Weekly Meanderings

We are back in action after a week off from Weekly Meanderings during our Spring Break.

Gotta read this one by Pastor Matt: “I was shocked that such brutality could happen right outside the doors to our church building but I was glad to know that God has raised up young men who are willing to move into the most crime ridden area of our town and reach out to the “least among us” for Jesus Christ.  I hope and pray that your church will raise up members who are willing to sacrifice their time and comfort to go into the darkness with the light. Thank God the woman is alive and thank God He has been so merciful as to raise up young men like Stephen with a heart for those who are suffering and seek to become their friends.  May she accept their offer of help, come to know Christ and live a blessed life that blesses others.”

Amy Simpson: “People with mental illness are the butt of jokes, the subjects of terrifying movies andamusement park rides, and sources of entertainment that seem to assume they are mythical creatures—like leprechauns and unicorns—so no one should be offended.  The church’s response to mental illness is typically silence—a silence that is tantamount to complicity in the world’s rejection of the most vulnerable among us, that speaks volumes about the weakness of our faith in the face of suffering. When the church is not silent, it often condemns, suggesting people need exorcism or simply more faith, and denying people’s need for legitimate medical intervention to ease their suffering and help them function as the people God made them to be.”

Bob Cornwall on how God speaks today: “I think we’ve established over the past few weeks that even if God doesn’t normally speak to us in an audible voice, we can still hear the voice of God.  We just need help.  There’s Scripture, of course, which we often call the Word of God, and it is normally our starting point.  After all, we read from Scripture every Sunday as part of worship.  But as the Gospel of John reminds us, Jesus is the Word of God in the flesh, not the Bible.  Although Scripture seems to be a central way in which God speaks to us, is it the only way we hear God speak?  We started to answer this question last Sunday with a conversation about Tradition, which is the ongoing story of God’s involvement in our world, beginning with Creation and continuing to this day.  Tradition is an important voice, but perhaps there are still others that might speak to us.  If so, could Reason be one of those ways in which God speaks?”

Kathy Keller on why to raise your kids in the city.

President Obama: “Obama praised Florida Gov. Rick Scott’s decision to create a task force to review the “stand your ground” law and said that it would be important to “examine the laws and the context for what happened as well as the specifics of the incident.” “But my main message is to the parents of Trayvon,” Obama said. “I think they are right to expect that all of us as Americans are going to take this with the seriousness it deserves and we will get to the bottom of exactly what happened,” he said.And he obliquely addressed the racial component of the case, saying it struck home for him because, “If I had a son, he’d look like Trayvon.”

Clergy killers: “They are called “clergy killers” — congregations where a small group of members are so disruptive that no pastor is able to maintain spiritual leadership for long. And yet ministers often endure the stresses of these dysfunctional relationships for months, or even years, before eventually being forced out or giving up. Adding to the strain is the process, which is often shrouded in secrecy. No one – from denominational officials to church members to the clerics themselves – want to acknowledge the failure of a relationship designed to be a sign to the world of mutual love and support. But new research is providing insights into just how widespread – and damaging – these forced terminations can be to clergy. An online study published in the March issue of the Review of Religious Research found 28 percent of ministers said they had at one time been forced to leave their jobs due to personal attacks and criticism from a small faction of their congregations.”

Wendy McCaig on releasing the caged. “This post is a personal confession.  I have been in hiding.  I know God called me to minister boldly as a part of the church universal but I have been hiding behind my non-profit and under my “Executive Director” title.  I have been hanging out in the margins with people who let me be me. But just like Jonah, I am discovering that the call to go to Nineveh is in inescapable.  For me Nineveh is the hierarchical institutional church.  A place that can be as brutal to women ministers as ancient Israel was to the prophets.   Well maybe that is an overstatement, but you know what I mean.  It is far easier to just not go there – to remain in hiding.  Is that a big fish heading my way?”

Derek Leman on “hesed” in the Bible.

The Orthodox Church in the USA.

