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
That They May Be One
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It is a given among many Christians that the splintering of the outward form of the church into many pieces is a disaster. Many millions of believers have prayed that the divisions of doctrine and practice would be healed and everyone could be part of the same organization once again. When they read Jesus’ prayer for unity in John 17, they are thinking outward unity, i.e. the end of different denominations.   Maybe I’m just a contrarian at heart, but I’d... Read More
Mr. McNair
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I just can’t get Steve McNair out of my mind. McNair is a legend in Tennessee. He led the Titans all the way to the Super Bowl in 2000 with his great passing and running, falling one yard short of a miracle comeback in the title game as time expired. He is Nashville’s biggest sports hero. Was. He was found with four bullets in him on a couch in the condo he shared with his mistress, a waitress from Nashville’s... Read More
Soulmate
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In the military they call it “friendly fire.” It means that your wounds (or death) were caused by ammo from your own comrades.   This has been a grim season for the GOP. The party has been knocked back not only by the Obama tidal wave, but has suffered damage inflicted by its own leaders. The Republican Party for many years has tried to portray itself as the party of family values, based on Christian principles. Generally Republicans oppose abortion, gay... Read More