April 29, 2008
As you’ve no doubt noticed, there’s no Transmission this week because there are five Wednesdays this month. In lieu of a standard Transmission, therefore, I’d like to invite you to come hear Christ Hedges to a reading from his new book, which is about the recent prominence of Atheist discourse. I think this guy is definitely worth listening to – his previous book, American Fascists: The Christian Right and the War on America, was a very smart and critical look at the culture of conservative Christianity, and I’m very interested to hear what we has to say about the New Atheism.
Chris Hedges will be reading from and discussing his most recent book “I Don’t Believe in Atheists.” In this book Hedges responds to contemporary prominent athiests Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens, and Sam Harris, arguing for the importance of faith in our world and challenging a form of athiesm that can be as intolerant and bigoted as religious fundamentalism. He offers an important voice for progressive Christians today. You can learn more about Hedges on the Union website here: http://www.utsnyc.edu/NETCOMMUNITY/Page.aspx?pid=992&srcid=256 or on posters around campus.
See you at 7 p.m. Wednesday evening! Oh… and there will be cookies :)
April 26, 2008
These are worth watching. Catch the whole show on PBS if you can!
Read the rest of this entry »
April 18, 2008
Bowie Snodgrass, beloved community member, had a great interview for Naked City, the Village Voice’s blog on sexuality, as part of the series Sexiness, Next to Godliness: Religion and the Sex Industry. Go check it out: http://www.nakedcity.com/2008/04/god_loves_sex_workers.php
April 16, 2008
In 1818, an 18-year-old named Mary Shelley wrote a novel called Frankenstein. I have never read it, but have picked up the basic plot from movies and such. A brilliant doctor decides that he will create the perfect man, using pieces of dead people. The man he creates will be of surpassing good-looks, and the doctor will teach him kindness, compassion, love ‚Äì all that’s best in humanity will be embodied in this perfect person. But once the creature is brought to life, the doctor becomes frightened and runs away. His creation follows him across Europe, demanding ‚Äúyou created me to be the best that humanity has to offer. You built me from scraps of the past, and promised to fill me with compassion and love, to bring about a better future. You have not kept your promise.‚Äù We’re all familiar with the story ‚Äì the creature keeps following him, and hurting the people he loves. The creature that was meant to be beautiful, wise, caring, intelligent…is feared and dreaded, chased away, and becomes a murderer. A monster.
This novel was probably written to caution people entering the industrial age ‚Äì be careful what you design to aid in human life, there will be consequences. But when I think of this story, I see another parallel, that I do not believe the author intended. Some of us may be aware of a book…called The Bible. Written over the course of more than a thousand years, assembled in its final form some seventeen hundred years ago. Built from scraps of the past, to represent all that’s best about humanity. Designed to bring a message of hope and compassion for the future. And it keeps on asking us, ‚Äúwhen are you going to fulfill the promises made on these pages?‚Äù And in fear and dread we run from it. And it follows us. And sometimes it hurts us, and the ones we love.
April 15, 2008
I suspect that Paul, our token UCC member, could speak on this more eloquently than I can, but I’ve been stunned at the way the controversy over past sermons over Rev. Wright simply won’t die down. Jeremiah Wright is, in my mind, a modern day prophet in the biblical sense of the word – an eloquent outsider who speaks truth to power and, just like the biblical prophets, he is now being persecuted for it.
The best, most concise articulation I have seen regarding why progressive Christians should be defending Rev Wright was written a week ago by Adam Clark. A sample:
Wright, however, is a preacher; his oath is not to the Constitution but to the Gospel. The statements of Wright may be out of step with the presidential politics of the Obama campaign, but they are not out of step with biblical faith. The forceful denunciations of America’s invasion of Iraq, her support for the unjust practices of foreign governments as well as the invocation of God’s wrath for the inhumane treatment of blacks and people of color are not the crazed anti-American ranting of an old uncle, but statements about the meaning of faith in a God who upsets the powers through identifying with the poor and marginalized.
April 14, 2008
A friend sent me a link to this. A bunch of USCD hospital workers are struggling and demonstrating for fair compensation, and a bunch of church folk (including the Interfaith Council for Worker Justice) got together to wash their feet. Awesome.
So here’s a video chronicling the event. Observant folks will notice that the music is the track Lamentation, from my first album! It’s pretty nifty when you chance across cool people who are using your music, and this is exactly the kind of prophetic work I would want to be associated with.
