Monday, April 20, 2015

Conscience and Scripture: How the Abolition of Slavery and the Fight for Marriage Equality are Inseparable 2/2

by Nomad

In the second part of this series, we take a look at how the Presbyterian Assembly's recent decision to recognize marriage equality is entirely in keeping with its history on other progressive issues.
And whether it was slavery, segregation or mixed marriage, the opposition was always ready to use Scripture to justify their prejudices.

In the earlier post on this subject, we looked at the recent break between National Black Church Initiative (NBCI) and the Presbyterian Church over the subject of same-sex marriage. The decision to allow ceremonies to be conducted- as per the conscience of each church- created a backlash, involving approximately 15.7 million African Americans belonging to 34,000 churches. 

Rev. Anthony Evans. President of NBCI claimed that the Presbyterian Assembly had strayed from the Word of God, that is, the Holy book which defines marriage as between a man and a woman.

The History of Going Beyond Scripture
The history of the denomination reveals a centuries old pattern of free thinking. Presbyterianism was especially influenced by the French theologian John Calvin,
Two quotes by Calvin seem especially relevant.
Is it faith to understand nothing, and merely submit your convictions implicitly to the Church?
Clearly he believed that faith was more than submission without understanding.  He argued against relying solely on Scripture to resolve spiritual issues- or still worse, relying on the interpretations of church leaders. Faith shouldn't be a hand-me-down.

Another influence on Presbyterian doctrine was  a Scottish reformer, John Knox. He too objected to the absolute submission to Scripture and he had his reasons. 
The testimony of scripture is so plain that to add anything were superfluous, were it not that the world is almost now come to that blindness, that whatsoever pleases not the princes and the multitude, the same is rejected as doctrine newly forged, and is condemned for heresy.

Friday, April 17, 2015

Rebellion, Retrospect,and Regret: The 50th Anniversary of a Vietnam Peace March

by Nomad

Fifty years ago on this date, April 17, 1965, Washington saw one of the first and largest peace marches in its history. It was to become the first of many anti-war marches and demonstrations across the country.
Here's the story behind that history.

The planning for the anti-war march had been in the works since December 1964. Demonstrations against racial injustice had been remarkably successful in waking up the country and its leaders. Activists for peace were determined to inert similar pressures on Washington.
Up to that time, Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) was a little known student activist organization. However, as the America's involvement in the Vietnam War steadily grew, students and others in that age group suddenly faced the reality of the draft.
This was real and it was a matter of life and death.
As one source explains:
Even before they shipped out, those who were drafted had begun to see the horrors of the war, most notably on television. The growing presence of television in nearly every American household thus exacerbated divisions over the conflict and helped fuel the antiwar movement. What Americans watched on television each night shaped their perceptions of the Vietnam War, which came to be known as the “living room war.” For some young Americans, called on to fight but unable to vote until the age of 21, the situation was unacceptable.
The anti-war message was easy enough for a child to understand. America had no reason to be in Southeast Asia and the reason were equally simple: the war hurts the Vietnamese people, the war hurts the American people and the SDS was concerned for both Vietnamese and American people. Anybody who agreed with those three points was invited to join in on the march on Washington.
The book, The Sixties: Years of Hope, Days of Rage explains:
The official call, hoping to appeal to a broad opposition, maintained that the war was fundamentally a "civil war" as well as "losing," "self-defeating," "dangerous" "never declared by Congress" and "hideously immoral."
These objections, the establishment press immediately labeled "pro-Communist," unpatriotic and at the very best, misguided and naive.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Conscience and Scripture: How the Abolition of Slavery and the Fight for Marriage Equality are Inseparable 1/2

by Nomad

A schism within the Presbyterian Church on its views regarding same-sex marriage made a bit of news recently. 
We look at the historical reasons why any literal interpretation of Scripture for an African American Church presents some particular problems. 
It hasn't been the first time the Presbyterians have followed their conscience on matters of equality and social justice.

Recently. the National Black Church Initiative (NBCI) made an interesting and somewhat disappointing announcement. This faith-based coalition of some 34, 000 churches made up of about 15 denominations with 15.7 million African-Americans declare that it had broken its fellowship the American branch of the Presbyterian Church (PCUSA).

The NBCI decision came about as a result of a recent vote by the Presbyterian Church to approve same-sex marriage.

Last June, The Presbyterian General Assembly, the top legislative body of the PCUSA voted to revise the constitutional language defining marriage. This decision granted  pastors discretion in determining whether or not to conduct same-gender marriages in civil jurisdictions where such marriages are legal.

According to the text of the assembly ruling, the elders of the Church decided that it was up to the pastors were allowed the freedom of conscience and their own interpretation of Scripture. They were free "to participate in any such marriage they believe the Holy Spirit calls them to perform."

Sunday, April 12, 2015

April 12, 1945- The Day America's Father Died

by Nomad

Today marks the seventieth anniversary of the death one of America's greatest presidents. Franklin Delano Roosevelt's passing left the nation not only struck dumb with grief but also a world poised on a new and dangerous age.

On this day seventy years ago, one of America's most beloved president died suddenly at the "Little White House," his Warm Springs, Georgia retreat since the 1920s.
Shortly after lunch, the care-ridden president had sat in the living room of his cottage, signing letters and reviewing documents. He was sitting for his portrait, reportedly engaged in a lively conservation. 

Then, without warning, he was seized by a sharp pain in his head and collapsed. He slumped backward in his chair in an apparent coma. His staff carried him to his bedroom. Doctors were summoned but there was very little that could be done.
In a few hours- at about 3:30 p.m- the 63 year old president would be dead from a massive cerebral hemorrhage.

Friday, April 10, 2015

Con-Artist Conservatives and The Great Hoodwinking of America 3/3

by Nomad

The Part One and Part Two we looked at how many similarities there are between the fraud and swindles and the modern conservative movement. 

In this, the final installment in the series we wrap things up with two questions: Have middle-class Americans at long last realized that they are the victims of the Republican scam? Followed by the more important question: Is it too late to save American democracy?

Novelist Walter Kirn makes an interesting observations about the victims of swindles. It could explain why the Republican con game has continued for so long. Under normal circumstances, most victims catch on. So why do some people keep voting for the conservatives?

The reason, Kirn says, con artists get away with what they get away with is because their victims are "ashamed of their own blindness and their own gullibility, and they tend to just quietly go away." 

Outsiders might wonder why American voters who have realized that they have been played for the last 40 years are not un-stuffing the feathers from pillows and heating up the cauldrons of tar.
The reaction is, in fact, a bit more subtle. You can find the effect...if you know where to look.