Friday, July 21, 2006

Just War?

I hesitate to write this post because I am pitifully lacking in the detailed knowledge of the many complicated political issues in the Middle East. So this is a first hack at my theological response to the recent violence between Israel and Lebanon, and I reserve the right to refine my thoughts.

According to Just War Theory in order for a war to be just it must be defensive first and foremost. The recent actions between Israel and Lebanon suggest to me that Israel does feel the need to defend itself. As defense is the first requirement of a just war, the war in Iraq becomes more hazy. Many try to define the terrorist attacks of 9/11 as an act of aggression that we must defend ourselves from. While I agree that 9/11 was a horrific and tragic day and definitely an act of aggression, cruel and inhuman aggression, the connection between 9/11 and Iraq has never been established well enough for my comfort. It is this aspect of just war theory(defensive action) that the Bush Administration was appealing to in stating (falsely) that Iraq posed a serious threat to the U.S. Just War does allow pre-emptive strikes in cases of extreme threat. Now of course, lacking proof of threat, we are engaged in a war to bring freedom and democracy to Iraq, but that does not meet the requirements of Just War theory. Apparently few care about that.

Getting back to Israel and Lebanon; Just War Theory goes on to state that a defensive war is justified given that fact that the action 'outweighs the risks and losses of war.' This is where just war theory breaks down in my personal opinion. Since our own Civil War this matter of weighing the losses of human life and natural resources, and choosing other means of finding justice given armed conflict resulting in too great a loss, has been all but forgotten. For details on this see On the Altar of the Nation: a Moral History of the Civil War by Harry Stout. Quoted in an article from the NYTimes and printed in the Providence Journal the Israeli defense minister, Amir Peretz says, 'We have no intention of occupying Lebanon, but we also have no intention of retreating from any military measures needed. Hezbollah must not think that we would recoil from using all kinds of military measures against it,' (emphasis added.) Just war theory goes against just this kind of thinking... any measures needed, all kinds of measures.' A just war not only looks at the gross affront to the attacked nation, but to the losses that will be sustained on both sides, and is supposed to weigh losses as well as gains. According to this same article over 300 people have been killed, largely civilians. 'Any military measures needed,' leads to civilian casualties and deaths (you can call it the wonderfully sanitized 'collateral damage' but it is still a child, someone's mother or grandfather.) This is a direct violation of Just War in my opinion. Over 300 largely civilian casualties cannot and must not be an acceptable risk and loss in war.
What is the alternative? Well, I admit that here is where my knowledge runs short. Unfortunately our modern world has become so used to the idea that violence is the quickest, easiest, and only cure for social ill, even I have a hard time coming up with an alternative. Jim Rice the editor of Sojourner Magazine has a piece entitle 'New War in the Middle East' in which he discusses non-violent options. You have to sign in to read the piece, but it costs nothing and only takes a minute and I highly recommend it to you.
Stubbornly though I hang on to my main point. Regardless of my own lack of a viable option, as Christians we must take an ethical stand against violence as an acceptable social method. We may not have any great ideas or answers, but to fall back upon violence and the destruction of human life as the only answer never lifts up the best of humanity, it only sinks to the least of who and what we are. It does not honor the Imago Dee in ourselves or 'the other,' and therefore we need to wean ourselves from this addiction to violence. That recovery program 'Violence Anonymous' will be painful, but so is it painful to read about the stacks of bodies that are building up in the hospitals in Lebanon, bodies of children. How much more painful to be the mother or father who must claim their now dead child.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

American Baptist Ethics

Yesterday I received word of a new statement by Rev. Dr. Roy Medley the General Secretary of ABCUSA. It is a call for American Baptists to live lives of high moral and ethical standards. Sounds good right??? I got excited!!! Dr. Medley then goes on to whack at the favorite dead horse of the mainline church, homosexuality. Here is a brief quote; 'while not the most important discipleship issue in the New Testament, nor our highest priority of ministry lest we focus on one set of sins above others that afflict us such as racism, greed, sexism and gluttony, nonetheless, sexual concerns increasingly dominate our attention (Romans 1:28). We live in a culture obsessed with sex. We see evidenc of sexual abuse every day. We are stunned at the reports of sexual impropriety by persons in caring professions (1Corinthians 6:18). Many persons have been victims of these abuses. The result is an environment of deep suspicion regarding the sexual integrity of persons in authority. In this context, the matter of homosexual practices continues to divide American Baptists.' You can view the full letter at

I sent Dr. Medley a response. First and foremost I take issue with the context in which Medley places GLBT lives, the context of abuse and impropriety. Dr. Medley is at least suggesting that GLBT persons are to be categorized with rapists, child molesters and pastors who abuse members of their congregations and nothing could be more wrong. People who are GLBT are not acting out in anger, violence, or coercion of others as are those who abuse and attack women or children. Homosexualtiy is a relationship between two equals, two consenting adults who are expressing a deep emotional connection. Some may not approve of this expression, but that disapproval should not and cannot be couched in terms of abuse. The two, abuse and homosexuality are exclusive, the first about violence, the second about love.

