The Bible

EXCERPT from “Chosen: biblical texts, group identity and peacemaking.”

Convo talk for Bethel College (Kansas) November 13, 2006 by Rich Meyer

[Rich sent this to me, and not having time to post it himself, I am posting it for him. Here’s a few quotes to whet your appetite:]

Part of my concern here is with how we process the diversity of voices within the canon – this collection of books that we today call “The Bible,” (singular) as if it were one book. In Greek, Ta Biblia is plural, it means “the books.” What we call “the Old Testament” (singular, again) Jews call “the Law, the Prophets and the Writings.” Names are important, how we name things carries a lot of freight. We all know that the Bible is a collection, a library, and includes a number of voices, voices often engaged in debate. I think it would help our understanding if our vocabulary gave us that picture. Instead we’ve got it all wrapped up in a leather cover.

I think we have wanted to stop short of talking openly and honestly within the church about the implications of this diversity of voices, and what it means if we want to study with intent to get direction. Because that requires us to commit, to weigh in on the Bible’s internal debates. Failing this, we are stuck defending some really damaging racism and sexism, just because it is between leather covers. Rabbi Michael Lerner names it thus: he says that we have, in the Torah, the voice of God, and the voice of accumulated pain and hurt.

[The full lecture, after the jump.] (more…)

The End of the World

This is something I just wrote on my blog. I may be preaching to the choir here, but I am in the learning stages. Cut me some slack. I would like to hear feedback on this, whether it be misguided or right on. This is how I am beginning to understand scripture.

I always grew up believing that the world was going to end one day. Jesus is going to come back and lay utter waste to this world and everything in it. I have been challenged to examine why i believe that, and what that means for us as followers of Christ. Let’s look at some of the scripture i am wrestling with.

Romans 8: 19-21
“The creation waits in eager expectation for the children of God to be revealed. For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage of decay and brought into the freedom and glory of the children of God.” (more…)

Resurrection Day

[Resurrection Icon]

O Death, where is thy sting? O Hell, where is thy victory?

Christ is risen, and thou art overthrown! Christ is risen, and the demons are fallen! Christ is risen, and the angels rejoice! Christ is risen, and life reigns! Christ is risen, and not one dead remains in the grave. For Christ, being risen from the dead, is become the first-fruits of those who have fallen asleep.

To Him be glory and dominion unto ages of ages.

Amen.

Sin and Oppression (part 2)

Does the Jewish tradition include the concept of sin? If they did, wasn’t it was relating to following the law (order of the religious establishment) in order to please God? So, Jesus, who in my understanding did a lot of anti-oppression work, was a big sinner, right? Sunday in church, someone mentioned again that Jesus was perfect.

Jesus disobeyed most of the ways to be a man in society, as a Rabbi he called disciples in an unconventional ways, and he behaved in ways towards women, the unclean and marginalized, in ways that got him rebuked by the keepers of the law. When I follow Jesus, I am led to do anti-oppression work. I am lead to be with the marginalized of this society, and behave differently as a woman than society has dictated. This will cause me to sin against some of the institutional laws of the religious establishment, right? For example, it could cause me to go against what my parents have told me. It could go against general church regulations against homosexuality, women preaching and teachings about reproductive rights. (more…)

Christian Peace Witness raises more questions than I had before

Yes, I call myself a pacifist. And yes, I went with a group from my area as a reporter on the Christian Peace Witness. If alarm bells are ringing in your head about my capacity to be objective, you’re not the only one.

Here’s why I thought I could do it: While overall I oppose war and violence, I have a lot of questions and issues with the war in Iraq. The CPW was a response to that war specifically, not a call to disband the U.S. military or whatever. The more I learn about Iraq, the more I realize it’s an intensely complex situation that has no easy answers. I don’t pretend to know what should be done there. Not to mention I didn’t seek out the CPW—it came to me when the local trip coordinator contacted my editor to see if we’d do a story. I looked at the info and realized it would be a much better story if I went with them. My editors know our readers eat it up when local people do interesting things, so I ended up doing a front-page package deal of three stories and lots of photos for Sunday’s paper. (more…)

Introduction, and an offer (or request)

Hi,

My name is Will Fitzgerald, and I am not very young (anyone with an AARP card is clearly past prime), so I won’t post beyond this one time. But I’m Mennonite enough, and maybe just radical enough, to have enjoyed YAR for a while.

