The political dimensions of the Church and the Gospel it preaches are utterly lost on the US news industry until someone commits the faux pas of “mixing religion and politics.” Catholic theologian Matthew Shadle reflects on the latest breach of decorum, Pope Francis’ visit to Mexico, which was a back page story until Francis crossed the line.
The Ekklesia Project does not endorse political candidates, nor does it take positions in partisan political controversies, but its friends and endorsers live in a world in which Karl Barth urged Christians to read both the Bible and the newspaper, interpreting the latter through the former. Debra Dean Murphy, an Ekklesia Project endorser and leader, takes Barth’s approach as the already tiresome political season enters a new phase.
Would-be American presidents may always feel this pressure—either from within or without—to cloak themselves in religious garb, sometimes heavily, sometimes lightly; to see themselves as saviors of a sort, as those called to run “the greatest country in the world” and thus have a powerful hand in running the world. This seems laughable when it comes to the kind of servant leadership, the kind of counter politics that a crucified messiah asks of his followers. But it’s not funny. Especially when the religious rhetoric we’re hearing is so charged with murderous hate.
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It has not been a peaceful Advent. The news of the past several weeks has been filled with guns, violence, death, and fear. What might we be required to surrender as we wait for the Lord? Who needs to change? Here are two reflections that use this Sunday’s Advent lectionary readings as a starting place: one by Matt Morin, and the other from Fritz Bauerschmidt.
In this video, EP endorser Tim Otto discusses his book, Oriented to Faith, and ideas for how the church might move forward even when it seems unable to overcome serious conflict. From the Wipf and Stock page:
Rather than embracing the conflict around gay relationships as an opportunity for the church to talk honestly about human sexuality, Christians continue to hurt one another with the same tired arguments that divide us along predictable political battle lines. If the world is to “know that we are Christians by our love,” the church needs to discover better ways to live out the deep unity we share in Christ as we engage with politics and our world.
In Oriented to Faith, Tim Otto tells the story of his struggle with being gay and what that taught him about the gospel. With an authentic and compelling personal voice, Tim invites us to explore how God is at work in the world, even amidst the most difficult circumstances, redeeming and transforming the church through this difficult debate. With gentle wisdom and compassionate insight, Tim invites all followers of Jesus to consider how we might work with God through these tensions so that all can be transformed by God’s good news in and through Christ.
You may have heard of the decision by a film distributor in the UK not to screen a short video featuring the Lord’s Prayer before the new Star Wars movie this December because some viewers may find it offensive. You may have also heard how this business decision has been received. You may not have heard from the Anglican Bishop of Sheffield, who considers why the powers and principalities have good reason take offense. Perhaps it’s a worthy reminder of the subversiveness inherent in faithfully observing the season of Advent.