Faith

Joy J. Moore 03-05-2014

Reflections on the Revised Common Lectionary, Cycle A

Christian Piatt 03-04-2014
Courtesy of Tony Kriz

Tony Kriz and his new book, 'Neighbors and Wise Men.' Courtesy of Tony Kriz

Tony Kriz is, in many ways, the definitive postmodern Christian. He’s a Christian writer, teacher, and he even lives in intentional community with fellow Christ-seekers. He comes from an evangelical background, and, though he claims portions of the theology of his youth, he also continues to reinvent himself as he forges the path of Christ in his cultural context.

Known first in the public eye as “Tony the Beat Poet” from Donald Miller’s bestselling book, Blue Like Jazz, he is a voice and a presence unto himself. He’s more inclined to meet friends over a beer than he is to join a particular congregation in worship every Sunday. He is both deeply embedded in the Christian conversation and cultural identity and, at the same time, a stark contrast to what tradition dictates a “good Christian” should look and act like.

I shot a handful of questions his way after a recent book discussion we conducted at First Christian Church in Portland. Here’s what he had to say.

03-03-2014
Jim Wallis’s On God’s Side comes in two parts. In the first, he argues that biblical Christianity involves not only the personal, individual standing of the Christian before God and the individual’s relationship with Christ, but also a deeply communal element that inspires genuine concern for one’s neighbors. In the second, he fleshes out how these sometimes-competing concerns ought to inf luence Christian political thought and engagement. Wallis’s inspiration for the title of the book is a quote from Abraham Lincoln—“My concern is not whether God is on our side; my greatest concern is to be on God’s side”—and he uses this second half of his book to explore exactly what being “on God’s side” would entail, tackling several prominent and hotly debated issues ranging from the structure of the American political system to specific policy issues.
03-03-2014
“Sojourners” has an important interview this month with Cynthia Bourgeualt. Here are two excerpts. But the whole thing is worth reading at: http://sojo.net/magazine/2014/02/pursuit-wholeness Bob Sabath: What need is your vocation responding to in the world today?
03-03-2014
As Stephen Mattson wrote in a post for Sojourners’ God’s Politics blog, reveling in #SochiProblems really feels like “Hey, let’s laugh about how other people actually live.” Or — more accurately — how many (probably most) people in the would be lucky and grateful to live.
03-03-2014
The quote is from an article that appeared on the Sojourners website yesterday. I thought it deserved to be highlighted, and so I made it into a meme image.
03-03-2014
"Offering your child to God is a way of offering yourself to God again, and it felt that way to me. For the religious and not, there is a powerful spirituality in the birth of a child. Already, we're learning a little about the unconditional love of God for us in the way we feel about our own child. Through one of the most universal human experiences, parent after parent is taught the lessons of love and life. And all is grace." - Jim Wallis, following the birth of his son, Luke
03-03-2014
5. The social justice movement and poverty The social justice movement is gaining popularity among young Christians today. In his most recent encyclical, Pope Francis critiqued the free market and attacked income inequality. Jim Wallis of Sojourners once argued for an increased minimum wage because he says “God hates inequality.” How should Christian libertarians respond to the social justice movement and the left’s concerns about poverty and economic justice?
03-03-2014
Jim Wallis, president and founder of Sojourners, and best-selling author of books such as “God’s Politics.” Stephan Bauman, president and CEO of World Relief, an international organization with 4,000 staffers and 40,000 volunteers.
02-28-2014
Osborn is an adjunct professor in the Department of International Relations at the University of Southern California. His articles have appeared in a variety of popular as well as scholarly publications including Commonweal, First Things, Sojourners, Review of International Studies, and Politics and Religion. Osborn’s writing has been shaped in important ways by his experiences growing up in Thailand, Taiwan, and Zimbabwe to missionary parents. His first book, Anarchy and Apocalypse: Essays on Faith, Violence, and Theodicy (2010), defends a distinctive form of nonviolent nonconformity with power or Christian anarchism.
02-28-2014
