Monday, February 25, 2013

How Do You Solve a Problem Like A Bigot?

It was about 15 years ago that I saw firsthand how love of enemy and justice for the oppressed clashed with each other.  I was in seminary at the time and one Sunday afternoon, I went to a discussion held at a local Lutheran church.  The then-Bishop of the St. Paul Area Synod of the ELCA, Mark Hanson (who is now the denomination’s Presiding Bishop) was in attendance.  The topic was on LGBT inclusion.  Bishop Hanson was trying hard to stress the unity of the church amidst diversity.  He tried to talk about how churches that were opposed to having non-celibate gays as pastors and those who advocate for it are brought together and have a place at Christ’s table.
The audience gathered was having none of this happy talk.  A few in attendance talked about LGBT folk they knew who were no longer in the church.  More than once I heard this phrase which was accompanied with tears: “People are dying!”
I never knew what that phrase meant.  Was it literally or figurately?  I don’t know. What I did know is that the people wanted some sense of justice for LGBT folk right now-unity be damned.
In the ongoing debates on the role of LGBT persons in the life of the church, we normally see these two important aspects of our faith, love and justice, collide into each other.  What I’ve observed over time is that you can’t really bring these two concepts together or at least not perfectly.

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Wednesday, February 20, 2013

There’s Still Hope for the Mainline

Anyone who’s read this blog knows I tend to be critical of mainline Christianity.  It’s not that I want to leave what has been my theological home for two decades; it’s that I get frustrated at some of it’s shortcomings.
Despite all of that, mainline/progressive/liberal Christianity is my home.  As much as I respect my evangelical beginnings, I don’t belong there anymore.  My current home might be a fixer-upper, but it’s still home.
So, I get a bit sad when I hear stories about how Mainline Protestantism is shrinking.  People leave the church.  Congregations close.  Denominational offices keep cutting staff. Will this form of Christianity even be around in 20 years or so?

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Friday, February 15, 2013

Ashes to Ashes…We All Fall Down.

Like many people, I’ve been rather surprised to hear that Oscar Pistorius has been charged with the murder of his girlfriend.
The South African athelete, who is a double amputee, is known as “Blade Runner” for his carbon fiber legs and his speed.  Pistorius was a symbol that persons with disabilities can achieve great feats, like being a world champion runner.  Yes, he was to use that tired cliche, an inspiration.  He helped put the Paralympics on the map, helping us to see it as a serious sporting event on par with its sister event, the Olympics.
I remember watching him run in the quarterfinals during the London Olympics.  He didn’t get farther than the quarterfinals, but even in that he was a winner.
So, it’s shocking to see him brought low, quite possibly by his own actions.

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Friday, February 08, 2013


This summer the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) will gather for its biennial General Assembly in Orlando.  One of the items to be considered is a resolution proclaiming the denomination Open and Affirming to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender persons.
A resolution is for the most part a sense of the Assembly and carries no legislative power.  That said it does carry some importance in making some kind of a statement at a specific time and place.  I know some of the people who came up with the resolution and after much revision it looks good. It resolves that  “the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) declares itself to be a people of grace and welcome to all God’s children–inclusive of race, gender, age, sexual orientation, gender identity, nationality, ethnicity, marital status, or physical ability.”
Good words.  We want to strive to be welcoming to LGBT persons who have been told in the past that they aren’t welcome at church. 

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Thursday, February 07, 2013

Trees. Forest. Pastor.

One of the things that is common among folks with Aspergers is that they lack executive function skills.  What’s executive function?  It’s basically being able to see the forest from the trees.  You can look at a tree in a forest and comprehend that it’s part of a greater whole.  What’s different for someone with Aspergers is that they can see a tree, and another tree, and another tree and never really think that these are part of something bigger.

This has shown itself in my own life.
Keep Reading Trees. Forest. Pastor.

Monday, February 04, 2013

Birth Control And The Sham of Theological Diversity

One of the things that Progressive Christians like to say about themselves is how welcoming and tolerant they are.  Compared to their more conservative cousins, progressives can pride themselves in being able to think for themselves and to have a place where all ideas and beliefs can be shared without fear. Why, your progressive church even welcomes Republicans!

But in reality, all of this talk of diversity is a complete sham.  We are no more tolerant of other viewpoints than our conservative relatives.  What we are good at is lying to ourselves about how good we are.

Birth Control And The Sham of Theological Diversity