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Archive for the ‘At the Public Square’ Category

The only patriots worth their salt are the ones who love their country enough to see that in a nuclear age it is not going to survive unless the world survives. True patriots are no longer champions of Democracy, Communism, or anything like that but champions of the Human Race. It is not the Homeland that they feel called on to defend at any cost but the planet Earth as Home. –Frederick Buechner in Wishful Thinking

Facebook has proven what I’ve always known. If all of my friends were in the same room, it would get ugly. We’ve all experienced the wrath of trolls and other internet creatures which emerge during discussions of politics, religion and money. While I’ve grown up with conflicting worlds–rural and urban, republican and democrat, poor and rich, and various ethnic combinations–many around me have not had the same experiences. They are surprised that I could be friends with “those people”. So anytime I post something remotely controversial…

So why do I still do it? I’ve always valued the public square. Maybe it’s because I was shy growing up, and enjoy the opportunity to speak. Maybe it’s because I learn so much more when others have a chance to speak. Some will counter that I should keep my opinions to myself and just take personal action if it’s that important to me. However, many important actions require group cooperation which necessitates a larger discussion before we are able to act together. (more…)

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It can be a challenging task to connect faith and culture in a way which respects both. By no means do I wish to hide from the rich experiences of culture, but I become uneasy when faith is swept away with the current. In recent years, Hollywood has become profoundly aware that Evangelicals are a huge market. While it may be affirming to see movies produced in consultation with people of faith such as The Prince of Egypt complete with discussion notes, a definite line was crossed when the same was done for Man of Steel.

Don’t get me wrong. I like Superman. No, I haven’t seen the movie yet, though I will. However, the specific content of this particular movie is irrelevant.

Marketing “God in a Box”

We, as Christians, are sometimes our own worst enemies when we forget who we are. In our zeal to witness to others about God, we often serve the gods of culture–in this case marketing. I am mindful of a friend who once became so frustrated with this phenomenon that he wrote out four full verses under the title “They Will Know We Are Christians By Our Fish” using the tune from a similarly named hymn.

My biggest concern here is that every attempt was made to create analogies between Superman and Jesus. While this is not a new idea, the effort reached a crescendo as language in the trailer and the film itself were crafted carefully to appeal to Evangelical ears. Images are powerful and, even in the face of reasoned contrasts, confuse our view of God greatly. Following are some key problems with making any comparison at all. (more…)

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At no point did I think of myself as part of the classic “White Anglo Saxon Protestant” (WASP) majority, especially given that my church was located in a Jewish neighborhood and my home in a Polish Catholic one.

During my college years at Cornell, racial reconciliation was critical to growing the Evangelical community. Sometimes our discussions were met with some resistance about why we weren’t focused on the “Simple Gospel”.

So I began to learn the Biblical basis for multi-ethnicity from mentors like Neil Rendall. In his own simple terms, he taught that the Kingdom of God shows up wherever the King reigns. In other words, the true Gospel of Jesus is integral to every area of life.

My training continued while I was on staff with InterVarsity. The “Ah, Ha!” moment for me came when Joanne presented her third year project about the Latino community.

My reflection at the end was something like, “It’s amazing how many parallels there are between racial reconciliation and the Gospel.”

“Michael,” Joanne said, “in the Latino community racial reconciliation is the Gospel.” (more…)

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