The End of the PCUSA?

This Wednesday, the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church USA cast two contradictory votes. On the one hand, it voted 405-92 to maintain the church constitution’s “fidelity and chastity” rule for ordained ministers. In other words, Presbyterian pastors must be faithful in marriage and chaste in singleness. Like other mainline denominations, the PCUSA has also debated whether to sanction same-sex marriages, but so far, it has refused to do. Maintaining the fidelity and chastity rule strengthens this refusal. On the other hand, the General Assembly also voted 298-221 to allow ordaining bodies within the denomination considerable leeway over how–or whether–to … Continue reading The End of the PCUSA?

WaPo: Social Isolation Growing

Today’s Washington Post includes a article by Shankar Vedantam about the increasing social isolation of the average American. A quarter of Americans say they have no one with whom they can discuss personal troubles, more than double the number who were similarly isolated in 1985. Overall, the number of people Americans have in their closest circle of confidants has dropped from around three to about two. One of the sociologists interviewed for the article attributed this isolation to commuting and television. Robert D. Putnam, a professor of public policy at Harvard and the author of “Bowling Alone,” a book about … Continue reading WaPo: Social Isolation Growing

The Choice (Romans 6.19-23)

From the beginning of creation, God has given humankind a choice between mutually exclusive styles of life. Paul reminds us of that choice in Romans 6.19-23. Here’s what he writes: I put this in human terms because you are weak in your natural selves. Just as you used to offer the parts of your body in slavery to impurity and to ever-increasing wickedness, so now offer them in slavery to righteousness leading to holiness. When you were slaves to sin, you were free from the control of righteousness. What benefit did you reap at that time from the things you … Continue reading The Choice (Romans 6.19-23)

Gotta Serve Somebody (Romans 6.15-18)

In 1979, Bob Dylan released his Slow Training Coming album, which included the song, â..Gotta Serve Somebody.â. Do you remember the lyrics? Hereâ..s the first verse and chorus: You may be an ambassador to England or France, You may like to gamble, you might like to dance, You may be the heavyweight champion of the world, You may be a socialite with a long string of pearls But you’re gonna have to serve somebody, yes indeed You’re gonna have to serve somebody, Well, it may be the devil or it may be the Lord But you’re gonna have to serve … Continue reading Gotta Serve Somebody (Romans 6.15-18)

The Fallacy of “Cycles of Violence”

From Best of the Web Today comes this post, with which I agree:  Horrific news out of Iraq, where two U.S. soldiers, Pfc. Kristian Menchaca and Thomas Tucker, were either killed or captured and later killed in an enemy attack Friday. Their bodies were found Monday, CNN reports, “mutilated and booby-trapped”: The bodies also had been desecrated and a visual identification was impossible–part of the reason DNA testing was being conducted to verify their identities, the sources said. . . . Not only were the bodies booby-trapped, but homemade bombs also lined the road leading to the victims, an … Continue reading The Fallacy of “Cycles of Violence”

Become Who You Are! (Romans 6.11-14)

One of the most important imperatives in Christian ethics is this: Become who you are! At first glance, this imperative might seem like a piece of goofy New Age blatherskite, but it isn’t. It is firmly rooted in the logic of the gospel. Consider, in this regard, what Paul writes in Romans 6.11-14: In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus. Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires. Do not offer the parts of your body to sin, as instruments of wickedness, … Continue reading Become Who You Are! (Romans 6.11-14)