Monday, July 20, 2009

How Far Have We Come?

Forty years ago today Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin took small steps for men and giant leaps for humankind. Marking this tremendous accomplishment makes me wonder who far we have come? Technology has made gigantic leaps forward. Today's average cell phone has 5x the computing power of the entire Apollo 11 Command module. Computers are in millions of homes and astronauts are tweeting from orbit things that were only found in science-fiction in 1969. We continue to move forward technologically.

We have just elected our first African-American president, something else that was unheard of and even unimagined in 1969. The gap between whites and blacks have narrowed, but are still prominent. How far have we come socially? The KKK recently rallied in my hometown of Pulaski, TN, although to much less fanfare than in years past. Tonight HBO airs a documentary called Prom Night in Mississippi. This documentary details a small town in Mississippi where the white parents want to have a "whites only" prom and in response Morgan Freeman, a Mississippi native, pays for another prom but only if it is integrated. I have not seen the entire film, unfortunately I don't have HBO, but in the clips I have seen this is nothing more than vicious latent racism. "I don't want my white daughter dancing at the prom with a black boy." Although they have no problem with the same black boy running the football or shooting the three-pointer.

Could we go back to the moon? Sure, it wouldn't be that hard relatively speaking. We have come light-years forward in technology. Is there still segregation and blatent racism? Unfortunately we haven't come that far...yet.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Is this the death knell for the ECUSA?

Most of you have seen the remarks made by Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori, presiding bishop of the 2009 ECUSA General Convention. Bishop Jefferts Schori stated that "the great Western heresy" is that "we can be saved as individuals, that any of us alone can be in right relationship with God." She goes on to say that "It’s caricatured in some quarters by insisting that salvation depends on reciting a specific verbal formula about Jesus. That individualist focus is a form of idolatry, for it puts me and my words in the place that only God can occupy, at the center of existence, as the ground of being."

She is referring to the "sinner's prayer" which is a staple at tent meetings, Billy Graham revivals, and other evangelical extravaganzas. Perhaps, there is a point in the midst of her comments, although we must dig and make assumptions in order to find it. There is a problem when salvation becomes "fire insurance" and is promoted and proclaimed as only an individual pursuit. There is a notion that "I got saved now I am going to go home." Salvation, as Wesley thought, is a life long pursuit that is done in a community of love, grace, and accountability. There is a distinction between this kind of individualistic salvation and establishing a true community of believers. She is calling for the latter as opposed to the former. This is the point that I think Bishop Jefferts Schori was trying to make.

However, her comments or rather her poor attempt to place them in context allows for other assumptions to be made. Is baptism not an individual pursuit? Is the baptism ritual not "reciting a specific verbal formula about Jesus?" Where does this heresy begin and end for her? She needed to be much more specific and clear when making a serous charge of heresy. She is calling out Evangelicals using the same tactics that they use. You faith is not genuine because it is not like mine.

There are many people, including Episcopalians, Methodists, and other mainline Protestant Christians, who began their faith with a "sinner's prayer" at camp or at a revival, etc. In calling this heresy, Bishop Jefferts Schori is cutting their faith at the knees. Some might feel that her comments insist that their faith is disingenuous or false. I don't know. Her comments leave a lot of room for interpretation and even misuse.

The ECUSA is already experiencing schism and possible exclusion from the Anglican communion because of its stance on gay and lesbian clergy. I can imagine that the ECUSA and its members are hurting and need words of healing and these were not words of healing. They were a ideological declaration of war on a large swath of Christian history. Her words cut at the heart of many people's faith. I think I understand her meaning, but it should have been done in a better way. I would be interested to hear the thoughts of Episcopalians.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Enough is Enough

I am so sick of all the negativity, anger, and hatred being spewed forth in this country, much of it from so-called Christians. There is nothing wrong about being passionate about issues, but we are to the point where dialog is pointless because it always degrades into a shouting match and an insult-fest. We have to be open to others ideas and *gasp* we have to be open to the notion that we might be wrong. It seems I cannot engage in a discussion without someone making snide, sarcastic comments or insinuating that I am stupid or a heretic or a stupid heretic. Maybe it is time for me to take a vacation from the blogosphere.