CCblogs Network Posts

Recent content from around the network. See featured posts.

The CCblogs network is a community of independent bloggers exploring the Christian faith. The Christian Century facilitates the network but does not edit posts or take responsibility for them.

__________________________________________________________


  • The man in the middle with his hand up is unmistakable. The man to his right is his top military general, Ulysses S. Grant. To his left sits Rear Admiral David Dixon Porter. The man holding forth across the room is General William Tecumseh Sherman, remembered (and vilified) still today primarily for "Sherman's March to the Sea."The story goes that this meeting was somewhat serendipitous. It was March of 1865, the war was drawing to a close, and President Lincoln was aboard a river boat somewhere close to Grant's headquarters. It just so happened that General Sherman was in the neighborhood. Thus, the meeting of "the peacemakers," a meeting Admiral Porter later described like this: "I shall never forget that council which met on board the River Queen. On the determinations adopted there depended peace, or a continuation of the war with its attendant horrors."The painting, done by George P. A. Healy, is titled The Peacemakers and meant to celebrate this moment, "an occasion upon...

    ______________________

  • Allan R. Bevere


    ______________________


  • Augustine was born into a divided family where his mother--Monica--was a Christian and his father--Patricius--was a non-Christian. He was raised within the bounds of the Church at his mother's insistence but he received a top notch education at a non-Christian school nearly twenty miles away from home at his father's insistence. Because of the incredible opportunity that his education presented, Augustine became an articulate and intelligent expounder of the philosophical systems he had studied and learned to love--namely, Platonism. He found great comfort in the predictable and consistent halls of academia and decided to pursue a career within the walls of the ivory tower of academia--Augustine aspired to be a professor of rhetoric.Augustine moved around teaching rhetoric to popular academic acclaim for many years. He was repeatedly disappointed with his students' behavior and lack of professionalism but so loved the academic world that he continued on...

    ______________________


  • A jumbo-sized Roundup for August...1. The 8th series of the newer Doctor Who was finally added to Netflix this month, which allowed Coffeewife and I to fully catch up in preparation for the newest episodes premiering in September. We weren't sure what to expect from the Peter Capaldi version of the Doctor, although I'd heard and read some things beforehand. He's certainly much less of a wacky Doctor than Tennant or Smith, with more existential angst and a little curmudgeon thrown in. I don't think that he'll be my favorite, but I still like the change of pace, less so the change to the theme song. So now, with the exception of the latest Christmas episode, we're completely caught up and ready for the newest season.2. I read Being Mortal by Atul Gawande this month. Gawande is a surgeon writing about the proper role of medicine as people consider questions surrounding life in later years or when facing terminal illness. He shares a variety of patients' stories--including that of...

    ______________________


  • I had a piece on the website “The Toast” drawn to my attention. It pokes fun at the way women are depicted in artistic renditions of Solomon and his wives. For one example, it gives the painting below with the added caption shown:Click through for more examples, as well as the funny introduction.There are serious things that may be worth talking about, too. The way that patriarchal societies keep women alienated from the reins of power, and then present even their influence as something to watch out for, ought to disturb us. The close connection between such patriarchy and the elimination of the female divine in ancient Israel could also be explored.But given that the article compares the Bible’s “Don’t worship Asherah” message to “Don’t do drugs” messages in the present day, perhaps it would be even more interesting to explore the role of peer pressure in people maintaining faith, switching faiths, abandoning and/or finding faith?...

    ______________________


  • As storm clouds gather, let us remember God's power:Let the batteries not die.  Let us remember the true source of our light:As we fill up the water bottles, we can remember our baptism:Let us take time to savor the sweetness, especially when storms approach:As we shutter the windows, we can also protect the fragile and the breakable:We must cling to the ultimate promise:  the sun will come out, and order will be restored:(with the exception of the sunrise beach picture, the other pictures were taken in August of 2012, as we prepared for Hurricane Isaac, which stayed to our south)

    ______________________

  • Rev. Jeff Hood

      Desperate for help, Joseph Hutcheson parked his truck on the curb of the Lew Sterrett Justice Center in Dallas and ran inside. Upon entering, Hutcheson screamed, “Don’t hurt me, I just need some help.” The deputies tackled him. As Hutcheson screamed that he couldn’t breathe, a witness described one deputy restraining Hutcheson with “a knee on his back” and another deputy restraining him “with a knee on his throat.” Hutcheson’s face turned from white to blue. Around 11:30am, Joseph Sheldon Hutcheson was pronounced dead.   Through blogs, microphones and bullhorns, I have told the story over and over again. Immediately after learning of the incident, I wrote a blog entitled Joseph Sheldon Hutcheson Dies in the Custody of the Dallas Sheriff where I first publicly asked the question, “How does someone rush into a jail asking for help and end up being killed?” It would not be long before the Dallas Sheriff had to...

