Tuesday, November 30, 2004
WHEN THE CHURCH IS CO-OPTED. There came a time when the young theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer (pictured here in a Nazi prison) decided he could no longer identify himself with his German Lutheran Church. In a series of compromises and partisan political collaborations, by 1940 the Lutheran Church had let itself be corrupted and co-opted by nationalistic passions. Its leadership was heavily influenced by a charismatic leader that promised to rid the land of "immoral" people like gays and "unchristian" people like Jews. Adolf Hitler had the German Lutheran church in his back pocket.
George W. Bush has the American evangelical church in his back pocket.
Bonhoeffer affiliated himself with a newly formed Confessing Church, which immediately began to be discredited by the German Lutheran Church and driven underground by the Nazis.
TIME TO DISTANCE MYSELF FROM EVANGELICALS? Maybe it is time to distinguish myself from the "evangelical" label. "Evangelical" may describe my experience of personal faith encounter and commitment to follow Jesus Christ in exclusive discipleship, but "evangelical" does not describe where that faith takes me in terms of social responsibility and incarnational witness if by "evangelical" you mean identification with a politically homogenous bloc noted for single-issue voting and blurring the separation of church and state. Is anybody else feeling this tension?
MILITARISM ON THE DOORSTEP. But militarism is no longer the nasty business America carries out overseas. It is now on our doorsteps. Militarism is the spirit and policies we encounter everyday in our hometowns and households. We see and sense that we are living more and more in a police state.
AN ADDICTION WE CAN’T SHAKE. The end of the Cold War engendered hope for a transformation of our economy’s heavy reliance on the military-industrial complex into peaceful, world market developing purposes. But apparently America’s leaders are addicted to militarism. Since then, they’ve used every excuse, every provocation, every conflict to rationalize and justify reinvestment in and new reliance upon military resources. Under our current leadership, there appears to be no end in sight.
- Called to Compassion (a quote from Dietrich Bonhoeffer)
- Is Life Ordinary? (a reflection on personalism and Advent)
- Militarism: America In Their Eyes (what folks in other nations are saying of us; what we are saying of ourselves)
- This Pastor’s Life: Week 53 (a brief reflection at my one-year anniversary @ WEMO)
Sunday, November 28, 2004
“When writers and preachers make such a big fuss about the Second Coming and the end of the world, they are forgetting something much more important. They are in effect minimizing the First Coming. In a real sense the world ended some two thousand years ago in Jesus. Something decisive happened for humanity and for our relationship with God in the life, death and resurrection of Christ. The New Testament is much more concerned with what it means to be crucified with Christ than with being glorified when he comes again."
Saturday, November 27, 2004
Friday, November 26, 2004
RIDE COLD. I headed out on a bike ride this afternoon. The cold is great riding weather if you've got warm gear. I listened to NPR with earbuds and cranked for an hour or so around Indianapolis International Airport. With holiday food calories mounting, I've got to do this to keep from turning into a butterball. My goal is to ride five days a week thru the winter, even if it's a twenty-minute spin. I'm also looking for a good used CycleOps trainer.
THANKSGIVING SERVICE. Justin, Abby, and Jan fill to-go containers with Thanksgiving turkey and trimmings that would be delivered to about 1,400 neighbors in Indianapolis First Free Methodist Church Thanksgiving Dinner. My VW Beetle was packed to the roof with meals to deliver. Our family has participates in this effort as often as we can.
Thursday, November 25, 2004
Thanksgiving doesn’t live in a vacuum;
We do not pluck it from thin air.
We cannot be grateful on command,
Genuflecting at the drop of hat.
Talk is cheap when it comes to thanking,
Yet beyond courteous etiquette
Lies a deeper reality that beckons,
Inviting us to reckon with grace.
Native American graciousness
And Pilgrim hospitality,
Turkey and all the trimmings, point
Beyond finely folded, praying hands.
Through and beyond these images
We glimpse a sacred connection,
As generations across time
Hail some gracious provision.
It’s not so much a debt we owe
Or tribute for posterity
As it is a virtue we receive
And reflect into eternity.
We deep-down know we are held
By sustaining, life-giving hands.
Not our own or on our own,
We belong and are lovingly borne.
