Here is an eye witness report. Really worth reading.
Dear Mr. Falwell,
In the tradition of your father, you made some reckless and inflammatory statements to your students the other day.
Just as I appreciate it when peace-loving Muslims, Hindus and others repudiate hostile and reckless statements made by prominent members of their religions, I feel impelled by conscience to repudiate your words as not being representative of authentic Christianity as I, and thousands like me, understand it.
For us, authentic Christianity is the loving, peaceful, justt and generous way of life embodied in Jesus. It is characterized more by self-giving than self-defense, by pre-emptive peacemaking rather than pre-emptive violence.
Your message faithfully represents a longstanding (and ugly) stream of American culture and politics. This tradition goes back to those who argued against the equal human rights and dignity of the Native Peoples and African-American slaves, often abusing the Bible to justify white supremacy under its various guises. Continue reading “Brian McLaren – An Open Letter to Jerry Falwell Jr, Students and Faculty of Liberty University”
Stephen Tomkins, from Reform Magazine in the UK has just published a very interesting interview with Brian McLaren. My readers know that I like Brian a lot, even if I do not always agree with him, and I am sure he does not mind that.
Here is the interview, which is worth reading, I would suggest. I know some of those who read this blog do not like McLaren. It is their right, and I am ready to respect it. I hope they do the same with me.
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Can you tell me about the faith that you were brought up in?
I was born in a Plymouth Brethren family, so that would probably be considered fundamentalist. Very passionate; a very deep love for the Bible. My father grew up in Africa – his father was a missionary – so very committed.
Looking back does that feel restricted or oppressive to you now?
I’m very grateful for it, for a lot that I got from it, but if my only choice had been to stay or leave, I would have had to leave. When I was 13 my Sunday school teacher said: “You can either believe in God or evolution”, and I remember thinking: “Evolution makes a lot of sense to me.” When I started playing rock ’n’ roll, it wasn’t a great fit – our church didn’t even have musical instruments. There were very tight restrictions on what women could do. There were a lot of things I would never have stayed with. Continue reading “Brian McLaren interview – Changing faith, staying faithful”
|Most Christian churches have spent an awful lot of time concerned about maintaining verbal and ritual orthodoxy–the official doctrines and liturgies (when even the Roman church legitimates at least 16 forms of the Mass in all of its Eastern Rites!). We must be honest and admit that it has focused much less on the practicals of the Sermon on the Mount or what Jesus spent most of his time doing: touching and healing people, doing acts of justice and inclusion, teaching and living ways of compassion and non-violence.
Franciscanism, insofar as it actually imitated Francis of Assisi, emphasized an “alternative orthodoxy,” a different view on what really matters, which had much more to do with orthopraxy (right practice) than merely believing the right words. (Read Jesus’ parable about the two sons where he makes this same point in Luke 21:28-32.) While not rejecting the traditional orthodoxy of the church, the Franciscan “alternative orthodoxy” was a parachurch viewpoint on the edge of the inside of organized Christianity. It often seems this is where wisdom has to hide, as Proverbs says, “Wisdom builds herself a house” (9:1). It became the entire history of Religious Orders in the Catholic and Orthodox churches: we went to the edge and emphasized different things, often to protect neglected Gospel values and teachings.
Brian McLaren uses the words “a generous orthodoxy” to describe something similar, a marriage of thinking and practice. Brian identifies a generous orthodoxy with “a consistent practice of humility, charity, courage, and diligence. Humility that allows us to admit that our past and current formulations may have been limited or distorted. Charity toward those of other traditions who may understand some things better than our group…. Courage to be faithful to the true path of our faith as we understand it, even when it is unpopular, dangerous, and difficult to do so. Diligence to seek again and again the true path of our faith whenever we feel we have lost our way…” (A Generous Orthodoxy, p. 34).
Franciscanism’s offering, similar to the Quakers, Shakers, Amish, and Mennonites, was a simple return to lifestyle itself: including the outsider, preferring the bottom to the top, choosing social poverty and divine union over any private perfection or any sense of moral superiority, and an attitude of non-violence instead of religion as forced compliance, which invariably leads to a warlike mentality. Any alternative and generous orthodoxy can be found, if you look with non-dual eyes, in all sacred texts and traditions, and surely in Jesus, as we’ll discover in this year of Daily Meditations. An alternative orthodoxy is never stingy with grace or inclusion because it has surrendered to a God who is infinitely magnanimous and creative in the ways of love and mercy.
Gateway to Silence
Wisdom pervades and penetrates all things.
Some readers on my blog absolutely hate Brian McLaren, or at least deeply detest him, considering him an enemy of faith. I certainly do not share this view. I have met Brian personally and I read some of his books and posts and I have a deep appreciation for him, even if I do not always agree with his view. And probably he does not with some of mine either. Which is perfectly OK.
Here is a post on Rachel Held Evans blog, where her readers ask questions from Brian, and he responds.
So Brian McLaren’s new book, Why Did Jesus, Moses, the Buddha, and Mohammed Cross the Road? released last week and is already making some waves. The video above provides a nice summary of the book, which I found challenging and thought-provoking. What I like best about the book is that Brian encourages Christians to nurture an attitude of openness and cooperation toward people of other faiths without compromising Christian identity. So often we feel like we have to choose between openness to others on the one hand and commitment to our own faith on the other. Brian argues that we don’t have to make that choice.
Read on Rachel’s post HERE.
Here is a very powerful indictment by McLaren on the alleged legitimacy of ‘enhanced interrogation techniques’ – a shameful and coward euphemism for TORTURE. I quote:
A growing list of former U.S. government officials, including a president and a vice president, have been working hard to repeat the lie that torture is justifiable as long as the right “we” is doing the torture, and the right “they” are the ones being tortured.
Most recently, a former CIA chief counter-terrorism expert joined the chorus, singing the refrain that “enhanced interrogation techniques” work. In fact, he claims, they were pivotal in finding Osama bin Laden a year ago. Continue reading “Associated Baptist Press – Torturing the enemy, destroying ourselves”