Monday, March 29, 2010

For the Season of Easter...Henri Nouwen's "In the Name of Jesus"


video

There is no voice better to help us hear clearly the the call of Jesus, and what the life of the disciple of the Crucified and Risen Christ looks like than Henri Nouwen.

His powerful little book, In the Name of Jesus, will be our guide, as well as the post resurrection conversation between Jesus and Peter, as recorded in the Gospel of John. Share with Lora Jean and me as we re-read this oft read book, and find new meaning for living faithfully during this upcoming season of Easter.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

"Come One, Come All to the Greatest Show On Earth" or "Glenn Beck Is an Idiot"

Wow.

I haven't even been on my blog in so long I forgot my login.

I wonder what that means?

Hmmm.

Anyoldway, I'm back at it. In the months since I last posted anything, much has happened.

Let me, in short order, address a few things.

First things first.

I don't watch Glenn Beck. Heck, until I came home from work one day and my father in law was at the house watching Fox News, I didn't even know that my TV would go to that channel... :)

I know and I love a lot of people who watch GOPTV, I mean, Fox News. That's fine, enjoy. You're certainly free to do that. I prefer to watch my fiction on other channels. Ain't America great!

I'm usually of the mind to ignore bombastic pomposity. But not this.

About Mr. Beck's recent comments on "social justice," the Church and the Gospel, anyone who honestly believes the drivel he has spewed about what is at the heart of the Christian mission and tending to the least of these, and feels compelled to leave any church that preaches it...see you later.

It matters not if you're right or left on the political or theological spectrum, his read of the Gospel is completely and utterly wrong.

It is not merely a matter of opinion. He's free to have one. But you know what opinions are like.

He is just plain wrong. I think he knows it, too. Truth is, I don't really care what he thinks. He's just one of many TV talking head blowhards who make their bones on keeping the pot stirred up. He is a 21st century carnival barker who is charismatic enough to convince you to come see the show, only to walk away later with your wallet a bit lighter and a bottle of snake oil in your hands.

My concern is for those who watch him and confuse commentary with fact.

Now, I am admittedly not on the right wing side of theological or political perspectives.

Never have been.

What is more inherently resonant in my spirit can best be described in the title of one of William Sloane Coffin's books, "The Heart is a Little to the Left."

But many of my friends and colleagues who are of that persuasion understand as do those of my friends and colleagues on the left that Matthew 25, Luke 4, Acts 2-4 (just for starters) are unequivocal about what matters to God, to Jesus and to any who would be so audacious as to admit that they are Companions of Christ.

In fact, it has been my experience as a pastor that it is such a clear understanding of this mission that best bridges the wide range of theological and political perspectives. There's something about being mandated by Jesus to tend to the least of these, or reading the Hebrew Prophets (Micah 6, anyone?), that serves as the common ground that brings the Church together.

I know of what I speak. I've served congregations that work at the conscious choice of successfully bridging the most conservative and liberal of people around the mandates of the Gospel.

I've lived through a couple of natural disasters in which the widest range of the Church rolled up their sleeves and worked together not for their own sake, but because they understood that this is what Christians do.

The only thing Christians are called to hold in common are the teachings and mandates of Jesus, each of which invariably ends up with love of God expressed through love of neighbor, especially the least among us. We can approach our lives and our politics from varying perspectives, to be sure, but in the end, it is the heart and mind of Christ that trumps all.

And when it doesn't--it's idolatry.

My experience tells me that right and left need each other. They'd never admit it, but surely it must be so.

When left to their own devices, there is no check and no balance. And when we loose our balance, it could be because we've contracted a case of spiritual vertigo.

Any with ears to hear, let them hear: to co-opt Beck's rhetoric and act upon it as if it's of Christ or for the Christian Church is blasphemy. I rarely use such language, but because Beck's disciples seem to follow every little word that comes out of his mouth, such people need to decide who is their Teacher on this one--

Jesus or Glenn.