For the past 20 years I have
toiled in the vineyards of two state legislatures: in California for 12 years
and now in Wisconsin for the past eight, along with occasional forays to the U.S.
Congress. In these arenas I have represented the interests of state councils of
churches, which are really the interests of those who don't have the time,
money or wherewithal to advocate for themselves: children, impoverished
families, working-class parents with low-paying jobs.
Eugene Peterson's new memoir, The Pastor, will be out in February (Century subscribers can read the excerpt from the book
in the February 8 issue.) If any pastor has claimed the vocation, it's
Peterson, who has grounded and inspired pastors for many years with books that
include Under the Unpredictable Plant
and The Contemplative Pastor.
It's hard to know what to say about State of the Union,
since the speech Tuesday was long on examples of the results of good
policy but short on the policy itself. ("As I understand it," offers Matt Yglesias, "gay soldiers will win
the future by riding high speed trains to salmon farms.") Here are a few
used to be that the defense of Second Amendment rights was linked, at least
rhetorically, to the rights of hunters and outdoor enthusiasts, who worried
that gun laws might deny them their hunting rifles or the chance to engage in
target practice. That concern--always farfetched--has come to look rather
Sometimes I'm a little slow. It's true. I don't always read the Bible as
if it were for me. Lately I most often read scripture in search of a
sermon for the congregation. Now, I realize that most of these sermons
are also for me, but, yeah. I forget just to read for God's
leading for my own life, for a deeper understanding of my own place with
the People of God. It's a slippery slope.
Just as loving mercy is a
means to doing justice, so is walking humbly with God. Yet in the sexuality
debates raging in the mainline church, humility is seldom easy to find. Both
sides cling to the fiction that they harbor gospel truth.
Every few years a fringe Christian leader
or group predicts when Jesus Christ is coming back to earth. The latest date,
announced on billboards in some mid-sized American cities, is May 21 of this