a cavalcade of hits and misses

Faith & Politics

mattfrizzell.com

donkeyelephantcrossChurches everywhere need help with faith and politics these days.  On the one hand, partisan perspectives seep into our faith communities without us looking.  There’s really nothing we can do about it.  The animosity between “liberals” and “conservatives” is part of our culture.  (I put them in quotation marks to remind us that these are labels, not people.)   It’s impossible for “independents” and “centrists” to even state their politics without them.  The opposition inherent in partisanship defines how people speak, think, and interpret any political statement or issue.  It’s nearly impossible to navigate faith and politics without it.

Pastors and leaders can try to mitigate the tensions by reminding members to leave politics out of the pews and pulpit.  They can try to keep church a safe place, reminding parishioners that the Gospel is neutral or knows no single party.   And, to some degree, this is partially right.

The Gospel…

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Unity in Diversity…

From my friend Pam.

Preacher Kid's Weblog

One of the principles expressed by my faith community is expressed in the phrase “Unity in Diversity.” I like–and believe in–this ideal, but I am becoming more and more aware how difficult it is to live it.

There are short statements that help clarify the principles; these are three of them related to this one:

  • The church embraces diversity and unity through the power of the Holy Spirit.
  • We seek agreement or common consent in important matters. If we cannot achieve agreement, we commit to ongoing dialogue and lovingly uphold our common faith in Jesus Christ and the mission of the church.
  • We confess that our lack of agreement on certain matters is hurtful to some of God’s beloved children and creation.

While this particular statement is related to my faith community, I believe it is also important to the country–and the world…and right now I see that as a huge 

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remembering911

christmascandle

This year marks the fifteenth anniversary of the events of the morning of September 11, 2001. As many of you, I remember where I was and what I was doing that morning as coverage of the events filled almost every channel and radio station.

The past few years I have updated my annual remembrance, editing, re-reading it, adding to it. I have tried to list some of the bigger issues we faced during the previous year. The obscenities of greed and selfishness causing the further marginalization and scapegoating of groups, and the current rhetoric of a presidential candidate and his supporters have been heartbreaking, frightening, infuriating, and exhausting. We learn nothing except how to be more violent today than we were yesterday, and I do not feel a need this year to list the evidence that is obvious to all observers.

On this fifteenth anniversary, I remember and hold up those who are having difficulty with this just as I am.

I hold up those who still hurt, feel lost, incomplete, and lonely.

I hold up those who are caught in the midst of their sorrow and pain, unable to see past it.

I hold up those who ran in as others ran out. I hold up those who put the need of others before their own needs.

I hold up those who didn’t make it out. I hold up those who continue on. I hold up those whose health continues to suffer and those who succumbed.

I hold up those who cannot escape their anger. I hold up those who found the ability to forgive.

I hold up those who see no other course than violence. I hold up those who struggle with how to respond.

I hold up those who work to make room at the table for all who want to participate in discourse.

I hold up those attacked for their faith. I hold up those attacked in the name of someone else’s faith. I hold up those who lost their faith because of the behavior of others. I hold up those who only see what the extremist of a faith or political party do and never see the silent majority. I hold up the silent majority of a faith or political party, hoping they find their voice.

I hold up the Muslims who fight against the extremists of their faith.

I hold up the Christians who fight against the extremists of their faith.

I hold up those who do not follow a path not leading back to Abraham.

I hold up those who pursue peace and shalom in all its meanings.

I hold up those who actively stand up to those who call for war, especially those who call for war because they stand to profit from it.

I hold up those who feel called to the service of their country. I hold up those they leave behind as they step into harm’s way.

I hold up those who join me in calling this place home. I hold up those who see skies as blue as mine in the places they call home.

I hold up those who are marginalized by the ones entrusted with the responsibility to lead.

I hold up the leaders of government, religion, society, and challenge them to see those who cannot do anything to further their ambitions or line their pockets.

I will continue to pray for people to remember the mistakes of the past and work to keep from repeating them.

I hold up those who struggle with understanding the difference between revenge and justice.

I will continue to pray that people find strength to hold those in leadership positions accountable and not allow ideology or mob mentality to overshadow compassion, generosity, and dialogue.

On Facebook, I see post after post of “we will not forget” and “we will remember” on backgrounds of American flags or bald eagles or the gift from the French people (the Statue of Liberty). Though I continue to struggle with understanding, I have not forgotten, I will remember, and I do not require the commercialization or religious-aztion of 9/11 to remind me.

I am going to remember the people I promised above to hold up.

I am going to remember 9/11 is not just about us in the United States. I am going to remember there were friends and neighbors from other countries visiting the WTCs, the Pentagon, and on the flights that morning.

