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What we might unintentionally say when we gather

By on Apr 18, 2014 in The World Together | 0 comments

Over the course of the last few years, I have been a part of more conversations than I care to admit and/or remember about Christian conferences, gatherings, conventions, etc. and why they lack diversity. Sometimes these conversations have been proactive, with planners wondering from the beginning whether or not they are asking the right questions, whether or not their planning committee is representative of the voices they are hoping to see represented and what might contribute to making a space unsafe for some people. But more often than not...

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Evaluating the theology of Hauerwas

By on Apr 17, 2014 in The World Together | 0 comments

Evaluating the theology of Hauerwas

In 2001 Time magazine named Stanley Hauerwas, recently retired professor at Duke Divinity School, America’s Best Theologian. But Nicholas M. Healy, in his new book Hauerwas: A (Very) Critical Introduction, questions whether Hauerwas’ theology is sufficient to prop up Hauerwas’ ethics. The book is published in Conor Cunningham’s Interventions series and this book will become not only the first but an enduring evaluation of the work of Hauerwas. In spite of his protestations, Healy could well have interacted with Hauerwas for his major...

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You don’t know what it’s like

By on Apr 16, 2014 in The World Together | 0 comments

One day, three conversations. 1. I’m at a function where my job is to give a short devotional and prayer before the meal. Pastor-y stuff. I’m trying to be witty, disarming, light. I make some throwaway comment about how I know we’re all hungry and that the soup smells good, but please won’t you just spare five minutes or so for the presence to descend? I do my thing. Appreciative smiles, all around. Let’s eat. I wander around the room, hungry for praise, when a woman approaches me. I smile warmly, preparing myself for the inevitable,...

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If you want to be subversive follow Jesus through Holy Week

By on Apr 15, 2014 in The World Together | 0 comments

It’s Holy week and Jesus’ journey towards the cross has begun. Many of us have already processed around the church on Palm Sunday, and bought our Easter eggs and hot crossed buns, diverting our attention from the real meaning of Easter to its commercialized version. How many of us are sucked in? What is the focus of your thoughts as we head through Holy week — is it on the life, death and resurrection of Christ or is it on the upcoming Easter egg hunt and whether it will be warm enough to wear your new spring outfit? Most of us know...

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Unbind him and let him go

By on Apr 14, 2014 in The World Together | 0 comments

It’s good to be in the light, to be out in the open. But there is a bit of comfort to being in darkness, in the tomb like Lazarus. Because in the tomb, you know the landscape. You know the grooves and folds of the rocks, you can pace the space, and know its size and depth. In the tomb, you know what is there — darkness and silence and cold stone. And you are held tightly in your pain, sadness and grief. There is some comfort in the darkness and in the confinement. It’s just you and your hurt and sadness there in that tomb. But Jesus had...

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A call for an ecumenical Mennonite denomination

By on Apr 11, 2014 in The World Together | 6 comments

I’m wondering if Mennonite Church USA can reframe our current anxiety over issues of sexuality into an ecumenical dialogue and partnership. Can we focus on points of convergence instead of one issue of divergence? We have the model of partnering together since 1920 in the mission and service of Mennonite Central Committee. When I was on staff in the early 1980s we would say that MCC was the one thing all Amish and Mennonites did together along with Mennonite Disaster Service. Relief, service, peace and justice were the building blocks of...

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Divine child abuse?

By on Apr 10, 2014 in The World Together | 0 comments

This is an excerpt of the sermon Harader preached on John 19:31-37 on April 6. Read the sermon in its entirety here. I attended a discussion recently with Mennonite theologian J. Denny Weaver. He wrote The Nonviolent Atonement, and said during the discussion that there are all kinds of problems with a god who would require the torture and death of his child. He would agree with feminist and womanist theologians who term this traditional theory (since Anselm in the 11th century) “divine child abuse.” So my friend Joshua Paul Smith asked...

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Graham’s almost agreement with nonresistance

By on Apr 9, 2014 in The World Together | 1 comment

Graham’s almost agreement with nonresistance

A seminal event in Anabaptist history happened when, in 1961 dialogue began between Mennonite and Brethren in Christ leaders and Billy Graham — at the time, one of America’s most famous figures and undoubtedly the “face” of popular American evangelicalism. The dialogue happened on Aug. 20, 1961, in Philadelphia. Those familiar with Mennonite history will recognize some of the denominational leaders who participated in the event, including John C. Wenger and Elmer Neufeld. Bishop, peace advocate and Messiah College president C. N....

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My interview with NPR’s John Burnett

By on Apr 8, 2014 in The World Together | 0 comments

I first got to know NPR correspondent John Burnett when he was in Portland doing a story about beer and theology. He was featuring the Beer and Hymns event that we do monthly at First Christian Church in Portland. This time around John has a two-part exposé on evangelical churches in the United States, and in particular, a few of them who have media empires that seem to be immune to the investigations and accountability that so many individuals and organizations in the United States have to the Internal Revenue Service and to the...

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The church: What is or what could be?

By on Apr 7, 2014 in The World Together | 0 comments

Do you love the church for what it could be or what it is? If the former, I suggest you read Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s magisterial little book, Life Together. It is, so I think, his best book. No need, however, to debate what is neither provable nor non-falsifiable — what one thinks is his best book another will not. What is worth discussing is his incredible set of statements about the expectations we bring to the church and that we expect of the church and how our expectations, when they encounter the realities, are dashed to the...

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