Stories I’ve Found, 6/14/2013

Interesting stories I’ve found lately:

Bill Tammeus put me onto this excellent story from Atlantic: Listening to Young Atheists: Lessons for a Stronger Christianity. It’s a long piece, but well worth reading and pondering every main point.  The stories of those who left can give us great insight about what we can do better.  Everyone involved in ministry should read this, not just youth ministers, because the youth are part of everyone’s ministry.

In the same blog post, Bill mentioned a book by Kenda Creasy Dean, Almost Christian: What the Faith of Our Teenagers Is Telling the American Church ISBN 0195314840.  The author is a campus chaplain, a seminary professor and the mother of two young adults. She says Moral Theraputic Deism as the main heresy being practiced across denominations these days, and her descriptions of the state of matters today and insights are fantastic. I HIGHLY recommend this book as summer reading ASAP for all my friends in ministry, whether they’re in youth ministry or not, and I’m writing an article for my community newsletter about the subject matter soon. It’s available as an e-book, I read it on NOOK. If you work for a church, or are interested in faith and how we live it, this is a must read as well!

David Gibson reports of a push to undermine the Catholic Bishop’s social justice agenda through McCarthy style tactics. Words cannot express my revulsion.

Ira Glass admits What Christians Really Are Is Not Being Captured By The Press.  Glass is an agnostic of Jewish heritage, so he has no interest in saying this to promote a personal agenda. Will have to look for more of this conversation, because I think Glass is entirely right, and he puts it in such a way it doesn’t sound like a grand conspiracy to do us in. I think the bad reporting is due to poor education, a lack of research and willful ignorance.

I read two stories from abuse survivors about having their abusers present that provoke deeper reflection: What Christians Can Do To Help Survivors and When My Abuser Is Welcome At The Table I Am Not.  At very least, it shows the potential damage forced or premature reconciliation can do in such a situation: healing has to happen in God’s time and can’t be rushed. The issue of keeping anyone away from the Table of Christ is a touchy one for me, although I can understand why the presence of an abuser can keep a victim away, throwing people out of our midst seems troublesome for a Church that professes welcome to everyone. God needs to help us with this, a lot, especially in helping us be patient with our broken nature and the broken nature of others. There’s a fine line to be walked here, and our society isn’t good at walking fine lines these days (or any lines).

There’s been a lot of debate about Uganda and the possibility it may make homosexuality a crime punishable by death. A second generation Ugandan unpacks the motives beneath it and the larger stories this debate covers up

Martin Marty opens up a very important topic: Interfaith Marriages: Religious Tolerance or Religious Dilution?    His quote of Cardinal Bernadin at the end is excellent and reflects what my experience has been.

The Pope Francis section, since he comes up with a lot of interesting stuff almost every week:

-Was he referring to the Leadership Conference of Women Religious when he downplayed the threat of Vatican scrutiny of religious orders in South America?

-Here’s his Wednesday morning and General Audience notes, including his call for the Church to open its doors to everyone.  Check out the Whispers in the Loggia post for Wednesday, June 12 for a more complete text of these speeches, and pictures of him receiving a Harley Davidson motorcycle.

-His warning about being a rich church, and how a rich church is lifeless.

-This morning’s (Friday the 14th) he challenged us priests to reflect more on our shortcomings than our accomplishments. Whispers in the Loggia has a more complete version of the text in this morning’s post.

-The BBC picked up the story of the Pope’s admission of a Gay Lobby in the Vatican. I am for respecting Gays and Gay rights, and my OCD compels me to say this story isn’t about these issues. Promoting personal goals and agendas in the Vatican or anywhere else in any church without reference to the Common Good isn’t good for anyone, no matter what lines the group is organized around.

Francis Rocca shares some thoughts on What the Pope’s Leaked Comments Really Tell Us About the Church that are fascinating.

-Alessandro Speciale gives us this overview of Pope Francis’ first 100 days.

Richard Ostling gives us some good information in How Do Muslims Interpret the Qu’ran.  I think he’s pretty much on track from what I know, there’s lots of different ways people interpret the Bible and the Torah, but this is an introductory article, and if you want more, seek out a Muslim commentator.

Mike Huckabee tells the Baptist Convention that Churches should give up their IRS tax exemption in order to preach more freely about politics.  I’m all in favor of churches talking about political issues, although I don’t do much of that myself, however I’m not sure God’s politics are all that clear at times, and I don’t think He belongs to one party or the other.  Also, I don’t think the IRS has ever sought to revoke an exemption for a church over what it preaches, although there can always be a first time, I guess.

10 Reasons Superman is Really Jewish is a piece I thought was humor, but has some very interesting points to make about the Man of Steel.

Bryan Berghof, the Pub Theologian, reports on a growing trend in the military to use Yoga and Meditation to help soldiers maintain their balance and remain mentally healthy.  He asks some good questions toward the end of this post that are worth considering.

Ben Witherington give us a charming post The Many Moods Manifested When Music Moves You.   He quoted this old Stephen Stills song that made me wonder how much it applies to today.

I’ve seen the documentary of Mother Delores Hart, God is the Bigger Elvis and it’s an amazing story. Check out this piece on her book here.

This is a frighteningly accurate account of what goes through any minister’s mind at a wedding.  I would add: don’t get a “Church” wedding unless you plan to be part of a Church and let it affect your life and relationships. It’s not lasting magic thats keeps you together forever if you’re just there for a day.

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