LBCF, No. 144: ‘Two Swell Guys’

Jul. 21st, 2017 11:40 am
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Posted by Fred Clark

“The scripture saith, thou shalt not muzzle the ox that treadeth out the corn. And, The laborer is worthy of his reward” (I Timothy 5:18). So tip 20 percent. At least. Divide by five and round up. If you also plan to: A) say grace aloud before the meal; B) ask your server if he/she is “saved;” and/or C) leave a gospel tract on the table when you leave, then make that 40 percent.

Prison Diary: Prison Pamphlets

Jul. 21st, 2017 05:00 am
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Posted by Richard Beck

I was raised on church pamphlets and tracts. Do you know about these?

In the congregations of my youth in the church foyer there would be a rack filled with small little booklets and tracts on all sorts of biblical topics. Most of the pamphlets had an evangelistic thrust, tackling questions associated with heaven, hell, and what we called "the steps to salvation."

Church pamphlets were a memory of my youth. I had not run into a church pamphlet in years.

And then I went out to the prison.

Churches send in all sorts of literature to prisons, much of it in the form of church pamphlets. 

At our unit, the chaplains put these pamphlets in racks in the hallway leading into the chapel. Each week as I wait for the men to arrive I get to peruse this literature.

Most of this literature is very fundamentalist. The better stuff is evangelical. By far the most popular pamphlet is Our Daily Bread. The inmates snap these up like candy, often sending them to their families. The daily meditation format of Our Daily Bread helps forge a spiritual connection between the inmate and loved one as they read through the daily meditations together.

Some of the literature send to prison is also very self-indulgent. The general rule seems to be, if no one will read your unique theological contribution to the world, print it up as a pamphlet and send it to a prison. They're a captive audience.

It all makes me wonder, why aren't liberal and progressive churches sending better literature to our prisons? This question is associated with an issue I've raised before on the blog, about why so few progressive/liberal Christians are involved in prison ministry.

As I stand in the chapel hallway looking at the pamphlet racks, I ask these questions every week.
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Posted by Libby Anne

Phoebe agrees to suggest that Decimus shorten Julia's mourning time, and Marcus suggests that Phoebe place certain limits on who Julia can associate with. In theory, Marcus stands up for Julia, but in practice, he's just as interested in putting limits on her as Decimus and Phoebe---just different limits.Click through to read more!
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Posted by Fred Clark

Glioblastoma multiforme killed my grandmother. And then, years later, it killed my mother. That's what this disease does. It kills people. It is, as we keep hearing today in the news, a very "aggressive" form of brain cancer. There is no cure. It is a matter of months. Perhaps a year, but not two.
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Posted by Libby Anne

Jihad Watch insists that a non-Muslim officer would have been fired if they had, like him, had three complaints lodged against them in two years. Um, no. That is not how this works. Officers are very rarely even disciplined over a complaint, much less fired---and that is the problem.Click through to read more!


Jul. 20th, 2017 05:00 am
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Posted by Richard Beck

I think we too are the people who, on the one hand want to listen to Jesus, but on the other hand, at times, like to find a stick to beat others with, to condemn others. And Jesus has this message for us: mercy.

I think – and I say it with humility – that this is the Lord’s most powerful message: mercy.

--Pope Francis, Homily (March 17, 2013)

It’s about to be writ again

Jul. 19th, 2017 08:20 pm
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Posted by Fred Clark

Is there life on Mars? Republican House member seeks answers on Mars-ghazi. Plus: Backwards-masking and the P&G rumor; the 1811 pamphleteer who blazed a trail for Charismanews; the Rule of Threes; and another reminder that requiring children to recite a daily loyalty oath is creepy.

The Creationist Giraffe

Jul. 19th, 2017 12:57 pm
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Posted by Libby Anne

I was fascinated by this nerve when I first learned about it in college. This was never mentioned in any of the creationist literature I had read. Creationist literature holds up creatures like the giraffe to point to "evidence for design" while leaving out evidence for poor design.Click through to read more!
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Posted by Richard Beck

I've never really been able to get my head around Jesus' miracle of calming the storm, one of his nature miracles.

