God's Politics

God's Politics


Progressive and Evangelical Common Ground (by Jim Wallis)

posted by God's Politics

As the Religious Right has diminished in influence, many are searching for a new political agenda that doesn’t fit the standard right/left battles of American politics and is more consistent with their deeply held values. That new agenda would be good news for the majority of Americans who are alienated by the political extremes and are hungry – not for a soulless centrism – but for a new moral center in our public life.

To ground that new agenda, we need a better understanding of the role of faith in public life. Political appeals – even if rooted in religious convictions – must be argued on moral grounds, rather than as sectarian religious demands, so that the people (citizens), whether religious or not, may have the capacity to hear and respond. Religion must be disciplined by democracy and contribute to a better and more moral public discourse. Religious convictions must therefore be translated into moral arguments, which must win the political debate if they are to be implemented. Religious people don’t get to win just because they are religious (in a nation that is often claimed to be a Judeo-Christian country). They, like any other citizens, have to convince their fellow citizens that what they propose is best for the common good—for all of us and not just for the religious. Clearly, part of the work to be done includes teaching religious people how to make their appeals in moral language, and secular people not to fear such appeals will lead to theocracy.

The public discussion about and between evangelicals and progressives has been dominated by too many false choices and too much mutual misunderstanding. It is time to work for common ground on some of our most critical issues. We must address a compelling vision to the many Americans who are actually more “purple,” than “red” or “blue.” What could evoke their convictions, reflect their values, summon their commitments, and change America? What would a broader and deeper moral politics or values politics begin to look like?

An important step toward those goals was taken yesterday with the release of “ Come Let Us Reason Together ” by the Third Way culture program. I applaud this effort by Third Way to develop common ground.

In a section on the role of faith in public life and politics, the paper outlines three “basic principles as a first step in bridging the divide over the role of religion in American public life:”

  • Respect for religious beliefs and religious diversity is vital for a healthy society.
  • Religion plays an appropriate public, not just private, role in American life.
  • All citizens have a constitutionally protected right to articulate the religious or moral basis of their political views in the public sphere, and protecting these expressions does not conflict with a commitment to the non-establishment of religion.

The heart of the paper, “Come Let Us Reason Together” provides significant common ground with a “ Shared Vision on Five Divisive Cultural Issues” – affirming the human dignity of gay and lesbian people, reducing the need for abortion, placing responsible moral limits on the treatment of human embryos, creating safe spaces for children online, and encouraging responsible fatherhood. The authors explain:

In this section, we have taken five key cultural areas and identified common ground in order to show that it is possible to have conversations even on some of the toughest issues. Beyond promoting sound policy for the nation, our hope is to help evangelicals and progressives move beyond mutual distrust on cultural issues to respectful civic partnerships that operate on the assumption of good faith even in the midst of disagreement. This reconfiguration makes a significant contribution to a more civil democratic dialogue and serves as a foundation for progress on the toughest issues.

The paper concludes:

In order for this paper to bear more fruit, both progressives and evangelicals will need to continue the hard work of reasoning together. We do not conclude that these conversations will be easy or that the paper’s proposals in themselves will resolve all the real disagreements and tensions on cultural issues. But we believe that the gap need not be as wide and the mistrust need not run as deep.

Progressives and evangelicals are people who care deeply about the justice and health of our society, and potential alliances between us on key issues could provide a genuine convergence for the common good. This paper was endorsed by a wide range of religious leaders, and I look forward to the “hard work of reasoning together” in further conversations.



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aaron

posted October 11, 2007 at 10:25 am


“Evangelical public engagement.” I see this used over and over again and I guess it’s what academics call the life that Christians are supposed to be living by default. This paper had some good points but a lot of it was pointing out things that could be seen as common sense and not particularly ground breaking.
Aaron
http://aaronstewart.blogspot.com/



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recovering ex-Pentecostal

posted October 11, 2007 at 10:32 am


“Respect for religious beliefs and religious diversity is vital for a healthy society.”
Agreed. When evangelicals (i.e. the RRR) allow that theirs are not the ONLY valid religious beliefs, and allow others who happen to believe differently the same respect they themselves demand, the U.S> (and the world at large, due to the influence of the U.S.) will be a much better place.
“Religion plays an appropriate public, not just private, role in American life.”
Disagreed. I was raised with, and still value the concept of having a “personal relationship” with God. My beliefs, if I am allowed them, should have no place in “public life”, other than I will live my life according to the 2 great commendments to love God and to love our neighbour as ourself (i.e. do to others – aka the “public” – as I would have them do to me, which is the “sum of the laws and the prophets”). At present, evangelicals/the RRR insist that the entire public follow their religious tenets. This is what is unacceptable in that it does NOT show “respect’ for others’ beliefs.
“All citizens have a constitutionally protected right to articulate the religious or moral basis of their political views in the public sphere, and protecting these expressions does not conflict with a commitment to the non-establishment of religion.”
Ah, but there’s a difference between ‘articulating’ one’s beliefs and forcing others to abide by them. Yes, by all means, “protect” the expression, but by no means must it be pushed into laws governing all people, many of whom do not share those beliefs.



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Eric

posted October 11, 2007 at 11:24 am


I agree with most of the broad principles outlined by the paper. They should be generally accepted by Christians on both the right and the left.
As to the ex-Pentacostal’s comments, I’m not sure what you mean when you say that people shouldn’t be forced to abide by someone else’s religious beliefs. Who, in the normal realm of political debate, is forcing others to abide by their political beliefs? Are you talking about using legislatures to promote justice or redistribute wealth or ban abortion? If that’s the case, then I can see where you’re coming from (even though I don’t agree with it), but if not, I’m very confused by what you mean.
The one minor objection to the paper’s statements I have is the phrase “reducing the need for abortion.” There really isn’t any real need for abortion that can be reduced. Very few people actually need an abortion, and in the small number of cases that they do medically, it’s not something that can be reduced. There is a demand and a desire for abortion, but that is different than need. I think the wording should be changed to “reducing the desire or demand for abortion.”



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squeaky

posted October 11, 2007 at 11:30 am


recovering–seems to mee that is what Wallis is saying and the article he is referring to are saying.
“do to others – aka the “public” – as I would have them do to me, which is the “sum of the laws and the prophets”
I’m not sure how this doesn’t translate into public life. If our faith is in the Jesus of the two greatest commandments and the beatitudes, our faith should show in the public realm as well. I think Wallis is saying we should do that without forcing others to live our convictions. And what are ways we can find common ground that everyone can agree with that doesn’t force someone to believe what we believe? I’m a bit scattered because class is in one minute and I have to go. Suffice it to say, I don’t think your take on the article was what Wallis was trying to say.



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squeaky

posted October 11, 2007 at 11:30 am


recovering–seems to mee that is what Wallis is saying and the article he is referring to are saying.
“do to others – aka the “public” – as I would have them do to me, which is the “sum of the laws and the prophets”
I’m not sure how this doesn’t translate into public life. If our faith is in the Jesus of the two greatest commandments and the beatitudes, our faith should show in the public realm as well. I think Wallis is saying we should do that without forcing others to live our convictions. And what are ways we can find common ground that everyone can agree with that doesn’t force someone to believe what we believe? I’m a bit scattered because class is in one minute and I have to go. Suffice it to say, I don’t think your take on the article was what Wallis was trying to say.



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Recovering ex-Hedonist/Progressive

posted October 11, 2007 at 11:56 am


The word “Evangelical” applies to the historic Biblical Christian. There is the difference between a Christian and a non and anti Christian.
When there is no difference between a non-Christian and even an anti-Christian . . . and a Christian . . . there is a problem. In reality, where or what is the difference between a Progressive “Christian” and a non Christian Progressive?
If we are to test all things in order to find the truth, then it is very difficult for a person holding up the Bible as of paramount importance to Christian life, to believe that “Progressives” have anything to do with “The faith delivered only once to the Saints.”
This is fascinating:
>>>>Ah, but there’s a difference between ‘articulating’ one’s beliefs and forcing others to abide by them. Yes, by all means, “protect” the expression, but by no means must it be pushed into laws governing all people, many of whom do not share those beliefs.



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CRP

posted October 11, 2007 at 12:02 pm


We’re a secular, democratic nation folks. Accept it. Buddists, Christians, Muslims, atheists, all get “one vote.” No-one gets two.



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Rick Nowlin

posted October 11, 2007 at 12:28 pm


If we are to test all things in order to find the truth, then it is very difficult for a person holding up the Bible as of paramount importance to Christian life, to believe that “Progressives” have anything to do with “The faith delivered only once to the Saints.”
Actually, Donny, back in the late 1800s the “progressives” WERE the evangelicals.
What makes a “Christian” Progressive any different than their non and anti-Christian counterparts?
Taking your rationale further, what’s the difference between a Christian conservative and a secular conservative?



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Eric

posted October 11, 2007 at 12:37 pm


CRP – thanks for the civics lesson. Is there a point?