Second I take issue with Dr. Medley's suggestion that his interpretation is the only viable one for Christians. While a respectfully disagree with Dr. Medley's interpretation about homosexuality I afford him every right to believe the way he does. That being said, as Baptists we stand on the foundations of religious Liberty and Soul Freedom. The idea of Soul Liberty states that every person is gifted by God with the ability and the right to interpret and apply scripture under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. While this should be done in the context of a believing community (the church) that does not give the church the right to dictate belief to the individual. religious Liberty states that all individuals have the God given right to respond to God as they see fit. In his clumsy use of 'proof-texting' Medley has suggested that there is only one way to interpret the Bible on the issue of homosexuality. There are many faithful Christians and knowledgeable scholars who have different interpretations of the Bible regarding this issue and although we may not agree, as Baptists we are to afford all the right to their interpretation of the scripture.

Third and finally I took issue with Dr. Medley's call to ethics. Yes, we should take ethical stands. Let's take important ethical stands as did Jesus. Jesus took a stand for openness and inclusion of all genders and ethnic groups. Lets take a stand on the subtle racism that treats undocumented workers as second-class humans, and that see inordinate numbers of persons of color in the prison system. Jesus took a stand for economic equality. Lets take a stand against poverty, the cost of oil, the cost of health care, the way American's choose to spend their money, the lack of foreign aid to Africa for the AIDS epidemic. Jesus took a stand for the hungry. Lets take that stand. Jesus took a stand against violence. Lets take a stand against the treatment of detainee's in Gitmo or the war in Iraq. These are ethical stands. Jesus never preached about homosexuality and rarely about sexual ethics. What Jesus said about sexual ethics is important, but Jesus talked a lot more about economics that sex... Why don't we do the same.

We need to raise the level of discourse in the American Baptist Churches, a level of discourse that addresses real issues, like homelessness, poverty and violence among nations and in our homes. Dr. Medley had a chance to do that and failed. I hope and pray that he will try again and next time take an important stand. I firmly believe that if/when churches take stands and offer guidance to families about these issues, they will want to come to our churches.

Bush's Life Ethic

"I made [it] very clear to the Congress that the use of federal money, taxpayers' money, to promote science which destroys life in order to save life, I'm against that," Bush told reporters. "Therefore if the bill does that, I will veto it." I found this quote of President Bush on CNN. Since much has been made of President Bush's 'faith' I thought it might be important to place this quote in the context of some of his other decisions regarding Life Ethic issues.

First let me say that I do not pretend to be an expert on the theological implications of bio-technology. I do lean toward being sympathetic with President Bush and the Catholic Church on the issue of stem cell research because I fear the commodification of human embryo's. Although embryo's are not a 'viable life,' in my opinion we do know what these embryo's have the potential to become given the chance...Human. It is a slippery slope in my opinion, when humanity, even potential humanity is treated as technology to be developed, used, bought and sold, even for 'good' reason. Although stem cell research is a far, far, far, cry from the enslavement of Israel in Egypt... There is a connection, the use of human life for technological advancement and the good of all. Both are using human being (potential human beings) as objects. This is not a clear and simple argument I know, which is why I say I lean. I'm still trying to learn and think about this issue.

