I’m a Zen Christian

If more Christians examined their faith through the lens of humility and provisionality and were willing to learn not just from each other but also from those not like them then we’d have a strong religion based on faith not security and control. Most importantly, it wouldn’t be some weak, strident fundamentalism or milquetoast relativism. I believe God teaches us principally through those who challenge us.

I received this from a friend today.

FOUR ATTITUDES

Attitudes we need to have “on” duty in order to be willing to be changed

  1. Present my body as a living sacrifice. I must be willing to offer myself to God and to allow His Holy Spirit to search me and expose whatever He wants.
    (See Romans 12:1; Psalm 19:12; 139: 23, 24)
  2. Deny myself by being willing to relinquish or surrender to the Lord any thought, emotion, desire, or behavior that is not of faith or contrary to what He would want. (See Luke 9: 23, 24)
  3. Obey God’s will. Ask God to empower me to get up and do in action what He has asked me to do. (See James 1:22; 4:17)
  4. Take every thought captive. Being willing to examine my own thoughts and, if they are not of faith, let God take them and replace them with His thoughts. (See Isaiah 55:8, 9; Romans 14:23; 2 Corinthians 10:5; Philippians 4:8)

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Gays as Political Pigskin

Senate panel OKs gay-marriage ban – Yahoo! News:

“The measure passed 10-8 on a party-line vote. Specter said he voted for the amendment because he thought it should be
taken up by the full Senate, even though he does not back it. The gay-marriage ban is one of several hot-button social issues Republicans are raising to rally conservative voters ahead of November’s congressional elections.”

Specter, a master at doublespeak, knows his politics. On the one hand, he says he is opposed to the first amendment in American history that would abridge the rights for U.S. citizens but he ensures it goes to a debate in the Senate where ostensibly it could be sent to the states for ratification. Why? Because in an election year that debate will energize voters to vote GOP, even if it’s against their interests. He knows the amendment probably will not pass or get killed on floor debate, but the voters’ ignorance, hatred, and/or fear will energize them for the fall. Talk about wanting it both ways! As a black man who has witnessed the effects of the GOP’s racist “Southern Strategy” and coded race baiting with”welfare queens” and Willie Horton, I know how first hand how cynical and evil this is.

Real Christian Identity

Last night, I was finishing up a chapter of Democracy Matters by Cornel West in my bed when I read the following paragraph. I can tell you few people have written or spoken words that have resonated with me like these. It was almost like Prof. West was speaking for me.

I speak as a Christian–one whose commitment to democracy is very deep but whose Christian convictions are even deeper. Democracy is not my faith. And American democracy is not my idol. To see the Gospel of Jesus Christ bastardized by imperial Christians and pulverized by Constantinian [Religious Right] believers and then exploited by nihilistic elites of the American empire [e.g. neocons like Bush] makes my blood boil [emphasis mine]. To be a Christian–a follower of Jesus Christ–is to love wisdom, love justice, and love freedom. This is the radical love in Christian freedom and the radical freedom in Christian love that embraces Socratic questioning, prophetic witness, and tragicomic hope. If Christians do not exemplify this love and freedom, then we side with the nihilists of the Roman empire (cowardly elite Romans and subjugated [elite] Jews) who put Jesus to a humiliating death. Instead of receiving his love in freedom as a life-enhancing gift of grace, we end up believing in the idols of the empire that nailed him to the cross. I do not want to be numbered among those who sold their souls for a mess of pottage–who surrendered their democratic Christian identity for a comfortable place at the table of the American empire while, like Lazarus, the least of these cried out and I was too intoxicated with worldly power and might to hear, beckon, and heed their cries. To be a Christian is to live dangerously, honestly, freely–to step in the name of love as if you may land on nothing, yet to keep stepping because the something that sustains you no empire can give you and no empire can take away. This is the kind of vision and courage required to enable the renewal of prophetic, democratic Christian identity in the age of the American empire.

Word.

The Cycle of Death

‘Even though I am suffering, my suicide bomber son was a hero’ – World – Times Online:

“He was a hero and I am proud of Samir but I have suffered from his loss,” she said of her eldest son. “I have seen their soldiers killing our children and destroying our home, making everything bad, so how can I see them sympathetically or kindly?”

Reading these words, I couldn’t help but think how similar they would sound from the mother of one of the victims of the bombing last Passover in Tel Aviv. Ultimately “security” built upon oppression is no security at all. No justice, no peace. The prophet Micah knew that. When will we learn? Who will be brave enough to stop the killing?

Lost Christianities

In Ancient Document, Judas, Minus the Betrayal – New York Times:

An early Christian manuscript, including the only known text of the Gospel of Judas, has surfaced after 1,700 years, and it portrays Judas Iscariot not as a betrayer of Jesus but as his favored disciple and willing collaborator.
In this text, scholars reported yesterday, the account of events leading to the Crucifixion differs sharply from the four gospels in the New Testament. Here Jesus is said to entrust Judas with special knowledge and ask him to betray him to the Roman authorities. By doing so, he tells Judas, ‘you will exceed’ the other disciples.

“These discoveries are exploding the myth of a monolithic religion and demonstrating how diverse — and fascinating — the early Christian movement really was,” said Elaine Pagels, a professor of religion at Princeton who specializes in studies of the Gnostics.

