God's Politics

God's Politics


Not Just Another PC Peace and Justice Group (by Becky Garrison)

posted by God's Politics

When I got an invitation to attend the launch of New York Faith & Justice (www.nyfaithjustice.org), their mission statement caught my eye. Simply stated, their goals are: Following Christ, uniting the church, and ending poverty in New York through spiritual formation, education, and direct advocacy. Grounded in the words of Isaiah 61, this movement envisions a city where New Yorkers are released from the oppression of poverty and the poverty of riches.


I can hear the naysayers now: “Here we go again. Another PC peace and justice group that’s all talk and no action. They might spout a bit of scripture but in the end, they’re really just a front for the Democratic Party. Been there. Done that. Next.”


I understand this kind of cynicism. I’ve covered too many “religious” justice-oriented gatherings that were full of sound and fury but in the end signified nothing. The power of prayer and preaching about the Risen Christ seemed to take a back seat because God forbid we talk about Jesus and offend our secular counterparts. Also, after satirizing the antics of the Religious Right for more than 12 years, the last thing I want to see is the creation of a Progressive Left counterpart.


So when I read that this group was “ecumenical,” I was skeptical at first. While religious leaders whose backgrounds ranged from PCA to ECUSA were invited to participate, would they actually show up? In a post-9/11 New York City, one seldom sees Orthodox, evangelicals, mainline Protestants, and Pentecostals willing to set aside their differences and come together in the name of Jesus.


However, this movement showed all the spiritual signs of being Bible-based and truly nonpartisan from the get-go. You know something is up when 15 students from Intervarsity Fellowship and Union Theological Seminary carry a wooden cross — literally — for 5.3 miles, trekking from Trinity Baptist Church, located on Manhattan’s Upper East Side, over to the Bronx.


This broad-based ecumenical spirit carried on throughout the evening with prayers offered by ministers representing a broad swath of the Christian faith. Liturgies, worship songs, spoken-word poetry, and visual art were intertwined with speeches by Lolita Jackson from Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s office; Rachel Anderson, director of Boston Faith and Justice Network; Dale Irvin, president of New York Theological Seminary; Lisa Sharon Harper, executive director of NY Faith & Justice; and Jim Wallis. If you read the backgrounds of these spiritual seekers, you’ll see that these are not cookie-cutter Christians all molded from the same batch of devotional dough.


Unlike some gatherings that talk around poverty issues without offering any concrete solutions, Harper noted how their programs are structured around the three mission points: Following Christ, Uniting the Church, and Ending Poverty. Right now, the program is far too early in its infancy to assess if these points can be sharpened into actual tools for social change. But based on what I saw this evening, I left the launch wondering if perhaps Shane Claiborne is indeed right — that “Another world is possible.” Will this ecumenical momentum continue? One can pray and hope.


Becky Garrison’s upcoming book Rising from the Ashes: Rethinking Church (Seabury Books, October 2007) explores what it means to be the church in the 21st century.



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Ted Voth Jr

posted September 28, 2007 at 3:26 pm


“Also, after satirizing the antics of the Religious Right for more than 12 years, the last thing I want to see is the creation of a Progressive Left counterpart.”
Amen, Sister. Sometimes when I read Wallis, I want to say “Jim, Jim; careful, Jim; easy does it.” The last thing we need is for cynical “left-wing” centrist political operatives in sheep’s clothing to learn how to “talk the talk,” like this current right-wing bunch of wolves.
Much of the Church in the US is wise as doves and innocent as serpents.
So glad to hear they gather aroungd my Lord Jesus. IV and UTS kids working together! God speed, God bless you all!



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Ted Voth Jr

posted September 28, 2007 at 3:32 pm


“Also, after satirizing the antics of the Religious Right for more than 12 years, the last thing I want to see is the creation of a Progressive Left counterpart.”
Amen, Sister. Sometimes when I read Wallis, I want to say “Jim, Jim; careful, Jim; easy does it.” The last thing we need is for cynical “left-wing” centrist political operatives in sheep’s clothing to learn how to “talk the talk,” like this current right-wing bunch of wolves.
Much of the Church in the US is wise as doves and innocent as serpents.
So glad to hear they gather aroungd my Lord Jesus. IV and UTS kids working together! God speed, God bless you all!



