Thursday, August 30, 2012

My career as a telephone operator, Christianity and Condoleezza Rice

I have revised the wording in this posting. [1]

I was a telephone operator a very long time ago, when operators sat in front of a large board with lights and plugged into a place below the lights before they said “Operator.” And yes, this is about me, but also about Christianity, politics and intelligence. I will be meandering a bit. I have been watching the Republican convention and watching any political convention brings back all kinds of memories, because I was an operator during John Kennedy’s campaign and election.

The night of the election I worked graveyard shift, something I liked doing because it was slow and a supervisor wasn’t always plugged into the board to see how we were doing. A man answered my “Operator” with, “I’m a Catholic and I voted for Kennedy, will you still take my call?” Laughing, I said I wasn’t sure—but then of course I did. There had been an earlier time, in the daytime, during the campaign when I took another interesting call. It was Frank Sinatra calling John Kennedy. (Remember this was in Sacramento.) I whispered to the two operators on either side of me who was calling who.

Now you need to know that it was possible to listen to the call if you wanted to risk a $10, 000 fine and jail. As a Christian and a non-risk taker I wasn’t about to listen in. But the operators on each side of me did. All they said afterwards was, “I thought we lived in a democracy.” Now that will feed a lot of conspiracy theories, something I totally despise. And there were other calls of interest, one I created myself.

One lazy Sunday afternoon, working after going to church, I plugged into a light and instead of saying “Operator,” I said, “Jesus.” The poor customer thought I was cursing at her. I had to explain very quickly that I had been thinking about the sermon at church that morning and because of it thinking about Jesus. She was very relieved, but this brings me to Christianity, the convention and yes Condoleezza Rice.

I am a Democrat who usually, anymore, votes Republican because I am very pro life and against the redefinition of marriage. And I have to say that after listening to most of the speeches at the convention, I thought that too many of them were not as detailed and as positive toward the future as they should have been.They could only say what Obama was doing wrong without any words about what would solve the problems. And some of their words of criticism were generally said in a joking manner and without any real content. Foreign policy was never touched on, including trade agreements with other nations. And except for Rice, not until the last night would our educational problems be explored.

 However, Rice’s speech was over the top with proper form, intelligence and wisdom. And she ended with a description of her childhood in the South as an African American, which included not being allowed to sit at the Woolworth’s lunch counters, yet having parents who dreamed large dreams for her. And this leads me to the Presbyterian part of my posting.

Rice is a Presbyterian. She also, as most people know, was the Secretary of State as well as a professor of political Science at Stanford University. As I listened to her speech my absolute disbelief returned. About what? That both the Presbyterian Women and the Advocacy Committee for Women’s Concerns pretends that she doesn’t exist. If they make lists of Presbyterian women who have accomplished a great deal with their lives and vocations, her name is always missing. If they publish issues of Horizons which cover subjects she could address, her name is always missing. In fact the last Horizons was on war and peace and two service men had articles in the magazine, but not Rice.

So why is such an accomplished woman ignored by the official women’s groups in the PCUSA? The answer is, although we are supposedly a diverse denomination, we are not really diverse when it comes to ideology, conservatism or orthodox theology. We are intolerant of women and African Americans when they disagree with “our” political and theological views. Condoleezza Rice, despite the fact that she is a woman and African American, is still not allowed to sit at the lunch counter of the women’s organizations in the PCUSA.

While I don't agree with all that Rice states, I nevertheless think her speech is worth listening too if for no other reason than the fact that she is a Presbyterian woman who has accomplished much.

[1] I apologize for using the word stupid or calling the speeches stupid. There are better ways of explaining my thoughts.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

A California bill and religious liberty

"But I hold on to the cross with all my strength--one must cling to it like a kitten hanging on to a plank when it falls into the sea." The Wreath, Sigrid Undset

The Sacramento Bee has published an article, “Sacramento bill would ban gay teen ‘conversion’ therapy,” which states:
State lawmakers have approved a bill that would establish a first-of-its-kind ban on a controversial form of psychotherapy aimed at making gay teenagers straight.