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know!buddhaU

posted October 11, 2007 at 12:51 pm


I read this over at HuffPo, then posted this comment, which quickly got buried.
Right on, Rev. Jim!
I’m a Zen poet and grad. student of research psychology. I’ve learned something about both I think you’ll like.
I call it the principle of the self-emptying vessel. You might know it as kenotic theology: a flowing cosmos, simultaneously coming into being and ging out, vs. a static, once-created, never-changing one. The in- and out-pouring of divinity is the Flow. It’s all about the Flow.
In psychology, we know that brains function on the basis of neuronal models of stimuli. Memories are patterns of energies in distributed neural nets. Now, here it comes. It turns out brains function just like coffee cups.
Neuronal models of stimuli are the self-emptying vessels of Mind, into which experience is Flowing; from which Awareness is arising like steam; and out of which We are Flowing like water.
All we need are durable vessels
Vessels durable just long enough to
Keep the Flow going
out of the infinite
post-partum we stand; divided, we fall back
into the infinite
Here’s the thing: our brains can discriminate one stimulus from another by comparing these models. Tragically, we then admit the humanity of only those sufficiently close to our models of our selves and groups.
Identity politics is all about defining who “we” are, esp. in regard to We, the People. I have a short demonstration of the very source of “we.”
Draw a one-sided line. Please note that in the drawing of the line, 3 ‘things’ appear in a field that begins and remains _indivisible_ (Side A, the line, and Side B). That indivisible field, as I’m sure you’re well aware, Rev. Jim, is Us.
See the spaces between these words? That’s us, too! This is why political power inheres in We, the People. Just so inheres divinity, which Buddhists believe must remain nameless by dint of its very nature.
Binary thinking sees no common ground. “You’re with us, or against us,” our dear leader said. I’m sure bin Laden agrees. All this mutual demonizing is leading us all straight to hell.



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An ex-Hedonsit/Progessive

posted October 11, 2007 at 12:56 pm


Rick,
First off, “Actually, Donny, back in the late 1800s the “progressives” WERE the evangelicals.”
What in fighting for slaves to be free? For women not to be objects and “things?” Hmm, looking at the Democrat dominated inner cities, I see that fight stiil needs to be fought. Now Liberal means unfettered hedonsim plain and simple. MTV and HBO are not promoting “conservative” values 2007 or 1800’s. Why is it that “Progressive” is taking us back to Sodom and Gomorrah and Roman vices?
We Christians (Evangelicals) are only labeled conservatives as an epithet in the typical Lib/ad hom style of debating the issues. If you look at what we do and say, we vocally and physically (that means by actions) oppose “secular conservatives.” For example, a secular conservative really believes that the poor “deserve” their lot in life. No Christian believes that. Racism and classism is purely evil. How many poor people can afford a home in California New York or massachusetts? Those are dens of Progressive life. Is it not the hard working family honoring “middle of America” that are the conservatives? And largely Christian Evangelicals.
Do your homework sir.
Secular conservatives believe that all of their finacial “wealth” is purely for themselves and for their family. No Christian believes that their finances are purely for only themselves or their own family, not even for ONLY the Church family. A visit to ANY Evangelical Church proves that. But that does not mean that secularists get to decide to take our money and give it out to their pet projects. Libeals and Progressives are doing very evil things with people’s money. Taxes are the path to Marxism and I see the Democrats (Progressives, Liberals and Secularists) rejoice in this. Marxism is not Christian.
“Christian” Progressives do not EVER voice ANY opposition to Liberals and Progressives (Democrats) of the secular variety. They are all in bed together on every issue. I listed just a sample of anti and non Christian things that “Christian” Progressives agree with, with their non and anti Christian political co-workers.
I see no compatibility between Progressives and Christians. But I do see that live and let live is the best way to deal with the chasm. That way there is an escape provided for Progressives that sooner or later come to their senses.
Donny



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Rick Nowlin

posted October 11, 2007 at 1:13 pm


What in fighting for slaves to be free? For women not to be objects and “things?” Hmm, looking at the Democrat dominated inner cities, I see that fight stiil needs to be fought.
Give the inner-city folks some resources to do so and I guarantee that will change. But “conservative Christians” refuse to do that.
Secular conservatives believe that all of their finacial “wealth” is purely for themselves and for their family. No Christian believes that their finances are purely for only themselves or their own family, not even for ONLY the Church family.
Read World magazine sometime — it, in practice, certainly does. And in fact, the “religious right” got big spouting the very same nonsense. And BTW, mine is one of the few evangelical churches that DIDN’T teach that in the 1990s. (Thank God that’s changing today.)



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Lloyd Winburn

posted October 11, 2007 at 2:36 pm


Do not believe it.
I am 80 and the “fundamentalists” or extremist, if you prefer, have been here all along. They will not go away. Their profit, their pleasure are satisfied in dissention. They have a block who will vote with them without a thought and the politicians will grovel to get their vote.
They preach fear and not love.
They build empires on conflict.
They start a “church” on the least meaningful obtuse word.
They thrive on conflict.
Lloyd



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Don

posted October 11, 2007 at 2:39 pm


– Respect for religious beliefs and religious diversity is vital for a healthy society.
— Religion plays an appropriate public, not just private, role in American life.
— All citizens have a constitutionally protected right to articulate the religious or moral basis of their political views in the public sphere, and protecting these expressions does not conflict with a commitment to the non-establishment of religion.
Sorry, but emphatically NO.
If there is any “magic” to the American system, it is that we recognize that there are philosophical differences between people (e.g., religious doctrines) which, if fully expressed, would cause gross dysfunction in the society (some of which we’re seeing today).
Is it so difficult to remember? Each religion is “RIGHT”, by its own definition. And all of the rest are “WRONG”, to varying degrees — from “a few details” to “they’re all sinners going straight to Hell” — by definition.
Hence, religion has NO APPROPRIATE PUBLIC PLACE IN AMERICAN LIFE. Have whatever religious beliefs you want — I support that entirely. But keep them entirely out of the public sphere.
As a committed, born-again Christian once asked me [I am not a Christian]: “Why don’t you just keep your religious beliefs and observances in your own house? Why do you insist that we make allowances for you?”
Well, why don’t you just keep your religious beliefs an observances in your own house? I believe that we as a people can effectively speak of morality and behaviour without your invoking your (righteous!) God.
You can believe in whatever God or religion you wish, or not. I will always respect that. But I will not respect any invocation of your God and/or her “words” as any reason for me to accept what you say. I will weigh what you say based on its own merits, obviously, in my own eyes.
Think about this philosophically. All religions believe they’re right, but many of them are greatly at odds with one another. So they can’t all be right “together”. OTOH, are you so crass that you really, heart of hearts, think that your particular piece of religious real estate has a monopoly on “THE moral truth”? Well, so does “everyone” else! — for *precisely* the same reasons that you believe you have “THE moral truth”. If you’re honest about this, it is, at best, undecideable.
So, worship your own God. Keep your own beliefs. But keep it to yourself.
I would consider that trying to influence someone else’s religious beliefs to be, perhaps, the greatest sin imaginable for a person to commit.



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Don

posted October 11, 2007 at 2:40 pm


– Respect for religious beliefs and religious diversity is vital for a healthy society.
— Religion plays an appropriate public, not just private, role in American life.
— All citizens have a constitutionally protected right to articulate the religious or moral basis of their political views in the public sphere, and protecting these expressions does not conflict with a commitment to the non-establishment of religion.
Sorry, but emphatically NO.
If there is any “magic” to the American system, it is that we recognize that there are philosophical differences between people (e.g., religious doctrines) which, if fully expressed, would cause gross dysfunction in the society (some of which we’re seeing today).
Is it so difficult to remember? Each religion is “RIGHT”, by its own definition. And all of the rest are “WRONG”, to varying degrees — from “a few details” to “they’re all sinners going straight to Hell” — by definition.
Hence, religion has NO APPROPRIATE PUBLIC PLACE IN AMERICAN LIFE. Have whatever religious beliefs you want — I support that entirely. But keep them entirely out of the public sphere.
As a committed, born-again Christian once asked me [I am not a Christian]: “Why don’t you just keep your religious beliefs and observances in your own house? Why do you insist that we make allowances for you?”
Well, why don’t you just keep your religious beliefs an observances in your own house? I believe that we as a people can effectively speak of morality and behaviour without your invoking your (righteous!) God.
You can believe in whatever God or religion you wish, or not. I will always respect that. But I will not respect any invocation of your God and/or her “words” as any reason for me to accept what you say. I will weigh what you say based on its own merits, obviously, in my own eyes.
Think about this philosophically. All religions believe they’re right, but many of them are greatly at odds with one another. So they can’t all be right “together”. OTOH, are you so crass that you really, heart of hearts, think that your particular piece of religious real estate has a monopoly on “THE moral truth”? Well, so does “everyone” else! — for *precisely* the same reasons that YOU believe YOU have “THE moral truth”. If you’re honest about this, it is, at best, undecideable.
So, worship your own God. Keep your own beliefs. But keep it to yourself.
I would consider that trying to influence someone else’s religious beliefs to be, perhaps, the greatest sin imaginable for a person to commit.



