Forget the Commas

This column also ran on UPI’s Religion and Spirituality Forum.

The following column is a sermon that I preached on August 13 at the ordination of my friend Geoff Browning. The texts for the sermon are Micah 6:6-8 and Matthew 5: 13-16.

Women and men of the cloth are known to preach out against all kinds of sinfulness, both real and imagined. I’ve heard sermons that admonished against chewing tobacco, playing Dungeons and Dragons, and dancing the hustle. Some members of the clergy use the pulpit as a hedge against bad theology—saving the members of their flock from falling into a sure perdition for giving an inaccurate accounting of when Jesus shall return with both barrels of the predestination shotgun blazing with hell’s fury.

Not me. This evening I’m going to preach out against the comma, that lowly punctuation mark with the power to clarify and to confuse. Continue reading

Religion and Global Warming: A Wager

This column also ran on UPI’s Religion and Spirituality Forum.

Sometime this fall, HarperCollins’ imprint, HarperOne, will be releasing a “Green Bible,” in which all of the scriptural passages that speak to the Christian responsibility to care for creation will be printed in green letters. Also bound between the eco-friendly covers of this Bible will be several essays and a couple of poems by great Christian thinkers such as St. Francis, Desmond Tutu, and Wendell Berry.

Last week HarperOne interviewed me for a short video that will be used as part of its advance publicity for the Green Bible.  During the interview I had to answer questions about the connection between faith and environmentalism, and for the most part, I think I gave responses worthy of my being the pastor of one of the most intentionally and publicly green Presbyterian congregations in the United States (and perhaps the world).

On one question, however, I think I stumbled: “why,” the interviewer asked, “should Christians care about global warming?” For an answer I sort of mumbled through what I hoped would make for a good sound byte, something about global warming being an issue in which care for the earth and care for humanity intersect. It’s not a bad answer, but my thoughts about global warming are a little more complex than the answer I gave. Continue reading