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« November 2012 | Main | January 2013 »

Front Page » Monthly Archives » December 2012

By Ken Poland on December 28, 2012

Angelo and I have been conributing articles describing Christian groups and individuals and their contribution to society. I've sometimes been quite critical of the Christian community, but I've also pointed out vast areas in which Christians can be and have been what I call servants of God. What I have observed is that many Christians have allowed theological technicalities to separate and divide, at the expense of Christ's Gospel which included Social Issues and Social Justice. Salvation (reconciliation of sinful man with God) is certainly the first and most important message of the Gospel. However, how that inspires us to look beyond the 'save 'em and leave 'em to their own struggles' will be reflected in the genuine acceptance of God's Grace for ourselves and an obligation to share that Grace with others. The acronym of G R A C E can stand for Gods' Reward At Christ's Expense. GRACE or our contribution to society can mean our reward for others less fortunate than ourselves at our own expense. We give, even if the recipients aren't worthy or industrious in our opinion. We give because we have and someone needs.

Christian has essentially become a generic term that has diversly different meaning to non Christian individuals as well as the different flavors of professing Christian groups.

We have diversity in our author/contributors and our visitors. Some are passive believers and non believers who choose not to express their views as they relate to their faith or lack of faith. We have some who are extremely critical of others who don't share their own views. We also have some who share their organizational efforts and Social Justice programs that don't have any direct connection to any given religious faith or organization. We need them all!

Should we be cruely critical or judgmental of the contributions and comments of those we don't share total agreement with? Surely not! If I can't have dialogue with others who don't share my evaluation of religion, politics, and social issues, I will only stagnate and deprive myself of enlightenment that helps me grow in wisdom and usefulness in society.

There are many organizations involved in trying to improve society. Let's hear from you. I miss the bygone days when we had several contributions to our blogg on any given day and about a variety of interests. Do we have anyone who knows how to get our comment feature back in operation?

By Angelo Lopez on December 28, 2012

During the month of December, I've been doing a series of blogs on Christian individuals and groups that have worked for social justice causes. Ken Poland recently wrote a wonderful blog about the importance of social justice in the Christian religion. I wrote about Dorothy Day andthe Catholic Worker movement, the United Methodist Women, and Jesse Jackson and the Michigan pastors who supported the unions in their fight against the Right-To-Work legislation in Michigan. My last blog for this month will be on Shane Claiborne and The Simple Way movement that he is a member of. I first read of Claiborne and The Simple Way in the book Divine Rebels: American Christian Activists For Social Justice by Deena Guzder. Shane Claiborne is a Christian activist who moved to Kensington, Philadelphia to help found a community of Christians called The Simple Way to live among the poor and to serve the poor and the marginalized in the neighborhoods and to fight for social justice causes.

Read more from this post here ...

By Ken Poland on December 25, 2012

I weep when I hear my fellow professing Christians decry Social Justice as a fearful thing that Christians should run from. I think Jesus wept when he looked over Jerusalem and the social injustice of society and, even, the religious leaders of the day.

The Rabbis and Pharisees (religious preachers, teachers, and lawyers) were sticklers for literal translation and enforcement of Old Testament laws. Jesus on several occasions, according to New Testament writers, rebuked those leaders and showed compassion and understanding and assured people of God’s Grace. He demonstrated social justice through meeting people’s needs without exacting penalties and judgment. He condemned injustice and favoritism. He indicated that man had an obligation to meet the needs of others, even if it didn’t seem that those others were accepting full responsibility for their own short comings or failures. He met those needs on the basis of the individual’s needs, not on the basis of the individual deserving help because of their adherence to a set of religious laws and doctrines.

Read more from this post here ...

By Angelo Lopez on December 24, 2012

Recently, Michigan Governor Rick Snyder signed legislation to prohibit unions from requiring workers to pay dues or representation fees, even if they are covered by union contracts. For the past few years, unions have been losing political fights with Republican legislatures over issues like the reduction of the Wisconsin public workers' collective bargaining rights in 2011. During this time, several pastors from different denominations and religions have rallied to support workers in their fight against another reduction in union rights. Among the clergy who joined in the fight is the Reverand Jesse Jackson, who is a veteran in many of the progressive causes of the past 4 decades.

Read more from this post here ...

By Ken Poland on December 21, 2012

The vast majority of society, even here in the United States, is living in fear. Sad to say we, here in the U.S., actually live in fear of violence that will take the lives of innocent bystanders. What is promoting this paranoid obsession of fear? The News Media rely on the public’s hunger for all the details surrounding the events such as the killing of innocent children and adults in the Newtown incident. The Gun Rights advocates promote fear of the government, if any talk of gun control or accountability is mentioned. The Anti Gun folks emphasize the bizarre incidents of wanton random slaughter. The most outspoken (thus loudest) of both sides fail to acknowledge any value in their opposition’s rhetoric. Yes, I said rhetoric! Very little of anything is new in the last decade or two of debate. Gun rights individuals hide behind the 2nd Amendment and gun control advocates indicate they will not be placated until all guns are out of the hands of ordinary citizens.

