Beginning And End

Sometimes an image or a moment, a word spoken or a flash of understanding hits us such that we not only never forget it, but are left imprinted, changed. Such a moment hit me several years ago.

In a former life as a home inspector I looked over residential properties to determine their condition and repair needs when a home was transferring ownership. I was in and out of thousands of homes in that role and unless a house was empty besides seeing what kind of roof or foundation a property had I also saw something of the lives of its occupants; married with children, elderly, young, winding down a life or starting up a life, single or single again. Continue reading

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Review: Choosing Donal Trump: God, Anger, Hope, and Why Christian Conservatives Supported Him

Choosing Donald Trump: God, Anger, Hope, and Why Christian Conservatives Supported Him, by Stephen Mansfield.  Reviewed by Mike Halpin

I gained unlooked for sympathy for Donald Trump from Choosing Donald Trump, and a wish that the author would have stuck to the story instead of making this book his own pulpit. I loved learning about Trump’s family, early years and key means of personal formation; I also grew tired of Mansfield’s use of this story to grind his own ax against evangelical Church leaders.

From the opening epigraph/quote from Martin Luther King Jr. Mansfield makes clear that he’s not only writing about Trump and the Christian conservatives who helped elect him, but  he’s using King’s vision for the Church speaking to power as his own measuring stick, or club, or both, as he reproves evangelical leaders.

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Lest We Forget

Rudyard Kipling

Rudyard Kipling wrote Recessional for Queen Victoria’s 60-year Diamond Jubilee in 1897. Her life and reign were winding down, she would die in 1901, and though the British Empire was at its zenith, it too would soon descend from its lofty heights to earth. After World War II the British Empire would become a less fearsome nation, and a smaller, but still important player on the world stage. Perhaps Kipling was thinking of the eventual decline of empire when considering the aging Queen’s Jubilee.

A timely, perhaps even prescient piece, Kipling repeated words of warning spoken over three thousand years prior to the nation of Israel, words spoken as that ascending nation anticipated entering the Land of Promise. “Lest we forget–lest we forget!” in Recessional echoed the words of Moses to those who would enjoy YHWH’s blessings in the land promised to their forebear, Abraham.  Continue reading

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Batter My Heart

Batter my heart, three-person’d God, for you
As yet but knock, breathe, shine, and seek to mend;
That I may rise and stand, o’erthrow me, and bend
Your force to break, blow, burn, and make me new.
I, like an usurp’d town to another due,
Labor to admit you, but oh, to no end;
Reason, your viceroy in me, me should defend,
But is captiv’d, and proves weak or untrue.
Yet dearly I love you, and would be lov’d fain,
But am betroth’d unto your enemy;
Divorce me, untie or break that knot again,
Take me to you, imprison me, for I,
Except you enthrall me, never shall be free,
Nor ever chaste, except you ravish me.

from “Holy Sonnets”

These words of John Donne’s come to my mind often. I feel the truth of them. I bear witness to them. His grasp of the dilemma of the converted and his poetic and succinct means of expressing our thralldom and need for liberation, and a liberator, from outside ourselves, is profound and true and acknowledged by all in our honest moments.

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Mr. Kavanaugh Goes to Washington

Screenshot 2018-10-04 14.30.21Allysia Finley has an outstanding article in the October 4th, 2018 Wall Street Journal Opinion section titled, “Will the Senate Kill A Mockingbird?” It’s a great, point-by-point comparison of the treatment Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh is receiving with Tom Robinson in Harper Lee’s “To Kill a Mockingbird”, my wife’s favorite book of fiction, and a favorite movie. I hope you can read the book or see the movie.

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There Must Be Factions– Social Justice

In Evangelical circles in the U.S. a factionalism that’s been growing has recently been publicly called out, a factionalism having to do with the loaded phrase “social justice”. (Regarding defining social justice, see the end of this article.)

The Statement on Social Justice and the Gospel was released on September 4, 2018 and it has created instant controversy; factions have formed and battle lines have been Screen Shot 2018-09-18 at 8.45.35 PMdrawn. The statement conveys the belief that the Evangelical foray into “social justice” movements has and will dramatically and negatively impair the Church’s ability to clearly proclaim the gospel.

The sharp criticism in response to the statement levels a variety of charges ranging from– the Church is not in fact proclaiming the gospel apart from action in social justice arenas, to– the Church is failing to fulfill it’s prophetic role to the culture apart from calls for social justice in the political arena. Continue reading

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There Must Be Factions

In talking about attending a Roman Catholic wedding Protestant friends asked rather enthusiastically about taking communion during the wedding service. They thought it would communicate a sense of unity and support with the bride and groom and their families. They thought it would show their ecclesiastical egalitarianism, Protestants big enough and confident enough to cross the denominational divide in a show of Christian unity.

I quashed their enthusiasm as quickly as I could. I explained that communion for Roman Catholics wasn’t a symbolic remembrance, but a change of substance as the priest RC Communionintoned words from the Mass by which the elements became Christ. I also told them that the Roman Catholic Church wasn’t as broadminded as they were, and that as non Roman Catholics they shouldn’t participate, indeed weren’t welcome at that table, as those who hadn’t embraced that expression of faith through baptism and confirmation in the Roman Catholic fold. This was all rather an unwelcome deflation of their sincere but naïve enthusiasm for ecumenism. Continue reading

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