I am a “cradle” Methodist which means I started attending Sunday School as soon as I could
walk and sit on a chair. I attended Sunday School all though elementary school, high school and college. In addition, during high school, I attended Methodist Summer Institute, a wonderful week at a camp in the mountains complete with worship and Bible study.
Unitarian Minister and Abolitionist Theodore Parker said it, Civil Rights leader and
American prophet Martin Luther King, Jr., affirmed it, but sometimes I’m just not so
The Arc of the Moral Universe Is Long, but It Bends Toward Justice
Try proclaiming this bit of good news to, say, the Ukrainians, cruelty, brutality, barbaric
and senseless destruction reducing their country to rubble.
Where does one start? Dr. John Cobb at age 96 is probably the world’s preeminent process philosopher, a pioneering eco-theologian, author of over 50 books, and the co-founder and still guiding light of The Center for Process Studies, Pando Populus, and the Institute for Ecological Civilization. Born in Japan, residing in California, he might be called a rock star in
modern China where he helps to coordinate 23 centers of the Institute for Postmodern Development in China, (which he founded in 2005). How he was able to make himself available to talk with eight friends of People of Faith for Justice on January 12 I can’t imagine, but he did.
With so many necessary appeals coming from so many worthy causes, agencies, and organizations, this time of year, I find myself reflecting on Maimonides’ Golden Ladder. Moses Ben Maimon was a Jewish Talmudist, physician, and philosopher of the Middle Ages, and his Golden Ladder helps us answer the basic questions about why, when, how, and how much to give of our time, treasure, and talent. If we press the matter a bit further, the Golden Ladder will help with the bigger questions as well where giving is not just writing a check but a way of life.
I recently had a brief conversation with Jennifer Adams, CEO of Lumina Alliance (formerly RISE SLO + Stand Strong). She talked about all of the ways that Lumina Alliance serves individuals and families in our community, and works for a community free from sexual and intimate partner violence.
Two numbers leapt off the page of the New York Times: 170,000 and 2,000,000,000,000. The first is the number of lives lost in two decades of fighting in Afghanistan and the second is the dollars it cost(1) (or perhaps we should say it initially cost since it was funded on credit, the interest expected to add another $6.5 trillion; commitments to Afghanistan and Iraq veterans are estimated to add another $2 trillion, those costs to peak after 2048(2)).
As I was visiting his church last week, a recently widowed man realized that the woman who had cared for his wife was someone I knew, and might see later that day. He asked me to share with her some very high praise. The caregiver, he said, was an amazingly patient and persistent person. His wife in her last several months had been difficult for caregivers, especially when it came to eating anything. My friend would prepare and bring her meals. "I don't want it, take it away." was the response. OK. Fifteen minutes later our friend would come back with the same warm food. "You need to eat, __. Your husband and children need you to." "No! Take it away." Fifteen minutes later the caregiver would bring the meal again perhaps with a new garnish. "Take it away!" But by the third or fourth or fifth time of gentle persistence, his wife would say, "OK," and would eat.
I paused then and I continue to pause now, at what she had said.
In this case, she was a parishioner and because she was appreciably ahead of her time in so many ways (Saint Peg, we called her, Mother Inferior she called herself in retort), I wondered at her identifying herself as an aspiring pacifist. Years later, I still wonder, does not the idea of being an aspiring pacifist sound a little like being a little bit pregnant, which is to say, either you’re all in or it doesn’t count?
My contribution to the People of Faith for Justice blog this month will attempt to help us all understand the challenges one of the largest Christian denominations has endured regarding their role in and relationship to the systemic racism being faced in the United States today.
There’s an old story about a farmer who receives a pastoral call by his minister. The
farmer loved his farm and was delighted to give his pastor a tour. He loaded his pastor
into his jeep and off they went. Fields of corn as high as an elephant’s eye and golden
wheat swaying in the breeze as far as the eye could see. The Pastor, amazed by the
beauty of the sight surrounding him said, “I have never seen anything like this. You and
the Lord have a wonderful partnership on this farm!”
The opinions expressed on the PFJ blog are those of its author and do not necessarily reflect the views or policies of the PFJ Board of Directors or its members.