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Obama family moves into house built by black slaves

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From Eduardo Galeano of Uruguay, one of Latin America’s most celebrated writers.
clipped from www.democracynow.org
EDUARDO GALEANO: Yes, yes. I’m worried about the repetition of this dangerous, toxic word, “leadership.”

Eduardo Galeano

Eduardo Galeano

[I]t’s usual to say, “We should recover our leadership in Latin America.” We don’t need any foreign leadership. Let it be. Let reality be as it wants to be, with no ruling state deciding the destiny of other countries. Please, no more. Stop with this tradition of the messianic mission of, you know, saving the world. No, it has been terrible during so many years, even centuries. No. Perhaps this crisis, this present crisis, so strong and terrible, may give something like a violent shower of realism and humility to this new government

What I would most like to see?

I would like that Obama, who has now tremendous, historic opportunity, that he never forgets that he’s now going inside the White House. The White House will be his house in the time coming, but this White House was built by black slaves. And I’d like, I hope, that he never, never forgets this.
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Written by Monte

November 7, 2008 at 1:14 pm

Posted in Politics

Church for a new era

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Those of you following the life of New Oaks Church may find this story encouraging. Here’s Donnie Miller (pastor of the Trinity Family Church in Gardner, KS) telling of a change of direction:

A New Era begins for TFC

Donnie Miller

There was an energy level among the congregation on Sunday that I haven’t experienced for a long time. People kept telling me, through smiles and hugs, how much they love the changes that have just happened.

These changes have been a long time coming. Last spring, we began a numerical slide that has resulted in our Sunday morning worship attendance being between 2/3 – 1/2 of what it was a year ago at this time. Toward the beginning of that slide, after a very lowly attended Sunday in March, I spent a sleepless night talking with God and wrestling with my fears and hopes. My fear was that if we continued to “do church” as we were at the time, we might not continue to exist. That fear lead to a hope, a hope that TFC could stop focusing on “doing church” and become more intentional about “being the church.” At about 4 AM, I got a pretty clear picture of the changes we could make.

I began sharing those changes with staff, the board and then ministry leaders; everyone was on board with the ideas. Last summer, we polled the congregation to find out approaches were working and to gauge their openness to the potential changes. The surveys revealed an almost unanimous support of the structural changes our leadership was considering.

Discussion groups

In August, we took a big first step in introducing Discussion Groups to Sunday AM worship. To say these groups have been a success would be the understatement of the year. Every Sunday, over 90% of the congregation participates in discussion groups. This past Sunday, only ONE person skipped discussion groups and that was because of a family emergency. It was almost hard to hear the other members of my group over the dull roar of the conversations happening all over the commons. The introduction of Discussion Groups, as well as “Ask Anything” Sundays, have all been a part of our effort to take a more dialogical approach to Sunday morning worship.

Read the rest of this entry »

Death by profit

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Long after midnight, some years ago, I found my son in the fetal position on the floor outside our bedroom door, in intense pain.  We rushed him to the hospital.  Pancreatitis, it was.  He received good treatment.  And in some days, he mostly recovered.

The Hurting
Image by Marquette La via Flickr

That night came to mind just now as I read these paragraphs from Sojourners:

Two weeks ago, Sam* died suddenly. He was only 21 years old, strong and healthy, preparing for a life ministering to youth. Cause of death: acute pancreatitis and previously undiagnosed diabetes. Reason for death: no access to health care to treat the incredible pain in his stomach – until it was too late. The bottom line: While angry protesters disrupt town hall meetings and national organizations spread fear-based lies, lives are lost.

The current health-care system leaves you and me just as vulnerable to lack of care as Sam was. Health-care reform is just as much an issue of justice, of preserving and celebrating life, as it is an issue of caring for the vulnerable. […]

[T]he current system “renders the best health care to the wealthiest, depletes the savings of solidly middle-class Americans, and leaves 46 million with no health-care coverage at all.” […]

[A]t Sam’s funeral there were no angry shouts or accusations. There was only shock and grief among the 400 friends and family members who attended.

