A Pastor’s Plea: Choose Hope

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

It’s ten minutes before worship on a Sunday morning. I’m fussing with my Geneva tabs, zipping my robe, double-, no, triple-checking to make sure my reading glasses are in my breast pocket, and the phone on my office desk rings. I know I shouldn’t—for years now my wife’s been trying to train me to ignore ringing phones—but I pick it up anyway.

Foothill Presbyterian Church,” says I.

“Daniel! Did you get this crazy mailer?” It’s my friend, John, the pastor over at the neighborhood Methodist church, who should be getting ready for worship himself.

He doesn’t have to describe the envelope in question. The same packet—testimony to the weirdness of this election’s waning days—arrived in the Saturday afternoon post and was waiting on my desk when I arrived at church.
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Proposition 8: Evidence of Change

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

Talk about change.

When Californians go to the polls in a little more than a week we’ll be voting on one bit of change that is more than just a presidential campaign’s hopeful rhetoric. If things go the way I hope they will (and some polls suggest they may), voters in the Golden State will reject a ballot measure—Proposition 8—which calls for a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage.
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Colin Powell Does and Says the Right Thing

Colin Powell has endorsed Barack Obama. Of course, I’m thrilled when anyone throws their support behind the man I want to move into the White House next January, but in my mind what sets this endorsement apart is the way he addresses McCain’s negativity and especially what he had to say about Islam and about American Muslims.

Cultural Jihad*: Nothing to Fear

*A note on the use of the word “jihad”: “jihad” means something like “faithful struggle.” For Muslims, “jihad” is a positive word unassociated with terrorism or violence of any kind. In this column I use the word as it is misused by many non-Muslims, that is, as a synonym for holy war, especially when such war is directed at the West. I’ve done this because I don’t know how to talk about the concept of “cultural ‘jihad'”–a figment of paranoid non-Muslim imagination–without using the awkward name given to the phenomenon.

So a pastor, a rabbi and an imam walk into a crowded, fancy hotel ballroom in California’s Silicon Valley…

Each clergyman says a few inspirational words and offers a prayer of invocation. The men of the cloth then embrace and seven hundred folks in the room clap and cheer because the three of them— the pastor in his faux-linen dog collar, the rabbi in his crocheted yarmulke, and the imam in white robes beneath an ankle-length gabardine overcoat— present a compelling image, a brief reminder that options beyond antagonism are readily available for the spiritual heirs of Abraham.
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Green Bible

So in case you’re wondering what I look like when I’m not wearing a bow tie, check out this video pitching “The Green Bible,” which soon will be released by HarperOne in San Francisco. I’ve had a chance to preview the Green Bible, and I have to say, it is an edition of the Bible whose time has come. I hope you’ll watch the whole video, but if you just want to see my ten seconds of fame, I start at 2:18.

More Patriotic than a Lapel Pin

In a recent comment on an old column a reader of this blog suggested that the Obama camp was subverting the election process by registering voters and encouraging them to vote early while campaigning on college campuses in Ohio. I disagree. I’m grateful for every new voter registered, and I don’t care who does the registering or what motivates them to sign people up for the democratic process.

Each election my church hosts a poling precinct and I’m always moved when I see the community come together to vote, especially when, during general elections, the line to vote snakes past my office window.

So go vote. As acts of patriotism go, it’s far more important than, say, wearing a flag lapel pin or smacking a “power of pride” bumper sticker on your Chevy. And if you need motivation to vote (or if you need to feel good about the fact that you always vote, even when the only things on the ballot are a municipal bond measure and candidates for the water district board) then please, watch this video (unless you’re offended by the occasional f-bomb, in which case, don’t watch the video, but please vote).

Thanks to my dear friend Michael Tullis for turning me on to this video.