I've tended to see Jesus' miracles as signs pointing to the end of Israel's exile, new Exodus themes. The new wine beginning to flow (the miracle of Cana), the forgiveness of sins (the healing miracles), captives being set free (the exorcisms).

But how does the calming of the sea fit into this scheme?

The other day I was reading Psalm 107, and I think I found my answer.

Psalm 107 is an ode to the various forms of God's deliverance. The end of exile and Exodus themes start the Psalm:
Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good;
his love endures forever.

Let the redeemed of the Lord tell their story—
those he redeemed from the hand of the foe,

those he gathered from the lands,
from east and west, from north and south.
From there the Psalm sings about the various ways God has delivered his people, a list that reads like an inventory of Jesus' miracles and ministry. Feeding. Setting captives free. Healing. Vineyards producing again. Lifting up the needy.

And also this:
Some went out on the sea in ships;
they were merchants on the mighty waters.

They saw the works of the Lord,
his wonderful deeds in the deep.

For he spoke and stirred up a tempest
that lifted high the waves.

They mounted up to the heavens and went down to the depths;
in their peril their courage melted away.

They reeled and staggered like drunkards;
they were at their wits’ end.

Then they cried out to the Lord in their trouble,
and he brought them out of their distress.

He stilled the storm to a whisper;
the waves of the sea were hushed.

They were glad when it grew calm,
and he guided them to their desired haven.

Let them give thanks to the Lord for his unfailing love
and his wonderful deeds for mankind.
All that to say, I think you can use Psalm 107 to connect the calming of the storm to end of exile and new Exodus themes.
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Posted by Fred Clark

In an essay on Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Stanley Hauerwas asks "What made it possible for him to see the character of the regime Hitler represented when so many others did not?" He looks for an answer in the academic theology Bonhoeffer studied in seminary, but the real answer is to be found several blocks north of there.
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Posted by thingsthatareawful

It’s Bad Advice Tuesday over at The Establishment, and the racists have had their feelings hurt!

The Bad Advisor takes on this letter, plus a babysitting quandary and a pressing question about how to defend the local office racist >>> here.

Shaking the dust off their feet

Jul. 18th, 2017 08:02 pm
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Posted by Fred Clark

In the age of Trump, John Fea writes, many "evangelicals are experiencing a crisis of faith as they look around in their white congregations on Sunday morning and realize that so many fellow Christians were willing to turn a blind eye to all that Trump represents." And the Rev. Lawrence Ware confirms this, explaining "Why I'm Leaving the Southern Baptist Convention."
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Posted by Libby Anne

A recent blog post by Doug Wilson has me musing on the lack of foundation undergirding much of the evangelical culture wars. In many cases, the way the world is is portrayed as though it is natural and obvious, when in fact evangelicals are often encoding ideas or practices specific to the U.S. several generations ago as though they are gospel truth.Click through to read more!

Fall in Love

Jul. 18th, 2017 05:00 am
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Posted by Richard Beck

Nothing is more practical than finding God,
than falling in Love
in a quite absolute, final way.

What you are in love with,
what seizes your imagination,
will affect everything.

It will decide
what will get you out of bed in the morning,
what you do with your evenings,
how you spend your weekends,
what you read,
whom you know,
what breaks your heart,
and what amazes you with joy and gratitude.

Fall in Love,
stay in love,
and it will decide everything.

--Attributed to Fr. Pedro Arrupe, S.J.
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Posted by Fred Clark

Take a moment to ponder that and to consider the staggering level of hypocrisy and ingratitude it takes for Gentile Christians today to play the role of that circumcision faction. Are we so foolish? Did we experience so much for nothing?

When Christian Gatekeepers Attack

Jul. 17th, 2017 05:49 pm
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Posted by Fred Clark

Dave Gushee writes about last week's Eugene Peterson debacle as someone with first-hand experience of what it's like "When the evangelical establishment comes after you." It's not a pretty story.
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Posted by Libby Anne

This lack of transparency doesn't incline me to give Harris the benefit of the doubt. And perhaps that is what bothers me---this project only works for those who trust Harris, who are willing to give him the benefit of the doubt and assume (based on faith) that he has it figured out this time. I can't do that.Click through to read more!


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