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Ben Wheaton

posted October 11, 2007 at 2:55 pm


The only way this rigamarole can work is if the two sides mean the same thing with the words in the document. They do not. As such, it cannot work. Abortion is the premier moral issue in the nation at this moment, and “reducing the need for abortion” is, as someone said above, a deceptive way of getting pro-lifers to shut up.



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Matt

posted October 11, 2007 at 2:58 pm


“The public discussion about and between evangelicals and progressives has been dominated by too many false choices and too much mutual misunderstanding.”
Most of the daily contributing bloggers here can STOP reading at the excerpt above. This does not apply of course if you draw a clear line saying you do NOT identify with being either evangelical OR progressive. In which case you’re likely not much help to this cause. Obviously, you’re always welcome here. And this doesn’t mean the last year or so has been spent in vain for you. But you might want to try another approach/venue in getting your passions across. It would be the wisest choice and I mean that sincerely.
Now if you DO identify yourself as either an evangelical or progressive and you are still against most of what Wallis is about, then you’re best to STOP at the excerpt I cite at the top. THE most important question aren’t the ones Jim Wallis asks right after, “…too many false choices and too much mutual misunderstanding.” THE question YOU should be asking YOURSELVES is why am I preaching to my own choir? And maybe then another venue/approach would be your wisest choice as well.



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Moderatelad

posted October 11, 2007 at 3:06 pm


OK Mr. Wallis –
‘…affirming the human dignity of gay and lesbian people,…’
These people have the right to exsist just like you and me. I am not for gay marriage as I see it as between one man and one woman. I see it this way because of what I read in the Bible and it is the future of the human race. The day that a gay couple (two men) can exchange bodily fluids and have a baby grown within one of them for 9 months and birth that little one – I loose the argument. These people need to have the same rights and protection as you and I – not ‘special’ rights. I also find it offensive when the GLBT community equates their struggle with civil rights for non-whites. You can tell someone sexual orientation by looking at them. (OK anyone could see what ‘Just Jack’ is on Will and Grace)
‘…reducing the need for abortion,…’
I have proposed several possible solutions one of which is I will give up the 1st trimester if they will give up the 3rd trimester and no one would even consider that one. Willing to talk – I believe that the blue people just want us pro-life people to shut-up or disappear from the face of the earth – which ever is easier.
‘…placing responsible moral limits on the treatment of human embryos,…’
There is more success in adult embryo testing than fetal and there needs to be sharp limits on fetal – period.
‘…creating safe spaces for children online,…’
There are so many programs out there and parents need to be involved. I believe that there should be filters on computers at my local public library because I don’t think that a publically purchased computer should be tied up with some pervert looking at pron when there might be a child in the area or someone that needs to do work or research for school or work. (OK – the pervert word might be a little over-the-top, what word would you use?)
‘…and encouraging responsible fatherhood.’
OK – can we talk about what has been said about Bill Cosby for talking about fatherhood. I am tired of men making babies and then making tracks. I stand on the idea that we will pay for the first out of wed-lock birth when there is no father to go after for support. But the second one – make what you get for one work for two. Maybe we need to develope a system where we closely monitor the spending of these single parents when the are asking the state to pay for the care and feeding of their child. IF they are able to support their children without state assistance – have as many as you would like.
So – here is a Red guy that has become a little more purple. Not enough for some too much for others. So – blue people, what are willing to put on the table?
Blessings –
.



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Rick Nowlin

posted October 11, 2007 at 3:13 pm


Abortion is the premier moral issue in the nation at this moment, and “reducing the need for abortion” is, as someone said above, a deceptive way of getting pro-lifers to shut up.
Maybe pro-lifers ought to shut up because historically, and especially in the 1980s, they have added little but vitriol to the issue. And as someone who is staunchly anti-abortion, I don’t see what the problem is with that statement because, after all, everyone on both sides of the issue agrees.



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Don

posted October 11, 2007 at 3:14 pm


Posted by: Don | October 11, 2007 2:39/2:40 PM
Apparently there’s another Don on today. I haven’t been posting today (and probably won’t, except for this), and this post isn’t by me.
Peace,



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kevin s.

posted October 11, 2007 at 3:43 pm


“Apparently there’s another Don on today. I haven’t been posting today (and probably won’t, except for this), and this post isn’t by me.”
I was wondering where the hell that came from.
Some observations…
It is ironic to lament false choices while offering only the choice of being evangelical, progressive, or both. Contrary to Wallis’ insinutation, conservatives can be Christians as well.
I agree that “reducing the need for abortion” is a dodge that pretends that everyone believes (as Wallis does) that it should be legal.
There is no scriptural basis for the idea that “religious diversity is vital for a healthy society.”



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Rick Nowlin

posted October 11, 2007 at 3:53 pm


It is ironic to lament false choices while offering only the choice of being evangelical, progressive, or both. Contrary to Wallis’ insinutation, conservatives can be Christians as well.
He has never said that. What he has always said, however, is that you don’t have to be a conservative to be a Christian — which is, of course, anathema to thin-skinned conservatives threatened by any other viewpoint.
There is no scriptural basis for the idea that “religious diversity is vital for a healthy society.”
But respect for the people who hold different religious viewpoints is the sign of emotional health, even though you believe the other person is wrong.



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Marion

posted October 11, 2007 at 4:09 pm


So does the entire political spectrum of Christians in the USA consist of Evangelicals and Progressives?
I’m Christian, and I’m deeply committed to my political responsibilities as a US citizen – but I’m not sure I fit in as either Progressive or Evangelical.



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Marion

posted October 11, 2007 at 4:12 pm


Oh Rick Nowlin you must have posted about the time I did — I don’t consider myself conservative either.



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Rick Nowlin

posted October 11, 2007 at 4:17 pm


Marion — I think the problem is not simply whether evangelicals and progressives can agree but whether they can be the same people. FWIW, I consider myself an evangelical, albeit one with a progressive streak.



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Bill Kessenich

posted October 11, 2007 at 4:17 pm


Come let us reason together!
I am a “Catholic evangelical” (did anyone know that such a category exists!?!) in that I am challenged by my own faith to practice the gospel principles and to share in the Great Mission of preaching the good news to the poor. Jesus’ own biblical message is one of inclusion not exclusion in spite of how my own institutional Church and many others as well as atheists and/or agnostics exclude the possibility of the truth of others’ opinions. But the role of faith has a social dimension that cannot and will not be ignored if we are really seeking the truth. The Catholic Church actually has an over one hundred year tradition of social teaching that lays out clearly and unequivocally and (I might add) very progressively the role of believers in the transformation of society. The vertical and personal relationship with God cannot be divided from the more horizontal relationship to the world as the symbol of the cross depicts. In our faith God became man so that He could show us how to live in community, solidarity and with a preferential option for the poor and powerless in society. This is precisely why Jesus was killed by the powers that be – because His radical terms upset the existing status quo not only of the Jewish faith but of the Roman world as well. What could be more meaningful for our life than to engage the world in transformational work for justice and peace. We need more Christians not fewer who are excited about this kind of work which is very different from beating people over the head with Bible quotes. True evangelization is about telling the world that there is someone (something, if that fits better for you) higher that we are all accountable to than our own limited structures and governments. Praise be to God that that is so! This reality, this truth draws us into community with each other, no matter which faith or no faith we personally practice.
Bill



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Rick Nowlin

posted October 11, 2007 at 4:21 pm


The Catholic Church actually has an over one hundred year tradition of social teaching that lays out clearly and unequivocally and (I might add) very progressively the role of believers in the transformation of society.
Welcome, Bill. I have some theological problems with Catholicism, but what you just said is on the one. (Now, if my Reformed brethern would just get on board …)



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Payshun

posted October 11, 2007 at 4:25 pm


Blessings on you Neuro,
May your time away do you well.
As for Moderatelad,
“There is more success in adult embryo testing than fetal and there needs to be sharp limits on fetal – period.”
Silly argument. I mean really silly. Fetal stem cells are illegal so they are not used. So how can you measure success of something when there is no criteria for it.
You alsThese people have the right to exsist just like you and me. I am not for gay marriage as I see it as between one man and one woman. I see it this way because of what I read in the Bible and it is the future of the human race. The day that a gay couple (two men) can exchange bodily fluids and have a baby grown within one of them for 9 months and birth that little one – I loose the argument. These people need to have the same rights and protection as you and I – not ‘special’ rights. I also find it offensive when the GLBT community equates their struggle with civil rights for non-whites. You can tell someone sexual orientation by looking at them. (OK anyone could see what ‘Just Jack’ is on Will and Grace) said:
Me:
Not special rights equal rights. I am a black man. Their struggle is for total acceptance and freedom to live as they see fit. Even though it is abhorent (now) to kill a black man it is still quite normal for gay men to get shot. As a progressive I am against that. Oh and one more thing that argument about reproduction is just silly too. What are you going to do about poor infertile couples? You know the ones that don’t have enough money for surrogacy or adoption or what are you going to do about the couples that opt out of having children? Seriously the LGBTIQ and every other adult sexual expression deserves to be treated w/ respect. You know your view is nothing more than discrimination right?
As for the other stuff pro lifers don’t want you to die but they would like you to shut up. Honestly I am pro-life and I don’t blame them. I want pro-lifers like you to shut up to. I think it’s easy to sit there and criticize someone’s choices when you are not in their shoes. I think many of you do that. I think you in particular are guilty of that Mod.
p



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payshun

posted October 11, 2007 at 4:31 pm


Correction:
I meant pro choicers for the first part.
p



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Rick Nowlin

posted October 11, 2007 at 4:42 pm


I stand on the idea that we will pay for the first out of wed-lock birth when there is no father to go after for support. But the second one – make what you get for one work for two.
The reality is that few single mothers have more than two kids — they don’t have the time or energy to run around chasing men and the men don’t want them either.



