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“Cute” kids in church

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

“Cute” kids in church

A few weeks ago our children created a banner during worship to represent the part of the Lord’s prayer that says “thy kingdom come, thy will be done.” I asked them to draw the kinds of things that they thought were in the kingdom of God. I then cut out what they drew and made a kingdom of God on the banner, a banner which is in display in our sanctuary. My daughter’s drawing gave me pause. It looked like she had drawn a giant person’s head with two long arms. On each arm was a person. One was black and the other was white. As I...

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Is it time to remove the flag from the church sanctuary?

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

Is it time to remove the flag from the church sanctuary?

If one were to walk into a church in the United States, it’s far more likely than not that somewhere on the stage in the sanctuary, there will be a U.S. flag. This tradition is one that spans across a wide variety of faith traditions, from Catholic to Evangelical, mainline, etc., and is not limited to a certain group of people. The practice of displaying an American flag in church sanctuaries seems to be widespread and for the most part, completely unchallenged by the average church member. As one who studies the intersection of faith and...

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Wiping the blood away

By on Sep 16, 2014 in The World Together | 2 comments

Wiping the blood away

I was taking Kristi to the grocery store as I do from time to time. Kristi is blind and in a wheelchair and she suffers from some cognitive disabilities. Kristi is a friend from church who I visit at her assisted living facility, often taking her shopping when she needs something. Usually, shopping with Kristi is fun and relaxing. But this time things got stressful. I’d just helped Kristi get out of the car and seated in her wheelchair. Kristi grabbed the car door and tried to shut it but pinched her finger in the door. She showed her...

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Leaving fear behind

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

What is it about Sept. 11 that keeps us from forgetting just exactly what we were wearing and what we were doing when we heard the news? My wife and I discussed the question. In her infinite wisdom, she responded with: “Fear.” I’ve thought about it, and I think she’s right. You were told to be afraid. You were told that your life, this country, and in some sense the godly values guiding us were somehow in danger. If we don’t respond, nobody will, and before you know it, we’re all either dead or living in an occupied country. The...

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Just wait

By on Sep 12, 2014 in The World Together | 0 comments

Just wait

“Just wait a few more generations. Soon all the old people will be gone.” “My children’s generation is so much more diverse. They’ll be better at this.” “The bigotry will end as the generations move further from history.” These are statements I hear pretty regularly after discussing racial injustice. They are followed with stories about how much more diverse suburban classrooms have become, or how much diversity was present at a child’s birthday party. Proud parents and grandparents are...

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What would Jesus earn?

By on Sep 11, 2014 in The World Together | 3 comments

What would Jesus earn?

In her August 2014 Sojourners article “The Rich Get Richer,” Julie Polter notes that “95  percent of all economic gains in the U.S. since the Great Recession went to the top 1 percent,” and asks, “What does our growing wealth inequality mean for the future of democracy?” We need to be asking similar questions about what kinds of wage disparities are acceptable within faith-based institutions. What does increased wealth inequity within church-related agencies mean for the future of Christian nonprofits? Thankfully, the pay gap...

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Thought we were special

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

Thought we were special

Last month Jamie and I renewed our adoption home study. The home study is the standard process through which a social worker evaluates our fitness to be adoptive parents. She teaches us about adoption. She checks on our psychological and physical health. She runs all the background checks. We talk about family history and family systems and parenting styles. We meet with her together. We meet with her separately. She comes to our house and meets our cat. She looks at all of our income and collects reference letters from our bosses. She writes...

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Embracing difference and green chili

By on Sep 9, 2014 in The World Together | 2 comments

Embracing difference and green chili

It has been almost 20 years since I made a significant career and life change. Back in 1994 I was pastoring in a church where almost everyone looked, thought, and believed like me. In many ways this made being a pastor “easy.” For the most part my convictions and stereotypes were identical to the people in my church. We knew which political party to vote for, where to go for lunch, what neighborhoods to live in, and the best school district for our children. We all agreed about right and wrong and had a common understanding of what a...

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Loving enemies in the day of ISIS

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

Loving enemies in the day of ISIS

The following excerpt from Myth of a Christian Religion discusses Jesus’ command to “turn the other cheek.” Whatever our response to the persecution of Christians in the world, we must take this passage seriously. While this excerpt does not tell us exactly how to respond, it can be used to shape our attitude and stance toward terrorism and persecution. Jesus said, “You have heard it was said, ‘Eye for an eye, and tooth for tooth.’ But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to...

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Movie review: Calvary

By on Sep 5, 2014 in The World Together | 0 comments

Movie review: Calvary

After a slow start, 2014 is turning into the best year of the century for independent filmmaking, with film after film leaving me saying Wow! Calvary is a brilliant little Irish film written and directed by John Michael McDonagh (whose only other film is 2011‘s The Guard). I’ve seen Calvary advertised as a thriller and as a dark comedy (similar to The Guard), but Calvary is pure drama at its finest (though it is certainly a dark film, and does have many funny moments and a scene of extreme violence). Calvary stars Brendan Gleeson, in a...

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