Friday, December 20, 2013

O Philipos

Philipos was a central character for awhile in my Classical Greek textbook in college.  He got into all kinds of trouble, mostly by shirking responsibility.  Many times, he was addressed with the vocative O Philipos.

I've spent the past couple of days thinking, "O Philipos" in response to Phil Robertson of Duck Dynasty fame's GQ article.  Facebook and Twitter are full of conversation, and my mind has been swirling a bit, so here are my thoughts.

Full disclosure: I've been a Duck Dynasty fan, and while not always appreciating some of the viewpoints expressed by the Robertson clan, I generally enjoy the show.

If I hear one more person use the term "free speech" inappropriately, I just might scream.  Free speech does not mean you get to say whatever the heck you want without facing any consequences. Free speech protects us from government censorship or jailing or various other government reactions.  Police are not breaking down the door of the Duck Commander factory.  Free speech for Phil Robertson is intact.  Free speech for A&E (now that corporations have free speech) is intact.

We shouldn't be shocked by the statements made by Phil Robertson.  He's expressing a very common viewpoint about homosexuality that is shared by many conservative/evangelical Christians across the United States.  My guess is that most people, especially church leaders, in his community interpret scripture to condemn homosexuality.  I'm not justifying that, or agreeing with it.  Anybody who has read this blog over the years knows that I get the most drive-by bloggers when I voice my support of marriage equality.  I'm just saying we shouldn't shocked.

I've grown so, so, so tired of the "attack on Christianity" schtick.  Why on earth wouldn't people be skeptical about and/or reject a Christianity that only gets really fired up when Christians in prominent positions face consequences for expressing prejudicial views?    Seriously, if the only righteous indignation the Christian community is known for is related to protecting the rights of "Bible believing Christians" to bash on LGBQ folks, there is something seriously wrong.  Christianity is fine. A&E will not bring the body of Christ in the world to its knees by suspending Phil Robertson.  Oy.

By the way, why isn't there more press about Phil's comments about the Jim Crow south?  That was ridiculous.

My final thoughts are really addressed to Phil Robertson and other folks who are given a chance to speak publicly about their faith.  O Philipos, do you really believe that homosexuality is the gravest of sins facing our world today?  What about the imbalance of wealth in our country and around the world?  What about the greed that leads to that imbalance?  What about our failure as a nation to care for "the least of these"?  What about increasing gun violence and no real efforts to curb it?    What about our failure to practice sabbath?  You didn't expect me to finish with that one, did you?  And yet, it pops up more than you might think in Deuteronomy.

OK, I've rambled on long enough.  As always, I welcome any feeback.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

It's been awhile

Within the past few weeks, I've had numerous people note that I haven't blogged in a long time.  "For seven years!" one person said.  It looks more like a few months, but definitely not much in the past couple of years.  Not to get too "meta" about it, but I appreciate my wife's question as to why it is I think I don't blog as much anymore.  Here are some stabs at answering that question:

  • Last year I was blogging more for the campus ministry at Vanderbilt and Belmont.  This year, that excuse has disappeared.
  • For a good bit of time after I left Harpeth Presbyterian Church, I was doing more personal journaling, and didn't have much energy left to reflect publicly on what was a painful time in my life.
  • Campus Ministry, even more than Youth Ministry (why I capitalized all that, I don't know), feels like an ongoing person-to-person blog most of the time.  I'm engaging in meaningful conversations every day with folks who are seeking to deepen their faith and/or understanding.  At the end of the day, I think I prefer to schedule that one more chat at a local coffee shop than compose a blog post that potentially nobody will read.
  • It's possible that I blogged more during times when I felt isolated or alone, and when I feel more connected to my fellow human beings, I feel less need to broadcast.
  • I preach every week now, so I think a good bit of my creative energy goes into that endeavor.
So, there are some brief thoughts as to why I haven't blogged much in the past couple of years. 

All of that being said, I think I have the thought, "Now that's a bloggable moment/topic/issue," two or three times a day.  It is my hope that in the new year, I will re-engage with this blog and with the UKIRK blog and invite folks to engage with me as well.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Inspiration at The Wild Goose Festival

That's right, folks, I am just back from four days of hanging out with other justice-oriented followers of Jesus at The Wild Goose Festival in Hot Springs, NC.  Among other highlights, I particularly enjoyed hearing from Nadia Bolz-Weber, Brian McLaren, Phyllis Tickle, and Vincent Harding.  As always, the speakers at such an event challenge me to think about "doing church" in new ways.  My hope is to post a few blog posts over the coming weeks in response to some of the talks I heard.

For now, I'd like to reflect a bit on a talk that my wife and I attended entitled The Worst of the Scriptures: Why We Should Read It and What We Can Learn From It.  The speaker was a woman by the name of Amy Yoder McGloughlin who did a wonderful job of addressing the many and varied issues found in the disturbing words of Judges 19-20.  She challenged us to consider why the church avoids such disturbing stories in worship and in educational settings, especially when stories in the news of the contemporary world sometimes parallel such atrocities.  Conversations like that one remind me to not spend so much time on the questions of "Did it happen?" but rather to ask "Does it happen?"  In the case of mob violence, rape, torture, retributive violence, the answer to all is, "Yes, it does happen."  While not taking any definitive stand, Amy at least invited those assembled to think seriously about texts in which violence (especially retributive violence) is chalked up to the command/desire/will of God, and to reject those who use such texts to justify their own violent behavior.

While the workshop didn't really go there, my wife and I left that small tent by the French Broad River feeling more sure than ever that the current Revised Common Lectionary needs serious attention.  While I know there is a movement afoot to add a fourth year, I somehow doubt that stories such as those found at the end of Judges made the cut for the fourth year.  If there is to be a churchwide emphasis on truth telling, it makes one wonder just how far to take a lectionarial revolution.