We cannot utter such mystery--
Tradition and rite fall short.
But these, and we, can point and say
“Thanks” for life and grace today.
A blessed Thanksgiving to you and yours.
"We cannot love God unless we love each other. We know him in the breaking of bread, and we know each other in the breaking of bread, and we are not alone anymore. Heaven is a banquet, and life is a banquet too - even with a crust - where there is companionship. We have all known loneliness, and we have learned that the only solution is love, and that love comes with community." -- from The Long Loneliness
Wednesday, November 24, 2004
Heaven, it is said, is the same bowl of wonderful soup, six feet in diameter. The same four-foot spoons are in the hands of people standing elbow to elbow at its rim. But all are full and satisfied, for each is dipping her spoon into the soup and serving another across the bowl.
This is, to me, the essence of Thanksgiving.
Tuesday, November 23, 2004
- There are no connections between Iraq and the terrorist attack on 9/11.
- Saddam Hussein's Iraq did not harbor terrorists.
- Iraq did not have weapons of mass destruction nor the capacity to develop them.
- There were no tangible national security threats from Iraq to America or the world when the President of the United States declared war on Iraq.
- A policy of deterrence, surveillance, air policing, and international inspections had neutered Saddam Hussein as a menace to the world.
"When I was in Argentina last month, a couple weeks before our election, what I got mostly was, 'How in the world can the election in your country be close given the fact that Bush is a lying war-monger?' I tried to explain to them the trauma our nation suffered from 9/11 and how people seemed to really want a strong leader who went after those who caused that problem, even if he was going after the wrong people."My friend continues:
"I constantly felt the need to apologize to people for my nationality because of what Bush had done. They don't seem to hate Americans... they really want to like us and look to us as a beacon of hope as they had in the past, but under Bush, they just don't see us like they used to under any other Presidents before W. I tried to give them hope for our country at that time as I was quite confident that Kerry would win."
Monday, November 22, 2004
"My wife, with four other clergywomen, returned from 10 days in Brazil, where they went for a combination continuing education/vacation trip. The number one question they were asked by Brazilians was: 'Why did Americans re-elect George Bush?' When Brazilians offered their own conjectures, the number one reason they gave is: 'Americans like war.' No joke. They were told this again and again."
THE PRICE OF FREEDOM. Freedom from imposed expectations and constant capitulation to the "golden nose ring" of promised advancement or a comfortable salary and benefits may carry a high price. I will say it: It does. But what of the price of compromised integrity? Or a lifetime of gathering creaturely comforts without having challenged the sins of one's generation or lived passionately toward the Kingdom?
FREE TO LOVE. My heart goes out to people who would rather suffer and struggle than to live satiated on a corporate, governmental, fraternal, or overbearing familial leash. More than that, I admire people who, having come to complete freedom, out of that freedom choose to sacrificially love and prophetically serve those very institutions and relationships.
ME AND MR. SUBWAY. In the cheap and cheesy department... I found this photo, taken a few Thanksgivings ago when Jared Fogle visited Horizon House and offered Subway sandwiches to our homeless neighbors. Jared seems to be an easy-going, likeable person. His story and life as walking billboard has been a lucrative for Subway.
“Great and significant as is the harvest in nature, the most pertinent kind of ingathering of the human spirit is what I call ‘the harvest of the heart’... Living is a shared process. Inasmuch as I do not live or die unto myself, it is of the essence of wisdom for me conscientiously to live and die in the profound awareness of other people. The statement, ‘Know thyself,’ has been taken mystically from the statement, ‘Thou hast seen thy brother, thou hast seen thy God.’”
THANKSGIVING POETRY. I'm not satisfied with what I've read of the poetry on Thanksgiving. I want to write of it afresh. What's your favorite Thanksgiving poem?
Sunday, November 21, 2004
NOW, ABOUT THOSE FANS... Now, what about those alcohol-intoxicated fans who threw bottles and cups and whatever else they could find at the Pacers, Mr. Stern? You can control your employees, perhaps, but can you begin to control your customers' behavior? Do you set your players up for such unruly brawls by the amount of abuse you allow them to be subjected to by raucous fans? It seems you need to redefine the rules of etiquette in your places of lucrative hospitality.
