Sunday, October 30, 2005

have you ever been *experienced*?

This book sounds really interesting. Submitted for your approval, a question:

What *does* it mean to live in an environment where "grace is not just a theological concept, but an experience: an environment where [the sacred] does not have to be proved, but recognized as deeply involved in the process of the world, its sufferings and its possibilities?"

so may we be,
Chip Roush

God's Advocates: Christian Thinkers in Conversation
by Rupert Short

Gifts and fragments
A review by John Habgood

Popular contemporary attitudes towards theology include condescending dismissal on the one hand, and conservative religious intransigence on the other. Rupert Shortt sets out to provide a more balanced and intellectually demanding assessment. The fourteen discussions in "God's Advocates: Christian Thinkers in Conversation" cover a wide range, with the emphasis mainly on the philosophical, social and ethical aspects of theology, rather than on the Bible itself. Shortt is a perceptive questioner, and has obviously read widely in the works of the eighteen theologians with whom he has talked. The result is a book with serious academic content, yet structured in such a way as to be accessible to those who are unfamiliar with the issues. His summaries of the writings of his conversationalists are consistently clear and enlightening; theology emerges as a much more exciting, vigorous and relevant subject than its contemporary image might suggest.

Strikingly absent from most of the conversations is any direct appeal to authority, whether biblical or ecclesiastical. Rowan Williams, for instance, reflects on lives which pose the problem of goodness against seemingly overwhelming odds. What does it mean to live in an environment where grace is not just a theological concept, but an experience: an environment where God does not have to be proved, but recognized as deeply involved in the process of the world, its sufferings and its possibilities? Such an appeal to experience does not, of course, bypass the traditional sources
of faith. Williams was himself influenced by what he calls Karl Barth's "exuberant bloody-mindedness in stressing the sheer otherness of God in his self-revelation". But grace cannot finally be captured in conventional images and forms. It must be known at first hand, or not at all...

Full review, from the Times Literary Supplement, reprinted at Powell's

Friday, October 21, 2005

to serve and to lead

from my report to the Board (of Countryside Church UU) last Wednesday:

"Julie and I offered, with the help of All Souls Lutheran Pastor Jenn Moland-Kovash, an interfaith service of remembrance and prayer for pregnancies that ended in loss, last Friday evening. Most of the attendees were *not* members of either church. I was struck by the service we provided to the community that night. We really helped people in need. We also promoted the spread of liberal religion, not by advertising, but by acting on our principles.

One of our (relatively) local neighbor congregations, the Unitarian Universalist Community Church of Park Forest, Illinois, requires each committee to explicitly offer something to its wider community. This does increase public awareness, but it does so via concrete example. Perhaps most importantly, it reminds the members that vital congregations serve and lead the people around them..."

Growth comes not from advertisting, but from doing good works.

Sunday, October 09, 2005

since sliced bread

We're looking for fresh, new ideas for a better America. Do you have a common-sense idea that will improve the day-to-day lives of everyday Americans? Or an opinion on how working families can succeed in the new global economy?

You have until December 5, 2005, to submit your idea and to weigh in. A panel of judges will select the top 21 ideas. All of America will be able to vote on the finalists, and on February 1, one person will win $100,000—runners up receive $50,000 each.

Ordinary Americans can help determine the future, so join this important national conversation right now, at

Other than the overly-nationalistic slant, I think this is a great idea. I am eager to see what our fellow creative humans come up with...

Sunday, October 02, 2005

god on our side?

Societies may be worse off "when they have God on their side," according to a recent study (Times Online story here.) According to the study (quoting from the Times) "belief in and worship of God are not only unnecessary for a healthy society but may actually contribute to social problems. The study counters the view...that religion is necessary to provide the moral and ethical foundations of a healthy society."

For the record, I think that God/god/Godde/Spirit/the Pulse of Life is in fact on our side, and that the acknowledgement of same is crucial for a healthy society. What gets in the way, what creates higher rates of homicide, STD infections, teen pregnancy and abortion, is our certainty that godde/etc is on our side. With a little more humility, a little less certainty that we are somehow "chosen", those rates will go down.