Is violence America’s real religion?
Walter Clark’s high school brush with gun violence adds passion to his perspective on gun control issues.
One of my high school classmates (We’ll call him Jack) was involved in a fatal shooting my sophomore year. For years, Jack was harassed by a student from a rival school. The bully would follow him home after school hurling insults. One day while the bully was giving him an especially difficult time, Jack went inside and removed his father’s shotgun from its locked cabinet and killed his tormentor. (Lack of a Clever Title, August 13)
With three multiple-shootings in three weeks, Kim Hampton suggests that guns and jingoism are America’s real religion.
[In] the United States, we have replaced the sacred/holy/G-d with guns and jingoism; that love and charity and faith and hope have been superseded by firepower and triumphalism. (East of Midnight, August 15)
The Rev. Jude Geiger questions distorted understanding of freedom when it comes to gun control.
Why then do conservative American Christians, in favor of God and country, err on the side of unrestricted access to weapons that can cost the lives of our family, friends and neighbors? Why have we fallen into a regulatory absurdity where assault weapons, or large quantities of ammunition, or access for criminals, is blithely allowed to go unchecked? What religious base is there for continuing to defend this practice?
None. There is none. (Rev. G. Jude Geiger, August 13)
The mean season in politics
UUA President Peter Morales is troubled by what the nastiness of U. S. presidential campaigns says about the American spirit.
The deeper problem is not our political process, though heaven knows it has been severely distorted and corrupted by money and power. The deeper problem is a nation that is anxious, afraid, insecure, and often in denial. These are emotional and deeply spiritual issues.
The shameful display of this campaign bothers me because of what it says about us. This campaign holds up a mirror. (Beyond Belief, August 15)
The Rev. Bill Sinkford writes, “I am working hard to ground myself as this election cycle heats up.”
The reason I have to ground and prepare my spirit to weather these next three months is that I see so many dangers. There is the abysmal level of the political discourse…from both sides. The issues we face cannot be dealt with by sound-bites or personal attacks. The new presence of such massive amounts of money is deeply troubling. The politicians and their campaigns are so willing to obscure the truth or simply lie.
But as distressing as anything about this current election cycle is the effort to disenfranchise voters, to make it harder for citizens to vote and participate in our democracy. (Rev. Sinkford’s Blog, August 16)
Finding our religion
The Rev. Don Southworth writes that a regular practice of silence is one of the secrets of successful spiritual leaders.
I—we—live in a world that goes faster and faster every day. Some of us thrive on the energy and don’t want and/or know how to stop. But all the great religions of the world remind us of the same thing—take time to step away, to reflect, to pray, to meditate, to grow still and digest what has happened. (Calltrepreneurship, August 16)
Crystal St. Marie Lewis responds to a challenge to write a post about God with two simple words: “God is.”
In many [non-Christian] traditions, practitioners believe that any words used to explain God’s nature will only fall inadequately flat. . . . However in Christianity, we begin our explorations of God’s nature with language. . . .
[My] words about God are fairly simple: God is. As for theology—well, let’s just say that I’m becoming very comfortable with the likelihood that all other words are only inadequate reflections of our experiences. (Crystal St. Marie Lewis, August 12)
The Rev. Amy Zucker Morgenstern’s naturalistic view of hell is confirmed in a Seattle seafood restaurant, where “the road to hell is paved with clams.”
Actions carry their own consequences, which often create hellish conditions for ourselves or others. One sin that clearly comes prepackaged with its own punishment is gluttony, as I learned last week. . . . Some bacillus or staphylococcus fired a shot across my bow, and I learned a lesson. Gluttony isn’t worth it. Throw out the closed clams. (Sermons in Stones, August 16)
Around the blogosphere
The Rev. Elz Curtiss learns about the history of Roman Catholic nuns, and it sheds light on current conflicts.
[When] we, today, admire Roman Catholic women standing up against the bishops, we join their long-ago families and friends in a well-documented cultural practice. Conversely, when the bishops attempt to shut these women down, they are also perpetuating only one side in a long-standing theological war. . . . There’s been a lot of water under the bridge since the 5th and 6th centuries of the Common Era, but some of it, apparently, still tastes of its original springs. (Politywonk, August 13)
The Rev. Dan Harper lodges a substantive critique of changes at the Unitarian Universalist Ministers Association.
In short, I feel like I’m paying lots of dues to subsidize services that cost more and either don’t serve me, or are less effective than services I already get elsewhere. Worse yet, it feels like the services I’m subsidizing are aimed primarily at the ministers who receive good salaries and have ample money for professional expenses and can afford to pay for extra services above and beyond their UUMA dues. . . .
I am also convinced that those who made the decisions had some big blind spots: they were simply unaware that they were setting up a costly system that primarily supports their circle of insiders, but which provides little to people like me, even though I have to pay more to subsidize the system. (Yet Another Unitarian Universalist, August 10)
As they swap stories, “Lizard Eater” and her father discover how they were shaped by those who stood up for what was right.
We realized that we both had experiences in which we, young and powerless, had someone powerful who was willing to bust through the expectations that they would side with others at their level. And this has made both of us fairly optimistic people who believe that justice can win out. . . .
Not all people have that, I realize. And so they come to an opposite feeling. (The Journey, August 12)
The Rev. Myriam Renaud clears up misleading statistics about the balance between Evangelical and mainline Protestant Christians.
In essence . . . ex-mainline and ex-Evangelical congregants have fragmented into millions of units of one. The Christian Right didn’t get loud by converting mainline religionists; all it had to do was remain firmly seated in its pews and continue singing as a block while the theologically-liberal churches lost members. If their voices sound stronger, it’s not based on growing numbers but due to a lack of synchronized countervoices. (The Naked Theologian, August 9)