The Stewardship of Marriage

This is the homily I preached at the wedding of Christine Letcher and Julia McDonald on August 19, 2006 on the brides’ farm in Leeds, Maine.

Christine and Julia, I must begin my remarks by thanking you for the honor you have given me by inviting me to be part of this ceremony. This is a beautiful place, you are beautiful people, and you are standing in the presence of a beautiful congregation. It makes me happy and somewhat humbled to be in the presence of such beauty.

The two of you were kind and good enough to ask me to talk a little bit about marriage, and I want to do that by using your Farm, this place, as a sacred text, because I believe that Farms are a good and helpful metaphor for marriage. Continue reading

'Faithless!' – Battle Cry of the Religious Right

This column was published by UPI’s Religion and Spirituality Forum on August 21, 2006 

“WAKE UP CALL! Christianity in America won’t survive another decade, unless we do something now!” This is according to a bit of junk mail that recently crossed my desk. Billing itself “a call to arms,” the flyer asked Christian “Generals” (presumably pastors like me) to unite, heeding the battle cry by paying good money to attend one of several meetings organized by a traveling road show of prominent evangelical speakers alarmed by the dwindling number of youth projected to be evangelical adults in the not too distant future.

According to the flyer, a study has suggested that only four percent of what it calls “this generation” will grow into evangelical adulthood, as compared to the current crop of evangelical adults, who claim a full 34 percent of America’s grownup population.

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A conspiratorial plank in the eye

This column was published by the UPI Religion and Spirituality Forum on August 14, 2006

On June 22, The Pew Global Attitudes Project published the results of an extensive study called The Great Divide: How Westerners and Muslims View Each Other. One of the poll’s findings, which the study’s authors called “striking,” is that significant portions of the Muslim world believe the Bush Administration, the government of Israel, or both, conspired to carry out the September 11 attacks.

A few commentators, including Daniel Pipes have suggested that this proclivity to believe outlandish conspiracy theories is evidence of how different are the Muslim and non-Muslim worlds, but the results of another study conducted in July, suggest that a tendency to lend credence to bizarre beliefs about what happened on September 11 is something that the Muslim and non-Muslim worlds have in common.
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A Prayer For Peace

The following prayer comes from Marthame and Elizabeth Sanders of Salt Films. Marthame and Elizabeth are former Presbyterian missionaries to the West Bank. I hope you will join me in praying in a similar way.

We see Hezbollah move to consolidate their regional influence by inciting Israel, and manipulating the resulting death and destruction for their anti-Israel, religious extremist agenda.
Lord God, may it stop.

We see Israel’s disproportionate and indiscriminate military actions, meting out devastation without regard for civilian life or civilian infrastructure.
Lord God, may it stop.

We see our own government’s failure to mediate, refusing to speak to enemies, enemies whom Christ calls us to love and pray for.
Lord God, may it stop.

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Creativity and a World Without Oil

I was raised behind the Redwood Curtain on California’s Mendocino Coast. It is a beautiful bit of creation, tucked there on the edge of the continent, an extraordinary meeting of land and sea, a place of tall cliffs, rocky beaches, wind, and fog.

It’s a hard place to reach by car, and car is the only way to get there. The nearest freeways are more than an hour inland by curvy, two-lane mountain roads that wend their way through vineyards, orchards, and redwood forest. Growing up I had friends who never left the coast without suffering violent bouts of carsickness.

It is difficult to imagine that a place as remote has my childhood home would have any connection to the recent violence in the Middle East, but the Mendocino Coast is a place where huge oil reserves lie beneath the ocean floor. Oil companies have long coveted the offshore oil reserves, and given the ongoing violence in the Middle East as the United States continues its quest to secure its foreign oil supply, many folks are looking at the oil buried off the Mendocino Coast with renewed interest driven by the hope that Americans might one day have an oil supply that needn’t be defended with violence.

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