Friday, January 29, 2010

Life Soundtrack 20

Shinedown, Second Chance

An autobiographical piece about the songwriter's decision to leave his hometown to pursue his dreams, against the wishes of his parents. It's a story anyone who's walked away from a fundamentalistic background will relate to, at least to some extent. I consider myself fortunate that I was able to do so without damaging any family relationships, but it's still felt at times like leaving home in other ways...

Monday, January 25, 2010


The first service that one owes to others in the fellowship consists in listening to them. Just as love for God begins with listening to his Word, so the beginning of love for the brethren is learning to listen to them. It is God's love for us that he not only gives us his Word, but also lends us his ear. So it is his work that we do for our brother when we learn to listen to him. Christians, especially ministers, so often think that they must always contribute something, when they are in the company of others, that this is the one service that they have to render. They forget that listening can be a greater service than speaking.

Many people are looking for an ear that will listen. They will not find it among Christians because these Christians are talking when they should be listening. But he who can no longer listen to his brother will soon be listening no longer to God either; he will be doing nothing but prattling in the presence of God too. This is the beginning of the death of the spiritual life, and in the end there is nothing left but spiritual chatter and clerical condescension arrayed in pious words. One who cannot listen long and patiently will presently be talking beside the point and be never really speaking to others, albeit he be not conscious of it. Anyone who thinks that his time is too valuable to be spent keeping quiet will eventually have no time for God and his brother, but only for himself and his own follies.

-Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Life Together

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Weighty Matters

A few thoughtful and pertinent links:

1. Ted Olson's conservative case for same-sex marriage. Most likely everyone who reads this blog has already seen it elsewhere, but it's an encouraging enough sign to be worth repeating again.

2. On a different note, I was recently steered toward this analysis of Europe's changing demographics. Nobody really knows what the world will look like in 50 years (or even 20), but it's encouraging to note that the alarmists predicting a Muslim-dominated Europe are, in fact, alarmists. There's still room for concern, as witnessed by the riots in France a couple of years ago, but such matters are better addressed from a clear-headed perspective.

3. The tragedy in Haiti is at the forefront of the news this week, as well it should be. Donald Miller has written a thoughtful (and grace-filled) response to Pat Robertson's atrocious comments.

It's worth noting, though, that Robertson's view of the earthquake in Haiti as divine judgment is a logical extension of the belief expressed by many fundamentalists that God will destroy America if gays are given equal rights. His words don't represent an inevitable leap by any means, but the progression is logical nonetheless. And while James Dobson and most of his allies are intelligent enough to distance themselves from Pat on this one, they're really not that far apart in their conception of a God of endless anger and violence.

4. In light of the above items (and the Uganda situation and the many other negative things going on around the world), Karen Armstrong's call for the revival of the Golden Rule by people of every (and no) faith is as timely as ever. No crusade on behalf of theological or ideological purity has ever made the world a better place, but a little more compassion (genuine compassion, not another "I must save you from hell" bludgeoning) might just make a difference...

Sunday, January 10, 2010


"If marriage is a sacred institution, why do you want the government to be involved in it?"

-Tony Campolo, speaking at the GCN conference this weekend

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Links to Ponder

A few articles of interest...

1. Timothy Kincaid's call for a more nuanced approach to addressing religious leaders. The point is not to whitewash the prejudice that still pervades much of Christendom when it comes to GLBT individuals, it's to keep in mind that most people don't recognize their own prejudices, and shouting "bigot" at them only pushes them further away and sabotages any opportunities we might have had to educate them.

2. Classically Liberal's analysis of the alleged top ten anti-Christian incidents of 2009. There are Christians in many parts of the world who genuinely suffer for their faith, but the United States isn't one of those parts, as evidenced by the fact that not one of these ten items holds up to any kind of scrutiny. Once again, the persecution complex that many conservative evangelicals cling to is doing more harm to the church in this country than any external force.

3. Andrew Sullivan's note of the growth in non-denominational churches with a political agenda. I add this one with a grain of salt, since some of the churches his reader mentions could well be part of the emergent church movement rather than the religious right - but it's also possible that things are different in the Bible Belt than they are in the northern and western parts of the US.