What would Jesus do...on the street?

Last night, as I strolled along the SoCo strip of galleries and restaurants in Austin, I passed two groups delivering streetside messages.  One group thrust tracts in my face, and offered information on the Lord Jesus Christ.  Their banners urged repentance.  Another group mere steps away simply wore signs which said "free hugs."




What Would Jesus Do, America?

Jesus spoke more on the subject of finance than any other topic. However, we never hear any of the 'religious right' refer to the national debt or other fiscal issues.  Fiscal responsibility is a fundamental issue for Republicans, certainly, but it's hardly an issue that rouses Fundamentalist fervor.

Now that the US economy is tanking,  and our national debt has hit the three-trillion mark--the highest ever--Congress has decided to give out money in the form of tax rebates.   This is the same sort of deficit spending our citizens already engage in -- borrowing from the future on our credit cards, and paying dearly for the privilege. 

For many years the U.S. Government has refused to waive the debt of third-world countries.  It occurs to me now that should our economy falter further, no one will have much pity on us.  In my religious tradition, we used to recite the words to the Lord's Prayer.  Rather than "sins" or "trespasses," we used the word "debtor."  

Forgive us our debts, as we forgive out debtors.   Oops.

So next time Pat Robertson and friends are looking for a reason that God is "punishing" America (I don't believe that He is, mind you), let's remember the subjects that Jesus actually taught about--love, forgiveness, and.... money.




Dream Team America

The current candidates for President of the United States have remarkably diverse personas.  The Professor, Wonder Woman, the Pastor, the Tycoon, the General.  They each bring tremendous gifts to the race.  If these are the best leaders America has to offer, wouldn't it be tremendous if they each played a role in the new administration? 

In that spirit, here's my bipartisan Dream Team for America....with a few extra national treasures thrown in.

President - Barack Obama.

Vice President - Hillary Clinton

Secretary of State - Dick Lugar

Secretary of Commerce - Mitt Romney

Secretary of Defense - John McCain

Secretary of Homeland Security - Rudy Giuliani

Secretary of the Treasury - Mike Huckabee

Secretary of the Interior, or perhaps Attorney General - John Edwards

Secretary of Health and Human Services - Bill Gates



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The Ideal Church

Of course no congregation is perfect. But here's what I find myself looking for as I visit congregations across the Metro Washington area.

  • Something contemporary.  Whether a separate service, or a nod to change in the traditional service, there needs to be some acknowledgement that no matter how great your traditional worship, it is not indigenous to the people around you.
  • Racial, ethnic, age diversity
  • Joy.  There should be a sense of gladness to come together, signs that the people in the church are excited to see one another and are engaged in each other's lives.  As I reflect on all the churches of which I've chosen to be a part, this is plainly obvious as people chatter before church, and linger after.
  • Service.  The church should be engaged in the larger community and serving the poor and needy.
  • Open minds.  Not an overly fundamentalist congregation so committed to the "infallible Word of God!" that they overlook the fallible translations of man.
  • Young adults.  Just a few, friendly ones would be fine.  But I need to know there are some people there with whom I can become friends and activity partners.
  • And, though not at all a requirement, it would be nice to be a part of a church with something OLD as well as something contemporary.  I loved being at a church where I had symphony, choir, AND rock band.  That was indigenous to ME.
  • KJV-free.  The church should use a more contemporary , and more accurate, translation of the Bible as its primary translation.

Slightly off topic, but on another note, I think that in an area like Washington, DC, there need to be new or changing churches NOT ONLY to attract new believers, but to assemble like-minded folks.  Typically, I would agree that churches shouldn't try to grow through stealing other churches' members.   But in this city, there seems to be such a lack of authenticity in the churches (that is, they dress, behave, and worship in a way that is not representative of the truth of their people).  I think the mission statement from Ginghamsburg applies here -- "To win the lost and set the oppressed free."    And in this case, the "oppressed" include younger adults being buried alive in the dead traditions of the old church.