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Saturday, April 18, 2009

Well, it aint pretty

But here is a little photo montage from St. Baldrick's. ug.

Islam

Reading about Islam feels more familiar than Buddhism, even though I've spent more time over the years studying Buddhism.  According to Huston the four theological anchors in Islam are God, Creation, Individual and Judgement Day.  Familiar indeed.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Mark's Ending

If you have a bible at home, it probably has a notation like this just before Mark 16:9. The earliest manuscripts and some other ancient witnesses do no have Mark 16:9-20. (NIV) Or it might have two endings. One titled "The Shorter Ending of Mark" and the other, which is Mark 16:9-20, titled "The Longer Ending of Mark." (NSRV). If you look on line to figure this out you will find lots of material explaining how it is an open question about whether this ending was really a part of the original version of Mark. The NIB, however, does not see it as much of an open question. The commentary notes that "[s]ome scholars continue to hold that the original ending of Mark has been lost but might be reconstructed from elements in the endings of Matthew and Luke. Such proposals represent a contemporary version of the efforts made by ancient readers." That is, an effort to give the reader an easy out rather that challenging the reader to find "a literary account of the relationship between this ending and the narrative structures of the Gospel as a whole."

Mark ends with an empty tomb. But does that mean Mark does not give us a resurrection? Or do we need to think about what resurrection means?

Consider who was dead and then came back to life to walk on Earth? Jairus's daughter; Lazarus (from John); the son of a woman (by Elijah); another child (by Elisha); and others.

The Christian Bible says that Moses died, although maybe buried by God, but according to the NIB commentator by Hebrew tradition Moses did not die but was taken up by God. In both Hebrew tradition and the Christian Bible Elijah was taken up.

Which thing happened to Jesus? Brought back to life to walk the Earth, or taken up with God? Here's a hint.

I'm just saying. Or more properly, the author of Mark is just saying.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Notes from Huston on Islam: Christ is to Christianity as the Koran, not Mohammed, is to Islam. The Koran is not about truth, the Koran is truth.

Immigration objectives I support

Change to Win and the AFL-CIO have come to agreement on immigration reform. Here is the press release reported on NPR this morning. And here is the high level quote necessary for discussion hear:
The plan adheres to the Administration’s goals by creating a framework that deals with the critical components of reform and does it through interconnected initiatives. The proposal calls for: (1) an independent commission to assess and manage future flows, based on labor market shortages that are determined on the basis of actual need; (2) a secure and effective worker authorization mechanism; (3) rational operational control of the border; (4) adjustment of status for the current undocumented population; and (5) improvement, not expansion, of temporary worker programs, limited to temporary or seasonal, not permanent, jobs.
I am shocked by people who feel that the most important thing with immigration reform is to punish the individuals who come to this country to find work. These people are encouraged to come here by employers who hire them. They work hard. They pay sales tax and property tax. The large number who use fake social security numbers pay into but do not collect from social security.

The problem for me is that these people are often exploited by employers who know that the undocumented worker cannot avail himself or herself of the protection of labor laws. Also, the presence of such workers in the workforces drives wages. Finally, there is the problem of illegal border crossings which result in the deaths of hundreds of people every year, damage to property, and damage to the environment. All of these problems are addressed by (1) making employers responsible for who they hire and (2) developing a rational immigration policy that meets the needs of our economy. For too long, we have admitted too few people into this country legally to meet the labor demands of our economy. The burden of this policy, driven largely by anti-Hispanic racism, has been borne almost exclusively by the immigrants who risk their lives crossing the border and are underpaid when they arrive.

If there was ever a question about whether stronger border security or employer accountability would be more effective, the dramatic reduction in illegal border crossings as a result of the economic down turn should end the discussion. If there aren't jobs--whether because they aren't there, or because you can only work if you immigrate legally--then there will not be illegal immigration.

Monday, April 13, 2009

What does resurrection mean?

Pastor Linda Miller provided a couple of powerful messages on the meaning of resurrection this Easter. She had the opportunity to speak about it in the presence of a crowd of baptisms--six at our little church of not many more than 100 members. My daughter was the first to pass through the baptismal water on that brisk morning, which added to the emotion of the day for me. The fact that Linda and I had both lost our fathers between last Easter and this one mattered too. The forty-eight hours between noon on Friday and noon on Sunday were filled with intense focus on death and rebirth. Death is necessary for rebirth. Letting go is necessary for resurrection.

These are the half formed ideas swirling in my head this Easter.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Hallelujah, Christ is Risen . . .

Christ is Risen indeed.

Here is how Mark told it:
When the Sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices so that they might go to anoint Jesus' body. Very early on the first day of the week, just after sunrise, they were on their way to the tomb and they asked each other, "Who will roll the stone away from the entrance of the tomb?"

But when they looked up, they saw that the stone, which was very large, had been rolled away. As they entered the tomb, they saw a young man dressed in a white robe sitting on the right side, and they were alarmed.

"Don't be alarmed," he said. "You are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who was crucified. He has risen! He is not here. See the place where they laid him. But go, tell his disciples and Peter, 'He is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you.' "

Trembling and bewildered, the women went out and fled from the tomb. They said nothing to anyone, because they were afraid.
Your Bible at home will include some extras that were added later, but this is a good way to close too. The loyal women discovered the risen Christ. They recognized that death had not defeated him.

What does it mean? My pastor acknowledged this morning that some of us do not believe in bodily resurrection. But frankly, regardless of whether you believe in bodily resurrection you have to answer the question about what does resurrection mean.