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Rev. Peter B. Panagore

posted October 11, 2007 at 4:48 pm


Dear Jim Wallis,
I’ve been waiting up in Maine for a national, constructive and common sense political and religious dialogue between Evangelicals and Progressives. Maybe together Progressives and Evangelicals comprise a broader and emerging middle church in America that may aid every American with liberty. I am hope filled. Thank you for your essay.
Peaceably,
Rev. Peter B. Panagore
First Radio Parish Church of America
http://www.dailydevotions.org



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June Schumacher

posted October 11, 2007 at 4:53 pm


Wars, killing, lies, greed, secrecy, and now torture, have dominated the national news all my life – and that’s nearly ninety years. It’s like President Eisenhower warned, beware of the military-industrial complex. It’s time to heed his warning. Those who live by the sword will die by the sword. Ever since World War II, the military has taken a bigger share of the pie. The more weapons produced, the more wars needed to “use” up this glut. It seems our whole national economy is now dependent on wars. We definitely need a third way, a new political agenda that doesn’t fit the time worn promises of those in power. Time is running out for our democracy. As I look at all the 2008 presidential candidates, there is only one who speaks of peaceful solutions. The rest are “unelectable”, just more of the same.



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squeaky

posted October 11, 2007 at 5:00 pm


Thanks, Don | October 11, 2007 3:14 PM
I knew that earlier post couldn’t possibly be you. I was confused for about 1/4 of the post.
So, we have a Don, a Donny and a second Don, who needs a new name, all with very different views. What can we name this new Don? Donald? Donigal? Don-meister? Donn? Donne? Dawn (probably unacceptable). Dahn? Don II?



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squeaky

posted October 11, 2007 at 5:07 pm


DonNY,
Well, maybe you are right–maybe there is such a thing as a Progressive Christian who meets the description you have put forth. I have yet to meet such a person, myself. I think you have created a cartoon, actually. Most people are far more complex than your portrayal of liberal Christianity. However, I get the impression that if one leans even just slightly to the left on any issue you hold dear, you categorize that person as one of your “liberal Progressives.” It is easy to label people like that, and is, in fact, required if one insists on seeing the world as black and white.
Just curious–if Jesus came to Earth today, do you think he would spend any time with any progressives, homosexuals, women who had abortions, or general, run-of-the-mill hedonists? Or would he condemn them as you do?



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Ted Voth Jr

posted October 11, 2007 at 5:13 pm


‘Political extremes’, indeed! The ‘extremes’ consist of the extreme right-wing persons who don’t appear to be living in the same Cosmos as the rest of us, and the centrist Republican-Lite ‘neo-Dems’, as I call them



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squeaky

posted October 11, 2007 at 5:23 pm


Payshun, Moderatelad,
Moderatelad said,
“I have proposed several possible solutions one of which is I will give up the 1st trimester if they will give up the 3rd trimester and no one would even consider that one. Willing to talk – I believe that the blue people just want us pro-life people to shut-up or disappear from the face of the earth – which ever is easier.”
Payshun said:
“Honestly I am pro-life and I don’t blame them. I want pro-lifers like you to shut up to. I think it’s easy to sit there and criticize someone’s choices when you are not in their shoes. I think many of you do that. I think you in particular are guilty of that Mod.”
Awww, Payshun. I’m disappointed. Look, Moderatelad made a proposal for a compromise on a volatile issue that neither side is willing to compromise, and you told him you want him to shut up. I’m siding with him on this one–we need people who will start the conversation of finding a solution, and whether you agree with him or not, at least he made an effort.
Now, Moderatelad–you said no one would even consider your proposal. I’m sure that’s true, but I do hope you realize there are people on both sides that would never consider that proposal. You have the pro-choicers who believe a woman has the right to choose through the entire pregnancy, thus abortion is a right even in the 3rd trimester. But you also have pro-lifers who will not give an inch that abortion should not even be used in the first trimester. Just want to make sure you realize your proposal would be shot down on both sides of the wedge issue. Red people want pro-choice people to shut and disappear from the face of the Earth, just as much. Don’t ever think the angst comes from just one side.
As for stem cell research, it’s simple, really. If you are against stem cell research, then you should also be lobbying against in vitro fertilization. We have all these embryos created for IVF, and very few of them actually become babies. What is done with the ones that don’t? They certainly aren’t kept forever. They don’t become babies. They are disposed of eventually. Is that any more moral than using them for stem cell research? So, if you are against stem cell research, then be honest about it and lobby against IVF, which is the cause of all these unwanted embryos in the first place.



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Marion

posted October 11, 2007 at 5:41 pm


Bill and Rick, (FYI)
On the social teachings of the Roman Catholic Church – The encyclical released in 2006 “God Is Love” addresses social and political responsibility of Christians and addresses a few of the theories in modern social and political thought. I haven’t sorted it all out yet, but the gist seems to promote the separation of Church and state while at the same time acting in social and political areas in a way that promotes Christian values (not to be confused with Christian beliefs).
The specific goals of Christian action as described in the encyclical is somehow difficult for me grasp. Maybe it’s a complex answer where I’m looking for something simple LOL! But I’ll keep working through it.



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Stephen Brown

posted October 11, 2007 at 5:59 pm


I am Liberal/progressive who welcomes a hand and voice across the divide between Evangelicals and Progressives.
The Third Way article is a good start, but I have a few responses.
First, I think human dignity and moral choice for each person is an absolute. Persons need freedom to seek human companionship and intimacy that nurtures them. Gay or straight is I believe inborn or in our createdness. We should affirm people’s personhood and choices unless they are abusive and violent.
Second, as a man I do not want anyone person or legislature or church to dictate how I make decisions about my body. i would want the same right if I were a woman. every choice for abortion is tragic and full of emotion. I would love a world where every child is wanted and every pregnancy a positive choice. But we are sinners in a sinful world. let us love every woman regardless of their choice asn pray for a world where abortions are legal and no one ever has one.
Rev. Dr. Stephen Brown



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ABS

posted October 11, 2007 at 6:29 pm


Thanks for the letter Jim Wallis. I think that it is really great when one strives to bridge the gap between religions (progressive/evangelical) or party lines. Give some history, define things etc. I might not have agreed with it all, but thanks for your effort and all that went into it.
————————————————–
Belief in the Bible as the final
authority concerning all
matters of faith and practice.
(out of Wallis letter)
————————————————–
This was one (the third one) of Wallis’ core beliefs of evangelicals. It was refreshing to realize (or remind) myself that I am not evangelical, just not who I am. I have nothing against evangelicals either. I know some great people who are evangelicals and it fits for them. I think that’s awesome. And I am so tired of the you are a progressive, liberal, conservative, evangelical….therefore you are wrong or right….yikes!!!!
And the posts on this site are usually the same people going back and forth it. So it seems when I visit. And this topic on trying to get people to come together politically/ or religiously is one that I feel very strongly (in a good, not forceful- a compassionate way).
I believe God is much bigger than what we like to put him in (maybe a box). I don’t believe the Bible is the “final authroity.” God is the final authority. And that “authority” comes in many ways. I am definatley not saying the bible is not true….just don’t believe it’s the “final authority” concerning all matters of faith and practice.”
And yes I am a Christian. Would consider myself to be a Christian Pluralist. Desiring peaceful relations between different religions….experiencing other ways to worship God. Some who read this may think I’m going down in flames…that’s okay (assumption). I know I’m not.
————————————————–
Posted by Kevin S.
“There is no scriptural basis for the idea that “religious diversity is vital for a healthy society.”
Religious Tolerance site:
http://www.religioustolerance.org/rel_info.htm
I highly recommend. Talks much about different ideas and religions. Our nation is made up of different people, ideas, religions, atheism. A better understanding would bring people closer together (good for society) and one may find that learning sometimes happens from those of the opposite faith of your own and you grow deeper in your walk. Jesus desires us to grow deeper in our walk with him, wouldn’t you agree that is biblical? Jesus made each of us unique therefore making our society so diverse and unique as well.
Learn about others, learn what makes them love their particular religion/spiritual path or God/ and I’m really going out on a limb….political views…. the way that you love/feel your own. I think that you might be surprised by what you experience. It’s been a process for me and I’m still learning and keeping myself open to it. Not easy.
Namaste~



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kevin s.

posted October 11, 2007 at 6:53 pm


“As for the other stuff pro (choicers) don’t want you to die but they would like you to shut up.”
That’s generally as nuanced as their position gets, yes.
“As for stem cell research, it’s simple, really. If you are against stem cell research, then you should also be lobbying against in vitro fertilization. ”
For the record, I personally am against in vitro fertilization.
“We should affirm people’s personhood and choices unless they are abusive and violent.”
Okay.
“Second, as a man I do not want anyone person or legislature or church to dictate how I make decisions about my body.”
Even if that choice is violent? Your argument presumes that abortion inflicts no harm or abuse upon a child. I disagree with that assumption.