The California Assembly on Tuesday approved the high-profile bill on a 52-22 vote after a heated debate, with many Republicans opposed. The bill returns to the Senate for a final vote.
The bill which is SB1172 goes to the Senate next. Within the bill is this stipulation:
865.2. Any sexual orientation change efforts attempted on a patient under 18 years of age by a mental health provider shall be considered unprofessional conduct and shall subject a mental health provider to discipline by the licensing entity for that mental health provider.
There are definitions of ‘conversion therapy—they can be found as a list of analyses with the latest listed on the 28th of August, under08/28/12- Senate Floor AnalysesThe definition of conversion therapy as it is aimed at mental health providers’ states:
Sexual Orientation Change Therapy, sometimes called reparative therapy, conversion therapy, or reorientation therapy, is an attempt to change the sexual orientation of a person from homosexual or bisexual to heterosexual. According to the APA conversion therapy is a type of psychiatric treatment “based upon the assumption that homosexuality is a mental disorder or based upon the a priori assumption that a patient should change his/her homosexual orientation.”
But there is an additional definition:
Others, particularly conservative Christian transformational ministries, use the term conversion therapy to refer to the utilization of prayer, religious conversion, individual and group counseling to change a person’s sexual orientation.
The analysis does not state that prayer, religious conversion, or individual and group counseling are different or outside the parameters’ of this bill. There is seemingly no provision for a Christian counselor, parent or child to insist that their religious rights are being threatened with this bill. But they are!

This is where an immoral society seeking supposed rights runs up against religious liberty. Instead of carefulness, that is, sorting out the complexity of the different definitions, is the seeming insistence that all such activity is harmful and a serious threat to individuals in the LGBT community.

With breathtaking quickness orthodox Christians are being pressed into very trying circumstances. Karl Barth, writing about the Church and theology in the totalitarian state, toward the end of his little booklet, Theological Existence To-day reminds the reader that “the Word of God abideth forever.” He goes on to point out that even in the totalitarian state the truths of the faith are needed, in fact, he calls them the “natural frontiers of everything.” And he writes:
For even in this “total state” the nation always lives by the Word of God, the content of which is “forgiveness of sins, resurrection of the body, and life everlasting.” … The church must be allowed to be true to her proper pragmatic function, and be willing to be true. (Italics the author’s)
Barth is speaking of the proclamation of the gospel to the people of a compromised and totalitarian state. All sinners, all of us, whether it is the sin of a homosexual lifestyle or the sin of greed and arrogance, must hear the word of God proclaimed over our lives no matter the laws of a total state—no matter the consequences. Christ’s cross and forgiveness are the unexpected balm in the midst of our sick society.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Jack Haberer, "Crest of the Hill" and some thoughts

Jack Haberer, editor of the Presbyterian Outlook, has written an article, “Crest of the Hill,” in which, I believe, he made two significant points. One is that many children and grandchildren of the leaders of the Fellowship of Presbyterians (FOP) and A Covenant Order of Evangelical Presbyterians (ECO) disagree with their parents and grandparents “disapproval of same-gender relationships.” The other point builds on that, that these same children and grandchildren may be the cause of a reunion of the now dividing church. Therefore we should in our reactions and actions toward the split happening among us be building toward peaceful relationships.

Several commenters, including myself, disagreed with his first point. Haberer was gracious enough, after printing my comment, to send me a friendly e-mail pointing to further data he would have liked to print but did not have enough room in his posting. After further exchange he suggested I blog on his essay and my thoughts. The two missing points he had to leave out of his piece were:
1. The pastors I was referencing all were speaking glowingly about the faith of their grown kids, in many cases being lived out in church ministry callings as evangelically minded pastors, missionaries, educators, etc.

