Smart people saying smart things

Nadia Bolz-Weber: “Sermon on Why the Gospel Is More Wizard-of-Oz-y Than the Law

The Gospel is not an if-then proposition. It’s more Wizard of Oz than that. The Gospel is a because because because because proposition. Because God is our creator and because we rebel against the idea of being created beings and insist on trying to be God for ourselves and because God will not play by our rules and because in the fullness of time when God had had quite enough of all of that God became human in Jesus Christ to show us who God really is and because when God came to God’s own and we received him not, and because God would not be deterred God went so far as to hang from the cross we built and did not even lift a finger to condemn but said forgive them they know not what they are doing and because Jesus Christ defeated even death and the grave and rose on the 3rd day and because we all sin and fall short and are forever turned in on ourselves and forget that we belong to God and that none of our success guarantee this and none of our failures exclude this and because God loves God’s creation God refuses for our sin and brokenness and inability to always do the right things to be the last word because God came to save and not to judge and therefore…therefore you are saved by grace as a gift and not by the works of the law and this truth will set you free like no self-help plan or healthy living or social justice work “shoulds” can ever do.

Eric Reitan: “Misrepresenting Climate Science

The question of whether human activities contribute to global climate change is not a political question. It’s not an ethical question.

It’s a scientific question.

The question of what we should do about it is primarily an ethical question. But if it calls for anything, it calls for collective action and public policy changes, and so becomes a political question as well. …

The political question about public policy comes after the scientific one, in the sense that we need to know what the science tells us about what’s going on before we can make informed decisions about what to do about what’s going on. To invert this order can be quite dangerous.

Michael J. Altman: “The Invention of American Evangelicalism

The real question for historians of American religion and especially historians of American evangelicalism is “what are the politics of the category evangelical?” Why do we want more African Americans in a list of evangelicals? Why do we want more women? Because it is a privileged category. It is also a constructed category. It is, to use my favorite Jon Butler phrase, an interpretive fiction. It is an invention, first within the minds of Protestants since the Reformation and then within the minds of historians. … Rather than worry about who is or isn’t an evangelical or adding more diversity to the list, historians should be investigating the process of this invention. We should be tracing the politics of the term and what is at stake in various places and times when people take, leave, fight for, argue about, or compromise over what it means to be “evangelical.” We don’t need more or different histories of evangelicalism or evangelicals, we need a genealogy of the term. We need to trace the invention of American evangelicalism. We need to stop assuming that evangelicalism is something out there for us to track down in the archive or research field and label correctly. Instead, let’s pay attention to how various subjects imagine evangelicalism and the political, cultural, and social forces at work in those imaginings. Let’s find out what’s at stake when people get included or excluded from “evangelicalism.”

Ta-Nehisi Coates: “The Burden of a Black President

Louis won. And some sense of the times can be gleaned from how his win was reported. “Joe Louis, the lethargic, chicken-eating young colored boy,” wrote The Washington Post, “reverted to his dreaded role of the ‘brown bomber’ tonight.”

When you are deemed a “credit to your race,” as Joe Louis so often was, the weight can be crushing. But it also can be the source of great power. In championing the reviled, the battle-weary, the low, you champion something greater than yourself. Wherever you fight, you are always fighting for your hometown. You trade the aspect of the lone wolf, for that of the wounded bear rearing up in defense of her cubs.

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  • arthur1526

    What to say to an unhappy sick person?

    From Risalei Nur collection by
    Said Nursi.


    Do not be anxious, have patience! Your illness is not a malady
    for you; it is a sort of cure. For life departs like capital; if it yields no fruits, it is wasted; and if
     it passes in ease and heedlessness, it passes swiftly. Illness makes that capital of yours yield huge profits. Moreover, it does not allow your life to pass quickly, it restrains it and lengthens it, so that it will
    depart after yielding its fruits. An indication that your life is lengthened through illness is the following much repeated proverb: “The times of calamit y are long, the times of happiness, most brief.”

  •  “Joe Louis, the lethargic, chicken-eating young colored boy,” wrote The Washington PostThat line is being proclaimed every day by John Sununu.