Sacramental Operative in a Sullied World

KenBy Ken Sehested, originally published last month at Ethics Daily, a publication of the Baptist Center for Ethics

We need to recognize, and adjust in appropriate ways, to the
fact that we humans maintain a perverse fascination with
disaster. I’ll leave it to psychologists to explain why, precisely;
but this habit is easily illustrated: From “rubber-necking” on
the highway (slowing down to view the scene of a wreck), to
the media’s 24/7 coverage of hurricane news. We rarely recall
the car trips made without incident, or the sunny days that
predominate in the Bahamas’ and Outer Banks’ weather
patterns. Continue reading

Wild Weeds and Imperial Trees: Reading a Messianic Parable at the Crossroads of Settlement and the Wild

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wild mustard (public domain)

By Jim Perkinson, some timely scholarship for this weekend’s Gospel story

*Note: these comments from Dr. Perkinson are a summary of his “ground-breaking” essay on seeds and soils in Political Spirituality in an Age of Eco-Apocalypse: Essays in Communication and Struggle Across Species, Cultures, and Religions (Palgrave McMillan, 2015)

The seed parables of the gospels are “heirloom” for modern readers. They come across time, hard with unpacked dynamism.  As bare kernels, they sit unmoving before the eyes. But given the right nutrients from without, they may sprout with a surprising prolixity.

I want to treat these little Galilean riddles like transportable spore, and see what they do in a plot of contemporary “compost.” Continue reading

Wild Lectionary: Is This Not Prayer?

image003Proper 22(27) C
2 Timothy 1:1-14

By Christina Thomson

A while back, I listened to an On Being podcast with Krista Tippett interviewing Seane Corn. The guest, Seane, is a yogi and teacher for many, as well as the focus of a little envy on my side because of her amazing locks. In the podcast, named Yoga, Meditation in Action, she tells a personal story of a way she prays that I had not considered before: a fully embodied prayer, going through sun salutations, holding grateful and positive intentions for a loved one. In that moment, she granted me words for a feeling I had experienced many times, in many places and in many ways. Continue reading

Contemplative Resistance

CPIOn November 2-3, the Center for Prophetic Imagination is offering a 2-day retreat called “Contemplative Resistance.”

In a letter to his discouraged friend Daniel Berrigan, Thomas Merton once wrote: “Do not be discouraged. The Holy Spirit is not asleep.”

It is easy to be discouraged by rampant injustices in our world today. Children in cages. Fascism on the rise. Environmental collapse looming. The list is long.

Where is the Spirit at work in this world? How do we act in ways that challenge injustice while being rooted in the presence of God? Continue reading

A Way of Love, Not a Way of Sin Remediation

A re-post from Mark Van Steenwyk, executive director of The Center for Prophetic Imagination (originally posted to social media on September 23, 2019). MVS

Sin isn’t a homogeneous substance that exists in human hearts. It isn’t a phantomous thing that can only be combated with prayer and good intentions.

The Bible doesn’t make the case that all of humanity is bad to the core and that sin is about individual human choices and that the only way to fight sin is to win people to Jesus. That story has been placed upon Scripture and, at the same time, fits so nicely within the framework of individualism and religious conservatism. Which is why it persists in the USA. Continue reading

The Rich Man and Lazarus: Warning Tale and Interpretive Key to Luke

fyodorBy Ched Myers, on Luke 16:19-31, this weekend’s Gospel text

Note: This piece was originally posted to Radical Discipleship in October 2016. As was the case last week, this is a longer post, because of the importance of Luke 16 to those of us suffering from “Affluenza.” For a recording of a recent webinar Ched did on this gospel text, go here. [Right: Fyodor Bronnikov, “Lazarus at the rich man’s gate,” 1886.]

This Sunday’s gospel completes our journey through Luke 16. How rare it is that the lectionary allows a sustained look at Luke’s narrative argument! Last week’s text was Jesus’ subversive tale of the “defect-ive” discipleship of the beleaguered middle manager of a “filthy rotten system” (16:1-13). I read it as a poignant fable for those who would try to monkey-wrench the dominant economic system to provide a modicum of Jubilee justice for themselves and others.  The “paired” story of Lazarus and the Rich Man represents, in turn, a warning tale about the dark consequences of failing to deconstruct the systems of vast social and economic disparity that hold our world hostage. Continue reading

Wild Lectionary: Hope in Worthless Places and Common Life

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“Abandoned Lot at 1400 Avenue E North” by Wendy Cooper

Proper 22, Year C

By Ragan Sutterfield

A couple of weeks ago I went on a birding tour of Monterey Bay. My guide on the trip was Debra Shearwater, a legend in the bird watching world, who has guided birders through those waters for over forty years. It was her birthday and it was the last season she would be leading pelagic tours.

As we watched the shearwaters, albatrosses, and murre’s of the bay, Shearwater told us about the changes she had seen. The water, she said, has changed color over the years. The krill populations have crashed and so fewer Blue Whales are seen. Over the last nesting season, large numbers of ocean-going birds had complete nesting failures, many of them not even bothering to lay eggs. “Go see them while you can,” she said, “especially the Northern birds, they are disappearing quickly.”

Continue reading