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Kevin Wayne

posted October 11, 2007 at 8:12 pm


I agree that “reducing the need for abortion” is a dodge that pretends that everyone believes (as Wallis does) that it should be legal
So you’re for outlawing abortion in all cases?



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canucklehead

posted October 11, 2007 at 8:32 pm


“No Christian believes that their finances are purely for only themselves or their own family, not even for ONLY the Church family.” Donny
We’ll remind you and your fraternity of right-wing whiners of that next time the topic arises re universal healthcare in America, oh Donny boy.



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Paul

posted October 11, 2007 at 8:42 pm


Thank you for the inspiring article. Yes, the arguments must be made by an appeal to morality, not an appeal to sectarian religious beliefs. When the argument is based on morality, everyone can participate.



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N.M. Rod

posted October 11, 2007 at 9:06 pm


Non-religious political conservatives appear to be more and more indistinguishable from religious conservatives, and that’s the choice of the religious conservatives themselves.
Somehow, the position of religious conservatism applied to scripture has gotten wrested away to mean endorsement of and identification with secular conservative policies.
However, I note that secular conservatives haven’t returned the favor by taking scripture seriously.
In the conservative religious publications I receive, Rush Limbaugh, Ann Coulter and right-wing talk radio hosts, as well as Fox News commentators, have now become interchangeable in importance with conservative religious leaders and are equally lauded.
Their media is rife with invidious references to leftists, progressives, Democrats as anti-Christian forces of evil. Therefore, it’s not surprising that the secular opponents of these enemies are seen as enlightened co-belligerents, their ideological cleanliness next to Godliness.



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Brent

posted October 11, 2007 at 9:59 pm


Public Reason, Private Grounds?
Jim notes that evangelicals need to translate their religious arguments into moral terms so that those of different persuasions—secularists, Catholics, Moslems, Jews, and others—our inescapable pluralism—can understand and respond to their religious arguments. From my secularist vantage this means that an argument for the rights of a fetus, for example, can be based on intuition, natural law, utilitarianism, pragmatism, the force of better arguments, or any other similar grounds but not on a revelatory or sacred basis that is understandable only to the believers making this argument. It moves no secularist, for example, to say that the bible says such and such and to claim that this is the Word of God because non-believers will, and do, argue that these are not moral but inscrutable religious grounds and as such are not open to those who don’t believe. To paraphrase St. Augustine, those who don’t believe, can’t understand.
When religious folk claim that something is true because St. Paul said thus and so is similar to instances when modernists claim that revelation should be subordinated to reason because reason is the Truth of the universe.
Yet it is to ask a lot to require an evangelical or a modern to split themselves in two and to relegate the grounds of their arguments to their private self and to only allow stripped down moral arguments to be used in the public square.
I’d rather hear an evangelical argue, “Well, in our tradition, St. Paul says…”. and the modernists to argue, “Well, in our tradition Voltaire says….” That is, public arguments that incorporate faith based or metaphysical grounds need not be scrubbed clean by a notion of public reason (assuming this can really be done) and its proscribed grounds of argument. Such an approach privileges a kind of liberal reason (see Rawls’s Political Liberalism for such an argument). I think it is too constricting and too insensitive to our pluralist context.
Though the grammatical form “in our tradition” is a rhetorical ploy of indirection, it reflects a “truth” forced on us by our pluralism: there is my truth, our truth, but unless we can negotiate it there is little TRUTH. We are in a better position in diverse contexts to argue “I believe” or “We believe” and these usages should not be subject to censure. The reason that we shouldn’t say “It is true that” (period, for once and for all, be it claimed by secularists or those of faith) is because it is immediately cancelled by contrary absolute claims of other parties. There is no way in this world to adjudicate these contradictory claims, so let’s not make them. Rather let us say that in “our traditions….”
This is how I would qualify Jim’s requirement to translate the religious into moral language. In this way we can all use our faith-based arguments and grounds in public discussions without making claims that annoy the hell out of each other.



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N.M. Rod

posted October 11, 2007 at 10:38 pm


If a moral belief held by Christians informed by the Bible can’t also be proven reasonable (or at the least not disproven as reasonable) from the tools of discernment available to those who don’t have that available, then it is indefensible.
And likely, it’s not even a valid interpretation of scripture, if it really does fly in the face of reality.
In no way does this rule out what we call the miraculous, for whatever experience and logic can conceivably teach us is not out of bounds simply because a particular field of study has not yet been exhausted or because of someone holding a preconceived and absurdly reductionist materialist philosophy.
For instance, even without Christ or Bible, Tibetan Buddhists have managed to discern from what they consider an evolutionary, non-theistic perspective, the same moral truths of compassion, love for one’s enemy and consequences of sin as Jesus taught. This doesn’t weaken the moral claims of Christianity, but strengthens them because they are universally discernible and not simply dependent on the authority of who was said to issue them – or a particular theological construct – although that can be the subject for a further mutual dialog as to their origin, which is, I believe, a study that will be revealing.



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N.M. Rod

posted October 11, 2007 at 10:48 pm


In fact, I believe that moral arguments made solely with scripture as the authority, even when correctly interpreted, are the stripped-down versions, rather than ones that are in harmony and complementary to the breadth of discovery and experience, which includes all modes of knowing.
Interpretations of scripture can be very wrong, as in the mistaken censure of Galileo’s discovery, in favor of the error of Greek Ptolemic cosmologies. This makes blind citing of scripture without the full rigor of intellect, spirit and experience being brought to bear harmful and dangerous – and in today’s world with weapons of mass destruction able to be wielded in moral error, potentially disastrous to all life.



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Just a Christian

posted October 12, 2007 at 12:41 am


“Just curious–if Jesus came to Earth today, do you think he would spend any time with any progressives, homosexuals, women who had abortions, or general, run-of-the-mill hedonists? Or would he condemn them as you do?”
Posted by: squeaky
“Go and sin no more.”
How many of the aforementioned kinds of people, believe that is hate speech? Or somehow believe that they were born with a congenital pass for sinning? Or do not want to LOOK at the unborn human child that is slated to be ripped to shreds so mommy and her boyfriend don’t have to inconvenienced? Progressive does not mean educated or open-minded. It really looks like a debased mindset.
There is no disciple or Apostle that could marry any couple except a “man and a woman.” Certainly Jesus taught that didn’t He?
“Old fashion” and out of step with a modern “progressive” world view?
Jesus taught His followers what to do. WWJD. He changed peoples hearts, minds and behaviors. It’s called conversion. Progressives oppose that unless it is to loose “anything goes.” And that has nothing to do with Christ Jesus or the Gospel. Leaving sinners to continue in their sins has no support anywhere in the New Testament. Allowing them to refuse repentance and forgiveness is also taught in the Gospel. But no where is there support for what Liberals do to the Bible.
And for the record, please present my “condemning” anyone? Accurately describing people and their beliefs and actions is not condemning them. It is just recognizing the truth. “Rightfully dividing the word . . .”
And here’s an interesting twist from c-head:
“No Christian believes that their finances are purely for only themselves or their own family, not even for ONLY the Church family.” Donny
We’ll remind you and your fraternity of right-wing whiners of that next time the topic arises re universal healthcare in America, oh Donny boy.
Posted by: canucklehead
Marxism is not Christian. We’ve had the reality of communism to show us how violent, sick and evil it is. Democrats went to school and are forgeting to learn from history. Guess what happens next?
Let us “Christians” keep our money and we’ll continue to help the poor like we have for 2000-years. It ain’t Gay Rights Activists, Liberals, Progressives, Secularists and Socialists,feeding the poor in Africa, Central and South America, Asia or the US. It is good old fashioned Evangelicals that are. Tax only Democrats to insert your socialistic/hedonistic regime. I’ll opt out and be just fine.
Look around America snd see how many Hospitals were built by Christians. And while you’re at it dear canuklehead, check into who founded many of our great Universities as well. I don’t need to point out the Evangelical Organizations all over the world “fighting” poverty and sickness.
There is no compatibility between Progressive ideology and Christian community and culture. Once that truth is honestly recognized, then a sit down between Progressives and Christians (Evangelicals) can be undertaken.
Donny



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kevin s.

posted October 12, 2007 at 1:43 am


“So you’re for outlawing abortion in all cases?”
I don’t see how this question follows from my statement, but I am for outlawing abortion with exceptions for rape and life of the mother. I suppose you could say that we are unified in the desire to reduce rapes and dangerous pregnancies, but that would seem to be a given among the religious and irreligious alike.



