Do you like to read theology? And you’ve got a blog? Then check this out from Tripp Fuller:
I am helping to organize a series of conferences as part of a grant at school called Transforming Theology. We will have a conference with three different groups, theologians, national denomination leaders, and seminary and divinity school deans from across the country. Because we share the conviction that Theology Matters,
this diverse group of mainline Christians and emerging church folk,
progressive Evangelicals and old-fashioned liberals, seekers and
settled folks will gather to imagine a theological vision with
intellectual integrity for progressive Christianity that is
communicable and challenging for the church.
A huge number of America’s best theologians are
coming to the conference and as we move towards their arrival and the dialogue with the denominations we want to get the online community
involved in the discussion. The first way is to get books by these
theologians in bloggers hands so they can begin to engage the ideas.
Engaging them is what we want, not just an affirmative pat on the back,
a summary, or a all out rejection, but engagement in whatever your
attention is drawn to. Your post(s) on the book will be featured on
the Transforming Theology website and your questions and push backs
will form the background to an online component of the conference.
Let Tripp know if you’re interested!
Well, I’m coming in on this discussion late – which is probably
merciful. I think that, before posting on such things, we need to do a
quick blood-pressure check. If its too high, then it’s probably not the
Holy Spirit, no matter *what* our views on Subject XYZ are!
For some reason as I write this comment, Preson Phillips is the one
most on the forefront here. I feel like yours was one of the most
pained responses, like were having to give up a good friend because
they messed up your parents house while partying for the last time. But
I have to ask: Why is *this* of all things the Conversation-killer? We
all agree that human sexuality is God-given and very important…so
let’s stay engaged. (Oh, and everyone knows that ‘Valkyrie’ toward the
top was being very sarcastic and just trying to stir the hornets
nest…right? I feel like s/he got these comments started on combative
terms with some hyperbolic statements in Tony’s ‘favor’)
What follows is not an attempt to change anyone’s mind about the
sinfulness or blessedness of homosexual orientation and practice. We
all have our perspectives, and they change like glaciers, not ice
cubes. Rather, I want to lay out in as concise a manner as possible my
own readings, prayer, and reflection in this these past few years,
showing essentially four different options people of faith have in this
regard. I’m pretty sure we all fall into one of these four
understandings. My goal in showing them in a descriptive,
matter-of-fact manner is to humanize all four perspectives, so that we
don’t demonize one another.
By way of a quick prelude: I will not be handling any Old Testament
passages that describe or seem to describe homosexual activity as an
‘abomination.’ That is because these very same passages (as
GodHatesShrimp.com humorously points out) describe many other things as
‘abominations,’ our English translations belying the fact that this
word simply denotes that which is cultically unacceptable to the ritual
purity of set-apart Israel. So I will exclusively look at the three New
Testament passages, which all happen to be by Paul (Jesus doesn’t
mention homosexuality in the Gospels). I’m not even going to go into
Paul’s passages in-depth, but they’re the ones in I Corinthians 6,
Romans 1 and 1 Timothy 1:10.
The four options, as I’ve seen them, are as follows:
I’m in Louisville today, meeting with others who’ve won grants this year from the Louisville Institute (mine is to allow me to finish my dissertation, ahem). Relfections to be written on the flight home tonight.
It boarders on idolatry. Dave made a statement that
troubles me to no end. It is just the kind of statement that sends a
deeper message to mothers: Dave mentions that a woman’s proper focus is
the family. I’m not sure where he gets that. Well, I know where he gets
it, but I don’t know what biblical basis he has for that statement. As
I said, the gospel doesn’t include specifics about parenting. Jesus
didn’t exempt mothers from participating in God’s work in the world.
And Jesus wasn’t just talking to the men when he told his followers to
feed and clothe and visit the poor and imprisoned. The idea that my
three children are more important than other people goes against
everything the Bible teaches. It makes an idol of my family. So I can’t
justify having tunnel vision about my parenting. I can’t call myself a
Christian and then live a life that centers only on a small, select
group of people-no matter how much I love those people. And I can’t
fathom God giving me gifts and passions and dreams with the intention
that I limit the use of those to the lives of three people. There is a
huge, hurting world out there and mothers-with our heightened
compassion, our deepened sense of justice, our ever-growing longing for
a better world-are uniquely qualified to get out there and work toward
bringing about the kingdom of God. I could go on and on about mothers
who have changed the world, but we’ll save that for another post.
Geez, I had no idea. It’s actually Interfaith Heroes Month, at least according to David Crumm, late of the Detroit Free Press and now the editor of ReadTheSpirit.com. Today he asks one of my favorite persons in the world, Sheryl Fullerton (my editor at Jossey-Bass) to reflect on inter-faith work, and she speaks of another of my favorite persons in the world, Samir Selmanovic, the convener of the amazing Faith House Manhattan. Sheryl is currently editing Samir’s first book, and here’s her money quote:
I remember when I first opened up Samir’s proposal. His opening
statement hit me right between the eyes: “For years I’ve been talking
about three monotheistic religions to nonbelievers. And here is what I
hear: ‘At best, Jews, Christians, and Muslims look like three religious
stooges in a slapstick comedy. At worst, they look like three brothers
with hands clasped in prayer and soaked in blood.’ We have littered
history with incredible amounts of stupidity, injustice and suffering.
The world has simply had it with us. They are not listening anymore…
Judaism, Christianity, and Islam have painted a picture of God that is
difficult to admire, much less worship….Either monotheism will die, or
Billions of words have already been written and spoken yesterday and today regarding the inauguration, everything from the Justice Roberts oath flub to Michelle Obama’s ball gown. I’ve got opinions, of course, but nothing particularly new to say. So, instead, I’ll just post a little around-the-horn from some of the more interesting items I’vbe read.