But, to the point. According to the quote above part of President Bush's Life Ethic is to be against, '[destroying] life in order to save life.' He is making an appeal then, to the sanctity of all human life. Theologically he is making an appeal to the Imago Dei, the Image of God that every human is created in; Gen 1:26-28Then God said, "Let us make man in our image , in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground."
So God created man in his own image,in the image of God he created him;male and female he created them.
God blessed them and said to them, "Be fruitful and increase in number

The question is however, how consistently has Bush applied this ethic, that all human life is to be respected and preserved, that destroying life is not an option for saving life?

according to article about Sister Helen Prejean while George W. Bush was the governor of Texas he presided over 152 executions, which according to Prejean was more than any other governor in recent U.S. History. My understanding of the point of capital punishment is to ensure and preserve the safety of society by ridding that society of a dangerous and violent criminal. It is not an argument I personally buy and it goes directly against Bush's purported 'Life Ethic.' It is the destruction of one life to save others. Not only does capital punishment fly in the face of Imago De, that all humans even violent criminals are created in the image of God, it flies in the face of the N.T. ethic of reconciliation, and forgiveness. (I am not saying let them loose to continue the violence. Violent murderers, rapists and molesters need to be kept separate yes, but their life is still a gift of God that none should take away. 'Not even the wise can see all ends' Gandalf says to Frodo...) So while President Bush takes are hard line with Stem Cell research in preserving the sanctity of life, his ethic is completely reversed when it comes to capital punishment.

What about Gitmo? According to extensive reports by Amnesty International the 'illegal combatants" (is that the right word since prisoner of war would mean that we have to abide by the Geneva Convention?) have been subjected to loud music, bright lights, forced nudity and any other number of humiliating and degrading treatments. They are regularly denied exercise often locked-down for 24hour stretches and they are denied legal rights such as representation. How would President Bush's Life Ethic apply here? Well, they aren't being killed, (although some commit suicide.) But if Imago Dei is the governing thought, how is torture and humiliation honoring the Image of God in these prisoners?
They have lost the right to be treated as human some might say.
I refer you to Jonah 3:10-4:4
When God saw what they did and how they turned from their evil ways, he had compassion and did not bring upon them the destruction he had threatened.
But Jonah was greatly displeased and became angry. He prayed to the LORD, "O LORD, is this not what I said when I was still at home? That is why I was so quick to flee to Tarshish. I knew that you are a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abounding in love, a God who relents from sending calamity. Now, O LORD, take away my life, for it is better for me to die than to live."
But the LORD replied, "Have you any right to be angry?"

Jonah does not want to forgive the people of Ninevah their violence against his people. They are beyond the pale of God's compassion in Jonah's mind. But not beyond the pale for God. Now one could argue the detail, they did repent and ask forgiveness. I feel that the ethic remains the same... God's love for the Ninevites and honoring of his own image in them, was the governing ethic... None are beyond the pale of God's compassion.
The same ethic is told in the story of the 'golden calf' in Exodus 32. The people have made an idol of gold to worship after being freed from Egypt by God. God wants to destroy them, but relents at Moses' intervention, begging for mercy. God forgives even before they have asked forgiveness. For God destruction is not the answer, even when dealing with the violent and injust in Ninevah, or the disobedient in the desert.
Once again, President Bush's life ethic is inconsistent; in its application and in keeping with the Bible. We can 'destroy' the lives of these prisoners in order to save the lives of Americans.

Finally, the war in Iraq. If we are in this war to bring freedom and democracy to the nation (which I do not believe. We went because of imminent danger posed by WMD's which were never found or substantiated,) Then once again we are destroying life in order to save life. According to my research U.S. casualties have reached 2,554 dead and 18,988 wounded in the current conflict. Estimates of Iraqi casualties conservatively reach 39,250 according to one source. Must I say more? Why is President Bush so staunch on the sanctity of the potential life of stem cells and yet the great numbers of actualized lives that are ended and/or maimed are treated so cavalierly? If presidents Bush's ethic is not to destroy life in order to save life, how can we fight this war? Look at all those who have died to bring 'freedom and democracy' or to 'save us from imminent danger?'

Are there some times when Bush should be released from his reported Life Ethic? Yes. Just war theory gives Bush his out. When the nation is attacked. Iraq did not attack us. When we are in eminent danger. Where did those weapons get too? To fight a war just to bring democracy doesn't meet just war theory. Just war theory also asks the question of casualties. Will the victory justify the casualties? Will the end justify the means. Only you can look at the numbers and answer that question.

What is my point?
(1) Beware political God-talk by anyone Democrat, Republican, Cool Moose. Anyone can quote a hymn, invoke the Almighty, and talk about 'faith.' Anyone can take a stand one issue and I tend to agree with President Bush on the issue of stem cells. But look at all the issues. Tough stance on cells, weak stance on human rights for detainees, convicted criminals and the sanctity of the lives of our military men and women and the Iraqi people.
If the President were truly leading according to Christian morals and ethics, his decisions would be consistent, there would be a moratorium on capital punishment, the illegal detainees would be prisoners of war with human and legal rights, and we would not be in Iraq fighting this war, which simply does not meet just war criteria.

