Polite Lying
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Ever since you were small, your parents hammered into you that all  lying was bad. Bearing false witness rates its own Commandment from God. I still feel the shame of weasel lies I’ve told in the past, and I try my best to work with my kids to help them tell the truth.   But--I don’t think you can say that every untruth is a sin against God. (Does that make me sound like a moral relativist?) When the Hebrew midwives... Read More
Die with Dignity
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Well, Dr. Jack Kevorkian, the poster boy for the assisted suicide movement, is out of prison and doing very well on the lecture circuit. Word on the street is that he can command up to $50,000 a speech. The Hemlock Society was named, of course, for the poison drunk by the Greek philosopher Socrates. He is one of the world’s most famous suicides, although he was actually merely carrying out a death sentence pronounced on him by an Athenian court.... Read More
Liar
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For weeks now the news shows and bloggers have had a field day with Rep. Joe Wilson (R.-S.C.) Earlier this month, as he and other congressional reps were listening to Pres. Obama speak on health care, he shouted out, “You lie.” He has since apologized to the White House, if only once. Though lambasted by most who feel the need to comment, his name recognition has shot up and so have contributions to his campaign fund. I will spare you... Read More
Moving On
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American Christians have always been a restless lot. Especially in cities people don’t feel as though they are obligated to attend the churches their parents and grandparents did. An increasingly large percentage of people in today’s congregations came from different backgrounds.   There is always a fair amount of coming and going in Christian churches, and not only between congregations of the same denomination. My own congregation, St. Marcus, receives dozens of new members through adult confirmation each year whose previous... Read More
It's the Economy, Stupid (Part II)
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Last November I blogged about some positive aspects of the Great Recession. My smile was a grimace, because my wife’s and my savings took a 33% haircut in the last year. I have prayed with some pretty desperate people who have been looking for work for many months. I have grieved with friends who have lost their homes or face bankruptcy. Our congregation is thrilled that our offerings have been flat—I feared that they would dive. With some deliberate underspending... Read More
Galileo
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Among the many significant anniversaries this summer is the 400th of the day when Galileo first demonstrated his new telescope to officials in Venice. He was probably not the first to invent the telescope or work out the theories, but he was an enthusiastic developer and has gotten the credit. He is also famous for timed experiments in dropping objects of different mass from the leaning tower of Pisa and noting a uniform rate of acceleration.   But surely the best... Read More
Dress Code
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It might be my imagination, but it seems that the high school where my kids attend gets more vocal every year about what constitutes appropriate dress. Boyz in the ‘hood wear their pants halfway down their butts, proudly displaying the designs on their boxers. My sources say that this style comes from prisons, where belts of any kind are thought too dangerous to allow, and so the inmates walk around all day with their drawers drooping. At our high school,... Read More
August 1969
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I can’t think of a better time to reflect on the schizophrenic nature of humanity than the current wave of nostalgia for that famous August forty years ago. People were still glowing with amazement and pride about the moon landing a few weeks earlier. 500,000 people converged on Bethel, New York, to Max Yasgur’s farm for three days of music (and nights! Good grief! The Who went on Saturday night at 4:00 a.m. and played 25 songs). The great music... Read More
Polyamory
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Remember David Crosby? He was the guitar player and singer with the Byrds and Crosby Stills & Nash. He was a legend for his walrus mustache, mounds of frizzy hair, and clouds of marijuana smoke. He wrote a song back in 1967 called “Triad” whose lyrics were so revolutionary that the Byrds refused to put it on their “Notorious Byrd Brothers” album. The Jefferson Airplane members weren’t nearly so shy. They put “Triad” on “Crown of Creation” the next year.... Read More
Rev. Ike
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New York religious life has lost one of its most colorful characters this summer. Rev. Ike (Frederick J. Eikerenkoetter II, the son of an African American and a Dutch Indonesian) is dead at 74.   Rev. Ike was born in South Carolina and started his first church there. He moved to Boston and gained some fame as a faith healer and preacher, but it was in Harlem, on 175th & Broadway in Manhattan, that he achieved his greatest fame. He and... Read More