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Leadership as spiritual direction

By on Sep 23, 2014 in The World Together | 0 comments

Leadership as spiritual direction

A couple of years ago I was interviewed by a master of divinity student for her class on leadership. I told her that for me leadership was not a position of privilege or of prestige but rather one of discernment and encouragement. I said that I felt the prime function of a Christian leader is to enable others to become all that God intends them to be. I talked to her about our intentional community’s use of the Quaker discernment process and the group decision-making structure we have set up to encourage cooperation and mutual support...

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Acting like a state: ISIS, the U.S. and Jesus as Lord

By on Sep 22, 2014 in The World Together | 2 comments

Like most Americans, I’m horrified by each new story I read about ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham). A friend who works in the region wrote weeks ago to tell me ISIS had taken Rutba, the Iraqi town that showed us radical hospitality when we were there in 2003. I closed my eyes and whispered, “Lord, have mercy.” I have Western friends who were taken hostage before ISIS and made it out alive. I ache for the families and friends of Jim Foley and Stephen Sotloff. But I find myself dwelling more these days on the Iraqis who have no...

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A #BringBackOurGirls confession

By on Sep 19, 2014 in The World Together | 1 comment

A #BringBackOurGirls confession

I am going to trust you with the truth. I wish we could sit down, you and I, with two cups of coffee and a brownie split between us. I want to look hard, unflinchingly into your eyes, breathe deeply, and confess to you this ugly thing that I have seen in myself. You heard about it too, of course: 275 Nigerian girls ripped away from their families, kidnapped in the middle of a school day. Disappearing into a tangled jungle until terrified screams faded into deafening silence. I sat glued to my computer that day, frozen in horror as I read....

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“Cute” kids in church

By on Sep 18, 2014 in The World Together | 2 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 | 1 comment

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 | 4 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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