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kevin s.

posted September 28, 2007 at 4:06 pm


Sounds like this group gets it. Good post.



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Moderatelad

posted September 28, 2007 at 4:09 pm


Just a few questions –
‘…broad-based ecumenical spirit…’
How ‘broad’ is broad? Are we talking about 6 to 8 groups or 80+ groups.
‘…offend our secular counterparts.’
If we are ‘following Christ – uniting the church – ending poverty’. Why so much concern about offending the secular counterparts?
I one would like to be a part of this group – can you still be supporters or friends of Coral Ridge Ministries, Focus/Family, Graham Asso etc?
‘…last thing I want to see is the creation of a Progressive Left counterpart.
Too late – I believe it has been done.
There are many churches that are working with the ‘poor’ in our area on any number of issues. One of the biggest issues is getting them out of the ‘envy’ mode so that they can see there is so much for them to celebrate and can be accomplished by them to make their lives better. But they have to be involved in it so that they have ownership.
So many that I know are making a lot more money than my wife and I and are just broke at a higher level. It is no crime to be poor and poor is a relative term.
Have a great weekend – everyone!
.



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Kevin Wayne

posted September 28, 2007 at 6:13 pm


Peronally I think we aren’t confrontive enough. I still want Sojouners to take on more of a Counterpunch mentallity.
Of course that isn’t to denigrate this group or it’s objectives at all, it’s just to say we shouldn’t trade on the truth because it might offend someone.



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linda

posted September 28, 2007 at 8:45 pm


What a beautiful logo. Just looking at it
gives me confidence that your endeavor is going to have an inspiring, beneficial and warmly successful life with God.
“We live in a wonderful universe.” Walter S. Cox



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becky garrison

posted September 29, 2007 at 6:36 am


Only 8 or so ministers were on stage offering prayers because if you had say 80+ people that each said a prayer followed by speeches, songs and worship, that would have made for a day-long event not an evening gathering. Having said that, this was far more ecumenical than most other anti-poverty gatherings I’ve seen where only the liberal end of the faith spectrum is represented. I saw several ministers on stage that I’m pretty certain would be supportive of Dr. Dobson and Company.
The “offending secular counterparts” was my critique of liberal religious groups who don’t talk about their biblical basis for their actions.
Also, this was one of the more biblically based discussions about poverty – I was reminded me the discussions I’ve been having lately about what it means to live our lives in accordance with the scriptures?



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DeWayne

posted September 29, 2007 at 2:55 pm


Excerpt: Having said that, this was far more ecumenical than most other anti-poverty gatherings I’ve seen where only the liberal end of the faith spectrum is represented.
It may be becoming clear to many, that although we call our two mainline political parties DEM and GOP, in fact and truth there are many similarities.
I can remember long ago when my father was a DFL-democrat, a man I aspire to and now emulate, although not a democrat… nor republican. I can remember once in AOL-chat talking with a democrat who said his party no longer represented him ( because of Godless policy).
But then I consider men like former Pres-Carter, and remember how today a man claiming to be Christian is involved in many evils. What does this or should this tell a Christian?
Today I am liberal with love as near that as Christ as this man in flesh body may be. I am also conservative in policies of aid that only provide cluster bombs in civilian war.
If the author of this article would like to seperate me from one I believe to be a brother, meaning Jimmy Carter, they have failed. If the author was trying to make another point, perhaps he could find a better method and words in which to accomplish this.
A man once politicized his ambition, calling it a Crusade, it began before leaving Europe in the killing of Jewish peoples. Who in this was the enemy of God.



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DeWayne

posted September 29, 2007 at 3:12 pm


Excerpt: Peronally I think we aren’t confrontive enough. I still want Sojouners to take on more of a Counterpunch mentallity.
I believe this is what Christ has commanded,”Eph 5:11 Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them.” I would hope rather than yoking anyone to a secular political party, this is sage advice and could even be called politically correct, saying “expose (both of) them.”



