Category Archives: Faith

Love in the Time of Politics

new-familyA funny thing happened on the way to my daughter’s wedding. Well…we haven’t actually gotten there yet. The wedding isn’t until next weekend. But in the four years since she met her fiancé, they have changed the way I view the world.

Born to a Republican father who essentially got to vote twice because he told my mother how to vote, I revolted. I registered as a Democrat as soon as I turned eighteen, though I didn’t tell my father, a man who laughingly informed me that before he would give my husband his blessing, the man would have to sign a paper promising to vote Republican. When Nixon resigned in disgrace a few months after I registered to vote, I became convinced that Republicans represented all that was wrong with the world. Continue reading Love in the Time of Politics

Does the Church Need Change?

Dark Sanctuary

It was a lesson I learned in sixth grade—that little old ladies have their favorite spots in the church pews and that I’d better not dare to sit there on Sunday mornings. My family was new to town, and I’d made a friend who invited me to church. My parents didn’t go to church, and his parents went every Sunday. I don’t remember where we sat or whether we sat with his parents. But I do remember that he steered me past a wiry grandmother with shiny gray hair, sprayed into place, who glared when I paused at her pew.

Continue reading Does the Church Need Change?

Can Churches Change the Conversation on Race?

Pentecost w Artist Effects

Desperate to help the children in our congregation understand the unrest in Baltimore this time a year ago, a small group of parents asked our pastors for a conversation on race. Both pastors had questioned us from the pulpit, after the deaths of Trayvon Martin and Freddie Gray, “If we can’t have these conversations in our houses of worship, then where?” Continue reading Can Churches Change the Conversation on Race?

Would Christ Turn Marriage Upside-Down?

RingsGeorgia, North Carolina, Mississippi, and now Oklahoma. Christianity is under assault. But not in the way that the conservatives in these states who’ve introduced discriminatory laws would say it is. Like the Pharisees Jesus condemned, these Christians stand in the marketplace and loudly proclaim their objections to the actions of those whose behavior is far more Christ-like. Their hypocrisy in the name of religion should be obvious to anyone who seeks to follow Christ’s example.

If Christianity means being Christ-like, then it is under assault. And it is up to those of us who desire to live as Christ lived to show the courage of Christ and call out such hypocrisy just as he did. Continue reading Would Christ Turn Marriage Upside-Down?

Terror, Christianity, and Holy Week

Dark Sanctuary

Holy Week this year has much in common with that first Holy Week, over 2000 years ago, when Christ turned his followers’ attention toward the inevitable. His disciples had been filled with hope that he could change the world for the better. After all, they’d seen him turn water into wine, feed thousands with a few loaves and fishes, heal the sick with the touch of a hand, raise the dead with the power of his voice. Continue reading Terror, Christianity, and Holy Week

Who are the Dreamers?

Coates

Dear Mr. Coates:

As a child I, too, stood in the face of a brandished gun. Like you, “I recall it in the slowest motion, as though in a dream.” Like you, I did not tell my teachers, and I did not tell my friends.

I did not tell my parents. Because they were there. My mother, too, stared down the barrel of the gun—a gun wielded by my drunken father.

Like you I asked, “What was the exact problem? Who could know?” It’s taken me the better part of a lifetime to understand the demons that drove my father to hold the people he loved at gunpoint. Continue reading Who are the Dreamers?

Who was Christ? What is Christmas?

Creche to Cross

A few years ago someone whose faith is different from mine asked me, “Don’t you find it strange that your religion makes jewelry out of an instrument of torture?”

At the time my mom had recently had a debilitating stroke, and I was wearing a white gold cross pendant that she had given me when I was a teenager after I had been baptized. I seldom wear it, but I’d put it on that day because I was feeling sad for the loss of the mom I knew, and it brought me comfort. It isn’t worth a lot, even when the price of gold is up, but it is the most expensive Christmas gift she bought during my childhood, and she bought it at a time when she and Dad had little money to spare.

I tilted my head and pondered what my acquaintance had asked. “I suppose so,” I admitted. Continue reading Who was Christ? What is Christmas?

He is Heavy. But He’s My Brother.

Sibs--not used yetThree strikes and he’s out. Jailed three times on charges related to his heroin addiction, he has struggled to stay clean and get back into the game for ten months now. He has done a handyman’s work for a landlord in exchange for a room in one of the properties and a few dollars to buy necessities.

He has sought work as an electrician’s helper, a trade learned in his high school vocational classes. But with a prison record and few skills in literacy, he has been unable to find a job. After his release, he often sacrificed food to be able to afford a cell phone, a necessity before any potential employer could call him back. He walked four miles to stand in line in hopes of getting jobs as a day worker. He lost his driver’s license and can’t afford to pay the fines to regain even a provisional driver’s license. Continue reading He is Heavy. But He’s My Brother.

Is Gay Marriage Compatible with Christianity?

Pentecost

In the wake of the Supreme Court’s decision legalizing gay marriage this week, my husband and I have found it interesting that the justices on both sides used the Constitution to explain their votes. Much has been said about Anthony Kennedy’s eloquent opinion for the majority and about John Roberts’ first opinion read from the bench, both of which cite the Constitution to justify their stances.

That, of course, is their job as justices on the nation’s highest court—to interpret the laws in light of the Constitution.

Using the same text to come to different conclusions also holds true for religious leaders who have commented on the Supreme Court’s decision. Continue reading Is Gay Marriage Compatible with Christianity?

Is Christianity’s Future in Trouble?

FPC Lent

Drawn by the glow of the cross in the moonlight, I opened one of the glass doors at the back of the sanctuary. On Sunday mornings, the doors are closed at the beginning of each service to separate the sanctuary from the cheery chatter of those who attend other services but stay to catch up with friends. But on that evening, when I was there for a meeting in another wing of the church, the stillness of the sanctuary beckoned. I stood by the doors and felt a Presence in the soft moonlight.

I’ve thought of moments like that many times in the wake of the most recent Pew survey, as religious pundits grind their teeth and ponder how to draw millennials back to church. Continue reading Is Christianity’s Future in Trouble?