Religion and Culture

Views from the Edge began as a site for social commentary on current news events viewed through the eyes of the Reformed theological tradition. The links on this page lead you to essays that aired on by Minnesota Public Radio (MPR), 91.1 FM, or were published by MPR, or

For faith and for politics, there is one over-riding question… By the Rev. Gordon C. Stewart | Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2010

For faith and for politics alike there is one over-riding question: Am I my brother’s keeper? Or will I insist on the right to slay him? Am I willing to take responsibility for my neighbor, to master the urge to violence that crouches at my door? Do my religion and my politics slay or keep my brother/my sister from deadly harm? Are we willing to re-claim the Earth as sacred turf — through responsible religion and responsible politics — so that the voice of Abel’s blood no longer cries out from the ground to a horrified God?

They may squirm in hearings, but Wall Street oligarchs know who has the power  By the Rev. Gordon C. Stewart | Thursday, April 29, 2010:

We do not live in a democracy; we live in an oligarchy, “government by the few, especially despotic power exercised by a small and privileged group for corrupt or selfish purposes” (Encyclopaedia Britannica). I’ve been waiting for people in high places to say it….

The American Dream is rising across the Arab world, but it’s on the ropes here in America By The Rev. Gordon C. Stewart | Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Sometimes I feel like a motherless child a long way from home.
The homeland I mourn is the world I once thought I knew. It was far from a perfect world, by any measure, but its ideals seemed intact. There was set of shared expectations of fairness, some measure of equality, the vision of a more just and peaceful world freed from poverty, oppression and war.
Today that world is as much of a memory as my boyhood home. Something has died. The American dream is rising in Egypt, in Tunisia, and across the Arab world, but it is on the ropes here in America. The cry for democracy, basic human rights, and an end to Mubarak’s self-serving economy has its echo in Madison, Wis., where workers have stood tall for the right of collective bargaining. But not tall enough to stop the turning back of the clock. Nor are they bold enough to strike, as unions would have in my youth….

Gulf oil spill raises basic questions about how we think of ourselves

By the Rev. Gordon C. Stewart | Friday, June 4, 2010

We’re at a turning point. The crisis we can’t seem to kill in the Gulf of Mexico puts before us the results of a more foundational crisis than the black goo that is choking the life out of the Gulf. The uncontrolled “blow-out” raises basic questions about how we think of ourselves and the order of nature….

By the Rev. Gordon C. Stewart | Thursday, Sept. 10, 2009

“Sorrow floats.” Perhaps the line from a John Irving novel — in which “Sorrow,” the stuffed family dog preserved by a taxidermist, floats to the surface of the lake after a plane crash — helps explain what is happening in America….

Blackwater/Xe: how it happened that the U.S. came to rely on mercenaries By The Rev. Gordon C. Stewart | Friday, July 3, 2009

A cagey professor used to provoke his students’ curiosity by asking, “Does anything bother you about that?”
Since the private “security” contractor Blackwater (re-branded last February as “Xe”) hit the news last fall for allegedly killing unarmed civilians in Iraq, the professor’s question has led me to a more important question for a constitutional republic: When, why, and how did the United States of America become the land of mercenaries?

When political rhetoric brings out the worst in us

by Gordon C. Stewart, March 29, 2010 – Excerpt:

Our nation is being poisoned by inflammatory rhetoric from both sides of the political aisle.How else does one explain the sending of a used condom to a Minnesota congresswoman, or the phone message left on  Rep. Keith Ellison’s answering machine: “Timothy McVeigh said dead government workers are good government workers.  Goodbye, Sambo”?

And that’s just here in Minnesota….

2 thoughts on “Religion and Culture

  1. “When, why, and how did the United States of America become the land of mercenaries?”
    It ocurred on the very same day when ‘We the People” became ‘The United States of America’, –as contrary to ‘the united (free and soverign States’ surrendered thier independance (for ‘the greater good’)… it is only a hop, skip and jump before ‘we’ embrace a One World (Godless or the Government IS God) Government. We simply don’t ‘get’ the idea (and ideal) of independance (i.e personal responsibility… especially as it relates to ‘The Master or Lord’. Incongruously we perfer a dead Master or Lord (a Greek philosopsical myth really) to a living (corporeal) Master or Lord..This war on words has been going since the days when Samuel was asked to anoint a king to rule over the people (thus denying God’s ( and/or the Master or Lord’s importance).


    • We became the land of mercenaries when the people’s government (we’re a representative democracy, not a pure democracy) hired private sub-contractors to do our dirty work under the radar screen of congressional oversight. This issue has nothing to do with world government; it has everything to do with the American people’s surrender of the U.S. Constitution to a right-wing congress that believes that the U.S.A. is God’s chosen people with a divine right to plunder other nations and take their resources as will. I agree with your point about responsibility. Each of us is responsible. But independent? I’m only independent when I’m living alone, outside society, in the woods, living on what I catch or hunt. To be human, in my understanding, is to live in the creastive existential/spiritual tension between honoring the dignity of the individual’s unique and irrepeatable personhood and honoring the community and ecology on which all of us depend. In other words, we strive for the balance between the individual and the communal, which is different from individualist or collectivist. In my frame of reference (the Reformed tradition of the Christian faith), the balance we strive toward is at once direct, simple, and sometimes confounding: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind, soul, and strength, and your neighbor as yourself.” I’d need to hear more, Roland, to better understand your comment.


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