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Brian's Blog

  • July 7, 2015

    Dear Justice Scalia ...

    Melanie Griffin gets it right in her response to Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia here. Quotable:

    So my closing argument, Justice Scalia, is that, yes, it’s risky when you acknowledge the Spirit and pay attention to where it might be leading you. It opens you up to all kinds of people who aren’t like you, and you find yourself looking for points of connection, things to love, instead of differences and things that separate you. You might even have to change your mind about some things.

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  • July 3, 2015

  • July 2, 2015

    Stan Mitchell gets it right on what it means to be Evangelical ...

    "As Christians who believe in the resurrection, we see that our LGBT friends have long suffered. It's my Christian and evangelical tradition that reminds me that suffering is always joined to the suffering of God, and will not only be overcome, but redeemed. This is just the beginning, and we have a long way to go."
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  • July 1, 2015

  • June 30, 2015

    Ecology. Economy. Equity.

    “Not blind opposition to progress but opposition to blind progress” as John Muir said.
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  • June 27, 2015

    Dr. Steve Harper gets it right on the state of the church ...

    Here ...

    Here are a limited number of examples where I believe God is pruning us…

    —Christianity is being separated from the impression that the true version of it is largely located in one political party,

    —Christianity is being pulled from the grip of “media Christians” who use their platforms, institutions, and ministries to allege the country is going to Hell in a hand basket, and they are the only ones who can “save the nation,”

    —Christianity is being pruned of dualistic thinking which (among other things) allows one group to claim it holds the copyright on orthodoxy,

    —Christianity is being purged of a top-heavy institutionalism that concentrates power in too few and consumes too much money on ecclesial maintenance,

    —Christianity is being taken out of the hands of “old guys” (and yes, much of it is GUYS), who hang on too long and block the emergence of a new generation of young leaders,

    —Christianity is being salvaged from those who blur the life-giving distinction between doctrine and opinion, losing sight of the fact that the issues we must face are shaped by hermeneutics, not by the false charge that only certain Christians “believe in the Bible,”

    —Christianity is being cleansed of the public impression that it is made up of people who are mean-spirited, judgmental, and arrogant, and

    —Christianity is being emptied of concepts that allow quantification (“more is better”) to be definitive in determining its authenticity and vitality.

    These cut-backs are threatening to any living on the part of the branch that will be removed, and we can expect the soon-to-be-pruned branch portion to put up quite a fight when the shears begin to do their work.

    Dr. Harper has also been hosting online reflections on my book We Make the Road by Walking. You'll enjoy his blog - full of gentle wisdom.

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  • June 26, 2015

    Rev. Dr. William Barber speaks truth … on Charleston

    The real issue is not just one murderer, but the climate that can produce someone who says, "You are taking over my country and I want to kill you." - Rev. Wm. Barber

    I have such deep respect for Rev. Barber. You can see why here:
    "If they're very serious about honoring Rev. Pinkney … then bring the flag down, pass Medicaid expansion, promote public education, stop doing voter suppression, and show that we can move beyond these issues and move to what is just and right."

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  • June 25, 2015

    Laudato Si … an excellent 1-page summary

    Here. Quotable:

    “Roman Catholics account for the largest single religious denomination” (PDF) among members of the 114th House of Representatives, a number that has been trending upward in recent years.

    “While six-in-ten Catholic Democrats say global warming is a man-made phenomenon and that it poses a very serious problem, only about a quarter of Catholic Republicans agree,” reports a new survey from the Pew Research Center.

    This ThinkProgress page provides quotes and demographic information for the 170 climate-change deniers in Congress.

    The New York Times reports that Americans’ concern for climate change is increasing. More than 6 in 10 American adults now say that "global warming is either a ‘very serious’ or ‘somewhat serious’ problem.”

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  • June 19, 2015

    Struggle, struggle, struggle ...

    Struggle, struggle, struggle to develop a nonviolent heart in our violent culture and world. "Nonviolence", Mahatma Ghandi said, "is not a garment to be put on and off at will. Its seat is in the heart and it must be an inseparable part of our being." - Marian Wright Edelman

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  • June 18, 2015

    Lament for Charleston

    Of the many powerful things I've read online about what is happening on the other side of the Atlantic (I'm in Ireland this week), this piece by Navajo Christian leader Mark Charles stands out. Quotable:

    I lament the words of our political candidates who promise to lead America back to its former "greatness", ignorant of the fact that much of America's "greatness" was built on the exploitation and dehumanization of its people of color.

    I lament that today the dominant culture in America is in shock because last night in Charleston South Carolina one individual committed a single evil and heinous act of violence, while minority communities throughout the country are bracing themselves because the horrors of the past 500 years are continuing into their lifetime.

    I lament with every person and community, throughout the history of this nation, who, due to the color of their skin, had to endure marginalization, silence, discrimination, beatings, lynching, cultural genocide, boarding schools, internment camps, mass incarceration, broken treaties, stolen lands, murder, slavery and discovery.

    Today I lament that the United States of America does not share a common memory and therefore is incapable of experiencing true community.

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  • Charleston and Laudato Si, a prayer ...

    Living God, help humanity see how the same violence of heart that destroys precious human lives with bullets of hate destroys the planet for pockets of money. Humble us, convert us, teach us to love, make us instruments of healing and peace. Amen.

