I just looked over an essay by Katie Mulligan that deals with the topic of redemptive suffering in the context of Tony Jones’ controversy/dialogue with feminists. Redemptive suffering is a very abused concept in Christian history. Many women in abusive marriages have been told to stay put and “bear their crosses” because their suffering somehow honors God. Enabling an abuser is not redemptive suffering; it’s allowing a lie to be treated as the truth. But Mulligan points out a different way that people in a position of privilege can allow for healing and redemption through a different kind of suffering in conversation with those who have been wounded. Continue reading
Today’s Monday Merton comes from chapter 10, “Sincerity,” of No Man Is An Island. What Merton means by sincerity is being a person who lives and speaks in a way that is truthful. He opens his chapter with a single sentence that blows my mind: “We make ourselves real by telling the truth” (188). There are so many dimensions to which that is true. In a lot of ways, that is the central problem that Christianity resolves. Jesus makes it possible to “speak the truth in love” (Ephesians 4:15). When we live in the world of masks in which we hide our inadequacies and embarrassments from each other, there’s nothing real to any of it. Even our smiles have more to do with making sure that we’re fitting in with other people than expressing genuine contentment. Continue reading
A week ago, ex-evangelical blogger Sarah Moon wrote a post titled: “When my abuser is welcome at the table, I am not,” taking aim at the presumptuousness with which some progressive Christians champion a table where everyone is welcome. A friend had told Moon that she should be grateful Jesus died for the man who raped her and she should accept him as her fellow forgiven sinner. Though Moon wasn’t necessarily writing about life after death, the pain she shares illustrates the problem with universalism. Wouldn’t God be lacking in mercy for the victims of abuse to force them to spend eternity in communion with their abusers? Continue reading
In David Brooks’ New York Times Thursday column, he shares the story of Walter Judd, who paid his way through college at the beginning of the 20th century by washing dishes. His father had refused to pay his tuition since he thought that the manual labor would be good for his character. Brooks shares that “people then were more likely to assume that jobs at the bottom of the status ladder were ennobling and that jobs at the top were morally perilous” since they presumed that “the working classes were self-controlled, while the rich and the professionals could get away with things.” He writes that today our values are the opposite: wealth is applauded as the evidence of hard work, while poverty is presumed to be the product of laziness or immorality. Brooks attributes this shift to an abandonment of Biblical values in our culture. Continue reading
I’ve started reading Greg Boyd’s God At War, which I checked out of the local seminary library at the recommendation of a friend. In it, Boyd suggests that there are two basic ways of understanding the presence of evil in the world: the warfare worldview in which good and evil are locked in a cosmic conflict and classical philosophical theism which is derived from Greek metaphysics in which the attributes given to God require Him to be in direct control of everything so that all good and evil are a part of God’s will. Boyd suggests that Christianity had a warfare worldview prior to Augustine and classical philosophical theism after Augustine corrupted Christianity with Greek metaphysics. I’m only sixty pages into the book and I’m not sure what I think, so I thought I would think aloud for a little bit. Continue reading
CNN today features an article talking about the corruption in America’s charity industrial complex. One of the things that has happened most recently is that many charities are funneling most of their donation money to the for-profit fundraising firms they use to solicit people. CNN gives the example of the Kids Wish Network foundation which gives 3 cents out of every dollar to the kids that it raises money for, the rest going to consultants and for-profit fundraisers. One of the basic assertions of the Reagan era of the last three decades has been that private philanthropy is always better than the government at taking care of people in need. I’m pretty sure that even the least efficient government bureaucracy can do better than 3 cents on the dollar. It seems like the profit motive does a plenty good job of creating corruption and waste. Capitalism at its finest!
In the spring of 2010, I bought a Spanish language theology book, El Principio Misericordia (The Mercy Principle) by Jon Sobrino, at the bookstore of the Universidad de Centroamerica (UCA) in San Salvador. I’ve been reading it off and on for the past three years, and I finally finished it in my most recent trip to the Dominican Republic (my Spanish reading tends to happen when I’m actively thinking in Spanish). So I’ve decided to do a series exploring some of the concepts Sobrino introduces in his book. This first post has to do with his definition of sin. Continue reading