Saturday, April 26, 2008

Power to Bless?

“James and John saw this, they said, "Lord, do You want us to command fire to come down from heaven and consume them, just as Elijah did?"
But He turned and rebuked them, and said, "You do not know what manner of spirit you are of. For the Son of Man did not come to destroy men's lives but to save them." And they went to another village.”
(Luke 9:54-56)

It seems to me that the power of Pentecost (that fire and wind event, which stands out as the prime example of God's power working in and through Jesus' followers, and becomes both a model we look back to, and an experience we hope to discover for ourselves) has a central motivating factor which is so simple that we overlook it.

The power of Pentecost seems to be that of granting blessing.

Jesus was none too happy with the "sons of thunder" who wanted to call fire down upon those who rejected the message of Christ. Though Peter had to call the young men to carry Ananias' and wife's bodies out of the house, this was not the common power motif of the book of Acts. The few instances of power judgments appear to be the exception and not the rule. The stories of healing and deliverance far outstrip the stories of power judgments in the New Testament, and any general reference to power encounters in the New Testament do not mention judgments, but always blessing.

I have heard a great many prophecies of judgment during my 28 years as a Christian. I have not seen these judgment prophecies come true - at least not with any accuracy beyond that which monkeys playing the stock market would achieve. I would think that if we see judgment as a power play by God during these current days that we like James and John have misunderstood the "manner of spirit [we ] are of."

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Salem: No Place for Hating Witches - SynchroBlog for April 16th, 2008

I am able to take a little time and write this because I completed my taxes months ago.

I really wanted to get away from posting about Neo-Paganism. Yes, I live in Salem, and Witches, Wiccans, Pagans, and the like are the common fare of local experience. Yes, this is home to such groups as The Witchcraft League for Public Awareness, and yes, I do specifically have understanding about the goings-on in the Pagan community because of friendships I have developed over the years, but nonetheless one wishes to write about something else once in a while, but alas recent events have conspired to make this SynchroBlog on the subject of social justice, and the topic of Neo-Paganism blend into one.

On Saturday, April 12th Jerrie Hildebrand and Salem's No Place for Hate Committee organized a panel discussion featuring Jerrie (a Salem Witch and social activist), Salem State professor Elizabeth Duclos-Orsello, and Margot Adler: the host of NPR's "Justice Talking" and a famed Pagan author.

The focus of the public discussion was to highlight Wiccan/Pagan lifestyle and beliefs in order to break misguided public perceptions, and help bring healing and understanding to the community.

So, here is why I need to write about this in my SynchroBlog on Social Activism and Christian Mission - Our church supplied the sound system, and I ran the sound for the event.

An article in Salem News from Monday the 14th highlights this event.

The newspaper seemed to underestimate the crowd from my evaluation. It seemed that there were closer to 100 in the room, which seats about 220, and the Pagan population appeared to be a little more than half the group when hands were raised.

Margot and Jerrie gave a brief history of Neo-Paganism in the US, and in Salem specifically. After about an hour, questions were asked, and the Salem State professor monitored the questions.

Here are some of the statements, and questions which stood out to me during the evening:

Jerrie: "We are single, married, monogamous, with multiple partners, gay, heterosexual, and from every walk of life." That did define the room itself, and the Pagan community as I have come to know it over the years.

Margot: "People are not comfortable talking about religion. After 35 years I can count on two hands the number of people who have asked me to coffee in order to sit down and talk about what I believe." I later asked her if I could come down to new York City sometime and meet her over coffee (I did not mention I hate coffee), to talk about Paganism with her.

The newspaper article outlines some of the questions asked, and points of discussion, and covers the basics of the meeting. My point for writing this is something different altogether: What is the place of the church in creating peaceful discussion with other religious groups?

Reading the comments to the Salem News article one finds what appear to be rather mean spirited comments from Christians. I responded with an apology for the behavior of the those from my tribe who are supposed to be "peacemakers."

Is there a place for social activism to include Christians getting involved in anti-hate campaigns against religious groups with which we theologically disagree on fundamental points of doctrine and truth?

I say yes, and have received not a small portion of condemnation for it.

What do you say?

Monday, April 14, 2008

Social Activism and Christian Mission SynchroBlog - April 16th

Here are the list of socially concerned, and maybe even active individuals who are going to be blogging together on this subject Wednesday, April 16th:

Phil Wyman at Square No More - Salem: No Place for Hating Witches
Mike Bursell at Mike's Musings
Bryan Riley at at Charis Shalom
Steve Hayes writes about Khanya: Christianity and social justice
Reba Baskett at In Reba's World
Prof Carlos Z. with Ramblings from a Sociologist
Cobus van Wyngaard at My Contemplations: David Bosch, Public Theology, Social Justic
Cindy Harvey at Tracking the Edge
Alan Knox at The Assembling of the Church
Matthew Stone at Matt Stone Journeys in Between
John Smulo at
Sonja Andrews at Calacirian
Lainie Petersen at Headspace
KW Leslie: Shine: not let it shine
Stephanie Moulton at Faith and the Environment Collide
Julie Clawson at One Hand Clapping
Steve Hollinghurst at On Earth as in Heaven
Sam Norton at Elizaphanian: Tesco is a Big Red Herring
Kieran Conroy at Wrestling with Angels

Friday, April 04, 2008

SynchroBlog - Social Activism and Christian Mission

Would you like to join the growing list of people involved in our SynchroBlog (see the original post here)? This month the topic is Social Activism and Christian Mission. Let me know if you want in, or check out the SynchroBlog e-mail list here. Release date for this blog is Wednesday, April 16th.