Relitigating the Golden Rule

Protect religious groups you admire by protecting religious groups you do not admire. Otherwise you’re just trying to find a loophole in the Golden Rule — trying to compel others to do unto us as we would have them do while exempting ourselves from any obligation to do unto them as they would have us do. And that’s not good. [Read more…]

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OotGOism: ‘Whoever tries to keep their life will lose it …’

Mychal Denzel Smith: “When your self-conception is centered on the idea of your own goodness, it prevents you from hearing any critique of your ideology/behavior. Thinking of yourself as ‘good’ allows you to justify harmful words and actions, since anything you do, in your mind, is ‘good.’ … We will have to create new selves.” [Read more…]

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I don’t have any right to pick the Republican nominee

I’m confused by some of the complaining about so-called “closed primaries.” Pennsylvania’s primaries are next week, but it’s not accurate to say that “Pennsylvania” is holding elections. The Republican and Democratic Parties are holding elections to choose their nominees. Republicans are voting for Republican nominees and Democrats are voting for Democratic nominees. How else should that work? [Read more…]

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Harriet Tubman stole from the rich and gave to the poor (cont’d.)

Honoring Harriet Tubman on official currency is somewhat ironic, of course, since Tubman was a notorious thief. She stole from the rich and gave to the poor. Legally and constitutionally, that’s what it meant to liberate slaves in antebellum America. [Read more…]

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What if we learned about the Bible from the people who got it right?

The victims of injustice tend to have a far better theological track record than the defenders, perpetrators, and beneficiaries of it. We should try learning from them for a change. Perhaps it would be better to learn about the Bible from the people who got it right than to continue learning about the Bible from people who insist on getting it wrong. [Read more…]

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A generation which knew not Joseph

When it comes to the biblical story of Joseph, I’m with John Calvin. Joseph exploited the hungry and enslaved the entire world to curry favor with a tyrant. And that, Calvin concluded, was simply indefensible. “It is certain that all contracts which are not formed according to the rule of charity are vicious in the sight of God,” the reformer wrote in his commentary on Genesis. [Read more…]

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The politics of white resentment (a slice of local history)

Here’s a slice of very local politics from the 1970s that starkly parallels our national politics in 2016. This is from my daughter’s research on a Philly public housing battle during the Rizzo administration, but it illustrates the way that baldly racist segregationist policies get euphemized and repackaged as supposedly race-neutral policies today. [Read more…]

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Are the good times really over for good?

Merle Haggard wrote and sang some terrific songs, and he collaborated and hung out with some of my favorite artists in the world of country music, but I had a hard time getting past his angry right-wing tribalism (whether he meant any of that, or if he was just selling records, isn’t clear, but also doesn’t really matter). [Read more…]

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