Saturday, June 20, 2009

Gone gone workcamp

Been racing around lately - I've been missing blogging, but am afraid I won't get to it anytime soon - will be on a mission trip to rural New York State with our high school youth. Follow our trip. Peace and joy - Pr Sarah

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

There's a big difference between dying for a cause and killing for a cause

Last week, an abortion doctor was killed while passing out bulletins in his Lutheran church when an anti-abortion activist shot him.

Today, a security guard at the Holocaust museum was killed on duty when a white supremacist shot him.

I find both murders appalling. They are different events, of course, but they seem related. According to Washington Post press coverage, a reporter also linked these two events, asking the White House if they are concerned about "political violence or domestic terrorism."

I was curious to see if anyone would pick up on the word terrorism to describe these murders. It's a loaded term, for sure, but I'm glad it isn't only reserved for Muslim foreigners or people of Middle-Eastern descent. Here's terrorism, as defined by that reliable source, wikipedia,

Terrorism is a policy or ideology of violence intended to intimidate or cause terror for the purpose of "exerting pressure on decision making by state bodies." The term "terror" is largely used to indicate clandestine, low-intensity violence that targets civilians and generates public fear.

Here's a different definition of a terrorist: a person willing to kill for a social or political ideal. This is decidedly anti-christian, because we are, by definition, people who claim a willingness to DIE for our beliefs, not kill for them. (If you're wondering when we do this, we do this when we pledge to follow Jesus, knowing that means we follow him to the cross.)

Of course, the waters muddy. One of our Lutheran heroes, Detrich Bonhoeffer, made a tortured decision to try to kill Hitler in order to stop him. He failed and he was killed in a concentration camp.

Ethics classes around the world analyze Bonhoeffer's decision and most (at least the ones I've been in) find him to be a saint and justify his actions as the best possible choice to stop the murders. Those communities also acknowledge that the holocaust was a real, evil, and horrendous chapter in history. I'm betting those folks in the world who deny the holocaust aren't making Bonhoeffer a hero.

I can't imagine the white supremacist can come up with any good way to convince any but the most hateful people that his murder was justified. But I can see the abortionist murderer using Bonhoeffer-esque logic to justify his actions. and if we all agreed that abortion was as horrendous as the Holocaust (and some people feel this way), would his action be justified? I don't think we can put abortion on par with the Holocaust, I'm just trying to point out that anytime you are called to kill for a cause, it gets thorny fast.

When my head starts to hurt about things like this, I look for simple answers. Do you think it would work to just get rid of all the guns????

Friday, June 5, 2009

West Bank Story - the anti-crusade - at Wootton tonight

Last night I went to see West Bank Story at Wootton High school. It's the first stage adaptation of the movie based on West Side Story, based on Romeo and Juliet. You can guess the plot...a Jewish boy falls in love with a Palestinian girl but their families, owners of competing falafel stands, would never approve.
The actual musical was maybe 20 mins long. The students just gave a flavor, but it was enough. Left you wanting more.

The students augmented the production with an Israeli storyteller and a moving slide show with live music.

The best thing about the evening, besides the fact that these kids are ridiculously talented, was that it was completely student run. If you need a little bit of hope about the future, these kids will give it. Many of them are seniors, which means they graduated on Wed and then put on this production the next day. It also means they didn't do it to build a resume for college or to better their chances of getting into the next musical. They did it just because they care about peace in the Middle East.

It's just one more night, tonight, Friday June 5th, at Wootton High School at 7:30. 5$. You won't be disappointed.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Go Crusa.....I just can't get behind the cheer

My college mascot was the Crusaders. When a few of us complained once that we were ashamed to be associated with such a violent and shamefully un-Christian slice of history, the administration answered - oh, but we're not the Crusaders...we're the Crusaders for Christ.

Somehow that was supposed to make a difference.

I never felt good yelling that cheer. If being a Christian meant taking on some kind of violent mantle for the good of the cause, I want nothing to do with it.

Though we don't call them crusades, many people argue that we're in the middle of a crusader-like culture, where a certain brand of Christianity and the world-view that accompanies it blesses violence in order to get the point across. The violence is as large as a war with anti-Islamic overtones; as complex and lamentable as an abortion doctor being shot in his Lutheran church; and as subtle as someone assuming the Jewish students in her class are rich.

Crusades bless violence. Jesus did not.

Last night I met with some of the college students from our church. We're going to meet every Wed night at 9:00 pm throughout the summer.

Among other things we'll explore what it means to be Christian in a world where people you live with, your best friends and in some cases, some of your family members, aren't.

This question comes up all the time around here. Adults and kids are asking it in various forms It came up in President Obama's speech about US relations with the Muslim world yesterday. It will come up tonight when high school students from our church, working with an inter-faith group of kids,will put on a production about Peace in the Mid East called West Bank Story. It just came up in a casual pastoral conversation with one of our church leaders. And it came up yesterday in an inter-faith conversation about the environment.

I can't imagine we'll get to the bottom of anything in the Wed night discussions, but I hope we will be able to grow in our own faiths while also growing in our ability to love and respect others.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Confessions of an online introvert.

I haven't blogged for over a week. Not that there haven't been topics - from the church's yard sale, to the musings of my head and heart, to the events of the world. But I haven't felt an ounce of inspiration to write on this blog and I think I know why.

Last week, whenever I was in my office, there were other people around working on the Yard Sale. If I were going to connect with people, I wanted to be with the live church and not the online church.

I'm a fairly strong introvert - I like lots of alone time (just ask the best friend who just moved in with me, or any of the people who work with me).

But I also love people. Given the choice between sitting in front of my computer connecting with people versus talking with living people outside my door, and I'll generally (though not always) choose the live ones.

This blog, I love writing it, but I'm beginning to realize that I might not ever be someone who finds online community totally fulfilling. For instance, I appreciate facebook and know it is an amazing way for people to connect, but I find it mostly exhausting.

I think I like online community only when it enables or connects with a live community. I used facebook the most the few weeks after my family got back from vacation. We all relived our time together on facebook. And then as the memories faded, so did our facebooking.

It's made me wonder how personalities in live communities translate to personalities in on-line communities. Do people who twitter the most also connect face-to-face people the most? Do people with the most facebook friends also have the most friends in real life? Are bloggers extroverts in a way traditional writers usually aren't? Or don't these categories translate online?

Just a few thoughts...Will write more in the next few days, I hope...and hey, I'd love to hear your thoughts.

Ten for Ten. Ten reasons it's great to be a pastor, in celebration of my 10 year anniversary of ordination.

I'm in there somewhere. I was ordained at Luther Place Memorial Church in Washington DC on November 10, 2007, ten years ago today. ...