1) Over at Religion Dispatches, Michael A. Elliot points to Rick Warren’s sermon last Sunday, delivered at MLK’s Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta. It seems that Warren was his own, common-man self, even obliquely paralleling the outrage over his Prop 8 controversy to the persecution that MLK endured. Here’s a taste of Elliot’s essay:
I had never
really listened to Warren at length before, but what struck me during
this time is how his charisma stems, in part, from his unthreatening
presence. He’s overweight, but not so much so that one becomes
uncomfortable looking at him. His goatee makes him look a little goofy,
like a high school English teacher. While he raises his voice, he never
seems to give over the religious ecstasy.
I thought Warren’s inauguration invocation was similar yesterday. To me, the negative was that it was less a prayer and more a sermon to God. In the positive, I appreciate how Warren is just himself — everyman — in his delivery, so unlike the stilted and affected cadence of the speakers at today’s National Prayer Service. (In fact, that ceremony is so stiff that MSNBC just switched over the the Timothy Geitner confirmation hearing. So did CNN. Fox is still showing the prayer service.)
2) Mark Ambinder, via Speech Wars, says the the words, “nonbelievers” and “Muslims” have never before been used in an inauguration speech. Clearly, Obama both acknowledges and embodies the religious and ethnic pluralism that is our reality in America.
3) Mark Silk was cool on Warren’s prayer, thinking it’s fourfold reference to Jesus was over-the-top Christianizing. Money quote:
But Warren concludes by saying that he is praying “in the name of
the one who changed my life, Yeshua, Isa, Jesus, Jesus
(hay-SOOS)”–which is to say, not just Jesus as named in English and
Spanish but also in Hebrew and Arabic. For Jews, Yeshua is the name by
which Jews for Jesus proselytizes among Jews, as in the pamphlet I was
handed this very day by a member of the Rockville, MD Jews for Jesus
chapter. Praying the Lord’s Prayer in the names of Yeshua and Isa (as
far as Muslims as opposed to Arabic-speaking Christians are concerned),
is an evangelistic strategy. It is not inclusive, as Gilgoff and ABC
News’ Susan Donaldson James believe, but hegemonic.
As usual, lots and lots of mean-spirited commentary around GLBT issues here yesterday, but a couple of poignant comments stuck out under yesterday’s Comment of the Day and Sunday’s Announcing Queermergent. First, Kristi:
done talking? done listening? i don’t understand what preson is done doing, i guess.
and after looking at the original post, i do see that you were merely posting a link to someone, not giving your opinion on it.
i just chatted for an hour yesterday with a childhood friend who is
a christian and who is currently raising her 3 kids with a girlfriend
and is still recovering from a horribly abusive marriage. i have
already been working on trying to love people where they are, but this
has seriously challenged my thinking regarding people who are living
differently from me.
right now, i am just torn apart that she has had to endure a life of
abuse and suffering, and i’m also confused because what i would want to
label as wrong based on my upbringing, i see as an extremely healthy
and safe life for her and her children compared with the “hetero” life
she was leading before.
so this leads me to think: we should not worry about alienating
people who are already part of this conversation, part of the in crowd;
we should be worried and focused on trying not to alienate people who
are part of the out crowd, bringing people together to further
conversation. no one said we have to be accepting of everything
everyone says or does. but neither do we need to sit in condemnation
it’s not our jobs to decide what kind of faith people are living out
in their lives. i, for one, am relieved that God is the One who does
all the work in that department.
Peter Rollins and Stephen Shields have begun a bit of a back-and-forth under the post, Ten Years of Emergent/ing. Here’s Pete’s response to Stephen, and here’s hoping they’ll continue the conversation (here or elsewhere):
Would love to chat, and I am sorry that my tone in the comments sounded so strong!
I am also aware that my own thoughts here may not be representative
of how many people who adopt the term ‘emergent’ think. However I guess
one of my projects is to develop Bonhoeffer’s ‘religionless
Christianity’ and show how it is an important source for the most
radical form of emergent thinking.
For me religionless Christianity operates without any metaphysical
guarantees. There is doubt, complexity and ambiguity throughout. And so
there can be no final foundational claim to an external source ensuring
that everything will work out well in the end (one can, of course, hope
that there is).
I do argue however that there is a type of non-foundational
foundation in faith of the type that Pascal hints at in his statement,
‘the heart has reason that reason does not know’. This I think can be
termed ‘rebirth’. But that rebirth is such an immanent event that it
does not give itself over to epistemic justification or other-worldly
guarantees. For me the story of the man born blind is a representation
of this. He says he can see but refuses to make any absolute claims
concerning the person of Jesus. To put it in another context one could
‘I have been reborn, transformed, renewed by God, but then again I wonder who, what or even if God is.’
I guess I was worried that the above statement might do the same as
some types of mystical apophatic theology… namely give with one hand
(unknowing) what it takes with the other (an ultimate knowledge). This
is why Derrida ultimately found negative theology too positive.
Instead of saying ‘I am not sure God is there in my day to day life
but I know that God really is there’ (i.e. everything is ultimately
going to be o.k), I am more prone to say that Christianity allows us to
claim, ‘God is here in our midst, although I am not sure God exists’
(i.e. God is what we live here and now without guarantee that God is
‘out there’). While the former justifies faith via a metanarrative the
later lives Christianity as a meganarrative (a grounded story)
Hope that is useful.
I’m a regular commentator on Doug Pagitt’s daily radio show, The Question. (Yes, I believe that is a velour shirt.) His show runs from 10-11am Central Time on Blogtalkradio, and I join him most Tuesdays from 10:30-11:00 to talk about religion in America. Today, of course, will be a special broadcast since it will be the thirty minutes prior to the historic inauguration of Barack Obama. Join us by logging in, calling in, etc.