I am going to remember some of the heroes of that day do not live or serve under the U.S. flag.

I am going to remember there were people of all shades of skin, different accents and languages, different religious and spiritual paths, different political and social views, different genders and orientations, who were just as impacted as everyone else and just as heroic as others.

I am going to remember there are partners in other countries who have an empty space next to them in bed.

I am going to remember there are other parents who continue to set a plate at an empty place at their dinner table.

I am going to remember there are other children who will never see one or both parents walking in the front door, home from the trip to the U.S.

I am going to remember there are aunts, uncles, cousins, grandparents, grandchildren, friends, lovers, companions, coworkers who continue to be missed by someone.

I will remember there are people also remembering this day in places I will never visit and missing people I will never meet.

It’s not just about us. It never was, never is, and never will be.

I am going to close with the words of two hymns from the Community of Christ hymnal, two stanzas of “This Is My Song” and “A Place at the Table.”

“This Is My Song” text by Lloyd Stone.

This is my song, O God of all nations A song of peace for lands afar and mine. My land is home, the country where my heart is: A land of hopes, of dreams, of grand design; But other hearts in other lands are beating With hopes and dreams as true and high as mine. My country’s skies are bluer than the ocean, And sunlight beams on clover leaf and pine. But other lands have sunlight too, and clover, And skies are everywhere as blue as mine. Oh, hear my song, thou God of all nations, A song of peace, for their land and mine.

“A Place at the Table” text by Shirley Erena Murray

For everyone born, a place at the table, for everyone born, clean water and bread, a shelter, a space, a safe place for growing, for everyone born, a star overhead.

And God will delight when we are creators of justice and joy.

For woman and man, a place at the table, revising the roles, deciding to share, with wisdom and grace, dividing the power, for woman and man, a system that’s fair.

And God will delight when we are creators of justice and joy.

For young and for old, a place at the table, a voice to be heard, a part in the song, the hands of a child in hands that are wrinkled, for young and for old, the right to belong.

And God will delight when we are creators of justice and joy.

For just and unjust, a place at the table. abuser, abused, with need to forgive, in anger, in hurt, a mind-set of mercy, for just and unjust, a new way to live.

And God will delight when we are creators of justice and joy.

For everyone born, a place at the table, to live without fear, and simply to be, to work, to speak out, to witness and worship, for everyone born, the right to be free.

 

I am grateful more and more denominations are taking this view, including my faith tradition Community of Christ.

Elona Street Stewart, Executive of the Presbyterian Synod of Lakes and Prairies and a member of the Delaware Nanticoke Nation: "Our work has just begun." Elona Street-Stewart, Executive of the Presbyterian Synod of Lakes and Prairies and a member of the Delaware Nanticoke Nation: “The real work has just begun.”

The General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church USA met in Portland June 16-23 and voted to repudiate the Doctrine of Discovery. It also voted to develop recommendations of how Presbyterian congregations “can support Native Americans in their ongoing efforts for sovereignty and fundamental human rights.” It was part of the Church’s broader work on racial justice.

The Presbyterian Church joins a growing list of denominations which have repudiated the Doctrine of Discovery, which has old roots but an ongoing impact. The Doctrine refers to a series of 15th Century papal edicts that gave the religious and legal justification used by Europe’s colonial powers to claim lands occupied by indigenous peoples. It allowed colonizers to seize Native property and forcibly convert or enslave the people…

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NO

It's Been a Slice!

My eighteen-year-old son went running the other night. As a white mom with a white son, my only concern was that he should wear something reflective so cars could see him. It did not cross my mind for even one second to talk to him about what to do if the police stopped to question him. I would never in a million years think I needed to tell him never to put his hands near his pockets.

But this is a conversation black moms are having with their sons every day. And I am so fucking sorry about that. THIS is why we need to stand and say #blacklivesmatter.

I support police officers. I truly am thankful that some people have chosen an occupation where they risk their lives to keep people safe.

I also believe that whenever people are in a position of power over other people, whether it’s…

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Justin DaMetz

Dear Donald Trump,

Screen-Shot-2015-10-03-at-11-compressedCongratulations! I just heard that Dr. James Dobson, who was at your little get together with evangelical leaders last week, has confirmed for us that you have indeed been saved and are now a born-again Christian. Great news!

We in the DaMetz household are ecstatic that you, like us, have decided that following the life and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth is the best way of going about life. It’s something really important to us, and to millions of others, and because of that, I just know you wouldn’t be claiming the name Christian as a political tool to win votes. You must be very sincere! So, welcome to the family, brother Trump!

And because we know being a Christian is really hard, as we are still figuring it out ourselves, I just wanted to drop you a note on what we have been learning, because…

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