Wednesday, September 16, 2009


I'm not posting this week. I'm at a clergy retreat. Will resume Tuesday of next week.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Hope versus Fear

Eric Reitan has written an article on Religion Dispatches called Presidential Pep Talks and the Religion of Fear: How Did an Uncontroversial Speech Become a National Controversy. He articulates the differences between a religion of hope and a religion of fear and why those who are part of the religion of fear do not want the President to appear moderate and human. He refers to these people as belonging to a religion of fear believe in a vengeful God who visits his creatures who disobey with disasters such as 9/11. They believe it is crucial to keep the followers of the religion of hope out of power, so that this vengeful God may be appeased by forcing everyone to "toe the line." But what I really liked about the article was his description of the religion of hope:
The religion of hope is beautifully embodied in the life and work of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and is concisely expressed in his conviction that “beneath the harsh appearances of the world there is a benign power”—that is, a transcendent benevolence that cares about the good and supports those who work for justice. A key feature of the religion of hope is that, because the root of creation is good, no existing thing is essentially bad or evil. Most significantly, this means that every person is a product of a benevolent creator and so not only has inherent value and dignity, but has the capacity within them for moral goodness.

No one is irredeemably evil. No one is so far gone that they have been rendered incapable of compassion; even if, as may be the case, this capacity has been buried beneath layers of prejudice and fear. Because all of us are products of the same divine benevolence, and because our divine creator is a real power moving within all of us to nurture what is good, we can enter conflicts in the hope that we can reach and connect with our opponents’ best selves, that fundamental part of who they are that is responsive to the needs of others.

This is not to say that evil systems and forces aren’t real, and that people do not become deeply entangled with them; nor that injustices can be overcome without struggle, or that there will never be a need to apprehend and incapacitate dangerous people; nor that our duties to protect those in our care will never call us to harm an aggressor in their defense.

But it does mean that even our most dangerous opponents will be seen as fellow human beings with a capacity to care about the good. Those who live by the religion of hope are therefore more inclined to pursue reconciliation even when there are risks, and more likely to forgive even when a past wrong is truly grave.

And when and where the religion of hope prevails, it is difficult to foster an attitude of paranoid hysteria. Even when threats and injustices are real, those who live by the religion of hope look for ways to overcome those threats and injustices by building and recognizing connections of common humanity. They are not easily convinced by those who fabricate dangers out of thin air, and they are not likely to view an occasion for staking out common ground and shared values as itself a danger from which our children must be shielded.

This is so opposite what we are finding in our political and religious communities in the USA, and is exactly the message that Jesus preached. And don't the angels when they appear to us mortals start out by saying "Be not afraid!" I strongly recommend you read the whole article.

H/T Paige Blair now a priest in the San Diego area, a wonderful iconographer and u2charist proponent posted the link to this on her Facebook page.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Joan Chittister on Sr. Louise

Another great post by Joan Chittister: Louise Akers: Silenced or louder than ever? in the National Catholic Reporter. Chittister starts off by saying "History is a dangerous thing. Somebody ought to be reviewing some of it carefully now -- for the sake of the church, if nothing else. There may be a lesson to be learned here. " She goes on metioning the Attenborough film, Gandhi where Gandhi leads the poor Indians to the sea to collect sea water to make salt. She goes on to say "Gandhi was clear about the purpose of nonviolent resistance. It would expose the injustice of the oppressor and claim the conscience of the world.

The lesson is a sobering one: Suppression does not end revolution; it breeds it. It solves nothing."

Later in the blog she says:

If you think not, think Martin Luther or Ulrich Zwingli or John Calvin or Mary Ward or Mary MacKillop or John Cardinal Henry Newman or Teilard de Chardin or Hans Kung. Think of any number of others without whom we would still be selling relics or teaching merit theology or refusing to allow women religious on the streets or rejecting the concept of the sensus fidelium or refusing to attend the weddings of our children in Protestant churches or disdaining to deny science, scientists, the movement of the sun and evolution.

The continued suppression of thinkers who call for the discussion and study of the role of women in church and society is not suppressing anything. In fact, more and more men and women are beginning to speak out about it. Which is where Sr. Louise and Archbishop Pilarczyk come in: Like the English, he has the power of the past on his side; like Gandhi, she has the power of the present and the promise of the future on hers.

What a clearly articulated reason that in the long run, suppression fails.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

"We Can't Afford to Wait"

Thanks to Emily for pointing me to this. At the end of the video you can sign up. MoveOn is a political action group. The video is a series of people who are asking for universal health care with a sign telling why they or someone they love need it.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Marriage Equality in Maine

It is now September and it's time I start blogging again. The house is nearly straightened out so I have no more excuses.

There have been a lot of good TV spots on marriage equality as a run up to the November referendum here in Maine. This is one of them and my favorite so far.

Our clergy day discussion will be about how to respond pastorally to same sex blessings in our churches.