Vacation Musings Continued

Vacation Musings Continued

The wedding is over. I’m still on vacation, sitting here looking at the ocean and sorting through my old emails and miscellaneous stuff and throwing out much of which is no further interest or use to me. That said, I found a piece from Derek Penwell, pastor of Douglass Boulevard Christian Church here in Louisville, which struck a chord: "But then I started reading the Bible more thoroughly, and I saw a theme emerging: Jesus actually cares about the people who weren’t born with all the advantages I enjoy and no, I don’t mean Jesus cares for everybody, so of course Jesus cares for the disadvantaged. I mean, as I began to read scripture, it became increasingly clear that Jesus holds a special place in his heart for those who are abused by everyone else: the poor, the foreigner, the widow, the orphan, the weak, the outcast, the prisoner, the sick and despairing. Jesus cares about them all in really intense ways; so much so, for example, that his fury with injustice is the primary reason Jesus goes into the temple and starts kicking over tables."

As I read the Hebrew Scriptures, I find that the laws are aimed at protecting the “least of these” from exploitation by the more powerful and to establish certain moral standards for the community to practice. All of which affirms the value of human life after birth and the responsibility we have to attend to the basic needs of our neighbors, both near and far.

I find it disconcerting that the noise we hear out of Washington and State Houses across the country, as well as pulpits in most any town, is that America was founded as a Christian country. While the founding fathers (and mothers, I suspect) were informed by Christian doctrines, Biblical law codes and influenced by some moral teachings of the church, they were ever aware of the dangers that accompany the joining of religion and government. So many groups arrived on these shores escaping persecution for their faith (Quakers, Puritans, Huguenots, Baptists, Anabaptists, Catholics, Methodists, Jews, etc.) that the authors of the Constitution and Bill of Rights were very deliberate in their refusal to declare one religion or sect as the “official” American “church”. Thomas Jefferson was a Deist, who accepted the idea that there is an entity/force/spirit greater than what we can observe, but would not concede that it was the same God claimed by the various sects of the Christian faith.

I saw this on Facebook as a meme featuring Steven Colbert: “If this is going to be a Christian nation that doesn’t help the poor, either we have to pretend that Jesus was just as selfish as we are, or we have got to acknowledge that He commanded us to love the poor and serve the needy without condition and then admit that we just don’t want to do it.” That about says it all for me.