I’m not sure whether this set-up as the anti-Francis was deliberate, but to me the contrast was striking indeed. Over at Sojourners, the Rev. Greg Coates also noticed “The Anti(Gospel) of Francis Underwood”: “I was left in awe at the show’s brutal honesty of what a life purely committed to power potentially looks like.” In the end, Coats says, the show poses a crucial question to us viewers: “Will you follow the way of violent power or will you follow the way of self-sacrificial love? Will you trample over others or will you empty yourself, taking the very nature of a servant? In short, will you choose the way of Francis Underwood or the way of Jesus Christ?” Given Pope Francis’ theme of mercy and the anti-Francis’ theme of “ruthless pragmatism,” I don’t think it would be too much of a stretch to rephrase that last sentence: “Will you choose the way of Francis Underwood or the way or Pope Francis?”
02-28-2014
Lisa Sharon Harper, Sojourners’ director of mobilizing, was the founding executive director of New York Faith & Justice—an organization at the hub of a new ecumenical movement to end poverty in New York City. In that capacity, she helped establish Faith Leaders for Environmental Justice, a citywide collaborative effort of faith leaders committed to leveraging the power of their constituencies and their moral authority in partnership with communities bearing the weight of environmental injustice. She also organized faith leaders to speak out for immigration reform and organized the South Bronx Conversations for Change, a dialogue-to-change project between police and the community.
02-28-2014
This very helpful book grew out of a nine-month conversation among six politically diverse Christians at Respectful Conversation.net. The convener, Heie, summarizes it here, taking up in turn a series of contentious issues ranging from immigration, gun control, and abortion to a variety of foreign policy questions, noting where there is common ground and where there are sharp differences. The six participants—Amy E. Black, Paul Brink, David P. Gushee, Lisa Sharon Harper, Stephen V. Monsma, and Eric Teetsel—model the overarching commitment to "respectful conversation" even as they disagree.
02-28-2014
Speakers at the conference included Dr. Bernice King, a Baptist minister and CEO of The King Center; Rich Stearns, president of the non-profit humanitarian group World Vision U.S.; Jim Wallis, president and founder of Sojourners; Rev. Gabriel Salguero, president of National Latino Evangelical Coalition; and Lynne Hybels, founder of Willow Creek Community Church.
02-28-2014
“Not all liberal churches are MTD,” says a reader, who sent me this article from the leftie Christian site Sojourners, in which writer Stephen Mattson lists “7 Things Churches No Longer Do, But Should.” Excerpt:
02-28-2014
The Rev. John C. Wester, bishop of the Salt Lake City Diocese, signed on to the ecumenical appeal with other notable faith leaders, including Leith Anderson, president of the National Association of Evangelicals; Jim Wallis, president and founder of the Sojourners social-justice group; and leading Catholic churchmen from Brooklyn, Chicago, Los Angeles, Miami, Atlanta and Washington, D.C.
02-28-2014
I'm taking a course this semester on Spirituality and Leadership. The course has just started but we've already heard a wonderful variety of voices. This week, our readings include an article by Lisa Sharon Harper, the director of mobilizing for Sojourners. I heard her speak a few years ago at an Interfaith Immigration breakfast in Seattle and was deeply inspired by her commitment to a lived faith that does justice. I just finished reading her chapter, "Singing the Creator's Song in a Strange Land," in the book Learning to Lead: Lessons in Leadership for People of Faith. I am challenged and inspired by this quote, which I in turn share with you in the latest installment of Theology Quotes on the blog.
02-28-2014
Peace and Conflict Transformation (PACT) at Anderson University welcomes Lisa Sharon Harper to campus on Thursday, Feb. 27. Harper is an author, activist, educator, and senior director of mobilizing for Sojourners.
02-28-2014
My friend Jonathan Merritt and Kirsten Powers co-penned a piece on the Daily Beast titled, “Conservative Christians Selectively Apply Biblical Teachings in the Same-Sex Marriage Debate.” Their essay, written in opposition to the Arizona legislation allowing companies to refuse service to same-sex couples on religious grounds, is fair and even-handed. In fact, if anything, it’s too safe.
Christian Piatt 02-27-2014
Close-up of hands, Diego Cervo / Shutterstock.com

Close-up of hands, Diego Cervo / Shutterstock.com

I get asked questions sometimes that I feel are useful for a larger audience to consider and discuss. One such question was submitted to me by a reader a while back, which echoes the sentiments within many other similar questions I’ve received. Here’s the essence at the heart of those questions.

What do I do if I’m not sure what I believe?

First of all, don’t freak out. Most of the book of Ecclesiastes in the Old Testament is about a priest suffering a crisis of faith. And though some argue it was more a fulfillment of prophecy (quoting a psalm) rather than a personal cry of distress, it’s hard not to feel Jesus’ own existential suffering when he cries out from the cross for a God who seems to be missing.

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