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Cultural Landscape

Maybe Starbucks is Not the Problem

Maybe Starbucks is Not the Problem

Since when are secular companies, practicing competitive business in a free market society supposed to speak for the Church?  Is that what Christians really want?  And would that actually “put Christ into Christmas” – or just make him another commodity, traded on the Market?

Social Security.  Not Individual Security.

Social Security. Not Individual Security.

Speaking from a perspective of enlightened self-interest, it’s clear that in a capitalist economy the stronger the lower and middle classes are, the more money those at the top are going to have.

And speaking from a perspective of faith, God’s concern is not those whose hard work and unmerited advantages put them at the top. It is the well-being of all – especially those whose hard work and undeserved disadvantages have put them closer to the bottom.

Dressing Up Our Idols

Dressing Up Our Idols

Foolish idolatry!  Can you imagine, wrapping up some little stone statues to keep them warm, while a child lies shivering in the very same night air? We good Americans, schooled in the virtues of Christian orthodoxy, have been gratefully enlightened beyond such silly, abusive hypocrisy. We would never do such a thing.

Or would we?

Someone to Count On

Someone to Count On

In his research on “happiness economics,” John Helliwell writes: “if 10 percent more people thought they had someone to count on in life, it would have a greater effect on national life satisfaction than giving everyone a 50% raise.”   “Someone to count on” – not economic factors that can be measured - that’s the solution to our problems. 

Even a Neurosurgeon can say Embarrassing Things

Even a Neurosurgeon can say Embarrassing Things

Being a successful neurosurgeon is apparently no guarantee you won’t embarrass yourself in the national spotlight. I’m not sure which constitution Dr. Carson had in mind when he opined that no Muslim is fit to be the President. The US constitution guarantees freedom of (and freedom from) religion, and specifies that no religious litmus test shall deter anyone from holding office. 

The jury is still out. But the verdict is in.

I think of my nation, still divided, still judging one another not by the content of character, but by the color of skin. I think that there are a lot of very complicated factors in this case, but what I know is that this mostly comes down to America’s Original Sin, and unless and until we can finally own it and engage the very hard work of healing we’ll always be waiting on a jury…

Donald Trump and the Demise of Decency

Donald Trump and the Demise of Decency

I’m told that Trump’s appeal is his honesty. Finally, they say, a politician who actually speaks his mind instead of all that politically correct drivel.   Am I alone in preferring a little discretion from those who will lead us?  If your “honesty” makes you that poor a role model and such an embarrassment to the values of decency and respectability, common courtesy and just basic good manners – it should also disqualify you from being taken seriously in the public and political arenas. 

We deserve so much better.   

What are we afraid of?

What are we afraid of?

Fear is at the center of our lives – and living in fear is a terrible way to live.  Fear drives international policy-making. Fear drives discussions of budgeting priorities. Fear drives marketing and politics and the priorities of time and money in local households.   What if we weren’t afraid?

Why SCOTUS Got it Right

Why SCOTUS Got it Right

But as our past history proves, humans have over and again made terrible, egregious, truly sinful errors when speaking for God, and this fact should caution us to walk with a little less sanctimony and dogmatic certainty about the making of any law that will govern our lives.

An Illusion of Peace

An Illusion of Peace

But something has changed. I believe this. I believe that we are about to engage in a critically important, and extremely difficult, national conversation about the racial injustices inherent in our society.   I am not afraid of the conversation that is coming.   And it is coming – and all churches need to be involved in it. It’s too important, and the integrity of our faith will require it. 

Fear Will Not Keep Us Away

Fear Will Not Keep Us Away

Tomorrow we will gather. As usual. We need to be gathering more. Not less. In Charleston, in a church, the people gathered for Bible study and for prayer. They will keep gathering - and so will we. 

Does Government Really Need to Prop Up Jesus?

Does Government Really Need to Prop Up Jesus?

Why is it that so many Christians think we need the government to prop up Jesus?  If Christians won’t defend Sunday as a priority - our day of worship – why should we expect the culture to do it for us?

After the vote:  Majority rule is no guarantee of justice.

After the vote: Majority rule is no guarantee of justice.

We face a basic choice in how we live our lives: will we live out of humility and grace and be fundamentally welcoming, accepting, open to all, or will our fundamental disposition be one of judgment, exclusion, alienation? 

I don’t need to understand you to accept you. I can only hope you will offer me the same grace.

Rights and Freedoms:  Decisions for Discriminating Minds

Rights and Freedoms: Decisions for Discriminating Minds

Extending protections is not about understanding the transgender person. I cannot claim that understanding  just as I do not understand being a woman, or being poor, or being black. That lack of understanding, though, does not lead me to assume the right to discriminate. And those protections do not depend on my approval or agreement with your life choices  my personal approval, my partys approval, my churchs approval  because our nation declared independence for ALL.

Sighs Too Deep for Words

Trying to reconcile the biblical verse with the desperate plea of a dying man makes my head hurt – and my heart ache.  How can we make sense of the frustrations and anger and feelings of helplessness that accompany each new report of another life unnecessarily lost?

Perhaps you feel the same?   I know lots of people have doubts and questions about a world where these things can occur.  And do occur – over and over.  So I offer these thoughts. I wish they were solutions.  But all I have are thoughts, ponderings, and a struggle to understand –  on those difficult days when it’s hard to sigh; when you can’t breathe.

By Amy Jacks Dean

 

A Response to Melody

A Response to Melody

Pastor Russ Dean responds to a critic of marriage equality and Park Road's support for overturning the ban on same-sex marriage in North Carolina.