It’s interesting to see other “Christianities” and how early Christians believed. Contrary to popular belief, Christianity was no monolith. The term heretic is anachronistic for the first four centuries of our tradition. Competing understandings of Christ existed and named themselves the true keepers of the tradition Jesus left us mediated through his Apostles.

It makes me realize how special faith is and how tradition is just as human as faith is. Incomplete, imperfect, yet sacred and holy. After reading a good book on this topic, my appreciation of this fact has only increased.

American Family Association calls for Ford boycott – Jun. 1, 2005

American Family Association calls for Ford boycott – Jun. 1, 2005

NEW YORK (CNN/Money) – A conservative Christian group is calling for a boycott of Ford Motor Co. for what it says is the automaker’s support of a pro-homosexual agenda.

The boycott was called by the American Family Association, which a week before called off a nine-year boycott of Walt Disney Co. (Research) which it had declared on the same grounds.

AFA special projects director Randy Sharp told the Detroit News nearly 55,000 people had signed a pledge supporting the boycott by Tuesday afternoon.

Ford (Research) provides health care benefits for same sex partners of its employees, as does General Motors Corp. (Research) and Chrysler Group, a unit of DaimlerChrysler (Research), according to the News. But the group said that it also objects to donations that Ford has given to gay rights groups and advertising it bought in programs at gay pride events.

“From redefining family to include homosexual marriage, to giving hundreds of thousands of dollars to support homosexual groups and their agenda, to forcing managers to attend diversity training on how to promote the acceptance of homosexuality…to sponsoring Gay Pride Parades, Ford leads the way,” said a notice on the group’s Web site.

Ford vice president of human resources Joe Laymon told the Detroit News that the company “values all people, regardless of their race, religion, gender, sexual orientation and cultural or physical differences.”

Tupelo, Miss.-based AFA told the News it e-mailed an announcement about the Ford boycott to 2.2 million supporters.

The group said last month that it was ending its boycott of Disney because of some signs of change at the media conglomerate and because, “We feel after nine years of boycotting Disney we have made our point.”

It also said that the problems that the group has with Disney have become “lost among the other battles being fought on a crowded cultural battlefield.”

The AFA cited the upcoming retirement of Michael Eisner as CEO, the departure of the founders of the Miramax film studio from the company as what it feels are positive moves at the company. It also cheered the decision by Disney co-produce a film based the book “The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe,” by C.S. Lewis, which the group described as a “Christian literary classic.”

It said that Disney is reaching out to Christian groups to market the film, due for release in December.

No matter how much we dress it up. Bigotry is hatred.

New Hope for a New Pope

I hope the Cardinals pick someone who isn’t afraid of the future. My church sometimes seems the victim of its own history. JPII was a very holy person, but the conservatism he espoused always rings awfully Pharisaic to me. They too espoused a back to the old days kind of religion. If we Christians believe we are beyond that, then I hope we can practice what we preach. If the next Pope can make a case for principled change, then my prayers will have been answered.

Origins of Faith

As many who know me can attest, I’ve done a fair bit of personal research into the Bible. Obviously, I have a set of opinions, presuppositions, etc. that differ with much of the received wisdom our forefathers in faith passed down. I have had many struggles with what I’ve come to believe and not to believe. Most of it has to do with the fact that much of what I was taught as a Christian is built on a set of presuppositions or faith, depending on your point of view, that when exposed to “the facts”, came crashing down. As a youngster, I believed in the divine inspiration of an author whole wrote down a message and that this was basically in chronological order from Genesis until Revelation when God basically “stopped” inspiring people. He was finished and the Book complete.

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The “Rule of Faith”

My personal Christian faith has been evolving for years now as I try to clarify the “rule of faith” by which I live. Fellow Christians often asked me, “What is your standard?” Here I give a brief discussion to answer this important question.

**UPDATE 4/12** *Fixed some typos and language errors.*

My personal Christian faith has been an evolving one over the space of years, as I try to clarify the “rule of faith” by which I live. Fellow Christians often asked me, “What is your standard?” Here I give a brief discussion to answer this important question.
All of my understanding of the Early Church Fathers stems from the role of the “primitive,” “catholic,” and “apostolic” tradition that was seen to be the “rule of faith” for orthodoxy and how it developed. It mightily influenced the Canon of the New Testament and other Christian doctrines. In fact, the central authority claim of the Roman Catholic Church that raised me is centered on an unbroken succession of apostolic authority in the church. It’s even in its creed: “…we believe in one holy catholic and apostolic church…” This tradition locates genuine Christian authority in Peter and the Apostles whom Christ charged with authority in the Gospel of John.

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Marriage of Convenience

Lately I’ve been in a sort of funk. What I’ve been reading in the news is distrubing and frightening. The latest round of affronts on personal freedoms have had me feeling greatly saddened about my country and the value for which I believe it stands. America is about tolerance, or so I thought

Lately I’ve been in a sort of funk. What I’ve been reading in the news is disturbing and frightening. The latest round of affronts on personal freedoms have had me feeling greatly saddened about my country and the value for which I believe it stands. America is about tolerance, or so I thought until “my” president sought an amendment to the constitution that would essentially define a group of second class citizens, much like it did to slaves by classifying them as 3/5 of a person.

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