    ______________________

  • Khanya

    Continued from Namaqualand Spring: Lily Fountain and flowers Saturday 22 August 2015 We were sad to leave Kamieskroon after spending three nights there, and we left before dawn and drove down the N7 towards the Western Cape. The sun rose just after we passed Garies, where we stopped for petrol, but the national road bypasses most of the towns along the way. Sunrise on the N7, somewhere near Garies We bypassed Bitterfontein, with its railway line — it was still the railhead for points further north. As we approached Vanrhynsdorp there was a large rectangular mountain to the left, looking, as Val put it, like a slab of butter. I thought it looked like an alien artifact, and imagined one day the rocky comouflage crumbling away to reveal an enormous spaceship or something. A mountain, or an alien artifact disguised as one? We bypassed Vanrhynsdorp as well, and there was a sign pointing to the mountain labelled “Gifberg”. After Vanrhynsdorp the countryside was more...

    ______________________


  • [From Aug. 30, 2013 archive]Sometimes we are pleased to arrive at our destination; perhaps we even find there rest on every side, free from adversaries and misfortune. But you, Jesus, found yourself in the depths of the Pit, in regions dark and deep, your betrayer at hand, and no one to stand by and comfort you. Forgive us when we fail to watch those in need, when instead we sleep and take our rest, leaving them to suffer all alone. Lectionary ReadingsPs. 88; 148; 6; 201 Kings 5:1-6:1, 7 Acts 28:1-16 Mark 14:27-42 Selected VersesPs. 88:6You have put me in the depths of the Pit,           in the regions dark and deep. 1 Kings 5:4 "…But now the LORD my God has given me rest on every side; there is neither adversary nor misfortune. …"  [Solomon to King Hiram] Acts 28:14b And so we [Paul and companion(s)] came to Rome. Mark 14:41-42 [Jesus] came a third time...

    ______________________


  • Thesis 1 – The sacraments are about the Spirit, not the church. This initial move establishes God as the rightful author and agent of sacramental theology. Thesis 2 – The Spirit can fall on who and whatever it wants. This is consistent with the Biblical data, in which God keeps surprising. We see this in […]

    ______________________


  • Hemant Mehta drew attention to a statement by the dean of Liberty University’s law school, claiming that the government has no authority to legislate or require anything, except that which is scriptural.It was pointed out in a comment on the post on Facebook that this claim is the exact opposite of the point Paul makes in Romans 13. He doesn’t say “obey authorities, but only inasmuch as they do what we know in advance from Scripture that God wants.” He says that the rulers, who did not accept Jewish Scripture or Christian claims, ought to be obeyed, because despite their not accepting the one God, they are nonetheless ordained by God to rule.And so here’s the take-away point: Presumably if your “Christian” right-wing “law” “school” dean appeals to Scripture while in fact saying the opposite of what it says, the Biblical thing to do is to either ignore them, or to stand up to them. Because surely no dean has authority to...

    ______________________


  • There are days when I find it depressing to be a pastor. This isn't because of anything going on in my congregation or any personal faith crisis. Rather it's because I am seeing fellow Christians cheer on Donald Trump as he denigrates immigrants, Latinos, and women. It's because I hear fellow Christians go on and on about the sanctity of gun ownership, and I can't understand how this can be.I am a pastor, a designated leader in the Christian movement. Our movement is rooted in the God of the Bible who demanded welcome and concern for the poor, the alien, and the outsider. Our movement follows a pacifist Messiah who calls us to deny ourselves and love our enemies, who dies willingly for his enemies, whose most fundamental command is to love. Yet many "Christian" voices spew hatred toward the neighbor who is different. They are obsessed with their "right to defend themselves." Everyone else be damned. How did we get following Jesus so horribly wrong? It's depressing.No doubt some of...