2. Behind this anecdotal comment is the fact that a major survey taken this past spring revealed that among self-described evangelical Christians across the USA, of those under age 35 only 44 percent oppose same-sex marriage. Fully 39 percent support it and 17 percent are undecided. [1]
Because in my comment I had mentioned being a part of the Jesus movement, “My final thoughts on this, having been involved in the Jesus movement of the seventies, is that when we begin, if please God we do, preaching the pure word of God and in all things seek to honor Jesus Christ as the only way of redemption, then the needy young people of this generation will return to our doors,” Haberer replied in kind:
That’s not to say that those folks won’t change their opinion in time (many of our generation’s hippies became Jesus freaks, and ultimately, Republican yuppies), and it certainly doesn’t mean that the youngins are right. It is simply to say that the playing field is changing quickly, and none of us knows what it’s going to look like in 17 or so years from now …hence, let’s minimize the damage while going through the divorce.
And that really is the important part of Haberer’s article, “let’s minimize the damage while going through the divorce.” And to that I heartily concur, not necessarily because I agree that there will be a reunion, but because the denomination doesn’t look much like the Church at the moment.

But I will simply end with some of my answer to Haberer’s e-mail, adding some thoughts afterwards to my own words.
I wonder how much of the evangelical emergents are spilling over into those statistics. [see above] I'm one of those who believe that most of the emergent movement (even the evangelical part) will either move so far left that they will become heretical or they will move right and become extremely conservative but without any of the modern structures of denominations.
Interestingly I have watched some of my friends from the Jesus movement wander all over the place in their faith. Several have become very reformed-including an African American who still is a great drummer. One is a pastor of a Calvary Chapel church (of course not reformed) who reads my blog all the time [at least he says he does] to see what the Presbyterians are doing: ) But what I am actually saying is, I guess only God knows the future. But it is rather fun, when it should be serious, and sometimes scary to speculate. And when I get beyond the fun I do a lot of praying.
Only one more thought—I have a nemesis in the PCUSA who at the moment is going through extreme grief because of a great loss, how could I do anything but pray and grieve for this man. And this is how we must view each other—to be very truthful, in some cases we are archenemies and in other cases we are friends who are headed down different paths. Even those of us who are orthodox and evangelical and yet are staying in the PCUSA are still heading away from our friends in this denomination. We are all in grief—yet we must not move out from under the cross; we must forgive, love and lift each other up to the one who suffered in our place.

1. See: Christianity Today, How Evangelicals Have Shifted in Public Opinion on Same-Sex Marriage: And what President Obama's announcement could mean politically and legally. One thing to notice in this article is that these statistics are for the question about rights; if the question is asked in terms of same gender marriage the percentage goes up. However the authors did not show a breakdown by age on the same gender marriage question so we can’t be sure.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

The conversion of Eric Metaxas

Eric Metaxas is the author of Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy. If you watched the video in my last posting A Huffington article, church history and Eric Metaxas speaking at the National Prayer Breakfast you will have noted that Metaxas mentions that the story of his conversion is on his blog site. I deeply enjoy reading or hearing the conversion stories of other people. It was a little hard to find the story on Metaxas's site, so I am posting it here. It is actually part of a series that Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York City has done entitled New Birth Portrait Series."  The story is helpful in many ways with some interesting drawings included.  

NBP: Eric Metaxas from Redeemer Video on Vimeo.

