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“A third rate burglary…”

May 13th, 2017 No comments

Courage

April 7th, 2017 No comments

A nation of laws…?

April 4th, 2017 No comments

Be a patriot.

February 13th, 2017 No comments

“20. Be a patriot. The incoming president is not. Set a good example of what America means for the generations to come. They will need it.”

20 Lessons from the 20th Century on How to Survive in Trump’s America

A history professor looks to the past to remind us to do what we can in the face of the unthinkable. “Believe in truth. To abandon facts is to abandon freedom. If nothing is true, then no one can criticize power because there is no basis upon which to do so.

#NoBanNoWall

January 31st, 2017 No comments

#NoBanNoWall

January 31st, 2017 No comments

This…

January 11th, 2017 No comments

This land is our land

November 22nd, 2016 No comments

This is what you elected:

Alt-right leader: ‘Hail Trump! Hail our people! Hail victory!’

The president of the alt-right National Policy Institute Richard Spender’s remarks were posted Sunday on YouTube by “Red Ice Radio,” which describes itself as “covering politics and social issues from a pro-European perspective.” The Atlantic magazine, which is recording footage of Spencer for a documentary they’re working on, also published a video of the same event showing audience members apparently giving the Nazi salute.

And this is my response:

 

America has always been great, but has also made great mistakes

November 11th, 2016 No comments

franklin-justice

I am one of the relatively small percentage of people who put on a uniform in a time of war and literally risked everything for this country. Admittedly I was only dimly aware of the possible consequences when I volunteered, but I think that is the way of youth. Some who were much better aware hid behind fake disabilities while they put on military costumes and marched around the campus of private schools. The point is that I have at least as much stake in this country as anyone, and I have earned the right to exercise the freedoms that this nation has championed, including freedom of speech.

America has always been a beacon of the higher ideals of the so-called enlightenment. But at the same time the United States has been the location and the perpetrator of some of the ugliest injustices in world history. I, and I think most veterans, pledged ourselves to defending the former against the latter. Sometime that sentiment was abused, as was the case in Vietnam, where excellent men and women sacrificed to save the asses of cowardly politicians.

Now I am old and the country no longer has use for the kind of service I could offer in a military capacity. But I have never lost sight of that higher vision of America. Today a wave of fear and vitriol has been awakened, encouraged, and is sweeping across the nation, bringing to the forefront the worst of the American tradition. But there are many, probably most, who still cling to the vision of the sweet land of liberty.

I am one of them, and I pledge to continue to defend the country against all enemies foreign and domestic in whatever way I can, for as long as I can.

Happy Veterans Day.

“So much was lost with you, so much talent and intelligence and decency. …[Y]ou embodied the best that was in us. You were a part of us, and a part of us died with you, the small part that was still young, that had not yet grown cynical, grown bitter and old with death. Your courage was an example to us, and whatever the rights and wrongs of the war, nothing can diminish the rightness of what you tried to do. Yours was the greater love. You died for the man you tried to save, and you died pro patria. It was not altogether sweet and fitting, your death, but I’m sure you died believing it was pro patria. You were faithful. Your country was not.”

God and Social Justice

September 9th, 2016 No comments

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The reader may or may not know that Martin Luther King’s Letter from a Birmingham Jail was written in response to an open statement published by eight Alabama clergy condemning King’s direct action strategy and urging caution and patience. Few people remember that document but King’s response is beloved because it puts forward in his reasoned and eloquent way the duty of Christians to pursue social justice. Martin Luther King has become a secular hero, but he was in fact a Baptist minister first and framed his work in the context of that role. So the Letter from a Birmingham Jail can be considered in some ways a summary of a Christian theology of Social Justice.

Now, as you know, there are various positions on how and to what extent Christians should participate in a secular society. Some see it as a Christian duty to “get the country back to God,” imagining that at one point the United States was a godly Christian nation that has since apostatized and is now under God’s curse. That is an unhistorical fantasy but it is nonetheless widely believed and causes no end to friction between certain Christians and the wider society. There are other Christians who see participation in politics as sinful, believing that the world is too corrupted for the Christian conscience.

There are a number of Christian leaders who propose that the duty of the Christian in secular society is to lead a godly life within the context of the larger society and thereby demonstrate that Christianity is not radical or threatening, while leaving the flock to do little more than graze peacefully and undisturbed by inconvenient calls to do justice. This happens to be a very popular stance among the leaders of white middle class congregations whose membership are hardly distinguishable from their non-Christian neighbors.

There are others, and I count myself in this number, who argue almost exactly the opposite: that Christianity is radical and threatening, for the very reason that the Church is Christ’s body, and Christ is radical and threatening. Christ is not some peaceful little fairy bringing sleepy harmony to comfort the sinners and make them feel good about themselves. He is a warrior who brings a sword (Mt. 10:34) to disrupt the comfortable religion of first century Jews (and 21st century Christians), who overturns the tables of the money changers in the temple who perverted God’s call for righteousness and justice (Mt. 21:12-13), who railed against the religious leaders who had mistaken holiness to mean strict adherence to the law rather than the product of living out the law (Mt. 23), and who warned that those who neglect justice face eternal separation at the last judgment (Mt. 25:31-46).

The eight clergymen to whom King responded in his letter were the scribes and Pharisees of twentieth century Alabama, just as those who would divert the attention of Christians today from the glaring injustices before us are of the twenty-first. King also had a warning for the comfortable Christians of his time,

There was a time when the church was very powerful–in the time when the early Christians rejoiced at being deemed worthy to suffer for what they believed. In those days the church was not merely a thermometer that recorded the ideas and principles of popular opinion; it was a thermostat that transformed the mores of society. Whenever the early Christians entered a town, the people in power became disturbed and immediately sought to convict the Christians for being “disturbers of the peace” and “outside agitators.”‘ But the Christians pressed on, in the conviction that they were “a colony of heaven,” called to obey God rather than man. Small in number, they were big in commitment. They were too God-intoxicated to be “astronomically intimidated.” By their effort and example they brought an end to such ancient evils as infanticide and gladiatorial contests. Things are different now. So often the contemporary church is a weak, ineffectual voice with an uncertain sound. So often it is an archdefender of the status quo. Far from being disturbed by the presence of the church, the power structure of the average community is consoled by the church’s silent–and often even vocal–sanction of things as they are.

But the judgment of God is upon the church as never before. If today’s church does not recapture the sacrificial spirit of the early church, it will lose its authenticity, forfeit the loyalty of millions, and be dismissed as an irrelevant social club with no meaning for the twentieth century.

God calls each of us to work for racial reconciliation.

Letter from a Birmingham Jail Full Text

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