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canucklehead

posted October 12, 2007 at 1:46 am


>>>”Marxism is not Christian. We’ve had the reality of communism to show us how violent, sick and evil it is. Democrats went to school and are forgeting to learn from history. Guess what happens next?” Donny
How much of Karl Marx (primary source) have you actually read for yourself, Donny? You might be surprised at how much of his thinking was actually based on his understanding (key) of New Testament community, and he is fully entitled to his perspectives. You appear to fully equate Marxism w/ modern communism (or vice-versa) which is not entirely accurate or fair. Do you equate the teachings of Jesus with modern Christianity, if such an animal can even be identified w/o dying the death of a thousand qualifications?
>>>”Look around America snd see how many Hospitals were built by Christians. And while you’re at it dear canuklehead, check into who founded many of our great Universities as well.” Donny
Look around the Middle East and see how many hospitals were built by Muslims…check into who founded many of (their) great Universities as well.
Given the religious heritage of America and/or the Middle East, I wouldn’t expect things to be otherwise.
Are you suggesting Christians are the sole philanthropists, medical experts, scholars, in the world b/c of the U.S. reality? If so,that’s a myopic American perspective. If not, to borrow from Kevin’s school of concise blogging, your point?



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Anonymous

posted October 12, 2007 at 1:52 am


>>>”It ain’t Gay Rights Activists, Liberals, Progressives, Secularists and Socialists,feeding the poor in Africa, Central and South America, Asia or the US. It is good old fashioned Evangelicals that are.” Donny
And from this we learn, boys and girls, that all Medicins sans Frontieres, Amnesty Watch, UNESCO, Mennonite Central Committe staff, Humanitarians Without Borders are evangelicals.
Haylo, earth to Donny, SCRAM!



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canucklehead

posted October 12, 2007 at 1:53 am


twas me



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N.M. Rod

posted October 12, 2007 at 2:43 am


Marxism can be properly understood as a Christian heresy.
It would have had no appeal if social conditions hadn’t been so bad where it took soil.
Unfortunately, those societies that were supposed to be Christian, with majorities of the people living in them nominally so, were with the approval of national church hierarchies some of the most retrograde in terms of feudalism and the enormous gap between the wealthy and uncaring aristocracy and the mass of the poverty-stricken.
Too often in the past, our own heartlessness and mistaken identification of wealth and privilege with God’s blessing have allowed conditions to develop where alternatives to “pie in the sky, by and by” for the oppressed have become attractive.
We are so damned self righteous.



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Rick Nowlin

posted October 12, 2007 at 9:07 am


Look around America snd see how many Hospitals were built by Christians. And while you’re at it dear canuklehead, check into who founded many of our great Universities as well. I don’t need to point out the Evangelical Organizations all over the world “fighting” poverty and sickness.
Correction, Donny — because of their commitment to the “social gospel,” many of those hospitals were founded by that day’s “progressive evangelicals” you so despise. The truth be told “conservatives” had little, if anything to do with that. (And in my city there were a lot of Catholic hospitals as well.)



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Moderatelad

posted October 12, 2007 at 9:25 am


Posted by: squeaky | October 11, 2007 5:23 PM
‘…people on both sides that would never consider…’
I do know that – and have pro-life friends that do not agree with my willingness to compramise. But I am willing to give up some to gain some and then work with the middle. I will always be pro-life and have several good friends that are pro-abortion, this has never been a problem with us.
‘…against stem cell research, then you should also be lobbying against in vitro fertilization.’
I do not agree. I am against ‘embryo/fetal’ stem cell research. I am for ‘adult’ stem cell research and it is proving to be able to produce may improvements for people with cronic conditions. Fetal stem cell is not producing any answers and has in many cases proven to be ineffective in achieving the desired goal.
Fetal research need to have the embryo develope to a certain stage and then you have to destroy it to get what you need. In effect – create a life to destroy it to harvest have you need.
As for fertilization – this is one I have considered and have readdressed it in my mind several times. I believe that when a couple tries to conceive a child and uses IF to accomplish this. Once they are done and are not going to have anymore children. The eggs should either be donated to another couple that would like to have children and for whatever reason can not use their own DNA or the should be destroyed. I see the destruction of the eggs as not wrong because we do not know how many time a fertilized eggs is passed off and does not implant in the woman. It is wrong to take that egg and allow it to mature and then destroy it for research.
There are 4 or 5 lines that are currently using embryonic material and I do not like this – let them play it out to see what happens. I just believe that it will produce nothing that can not be created with adult cells and so at some point they should be closed down.
Blessings –
.



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Lynn Nichols

posted October 12, 2007 at 9:34 am


I am a Nazarene pastor who is a registered Democrat. I am very committed to compassionate ministry and social justice, however, I am also pro-life and committed to preserving the ability to preach and teach that an active homosexual life violates the law of God. That said, I have promoted the idea of civil unions but heartily oppose gay marriage. My views would support the assertion that there is not monolithic view among Evangelicals.
I believe this debate needs to include the issue of immigration and the treatment of illegal immigrants.
Also, I believe it may be misleading to call Rep. Tim Ryan, my rep, pro-life. Lynn



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squeaky

posted October 12, 2007 at 2:11 pm


Donny,
Answer my question (note–I’ve expanded it):
If Jesus came to Earth today, do you think he would spend any time with, love, and accept any progressives, homosexuals, women who had abortions, or general, run-of-the-mill hedonists? Or would he condemn them as you do?
A simple yes or no is all I am looking for.



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Moderatelad

posted October 12, 2007 at 4:52 pm


Posted by: squeaky | October 12, 2007 2:11 PM
A simple yes or no is never the answer here on Sojo.
Yes, Jesus would spend time amoung them. He might even go out and have a beer with them. But He would also, in love, show them the errors of their ways.
The woman in adultery, Christ outed all the men that brought her to Him. Showing them that they were sinful people too. But he also told her to ‘go and sin no more’. He did say, ‘OK – your off the hock this time Babe, just keep it on the down-low’.
Blessings –
.



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Kevin Wayne

posted October 12, 2007 at 5:59 pm


I don’t see how this question follows from my statement, but I am for outlawing abortion with exceptions for rape and life of the mother. I suppose you could say that we are unified in the desire to reduce rapes and dangerous pregnancies, but that would seem to be a given among the religious and irreligious alike.
Posted by: kevin s. | October 12, 2007 1:43 AM

Then you should stop your sidelong comments trying to tag Wallis with the pro-choice brush. Seems to me all he’s doing here is trying to find common ground.
How long have you actually been aware of Sojouners, anyway? I’d be willing to bet not more than 3, maybe 5 years tops?
I’ve actually read artciles on abortion they published clear back in the 80’s. They championed the Pro-Life Position as Pro- Social Justice.



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squeaky

posted October 12, 2007 at 6:26 pm


Moderatelad,
Of course. The key is “in love”. Do you see that kind of love in Donny’s comments? I don’t. If you do, please help me see it, because I really don’t.



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Bill Samuel

posted October 12, 2007 at 9:24 pm


The three basic principles are indeed basic. Hardly anyone would disagree with them. But I think in this “Third Way” report they are used as a legitimization of their effort, which is seriously flawed.
The whole report bases itself on a typical secular characterization of political groups. Then the effort seems to be to induce Christians to join one of them. But all of these political categories are a curious mix of different ideas. None of them consistently follow the Gospel.
Wallis has been in the forefront of a movement to get Christians to adopt a secular political ideology but then to compromise even that in favor of mainstream politicians who give it some lip service but in fact stand for continuation of the evil social and political structure. Wallis winds up standing solidly for the “principalities and powers.” And that is what this “Third Way” movement seems to be all about.
Wallis has given platforms to and been effusive in praise for three particular Presidential candidates. All of them are pro-war, pro-abortion and pro-death penalty, although Wallis and Sojourners are theoretically against all three. And because all of them support an overwhelming budget priority for wars and preparations for wars, there will be little money left to fight poverty, again a supposed goal of Wallis and Sojourners.
The call to Christians is not to ally with some wing of the establishment – the principalities and powers – but to be prophetic in speaking out for Gospel values. I think Wallis and Sojourners once understood this. But Wallis has been corrupted by the lure of being connected with the powerful, and become practically an enemy of the Gospel. This “Third Way” movement, which proceeds by deception, fits into this political power scheme that Wallis has been drawn into in recent years.
I agree with the commenter’s skepticism about Rep. Tim Ryan being pro-life. Ryan rejected the sensible bill proposed by Democrats for Life which actually would reduce abortions without addressing the legal/illegal issue, in favor of his sham bill, trumpeted by Third Way and Wallis. The bill really functions mostly as a way to further subsidize the nation’s largest performer of abortions, Planned Parenthood. That is why the “pro-choice” folks can be so enthusiastic about it. It has little support from pro-lifers for very good reason.
I don’t care about the political labels. I do care about the Gospel message that all lives are precious, and that God cares about the poor and oppressed. In Wallis’ zeal for political respectability, Sojourners has effectively become a force for war, abortion, the death penalty, and budget priorities which hurt (and sometimes kill) the poor. This is the opposite of what it ostensibly stands for, but is the practical result of the direction it has taken.