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  • A Summary of the #Encyclical (Part 1)

    The earth is our sister, and she “now cries out to us because of the harm we have inflicted on her by our irresponsible use and abuse of the goods with which God has endowed her.” The earth is “among the most abandoned and maltreated of our poor,” the victim of “violence present in our hearts” (2).

    With this stark and agonizing image, Pope Francis begins Laudato Si, a letter addressed to “every person living on this planet ... about our common home.” When I began reading an advanced copy the other night, my heart literally pounded in my chest. I felt, and feel, that it is the most important public document written in my lifetime.

    I am not Roman Catholic. But never in my life have I felt that a religious leader has better used his position of influence for a more important purpose.

    The question, of course, will be how we respond. And the answer to that question depends not just on the Pope, but on you and me. Here is a brief summary, although I hope all will read the whole document.

    After providing some historical background (paragraphs 3 - 12), the Pope makes his appeal “for a new dialogue about how we are shaping the future of our planet ... a conversation which includes everyone, since the environmental challenge we are undergoing, and its human roots, concern and affect us all” (14). He expresses thanks for all those “striving in countless ways to guarantee the protection of the home which we share” (13).

    Then he names the obstruction: “Regrettably, many efforts to seek concrete solutions to the environmental crisis have proved ineffective, not only because of powerful opposition but also because of a more general lack of interest. Obstructionist attitudes, even on the part of believers, can range from denial of the problem to indifference, nonchalant resignation or blind confidence in technical solutions. We require a new and universal solidarity” (14).

    A description of “what is happening to our common home” follows:

    Pollution (20-21), fueled by a wasteful throwaway culture that has not adopted a circular model of production capable of preserving resources for present and future generations, while limiting as much as possible the use of non-renewable resources, moderating their consumption, maximizing their efficient use, reusing and recycling them” (22).

    Climate change, the result of “a model of development based on the inte

    nsive use of fossil fuels, which is at the heart of the worldwide energy system. Another determining factor has been an increase in changed uses of the soil, principally deforestation for agricultural purposes” (23-25).

    Obstruction and denial by “many of those who possess more resources and economic or political power” (26).

    Potential and threatened shortages of fresh drinking water, a special need for many of the world’s most vulnerable poor (27-29)

    Further dangers for the poor through privatized drinking water: “Our world has a grave social debt towards the poor who lack access to drinking water, because they are denied the right to a life consistent with their inalienable dignity.” (30-31).

    Loss of plant and animal species due to habitat destruction, toxins, careless development, habitat segmentation, commercial overharvesting, monoculture farming: “the degree of human intervention, often in the service of business interests and consumerism, is actually making our earth less rich and beautiful, ever more limited and grey, even as technological advances and consumer goods continue to abound limitlessly” (32-42)

    Loss of quality of life through loss of contact with nature’s beauty and wisdom, loss of health through pollution and overcrowding, loss of contact with creation through oversaturation with mass media (43-47).

    Gross inequality, where the rich live in luxury and have little contact with or awareness of the poor who live in privation and risk (48).

    A failure to realize how ecology is integrated with economics, politics, religion, and other dimensions of life: “... the human environment and the natural environment deteriorate together) (48) so that “... a true ecological approach always becomes a social approach; it must integrate questions of justice in debates on the environment, so as to hear both the cry of the earth and the cry of the poor” (49).

    A situation of imbalance where developed countries, with a minority of population, consume a majority of resources and produce the majority of pollution; meanwhile, the multinational corporations based in developed countries exploit resources in developing countries and then “leave behind great human and environmental liabilities such as unemployment, abandoned towns, the depletion of natural reserves, deforestation, the impoverishment of agriculture and local stock breeding, open pits, riven hills, polluted rivers and a handful of social works which are no longer sustainable” (50-52).

    Total failure of political leadership to respond appropriately (52-55).

    The deification of the market, so that economics rules without ethics (56)

    Complacency, superficiality, recklessness, denial, and endless argument, which leave people “trying not to see [the realities], trying not to acknowledge them, delaying the important decisions and pretending that nothing will happen” (57-61).

    Part 2 to follow ...

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  • Today is a day for prayer ...

    to overcome with peace the violence that harms people and the planet … From the Papal #Encyclical

    A prayer for our earth
    All-powerful God, you are present in the whole universe and in the smallest of your creatures.
You embrace with your tenderness all that exists.
Pour out upon us the power of your love,
    that we may protect life and beauty.
    Fill us with peace, that we may live
as brothers and sisters, harming no one.
O God of the poor,
help us to rescue the abandoned and forgotten of this earth, so precious in your eyes.
Bring healing to our lives,
that we may protect the world and not prey on it,
that we may sow beauty, not pollution and destruction. Touch the hearts
of those who look only for gain
at the expense of the poor and the earth.
Teach us to discover the worth of each thing,
to be filled with awe and contemplation,
to recognize that we are profoundly united
with every creature
as we journey towards your infinite light.
We thank you for being with us each day.
Encourage us, we pray, in our struggle
for justice, love and peace.

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  • June 17, 2015

  • June 16, 2015

    Laudato Si

    I just finished the Pope's Encyclical, "Laudato Si," a copy of which I received today. It is stunning, beautiful, and pitch-perfect.

    You can download it here.

    All I can say is that as soon as you can, please download it and read it. I think it is one of the most important things written in my lifetime. Stay tuned for ways many of us will work together to ponder and apply its message and moral summons.

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