Meanderings in the News

Paul Butler’s eloquent and insightful observations about the Rutger’s spying case: “Ravi did not invent homophobia, but he is being scapegoated for it. Bias against gay people is, sadly, embedded in American culture. Until last year people were being kicked out of the military because they were homosexuals. None of the four leading presidential candidates — President Obama, Mitt Romney, Rick Santorum, Newt Gingrich — thinks that gay people should be allowed to get married. A better way to honor the life of Clementi would be for everyone to get off their high horse about a 20-year-old kid and instead think about how we can promote civil rights in our own lives. Though a national conversation about civility and respect would have been better, as usual for social problems, we looked to the criminal justice system. The United States incarcerates more of its citizens than any country in the world. We are an extraordinarily punitive people. Clementi died for America’s sins. And now, Ravi faces years in prison for the same reason.” [We are deporting this young man?]

Sarah Hepola: “And that raises a question well worth asking in 2012: Where is the next Gloria Steinem, and why — decades after the media spotlight first focused on her — has no one emerged to take her place? …Ms. Steinem’s DNA has been scattered into a million cells — in the blogs, as well as in the work of women whose labors do not land them on cable shows: Ai-jen Poo, the organizer of Domestic Workers United, or Navi Pillay, head of the Commission on Human Rights at the United Nations.“We often have a cultural fantasy about individuals,” said Emily Nussbaum, the television critic for The New Yorker and a longtime feminist reporter. “But collaboration is just as frequently the source of great things, and it’s less rarely recognized. Change doesn’t always happen because of one person, but that’s what makes for great biographies.”

Those 55-hour work weeks are unproductive.

Crazy Horse sculpture, a multi-generational work of Americana art: “As he started the Crazy Horse monument in 1947, short on money, manpower and the credulity of just about anyone who heard his plans, Korczak Ziolkowski, a sculptor from Connecticut, promised the tribal leaders who had recruited him and the local residents who scorned him that he was dedicating his life to the effort. But he underestimated the scale of the undertaking. His promise, it turned out, was a multigenerational commitment.”

More partisan, by Peter Wallsten, Lori Montogomery, and Scott Wilson: “A president who promised to bring the country together, who confidently presented himself as the transformational figure able to make that happen, now had his chance. But, like earlier policy battles, the debt ceiling negotiations revealed a divided figure, a man who remained aloof from a Congress where he once served and that he now needed. He was caught between his own aspirations for historical significance and his inherent political caution. And he was unable to bridge a political divide that had only grown wider since he took office with a promise to change the ways of Washington, underscoring the gulf between the way he campaigned and the way he had governed. In the end, that brief effort, described by White House officials as the most intense and consequential of Obama’s presidency, not only illuminated pitfalls in the road he had taken during the previous three years but also directed him down a different, harder-edged, more overtly partisan path that is now defining his reelection campaign.”

If you are an author, yougottareadthis!

Rick Astley would never…

Martin S. Pribble found some good quotations from Mr Mark Twain, even if he found them on the internet. My copies of his books are abundantly underlined, every ready for this writer and speaker to pluck a choice quotation.

Guarnizo is no ordinary priest, as read in this by Michael S. Rosenwald and Michelle Boorstein: “Barbara Johnson reached out to receive Holy Communion at her mother’s funeral Mass last month at St. John Neumann Catholic Church in Gaithersburg. The Rev. Marcel Guarnizo, standing before her, placed his hand over the offering bowl, denying her the sacrament.”

Facebook’s impact on Spring Break — which is a small step forward. (HT: RM)

Meanderings in Sports

David Haugh, of Chicago Tribune, on the Matt Forte “disrespect”: “Forte needs to worry about running the football, not the football team. Signing Bush, who had 997 rushing yards for the Raiders last season, protects the Bears from Forte injuring himself again or foolishly holding out. That’s not disrespectful, that’s smart — especially given the hints Forte has dropped about skipping training camp unless he signs a new contract before the July 16 deadline.”

