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The Social Gospel Is Very Political

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It is the political structures that determine who shall be rich and who shall be poor, who shall be free, and who shall be oppressed, who shall live and who shall die. Thus the social gospel is very political.

Mike Wisniewski, On The Line / Los Angeles Catholic Agitator

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http://lacatholicworker.org/wp/wp-content/uploads/2016/09/faith-and-politics-sign.jpgAn excerpt: Tommy Douglas said,’Social justice is like taking a bath. You have to do it every day or pretty soon you start to stink.’ Who is Tommy Douglas? In 2004, he was “named The Greatest Canadian of all time by voters across Canada.” A Baptist minister, he provided pastoral care for people who died because they could not afford medical care. This injustice led him to enter politics, believing strongly that ‘the role of government’ was ‘to improve the lives of ordinary people.’ He became the premier of Saskatchewan, and then ‘forever known as the father of socialized medicine in Canada.

Tommy Douglas provides a timely example for American Christian faith leaders, their seminaries and related Clinical Pastoral Education training centers. Many of them need to take a ‘social justice’ bath — regularly! They often live off the reputation of the great prophets of their past, while mass- producing chaplains of the status quo. They tend to vicariously identify with the heroes of their faith, turning their prophetic movements into monuments and worshipping them. Stature is found in the statue. The power is in the prayer. The right is remembered in the rite. The movement is worshipped as a memory, and thus avoided as a model for continued moral risk-taking on behalf of oppressed people. In the face of the 2016 presidential campaign, their long avoidance of speaking reality and moral truth to political power has contributed to the rise of immoral candidates who stink up the place.

Mike Wisniewski, Editor, Los Angeles Catholic Agitator

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Pope Francis Walks With LGBTQ People, One Step Forward, Big Steps Back

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He is still a man marked by decades of theology that don’t recognize gender fluidity, he still struggles to understand feminism and its relationship with LGBTQ rights, and he still has to deal with leading a global church where simply being LGBTQ can get you killed in many countries.

Kaya Oakes, Religion Dispatches

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http://religiondispatches.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/10/Screen-Shot-2016-10-10-at-10.58.04-AM-690x460.jpgOctober 11, 2016 | On immigration, the environment and the rights of the poor, Pope Francis has consistently pushed Catholics to fulfill what he sees as the church’s mission to “go to the margins.” On gender and sexuality, however, the Pope has occasionally seemed to twist himself in knots to avoid sounding like one of the narrow-minded church leaders he is often wont to criticize.

The pope and the Catholic church are both on a learning curve, scrambling to keep up with the larger social acceptance of LGBTQ people in many Western nations. Francis is, after all, a 79-year-old Argentine, and sometimes his ideas about gender reflect his complex responses to the pervasive machismo of the Latin American culture in which he was raised.

Kaya Oakes is the author of four books, including The Nones Are Alright: A New Generation of Seekers, Believers, and Those In Between (Orbis Books, 2015), and Radical Reinvention: An Unlikely Return to the Catholic Church (Counterpoint, 2012). She is a contributing writer at Religion Dispatches, America, Commonweal, Religion News Service, and many other publications.

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The National Review Says Because Theocracy Has Been Held Off, the Threat Never Existed

  • On the contrary, we have seen religious laws against abortion, contraception, marriage equality, religious diversity, education, and even global warming.
  • Ignored is what the Religious Right has done to itself, selling a program of hate and intolerance Americans increasingly reject. Each time it is rejected, rather than re-evaluate and moderate their tone, they double-down. The Republican platform in 2012 was the most theocratic we had seen until this year’s, which the Religious Right brags about having crafted.

Hrafnkell Haraldsson, Politicususa 

http://15130-presscdn-0-89.pagely.netdna-cdn.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/05/prayer-in-school-701x433.jpg Sat, Aug 27th, 2016 | The Left has been warning about the threat of the Religious Right for years, and assuming repeatedly that the threat was past, only to see it arise again. In state after state we have seen violations of the First Amendment as religion is established through one piece of legislation or another.

We have seen laws against abortion, against contraception, marriage equality, against religious diversity in schools, against education, evolution, and even global warming on religious grounds – not to mention against religions other than Christianity (like anti-Sharia laws or not letting atheists run for office).

Hrafnkell Haraldsson, Senior Editor PoliticusUSA/Senior Columnist, a social liberal with leanings toward centrist politics has degrees in history and philosophy. His interests include, besides history and philosophy, human rights issues, freedom of choice, religion, and the precarious dichotomy of freedom of speech and intolerance.

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The Radical Christian Right and the War on Government, Chris Hedges, Truthdig

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  • The rise of Christian fascism is aided by our complacency. The longer we fail to openly denounce and defy bankrupt liberalism, the longer we permit corporate power to plunder the nation and destroy the ecosystem, the longer we stand slack-jawed before the open gates of the city waiting meekly for the barbarians, the more we ensure their arrival.
  • How these gibbering numbskulls came to dominate Washington

 

How a Group of Catholic Pacifists Took on the Nuclear State

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A review of Plowshares: Protest, Performance, and Religious Identity in the Nuclear Age ~ Kristen Tobey

Eric C. Miller, Religion Dispatches

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http://religiondispatches.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/09/plowsharesboook-307x460.jpg September 7, 2016 | Over the past four decades, a small group of Catholic activists has worked to symbolically disarm nuclear weapons. These activists have made headlines—and, in many cases, served prison sentences.

Plowshares activism was launched in 1980 by Daniel and Philip Berrigan, the duo of brother-priests previously known for their opposition to the Vietnam War. A select group of radical clergy and dedicated laypeople, the Plowshares have challenged the national security apparatus wielding little more than wire-cutters, hammers, prayers, and bottles of their own blood.

