Faith & Social Justice: In the spirit of Richard Overton and the 17th C. Levellers

Happy Channukah

To all my Jewish friends, Happy Channukah beginning today at sundown.  May G-D bless you during this Festival of Lights.

In Israel, the menorahs are all outside as the commandment requires. For my non-Jewish readers (the majority of readers, I assume), the reason that Jews began lighting menorahs inside homes was because of persecution in the Diaspora. Sadly, once Christianity became the official religion of the Roman Empire (an imperial religion is a distortion of Christianity of heretical proportions–now lasting 16 centuries), much of that persecution came from Christians. 

So, I always see Channukah as a reminder of the repentance that the majority of churches still need–repentance from anti-semitism and anti-Jewish supercessionist theologies.  Even as we prepare for Christmas this last Sunday of Advent, I hope we will ask G-D for forgiveness for Christian anti-Judaic heretical theologies and centuries of anti-Semitic persecution and work to correct these things in our lives and churches. I hope one day all menorahs can be outside the houses because Jews all over the world will have no fear of open celebration.  Amen.

December 21, 2008 Posted by | Judaism | 2 Comments

More from BPFNA Peace Camp

One of the fascinating people we’ve had with us this year is Rabbi Lynne Gottlieb, one of the women to be ordained a rabbi in the history of Judaism. I met her a few years ago when the Fellowship of Reconciliation (see link at the right of this blog) celebrated its 90th birthday at a conference in L.A. Rabbi Gottlieb is the creator of the Muslim-Jewish Peace Walks and I, as a Christian, joined them. Rabbi Lynne’s Hebrew name is Miriam, which is also the first name of my youngest daughter (7). This has delighted my Miriam and she has adopted R. Gottlieb as her rabbi–and has been learning how to write “Miriam” in Hebrew.

R. Gottlieb, along with Hector Arizabotl from Colombia, has been helping us to use theatre to work on peace issues, especially a participatory technique called “theatre of the oppressed.” It has been bitter-sweet that she has helped us focus on the descending spiral of violence in the Middle East just as news reports have reached us of continued fighting between Israel and Hezbollah in Lebanon –as if the Gaza standoff wasn’t enough.

Another fascinating person is Rev. Elise Elrod–whose full name is Ronald Elise Elrod. She is transgendered and lost her church when she came to terms with this and got corrective surgery to become outwardly female. Her wife, Joanie, has remained married even though they now have no sex life since Joanie is straight and Elise is now asexual. She has incredible humor and has used it to help us begin to understand the situations of the transgendered –very different from the sexual orientation issues of gays, lesbians, and bi-sexuals. I am hoping thatwe can have Elise come speak at my church, Jeff Street in Louisville. For Elise’s fascinating story of transformation from an overweight, conservative, male Southern Baptist minister and former engineer to a thin, liberal, secretary and itinterant preacher, her work in diversity training (IYQYQR or I Like You Like You Are), and information on gender identity disorder and transgendered persons (where, unlike with gay, lesbian, or bisexual persons, the issue has nothing to do with sexual orientation!), see her website: http://www.eliseelrod.com !

More later.

July 13, 2006 Posted by | Baptists, GLBT issues, Jews, Judaism, peacemaking, prejudice, progressive faith | 6 Comments

BPFNA Conference Update

Well, this remote blogging is trickier than I thought. My first update went only to my church’s blog (Life at Jeff Street) and the second one didn’t go anywhere–lost in cyberspace. So, let me try to convey a sense of these exciting days. Thanks to portable DVD players, we got all the way from Lousville to Chattanooga before the first “Are We There Yet?” came from the back seat! Molly (11) and Miriam (7) were much better behaved on this trip to Atlanta than I remember being as a kid in car trips.

The opening plenary Monday night was rich–but very long! We awarded Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA), who is living proof that the U.S. electorate sometimes gets it right, a peacemaker award for her solitary “no” vote following 9/11 to giving W a blank check to wage war with whomever he wants under the guise of a war on terror. Rep. Lee, a Baptist and member of Allen Temple BC in Oakland, CA (a BPFNA partner congregation), has also led the congressional concern about Darfur, formed the “out of Iraq” caucus, has been part of the effort to impeach based on the Downing Street memos, and is a co-sponsor of the legislation to create a cabinet level Department of Peace. Her mother was facing surgery, so Ms. Lee had to leave that first night, but it was great to have her.

Rabbi Michael Lerner was with us Mon & Tues. Check out the “Life at Jeff Street” blog for what he said to us Monday night. The link is on the right of this blog. On Tues. Rabbi Lerner gave a worskshop on his attempt to create a Network of Spiritual Progressives with a 3-fld task: 1) Countering the misuse of God and religion in public life by the Right; 2) Countering the phobia of the Left to all talk of faith or morality or values. Insisting that, without violating church/state separation, there can be a valid spiritual voice in politics–but it must be pluralistic (not just evangelical Christians) and not treat people without faith as second class citizens. 3) This
network must move for a new bottom line that does not judge everything solely in terms of

Then R. Lerner closed out our worship Tues. night at Ebenezer BC with a traditional Hebrew prayer for peace, that he translated freely into English in song form set to an old Gospel tune. It was beautiful. R. Lerner said that one(of the many) sad results of the history of Christian persecution of Jews is that until recently Jews had lost Jesus as one of Judaism’s greatest prophets. Christians, of course, believe that Jesus is more than a prophet, but he
was definitely a prophet–something on which Jews, Muslims, and Christians can agree and use
as a beginning point in dialogue. I know that Jewish scholars have really helped this Christian’s picture of Jesus!

On Monday night, I go to introduce the legendary C. T. Vivian who spoke on fulfilling Dr. King’s Dream today. Because I find typing on this laptop difficult,I won’t attempt to summarize his message. I’ll wait until I get back. Tomorrow night, I get the honor of presenting the Bill Moore Lifetime in Peacemaking Award to Dr. Vivian.

Dr. Peter Paris has been leading us in a series of reflections on types of violence and responses: We have covered war and poverty, and will also discuss sexism, and racism as types of violence.

Today, I went to a went to a workshop on “understanding whiteness,” something this whiteboy has been trying to do for 44 years! Whiteness is a pseudo-scientific cultural construction that brings privilege—but at a price.

More later, with more detail once I am on my home computer. Please feel free to post comments, but they won’t showup until my return.

July 12, 2006 Posted by | Baptists, Jews, Judaism, peacemaking, poverty, prejudice, race, sexism, social history, violence | Comments Off on BPFNA Conference Update