Wise Words from Clinton

I think this sums it up: “If one candidate is trying to scare you and the other is trying to get you to think, if one candidate is appealing to your fears and the other one is appealing to your hopes, you better vote for the one who wants you to think and hope.” That’s from former president Clinton. Well, who is trying to scare people, and who is trying to appeal to the hopes of the nation? Who is the candidate claiming that if his opponent is reelected (oops, I gave it away), he will institute a draft? Who’s saying we are so much more unsafe now? Who is claiming everyone hates us? (Hint: it’s not the current president.) Who appeals to our hopes? Who said first that we would not give in to the terrorists and that we would fight to make this country safer? Who has actual policy ideas that are not simply the negatives of the other candidate’s ideas? (Hint: it’s not the current challenger.)
I think Clinton may be on to something.

[Sorry for so many posts. It’s my day off!]

Christians for Kerry?

I had kind of a surreal week last week. It didn’t help that my wife has been gone for months (okay, just over a week). But someone I’ve known my entire life was talking about getting married, and, if that wasn’t strange enough, someone I greatly respect said he was voting for John Kerry. Not only that, he has a Kerry sticker on his car. (“Brother divided against brother…”!)
I am curious about whether Christians can, in good conscience, vote for John Kerry. Before you hit the ‘flame’ button on your keyboard, hear me out. I am not drinking from the same well as those who might say, “A vote for Bush is a vote for God’s candidate.” Please, I believe that whomever is elected (even–bite my tongue–John Kerry) is the ruler God has chosen for this nation (see Romans 13). But since none of us is privy to God’s secret counsel, what do we have to go on?
If any of you who are reading this considers yourself a Christian and you plan to vote for Kerry, tell me why (and the answer can’t include the words “George Bush has…”). Let’s use Kerry’s favorite verse for the test: Faith without works is dead. (I doubt St. James would like his writings to be used as fodder in a political campaign, but let’s go with it.) I want to hear what specific policy choices John Kerry has made in his twenty years in the Senate that you believe qualify him over George Bush to be president. To paraphrase, show me the promises by means of the works.
My friend (sounding like he had imbibed more than a little of whatever Michael Moore’s been drinking) based his main argument on what has been done in Iraq. Fine, I can deal with that, even if I don’t agree. But my problem is really in the realm of morality. John Kerry promises to undo all progress that George Bush has made in the area of promoting a culture of life in this country. Anything Pres. Bush has done to restrict abortion? Gone under Kerry. Anything that promotes ethics with regard to stem cells? Gone under Kerry. Anything that promotes the well-being of marriage? Reversed under Kerry. The war is a long-term policy decision that will not be proved right or wrong until there is more separation between the pundits and the decisions made by Pres. Bush. The ambiguity and moral indecision displayed by Kerry are much harder to find in the issues above. So, let me have it, and may God’s candidate win!


Halloween Offensive to Witches

First, do you have to have a hyphenated last name to be a Wiccan priestess? Second, what have the school officials in Puyallup been smoking? I’m embarrassed, but not surprised, that this comes from my home state. But how can you argue with this newsworthy gem from Karen Hansen: “‘Witches with pointy noses and things like that are not respective symbols of the Wiccan religion and so we want to be respectful of that.'” By the way, what would be a “respective” symbol?

Okay, they want to be politically/stupidly correct about it. My question is, would they cancel Halloween in school because Christians complained? It appears not, as this is the first year they’re cancelling it, and I have no doubt that Christians have complained before this. “Respecting all religions” rings a little (lot) hollow when Wiccans are respected (if that is possible) and Christians are not. (But see here, where a Wiccan “pastor” thinks that Puyallup is really giving into Christian pressure!)


Theology on Tap

I’ve heard of this, but I didn’t know archbishops did it! To whomever it was who suggested this as an evangelism tool (Chaz, I think), it may be part of what we’ve been missing. I hate the cliché, but Jesus probably would be (at least part of the time) in bars. That may bring the flamers! (Here’s my disclaimer: No, I do not think Jesus would encourage alcoholism by being in a bar. Would he have offended people? Perhaps the teetotalers, but that’s not a Lutheran word!)


“Emergent” and the Church

I’ve been reading a few things about “emergent” churches and their goals, etc. See an article here. Just as a generalized comment on the whole thing: It seems to me that what Brian McLaren and others are reacting against is the “evangelicalism” of the last thirty years. What is wrong there (in evangelicalism) is not at all representative of the Church catholic (except where it’s been influenced by evangelicalism). You want mystery? Come and witness the mystery of being born again by water and the Word. You want “a faith big enough for your doubts”? Try eating the Body and drinking the Blood of Christ in the Holy Supper. I admit that Lutherans have not always been the “best” at “evangelism.” Many times, it is nonexistent. But is that because we need to find and try new ways of “reaching the pre-churched” or is it because we haven’t really delved into the depths of what being the Church is really about? Have we taken seriously what humans are? Have we taken seriously Who God is? I have my doubts.

The article (linked above) has this: “Yet recently McLaren has started to sketch the outlines of his vision of a postmodern church. He sketches a big circle labeled ‘self,’ a smaller circle next to it labeled ‘church,’ and a tiny circle off to the side labeled ‘world.’ ‘This has been evangelicalism’s model,’ he says. ‘Fundamentally it’s about getting yourself ‘saved’—in old-style evangelicalism—or improving your life in the new style. Either way, the Christian life is really about you and your needs. Once your needs are met, then we think about how you can serve the church. And then, if there’s anything left over, we ask how the church might serve the world.’
He starts drawing again. ‘But what if it went the other way? This big circle is the world—the world God loved so much that he sent his Son. Inside that circle is another one, the church, God’s people chosen to demonstrate his love to the world. And inside that is a small circle, which is your self. It’s not about the church meeting your needs, it’s about you joining the mission of God’s people to meet the world’s needs.'”

The problem is that evangelicalism’s church model is not the Church model. I think McLaren is much closer. I appreciate what McLaren has to say here; it seems, though, that he’s never been to a Lutheran church. At our best (untheologically speaking), we can’t get enough of what God has done for us! At the same time, much of what has been lost to Lutheranism for about the same time period that evangelicalism has existed is the willingness to encourage evangelism and good works. There is a right way, and we have forgotten how to do it. That’s the real reason we take on evangelicalism’s way of doing things, with all its purpose-driven baggage. A good place to start would be with Dr. Charles Arand’s reexamination of “the two kinds of righteousness.” (E-mail me if you’d like the citation for his article; I have to find it.) Anyone have experience with an “emergent” church?