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Showing posts from March, 2017

Virgin Gospel Distractions

For some reason, we like distractions, red herrings, and avoiding the deeper issues of life and the gospel of Jesus. It is just so much easier for us to focus on things that don't matter and thus avoid those that call for us to live very differently than we do.Throughout the history of Christianity and Judaism, we have seen plenty of theological red herrings which did little more than prop up power structures and distance people from finding God's will for their lives. We have seen Greek pagan theology provide the basis for so many constructions of hell and the afterlife through the influence of poets like Dante. We have seen the Church promote Crusades for wealth and power under the guise of rescuing the Holy Land from infidels. We have seen the Spanish Inquisition force people to confess accepted beliefs at the point of a sword. We have seen claims of the Bible propping up slavery in order to keep it from interfering with the profit motives of slave holders.Perhaps the most …

Then Came the Water

Writing Assignment Teacher says I must write a story. I know you are shocked that a girl would be able to write, since most of us never go to school to learn such things. It’s still somewhat difficult, as writing is still a new experience for me. My name is Mesi, and I have been in school since the water came. For a longtime, I had trouble putting all the letters and words together, but I am so happy to do it now. Writing a story means I must use real paper and a real pencil. I had never even seen such things until the water came. I never expected to have the chance to use something so precious as a pencil and paper. I still practice all my writing in the dirt with a stick before using the pencil. That way I don’t make so many mistakes, and waste the paper. I may be 14 years old and almost grown up, but it was only four years ago that I began going to school. It’s so wonderful to be able to come to learn at school. There are even hand-washing stations and a real latrine here! All we m…

Job Defines Righteousness Economically

"I have never cheated widows or others in need..." -- Job 31:16-34  Righteousness is a word we know pretty well. We have heard it applied to issues of morality, theology, and legal standing. We have likely heard righteousness applied to questions of correct belief, living in God's forgiveness, and enjoying God's favor. We hear of righteousness in Paul's writings related to questions of faith. In the Bible, however, righteousness has far broader meanings that relate to how we treat others than might be apparent after listening in on the majority of our Bible studies, worship services, and even seminary classes. One major theme in the Bible in regard to righteousness has to do with economic issues. For a society with a history of colonialism tied to Christianity, this is not a theme that has often been picked up. When the church has a cozy relationship with legal structures, economic structures, and the interests of the wealthy, it is not a simple thing to dig int…

Unto Caesar and Unto God

It is all too easy to confuse politics and faith. It is all too easy to allow one to influence the other without noting the separation or which is calling the shots. In the aftermath, we look at the results of our preaching, teaching, and voting and are not exactly sure whom or what to blame. For believers in Jesus Christ, we are supposedly following Jesus and Jesus' teachings. Unfortunately, we often do nothing of the kind. Without our even recognizing it, we often fall into the trap of allowing faith to be a euphemism for belonging to a religious club. We surround ourselves with religious phrases and icons but never really allow the actual teachings of Jesus to make an impact on our lives. You see, Jesus calls us to things that are difficult to accomplish, even when we want to do so. He calls us to love our enemies. He calls us to visit the imprisoned. He calls us to befriend sinners. He calls us to forgive those who would hurt us, even when they respond by hurting us the same …

Growing Past Ideology

I'm thinking that beyond the issue of ideology making it difficult for us to process information contrary to our accepted beliefs, there is a lot of pressure within Evangelical circles to conform. If you do not fit the mold, you do not belong is a common message and motif. This kind of thinking an message makes it difficult for people to assess new information. Pressure to conform to the official or popular message all too easily becomes the defining basis of belonging to the community. Either one accepts the established norms, leaves, or remains silent in their disagreement in order to stay within the circle of faith. I have seen this pressure keep clergy from speaking out in fear of losing their positions. I have seen church members leave believing that they were not accepted or valued. I have seen individuals shamed and cast away for daring to question what others took for granted. In the SBC, Fundamentalists used ostracism and defamation to attack seminary professors, pastors…

Hebrew Scriptural Economics

Writing a book is a learning experience. At least in my case, it is more of a learning experience for the author than for the readers. Part of that is simply that the limits of a book do not lend to incorporating many discoveries that lie beyond the scope of the book. I began writing on the economic teachings of the Hebrew Scriptures by doing searches for various terms, but soon realized that I would need to read the text verse by verse to pick up on other economic themes that were not expressed in terms of gold, money, poverty, and wealth. Economics is about more than our forms of money. It includes the creation of and distribution of wealth. In my study, I soon saw that the consistent comments against the fertility cults in and around Israel were about more than competing deities. They were likewise about the economic practices and attitudes that informed these cults. The reason the people participated in the fertility cults was in order to gain control over the agricultural and an…