Monday, August 20, 2012

A Huffington article, church history and Eric Metaxas speaking at the National Prayer Breakfast

A blog posting at Huffington Post, “American Christians Cannot Claim Persecution” written by Emily Timbol, and linked to by ChurchandWorld has some truth. After all when was the last time you heard of a Christian in the United States being burned at the stake, eaten by animals or crucified? Timbol refers to Christians in other parts of the world who are truly being persecuted for their faith. And as a Christian I am glad she takes note of their suffering: too many in the media do not. But then Timbol writes:

What is important to note is what these Christians were, or are, being persecuted for -- their faith and belief in Jesus Christ, and Christ alone.
But what is she implying? Simply this: that if Christians in the United States are experiencing any difficulty it isn’t because of ‘their faith and belief in Jesus Christ,’ but because of their involvement in causes that Timbol defines as oppressive. She writes:
Understanding that, it is reprehensible how many American Christians have recently claimed that they too are being "persecuted." Not for proclaiming a faith in Jesus Christ, but for supporting causes and issues that Jesus never said a word on. Specifically, some Christians are claiming that their religious freedom is being infringed, and they're facing persecution, because they aren't able to vocally support oppression toward homosexuals without facing opposition.
So Timbol’s posting isn’t really about Christian persecution or even Christians in America claiming to be persecuted. It is instead about Christians insisting that same gender sex is sinful. Timbol misunderstands: faith in Christ is not divorced from discipleship or the authority of God’s word. Proclaiming and living out Christian faith isn’t disconnected from the real world. And sexual sin is one of the areas where Christians have had to stand for Christ even if it meant suffering.

Church history is full of stories of faithful Christians suffering because of such conflict with rulers and laws. John the Baptist died because he accused Herod of disobeying the biblical law when he married his brother’s wife. The first large persecution of Christians happened because an unsavory ruler, who dabbled in all kinds of perverse sin including sexual sin, which included marrying someone of the same sex, accused the Christians of burning down half of Rome.

Another early Christian leader was killed when he advised a Christian lady to leave her husband since the husband was insisting she participate in orgies with him and the servants. The leader did confess to being a Christian and was put to death for that reason, but he was accused of being a Christian because he encouraged the lady to leave her husband for the sake of purity. (Eusebius’ Ecclesiastical History152-53)

There is a strong possibility that early Christians in the Church at Thyatira suffered poverty because they were unable to participate in the guilds which would have exposed them to both idolatry and “sexual Looseness.” (Leon Morris, Revelation: Tyndale New Testament Commentaries)

Some of the early Christian martyrs of Uganda were killed because they refused to participate in same gender sex with the king.[1] But politics and the king’s ego were also a part of the mix. It is a very rare event for a Christian to be killed or suffer for simply insisting with their voice that Jesus is Lord—one’s life must also proclaim Jesus is Lord.

Many orthodox Christians in the mainline denominations find themselves between a rock and a hard place. They have compassion and love for those in the LGBT community desiring that they should be transformed by the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, but at the same time they must be faithful to the Lord. It is extremely disheartening to watch denominations be torn apart and destroyed by those who are failing to obey both biblical standards and the confessions of the church. So the Christian is called to love and to be firm in their faith at the same time.

It is probably redundant to say that Timbol simply doesn’t understand the implications of what it means to be a Christian. As I write this I am thinking of Eric Metaxas, the author of the recent biography of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Bonhoeffer, Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy. Metaxas clearly understands that Christian faith both proclaims Christ and lives out that faith in a public witness. Bonhoeffer died as a Christian, but he suffered in prison because he helped Jews to escape across the borders of Germany into Switzerland; he suffered death because he was part of a plot to kill Hitler.

To just be reminded of how one loves those who are tearing up the church and yet witnesses in faithfulness about the Lord, here is the speech given by Metaxas at the recent prayer breakfast in Washington D.C. The first part is funny--but wait!

[1] There are many links on the internet with information about the martyrs, all slightly different and all interesting. Here is another link The Uganda Martyrs.

Friday, August 17, 2012

A very important video

Every time I watch this video I am amazed at its integrity and wisdom.  It is a Catholic video, but I believe all orthodox Christians can place their name here. If you are Presbyterian, as I am, read Presbyterian where it says Catholic, or just read Christian.