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linda

posted September 29, 2007 at 3:37 pm


Liberal Christians have felt that living Christ in their lives is more important than making rules regarding doctrine.
Jesus has always struck me as being invitational rather than coercive.
When we invite people to dine at our table, we do not have prerequisites.
Legislative policies of the Democrats have been so
much closer to the good news of the Gospel than
anything I have seen in Republican endeavors.
Jimmy Carter was intelligent and prophetic in inviting us to work toward policies of energy independence and sufficiency thirty years ago. The enormous tragedy of Iraq could have been avoided if the seeds which Carter planted were
cultivated for thirty years, rather than destroyed by the Republicans soon after Reagan
took office.



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Mick Sheldon

posted September 29, 2007 at 5:09 pm


Jimmy Carter was intelligent and prophetic in inviting us to work toward policies of energy independence
I remember writing him a letter advocating solar power . Wish we had some leadership that of JFK style , instead of ten years we will be on the moon , ten years and we will energy independent .
India and China are only going to increase their consumption , causing more tension on the market and national poltical friendships.
Rather see less shame and blame , and common sense and money spent on energy alternatives and science .



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itsme

posted September 29, 2007 at 11:04 pm


“Legislative policies of the Democrats have been so much closer to the good news of the Gospel than anything I have seen in Republican endeavors.”
Marxist Socialism is Christian how? Taxing the family INTO poverty is Christian how? Promoting children to not tell their parents they are pregnant is Christian how? Legalizing children to have abortions without telling their parents is Christian how? Condom morality is Christian how? Same-gender “marriage” is Christian how?
Now just how are the Democrats closer to the Gospel than Republicans? The GOP (right now anyway) stands for not outlawing Christians from believing they can preach the Gospel and the teachings of the Apostles the way Jesus and the Apostles did. The GOP still believes that families should be free to have their own property not taxed into oblivion. The GOP still believes that parents should be caring for their own children and not teachers and Leftist administrators at schools. The GOP still agrees with Jesus that marriage is a man and a woman. And conservatives still believe that children should not have sex until they are adults and are married to someone of the opposite gender.
And if Jimmy Carter were intelligent and prophetic, why are so many of his Latin American friends becoming Communist Dictators? Democrat aspirations being met through his contacts perhaps?
You may want to look a little closer into just what is going on in the Democrat party. It has very little in resemblance to the Gospel and to the faith delivered only once to the saints.



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Rick Nowlin

posted September 30, 2007 at 7:30 pm


You may want to look a little closer into just what is going on in the Democrat party. It has very little in resemblance to the Gospel and to the faith delivered only once to the saints.
Never, never confuse the Christian faith with any ideology or political party. Conservatives started doing this in the 1980s, which invited “liberals” to do the same today.



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neuro_nurse

posted September 30, 2007 at 7:55 pm


itsme,
Your post is nothing more than the same accusatory, us-versus-them rhetoric which does nothing but stifle dialogue. You’ve reduced liberals to your narrow stereotype refusing to acknowledge us as individuals, yet you’d vehemently protest if I did the same to you.
Get over the blame-game. It’s counterproductive and un-Christ-like. Besides, with a little research, you’d find that your accusations don’t hold water.
Seek peace ad pursue it.



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itsme

posted September 30, 2007 at 7:59 pm


When testing all things, especially Conservative and Liberal “ideology,” you see the Conservatives aligned with the Apsoltes and the words of Christ Jesus, and you see Liberals aligned with Wiccan ideology of “do what thou wilt . . ..”



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kevin s.

posted September 30, 2007 at 8:20 pm


“Never, never confuse the Christian faith with any ideology or political party.”
Right.



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neuro_nurse

posted September 30, 2007 at 8:22 pm


itsme,
What do you hope to accomplish with your bull-in-the-china-shop behavior? Do you think someone will read one of your posts and “see the light?” That’s unlikely. Most of us usually dismiss these kinds of posts and consider the people who post them to be seriously in error.
You won’t win any converts this way. Why don’t you instead try to open a dialogue with people which whom you disagree, but I’m afraid that means you’ll have to drop the hostile attitude, do a little homework on the subject, rather than spout rhetoric as if we are supposed to accept it as a priori truth, and think for yourself.
…and work on your grammar, spelling, and puctuation.



