Looking Back on 2012: April-May

In March, I fasted from blogging for Lent. April and May of 2012 were dominated by thoughts about our United Methodist General Conference. There was also a series of violent tornadoes that John Piper decided to interpret as God’s wrath against America for homosexuality or abortion (I can’t remember which one). Since homosexuality dominated the conversation around General Conference, I wrote a few pieces about it, striving to be both faithful to scripture and faithful to people I love who are gay. I also preached a sermon comparing and contrasting the uniformity and top-down vision of the Tower of Babel with the chaos of Pentecost. So here are the 10 from April and May. Continue reading

Pulpit Freedom vs. World Communion: A Solomonic Choice

Two women appeared before the king. Both were wailing; one was holding a baby. The woman without the baby told the king that the baby was hers and that the other woman had stolen it after she had smothered her own baby in her sleep. They argued back and forth, screaming and cursing each other. The king said to bring a sword and cut the baby in half, but the first woman said, “No, let her keep the baby.” So the king said, “That was easy; go in peace.” The first woman lowered her head and walked out quietly weeping, while the second woman gave a victorious whoop of joy. That’s the way the famous story of Solomon’s wisdom from 1 Kings 3:16-28 would be told if it were a parable of the two kinds of church we have in America today and the gospel that has been smothered by the stampede of our culture wars. This Sunday offers Christians a Solomonic choice and a perfect contrast between two ways of being church in a tumultuous political season  because it is both Pulpit Freedom Sunday (fighting the restraints against pastors endorsing political candidates from the pulpit) and World Communion Sunday (celebrating the way that the body of Christ is bigger than our political or national allegiances). Continue reading

Is God Against Hegemony? (The Question of Babel)

There is probably not a more awkward passage for Biblical literalists than the story of the tower of Babel in Genesis 11. How exactly do you build a tower to heaven in the real world where physics and atmospheric pressure exist? And what kind of sovereign God would squash this project out of fear that “nothing they propose to do will be impossible for them” (v. 6)? The text gives no moral reason why building the tower was wrong so the creators of children’s Bible videos have to fill in a lot of blanks. But as I was considering this story last week in our Pentecost week readings, it hit me that maybe God just hates hegemony. Continue reading