Update-I did not know, a friend told me this morning there is an Evangelical version of this:
Hat-tip to Bill Teng and many others

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Intolerance, LGBT rights and theological education

There is evidently a growing intolerance of any in the academic world who hold biblical views about marriage. And this is even true in some religious institutions particularly among mainline denominations. The information below is one example which has become newsworthy enough to worry orthodox Christians:

The first time I heard of Dr. Margaret Aymer was over three years ago when she walked up to the Voices of Orthodox Women’s booth at a Presbyterian Women’s gathering and verbally attacked a friend of mine, for no particular reason. That is, my friend had neither said nor written anything about her. The second time I heard about Aymer was when she attacked the Fellowship of Presbyterians and a letter they had written. I wrote about that here "Margaret Aymer's "About Your Invitation"

And then there is the Bible Study, Confessing the Beatitudes, she prepared for Presbyterian Women. While this study won an award from the Associated Church Press, it is nonetheless an unacceptable Bible study for orthodox women. As VOW wrote in their review:
Aymer does not take the context of the Scripture seriously. Nor does she use first century documentation. Instead, the context Aymer wants us to take seriously for the Beatitudes is a context constructed and imposed by Twentieth and Twenty-First Century socio-politico categories of “honor–shame” and “Empire.” She does this by looking at the context through the lens of liberation theology as well as an economic political document entitled the Accra Confession produced by the World Alliance of Reformed Churches. [1] Because of this she does not set forth the clear and plain sense of the passage, nor does she give a fair assessment of why the text was written. (Link mine)
And now Aymer is deeply involved in a battle for free speech in the context of a religious university. World On Campus’s Leigh Jones has written an article entitled “New Testament prof. fired for orthodox beliefs,” with the subtitle, “Atlanta-based coalition of historically black seminaries punishes Dead Sea Scrolls expert over his adherence to biblical teachings.”[2] Reformed Pastor David Fischler with Stand Firm uses Jones article to highlight the growing lack of intolerance toward the orthodox among academic advocates for LGBT rights in his article, Punishing Heresy in the New Sexual Orthodoxy.

Both writers explain that Professor Jamal-Dominique Hopkins has been dismissed mainly because he invited an InterVarsity professor to speak to his group of conservative students on campus. The speaker, Dr. Alice Brown-Collins, director for InterVarsity Christian Fellowship's Black Campus Ministries in the New England Region, gave a student a book, The Bible and Homosexual Practice, by Robert Gagnon. Dr. Aymer, when she became aware of the event and the book appears to have been very offended. As Jones writes:
The next day, Hopkins' department chair grilled him about the meeting, the book and his association with InterVarsity, an evangelical Christian campus ministry. The whole situation violated ITC's [Interdenominational Theological Center] code of ethics, which pledges the school's commitment to a diversity that includes sexual orientation, Dr. Margaret Aymer told Hopkins. When he rose to leave, Aymer warned him he had put his job at risk.

Three months later, the school dismissed Hopkins, who has filed a discrimination complaint against ITC with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
Jones also writes:
Hopkins hopes to resolve his dispute with ITC without going to court. But school officials refused to participate in a mediation session requested by the EEOC, which opened an investigation into Hopkins' discrimination claims. ITC also faces an unrelated investigation by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools over a lack of compliance with accreditation requirements. (Link placed here mine.)
Fischler adds to the information “Aymer preached at the recently concluded Presbyterian Church (USA) General Assembly, and has been a resource person for the denomination’s Advocacy Committee for Racial and Ethnic Concerns.” He also provides a newspaper link with additional information, Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

This growing intolerance of those whose views are biblically grounded is frightening to say the least. Americans and in particular Christians tend to think of the educational system as one of the more liberal and free institutions in a democracy. But it may be that the time has arrived when being politically correct will far outweigh the integrity of allowing freedom of speech. But Christians, educators and all, must still stand for biblical truth no matter the cost.

As Jones points out the university where Aymer is a professor has many conservative black students. Their world view is a biblical world view. We are all called to lift up and minister to the sheep of His pasture despite the difficulties.