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  • All over the news this week in the UK has been the story of Fabrice Muamba, the 23 year old premiership footballer (soccer) who suffered a cardiac arrest on the pitch during agame last weekend. His remarkable recovery, during which he was ‘effectively dead for 78 minutes’ has got the country talking about the power of prayer. One of the national newspapers even ran the headline ‘God is in control’.

    Here’s a summary: http://www.peter-ould.net/2012/03/21/dead-for-78-minutes/

  • Scot,

    Thanks for the notice of the sermon and the question concerning reason. This week I’m entering the even more treacherous question of experience!!

    But back to reason — wondering how people will answer the question!

  • I’ll add a comment on the issue of clergy killers. Only 28%. Wow, that has to be a wildly under-reported stat. As one who knows first hand this reality, and have seen how churches go on for generations with such an attitude, surely the real number is much higher. That is not to say that there aren’t pastors who abuse their congregations as well, and thus they are asked to leave as a result.

  • Joe Canner

    Great article on the Tyler Clemnti suicide case. As much as Clemnti deserves justice, I agree that the bigger picture deserves a closer look. The real culprit is a society that causes someone to feel compelled to commit suicide because their sexual preferences or behavior have been made public.

  • Scot McKnight

    Andrew, thanks for the link. I followed that story all week … but somehow didn’t put in a link here.

  • Chris White

    RE: Clergy killers

    This is too sad. The Scriptures present ways to deal with those within the community of believers who are disruptive. Sure, it takes some fortitude to tackle the issue–yet in the long run, those particular churches and the called future leaders will benefit greatly–meaning the mission of Christ will benefit greatly. In our age of tolerance and keep-the-peace-at-any-cost we all pay the price for the bullying (those in the congregation who “kill” the clergy) and cowardice (pastors and denom leaders). “Put away the evil person from among you.” 1 Cor.513b

    There are those times, after prayer and consul, investigation and tears, when the church has to tell one of her own to step away from the community until there is a change of heart (attitude and action). Not to do that is not to deal seriously with sin (disunity) and to damage the cause of Christ and His Gospel. The very motive ascribed in not doing such (the church is suppose to be a place of love and unity) should propel them to do so—to avoid fellowship with that person so to let them understand their soul is in danger.

    To let them continue to control (bully) is giving in to the evil one who has them in his grasp–despite whatever service and monies they contribute to that community. And no doubt, they are active participants who hold much influence and a sense of ownership in that church (which is good up to a point) but we all must realize the people belong to Christ, for we are His body.


  • Thank you, Scot. I really appreciated the link to Leman’s article on hesed. As I have studied Paul, I noted how he used “give grace” rather than the verb “forgive” (ἀφίημι) used by most other NT authors. Leman’s connection to the OT hesed gives some wonderful depth to Paul’s choice.

  • Scot, glad you provided a link to the clergy-killers piece. I actually thought the number cited (28%) would probably have been higher.

    This is very real and very tragic. As I read the article, I thought of people who I’ve known who have been the victims of such clergy-killers.

    Unfortunately, some of this is the result of a peace at any price mentality, including allowing such behavior to continue in churches.

  • Thanks, Ann F-R. Now you’ve made me want to investigate the “give grace” idea in Paul. My Greek is weak!

  • Please write on what you find, Derek, and pass it along to Scot, in case I miss it on your blog! (My Hebrew is much weaker than my Greek, now – I appreciated how you read it aloud for those of us who are rusty!) If I can locate my notes, I’ll try to point you in the direction that I noted when I was studying this in response to a query from a class member. From my study – which was not lengthy, but as thorough as I could w/ the time at hand – Luke and Paul both used ἀφίημι differently than the other Jewish NT authors & the LXX, and when they did use it in the “forgive” sense, it seemed to be mostly when they used quotations.

  • Been gone too long … but you had me at cHesed today — you know that I am totally a cHesed girl 8) — and thanks, Derek! I read your post, just ran out of time to answer. I spend a lot of time on cHesed at my blog….

  • RJS

    Nice to hear from you again Peggy.

  • Thank you for your kind words, RJS 😉