Affirming Christianity and Islam

As a native son of Florence, South Carolina, I was shocked to hear that the Islamic Center in Florence had been desecrated last week, when an unknown person or group used strips of bacon to form the words "pig" and "chump" on the ground outside the Islamic Center. This act was particularly offensive because the Qur'an forbids Muslims from eating pork. According to a local news outlet, the FBI has been asked to investigate this hate crime.In contrast, I am proud to be a board member of the … [Read more...]

The Life-giving Opposite of "Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell"

As suicides among lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people continue with alarming regularity, a signal of hope sounded yesterday when a federal judge ordered that an injunction against the discriminatory "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" law.In addition to contributing to the internalized shame many lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people are told to feel from so many quarters of society, this unjust legislation has also unnecessarily weakened our armed forces. A single statistic shows … [Read more...]

Outrage and Coming Out Day

Today is National Coming Out Day. The need to speak out for the equality and basic humanity of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people was underscored for me yesterday when I read in The New York Times about the most recent in a series of hate crimes against the LGBT community.  Last week a gang of nine men kidnapped a 30-year-old man in New York and tortured him horrifically for hours simply because he was gay. Two gay 17-year-olds were also attacked.My wife and I had the same first … [Read more...]

Companions in Ministry: almost-free retreat for pastors

Know a pastor aged 20-50?If so, check out Companions in Ministry, an almost-free week-long retreat the last week of October in Nashville. They pay to fly you there: funded by the Lilly Endowment, coordinated by Upper Room Ministries.The deadline is September 15, 2009, so no time like the present to apply.Check it out and spread the word: Upper Room … [Read more...]

Censorship of Controversial Cartoons Is Wrong

People say ridiculous and offensive things about Christianity everyday. But we live in a pluralistic world, where we must learn to agree to disagree.Yale University Press' decision to not publish controversial cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed is counterproductive.Reza Aslan is right on in today's New York Times: ““This is an academic book for an academic audience by an academic press. It’s not just academic cowardice, it is just silly and unnecessary.”You can read the full article here: … [Read more...]

Conspire Magazine

"Real Christians" try to live like Jesus might have lived if he had been born in our time and place.I make no claim at being a radical "Real Christian" myself, but I am inspired by those try to follow Jesus, not just admire him, and I'm challenged that I can do better.For some stories of, by, and for "Real Christians," check out issue #2 of “Conspire Magazine” titled, “Sacred Subversions."See also . … [Read more...]

Singer and Jesus on Health Care

Peter Singer brings his usual number-crunching rationality and hardcore commonsense to the health care debate, arguing for: “free national health insurance with optional private insurance, a.k.a. ‘Medicare for All.’ In 2008 Gallup reported 73% of Canadians and Brits have confidence in health care in their country. In the U.S., despite spending much more, per person, on health care, the figure is only 56 percent.”Read Singer’s article in the New York Times MagazineFrom another perspective, Joh … [Read more...]

Truth-filled Love

I sometimes joke that, "Jesus saved me from being a Republican...but he won't let me be a Democrat either."The way of Jesus is independent of any single political party and speaks prophetically to all (at least it should). At their best, communities modeled on Jesus' way of love demonstrate that there is a better way of being in the world than most of us typically think possible.An excellent and challenging example of the politics of Christians being a political "third way" is Pope Benedict … [Read more...]

Women on the Court

In all likelihood Sotomayor will be confirmed this week, bringing the number of current female Supreme Court Justices to the whopping total of two, or approximately 22% of the nine Justices. In that women comprise over 50% of the U.S. population -- and more than 50% of law school graduates -- here's hoping that Obama continues to find highly qualified women to fill the next few openings on the court.Afterall, if both males and females are created in the image of God (Genesis 1:27), then don't … [Read more...]

Eboo Patel is the new Diana Eck!

Eboo Patel is the new Diana Eck!For the non-theology-dorks among us, Eck broke ground in the '90s with the (Religious) Pluralism Project at Harvard. Now, Patel is doing equally vital work with the Interfaith Youth Core.Patel is a U.S. Muslim with an Indian heritage, not to mention a Rhodes scholar with an Oxford Ph.d. in the sociology of religion.Check out his book Acts of Faith or the following podcast. … [Read more...]