SpiritFarmer


Simple political question
May 22, 2009, 9:18 am
Filed under: politics

Quick post here.  I haven’t paid a tremendous amount of attention to politics lately.  But I’ve heard enough to know there’s been some back and forth between President Obama, and former VP Dick Cheney.  I retain my usual ambivalence about nationalism and politics here, so I’m not going to take sides, but my question goes a little something like this:

If Cheney were so interested in continuing to speak out on issues, as he’s been doing, why didn’t he simply run for President? That would have given him lots and lots of airtime.  For him to be publicly contentious right now makes me think, “You had your turn.  You had the opportunity to try for another turn and didn’t take it.  So please, really, just go away.”

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My new favorite job description: chauffeur
May 16, 2009, 6:09 pm
Filed under: conference, friends, San Diego, Seattle, social action

I got a chance to attend the first annual Pentecost Seattle event this morning.  Well, part of it, anyway.  It was a good, stimulating conversation on justice that included a very wide variety of Christians.  I had to leave early, though – I was tasked with playing chauffeur today.  Not a bad assignment, though.

Passenger #1 in my vehicle today: The Rev. Dr. Samuel McKinney.  He has been the most significant civil rights leader in the history of this city.  He marched with MLK in Washington D.C., Selma, and Montgomery, and hosted Dr. King in his church.  I was honored to spend some time with him.  He asked if we could stop at McDonald’s for a fish sandwich on the way to his house.  Heck yeah!  I’m a part of a denomination that has an extremely poor history when it comes to civil rights, and I took the opportunity to express my sorrow for that, and my appreciation for the sacrifices he has made.  He was more than gracious.

Passenger #2 in my vehicle today: my San Diego friend, Matt Casper.  He flew in today for some work with Off The Map, and I was the airport chauffeur.  Always a hoot.  I’m looking forward to some more laughs later tonight.

I like driving most of the time, but with company like I’ve had in my passenger seat today, I couldn’t go wrong.



Inerrancy and Alcohol
May 7, 2009, 11:01 am
Filed under: culture, denomination, theology

I’ve had some conversations lately – some of which have sparked anger in me (not toward my conversation partners, but toward institutions and power brokers in them).  I assure you, dear reader, that I am not angry as I write this – just musing here.  These conversations been around the topic of alcohol and denominations.  The thoughts these conversations have produced go a little something like this:

I work for a denomination that is conservative – very conservative.  The past couple decades have witnessed a “conservative resurgence” within the denomination, which has reacted to a perceived “liberal” shift by a small handful of denominational leaders, seminary professors, and others.  The conservatives “won,” and most of the “liberals” have been driven away.  What we have now is an almost universal insistence on conservative readings of the Bible, including a stand for inerrancy.  “We” say we believe the Bible word for word, and insist on staying pure in our reading of it.

Meanwhile, my denomination has a hard-core stance against the use of alcohol as a beverage.  Our major missions agency for North America bans anyone  who has had even one drink of alcohol in the previous 12 months from applying for missionary funding.  In fact, I have known at least one case in which a person’s denominational position was threatened because he merely condoned the use of alcohol.  Now, I know that mine isn’t the only denomination that has a no-alcohol policy for its employees, or preaches a no-alcohol message from its pulpits.

But I got to thinking – it seems that the denominations and churches most likely to ban alcohol are also the denominations and churches most likely to preach biblical inerrancy.  My question is, if we’re so insistent on the word for word truth of scripture, how are we supposed to deal with verses like Provers 31:6-7:

6 Give beer to those who are perishing,
wine to those who are in anguish;

7 let them drink and forget their poverty

and remember their misery no more.

Or, how are we supposed to understand Jesus’ words in Matthew 11:18-20:

18For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, ‘He has a demon.’ 19The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, ‘Here is a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and “sinners.”

How exactly does Jesus earn the reputation of being a “glutton and a drunkard” if alcohol is a banned substance?

Look, I understand that in many, many cases, it’s a good idea for pastors and denominational leaders and even everyday Christians to abstain from alcohol.  I work with college students, and I don’t think it’s a good idea for me to go out drinking with them.  But at what point does an absolute stand against it violate an absolute stand for inerrancy?  For this, and other reasons, Jesus himself, along with Paul, Timothy, and a number of other prominent figures in the “inerrant scripture” would be disqualified for service in several denominations.  Do we really even know what we mean when we say we’re into inerrancy?  Really?

Should we really be alarmed that Christian denominations are tanking right now? What we say we believe about scripture isn’t what we live out in our policies.  What we take the most pride in is often the stuff we are the most hypocritical about.

I’ll close with what I would hope to be a couple pretty obvious disclaimers:  First, as I mentioned, I’m not just taking my own denomination to task here – there are several others with similar stands.  Second, this blog and these words are 100% my own – I write only for myself, and don’t claim them for anyone but me, especially the denomination or the churches that are a part of it.

I would LOVE to hear some points of view on what an inerrantist position on these scipture passages would be.  Because I’ve got some depressed friends, and I’m thinking that faithfulness to scripture might require me to buy them a six pack or a bottle of Merlot.  Also, how much alcohol would you recommend I give someone in order that they would “remember their misery no more?”  That sounds like it might require a 12-pack.



Updates and Changes
May 3, 2009, 8:33 am
Filed under: denomination, friends, inter::mission, school, the purple door

At some point in the past couple of weeks, I passed the seven year mark since I started this blog.  As it turns out, I’m pretty sure that this post breaks my longest streak ever for time away from the blog.  I didn’t stop intentionally.  No good, spiritual, profound reason.  Life just got a bit intense for me, and eiter I didn’t have any words or the words I did have weren’t ready to be shared.

I’m writing this post from a hotel room, just outside of Portland, where I’ve spent the past couple of days.  It’s been a very good trip for me – I’ve gotten to celebrate the official part of my completion of a Doctor of Ministry program through George Fox Seminary.  I’ve spent time with the friends who I’ve worked with for the past few years, and the school faculty and staff, who have been so wonderful.  I can’t speak highly enough of my George Fox family – they are creative, energetic, and hopeful servants.  I look forward to a continuing friendship with them.

When I return to Seattle later today (after some bonus time seeing Ryan, Holly, and Pax Sharp), I’ll get back to work at The Purple Door, and my inter::mission students.  We’re about half-way through the Spring quarter at UW, so we’ll be bringing this school year to a close soon.  At that time, I’ll also be bringing my time of service (at least, in an official capacity) there to a close.  I mentioned a while back that my denomination has been going through a time of reorganization and transition.   I will not be a part of the new strategy.  This was a decision that was made for me by others, not by me.  It’s a long, long story, and one I’m not quite ready to get into here.  Basically, I’ll be wrapping up my employment at the end of June.  I’m thankful to say that the denom isn’t killing inter::mission, and I will be able to hand this dream off to the capable hands of a friend.

So what’s next?  That’s a fabulous question!  If you have any ideas, I’d love to hear them.  I really am about as wide open as I could be right now.  I’ll begin circulating my resume soon.

I’m out of time for this post, and I’m sure I’ll tease out some of what I’ve hit on here.  But for the sake of the readers of the blog (whoever is still left!), I wanted to at least get some general info out there on what’s been going on.

Peace, friends.