Blessed Peacemakers

Blessed are the peacemakers,
    for they will be called children of God. (Matt. 5:9)

In a day when the boiler plate view of Muslims is “they just want to come over here and bomb us,” there is a fresh reminder that not all Muslims are that way. Most aren’t. Hard to believe. Just true.

Tunisia is one spot no one pays attention to, even though it was the first place the “Arab Spring” started. Egypt blew up. Libya blew up. Syria dug in their heels. But Tunisia kept plodding toward peace. They still make their way in a treacherous situation, but a group was recognized yesterday for their work in bringing peace and stability to their nation. 

“We are here to give hope to young people in Tunisia, that if we believe in our country, we can succeed,” said Ouided Bouchamaoui, president of The Tunisian Confederation of Industry, Trade and Handicrafts, a group that’s part of the Quartet.

It’s interesting what can happen when the world isn’t watching… and criticizing.

How did we get “wedge issues?”

In American politics, we call them “wedge issues.” These days, it can be just about anything. But, generally, it’s throwing something out there for “discussion” that won’t get discussion because the person throwing it out knows everyone has a pre-fabricated response.

Gay Marriage
Racism
Poverty
Immigration
Abortion

Wedge issues.

When did we get “wedge issues?” 1970s, when Roe v. Wade was decided?

I would really invite all believers to read N.T. Wright’s challenging book Surprised by Scripture. (He takes on Christian wedge issues there, like women in ministry and more.) His last few chapters are challenging in regards to how we see the founding of the United States and how western Europe in general has been since the Enlightenment.

Wedge issues, in his view, didn’t start in the last few decades for Americans. They started from the founding. The “Enlightenment settlement”, as Wright calls it, allows for “Christian witness” in some arenas, but shuts it off in other arenas. The contract we signed? The Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. His argument is the church is told to step back from public life and do its own thing in private.

Again, it comes from the Epicurean philosophy our founding Fathers, especially ones like Jefferson, followed: God exists, but he’s a long way off. The world will now get along under its own steam.

The church can “purchase its independence by colluding with the implied pagan philosophy.” So, people get their “private religion” and can practice as they choose, but leave the spirituality behind when the “big people” issues on how the system runs are discussed.

Then delivers this bomb:

I suspect that one of the reasons why the creation/evolution debate generates to much heat in America — far more than anywhere else — is that people can hear all the overtones, social, cultural, and political, that it throws off. The idea of God having anything to do with the ongoing process of the world flies in the face of all that Western culture has stood for — including Western Christian culture.

And this:

Have we fostered a culture in which the lordship and teachings of Jesus, for instance about poverty or human dignity or war, have been honored, studied, taught and practiced? Or have we been content — as so many Christians on both sides of the Atlantic have been content — to drift with this or that prevailing political wind, to trim our sails so that only one or two real distinctives are left, related perhaps to sexual and family life, only then to complain when the principalities and powers, having quietly gained our cooperation in other spheres, such as rampant individualism and the neoliberal vision of the good life that goes with it, now come to attack those last remaining strongholds?

Is it possible America didn’t “fall” with the Supreme Court decision about gay marriage, or Roe v. Wade, but the church abdicated some responsibility leading into the very founding of a nation we thought we could call “Christian?”

Honestly, read Wright’s book. It’s a LOT more to dive into than just this simple post!

A Happy Fourth to Everyone

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, –That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security…

And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.

The Jewish (and Christian) Question

Today is pull the pin and roll the grenade into the room day.

Let’s start with an article detailing the genius marketing ploy of evangelical Christians to say America is a Christian nation. Have fun.

Then the chilling one. Over the weekend I watched an older movie on Amazon Prime called “The Conspiracy.” It was a film dedicated entirely to the meeting among the Nazi regime in WWII that set in motion the plan for the full extermination of the Jews from Europe. Monday I listened to an interview with an author about his piece in the Atlantic Monthly asking the question, “Is It Time for the Jews to Leave Europe?”

Read. Think. Pray.

Founding documents

We are getting ready to sell our church building and have had people doing some clean out projects. I am thankful some folks going through some old files recognized some buried treasure. In the old boxes were the first Constitution and ByLaws of our church and this announcement calling for the first official meeting of the church to set up as an official organization.

Founding of Peoples Church

When our church was founded it was as Peoples Church in 1943. It then became Columbia Heights Assembly of God and we now operate as Heights Church. We are shifting buildings, but we are still on “mission.”

It’s gratifying to see the goodness of the Lord all through this church’s history. It is a powerful reminder to pray for fresh anointing as we move ahead!

Thoughts on the political process

“Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it everywhere, diagnosing it incorrectly, and applying the wrong remedies.” —Groucho Marx

“The Democrats are the party of government activism, the party that says government can make you richer, smarter, taller, and get the chickweed out of your lawn. Republicans are the party that says government doesn’t work, and then get elected and prove it.” —P.J. O’Rourke, Parliament of Whores

“Everything is changing. People are taking their comedians seriously and the politicians as a joke.” —Will Rogers (And I might note this was LONG before the days of Jon Stewart and Comedy Central!)

“Reader, suppose you were an idiot. And suppose you were a member of Congress. But I repeat myself.” — Mark Twain

BUT ON A SERIOUS NOTE…

But a Constitution of Government once changed from Freedom, can never be restored. Liberty, once lost, is lost forever. — John Adams

A fondness for power is implanted, in most men, and it is natural to abuse it, when acquired. — Alexander Hamilton

A free people [claim] their rights as derived from the laws of nature, and not as the gift of their chief magistrate. — Thomas Jefferson

All men having power ought to be distrusted to a certain degree. — James Madison

Government is not reason, it is not eloquence, it is force. Like fire it is a dangerous servant and a fearsome master. — George Washington