Theology

After El Paso and Dayton

After El Paso and Dayton

The following is a collection of sermon and prayer responses to our nation’s two most recent mass shootings in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio. We give thanks for the bold leadership of these pastors and the many others whose work isn’t featured here. Until we reach a day in which these responses are unnecessary…

“God with us, we come to you today a people changed by violence. When O Lord will we be a culture changed by peace? When will we take seriously the work of this table, this bread, this juice? You commanded that we sit and eat together; it is that simple and yet that hard.”

(Rev. Holly Clark-Porter)

The People We Don't Care About, Part Two

The People We Don't Care About, Part Two

(Photo by Tamir Kalifa)

“If we truly felt like this was completely unacceptable in our nation and that our civic leaders have spent the past two decades doing little to systemically alter the circumstances that allows these realities to continue unabated, then the only possible response would be to march, to protest, to flood the offices of our elected leaders, to stand and be counted and be unmoved by the consequences of our actions until something, anything, changed. ”

(By Rev. Dr. Jamie McLeod)

A Promise Fulfilled

A Promise Fulfilled

(Photo by Eddie Stigson)

“The crucifiers are transformed by the crucified. Their hearts are changed, and because of that, our world is changed….For those of us who think we know how and when God speaks—let us be surprised when God is revealed in unexpected ways—like in the Roman centurion. For those of us who are weary of waiting, let us hope in the God whose Spirit gradually transforms our hearts, so that when we finally see, we can realize like the apostles— “were not our hearts burning?”

(By Rev. Kate Hanch)

The Ghost of God

The Ghost of God

(Photo by Rythik)

“Though this deity has long since died in my theological imagination, I’ve still yet to eradicate it from the deeper structures of my mind. While I wish it was possible to simply exchange one set of beliefs for another, I’ve come to question whether our minds work like that. Trauma doesn’t neatly or quietly subside due to the passage of time. Some things insist on haunting us.

In the following sections, I’ll describe what it was like growing up in a fundamentalist congregation in the South and what it’s been like on the other side of this “death of God” – how I tried to cope in mainline, liberal seminaries, and what I’ve learned along the way from my attempts to rid myself of this ghastly presence. “

(By Rev. Dr. Marc Boswell)

Therapy is My Church

Therapy is My Church

(Photo: MindBodyStock)

“As a therapist, I believe my commission is to close the distance between myself and those who have been wounded – which is no different than how I understand the Christian commission.  As a therapist, I believe that my job is to listen well and ask good questions – which is no different than I understand how to be in relationship with anyone, client or otherwise.   When I find myself rejecting others (clients, friends, family members, politicians, people on Twitter), I try my best to understand what is being triggered in me and find a way to avoid treating them as an ‘other.’ “

(Dr. Devlyn McCreight)

The Restoration of Holy Week

The Restoration of Holy Week

(Photo by Tucker Tangeman)

“The week is meant to transform us as we come face-to-face with the week’s tragic end. And yet, we learn to bear this journey of adoration, betrayal, death, and silence. For despite all the pageantry and ceremony, Holy Week isn’t a time of celebration. Instead, it marks the despair, cruelty, and hardness of existence—an existence that Christ lived, experienced, and ultimately died in. Therefore, our journey from Sunday to Saturday is a cruel one. And it’s this cruelty that prepares us for the redemptive love of the Resurrection.”

(By Rev. Dr. Jonathan Best)

MLK and Marxism

MLK and Marxism

(Photo: Michael Ochs Archive / Getty Images)

“The only way to beat a politics of identity is to offer a more compelling vision of what our identity ought to be.” Until Black people become a new people with a new identity, they will continue to be defined and identified by capitalists as the modern day proletariat—an expendable class of workers whom capitalists feel can easily be taken advantage of.”

(By Rev. Dr. Darvin Adams)

Biblical Abundance and Gender

Biblical Abundance and Gender

(Photo by Raphael Rychetsky)

Using a transgender person’s name is a big deal. A recent study published by the Journal of Adolescent Health found that simply using a transgender person’s chosen name can reduce their risk of suicide by 65 percent….Extending the notion of coming out as a process akin to discerning a call, Scripture presents us with abundant evidence of the importance of a name with regard to one’s sense of call. When God promises Abram and Sarai they will be the ancestors of multitudes, God calls them Abraham and Sarah (Genesis 17:5,15). After Jacob wrestles his blessing from the angel, he is no longer Jacob, but Israel (Genesis 32:28)….”

(By Jess Cook)

Nones, Dones, and the Rural South

Nones, Dones, and the Rural South

(Photo Unknown)

“Outside of certain periods, like the two Great Awakenings or the post-World War II era, a full-throated, zealous participation in Christianity has never been 100% in these Southern states. Perhaps what we’re witnessing in the rural South, then, is similar to a decline in church membership elsewhere in the country, and perhaps it’s also more in line with the general trends throughout the South’s own checkered past. We’ve never collectively been as fervently Christian as what is often told about us or what we tell others about ourselves.”