Saturday, November 20, 2004
"We must win a faith that does not break down in the face of social ills, but that completely envelopes and transforms them – a faith that embraces economic problems and solves them. This means a faith that takes on all inner and outer tasks and makes them part of our daily life; it means faith in a God who created everything and provides for everything and who does not let go of any part of his will."Read more of Arnold's vision at A vision for the future.
ALCOHOL: IGNITING FUEL. If you've been to a professional sporting event, you know the ungodly amount of alcohol that is consumed. This is the fuel that ignites mob behavior. Want better fans? For starters, stop serving alcohol after half-time.
DENIAL-FOR-DOLLARS. America has a major problem with alcohol in spectator sports. Friday night's melee between fans and players in Detroit is the tip of an unstable iceberg. And no amount of denial-for-dollars paid by the alcohol industry should stop every professional sports organization from addressing it directly and firmly.
HOW WILL WE RESPOND? Watch and listen, also, for how people respond to this as violence.
- Will Ben Wallace be excused for his two-handed shove in the face of Ron Artest after a hard foul?
- Will Ronnie be justified or condemned for going into the stands to chase down a fan who threw a beer bottle at him as he lay on the official scorer's table trying to keep out of the shoving match between other players?
- How will Stephen Jackson, who went into the stands with Artest with fists flying, be viewed?
- Will fans be accused or excused for throwing cups and bottles and beer all over the Pacers? Will any of this be called for what it is?
- What will be our take on the violence--no matter who is considered "at fault?"
Friday, November 19, 2004
MY DAD IS 70 TODAY. Johnnie Franklin Hay, born in Albany, Kentucky on November 19, 1934, marks his 70th birthday today in New Smyrna Beach, Florida. This photo is with my niece Jamie at Christmas 2003. Hope you've enjoyed the day and keep looking forward, Dad. Happy birthday!
Get ready to shift gears. You've already seen and sensed it at the superstores. I'm acutely aware of a quickening pace thru planning for Advent and Christmastide with the church. I'm way down the road and having to bring myself back to Thanksgiving. Be present to the day, the moment; tune into its unique grace.
Thursday, November 18, 2004
REMEMBER THIS TEXAN? Not the one from Crawford! The one from Austin! Just a reminder that there's less than eight months left until the 2005 Tour de France! And to say that today Lance Armstrong won the prestigious Velo d'Or award from France's Velo Magazine. It's the Academy Award of professional cycling. But will he contend for a seventh TdF win? Read his interview at Cyclingnews.
"My Lord God, I have no idea where I am going. I do not see the road ahead of me. I cannot know for certain where it will end. Nor do I really know myself, and the fact that I think that I am following Your will does not mean that I am actually doing so. But I believe that the desire to please You does in fact please You. And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing. I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire. And I know that if I do this You will lead me by the right road though I may know nothing about it. Therefore will trust You always though I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death. I will not fear, for You are ever with me, and You will never leave me to face my peril alone."
"We need a world bigger, richer, and tougher than that which can be created by a little family fixated on itself and its emotional coddling. We need a cause large and exciting enough that many people, not just a spouse and two or three children, can devote their lives to it. The kingdom of God moves us beyond home as a haven to home as a mission base." -- Rodney Clapp in Families at the Crossroads (InterVarsity, 1993)
Wednesday, November 17, 2004
THREE SISTERS, CIRCA 1965. In honor of Becky's forty-something birthday today, I post this picture of Rebecca, Ruth, and Rachel, circa 1965. Born a year apart, the Golay sisters must have been more than a handful of energy all together. Becky, the oldest, is on the left.
BICYCLE POWER! Did you see the story in USA Today about protesters on bicycles? Apparently the mobility of a group of several thousand protesters on bicycles better serves their cause in close urban quarters. It also evades the designated, first-ammendment mocking "free speech zones" that have been employed over the past several years. Imagine...my bike and instrument of protest. It's not a "sit in," it's a...
Tuesday, November 16, 2004
WASTED POLITICAL CAPITAL. My complaints about Powell were that he did not confront the Bush regime more frequently, more vehemently, more stridently than he did. I think he allowed himself to be used toward some very ungodly and ideals-negating ends. He should have resigned in protest two years ago. But he is apparently a "good soldier." Talk about "political capital" that has been wasted. But Powell's most influential days may be yet to come.
