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Life and Death in the Same Frame

Congregational life is, it seems to me, a sort of concentration of family life. Events that would be separated by months or years in a biological family get concentrated into hours or days. And the pastor gets a front row seat.

For example, last Wednesday my secretary told me that a young couple in the congregation had just had twins. I went to the hospital to see Alex and Nathan: so tiny, so beautiful. I felt clumsy holding them, just five pounds each, feeling their squirming, whimpering fragility.

Raping Children, Executing Criminals, and Second Guessing the U.S. Supreme Court

When eight-year-old L.H. arrived at the hospital, “a laceration to the left wall of the vagina had separated her cervix from the back of her vagina, causing her rectum to protrude into the vaginal structure. Her entire perineum was torn from the posterior fourchette to the anus,” wrote Associate Justice Anthony Kennedy in [Patrick] Kennedy v. Louisiana, which was argued before the U.S. Supreme Court on April 16 and decided on June 25 of this year.

Our Biggest North American Division Crisis Isn’t Theological

A few years ago, I called a friend (one to whom I talk seldom, but always happily) who had moved to a small midwestern U.S. city. Among other questions, I asked, “How’s the church there?”

“We don’t attend the Adventist church here anymore,” he said.

“Why not?” I asked.

Are “Sabbathers” Jews or Christians?

In this column I hope to elaborate an idea that surfaced in Alex Carpenter’s recent blog on “Sabbathing” and in the excellent comments that followed it. This is that celebrating Sabbath can be a powerful and much needed Christian affirmation of Judaism, on the one hand, and disaffirmation of religious coercion, on the other. Chuck Scriven, Monte Sahlin and probably others expressed themselves along these lines. I would like to join them without implying that all of us agree about everything.

On the Ten Rules of Friendship

  1. That the first law of friendship is, they must neither ask of their friend what is Undecent; nor grant it if themselves be asked.
  2. Let no man choose him for his friend whom it shall be possible for him ever after to hate; for though the society may justly be interrupted, yet love is an immortal thing; and I will never despise him I could once think worthy of my love.

Words Matter: The California Supreme Court on “Straight Marriages” and “Gay Domestic Partnerships”

To my way of thinking the true significance of the ruling of the California Supreme Court on Thursday, May 15, in re Marriage Cases is not that it legitimates homosexual relationships that are akin to heterosexual marriages. It is that in our laws we Californians must use the same term(s) for both because our legal requirements already guarantee them substantially the same thing.

Not “Sola” But “Prima Scriptura”

If we take the words literally, the doctrine of “sola scriptura” is problematic. The Latin word “sola” means “only,” “scriptura” means “scripture,” and so together they mean “only scripture.” In some circles this expression has come to mean that we Christians should consider nothing but the Old and New Testaments when determining what to believe and how to behave. This is not helpful. Neither is it what the Protestant Reformers who promoted this doctrine in sixteenth century Europe had in mind.

Back to Yearning for Zion Ranch: Now the Real Work Begins!

In San Angelo on Monday morning, June 2, Texas District Judge Barbara Walther signed an order that allowed more than 400 children from Yearning for Zion Ranch to go home. They had been in the care of the state’s Department of Child and Protective Services since early April.

Her order complied with earlier rulings from the court of appeals that were upheld by the Texas Supreme Court on May 29. Later in the day, she issued an additional emergency order that kept one child from returning to the ranch because the youngster “is an identified victim of sexual abuse.”

Texas and the Children of Yearning for Zion Ranch: The Sorrow Continues

“When I die, I may not go to heaven, I don't know if they let cowboys in,” sang Tanya Tucker. “If they don't just let me go to Texas, Texas is as close as I've been.”

For the more than four hundred children that officials removed from their mothers at Yearning for Zion Ranch near Eldorado, Texas, the Lone Star State is as close to hell—not heaven—as they’ve been. Or probably ever hope to be!

Does Christian Ethics Exist?

“Would someone please explain what is meant by the ‘Christian lifestyle?’” Elaine made this reasonable request many comments ago in our discussion of “We Ministers Have Professional Standards Too!” “Is it different from an Islamic, Buddhist, Mormon, or atheist lifestyle in a way that is apparent to all around? Is a Christian kinder, more loving, generous, thoughtful and forgiving than others?”

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