April 9, 2008
Bowie and I spent a lovely three days in West Cornwall Connecticut last week, hanging out with a bunch of other young church leaders as part of a consultation sponsored by Trinity Wall Street.¬† There were a lot of really exciting conversations taking place and I found it incredibly invigorating to be surrounded by intelligent, passionate kindred spirits.¬† Kudos to Trinity for being so forward looking.
On one of the nights, Bowie and I led the group through the Eucharist which we led at Easter at Avalon last year, a communion by numbers based on a ritual developed by the Grace Community.¬† A lot of people asked us for the text, so I’m including it here below the break.
It also led to some very interesting conversations regarding Eucharistic theology, Episcopal ecclesiology, priesthood of all believers, and the emerging church.¬† It occurred to me that Transmission has largely dodged these questions by not incorporating communion into our practice, but this isn’t a decision that we ever discussed.¬† Eucharist is one of the few practices shared by virtually every Christian tradition (except the Quakers), and yet very few traditions agree on exactly what communion is and exactly why we do it.
Would there be interest in doing a 3-4 week series on Eucharistic theology on the non-Transmission Wednesdays?¬† It would help many us develop our understanding of communion as individuals and it might lead to us forming a policy on communion as a group.¬† We might decide that having communion is an important symbol of our connection to the larger Christian community or we might decide that we shouldn’t do it for theological reaons, but either way we would have reached an informed consensus as a group.
April 7, 2008
Transmission is a sponsor for this conference and Bowie is one of the speakers in the Emergent Round Table Discussion at this conference in June. You can register now for $49! Or contact us if would like to volunteer for some or all of the days.
See the Future, Live it NOW
A National Conference
at Princeton University.
June 8-10, 2008
One Thousand People.
Forty-five Leading Scholars, Activists, Artists and Pastors.
Twenty Learning Tracks.
Women and Men, Young and Old.
Black, White, Asian, Latino, and Native American.
A broad array of theological perspectives, all focused on one thing:
Christian Engagement in the public square.
Featured Speakers include
Ray Aldred, Vincent Bacote, Jay Bakker, Randall Balmer, Melinda Berry, Bart Campolo, Rich Cizik, Shane Claiborne, Jeremy Del Rio, Lisa Sharon Harper, Obery Hendricks, Al Hsu, Daisy Machado, Brian McLaren, Brenda Salter McNeil, John Perkins, Sammy Rodriguez, Ron Sider, Andrea Smith, Richard Twiss, Miroslav Volf, Jim Wallis, Kay Warren, Randy Woodley and many, many more!
this historic event.
Don’t miss the $49 early registration discount.
Please help us spread the word by forwarding this email to your friends and networks. Thank you.
April 7, 2008
RICH AND POOR: TWO WORLDS OR ONE FAMILY
Presentation given by J.Snodgrass for the Marble Collegiate Church Young Adults 20s/30s
Every year, the gap between rich and poor gets wider. The title I was given for this presentation – “Rich and poor, two worlds…” reminded me that in economic terms we actually have three worlds on this Earth ‚Äì the first world, capitalism, the second world, communism, and the third world, “other,” which has become synonymous with whole nations of people living in abject poverty. The recent disaster in New Orleans was yet another reminder that, although America is a first-world country, there’s a third world in here, too, a small nation’s worth of people that our own government left behind and forgot once the first-class citizens had been rescued.
Every year the chasm gets wider, and every year I’m reminded of a story Jesus told in the Gospel according to Luke chapter sixteen, about an un-breach-able chasm.
“There was a rich man…dressed in purple and fine linen who feasted sumptuously every day. And at his gate lay a poor man named Lazarus, covered with sores, who longed to satisfy his hunger with what fell from the rich man’s table; even the dogs would come and lick his sores. The poor man died and was carried away by the angels to be with Abraham. The rich man also died and was buried.
In Hell, where he was being tormented, [the rich man] looked up and saw Abraham far away with Lazarus by his side. He called out, ‘Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue; for I am in agony in these flames.’
But Abraham said, ‘Child, remember that during your lifetime you received your good things, and Lazarus [got nothing]; but now he is comforted here, and you are in agony. Besides all this, between you and us a great chasm has been fixed, so that those who might want to pass from here to you cannot do so, and no one can cross from there to us.’
So here we’ve got this rich man, dead, suffering, and what does he say to Abraham? ‘Send that boy down here, that poor boy that used to lie outside my gates, tell him to fetch me some water.’ Even dead, burning in Hell, this rich man has not learned his lesson. But the chasm cannot be traveled, even if Lazarus had wanted to. This rich man could have spared himself all that suffering, if he had bridged the chasm in life, but never had he reached out to invite this poor man to his table. The story continues…