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Moderatelad

posted October 12, 2007 at 9:39 pm


Posted by: squeaky | October 12, 2007 6:26 PM
Have you ever read anything where I have posted a response to Donny?
Some people I have chosen to ignore and others I have stepped away from for much the same reason(s).
You have to be willing to pick you battles as a parent and on a site like this.
Blessings –
.



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Clair Hochstetler, Goshen, IN

posted October 12, 2007 at 11:46 pm


I think the biggest hurdle between these two groups of evangelicals and progressives is the issue of war, and major variances in perceptions of effective biblical strategies for conflict transformation. And that’s really a shame.
Wouldn’t it be great if somehow we could get some “common ground” on THAT one?? I was not surprised to see it missing from their list of the top five priorities…
Hold on, maybe there is a way to work at it — but it would likely require a massive heartfelt response from leaders of both movements to a genuine “Call to Disciplship”, Bonhoeffer-style.
Allow me to unpack this a bit, by first reflecting on our current political situation as shaped by the Bush administration, which has tended to pull these movements apart. (I’m hoping that responses to this might justify a new column or “thread” — Jim!)
Currently, the ramp-up to an attack upon Iran by Bush, Cheney and their “enablers” in Congress and elsewhere continues unabated, or so it seems. Cheney, even more than Bush, wants to attack Iran. That has become clear due to mounting evidence presented by a cadre of courageous investigative journalists and analysts willing to break away from “mainstream” media reporting — such as Seymour Hersh, Chalmers Johnson, Jim Lobe, Gareth Porter, Scott Ritter, Daniel Ellsberg, Noam Chomsky, Scott Horton, Steven Zunes, Ray McGovern, Phyllis Bennis, Katrina Vanden Heuvel, Paul Loeb, Marjorie Cohn, and a number of others.
It also seems quite clear to many thoughtful analysts that an unprovoked U.S. attack on Iran would violate both U.S. and international law, and would lead to a series of events that could cascade into World War III. Most progressives believe there is no justification for such an attack — it would be immoral and unjust, and it would lead to unending and escalating violence and destruction that would spread to more and more countries. They (spurred on by right-wing evangelicals) did it all before — in Iraq — but attempting to do it again, in Iran, would certainly have catastrophic consequences. Bush/Cheney simply have not, once again, thought through their “exit strategy” — they have no idea…
I’ll admit that I’ve been involved heretofore, as I suspect many readers here have as well, in debates about the efficacy of impeaching Bush and Cheney, for the numerous “impeachable crimes” they have already committed, before they do any additional damage to our country and the world.
But let’s set that aside for the moment. I now think it’s imperitive to discuss an even more compelling and practical use of our energies at this critical juncture in history.
I refer to a short and compelling article by Jeremy Brecher and Brendan Smith regarding our current ominous situation, and about how key military leaders within the Pentagon itself might be enlisted to stop an attack upon Iran: “How the Military Can Stop an Iran Attack” — an article in the 10/9/07 issue of The Nation.
Here are the last three paragraphs of that article which I have excerpted to whet your appetite to read the whole thing (at http://www.thenation.com/doc/20071022/brechersmith) and I must say, it’s quite the challenge for traditional “peaceniks” and progressives to swallow. But I think it’s time.
“Such an approach puts the problem of civilian control of the military in a different light. The purpose of civilian control, after all, is not to subject the military to the dictatorial control of one man who may, at the least, express the foolishness and frailty that all flesh is heir to. The purpose is to subject the military to the control of democratic governance, which is to say of an informed public and its representatives.
“What contribution can the peace movement make to this process? We can cover military officials’ backs when they speak out–no one is better placed than the peace movement to defend them against Bushite charges of defying civilian control. We can help open a forum for military officers to speak out. Many retired officers have spoken out publicly on the folly of the war in Iraq. We can use our venues in universities and communities to invite them to speak out even more forcefully on the folly of an attack on Iran. We can place ads pointing out military resistance to an attack on Iran and featuring warnings of its possible consequences from past and present military officials. And we can encourage lawmakers to reach out to military officials and offer to give them cover and a forum to speak out. Says petition initiator Marcy Winograd, “I’d like to see peace activists and soldiers sit down, break bread, march together, testify together and forge a powerful union to end the next war before the bloodletting begins.”
“The peace movement leaders who appealed to the military had to break through the conventional presumption that the brass were their enemies in all situations. Such an unlikely alliance could be a starting point for a nonviolent response to the Bush Administration’s pursuit of a permanent state of war.”
Are both progressives and evangelicals “UP” for that sort of challenge? Are you?
In addition, for the sake of discussion – and perhaps representing an even more compelling question for some readers here – what/who have you found to be your best model(s) for authentic peacemaking within your sphere of relationships and local endeavors? In other words, who and how are we deploying “spiritual resources” for effective resistance: standing in the way of this hell-bent drive toward unfettered warfare?
Is it not time to discuss what shape the modern “Confessing Church” movement, which Dietrich Bonhoeffer initiated and fostered during the Third Reich’s rise to power in Germany, is (or ought to be) taking?
Peace!
Clair Hochstetler



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wayne

posted October 13, 2007 at 9:34 am


“I believe this debate needs to include the issue of immigration and the treatment of illegal immigrants.”
Why Lynn? There is no need. In a few short years we will have forced them back to their home countries where they belong and where we can forget they ever existed. Our police are rounding them up as we speak. Do not bother us or ask us to be concerned. America needs to feel safe.
We just do not need to talk of this subject anymore, it is too unsettling. Andy of Mayberry is still on TV, I think Opie is such a cute little boy, and Barney, what a hoot. They all remind us of what America should be, don’t you think?
As far as our broken immigration system, I assure you we will change the immigration laws, once our borders are fully armed and manned so as to only allow in a few fruit and veggie pickers.
It’s all good Lynn, no worries. Please don’t bring the subject up again. We are all too tired and quite frankly, bored. I gotta go mow my lawn anyway.



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wayne

posted October 13, 2007 at 9:39 am


“There is no scriptural basis for the idea that “religious diversity is vital for a healthy society.” Kevin
Yes and we need to change the constitutional freedom of religion too. That also lacks a scriptural basis, in fact scripture would support getting rid of it. I simply do not know what our founding fathers were thinking, right Kevin.



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wayne

posted October 13, 2007 at 9:45 am


He did say, ‘OK – your off the hock this time Babe, just keep it on the down-low’.Moderatelad
Did you mean to omit “Neither do I condemn you”?



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squeaky

posted October 13, 2007 at 12:05 pm


To be honest, Moderatelad,
Sometimes it would be nice to see the more conservative voices take the Donny’s on this site to task. I have only seen the more moderate or liberal voices do that, and it gives the appearance that you actually agree with him. You are right–battles need to be chosen, but maybe it would be good for Donny to see that those he thinks agree with him actually don’t.



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Anonymous

posted October 14, 2007 at 2:00 pm


I think much of these disagreements seem to be based in a sort of slippery slope kind of mentality.
Thinking if we give way on “this” then how far down the slope will we go. If we allow for fetal stem cell research, we will end up with clones created for experiments or end up promoting eugenics in the name of family planning and good parenting. Others see a world where disease that can be cured is ignored in the name of Jesus.
Knowing we are prone to sin we must guard ourselves against each other, and anything new.
I am not denying there are many many examples of “new things” which had evil consequences. Darwinism indeed caused much of the evil people feared it would, sometimes its effects severely exceeded our fears and just because Donny is paranoid doesn’t negate his constant rattling that our national morals are slipping does it? But slopes can have more than one side to slide down. Fearing a fall to the left we err on the right, and in the end just sitting down at the level or height we have obtained may not be any different than slipping.
Radical Islam is a great example of this. A culture that at one time was rich in art and science, has in many cases ceased to advance. It failed and now sees everything new as a potential threat, using their view of holiness to control behavior. Instead of inspiring others to be holy they seek to enforce religiosity, with the result being cultural, scientific and personal stagnation. They seem to feel that if they had enough political power their creativity would return to them, believing the “Caliphate” created art and science instead of the other way around. Yet their history proves that they have much to fear from the West and Christianity.
Paranoid they may be, but not without reason. If they are insane it is a shared insanity we which we all are afflicted.
Our fear of each other promotes the need to continue being afraid. Arguing isn’t going to get rid of what we are afraid of, and the economic, political/military power to control those we fear will not do so either.
History tells us that one day, despite our power, this nation will fall. We can fear that, and there will always be people who will give us reasons to do so, but it will not be our fear or even vigilance that keeps it from occurring. They will probably hasten it.
Perhaps we should start by acknowledging that each others fears are not JUST paranoid fantasies, or even going so far as to admit that even the paranoid may at times have something of a point to their fears. Maybe we could admit to being a little paranoid ourselves. Then try to come to agreements of how we might ameliorate fear and/or defend ourselves against them and still move on. If we pro lifers only focus on the unborn, Women will always have history to prove to them that we do so merely to keep them in their place.
Those who do the hard work of creating friends have little to be afraid of, and may find some rest. Those who only do the hard work of always defending themselves will live in fear continually.
If we only want to stay afraid there is not much we can do in the way of talking. If we insist that our fear of each other is the only truth we need to pay attention to we are sure to slip, it will be merely a coin toss that decides which slope we fall down.