Had I been born in a different situation, that death would have happened at my house; that shock and grief at my church. I would still know it today.

How long will we tolerate the fact that profits are more important than lives in America?  How did we become so hard-hearted as to turn our backs on the victims of such perversion?  What kind of monsters have we become?

sig1_100w

* Name changed to protect the privacy of his family.


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When atheists come to church (sermon of July 5)

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C Vonaesch - Femme Touchant Jesus

C Vonaesch - Femme Touchant Jesus

Last week, Jesus, pushing through a crowd, was secretly touched by a woman who’ d been bleeding for 12 years; her bleeding stopped.  She who’d been untouchable by the rules of the day touched him; she was then well, and he became untouchable.  She gets well. He takes on her “uncleanness.”

And then he touched a 12 year old girl who had recently died. He was now “unclean” twice-over (touching a dead body made him so a second time), but the girl was alive.   She gets life. He takes on her “uncleanness.”

Magnificent.

And the next thing that happens is that Jesus, the now-famous, compassionate, but scandalously irreligious traveling teacher, goes home to Nazareth. And while he’s been amazing everyone, at Nazareth, Jesus is amazed.

What could possibly amaze Jesus? Read the rest of this entry »

Bible vs. homosexuality? Handle with care!

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UPDATE (June 4, 2009):  The 40-some page paper from the late 1990’s by Nazarene scholar/theologial J. Kenneth Grider, which is mentioned in the comments after this post, is now available here:  Wesleyans and Homosexuality by J. Kenneth Grider.  Grider, who died in 2006, taught at Nazarene Theological Seminary for 38 years, served on the translation committe of the New International Version (NIV) of the Bible, and wrote the 1994 book A Wesleyan-Holiness Theology. Many thanks to Lin Wells, who gave me a copy of the paper.

Further, my nephew Amos Patrick unearthed the link to Real Live Preacher’s exposition of the scriptures mentioned below: A Look at the Bible and Homosexuality. Thanks, Amos!


Caution Lights

Just how strong are those Bible arguments against gay marriage—and homosexuality in general—that we hear about?

It’s a critically important question.  Given  Jesus’ inclusion of despised people, seems like we’d want to stand on solid ground if we are to justify becoming ex-clusive.

In all the Bible, homosexuality is mentioned only six times—three in the Old Testament and three in the New.  And surprisingly, all of the six comments include tough challenges for Bible students.

Real Live Preacher sketches the problem in a challenge thrown down to those who would be judgmental:

Sit down Christian. You cannot wave your unread Bible and scare me because I know the larger story that runs through it beginning to end. […] I am your worst nightmare, a Texas preacher who knows the good book better than you do. Show me your scriptures. Show me how you justify condemning homosexual people.

Show me what you got, Christian. The Sodom story? That story is about people who wanted to commit a brutal rape. Let’s all say it together, “God doesn’t like rape”. You could have listened to your heart and learned that, Christian. Move on. What else you got?

A passage from Leviticus? Are you kidding me? Are you prepared to adhere to the whole Levitical code of behavior? No? Then why would you expect others to? Move on. What else?

Two passages – two verses from Romans and one from I Corinthians. There you stand, your justification for a worldwide campaign of hatred written on two limp pieces of paper. Have you looked closely at these passages? Do you understand their context and original language? I could show you why you don’t have much, but there is something more important you need to see.

Though few I know are involved in a “world-wide campaign of hatred,” RLP has, in a few quick strokes, revealed the dicey-ness of Bible verses often proclaimed as open-and-shut cases.

Have we done the work required to truly understand?  Do we risk over-ruling the example of Jesus—and driving away millions—by interpreting a tiny set of difficult verses through cultural preference rather than Bible context?

Those are mighty high stakes. Gonna take a lot of love to work this through. What’s your thought?

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