Friday, February 18, 2005

Speaking Out

  • Mode for Caleb, via Jesus Politics, has this to say about the death of Dorothy Stang, a American nun working for land reform in Brazil:

    If you asked me what I think Christian convictions entail, I would point you not to more propositions, but to people like Stang. Here's a Christian, I would say: A 73-year-old woman considered so dangerous that her death is required in order for the powers-that-be to continue business as usual. I'm aware that such an answer would immediately entitle you to doubt whether I am a Christian. But if Stang raises doubts about any claims I might make to be a Christian, that's precisely as it should be.


    A Christian does not exist apart from the practices that, over time, make a person more like people like Stang. To the extent that the practices in which I engage point me in any other direction, I'm not a Christian. To the extent that I engage in practices that do tend towards the possibility of a death like hers, I am. That doesn't mean that every Christian has to be shot in the Amazon to be a Christian, of course. But I think it means something terrifyingly close to that. For this is laying one's life down for friends -- not, as is usually thought, death suffered in the act of taking other lives, but the open-handed giving of one's own life.


    A person like Stang should at least act as a standing indictment against any of us who thinks that facing professional opprobrium or public ridicule for one's faith is anything like carrying a cross. A person like Stang should also be a standing indictment to American Christians who believe they are being persecuted by animated sponges, or Kwanza. Sometimes contemplating the number of things that democratic prosperity allows Christians to think of as crucifixion strikes me as an exercise in turning towards the absurd.



    And Movable Theoblogical chimes in:

    It reminds me of something Clarence Jordan used to say about "making a public profession of faith". He said, "It isn't when the organ is playing softly and you go up front and tell the preacher "I take Jesus as Lord". That isn't when you take him as Lord. It's when the crowd is shouting 'Kill him! Kill that damn Nig--r!', and you place your body between him and them and say "He's a man for whom Christ died!" that's when you're making a public profession of faith."


  • Maybe it's just us, but it seems like more people are starting to take seriously the idea that state and federal budgets reflect our society's moral priorities. There's an ecumenical group from Duluth weighing in on the Minnesota budget, the US Conference of Bishops is giving advice to Congress, and there's a bunch of statement's we're missing. Pretty radical concept, eh? Put your money where your mouth is.


  • They have peace groups too.


  • Apparently, the Board of Global Ministries, the missions group jointly operated by the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and the UCC is  considering a recommendation to their respective denominations that the churches divest themselves strategically to put economic pressure on Israel to withdraw from the Gaza strip. You can read the proposal here: http://www.globalministries.org/mee/leverage.pdf.


    The move is similar to a similar, hotly contested, decision made last year by the Presbyterian Church (USA). Not surprisingly, American Jewish groups are concerned, not least because they have had traditionally strong relationships with mainline denominations. Forward looks at the issue, as does Jewish Week, in a longer and surprisingly mild assessment of the UCC's intentions.

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