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Wolverine

posted October 14, 2007 at 2:19 pm


Reading through this paper, I have to say that on the hot-button issues of abortion, cloning, and gay marriage, this really doesn’t seem to be much of an attempt to reach a compromise position as much as it is an attempt to make Sojourner’s positions seem moderate.
On abortion, the paper finds a tiny bit of common ground on terms that mostly favor the left, although the paper does call for sex education based on abstinance, the expansion of SCHIP and silence on Roe v. Wade and partial-birth abortion mean that the left wins more than it loses here. Real compromise here would involve revisiting Roe and placing at least some modest restrictions on abortion.
On gay marriage, the key phrase is “we should want for our brothers and sisters the same protections, public benefits, and opportunities we want for ourselves.” This reads to me like either an artful dodge or a diplomatic call for gay marriage. Real compromise would probably involve a discussion of civil unions that are distinct from heterosexual marriage but that do recognize permanent relationships between adults. Either that or seriously consideration of an arrangement in which we recognize gay marriage in exchange for ending “no-fault” divorce.
On cloning, the issues of therapeutic cloning and stem cells were not even discussed.
On the plus side, the ideas for limiting sex-offenders access to social networking sites seems very sound although the nature of the internet is such that I don’t know if there are any countermeasures for that outside of strengthening two-parent families.
Those concerns aside, the paper is at least repectful and dignified. If there’s going to be an understanding between progressives and evangelicals, it’s not going to come all at once.
Wolverine



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Moderatelad

posted October 14, 2007 at 6:45 pm


Posted by: payshun | October 13, 2007 10:44 PM
‘…results is because fetal stem cell research is outlawed.’
I believe that there are 4 to 6 lines that are currently studing Fetal Cell and what they have produced is mutations of what they wanted to produce. Adult is producing more of what they want.
Blessings –
.



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Moderatelad

posted October 14, 2007 at 6:49 pm


Posted by: squeaky | October 13, 2007 12:05 PM
Long time ago I did posted to him and he never replied. Asked him to be more respectful and understanding or engaging in the conversation. There are several people that I do not post to and some that I have had to stop for much the same reason.
Not sure what to do or if anything can be done.
Blessings –
.



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Payshun

posted October 14, 2007 at 8:46 pm


Mod said:
I believe that there are 4 to 6 lines that are currently studing Fetal Cell and what they have produced is mutations of what they wanted to produce. Adult is producing more of what they want.
Blessings –
.
me:
How can they? there is a national ban on the research? It has never been done to the degree to see any fruit from it. Which firms are doing it?
p



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sqeuaky

posted October 15, 2007 at 9:11 am


Moderatelad–yeah, you’re right. Time to leave him alone in his bitterness. Sad, though, eh?



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paul

posted October 15, 2007 at 8:32 pm


Let’s not hesitate to examine moral issues beyond the present preset channels. While abortion and gay rights are significant moral issues upon which many impassioned arguments have been cast, we sift through a mountain of baggage. ‘Come Let us Reason Together’ seems to seek the provocation of a healthy arena for many people to practice mutual respect in regards to these issues. Long overdue is serious discussion regarding some other ‘celebrity-issues’.
It is foreseeable that our consciences will lead us to address the humility of our own moral and ethical negligence and misunderstanding regarding even greater grievances such as our chronic complicity to: just war theory, fiscal irresponsibility/campaign finance, arms and weapons trading, tyrannical foreign policy, global climate change, oil dependency (and the atrocities that result in Imperial & state-capitalism), and systemic racism, and classist power structures. Furthermore, it’s empowering to know that we might converge in the grand arena of social criticism and more importantly, in proactive force.
One must be wise in the expenditure of one’s energies. Can we unite under an umbrella of a common vision of a new moral & political landscape? I encourage conservative-minded people to do some serious research and investment to a deeper understanding of those political ‘extremes’ they feel alienated by. Does the sense of alienation come from a sense of inferiority due to lack of education? This was true in my case. Nevertheless, reasoning together is overcoming such feelings and senses and sentiment. We MUST apply ourselves to dismantling our assumptions about the means & ends of war.
One can’t help but think that with a fraction of the billions of dollars this war has cost, category 5 levees could have been build to protect our citizens (that’d be practical homeland security!), or daydream about how much of this campaign money could be benefiting the naked and hungry in our own streets. We needn’t continue to simply daydream about a better world. We begin to ‘engage!’
When we better understand geo-political history, investigate the background noise, honestly face our countries mistakes – we become empowered in spirit and in truth to work towards change – change with regards to moral issues like disarmament, demilitarization, and decreased oil consumption.
Compassionate conservatives and radical liberals alike shed tears at the sight of Nick Ut’s infamous National Geographic photo; Kim Phuc running naked from her napalmed village. The heart of the compassion moves on the tears; the knowledge that this was enabled by a state decision moves one to political outrage. It has happened over and over again, that those in power have acted without goodwill toward LIFE. We must form ourselves, & elect for ourselves, representatives of a government that acts not in it’s own interest rather with the highest esteem for global interests.
The failure of the American two party system is itself a moral issue. It has created a massive dichotomy in the political world than has long negated third party coordination and/or serious/legitimate participation. We don’t have to choose a lesser of two evils. We have the freedom and (if we can imitate the example of those who in India mobilized in massive nonviolence) the power to reform our own & throw off the oppression of the lethargic stalemate provided by the current political gridlock.
Neither conservatives nor progressives should too quickly dismiss the agenda, nor the political potential/hope in GREEN. Green offers an altogether more creative, re-vitalizing, and refreshing lense than the encumbered ‘adjustments’ red, blue, or purple ‘offer.’ A popular rally behind a non-hegemonic, human-rights oriented green movement will illicit a new and potent contender!
Unto the coming of the Kingdom of Peace, peace, friends…



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paul

posted October 18, 2007 at 4:20 pm


thanks clair! your post provoked me to start researching bonhoefer.
amen anonymous – are fears are rational. what better time than now?
There is a growing nonviolence through bicycling movement brewing in my Westervillian, Ohio church. This is totally a practical and fun form of resistence – and I pray – an accessible ‘vehicle’ for political/activism dialogue and education.
as is the case in all nonviolence – it must be en masse! evangelical and progressive communities – let’s unite to advocate biking as a form of fasting from oil – say, starting with the sabbath – as a show of solidarity with the women and children in the middle east and collaborative resistence!
Dig:
bikesforpeace.org
Howard Zinn’s
‘The People’s History of America’
‘Just War’
‘Artists in TImes of War’
Thomas Merton & others’
‘Breakthrough to Peace: 12 views on the threat of thermonuclear extermination’
‘the road to 9/11′ – a PBS doc
amen to the call to include immigration reform. i would add also prison and education systems reform.



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paul

posted October 18, 2007 at 4:25 pm


thanks clair! your post provoked me to start researching bonhoefer.
amen anonymous – our fears are rational.
Now is the only time we have. Come let us resist together!
There is a growing nonviolence through bicycling movement brewing in my Westervillian, Ohio church. We believe this to be a totally practical and fun form of resistence.
I pray that it is also an accessible ‘vehicle’ for political/activism dialogue and education.
as is the case in all nonviolence – it must be en masse!
evangelical and progressive communities – let’s unite to advocate biking as a form of fasting. of fasting from oil – say, starting with the sabbath – as a show of solidarity with the women and children in the middle east and collaborative resistence!
Digs:
bikesforpeace.org
Howard Zinn’s
‘The People’s History of America’
‘Just War’
‘Artists in TImes of War’
Thomas Merton & others’
‘Breakthrough to Peace: 12 views on the threat of thermonuclear extermination’
‘the road to 9/11′ – a PBS doc
amen to the call to include immigration reform. i would add also prison and education systems reform.



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