- Wendell Berry comments to the Witherspoon Society
- Family Recognitions
- Veterans, War, and Dreams of Peace
- We Are Told (a new original poem)
We are told
To anticipate victory
As if it was meant to be
With every death
Resolve is supposed to deepen
Till debt is paid
For every grave
We are chided not to weaken
It seems inane
To follow this logic through
We buy the lie
For a tough man’s stunted view
To prior and distant choices
Ignoring wiser voices
Still we choose
To pursue paths of violence
On it goes
Till who knows
So long as most keep silence
Monday, November 15, 2004
CAN'T SERVE TWO KINGDOMS. Most Christians I know live as if the two kingdoms are compatible or at least non-conflicting most of the time. I disagree. Jesus was clear: "You cannot serve God and mammon." And while I "give to Caesar what is Caesar's" in terms of due taxes and routine citizen responsibilities, I will, for conscience' and Kingdom's sake, not do violence. Think about it: What will you--for the sake of Jesus and the Kingdom--NOT approve of or do?
HOMELESS OUTREACH. Bruce and Chris (a family friend) are two members of the Horizon Homeless Outreach Team who hit Indy's streets most nights to offer assistance and information to homeless neighbors. Please pray for these guys...and our homeless neighbors as winter approaches.
"MY LETTERS TO THE PRESIDENT." My letter writing effort to President George W. Bush has been recognized as a "Best of Geocities" site for politics and government. Cool. I've been writing and posting letters to President Bush off and on during his first term. My site is "My Letters to the President of the United States".
Those who were morally bold during the election campaign were curiously silent about the growing world-wide concern for American arrogance. It isn’t just the “go it alone” approach to combating terrorism, it’s the “we’re right and you’re wrong,” “we’ll define the reality you will live with,” “we can, so we will,” and “who needs them?” words, actions, and policies that are being perpetrated around the world by our government. “Empire” is a word now frequently used by both allies and enemies. Our President says he has “political capital” to spend at home, but American actions over the past four years have placed our nation in major “international diplomatic deficit” and “goodwill liability.”
Read all five moral issues at www.geocities.com/bikehiker/gn110704.html.
Saturday, November 13, 2004
Over the past year it has become clear that governmental leaders deliberately used discredited intelligence and questionable sources, and employed pressure tactics on its own agencies, to concoct a distorted scenario regarding Iraq to justify war to the United Nations, Congress, and the American public. It is has become increasingly clear that the major rationales used to attack Iraq were illegitimate and misleading at best and deceptive half-truths and lies at worst.
There are no links between the attack on the World Trade Center and Iraq. There is no evidence terrorists were being trained in Iraq. Not only has no evidence of weapons of mass destruction been found in Iraq, it is now clear the regime did not even have the capacity to develop them. Have there been any calls from the morally bold for accountability? For full disclosure? For honesty? For a corrected course based on truth?
To read all five moral issues go to www.geocities.com/bikehiker/gn110704.html
Friday, November 12, 2004
Candidates of all stripes played flagrantly to the mammon spirit that is now a pervasive scourge on our land. So consumed are Americans by consumerism and self-advancement that we think better of any candidate who--at whatever cost to others, the fabric of society, the workplace, or the stability of the world--promises to relieve our tax share and increase personal wealth. A care-less, bullying aggression in the local and world marketplace has been raised to the level of patriotism and a religious duty. The god that is now served most dutifully in America is Free Market. Yet the “morally bold” remain mute.
Thursday, November 11, 2004
THE WAY IT WAS. This 1918 painting by Frank Schoonover (click on this or any photo on my blog to see a larger view) depicts infantry action during World War I. "The Great War" resulted in over 37.5 million casualities -- men killed or injured -- on all sides. The world's governments would send millions of youth to similar battlefields again in less than 25 years.
What is it, O dear Country of our pride,
We pledge anew that we will not forget?
To keep on Freedom's altar burning yet
The fires for which a myriad heroes died
Known and unknown, beyond the far sea's tide
That their great gift be no futility.
Faith with the Dead kept through our living faith;
In this alone the true remembrance lies,
The unfading garland for the sacrifice,
To prove their dream of Brotherhood no wraith,
No moment's hope--its birth-pang one with death--
but the fixed goal of our humanity.