(By Rev. Dr. Marc Boswell)

The Geography of Black Poverty

The Geography of Black Poverty

(Photo Unknown)

“It bears repeating that Black poverty in the United States stems from an outgrowth of an oppressive and violent system of idolatry. This system of idolatry is rooted in the slavery chains of previous centuries and the antics of Jim and Jane Crow that severely curtailed the generational wealth and life chances of Black communities well into the late 20th century, and still continues into the 21st. “

(By Rev. Dr. Darvin Adams, I)

When Hope isn't Found in the Resurrection

When Hope isn't Found in the Resurrection

(Photo by Marc Boswell)

“For some, these questions are uncomfortable ones.  Like me, they were likely taught to never be angry with or to question God.  To do so was to be unfaithful, but I no longer believe that crap.  Jesus asked these very questions and experienced the same seasons of grief, fear and isolation that we all do, and yet Jesus found hope not in being delivered from evil, but in knowing that God was with him no matter what came.”

(By Rev. Bojangles Blanchard)

My Seminary has Closed...

My Seminary has Closed...

(Photo: Unsplash)

“As a pastor trained by the 20th century but living and serving in the 21st, I know the next steps for all churches will require us to bless and release much of how things have always been. To move forward with integrity, we all must dream, innovate and discern what the next, right steps are.

Those steps won’t be the same for every church or divinity school or other religious organization. Some will face the hard truth of needing to close their doors.”

(By Rev. Elizabeth Mangham Lott)

Returning...

Returning...

(Photo: Unknown)

“What I can do is bear witness to the impact that [Thich Nhat Hahn], his writings, his teachings, and his life had on me and, I suspect, other Western Christians. And while I have no idea if this was his intention…I can state, unambiguously, that his Buddhism made me a better Christian, a truth that I’d like to offer a few words to explain.”

(By Rev. Dr. James McLeod, Jr.)

Spiritual Musings on the Blues

Spiritual Musings on the Blues

(Photo: Marc Boswell)

“This is why Black theologians should not hesitate to seek the Spiritual within and reflect theologically upon all facets of cultural productions present in the Black community that are shaping the contours of Black life. This led Cone to examine the Blues as theological texts, defying the binary mentioned at the beginning of this essay in which some theologians ignore the religious depth of so-called secular texts.”

(By Rev. Dr. Darvin Adams, I)

The Weight of Peace

The Weight of Peace

(Photo: Audra Melton)

“If, because my life is fine, I decide that all lives are fine, I am only a mercenary and not a citizen, out to get the spoils of this life without regard for my sisters' and brothers' welfare. Real justice leaves no one behind. Hope won't allow it.

(By Leigh Anne Armstrong)

A Baptist Meets the Buddha

A Baptist Meets the Buddha

(Photo credit unknown)

“Buddhist meditation, therefore, not only taught me a new way to pray, it also provided a desperately needed detour around an anthropomorphic mode of thinking about the Sacred…. To state it differently, my soul was yearning for a concept and experience of the divine that wasn’t rooted in a theology anchored by a powerful male deity who held sinners in ‘H’is hands over the pits of hell.”

(By Rev. Dr. Marc Boswell)

Prayer for After a Person Comes Out

Prayer for After a Person Comes Out

(Photo Credit Unknown)

“Like Lazarus being called out of the tomb, or Mary Magdalene whose eyes were opened to the resurrected Christ upon hearing her name, we know you have called ___’s name and claimed them as your own. When things get difficult, remind ___ of this community who loves them and has promised to walk through life with them.”

(By Jess Cook, M.Div.)

A Migrant Caravan

A Migrant Caravan

(John Moore/Getty Images)

“Our sacred story tells us of mothers and fathers who grab their babies and children and whatever they can carry on their back because the food has run out and there are no more jobs and people actively want to kill them. Our sacred story tells us to care for and welcome and embrace these people who are fleeing.”

(By Rev. Elizabeth Mangham Lott)

In-Between Patriotism

In-Between Patriotism

(iStockPhoto)

“Today, it's hard to recapture this spirit of optimism, the trust we once placed in our political institutions. In many respects, the American project is suffering a crisis of confidence. Thus, it's almost a truism to state that the confidence we had in our political institutions to "do the right thing" has been severely eroded.”

(By Dr. Jonathan Best)

The People We Don't Care About

The People We Don't Care About

(Photo by Walter Bennett)

“Today, the forgotten folks of Appalachia, the rural South, the formerly industrial midwest, need a greater voice to speak for them just as the addicted across the country need folks to move beyond sympathy and towards honest to God care and concern.”

(By Rev. Dr. James McLeod, Jr.)