(2) We do need to carefully consider Stem cell research from an ethical and moral standpoint. this is difficult. But to look to politicians to provide clear leadership in this area will get us nowhere. President Bush's own ethical stance on the matter of Sanctity of Life waivers and is at best a situational ethic. We do need a clear ethical and moral path but that will come not from politicians, pundits, or even scientists themselves, but from people of faith.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Gospel or Garden, which do people need more?

I wrote this 'essay' last year at garden planting time. I thought it might be encouraging as we have planted again this year. It also reminds me that I need to put some time in with my hands in the dirt gospel.

Planting a Garden
One pastor said to me once, ‘I don’t know why my church puts so much time and energy into feeding a free breakfast to ‘those people.’ I wasn’t sure who ‘those people’ were. Hungry people I guess. ‘They need the gospel,’ he rambled on, ‘more than anything else.’ They need the gospel more than food. I didn’t know whether to find a nice big Bible and whack him with it, or just walk away. I just walked away feeling pretty good that I was a pastor who had flipped pancakes for the poor and the undocumented and the hung-over. I thought that was the gospel. More gospel than most sermons I’ve ever preached.
His comments reminded me of an old labor union hymn that mocked a song sung in many churches; ‘You will eat, by and by, in that glorious land in the sky, when you die.’ Is that what the church stood for I wondered to myself, go hungry now, happily singing of heaven, loudly singing for your soul so as to drown out the sound of your stomach rumbling and your hungry children crying? Is that the gospel? Cotton for our ears to block the pleas of the hungry, a gag for the tongues of the underpaid and the underfed?
What if the story of Jesus feeding the five thousand with a few slices of wonderbread and some fishsticks wasn’t meant to teach a new ritual to be practices or some deep truth about the afterlife or even God? What if Jesus just wanted us to actually feed take care of each other and call that gospel? ‘Feed my sheep’ Jesus says to Peter at the end of the Gospel of John. What if he wasn’t initiating an institution or creating a hierarchy? What if he didn’t mean feed them ideas or platitudes or a system of beliefs? What if he really did mean for us to start flipping pancakes on Saturday mornings, or stirring stew on Sunday afternoon (instead of watching TV)? What if he meant for us to raid our fridge now and again, not for a can of beans that has been there since 1963, but for some tuna or peanut butter or the bread box for a loaf of whole wheat bread?
I learned something new this week. I learned that all of the fancy theological terms I parroted from seminary, terms like disenfranchised, downtrodden, marginalized, terms that peppered my sermons didn’t really taste too flavorful on my tongue. They were oatmeal without brown sugar, not much meaning. I learned that my own judgment of that other pastor was pretty baseless because I thought different thoughts about what ‘gospel’ means, and had different ideas about what feeding the hungry meant (actually doing it) I hadn’t been. Actually doing it I mean. I had this epiphany while I was elbow deep in mulch, hands brown from newly turned soil, and soaking wet. My congregation invited me to help them plant a garden the produce of which will go to help feed the hungry in our community. I learned how little I knew of the gospel until I got my hands dirty. I learned how empty my sermons are until they are built upon an aching back and a sweaty face. I sowed the gospel this week with the very real seedlings of tomato, bean and squash plants. I learned who Jesus was in that garden because I saw him in the people who gave up a beautiful sunny Saturday to plant a garden. I was saved that moment because the gospel changed from words and ideas into action and labor. I found church without walls or organs or committees. Church was time and place of working to make life a little better, easier, more fair for someone else. I found Jesus, the gospel and church in a garden this week. Thank God.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

In the Sweet By and By

Attempted a sermon on 'Heaven' this past Sunday, but I don't think I did the concept of heaven (or the congregation for that matter) justice.
As of late I have been intrigued with the idea of re-thinking ideas, such as heaven, hell, Satan, the second coming. I haven't done much theologically with them partly because they were so prominently and for the most part (accept heaven) frighteningly portrayed in the church of my up-bringing. Also, any thought on these matters is largely conjecture as none of these items can be experienced and experimented with and is so totally subjective and theoretical.

