Last year I attended a prayer vigil in downtown Jackson on the night of
a scheduled execution. A hard rain was falling. I recognized a couple
of people as fellow clergy and a couple of others as consistent
advocates for justice in our small state. It was just a small crowd
composed of those who have been praying and working against capital
punishment for years.
I was not prepared to enjoy as much as I did The Preacher and the Presidents: Billy Graham in the White House, by Nancy Gibbs and Michael Duffy. Over the years, I’ve kept my distance from revivalist preaching and the Billy Graham phenomenon.
In the year after the tsunami destroyed the Sri Lankan coastline,
lawmakers threatened to pass a law making Christian evangelism illegal.
The proposed law was popular because of widespread anti-Christian
sentiment. The majority of Sri Lankans are Buddhist, and they resented
the privilege given to minority Christians under British rule in the
I spent most of the day after Hurricane Katrina checking on members,
especially older ones, in and around Clinton, Mississippi, where I
live. Clinton did not sustain serious damage, but we lost all power and
lots of trees and roofs, and there was a palpable sense of fear and
Randy Beckum, chaplain and vice-president of community formation at MidAmerica Nazarene University, was relieved of some of his duties for a “controversial sermon” he preached in chapel at the Olathe, Kansas, school. His audience was riled by the suggestion that Christians should take seriously Jesus’ injunction to love one’s enemies and by his questioning of Christians’ use of violence. MNU’s president issued a statement intended to protect academic freedom, but which had the effect of distancing the college from the teachings of Jesus: “At MidAmerica Nazarene University we encourage the exchange of ideas and individuals are free to express their individual perspective and opinions, even when those opinions may not reflect the official policy or practices of our university, our core values or our affiliations” (Patheos, March 6).