NEVER DREAM OF ITS VIOLENCE. Honor with reverence those men and women who died in battle. Weep and mourn for civilians cruelly caught in the strife. Give due respect for lives laid down in the name of freedom. But never glory in war. Never embrace its horrors. Never savor its torments. Never dream of its violence. Never drink to its return. Never gaze upon its power, lest its illusion seduce you. Lest war lust obsess you. Lest its siren sound lure you into its labyrinthine bowels and you swear allegiance to it, live for it, and your soul die even as you breathe.
I did not hear any moral-issue candidate or evangelical leader even second-guess the Bush doctrine of “pre-emptive war.” No Christian voter’s guide challenged this historically unprecedented “strike first” policy that was immediately used to justify the American-led attack on Iraq. I have not seen morally-bold evangelicals and Catholics in any official capacity denounce war or violence in the past four years. And yet Jesus’ witness and instructions could not be more clear regarding the rejection of such violence and militarism for his followers and church.Read all five moral issues at www.geocities.com/bikehiker/gn110704.html.
Wednesday, November 10, 2004
I did not hear any moral-issue candidate or evangelical leader mention concern for the poor, the specter of structural poverty in America and the world, or the devastating personal and household impact of the lack of basic health insurance for millions of Americans. The suffering and belittled people who Jesus invested the majority of his life in were bypassed on the road to Jericho.
Tuesday, November 9, 2004
- politics without principle
- wealth without work
- commerce without morality
- pleasure without conscience
- education without character
- science without humanity
- worship without sacrifice
- A Few Reflections on My Family
- The Seven Deadly Social Sins Revisited
- A Lament: Uneasy Silence on Five Moral Issues
Monday, November 8, 2004
Saturday, November 6, 2004
Friday, November 5, 2004
JARED RECEIVES SOCCER HONOR. Jared received "Honorable Mention" as a Junior in the Indianapolis Star's All West Soccer Team awards. Atta boy, Jared! An ironic twist: Jared, a defensive marksman, held the "Player of the Year," Shawn Towles, scoreless in Ben Davis' sectional match-up with Covenant Christian. Gotta take satisfaction in your accomplishment, Jared. We're proud of you!
"Whether we are saddened or elated by the prospect of another four years, now is not the time for depression or gloating. Jesus called on his followers to be peacemakers, and told them that they would be called the sons of God. This promise still exists for us today. These are simple but powerful words. If they worked in Christ’s time, why shouldn't they work today as we struggle to rid the world of terror? It is easy to pay our taxes, abide by the rule of law, and otherwise dutifully give to Caesar what is Caesar’s. But what about the second half of that commandment? In the end, only when we each become a peacemaker will we achieve the unity that politicians of all stripes are fond of giving lip service to."
Thursday, November 4, 2004
Tuesday, November 2, 2004
I went to the poll to vote
And it really got my goat
To get a paper ballot--
“Mark darkly to be valid”--
Instead of a machine
That makes the process clean.
I strayed outside the oval,
Considered starting over,
But walked away just wondering
How many would be blundering?
PAPER BALLOT. Instead of a voting machine, as in all past elections at the McClelland polling place, I marked a paper ballot and then submitted it into a fax-type machine. I didn't see if it was manufactured by "Diebold."
REINTRODUCING HUMAN ERROR. For the first time I can recall, I wondered whether or not my mark on the ballot was correct, whether my vote would be rejected if I marked outside the lines of the little oval at all or if I didn't mark it dark enough. I wondered about people with unsteady hands--would their ballot be validated? Seems like we've gone backward; we've reintroduced a factor of human error at our polling place that wasn't there in 2000.
Monday, November 1, 2004
- Election Hymn
- Seven Considerations I Make When Voting
- Lighter Fare
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"There is something about life that, little by little, makes us forget all that is good. This can happen to anyone...and so we must look for a cure against it. Praise be that such a cure exists: the act of quietly making a decision. A decision stirs the mind from the slumber of monotony. A decision breaks the magic spell of custom and the long row of weary thoughts. A decision will bring blessings upon even the weakest beginning. A decision is an awakening to the eternal."