Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Can Protestant Evangelicalism Cowboy Up? Or will you remain silent because Camping isn't gay?

So...we allow the consecration of an openly gay bishop,and the Protestant Evangelical world condemns us as much as possible on media. But when a guy who (at least in theory)holds weight in the Protestant Evangelical world makes wild predictions which don't come true, and the Protestant Evangelical crew is largely silent.
Okay...what the hell?
Not only has this guy been proven to be wrong and a kook and largely wrong(!), but people lost their livelihoods. Not only that, but he apparently cannot produce the financial records for how much was spent in the ad campaign for this whole fiasco. I suppose that might mean he would have to pay it all back.
Well, I guess it's all over in October, though...
In the meantime Protestant Evangelicalism...whaddya say? Think you might develop the minerals to condemn this guy? If you do, I hope he remembers to wear Kevlar like Bp. +Robinson...

Monday, May 9, 2011

I plan to be drinking a glass of Kool-Aid on May 22nd

89 year-old Harold Camping, Christian radio Broadcaster for "Family Radio" has said that May 21st, 2011 will be the date of the "Rapture." Now, the rapture, as many people know is the belief that before the end of the world that faithful believers in Jesus Christ will be drawn mystically into the air leaving the rest to be subject to judgment. Now, contrary to popular belief, this is not a widely held Christian belief. In fact, in the grand scheme of things the concept of the rapture is relatively new in the christian scope, coming about sometime in the mid 1700s by (surprise!) Puritans. Most specifically Cotton Mather made famous not for his theological prowess, rather the Salem Witch trials...spurious, I think.
Anyway, I'll leave it up to others to do the homework. All the same the thing that pisses me off is less the issue that people will believe this and do stupid tings like quit jobs, quit buying groceries, or whatever. It's their own fault for not actually reading Scripture. What really pisses me off is that Protestant Evangelicalism allows idiot like Harold Camping to hang around. Not only hang around, but broadcast his stupidity to people who would buy into it. Even now, Family Radio has a big banner with tracts explaining the rationale and way by which they came to this conclusion. Again. Spurious.
So, how does family radio, and the people who support it allow someone who is obviously not sane hang around? It's not like this is the first time he's predicted this, and we're still here. I suppose a week or so after it doesn't happen again there will be some excuse and explanation about miscalculations, et cetera. Bollocks!
And, of course, once that happens, old Harold (if he continues to live beyond 89) will be considered simply the harmless crazy uncle who comes to family meals. But where is the recourse for his actions? Who is held accountable for his ridiculous rantings once reality comes and shows him to be a fraud? Probably no one within the tradition. I suppose it's just easier to support and promote things that are abominable rather than standing up for truth.
See ya all on May 22nd.