The point I was trying to make with 'Heaven' was that 'Kingdom of Heaven' and 'Kingdom of God' both of which figured prominently into Jesus' teaching as recorded in the gospels, serve as the major binding and motivating vision for the early church. It was 'Heaven,' that empowered and inspired the early church (as portrayed in Acts) to serve, grow, sacrifice and spread the good news of Jesus the Christ. But their idea of heaven was (I believe) different from our own. Acknowledging that very little historically verifiable information can be gleaned from Acts, the story would have us believe that the early church was lead to great things by the Holy Spirit, by their hope and trust in the coming Kingdom. But I do not think that they thought of Heaven as 'the sweet by and by,' some place completely outside what N.T. Wright often calls, 'the space, time continuum.' Granted, God is separate from creation and utterly 'other than' what has been created. But,Kingdom of Heaven/God is not just about God. The Kingdom metaphor is built on other themes from the Hebrew scriptures; Eden, the perfect created embodiment of the God and creation intersecting; the Land, a place of interim intersecting of human and divine that will lead to the re-creation of Eden, (see the covenant with Abram; I will bless you.. And through you all nations will be blessed); Israel, the first step after 'land' of recreating the intersection of God and creation, a earthly kingdom that was intended to live and thrive under God's direction.
When Jesus says 'Kingdom of God/Heaven' I believe he is bringing all of this meaning to his own time and to explain his purpose. The ideal connection between God and creation, Jesus will both embody and arbitrate. Jesus will live and teach the life of safety, abundance, and purpose of 'the land,' and as the heir of David he will institute the new Israel. Kingdom language is not meant to either point us to 'the sweet by and by' as if this creation is unimportant to God, nor is it 'just' a symbol that forces us to think only of this creation. Kingdom of God/Heaven is the idea of the intersection of God and creation, the incarnation if you will, of God's will for creation at its inception in Eden. To forget heaven or just give the idea a passing nod, leaves us to look only at our own work, our own ability, to make the world a 'better place.' We are left to trust technology and economy and ourselves, and although we have done great things, some atrocious actions have been taken to make the world 'a better place.' Take the invention of T.N.T which lead to so many deaths in military usage, Zyclon-B, a poinsonous gas used by Germany in W.WII, created by a Jewish chemist to rid crops of raiding insects, not to mention nuclear power which largely goes to weaponry at this point. Technology, and our own dubious morals and limited foresight become substitutes for the heavenly, the transcendent. To look at heaven as only transcendent leaves us to abandon the beauty and the potential of what God has created. There is no investment in creating just societies, protecting the environment, working for lasting peace, if we are just going to jump from the sinking ship called earth. Kingdom language does not abandon creation, nor does it glorify it. Instead it honors and transforms it, makes it a temple, a sacred space in which Creator and Creation can be reconciled or atoned.
We need to think of Heaven and of the Kingdom, but in terms of
God's intimate presence with creation
God's gifts of safety, abundance and purpose for all creation
God's transcendence realized not far away from us, but with and among us (see Rev.)
in part now (through the church) in full someday!
That is the guiding vision
God Bless

Friday, July 14, 2006

We and I

Read a brief article in the latest Christian Century about changes proposed by the American Council of Bishops to the Liturgy of the Roman Catholic Church. What interested me most was the change at the recitation of the creed from 'We believe,' to 'I believe.' Strange I thought.
I don't like to pick on any denomination and pride myself on being the kind of Baptist that respects other beliefs, practices and traditions. In trying to get a clergy association started in my hometown I have had the best relationship with two local catholic priests. But changing We to I???

I am afraid that Christianity in America is already too individualistic and that may be largely in part due to Protestant even Baptist theological focus on personal salvation. Now Baptist have long focused on 'Soul Liberty' the right and responsibility of the individual to respond to God as they feel called. But I fear for the 'I' focus in worship. I once heard a person new to Christianity say, 'I get all I need from my small group. I don't know why I need worship.' Faith for this person was all about self, what do I get; how do I feel, what do I learn...
While Baptist do uphold the importance of the individual response to God we must keep that in tension with the purpose of the response. I am choosing on my own to be a part of the we, the family of God, the body of believers.

'I' faith misses the point of salvation, which is to empower the individual to live into the kingdom, the community of God. 'I' faith is only focused on self and not the community, not the renewal of all creation.

So please my Catholic brothers and sisters, don't loose the 'we.' Stick to 'we believe,' Not only for your sake, but for mine. In the end 'We believe' is the prayer that one day we will truly live as 'One Lord, one faith, one baptism...'