    ______________________

  • Head and Heart

    photo by KAZ Vorpal / flickrLooks like Donald Trump has taken over the airways. It appears that he is giving a news conference almost every day.  The pundits are delirious--after all entertainment outshines news anyway. Hillary must be happy that the spotlight is almost totally on Mr. Trump. So it will be a while before we learn if the former Secretary of State gave away the store or is simply being Swift-boated.But the scary thing about Mr. Trump for this preacher is the number of Evangelicals that are standing behind his candidacy. I wish I could express my feelings about linking some Evangelicals to Mr. Trump as well as Frank Bruni in his article in the NY Times this week. Read the whole article if you wish. It's great. He begins the article by saying:        "Let me get this straight. If I want the admiration and blessings of the most flamboyant,        judgmental Christians in America, I should marry three times, do a queasy-...

    ______________________


  • Mark 7:1-8, 14-15, 21-23Thank God we’re back to the Gospel of Mark! Don’t get me wrong. I’m not into gluten free Gospels but five weeks of bread, even bread from heaven, is more than I can stomach. Okay, that might be a little over the top for a lectionary based joke but I don’t think the lectionary needs five weeks to deal with John chapter six. Be that as it may it turns out the Gospel lesson for this week still has something to do with food and the rituals that surround it. I find it noteworthy that necessary things, the everyday act of eating and drinking, are given additional layers of meaning but maybe that is the point. Things basic but necessary are always more than ordinary. Most of us are far removed from the production of our food so that we can grab a burger from In and Out and think nothing of the sun and soil and rain and crops and cattle and rancher and farmer and slaughter house and silo and purchaser and packager and shipper and cook and wait staff that eventually put...

    ______________________


  • NOTE: as this series matures, please know that it is a work in progress, ok? Like me - andprobably you - not all the connections have been finalized nor all the nuances teased into the light.One of my seminary thesis advisers, the late Dorothee Soelle, told me, "Stating your thesis and offering a critique is always easier than articulating your creative synthesis." Truer words have never been spoken to an overly eager student by a mystical Christian Marxist.  And yet experimenting with a synthesis is essential to an embodied spirituality and ministry even if  it always fraught with challenge.  Perhaps that is why the methodology of liberation theology continues to ring true for those committed to orthopraxis.+  First, as people who trust God, we choose to live and love one another in the real world, looking to our experience as part of the revelation of God within and among us. Our starting point in faith is reality as we know it rather than...

    ______________________

  • John Vest

    Photo by tanja van den berg-niggendijker For years I’ve written and revised statements of faith as part of the confirmation programs I’ve led. I posted my most recent version here. Now that I’m transferring my clergy membership from the Presbytery of Chicago to the Presbytery of the James, I have to submit a statement of faith and be examined by the Commission on Ministry. This means that for the first time in about a decade my statement of faith will be evaluated based certain criteria and expectations. This has me thinking a lot about how I fit within the Reformed system of belief. I may write some more about this as I prepare to be examined a week from today, but for now I thought I would share my expanded statement of faith. It’s based on my previously posted statement, with some tweaked and additional language to conform more to the topics my new COM expects in such statements. I welcome any feedback, thoughts, or questions you may have. God is not an idea...

    ______________________


  • Luke 15:11-32In the End, Beloved CommunityJames Sledge                                                                                       August 23, 2015Just over a year ago, Shawn and I traveled to Austin, Texas for the wedding of our daughter Kendrick and now son-in-law Ryan. In many ways, it was like a lot of weddings, with bridesmaids and groomsmen, tuxes and dresses, and friends and family gathered from here and there. If you’ve been involved in many weddings, you know that they have their share of family dynamics, tuxes that don’t fit, and frayed nerves...