Recently, my wife and I, our daughter (14, definitely a YA, and we’re working on her R’ness) and another person started a house church in Kalamazoo, Michigan, associated with the Mennonite Church, although we are by no means a typical ‘church plant.’ You can read a bit about our church at kmenno.org. It’s not unreasonable to think of this as an ’emerging church.’

I’ve also been writing, as a spiritual discipline, a short online commentary on the Third Way daily Sip of Scripture for about a year. Soon, though (around the end of the month) I’m going to move from writing this daily to less often–maybe once or twice a week. The site is called “a simple desire,” and I’m co-writing it currently with John Thomas, from Maine. A third person, Carole Boshart, from Washington state, will be joining us at the end of the month.
(more…)

Split Youth in the Southern Cone

Bouncing directly from Angie’s latest post… always got to give a shout-out to Dorothy! But Last week the passion for exclusion came not from the institution, but from the people themselves, YOUNG people, and a student in seminary…

At the Southern Cone Mennonite Anabaptist meetings in Uruguay last week, there was a large division among the Chilean, Argentinean, Paraguan and Uruguayan youth about what was important about church and our lives as Christians. After a large time of dialogue together as young people, a small group of youth got together and wrote a letter (which was read in front of the whole assembly) about the fact that they were worried about a few themes (of the many that were mentioned in the youth meeting and throughout the conference). They took an anti-dialogue stance towards the mention of issues such as homosexuality, abortion, sex before marriage, and referring to God as Mother and Father/inclusive language. In the letter they invited everyone to do further study of the bible so that it is clear that all these practices are sin and they condemned anyone who practices or teaches these things. (more…)

Things we don’t say

I’ve been thinking about things we think but don’t say because we’re still afraid to challenge some parts of the status quo publically and out loud. By “we,” I mean people in general but especially those of us of a more progressive or even radical persuasion. I feel there is a certain amount of self-censorship among us because sometimes if we said what we really think, it might prove all of conservative’s worst fears about us. It may also be that we don’t feel like getting into a big annoying discussion that will really just go around in circles and would be easier to not have. Have you ever tried to explain your faith or politics to someone in your second or third language? It gets confused and difficult and it is easier to talk about the weather because that is what they taught us in high school language class. That is what it seems like to me. (more…)

Bible verse of the day

From Ezekiel 16:49-50 (NRSV)

“This was the guilt of your sister Sodom: she and her daughters had pride, excess of food, and prosperous ease, but did not aid the poor and needy. They were haughty, and did abominable things before me; therefore I removed them when I saw it” (emphasis added).

Dr. Dobson Makes New Hamartiological Breakthrough!

Dr. Dobson of Focus on the Family has made a new breakthrough in Hamartiology that I just had to share with you:

“Culture bends and sways with the outcome of elections,” he said. “If you can find a politician who understands the institution of the family, … who understands that we are at war with those who want to destroy us utterly, who understands that liberal judges … need to be reined in, and if you can find a politician who lives by a strong moral code and believes in Jesus Christ, God’s only begotten son, … it would be a sin not to vote for him.” (Star Tribue)

That’s right, ladies and gentlemen, it is now officially a sin to vote for a anti-war candidate. Jesus couldn’t have said it better himself.

This reminds me of when I was a kid and had a subscription to Club House (and later Breakaway magazine). And I was a devoted listener of Adventures in Odyssey and Mr. Whittaker (featured above) back in the 80’s. Its wierd to try to reconcile the warm and nostalgic memories I have of that show with the outrage I now feel at quotes like these from Dr. Dobson. Anyone else out there who finds themselves robbed of their childhood icons?