Third Sunday of Easter

In the Episcopal Church we look to the Baptismal Covenant as a way to articulate our faith. This is because on one hand it is largely creedal, so that in it we are recalled to the historical faith which we have received from the Church. But at the same time, the Baptismal covenant also draws in both Scripture and tradition to form a kind of rule of life for living into the Christian vocation.
One particular statement in the Covenant is one which I think we can get a lot of mileage out of—“Will you seek and serve Christ in all persons, loving your neighbor as yourself?”
Now, obviously this is a vow, because we immediately understand the difficulty in zeroing in on the presence of Christ in others. This is especially true for really difficult people. But this vow speaks directly to our belief that our faith is incarnational.
So, just as Jesus is the incarnation and embodiment of God, we as the Church are then called to incarnate and embody God’s redemptive love in Christ to the world.
What I think is interesting about our response to this calling is that most often we don’t easily find Christ in others. Instead, what we get is a pretty good reflection of who we are—especially with difficult people. Because depending on how honestly we live out our call to love our neighbor, we may find that Christ’s presence isn’t all that clear in us either…
But I think it is this mirror that humanity provides to us that (if we are paying attention) can call us back to faithful living. Not that we nail it every time, but that we are at least aware of who we are and who we represent.
All the same, somehow in the mystery of the Imago Dei—the Image of God that we claim—we find a more perfect picture of ourselves. At the same time, somewhere in-between the interactions we have with the “other,” we are also able to get a fuller picture of Jesus Christ.
In today’s Gospel reading, we find two disciples who I’m willing to bet were not expecting to meet Jesus. What we see, however is how they can’t stop talking about the news of his resurrection. Just in that instant, Jesus approaches them—perfect in his resurrected body, and perfect in his otherness. In response to their discussion, this “stranger” Jesus reveals all of the mysteries of the history of salvation beginning from Moses to his own resurrection. And while all of this makes sense to them, they still don’t recognize him.
The story ends, of course, with these disciples inviting Jesus in to share a meal. We can guess that they at least know him to be some kind of teacher, because he’s the one who offers the blessing. But it’s when Jesus breaks the bread that it all comes together—and the disciples immediately know who he is…
As disciples of Jesus today, we probably don’t believe that we’ll see the resurrected Christ on the road, either… But then maybe the lesson we’re meant to learn in our baptismal calling is how to not miss Christ in the stranger. And if we’re able to see Christ in the stranger, perhaps even the Christ in ourselves and in the breaking of the bread will be more fully revealed.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

"The Baffled King Composing Hallelujah"

In a not-too-ironic way I’ve been listening to the song “Hallelujah.”In this case I’m referring to the song written by Leonard Cohen. I suppose that his quiet, deep voice creates (perhaps) the perfect mood for the song. All the same, there are a number of different covers of the song. One particular version by Rufus Wainwright (the version from the movie Shrek) was noted as being “purifying and almost liturgical.” Other versions, which have at times had different lyrics from the original, all have their own particular qualities. This phenomena, Cohen offers, is because “there are many different hallelujahs…”
As I write this, I listen to some of these different versions of the song. Regardless of the version, I’m struck continually by the words: “It’s a cold and it’s a broken hallelujah.” Maybe it’s just clever phrasing, but the song smacks of honesty. Whether there is an almost joyful air, or a soulful dirge, there is no escaping the words: “it’s a cold and it’s a broken hallelujah.”
I think even in the midst of the Easter season, this may be a realistic cry of our hearts—one which isn’t afraid to encompass the brokenness and lack in our world. It’s the Hallelujah that breaks into the cold of a hospital room, and seems less incongruous in a hurting world. It’s a sound of praise that can be lifted by lips which mourn…but it is at the very same instant a hallelujah. And perhaps because of its honesty there is no question of its resounding praise.
Perhaps it’s an odd thing to be writing in such a somber way in the Easter Season…maybe this would have been better suited for Lent, but then I wouldn’t have been able to use the word “Hallelujah.” But at the same time, Eastertide is a time for Hallelujahs, “many different Hallelujahs.” Because from the broken to the bandaged-up Hallelujah is the song of the victorious—albeit the faulted and the hurting at the same time. It’s the song of those who would never deny Christ, but are troubled by doubting hearts. It’s the song for every condition of life, really…
So why write about broken hallelujahs in Easter? I do it because to make sense of any of the human condition, we look to Christ as the perfect victim. We look to him as the Resurrection and the Life and know that somehow in him everything will be redeemed somehow—even our sorrow—by his participating in it with us. In Christ we find solace from the storms of life, not by virtue of him being indestructible, rather because even in his resurrection he still bears the wounds of his ruination. He even holds those wounds gloriously out-stretched to welcome the prodding hands of our disbelief.
I also write in this way knowing that the mystery of our faith in Christ is far deeper and stronger than we sometimes realize. I think that we even forget that when our faith seems dim, we can trust that others will have faith for us. I think it’s because there are many different hallelujahs, and because of Christ’s love for us, even the cold and broken ones (the really earthy and honest ones) count most.