1.“Unity or Unanimity at Reformed Council?” by Jordan Ballor at Acton Institute

2. You may have to register to read all of the article but it is free.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

The resignation of Tara Spuhler and the Advocacy Committee for Women's Concerns

Were there some people “fomenting distrust, meanness and bullying behavior” at the 220 General Assembly? Well maybe, there was a lot of painful, rebellious activity with commissioners and others insisting they have already and will continue to marry same sex couples. But that isn’t what led to the resignation of Rev. Tara Spuhler. Rather the confessions and announcements of disobedience were caused by Spuhler’s admittance that she had signed the marriage license of two lesbians and her insistence that her actions were a part of her vows as a pastor. But regarding the resignation the Advocacy Committee for Women’s Concern has posted a statement as their top article on their web site. It begins:

The Advocacy Committee for Women’s Concerns (ACWC) expresses its disappointment and outrage with the forces fomenting distrust, meanness and bullying behavior which led to the resignation of the duly elected Vice Moderator of the 220th General Assembly (2012), the Rev. Tara Spuhler McCabe.
They believe that the GA should have called for a “possible reprimand of such persons who disturb the peace, unity and purity of the church.”

After McCabe resigned a 'Town Meeting' was held to discuss her resignation. McCabe, Moderator, Rev. Neal D. Presa, Wilson Gunn, Executive presbyter for National Capital Presbytery and the new Vice Moderator Rev. Tom Trinidad all sat at a table facing those who came to listen and ask questions.

Most of the people there were those who were upset that McCabe had resigned. However, several members of the press were there asking questions and recording questions and answers. It turns out that McCabe who neither blogs nor tweets had seen two tweets that someone had sent her in an e-mail. They evidently were questioning her position as Vice Moderator since she had signed the license of a same gender couple. And she had seen a blog posting but had eventually talked to the blogger. Another blog by Pastor Mateen Elass, suggesting that integrity matters, was sent to Moderator, Presa.

But none of this was mean or bullying—it was instead disagreements with McCabe’s actions which are after all prohibited by the PCUSA’s Book of Order.

In fact, through questions raised by both Rev. Dr. James Berkley of The Layman and Leslie Scanlon of The Outlook it was established that there was no meanness or bullying but rather questions about the right or wrongness of McCabe’s actions.

Now the Advocacy Committee for Women’s Concerns is stirring up the pot again, trying to blame innocents for another’s misdeeds. This isn’t a women’s issue or concern, it’s instead a Christian disciple’s concern. It raises the question “is the progressive side of the denomination attempting to force their positions on to all others without a proper vote?”

I was in the town meeting. I went with a friend, a pastor who is a woman, whose integrity is impeccable. As other people began their confessions of having ordained LGBT people before it was allowed and marrying same gender couples now in violation of their vows, as they commiserated with McCabe, my friend began to cry. In the middle of her tears she said, “There is no longer any safe place in the PCUSA for Evangelicals.” No one saw her, if they had, they probably would not have cared. She is right, but God never calls to safety, instead he calls to service, love and care which sometimes calls for speaking the truth.

The ACWC is failing to speak truth and they, arrogantly, are seeking to molest those who stand for truth.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Chick-fil-A, a video, and faithfulness

Perhaps it is because I live in California. Perhaps it is because I am still sad because of the in your face attitude of some at the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)’s General Assembly. Perhaps it is the questions some are asking about the future.  But I do believe this is a time for orthodox Christians to stay very close to the Lord (He is always close to us) and to care deeply about the welfare of each other. I also believe this is a time to be in constant prayer and care for the non-Christian.  All of us are sinners but some, who are sinners without Jesus, are so very angry in their need for Christ. I believe the video below is a warning about tomorrow.
This is about the Chick-fil-A 'kiss-in' and a group of protesters who allowed themselves to become bullies. In this case the Christian who stands up for his Lord, humbly and in a dignified manner, is a homeless man, while those who bully are the progressives. In fact the most obnoxious one is a well known Occupy activist, Spencer Thayer.

