A couple of weeks ago I went on an unforgettable mission trip to New Orleans and encountered a church that gave me a lot to think about.
Prince of Peace Missouri Synod Lutheran Church was once a thriving church and school. It was flooded when Hurricanes Katrina and Rita destroyed thousands of homes, businesses, and community buildings along the Gulf Coast from Texas to Alabama in 2005.
Ongoing and open revelation sets the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints apart from many other religious traditions. Mormons believe there is a living prophet of God on Earth and that he has the power and authority to receive new doctrine directly from the Lord. Despite its infrequent implementation, the ninth article of faith is one of the most important tenets of Mormon doctrine: “We believe all that God has revealed, all that He does now reveal, and we believe that He will yet reveal many great and important things pertaining to the Kingdom of God.” Open revelation is at the heart of the recent excommunication of Mormon feminist Kate Kelly.
When I married at age 41, one of the gifts I received was a hydrangea, the kind that grows someday into a beautiful umbrella of pink blossoms. I delighted in it. Despite our young dog’s scrabbling at its roots, and rude winters freezing it in a bent-over position, it blossomed abundantly.
Several weeks ago, Chipotle founder Steve Ells published a column headlined "Conventional vs. Grass-fed Beef." As you've probably heard, Chipotle prefers the latter—the fast-casual burrito chain has a lotto say about agricultural reform, ethical food, etc. But here the subject is more complicated than the title suggests: Ells was defending Chipotle's decision to stop buying exclusively domestic beef in favor of importing some of it from Australia, where the grass-fed supply is better.
It's a classic food-ethics connundrum: should you go with the higher production standard, or the food produced closer to home? Chipotle chose the former, a perfectly defensible choice if you just have the two.
The best controversies are those in which the headlines make you think one thing, but the full article pushes you another way. Eventually, you say, “I have no idea what to think on this one.” That happened to me last week when investigating Facebook’s social experiment on happiness.
I had one of those conversations last week that’s had me reflecting on our assumptions as clergy and churches, the way we do things, and what the future might look like.
A few weeks ago, a family visited the church I serve. We talked after the service and I learned that they hadn’t attended church regularly in a very long time but that all of their children had been baptized and they were hoping to reconnect. Instead of encouraging them to sign the guestbook as I usually do, I gave them my business card and urged them to contact me.