    ______________________


  • The year was 1974. George Roy Hill had just won the Academy Award for Best Director for his work on the wonderful film The Sting when he received the following letter: Dear Mr. Hill, Seeing that ... I have seen your fantastically entertaining and award-winning film "The Sting," starring Paul Newman and Robert Redford, and enjoyed it very much, it is all together fitting and proper that you

    ______________________

  • Anglobaptist

    Yesterday was a good day. (function(d, s, id) { var js, fjs = d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0]; if (d.getElementById(id)) return; js = d.createElement(s); js.id = id; js.src = "//connect.facebook.net/en_US/sdk.js#xfbml=1&version=v2.3"; fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js, fjs);}(document, 'script', 'facebook-jssdk'));Faculty retreat #chairmanselfiePosted by American Baptist Seminary of the West on Wednesday, August 26, 2015

    ______________________


  • Hemant Mehta shared some nice reworkings of a popular right-wing meme about prayer in schools, which were created by Tracey Moody. All of the depictions of children praying in the memes on his blog are ones that he would support – except for the one in which a teacher is leading children in prayer, and thus imposing something on the inevitably diverse group of students. Children praying of their own initiative is not prohibited and never has been – nor will it ever be entirely absent, as long as there are students who believe in God and forget to study for exams.Nevertheless, if a tradition only accepts prayer that is verbalized aloud, and requires this to be done at set times which conflict with classes, I could see issues arising at the intersection between the potential disruptions to the educational aims of the school and the religious freedom of students.Be that as it may, Mehta’s aim is one that Baptists and other supporters of separation between church and...

    ______________________


  • In case you missed it, the hashtag #TrumpBible has been trending on Twitter. Several questions about the Bible have been addressed to Donald Trump lately, and several answers he has given suggest that he is – how shall we put it – not very familiar with the contents of that famous collection of books. Trump said “The Bible means a lot to me, but I don’t want to get into specifics.” The hashtag #TrumpBible is exploring the Bible as Trump might imagine it to be – or the Bible as it might be if he wrote it himself.Here are some of my favorite tweets:

    ______________________


  • One role of the priest is to strengthen their community. We do this in a variety of ways: we tell the story; offer pastoral care; we coach people through their own journey; we gather the people in praise. But one aspect of our leadership is to identify individuals who have gifts the church needs to lead as ordained clergy. I don’t mean finding someone who likes to do mass. Anyone ordained, who might not have any sense of physical presence, the church understands as having the authority over the mass. The mistake, however, is that the church often ordains individuals who only have a sense of self through ordination, and have little coherence outside of the role. Their sense of authority is found only in the collar, and not intrinsically. This leads to all sorts of mischief. Too often we let individuals discern themselves and wait for people to discern the call. while sometimes this has merit, it also falls upon the ordination committee to say, “actually, no. That’s not a...

    ______________________


  • As my sabbatical draws to a close, I’m thankful to once again be preparing a sermon for Sunday.  Though I am out of the habit and am feeling quite rusty, there is something about being immersed in the study of Scripture that is soothing to my soul.  While I’m not particularly excited about the way in which the great Revised Common Lectionary divining rod has decided to reenter Mark’s Gospel after what felt like 100 weeks in John’s Bread of Life Discourse, it does serve as a great bridge for me from my last sermon through sabbatical time to everyday parish ministry. My thesis, the proposal for which you can read here, takes a look at the ways in which The Episcopal Church might be well suited to meet the needs of a changing America.  This assumes that we can all agree that things are changing.  Having received some pushback from at least one professor who thinks that this time is no different than any other, I set my sights on the great Phyllis Tickle and her...

    ______________________


  • A few days ago, the headline in our local paper declared that the mayor of a nearby town was on the list of Ashley Madison users that was hacked and then released to the public. All of us were waiting for it. We knew it would come. Sooner or later, a public figure with whom we had a connection would be "outed" as a slimy, philanderous, dirt-bag who had pursued an online affair with the notorious website. We all knew about Josh Duggar, but we wrote him off as a reprobate a long time ago. We needed something fresh and salacious into which we could sink our bared teeth. We needed something closer to home--someone who, as Brian J. Dixon put it in his powerful blog post, was close enough to throw a stone at.This local sensation will run its course. And so will the international fascination with this public disclosure of sin. In a few months, we mostly will have forgotten why that pastor resigned or why that legislator did not seek another term or why that police chief killed...

    ______________________

  • Edges of Faith

    I have asked and I have asked. I have begged, and I have pleaded. And yet my requests have gone unanswered. I have offered constant intercession to you — a plea to stop the violence, a plea for some kind of intervention to end the killing, the tragedy, and the senseless deaths. But the resounding silence in response is [Read More...]

    ______________________