A little snaffu and I'm not going to be presenting at the AAR meeting this weekend. It's kind of a messed up deal but I'll try to get the presentation finished up and give it somewhere else or wait until next year.
I spent a little time early this morning revamping my link listings. They are by no means complete and I'll likely update them as more things come to mind. The pages listed do represent places I tend to visit, blogs I like to read, and so forth.
One of my regular visits is to David Bard's Faith and Feathers blog. This week his mentioned a situation that paralleled some thoughts and discussions I've had in the last few months. It basically boils down to what should the church be talking about. Is it wrong to question torture in a sermon? Or how about relating our use of bottled water to the millions of people around the world without potable water? Is that fair game for a sermon? Global climate change? Is it OK to preach the gospel of prosperity? Lot's of people would say that we shouldn't be talking about torture, or nationalism in church. I've run into a good number that don't feel we have a place in a discussion on environmentalism.
I agree with David that clergy, and the church (which includes laity), need to discuss these issues with sensitivity and intelligence. I also believe that we have a strong biblical basis for doing so - particularly with regard to environmental stewardship, nationalism, and issues of social justice. I also believe that people will go where they hear what they want to hear. People don't want to feel uncomfortable, particularly in church. Unfortunately, that often means they go to feel good about themselves and reinforce that level of comfort. So, when a denomination (insert UMC, PCUSA, ELCA) shows a declining membership, does that mean we need to skip talking about difficult subjects? On the contrary, I believe we need to get the message out that we need to discuss these issues in a manner that is sensitive, intelligent and balanced with the teachings of Christ. We need to let people know that they are free to discuss these issues, debate them. That it is OK to disagree. As David noted in his other blog (Bard's Brushstrokes) in reference to Paul's letter to the Galatians "If pleasing people was what most motivated Paul, he would never have become a Christian missionary, a servant of Christ." In that respect, I think we need to put a little "Paul" in our service to Christ.
Being a disciple of Jesus isn't easy. He warns us of that numerous times in the Gospels. In fact, it means there are going to be some uncomfortable times.
Those are just some lunch-hour thoughts.