St. Paul

Consultants Help Churches with the Business of Growth

Eagle Brook Church’s Lino Lakes campus is pictured here. Photo courtesy RNS/Eagle Brook Church

Each weekend, 18,000 people gather at one of Eagle Brook Church’s five locations outside St. Paul, Minn., to hear pastors preach family-friendly sermons on avoiding excuses and learning to forgive.

When it’s time to ask for donations, Executive Pastor Scott Anderson said he’s careful to ask only when God deems it necessary.

In recent years, it’s been necessary a lot.

Leading Toward Freedom

Freedom concept,  Pan Xunbin / Shutterstock.com
Freedom concept, Pan Xunbin / Shutterstock.com

Tomorrow, millions of people across this land, will be celebrating our nation’s freedom. Many will be marking Independence Day by going to see the fireworks, watching Fourth of July parades, or just having a barbecue and enjoying time together with their family or friends.

One of the things I began doing a few years ago on the Fourth of July was to call a very special person in my life and in the life of my family. His name is Paul Anderson. Had it not been for Paul and his family, my family and I would not have been able to emigrate in 1987 from Poland to the United States. So on every July 4, I call Paul and thank him for helping me and my family arrive safely and settle in this country.

I tell him that he’s had an important part to play in so many good things I’ve experienced over the past 26 years that I’ve been living here — including discerning a Franciscan vocation and becoming a friar.

Sermon on Losing Your Life and How Jesus Isn’t Your Magical Puppy

Image by Kelly Richardson /Shutterstock.com
Image by Kelly Richardson /Shutterstock.com

Dear HFASS,

How are you? I am fine.

Actually that’s not true.

See, I wrote another sermon this week. A real one. I worked on it all week. And then yesterday afternoon I threw it away and just wrote you this letter instead. Because I realized that in my sermon I was trying really hard to convince you of something.

Lost in Translation: Eugene Peterson and His 'Message'

Eugene Peterson. Photo by Cathleen Falsani/Sojourners.
Eugene Peterson at the Q Practices gathering in NYC this week. Photo by Cathleen Falsani/Sojourners.

Eugene Peterson has written more than 30 books on theology and the life of faith in his 80 years, but he is perhaps best known for the one book he didn’t write: The Bible.

Peterson’s “para-translation” of the Bible, The Message: The Bible in Contemporary Language, was published over a span of nine years, from 1993 to 2002. And even a decade after its completion, critics still are debating the merits and missteps of his translation of Holy Writ into idiomatic, sometimes colloquial, modern English.  To date there are more than 15 million copies of The Message in print.

During the two-day Q Practices gathering in New York City this week, Peterson talked about the epic translation project he says he still can’t believe he actually managed to complete.

“I didn’t feel it was anything special when I was doing it,” Peterson said. “I can’t believe I did this. Reading it now I think, ‘How did I do this?’ It truly was a work of the Holy Spirit.”

News: Quick Links

Baby steppin': Economy grew 2.5 percent in the third quarter. Democrats first offer: $3 trillion for debt. Immigration is a faith issue. Harsh rhetoric to derail the GOP? The canon of St. Paul's Cathedral in London resigns over plans to evict Occupy London protesters. Elizabeth Warren and the #OccupyWallStreet election test.

Deconstructing Harry: Is Jim Wallis' Ideology Really "the Doctrine of Devils"?

devil drawingFrom Jim Wallis:

My friend, Harry Jackson, said that my ideology isn't "Christian" but I suspect what he really means is that it isn't Republican and that's why he disagrees with the things I have said. It's important for Christians to understand those aren't the same thing. I think Bishop Jackson's economic ideology that is indistinguishable from Republican and Tea Party talking points, but I would rather have a civil discussion together as Christians about our differences; rather than his accusing Christians who don't share his conservative economic opinions as coming from "the councils of Hell." C'mon, Harry. I believe the Bible's teachings on wealth and poverty challenge both Republican and Democratic economic views which, sadly, are both often sold out to the interests of the wealthy and large corporations, when they should be focused on the ones Jesus calls "the least of these." Can we discuss that Harry?

Stranger in a Strange Land

In April 2011, producers at PBS' documentary news show Frontline requested an interview with me in my capacity as a former U.S. Army intelligence analyst. They were filming a special called "WikiSecrets" about alleged whistleblower Bradley Manning, Army intelligence culture, and WikiLeaks. At more than one point in the process, PBS producers asked if I was absolutely sure I was ready to share information that the Pentagon had repeatedly warned me not to talk about. Was I ready to risk jail for appearing to violate the Army nondisclosure agreement that all soldiers sign?

There are very few analysts -- current or former -- who are willing to speak openly about their experiences in Iraq, according to the Frontline representatives. To defend Manning and tell the truth about the military culture of corruption, I had to dig pretty deep and be willing to risk a charge of violating the nondisclosure agreement. But this is something I did deliberately, out of conscience. According to my lawyer, I could get 10 years in federal prison just for talking about my experiences.

To the news media, those who are privileged insiders in military intelligence are valuable resources; to those in political power, the threat of transparency makes us a liability. Translators and military intelligence specialists are traumatized in unique way. While doing some of the dirtiest work in the "global war on terror," we are coerced into morally and ethically dangerous situations and intimidated into silence.

The untold story is that the U.S. military intelligence community is rife with trauma that few outsiders understand, a suffering kept secret by the authorities in part because of its fundamentally transformative power.

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July 2011 Sojourners
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