Thursday, July 13, 2006


This past Sunday I attempted a sermon on forgiveness and reconciliation and was struck by the difficulty of making sense of such a difficult topic. It is fairly apparent that Jesus expected his disciples to be aliens in this world by being forgiving of others; teaching them to pray for enemies, to be peacemakers, to forgive 70 x 7, and by making the forgiveness of our own debts to God contingent upon our forgiveness of others.

I didn't want to approach forgiveness in the fashion of C.S. Lewis whose basic thought was, as I understand it, that we forgive because we have been commanded to. If we are forgiving unkind words, a broken window, a scrape to the paint of the car... Commandment could very well work. But for bigger issues such as spousal abuse or the abuse of children by adults, murder, racial crimes of violence, genocide, commanded forgiveness just doesn't work.

In the end I'm afraid I made forgiveness sound very self-serving. My point was that we forgive so that we can become and remain our truest selves. I connect forgiveness to the first commandment's urge to have no other gods. If we cannot forgive we constantly live in an emotional, psychological and spiritual orbit around the wrong done to us and the wrong-doer. Our values, reactions, decisions are made in reference to that wrong. This is perfectly understandable from a psychological point of view especially in reference to trauma, and I am not judging that having had to forgive some traumas myself. My idea is that we forgive so that God remains the focus of our lives; what God wants for and expects of us is the star which marks our navigation, not the actions of another person. Forgiveness is the act of freeing ourselves from external influences so that we can keep God the god of our lives.

Some found this helpful... forgiveness as a way of connecting to God and becoming our true selves. Others felt that it was still too simplified a discussion of a difficult topic.

From a global view reconciliation is a necessary and this was Jesus perspective I think. Looking at the prevailing forces of rebellion and strife in Roman occupied Palestine and knowing that at least some of his fellow Jews help a militaristic view of the Messiah, when Jesus spoke of forgiveness, he was looking at genocide, ethnic cleansing, economic cruelty and bloody rebellion and attempting to lift up a different and better way to seek and find justice for his people.

How this translates to a mother who has lost her son to a drunk driver or a wife beaten by her husband, I still struggle to work out. That it is necessary to find peace somehow with a painful past in order to imagine a 'new Jerusalem' for our lives in God seems the ideal, but the practicality of that process still evades me.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Alien nation church?

Why Alien Nation Church?

I was raised in church, practically birthed in a pew. church was always home for me. But the state of popular American Christianity left me feeling like an outsider. I was raised to beleive that the universe was created in six literal days, that drinking alcohol, listening to 'secular music' watching movies, playing cards and dancing were great sins. That anyone who wasn't 'born again' was destined for hell, and that other denominations of Christians (Catholic, Methodist, Episcopalian, etc, might be dancing close to the line of damnation too, because they were Baptist. In other words I was taught to take a stand for my faith, but the stands that were taken didn't make sense to me. So I felt like, still feel sometimes like an alien.

Read the gospel of John and the book of Revelation however and disciples of Christ are meant to be aliens. In John 1:10 the writer says, 'He (Jesus) was in the world, and the world came into being through him; yet the world did not know him.' Jesus was alienated, born to a people alienated in their own land, by the Roman Empire. More properly the world was aliented from God. Later Jesus, before the crucifixion, will pray for the disciples (John 17:14) and say, ' the world has hated them because they do not belong to the world, just as I do not belong to the world.'

We are to be aliens of this world. Not judging aliens. I can't stand christians who run around complaining about everything and talking about how they can't wait to 'go to heaven.' We've been given this world and this life to enjoy and for a reason. To be resident aliens, to live God's way (what that is I'm still working out) not the 'world's way,' (that too, I am still working out).

So this little project is most likely a place for me to rant and rave and preach and vent, to myself. But hopefully it will also be a place for alien Christians to talk about what it really means to 'not belong to the world,' and to figure out what God expects of us while in this world.

My first suggestion, having just read of the SBC's latest 'stand' against alcohol, is that the American church often chooses foolish wind-mills to battle. Why take a stand against people who can reasonably and responsibly enjoy a good beer or scotch or bourbon? Take a stand to help recovering addicts? Absolutely! Take a stand for prohibition? Why? Take a stand for 10 commandment statues? Why? Take a stand for school prayer? Why? Gay marriage? Why? Let's be true aliens in this nation and take a stand against domestic abuse, the rising cost of housing (in Rhode Island), the war in Iraq, poverty... The list goes on.

What should Christians stand for... and against???