Welcome to this week’s installment of Weekend Compilations, a blog post where I share links to my favorite blog posts from the previous week.
Sunday: Chaplain Mike explains that “There Is No “Me and Jesus” in the Bible.” He writes, “It struck me immediately that he was feeling isolated and lonely here. Thinking back to my experiences with him in India, I realized that, in his natural setting, he was rarely alone or in a setting that was not filled with crowds of people. His clinic is attached to his home, so he never really leaves his work or his patients. His mother and several other extended family members live with him, and there are neighbors and friends and merchants and hired workers in and out of his home all day. The streets of the city where he lives are constantly crowded with people, animals, and every manner of vehicle. If he wants some “me” time, he has to intentionally seek solitude (which, amazingly to me, he seems to need far less often that someone like myself) by leaving town for awhile.”
Monday: Steve Fraser describes the journey “From Debtor’s Prison to a Debtor’s Nation.” He writes, “Ben Franklin, however, was wary on the subject. “Rather go to bed supperless than rise in debt” was his warning, and even now his cautionary words carry great moral weight. We worry about debt, yet we can’t live without it. Debt remains, as it long has been, the Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde of capitalism. For a small minority, it’s a blessing; for others a curse. For some the moral burden of carrying debt is a heavy one, and no one lets them forget it. For privileged others, debt bears no moral baggage at all, presents itself as an opportunity to prosper, and if things go wrong can be dumped without a qualm. Those who view debt with a smiley face as the royal road to wealth accumulation and tend to be forgiven if their default is large enough almost invariably come from the top rungs of the economic hierarchy. Then there are the rest of us, who get scolded for our impecunious ways, foreclosed upon and dispossessed, leaving behind scars that never fade away and wounds that disable our futures.
Tuesday: Joy Bennett hits us with “News Flash: You Probably Won’t Marry a Virgin.” She writes, “Whatever strategies a person uses to control their God-given drive for physical intimacy, these strategies ought not aim to shut down one’s sexuality altogether. This suffocates healthy expressions of sexuality with shame and guilt, which in some cases can cause real and permanent damage. Both men and women have shared heartbreaking stories with me of being shamed for even experiencing sexual desire, whether directed toward a specific person or not. In a climate in which we are also forbidden to masturbate, the underlying message is “Your sex drive is evil; therefore, you must shut it down.” This denies our nature as physical and sexual beings. We experience pleasure and we desire to express our love for another in sexual ways. These are not sinful or bad things, but the purity culture has conveyed that very idea: that sex and pleasure are evil. This is an ancient heresy known as Gnosticism, which teaches that matter is evil.”
Wednesday: Preston Yancey explains “When we need Women behind the Pulpits.” He writes, “Because I have a feeling, Church—Church I love, Church I love so much these feet hurt from the miles I’ve walked within you—that should I ever call a thing I say prophetic, it is this: Put a woman behind the pulpit, or else they shall walk right out of your doors and across the street, shall stand on the corners and prophesy to the dry bones, and you’ll find us walking out to meet them. You’ll find us taking you right along.”
Thursday: Richard Beck explains “Christian A/Theism and the Transcendent.” He writes, “The point being that the Christian a/theists are right. As long as it exists the vertical dimension is always going to be a temptation and the source of the most toxic manifestations of religion. And if that is so, perhaps it is best, or just safer, to jettison the whole thing. Do the “death of God” a/theism thing and collapse the transcendent. And it’s at this point where I’d like to make a clarification. It’s one thing to find this move advantageous and quite another to insist that this move is necessary. Sure, it’s safer, but safer doesn’t mean necessary, that love of neighbor necessitates or requires a death of God move. There is a weaker claim here and a stronger claim. The weaker claim is that a death of God move facilitates love of neighbor. The stronger claim is that a death of God move is necessary for love of neighbor. The weaker claim I’m totally on board with. But I don’t think the stronger claim is correct. And yet, the stronger claim is often implicit in a lot of Christian a/theism argumentation: To become a humane and authentic Christian you must undergo the death of God experience.”
Friday: Tony Jones explains that “Jesus Didn’t Rescue Himself from the Cross because He Couldn’t.” He writes, “My second point is that some early Christians did, indeed, believe that Jesus was rescued from the Cross — or at least that his divinity was. The Docetists thought that Jesus’ human body was only an apparition – they were so scandalized by the thought that God would become a meat puppet that they recast the incarnation and the crucifixion as little more than a magic trick. Other early churchers thought that Jesus’ divinity was vacuumed from his body by the Father just moments before his body died, thus ensuring that God would not experience death. But, I ask, if God didn’t experience death, then what’s the point of the crucifixion? My final point is a related, theological point: the crucifixion of Jesus of Nazareth, who was incarnate of God, shows God’s ultimate solidarity with all of humanity. This is a theme that I have reiterated many times on this blog. It’s the keystone of my entire theological system.”
Saturday: Elizabeth Esther talks about “The day I learned I was a hipster/progressive/”current feminist” advocating ‘commitment-free’ sex for all!” She writes, “4. What we ARE calling to light are the harmful practices and behaviors of evangelical purity culture. We are doing this by sharing our personal stories about how we’ve been affected by the guilting, shaming and public spectacle-making of purity culture. As we share our stories, we experience freedom. As we share our stories, we release shame. Freedom in Christ IS freedom from shame and THAT was the message of our virginity posts. 5. Furthermore, the women who began this conversation are all Christian women. I, for one, am a married mother of five. I am a Catholic Christian.I believe All The Things. But somehow I apparently approve of ‘commitment-free’ sex? Um, NO. If my kids tried to use that logic on me I’d be all: go get your little lying butt to Confession right this minute! 6. What this means is that The Gospel Coalition is intentionally attempting to change the conversation AWAY from harmful methods and practices and is inventing an entirely differentconversation. Straw man, anyone? Er, straw-lady?”
This week on the blog, my favorite post was Tuesday’s special feature in which I wrote a response to Seth Bouchelle entitled “The Christian and the State.” I write, “A proposal: The church should do all of that work—and more—that Seth has proposed. The church should also bear prophetic witness against the Powers and Principalities, including the state and economy and military and supranational institutions and corporations. And the church should drink a heavy dose of humility, abandon cynicism—that failure of the Christian imagination—and work with whatever actors, including the state, are interested in building a systemically just society. I’m a social democrat because I believe that social democracy is the best model for a just society this side of Christ’s second advent. That belief, and acting upon it, does not compromise my allegiance to the Way of Jesus, my ability to work with other Christians to care for the least of these, or my prophetic witness against the state and the other Powers.”