The man holding a gun wins the argument, at least temporarily. But, in the end, society does not want to be controlled by violence and mankind will opt for better methods of setting social standards and enforcing those standards.

Read more from this post here ...

By Angelo Lopez on December 20, 2012

Christmas time was created to celebrate the birth of a man named Jesus who had a profound effect on our religious and moral views. This Christmas, I thought I'd do a few blogs on some Christian groups who are fighting for social justice causes. Randy Leer wrote a blog with various quotes from the Bible showing how God wants people to be concerned and helpful to the needy and the poor. I just recently did some blogs about the work of the Catholic Worker and the the American Friends Service Committee. Another group that I recently discovered that does great work for social justice is the United Methodist Women.

The United Methodist Women has a membership of over 800,000 and its mission is to foster spiritual growth, develope leaders and advocate for justice. Each year they raise over $20 million for programs to help women, children and young people in the United States and 100 countries. This group was formed in 1869, when Mrs. William Butler and Mrs. Edwin Parker and the Woman’s Foreign Missionary Society first organized in Boston in response to a lack of women’s health in India. Through the merger of various women’s missionary societies, the United Methodist Women took its modern shape.

Read more from this post here ...

By Peter Herbert on December 20, 2012

It was gratifying to see Jon Stewart visit the topic of logic on last Thursday’s Daily Show. I would have blogged about it sooner if I could have. Logic is a topic we too often ignore in this country; yet a little attention to it could enormously improve our public political discourse.

The context of Stewart’s foray into logic was as follows. Republican Senator Lindsey Graham gave a common conservative argument against gay marriage, that it would open the door to three-person marriage, person-animal marriage, and things like that. Stewart accused Graham of committing the slippery slope fallacy (a common reasoning error). Graham’s friends countered that his argument was an argumentum reductio ad absurdum, a valid argument form highly respected in mathematics and philosophy. Despite all that impressive Latin, Stewart won this round of amateur logic hour, not only in the eyes of his audience, but really.

Read more from this post here ...

By Stuart Elliott on December 11, 2012

Tom Hayden, a leader of the student new left and antiwar movement in the sixties and a long-term activist, writer, and thinker for progressive politics, was keynote speaker at the 20th anniversary dinner of the Wichita Peace and Social Justice Center on Dec. 7 2012.

Friends University political science professor Russell Fox has written an insightful post on Hayden and his Wichita talk.

Here is Hayden's speech. (He also spent about an hour answering questions and then mixed informally, signing his books and visiting.)

[Dec. 14 update: Our first upload had audio problems. I think there are corrected on this version.]

By Diane Wahto on December 5, 2012

Once again it’s time to get into that holiday spirit. And that also means it’s time for the FOX News folks to gin up their self-righteous anger over the “War on Christmas,” a war, mainly based on the habit of some of us to say, “Happy Holidays” instead of “Merry Christmas.” By the way, the word “holiday” has its roots in the words “holy day,” so the yammer-yammer about “Happy Holidays” constituting a “War on Christmas” shows nothing but the ignorance or the purposeful desire to cause trouble of those who say such things. This means you, Bill O’Reilly.

Read more from this post here ...

By Angelo Lopez on December 4, 2012

Last November the Catholic Bishops of the United States unanimously endorsed Dorothy Day for sainthood. Though I am no longer a Catholic, Dorothy Day has remained one of my favorite heroes. Her work with Peter Maurin in creating the Catholic Worker newspaper and movement has been an avenue for many people to help the homeless, the outcasts of society, and to take part in the nonviolent struggle against poverty and war. Dorothy Day drew out the radical message that lies at the heart of Jesus' message to mankind, to offer a radical love of all people and to reach out to the poor, the homeless, the outcasts of our society.

I was actually surprised that the bishops of today, who are generally more conservative than Dorothy Day, are championing the veneration of this radical Christian anarchist. Yet if you look closely at the teaching of the Catholic Church, it does not fit easily into the normal liberal/conservative lines that are often drawn in American politics. In many family values issues and women's issues, like divorce, abortion, and contraception, the Catholic Church falls in the conservative part of the political spectrum. Yet on economic justice issues, on environmental issues, and on issues of war and peace, Catholic Social Teaching is far to the left of the American political spectrum. Papal encyclicals like Rerum Novarum and Quadragesimo Anno offer a radical critique of the capitalist system of the late nineteenth and early twentieth century. This radical economic critique is what drew radical anarchist Dorothy Day to become a Catholic in the 1920s, as she noticed that many of the poor that her anarchist, socialist and marxist friends were trying to help attended Catholic Masses every Sunday.

Read more from this post here ...

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