For all of the information go to Le-gal- In-sur-rec-tion at Chicago Chick-fil-A Kiss-In protesters “chalk” homeless street preacher ,” and   Occupy Chicago activist claims to be person taunting homeless man at Chick-fil-A protest.” Writer Anne Sorock has done an excellent job. Be sure and read all of the second posting which has a lot of good and kind information. The other videos prove that what Thayer said about the man reading his Bible is not true.

Here is the main video:

"Therefore I urge you brethern, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect." (Romans 12:1-2)

Friday, August 3, 2012

Arguing about peace

I didn’t mean to anger him, yet, as I spoke, I told him I would anger him. What I said just came naturally as a Christian and an evangelical. Sure, I believe peace can come to the Middle East when people try harder, when some Jewish settlements are removed, when the wall isn’t infringing on places that are harming Palestinian olive groves and other enterprises. When Arab governments such as Hamas recognize the right of Israel to exist as a Jewish State, and militant Islamist quit sending rockets and suicide bombers into Israel. But he started the debate with me about divestment during a break in committee 15, and when I refused to accept his insistence that divestment was the only way to bring peace to the Middle East the liberal Rabbi asked what I thought would bring peace.

Never ask a Christian that question, not if you don’t want to hear their answer. For a Christian, there is an instinctive answer to that question. Jesus will bring peace. But I didn’t elaborate because he was extremely angry. But now I want to elaborate.

No, peace won’t come like some magic potion because of Christ. He can change lives, and changed lives can help with peace because believers are given peace and are called to live with love, kindness and compassion. Some families find peace after finding Jesus, and some enemies make peace. Saint Paul after all made peace with the Christians he had persecuted, after he made peace with Jesus. But we are all sinners; look at the awful problems that happened in Ireland where the two sides each called themselves Christian.

And really, believing in Jesus often causes horrible problems. In fact, Jesus himself said that he didn’t come to grant peace on earth but division. Instead of peace, families would turn against each other; some members even betraying others to death:

Do you suppose that I came to grant peace on earth I tell you no, but rather division; for from now on five members in one household will be divided, three against two and two against three. They will be divided, father against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother, mother-in-law against daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law. (Luke 12:51-53)"

So what is that peace? First, there is the peace that Jesus gives to the believer. Jesus says that is a peace unlike the world's. (John 14: 27) That means Jesus’ peace has nothing to do with anything going on around us. It is a gift that has nothing to do with our circumstances but rather with Christ and his cross. We are lodged in his keeping; forgiven, cared for and full of the knowledge that we belong to him.

There is also the peace that is coming—the peace that a redeemed universe will know with the coming of Christ, the peace that comes with the final redemption of the Church. The time when the “already” overcomes the “not yet.”

But what I really wanted to say to the Rabbi, and to the fellow sitting beside him who said he was a Palestinian Christian, is that there is no conflict so big but that when Christ Jesus says it is enough, it will be enough—we can keep striving in our own puny way—keep trying with every ounce of our strength to bring peace—and we may bring some semblance of peace, we may, on the other hand, in the end, bring devastation and ruin, but when the King marches through the door there will be peace.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

A different story about the olympics

Speaking of the Olympics—if you remember, if you are old enough, the attack on Jewish athletes in Munich in 1972 you will be shocked at the video that I am placing here.  It is the son of one of the athletes, in fact the wrestling coach. The first part is horrific, the last part, is  Guri Weinberg’s remembrances of his father. That part is beautiful.

I do remember when this horrible attack happened during the Olympics. That the Olympic officials have refused over and over to allow a moment of silence in their memory is shameful.

You can read about this sad event at Why the IOC will never memorialize the '72 Munich massacre

Hat-tip to the the Simon Wiesenthal Center and Rabbi Abraham Cooper