In Plowshares: Protest, Performance, and Religious Identity in the Nuclear Age, Kristen Tobey examines the methods of Plowshares activists, and she dives into their devout, dramatic, and often perplexing work.

Eric C. Miller is Assistant Professor in the Department of Communication Studies at Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania. A regular contributor at Religion Dispatches, his research area sits amid religious rhetoric and public advocacy.

 
 

The Fire This Time

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  • I know. You want me to say something profound, the hard thing. You want me to say something passionate, something to rally you, something to make you feel like there is hope, and that we’re going to change.
  • But that’s not what this piece is about.
  • Related: A Post-Dallas Challenge for Religious Progressives: Staying On Message About Structural Racism

Anthea Butler, Religion Dispatches

http://religiondispatches.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/07/Screen-Shot-2016-07-09-at-8.38.54-PM.jpg Mural of Alton Sterling painted at convenience store near where he was killed.

July 10, 2016 | Three years ago this month, I wrote about America’s racist god. As a result of the threats I received, I had to move from a place I loved. I got used to being called a nigger, and to having my university and department faculty barraged by white racists calling for me to be fired.

Three years later, and after countless black deaths by police, I find myself being asked by the editors here at RD to write about the deaths of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile, and about the five policemen shot and killed in Dallas.

Anthea Butler is a Contributing Editor to Religion Dispatches. Her forthcoming book, The Gospel According To Sarah: How Sarah Palinin’s Tea Party Angels are Galvanizing the Religious Right' (came) out in 2013.

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http://religiondispatches.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/07/Storm-690x464.jpg "It is not light that we need, but fire; it is not the gentle shower, but thunder. We need the storm, the whirlwind, and the earthquake." 

A Post-Dallas Challenge for Religious Progressives: Staying On Message About Structural Racism, Peter Laarman, Religion Dispatches

We progressive clergy types and theology professors say that we “get” all this. Well and good. But now, more than ever before, our teaching ministry is urgently needed in the public square. It must be an uncompromising and courageous ministry. No false equivalence between centuries of anti-Black police abuse and the actions of a single madman in Dallas. No mincing of words about the ongoing need to shake the very foundations of white supremacy.

 

Is America Willing to Be Freed from Its Demons?

  • The demons tempt us to violence, but there has always been a way to resist that temptation. We must follow the way of a God who will not release us either to our demons or to our despair.
  • Related: The Bandwagon of Hate: America’s Cancer

Willie James Jennings, Religion Dispatches

http://religiondispatches.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/07/Screen-Shot-2016-07-11-at-12.24.08-PM-690x460.jpgMinnesota activists brought the police tape from the scene of where Philando Castile was killed to Governor Mark Dayton's residence.

July 11, 2016 | There is a poignant story in the gospel of Mark where Jesus encounters a young man tormented by a demon.

The boy’s father, who desperately wants Jesus’ disciples to help him, has reached the point of exhaustion. The disciples cannot free the man’s son from the demon. The simple question we face at this moment in the United States is can we be freed from our demons?

The murders of Alton B. Sterling, Philando Castile, the five Dallas police officers, and the other black men killed last week who did not make the news show us our oppression. The problem with invoking the demonic is that such invocation has been used as a rhetorical band-aid to cover a wound far too serious to imagine recovery. Yet we must invoke the demonic now not to cover over what Wendell Berry called the racial wound but in order to understand the kind of resistance we face to our liberation.

Willie James Jennings is Associate Professor of Systematic Theology and Africana Studies at Yale University Divinity School and is an ordained minister.

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Related:

The Bandwagon of Hate: America’s Cancer, Odysseus Ward, The Angry Humanist

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  • We either challenge the system and our long held perceptions of the people it harms or do nothing, and thus, contribute to the collapse.
  • Related: Ending Human Violence is a Task for Each of Us
  • Related: Finally, the U.S. Steps Closer to Racial Healing With a National Truth and Reconciliation Commission

 

Beautiful words from the mighty Robin Williams .... gone but never, ever forgotten.

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Make your life Spectacular

 

Spotted Portsmouth

July 24, 2016

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Spotted Portsmouth: Media/News/Publishing

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A Post-Dallas Challenge for Religious Progressives: Staying On Message About Structural Racism

We progressive clergy types and theology professors say that we “get” all this. Well and good. But now, more than ever before, our teaching ministry is urgently needed in the public square. It must be an uncompromising and courageous ministry. No false equivalence between centuries of anti-Black police abuse and the actions of a single madman in Dallas. No mincing of words about the ongoing need to shake the very foundations of white supremacy.

Peter Laarman, Religion Dispatches

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"It is not light that we need, but fire; it is not the gentle shower, but thunder. We need the storm, the whirlwind, and the earthquake."

July 10, 2016 | The easily-predicted meme of the moment coming from law enforcement officials and their many political allies is a threefold rebuke to the entire criminal justice reform movement—not just #BlackLivesMatter but all of us who consider fighting the mass criminalization of people of color (and the engineered economic immiseration of people of color—most specifically Black people) to be the nation’s most urgent unfinished business.

The three main “beats” of the post-Dallas pushback are these:

  • The police put their lives on the line every day for public safety and deserve appreciation and deep respect for that;
  • They have been horribly smeared by a handful of opportunistic Black radicals, but the silent majority rejects the smear;
  • They are decent and honorable people who should not be smeared on account of handful of rogue individuals who wear the badge.

Peter Laarman is a United Church of Christ minister and activist who recently retired as executive director of Progressive Christians Uniting in Los Angeles. He remains involved in numerous justice struggles, in particular a campaign known as Justice Not Jails that calls upon faith communities to critique and combat the system of racialized mass incarceration often referred to as The New Jim Crow.

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