This has been a strange week. We got a pretty good snowstorm Monday night into Tuesday. The 8 or 10 inches of snow wasn’t that big of a deal, but the inch solid ice that covered everything was. Luckily we didn’t get anything near what they did south of us, but it made for a strange week. The preschool was closed at the church every day but one (Monday), meaning our schedule was completely off. Me being a not real scheduled guy meant I struggled through the entire week. I think I had a bit of depression lingering in too (probably still do). That’s a solid family trait so I’m sure it will come around from time to time. More than anything, I think it is an internal anxiety knowing how much our lives are about to change. Within the month now, we’ll have the baby. Been there, done it before . . . I think that brings more anxiety instead of putting it to bay. In any case, I haven’t gotten nearly what I wanted to get done this week (or probably should have). One of the biggest challenges in ministry is being totally at it alone (know what I mean here, I know God is here, but . . . well, you should get it). It’s one of the best parts of it – that side everyone envies, but seldom do those same people acknowledge the difficulty that lies there too. Seldom is there a “right” thing to do. There are several options – some good, others better, and a few wrong, but mostly, the onus is on me. That’s burden to carry. Haven’t carried it well this week.
Anyway, I noticed I have’t posted this week and I am trying to be regular. I appreciate everyone’s comments. I have had a couple positive interactions this week from folks that I have met here, furthering reassuring me that this blogging things isn’t a total waste of time 🙂 Due to the weather, I was not able to watch the next installment of the Truth Project. Our church finished with the project Sunday, and I need to go back and watch one episode on the state, one on America, and the final one on community. I’ll try to briefly (yeah right) comment about each of the three separately. It seems to have been good for many folks to see some critique of each of the vidoes (though I did miss a few).
I also finished the book Onward Christian Soldiers: Freeing the Gospel from Political Captivity by Charles Marsh. Wasn’t my favorite book in the world, and I’m not sure I’d recommend it, but there were a few places where I thought it was great. He just skipped around and the logic of the book was a little tough for me to follow.
In this book Marsh offers a stinging criticism of evangelicals in this country and the way they have sold out the Gospel for political power. I don’t have time to offer a review of the book, but I’ll say that it was a solid work and offered critique consistent with other books I have reviewed (see Jesus for President, The Myth of A Christian Nation, Mere Discipleship, et at.) This book differed slightly in that he took on the evangelical priaise for George W. Bush a little more directly. For Marsh, Bush’s election marked the pinnacle of evangelicalism’s selling out for political gain. He offers direct criticism of Bush’s claimed evangelical faith (it was a little uncomfortable to read him being critical of another’s faith, but I think he proceeded cautiously, and offered rationale for doing so).
For me, the real profit of this work came in Marsh’s second to last chapter on “Passing the International Test.” I found it incredibly moving and convicting to see how incredibly America-centric evangelicals in this nation have become. His argument culminates with the inclusion of five pages worth of statements from faith communities around the world standing in opposition to the U.S. invasion of Iraq. Brazil, International Movement of Catholic Students, the church of England, Germany, the conference of European Churches, Ghana, the Greek Orthodox Church of Alexandria and all Africa . . . and on and on . . . groups, churches, brothers and sisters, who opposed the invasion. And yet, at the height of the invasion, the approval rating for going through with the invasion among evangelicals was an incredible 70 or 80 percent. How could they not consider these voices?
Whatever you think about the war, Marsh offers a challenge for you to see the actions of our nation (this war most specifically) through the eyes of the church of the world – something that I know is sorely missing in my church, in my personal faith, and every faith community I’ve ever been part of. I must realize that I have more in common with the persecuted believer in Djibouti, than I do with my neighbor who votes the way that I do and who likes the same sports teams. That is an important first step forward in our discussions of faith and politics.