Sunday, April 30, 2006

State of Belief--April 30

State of Belief is on Air America right now. I can't get the streaming to work--maybe I'll try to download and listen to the show later. Here's what's going to be on today's show...

Several religious leaders join our effort to shut down the President’s Faith-Based Initiative – learn how you can take action!
Welton & Margot Adler

-NPR correspondent and Priestess of Wicca Margot Adler dispels our misconceptions about paganism.

-Ever wanted a tour of the Mexican border? Borderlinks would like to give you one.
-Plus: the Vatican rethinks condoms; the church-IRS battle heats up in Ohio, and the Southern Baptist Convention plans an exit strategy…from America’s public schools.
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Saturday, April 29, 2006

What fresh hell is this?

I've had this expression rattling around in my head ever since I saw it recently in a diary on My Left Wing. I know I'd heard it before that--probably from my brother--but didn't know where it originated. Here's what I found on Everything2.Com

A line attributed many times to Shakespeare but actually it's from American author/critic/poet and wit Dorothy Parker. She is reported to have exclaimed "What fresh hell is this?" when her train of thought was interrupted by a telephone. She then started using it in place of "hello" when answering the phone or a knock at her door. In many ways she can be considered the patron saint of all tech support workers.
Well, now that I've gotten that little aside out of the way, here's what got that expression *back* in my head recently. The National Day of Prayer Task Force car, that is to be driven in an upcoming Nascar race.

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

Amazing how one picture can sum up so succinctly what troubles me about my country these day.

It's hard to believe it's time again for the National Day of Prayer, which will fall on May 4 this year. But, while I was checking out the Faith and Values section of the Columbus Dispatch yesterday, there it was.
Many people in central Ohio and the rest of the country will pause to observe the National Day of Prayer on Thursday.

Ohio's event will take place 11:30 a.m.-1 p.m. at the Statehouse. A Bible-reading marathon will again be held at the Franklin County Courthouse, 373 S. High St., beginning at 3 p.m. Sunday and ending at 10 a.m. Thursday.
There is something disturbingly in-your-face about a Bible-reading marathon at a municipal building.

Of course, I am well aware that expressing any such concern about that blurring of the line between church and state is likely to get one attacked for being anti-religion, as we saw in some attack ads during the 2004 election:
In Franklin County, the battleground county in the battleground state, incumbent Democratic Commissioner Mary Jo Kilroy was attacked for failing to support a resolution to create a national day of prayer.

"Public prayer would be outlawed if liberal Mary Jo Kilroy was in charge," said a campaign mailing from Sen. David Goodman, her unsuccessful opponent. Goodman, a Columbus Republican, is Jewish.
Of course, what I find ironic is that fact that I oppose any state "blessing" of one faith tradition over another *because* of my Christian values, not in spite of them. It's all about that "do unto others the way you would have them do unto you" thing. Why should that be hard to understand? And I'm hardly alone...

Many people already know this, but for anyone who doesn't--or just for people who might appreciate the reminder in case they are thinking of writing a letter to the editor on this topic, Francis Bellamy, the Baptist Minister who first wrote the Pledge, chose his words very carefully, and chose *not* to include any reference to religion.
In 1954, Congress after a campaign by the Knights of Columbus, added the words, 'under God,' to the Pledge. The Pledge was now both a patriotic oath and a public prayer.

Bellamy's granddaughter said he also would have resented this second change. He had been pressured into leaving his church in 1891 because of his socialist sermons. In his retirement in Florida, he stopped attending church because he disliked the racial bigotry he found there.
Another Reverend weighs in...

Barry Lynn objects to National Day of Prayer
The executive director of Americans United for Separation of Church and State says Congress never should have established the event, which is observed each year on the first Thursday in May.

Lynn says the National Day of Prayer has become a vehicle for Christian conservatives to promote their social agenda, including opposition to abortion and gay marriage. He notes that it's chaired by Shirley Dobson, wife of Focus on the Family's Doctor James Dobson.

Mrs. Dobson says she would like people "to be praying about the institution of marriage, how God designed it." She also says she hopes Americans will repent and honor God.
Kinda proving his point, isn't she? You can read more of what Rev. Barry Lynn has to say about the National Day of Prayer here.

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Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Remembering Rev. William Sloane Coffin

I was saddened to learn that Rev. William Sloane Coffin died today. I know that he had been gravely ill for a number of years, and his death is not unexpected. But I'm still sad that I never had a chance to meet him. Here's part of an interview he did with PBS Religion and Ethics Newsweekly:

Justice is at the heart of religious faith. It's not something that is tacked on. And justice is not charity. Charity tries to alleviate the effects of injustice. Justice tries to eliminate the causes of injustice. Charity is a personal disposition. Justice is public policy. What this country needs, what I think God wants us to do, is not practice piecemeal charity but engage in wholesale justice. And that's not only to erase or greatly reduce the wage gap and the living standards in America, but really to be committed to doing something about the horrible, really horrible poverty of at least one third of the people on the planet. If you want to do something good for national security, and every American should, take billions of dollars and wage war against world poverty. That would have a very sobering effect on terrorism. Terrorism now has a wonderful recruitment policy supplied by the United States foreign policy. If we were serious, with other nations, to engage the war on poverty around the world, that would stem the flow of recruits to the ranks of terrorists.

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Saturday, April 08, 2006

The "resurrection of the body"

Interesting article: Most don’t expect to rise from their graves

Most Americans don’t believe they will experience a resurrection of their bodies when they die, putting them at odds with a core teaching of Christianity.

The findings of a new Scripps Howard/Ohio University poll surprised and dismayed some top theologians because they seem to put Americans in conflict with both the Nicene Creed and the Apostles’ Creed, ancient statements of faith meant to unify Christian belief.

The Nicene Creed, adopted in 325 at the First Council of Nicea under Roman Emperor Constantine, concludes with the famous words: "We look for the resurrection of the dead and the life of the world to come. Amen."

Similarly, the Apostles’ Creed professes a belief in "the resurrection of the body."

Thirty-six percent of the 1,007 adults interviewed a month ago by the Scripps Survey Research Center at Ohio University said "yes" to the question: "Do you believe that, after you die, your physical body will be resurrected someday?" Fifty-four percent said they do not believe, and 10 percent were undecided.

My husband, of the "Church of the Restful Sabbath" was raised in a family of "Bible-believing Christians" (Apostolic, I think) and said he had never heard of that belief. I tried to explain what I remember about it, but it's been a lot of years since I learned about that in Catholic schools. But the words "rise from the grave" made me think of bad horror movies more than any Christian teachings. I don't recall ever being taught that we would have the *same* body in the next life. For those of you who were raised in a Christian denomination, what were you taught about this? If your understanding of this has changed over the years, how?

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