The Least, First

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A landmark: Text of the Obama speech on race

with 4 comments

“A More Perfect Union”
Remarks of Senator Barack Obama
Constitution Center
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Tuesday 18 March 2008

“We the people, in order to form a more perfect union.”

Two hundred and twenty one years ago, in a hall that still stands across the street, a group of men gathered and, with these simple words, launched America’s improbable experiment in democracy. Farmers and scholars; statesmen and patriots who had traveled across an ocean to escape tyranny and persecution finally made real their declaration of independence at a Philadelphia convention that lasted through the spring of 1787.

The document they produced was eventually signed but ultimately unfinished. It was stained by this nation’s original sin of slavery, a question that divided the colonies and brought the convention to a stalemate until the founders chose to allow the slave trade to continue for at least twenty more years, and to leave any final resolution to future generations. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Monte

March 18, 2008 at 5:51 pm

Posted in patriotism, Politics, Race

A Bible argument for government aid to the poor

with 38 comments

[Please note that many helps came via Ron Sider’s excellent but aging book Just Generosity: A new vision for overcoming poverty in America. This post is also saved as a page, at the link shown in the blog’s title bar (above) called Poverty, Government, and the Bible. The text is about the same there, but the comments of others—and my responses to them—are different. Thanks for thinking along!]

Madison Free ClinicEvangelicals often struggle with the idea of a government role in addressing poverty. Often, I hear questions like these, from an honest blogger called RenaissanceGuy:

  • I want to hear a reasoned biblical argument for government-run health care.”
  • … if people are coerced, though the income tax code, to support the poor, then are they actually pleasing our Lord?”

Others put it like this:

  • “Is it government’s job to care for the poor, or should the church and their families do it?”

While sectarian government is antithetical to American democracy, people of faith in the USA do have the privilege of holding and sharing political values consistent with what they understand to be good. Those values may not well fit in either conservative or liberal camps, but there will be common ground that can be shared with both.

In order to do that, people of faith have to be deeply aware of their own faith, and not just the arguments of right or left. So here’s an attempt to think aloud on one of those issues.

Especially for evangelicals:

a Bible argument for government aid to the poor:

First, some assumptions on which I think all can agree:

1. Jesus, as described in the gospels, is much more focused on the poor than our evangelical theologies have been. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Monte

October 18, 2007 at 12:09 am

A Great Awakening?

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Justice in the BurbsHere’s some good news that dares my heart to hope. Listen to Will and Lisa Samson, authors of Justice in the Burbs: Being the hands of Jesus wherever you live

We both grew up in good Christian homes. … We figure, between the two of us, that we’ve heard about 4,000 sermons. … We went to Christian schools, Christian college, Christian camps. We were involved in Scripture memory programs.  And when did we memorize a verse about God’s concern for the poor? […]

And so one day we began to read Scripture with an open lens. One day we began to read Scripture for what was [really] there

Oooh-hooo, that causes trouble. Watch them tell it:

Justice in the Burbs

Ah, the mercy of God! Day after day, I see American Christians awakening from a long sleep, suddenly aware that their Bibles tell of a Jesus whose incredible passion for justice shouts from every page, and they have not known it.

Many of us—I speak of myself—have not well followed this Jesus. We’ve followed instead the less troublesome, personal-salvation-obsessed, who’s-our-enemy-now religion deduced from evangelical dogma and 20th-century eschatological novelties—and so startlingly absent from the Gospels. And now we scarcely know what to do when we look afresh at the breathtaking things Jesus says and does.

But something’s up. There’s a change in the air, I think. And I don’t know that I’ve sensed anything quite like it before. These things are subjective; I certainly could be wrong.

But dare we wonder if it might be so, or what it means?

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Written by Monte

September 20, 2007 at 2:38 pm

Jim Wallis in Iowa City Sept. 13

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Stephen at Eastern Iowa Emergent Cohort writes:

Jim Wallis, founder of Sojourners and author [of the God’s Politics blog and]Jim Wallis God’s Politics: Why the Right Gets it Wrong and the Left Doesn’t Get It, will give a free, public lecture 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 13 in the Main Lounge of the University of Iowa’s Iowa Memorial Union, at the corner of Jefferson and Madison streets. The title of Wallis’ talk is “Biblical Faith and Political Values: A New Vision for America.”Here’s a synopsis: “Jim Wallis senses a profound hunger in America for a politics that appeals to our deepest hopes and values, that unites rather than divides. As an evangelical Christian, he shows how a full biblical faith can contribute to resolving the great moral and political issues of our times: poverty, peace, security, abortion, care of the earth, immigration and the rest.”

Thanks for the tip, Stephen!

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Written by Monte

September 3, 2007 at 12:24 pm

“Evangelicals … deserting the religious right in droves”

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An intriguing article from the Baltimore Sun by Thomas Schaller details a sea change in American politics. Do you think this could represent a renewal of emphasis on developing character and passions like those of Jesus (previously eclipsed by 20th century zeal for doctrinal and political orthodoxy)?

clipped from
“Evangelicals – especially the new generation of pastors and young people – are deserting the religious right in droves,” wrote Jim Wallis, author of God’s Politics, in a February commentary in Time. “The evangelical social agenda is now much broader and deeper, engaging issues like poverty and economic justice, global warming, HIV/AIDS, sex trafficking, genocide in Darfur and the ethics of the war in Iraq.”
For example, somebody should alert the Republican presidential aspirants to the declaration issued this spring by a coalition of top evangelicals that renounces “torture and cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment of detainees” and calls for the United States to embrace the Geneva Conventions. During last month’s South Carolina debate, with the notable exception of Arizona Sen. John McCain, the GOP candidates tried to out-macho each other on the treatment of detainees…. Mitt Romney boasted that he’d like to “double Guantanamo,”

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Written by Monte

June 23, 2007 at 12:53 pm