Tag Archives: Religion

God-centered (Micah 6:8, Matthew 22:37-40)

A quick note that I might come back to later.

«“You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your being, and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: You must love your neighbor as you love yourself. All the Law and the Prophets depend on these two commands.”»

It’s not enough to just live by the Golden Rule (“treat others as you would yourself”). For one, some of us treat ourselves pretty badly. But also, in general, there’s a problem with “Policy X seems to me to be good for society in general (although some people will be hurt, but, hey, greatest good for greatest number), so let’s do Policy X.”

We are called to justice and mercy, and we should do justice and mercy *for no other reason than that God called us to it*. Not because it’s “fair” (do we really want to use human judgments of fairness? If someone hurts me, is it fair to hurt them back an equal amount?) or because it’s “good for society” (gassing Jews and sterilizing “mental defectives” was seen to be good for society, not so long ago).

There’s also what happens at the end of the book of Judges (ch. 21), as an example (the whole story is really the last three chapters of Judges, 19-21). The other 11 tribes of Israel decide to go to war with the tribe of Benjamin because of something bad that happened in a Benjaminite city. At the beginning of this war and as it progresses, they consult God repeatedly about what to do, but at some point they stop consulting God and just decide what to do by themselves. In other words, they leave God out of it. Here’s their solution, at the end:

«And they instructed the Benjaminites, saying, “Go and lie in wait in the vineyards, and watch; when the young women of Shiloh come out to dance in the dances, then come out of the vineyards and each of you carry off a wife for himself from the young women of Shiloh, and go to the land of Benjamin. Then if their fathers or their brothers come to complain to us, we will say to them, ‘Be generous and allow us to have them; because we did not capture in battle a wife for each man. But neither did you incur guilt by giving your daughters to them.’” The Benjaminites did so; they took wives for each of them from the dancers whom they abducted. Then they went and returned to their territory, and rebuilt the towns, and lived in them. So the Israelites departed from there at that time by tribes and families, and they went out from there to their own territories.

In those days there was no king in Israel; all the people did what was right in their own eyes.»

That last line is the very end of the book of Judges, and I see it as a bitterly sarcastic statement. This story ends with mass kidnapping and rape, sanctioned by the people who didn’t consult God about how to solve a problem, and that last line seems to carry a ton of weight.

To be fair, too much of either approach can be bad. We need both, and we need balance. (Duh, who hasn’t said that before?) But the God thing has to be present.

So go to worship, and pray. 🙂

Rabbi Danya Ruttenberg on Christians using the word “pharisees” negatively

https://threadreaderapp.com/thread/1093962230369058816.html

Thread of threads I’m bookmarking. The one starting off with Oreos and diet Coke for communion is a good one. (https://threadreaderapp.com/thread/1094596840010461187.html)

(Well… thread of THREADS OF THREADS here: https://threadreaderapp.com/thread/1211624621591666689.html. Hopefully never to be deleted by ThreadReaderApp, but we shall see.)

Galatians 2:11-14 NRSV;CEB – Paul Rebukes Peter at Antioch

https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Galatians+2%3A11-14&version=NRSV;CEB

I’ve always gotten a kick out of this passage, for some reason. Disagreement in the church goes WAAAY back. Plus Paul: ain’t afraid to get in somebody’s face.

«But when Cephas [Peter[1]] came to Antioch, I [Paul] opposed him to his face, because he was wrong. He had been eating with the Gentiles before certain people came from James. But when they came, he began to back out and separate himself, because he was afraid of the people who promoted circumcision. And the rest of the Jews[2] also joined him in this hypocrisy so that even Barnabas got carried away with them in their hypocrisy. But when I saw that they weren’t acting consistently with the truth of the gospel, I said to Cephas in front of everyone, “If you, though you’re a Jew, live like a Gentile and not like a Jew, how can you require the Gentiles to live like Jews?”»

(Quick side note, for those who don’t know (like me, a few years ago): Paul was kind of a super-villain, a super-pharisee (if you will[3]) who killed a lot of Christians before he decided to take a road trip to Damascus:

«Meanwhile Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest and asked him for letters to the synagogues at Damascus, so that if he found any who belonged to the Way, men or women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem.»

https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Acts%209%3A1-2&version=NRSV;CEB

Guess who wound up changing his name?)

So, notes:

[1] “Cephas” was Peter’s name in Aramaic, the language most commonly spoken in ancient Israel at that time. “Peter” is Greek. They both mean “stone” (and they both refer to the same person).

[2] “Jews” is “Christians who used to be Jews”. Everyone in Israel starts this story out Jewish. Jewishness was the water they swam in; the context.

[3] I use that word “pharisee” advisedly; it’s tricky, since SOME people who call(ed) themselves “Christians” accuse Jews of being “Christ-killers” (Hitler and the German Nazis, for instance.) However, Saul/Paul studied at the feet of Gamaliel, one of the great Jewish teachers of the time, and he turns out to be quite the theological ninja (Acts 23:6-10, *snerk*), so I think “pharisee” might be fair.

As We Make Our Way Back Home – Western Jurisdiction of The UMC

http://westernjurisdictionumc.org/as-we-make-our-way-back-home/

CrrrACK.

We, laity and clergy, of the Western Jurisdiction of The United Methodist Church,
  as one body, deeply saddened and greatly harmed
  by the rending actions of the 2019 General Conference,
Reaffirm our commitment to a radically hospitable church in two converging ways.

I.

As United Methodists, we must resist injustice and insist that the Church repent of the exclusionary principles of the Traditional Plan.

II.

Grounded in our Wesleyan heritage, we will foster a new movement to gather the energy of inclusive United Methodists throughout our global connection

Study asks: Are 13 seminaries sustainable? | United Methodist News Service

https://www.umnews.org/en/news/study-asks-are-13-seminaries-sustainable

«“If the UMC wants to promote racial justice, the seminaries are already extraordinary laboratories where a wide variety of racial groups and international students learn to live in community,” said Jan Love, dean of Emory University’s Candler School of Theology in Atlanta. She was president of the Association of United Methodist Theological Schools when it commissioned the study.»