Verse – John 3:16

Steve’s contribution today is on a well-known, often memorized verse of Christian Scripture.

John 3:16

John could have said God loved only
the Hebrews, or, like him, those who
were followers of Jesus. He,
instead, said, God loves not the few,
but the whole world–how can it be?*

(*This insight comes from the Rev. Jim Montgomery, Decatur, Illinois, who is in no way responsible for any errors in this poem.)

– Steve Shoemaker, Urbana, IL, March 17, 2015

Barack Obama after the Presidency?

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Ever wondered what President Barack Obama will do after he leaves office? 

The President’s 50th Anniversary of “Bloody Sunday” speech in Selma, Alabama is a masterpiece in the tradition of the Church of the Bridge (see earlier post “The Church as Bridge” on Views from the Edge). Think of the President as pastor-preacher in the prophetic preaching tradition that speaks truth to power, celebrates hope, honors courage, and preaches a gospel that calls us all to cross the Pettus Bridge toward the world for which our hearts yearn.  The President’s speech was, in fact, a sermon rooted in Hebrew and Christian Scripture, freely quoted from memory.

Click HERE to hear the President on the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama.

Isaiah and Elizabeth Warren

After news about the “spending bill” came out yesterday, I took the liberty of re-writing scripture. Readers unfamiliar with Jewish and Christian Scripture may not have heard of Isaiah’s vision in the Temple (Isaiah 6:1-8) that began his campaign to reform his nation in the year that King Uzziah died. Here’s the re-write for December 10, 2014:

In the year that [Speaker John Boehner and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid proposed a “spending bill” that overturns banking regulations put in place after the near financial meltdown 0f 2008 and raises the cap on individual campaign contributions], I saw the LORD sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up; and the train of his robe filled the temple. Above him stood the seraphim. Each had six wings: with two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. And one called to another and said:

“Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts;
vthe whole earth is full of his glory!

And the foundations of the [nation’s] thresholds shook at the voice of him who called, and the house was filled with smoke. And I said:

“Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts!”

Then one of the seraphim flew to me, having in his hand a burning coal that he had taken with tongs from the altar. And he touched my mouth and said: “Behold, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away, and your sin atoned for.”

And I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?” Then I said, “Here I am! Send me.”

Where’s Isaiah when we need him? Then I read Elizabeth Warren’s objection to the bill. Click HERE for the story. Then call your Representative and Senators.  When they ask your name, just say “Isaiah!” When they ask how you happened to call, tell ’em God sent ya.

Alt-Facts and the ‘Anti-Christ’

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Views from the Edge re-publishes this piece on Maundy Thursday, 2017. It first appeared here on March 24, 2010. Sadly, nothing much has changed. The U.S. was sucker-punched by the apocalyptic spirituality of the alt-right politics of Rush Limbaugh and Steve Bannon.

Something from the Christian tradition – the idea of ‘the Anti-Christ’ – is lifting its ugly head, a word and concept that could trigger unthinkable tragedy unless we clean up our civil discourse.

According to Harris Interactive Poll taken between March 1 and 8, “more than 20% believe [President Obama] was not born in the United States, that he is ‘the domestic enemy the U.S. Constitution speaks of,’ that he is racist and anti-American, and that he ‘wants to use an economic collapse or terrorist attack as an excuse to take dictatorial powers.’ Fully 20% think he is ‘doing many of the things that Hitler did,’ while 14% believe ‘he may be the anti-Christ’ and 13% think ‘he wants the terrorists to win.”

The poll reflects what we all know: our civic health as a nation is being poisoned by inflammatory rhetoric from both sides of the political aisle. This toxic disregard for truth lies behind the results of the Harris Poll. Trigger words like ‘socialist,’ ‘communist,’ ‘terrorist,’ ‘anti-American,’ and ‘the Anti-Christ’ and the allegation that America’s first black president is the nation’s chief domestic enemy take us beyond the McCarthyism of the ‘50s. This cocktail is lethal.

As a Christian pastor I rue the use of Christian scripture to stoke the fires of fear and hate. The Christian life – or spiritual life of any sort, for that matter – is a life of discernment about the powers that shape ordinary life. It is not blind to evil. But loud spirituality is an oxymoron. We need to be reminded that all the great religions hold some version of the essential tenet expressed in the First Letter of John. “Whoever says he is in the light and hates his brother is in the darkness still” and “If any one says, ‘I love God,’ and hates his brother, he is a liar, for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen. And this commandment we have from him, that he who loves God should love his brother also.”

Labeling the President of the United States ‘the Anti-Christ” gives deranged minds a license to kill . . . in the name of the non-violent, crucified Jesus. If some deranged American patriot like the Marine who plotted to assassinate the President should succeed . . . God forbid! . . . the blood will be on the hands of all who remained silent when the hate speech was being poured into the public stream of consciousness. And if you claim to be a disciple of Jesus, get yourself to church Maundy Thursday and Good Friday to ground yourself again in the love that conquers hate and fear.

  • Gordon C. Stewart, Chaska, MN, Maundy Thursday morning, Chaska, MN.

Deadly Political Rhetoric

When Political Rhetoric Brings Out the Worst in Us

by Gordon C. Stewart, March 29, 2010

Click the title for full commentary published by Minnesota Public Radio) Here are some Excerpts (Opening and closing paragraphs):

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….

 

 Where are the likes of Edward R. Murrow and Joseph Welsh now? We need them again.