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Monday, July 19, 2004

Introducing a new feature on the Pastor's Notebook!  It's called "The Religion News Roundup," and I'll try to do it at least weekly, but I make no promises. I won't be including little tidbits like this, which are more like "News of the Weird" than anything else.

Instead, I'll be concentrating on religion and politics, specifically from a Christian perspective since that's obviously what I come out of. Readers are invited to add such information as I may have missed or neglected.

Last part of the intro: the stories come with commentary, free of charge.

W.'s quote to the effect of "I trust that God speaks through me" has gotten a lot of play around the blogosphere. Brief notes on this: it's from Lancaster, PA, which is both my current spider-hole and one of the most "burned over" evangelical districts in the nation. The quote has also not been independently verified, so take it with a grain of salt. (Though it would fit Bush's MO, particularly with a group of good conservative Christians like the Amish.)

And, you may not have seen this commentary on the quote:

From Chuck Currie's Blog.)

More from Lancaster County: a fascinating piece on sexual and domestic abuse in the local Mennonite and Amish communities. Though it's focused on the Anabaptists, it goes a long way to explaining how this can happen in any closed church (or really any) community.

Slactivist has a great post on that bane of legalist believers everywhere, "The Abominable Shellfish"

Worldwide Faith News reports a Church of the Brethren call for peace essays.  Along with the Amish, Mennonites, and Quakers, the CoB are a traditional pacifist denomination. Submissions go to: You can also help choose stories by emailing the same address.

Yeah, it's from the "Chicken Soup" series. But who better to subvert this paradigm than you good people? has an interesting tidbit: apparently, the Bush administration is allowing the "predominantly gay and lesbian" Metropolitan Community Church to be among the groups that advise on adoption policy. While this fits with Tommy Thompson's usually tolerant behavior (IIRC, don't flame me if I'm wrong!), it may also be a fake-out designed to protect the administration from being labeled "haters." You decide.

PBS' Religion & Ethics Newsweekly has a typically well-researched and thoughtful story on gay marriage within the black church.

Many folks have already commented on this piece from the NYT describing Jerry Falwell's apparent flameout in endorsing the Bush campaign on church (or at least non-profit) letterhead. I have only these two things to add: #1 Three cheers to the Rev. Barry Lynn, of my own United Church of Christ for once more leading the charge for separation of church and state. #2: Worst. Pastor. Ever.

And last but not least, the promised report from the Madison, Wisconsin Pride Parade, via my Pops, also a UCC minister. I've broken up his message into smaller paragraphs:

Whooeeee! Here it is 4:20 in the afternoon and I am just now sitting down at the computer to whip off a Sunday Greeting. I'm just back from the Gay Pride Parade, and what a parade it was! There were the shamrock girls all in green and the green (as in save the environment) pink party and the Rural Dykes Association and the gays on motorcycles and the gays on horses and, of course the drag queens. But mostly there were lots and lots of people who look and act like plain old run of the mill ordinary people you meet on the street or at the office on down on the farm every day.

And then there were the haters. Actually, I think, fewer this year than last year. It takes a lot of time and energy to hate with the vitriol with which these really pathetic people hate. According to them, my fate is sealed. I would agree. By the grace of God in Jesus Christ, I am liberated from sin to abide in God's love for ever. According to the haters, I am doomed to stand before God's judgment and be condemned to the fires of hell. It is just beyond me how people can be so frightened and filled with such malice. The vituperation just pours out of them like bile.  But, you know what, the people in the parade simply dismiss the haters as irrelevant, a joke.

You know what else, the people lining the parade route cheer loudly, enthusiastically when the church contingent marches past. So, the anti-gays stand there with their condemning scriptural quotations on their placards and are regarded as ridiculous. The church folks march along with banners flying and are cheered.

How's this for irony? Last Sunday there was a letter in the bulletin encouraging the congregation to write their senators in support of the constitutional amendment prohibiting gay marriages. Caught me completely by surprise. The congregation, too. Gently, I responded letting the congregation know that I could not in good conscience support the intent of the letter. Surprisingly, six or eight people expressed their support for my response, if for no other reason than their feeling that this kind of political announcement has no place in the bulletin.

And with that, 'nuff said.

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