cerebral. Trying to edit and work with their copy is an immense challenge. I’m always trying to get them to use language normal people can understand.
And that’s all because Piper is smart. Very smart. Dude talks in heady concepts and lingo that’s hard to get your head around. I don’t always agree with all of it, but I often find it immensely challenging (his work on Don’t Waste Your Life is perhaps the most accessible and incredibly convicting [though I should note that I didn’t work on the DWYL web site!]).
I say all that because I have great respect for Piper and want to give some context of who he is before talking about this video.
A couple weeks ago I wrote about how Barack Obama isn’t a Muslim—but what if he was? Who cares? Sometimes it’s nice to be backed up. In this case former Secretary of State Gen. Colin Powell has my back:
“I’m also troubled by, not what Senator McCain says, but what members of the party say. And it is permitted to be said such things as, ‘Well, you know that Mr. Obama is a Muslim.’ Well, the correct answer is, he is not a Muslim, he’s a Christian. He’s always been a Christian. But the really right answer is, what if he is? Is there something wrong with being a Muslim in this country? The answer’s no, that’s not America.” (Meet the Press)
Powell went on to talk about a 20-year-old soldier who died in Iraq and earned a Bronze Star and Purple Heart. His name was Kareem Rashad Sultan Khan and he was a Muslim. He was 14 on a 9/11 and wanted to show people that not all Muslims are fanatics. He served and died for his country, proving that point.
The last 24 hours have probably been some of the most historic 24 hours of politics in a long time. Barack Obama officially accepted the nomination of the Democratic Party with a stirring speech last night in Denver, making him the first African American presidential nominee in U.S. history. And today John McCain announced that Alaskan Governor Sarah Palin would be his running mate, making Palin only the second female vice presidential nominee from a major party in history. No matter who wins in November, history will be made.
I find myself caught up in the excitement—and rightly so; it is historic and ground-breaking and that has personal implications for me—but I’ve been reminded by severalpeople that politics is not everything. As one friend said, “I freaking hate politics. It’s all trying to cure cancer with ointment.”