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kevin s.

posted September 30, 2007 at 9:27 pm


“…and work on your grammar, spelling, and puctuation.”
I hope you are being ironic.



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Kevin Wayne

posted October 1, 2007 at 12:09 am


I believe this is what Christ has commanded,”Eph 5:11 Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them.” I would hope rather than yoking anyone to a secular political party, this is sage advice and could even be called politically correct, saying “expose (both of) them.”
OK, so you agree with me, then? That’s what Counterpunch.org does.



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Amazon Creek

posted October 1, 2007 at 2:03 am


Never, never confuse the Christian faith with any ideology or political party. Conservatives started doing this in the 1980s, which invited “liberals” to do the same today.
Amen, Rick! You GO, Mister! We are soooo on the same page, there.
Jesus Christ does not waste time “taking sides” when it comes to ideology. Instead, Jesus Christ takes OVER. All human ideologies and the wisdom of this world come up short. The wisdom of God, in contrast, is perfect.



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Amazon Creek

posted October 1, 2007 at 2:11 am


I am so happy to hear of a group like Ms. Garrison describes. I have long had these same concerns about progressive Christian groups. I don’t want to ever water down the gospel.
I don’t mind cooperating with all sorts of people who share my values of helping the poor, alleviating injustice. But at some point, I need the freedom to openly speak of why a person needs Jesus Christ.
I’m not talking about badgering others or trying to shove the good news down a person’s throat. And I DEFINTELY always want to stay silent on the subject until the Holy Spirit inside of me tells me it’s the right moment to speak.
But…still…if you never tell a person that they need Jesus Christ, then you are not truly that person’s friend. Friends want the best for each other. They don’t withhold that kind of information. When I get too silent, I start praying for God to fill my heart with more love for others.



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neuro_nurse

posted October 1, 2007 at 12:16 pm


“I hope you are being ironic.”
Irony only you can appreciate.
Seek peace and pursue it.



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linda

posted October 1, 2007 at 7:00 pm


With U.S. and U.K. 3973 dead, U.S./U.K. 82,300 wounded and or mentally ill, Iraq 3,000,000
refugees in unimaginably dire circumstances in
surrounding countries. . . . .
Who does that famous old propaganda book title “Masters of Deceit” remind you of now? Even my truly wonderful Republican friends are saying that The Hoover Institute Quartet (Cheney, Rice, Schultz, and Rumsfeld) and their hand picked president,Bush, chose the wrong means to the end.
But then Jesus had to deal with such people – at his end.



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Moderatelad

posted October 2, 2007 at 8:50 am


Posted by: becky garrison | September 29, 2007 6:36 AM
Thanks for your comments!
Have a great day –
.



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linda

posted October 2, 2007 at 11:28 pm


To Itsme:
I’ve had a couple of observations about abortion
while interviewing 650 girls who needed one.
Most of the girls I saw, who were applying for
public assistance, were 15 or 16 years old. Still legally children themselves. Hadn’t finished High School, had no jobs, living with their parents. Accidentally pregnant.
During our interviews, at least 80% of them
said “My father will kill me, if he finds out.”
You don’t see the good in taxes? How about paying
for the birth of 1,000,000 unwanted babies each year. Add to that eighteen years of AFDC, Food Stamps, Medicaid and public education.
How do you feel about FORCING OTHER PEOPLE’S CHILDREN to have unwanted babies? Nothing Christian there.
One thought came from a truly saintly minister
who, when asked what he thought about abortion
said “Why ruin two peoples lives?”
Condoms? When Africa needed funding for programs
of birth control and safe sex, Ronald Reagan refused to send money. Today we have 70,000,000
people in Africa with AIDS. I can’t imagine how
many AIDS related orphans there are now on the
continent.
It was that President Reagan who cut 500,000 totally disabled people off of their
income and medical assistance in the ’80s. Three of my clients were among them. They all died. They were diabetics.
Do you know much about the poor? President Bush
said before his inauguration that he did not.
You might find William Stringfellow’s book “My
People is the Enemy” informative and Christian.



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