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Religious institutions are ruled by the morally bankrupt –
but we need them, if they would just do what they need to do
Chris Hedges, son of a Presbyterian minister and
himself seminary-trained, is well equipped to offer sharp
criticisms of religion and religious institutions. A Pulitzer
Prize-winning reporter, he is a senior fellow at the Nation
Institute and writes a regular column for TruthDig every Monday.
His latest book is Empire of Illusion: The End of Literacy
and the Triumph of Spectacle.
He begins this essay:
It is hard to muster much sympathy over
the implosion of the Catholic Church, traditional Protestant
denominations or Jewish synagogues. These institutions were
passive as the Christian right, which peddles magical
thinking and a Jesus-as-warrior philosophy, hijacked the
language and iconography of traditional Christianity. They
have busied themselves with the boutique activism of the
culture wars. They have failed to unequivocally denounce
unfettered capitalism, globalization and pre-emptive war.
The obsession with personal piety and “How-is-it-with-me?”
spirituality that permeates most congregations is
narcissism. And while the Protestant church and reformed
Judaism have not replicated the perfidiousness of the
Catholic bishops, who protect child-molesting priests, they
have little to say in an age when we desperately need moral
But he eventually concludes that we need
religion, no matter how dangerous it may be, for without it we
fall easy prey to a vapid secularism and materialism – the world
that Nietzsche worried about:
We live in the age of the Übermensch who
rejects the sentimental tenets of traditional religion. The
Übermensch creates his own morality based on human
instincts, drive and will. We worship the “will to power”
and think we have gone “beyond good and evil.” We spurn
virtue. We think we have the moral fortitude and wisdom to
create our own moral code. The high priests of our new
religion run Wall Street, the Pentagon and the corporate
state. They flood our airwaves with the tawdry and the
salacious. They, too, promise a utopia. They redefine truth,
beauty, morality, desire and goodness. And we imbibe their
poison as blind followers once imbibed the poison of the
Could we hear this as a passionate call for
the church – like, maybe our PC(USA) – to care to stand up and
do its job? Not to save the church, but to save the world.
The full essay >>
Also on AlterNet
Thanks to Elizabeth Sarfaty
For people who as followers
of Jesus want to change the world, here’s some sober, creative,
and promising guidance
To Change the
World: The Irony, Tragedy, and Possibility of Christianity in
the Late Modern World, by James Davison Hunter
The Amazon.com review:
The call to make the world a better place is
inherent in the Christian belief and practice. But why have
efforts to change the world by Christians so often failed or
gone tragically awry? And how might Christians in the 21st
century live in ways that have integrity with their traditions
and are more truly transformative? In To Change the World,
James Davison Hunter offers persuasive – and provocative –
answers to these questions.
Hunter begins with a penetrating appraisal of
the most popular models of world-changing among Christians
today, highlighting the ways they are inherently flawed and
therefore incapable of generating the change to which they
aspire. Because change implies power, all Christians eventually
embrace strategies of political engagement. Hunter offers a
trenchant critique of the political theologies of the Christian
Right and Left and the Neo-Anabaptists, taking on many respected
leaders, from Charles W. Colson to Jim Wallis and Stanley
Hauerwas. Hunter argues that all too often these political
theologies worsen the very problems they are designed to solve.
What is really needed is a different paradigm of Christian
engagement with the world, one that Hunter calls "faithful
presence" – an ideal of Christian practice that is not only
individual but institutional; a model that plays out not only in
all relationships but in our work and all spheres of social
life. He offers real life examples, large and small, of what can
be accomplished through the practice of "faithful presence."
Such practices will be more fruitful, Hunter argues, more
exemplary, and more deeply transfiguring than any more overtly
ambitious attempts can ever be.
Written with keen insight, deep faith, and
profound historical grasp, To Change the World will
forever change the way Christians view and talk about their role
in the modern world.
For other reviews, and an interview with the
Read the Bible with a newspaper in the other hand? No,
something more is needed, says retired Presbyterian pastor
Robert A. McKenzie, in his book of reminiscences,
comments on a famous dictum:
Karl Barth, the great Swiss theologian,
said that Christians need to read the Bible in one hand and
a newspaper in the other. He had it wrong. Newspapers, I
discovered, are apologists for the world's power brokers.
To read the Bible aright we have to get
behind the newspapers to the stories told by the poor and
oppressed because the newspapers, not to mention governments
or business or even much of the church, have no interest in
the stories of the poor. But when I read the Bible from the
perspective of the stories recited by the poor, I invariably
find a perfect correspondence. Indeed, it is the poor
themselves who make that correlation.
It's on pages 358-59 of Life Keeps Coming
At Me: A Son of the Soil Takes Root in Berkeley (1st Books
Library, 2003). The statement is more applicable today than at
the time of its publication.
While the book has much personal and family
information, it also tells the important story of how a North
Dakotan who voted for Nixon in 1960 became a "Sixties radical"
on the basis of his experiences in Berkeley (where he was pastor
at St. John's Presbyterian Church from the Sixties to the
Eighties) and in Central America.
You can order through Amazon >>>>>
Thanks to Gene TeSelle
Collaboration for Social Justice
Mauk, Westminster Librarian
A new book,
Journeys into Justice: Religious Collaboratives Working for Social
Transformation, by Westminster Church [and Witherspoon]
member Nile Harper, explores ten successful religious collaboratives
to discover the ways in which they changed public policies and
social systems to greatly improve the lives of thousands of people.
This is a book of hope based on experience.
What is a religious collaborative? Harper defines
it as an organization of organizations rooted in religious values.
It builds mutual trust and the sharing of human and financial
resources. It is characterized by commitment to long-term carefully
planned action to serve the common good. Collaboration has existed
in various forms through much of human history. But now in the midst
of present-day social-economic-political crises that give rise to a
widespread sense of personal powerlessness, collaboration is rising
as an effective form of organization to deal with pressing issues
that affect so many people.
Journeys into Justice documents how ten
religious collaboratives dealt creatively with issues of affordable
housing, economic development, juvenile justice, family empowerment,
worker justice, a living wage, immigration, the care of creation,
and the promotion of civic leadership. Dr. Harper draws together the
rich experience of local, regional, and national level
collaboratives working in a variety of different settings. The final
section of the book focuses on putting ideas into action. It
provides resource materials for creating new collaboratives and
strengthening existing ones.
Dr. Walter Brueggemann says about the book, “This
is an enormously important book coming just at the right time as our
society moves toward new public possibilities for social justice.”
Dr. Clifton Kirkpatrick, former Stated Clerk of
the Presbyterian Church (USA) and now President of the World
Alliance of Reformed Churches, says, “I recommend this very readable
book for all whose spiritual and social quest leads them to seek a
more just and peaceful world.”
The book is available online at
Thanks to Westminster Presbyterian Church, Minneapolis, MN, for this
labor justice? Here’s a new book worth
Bobo, founder and executive director of
Justice, publishes Wage Theft in America
TeSelle, a resident of Nashville, sends this recommendation:
Kim Bobo was
heard on an interview on National Public Radio on Thursday, May
18, talking about wage theft in its various forms. She was in
Nashville to celebrate a victory by car wash workers (not a
group that you usually associate with victories). They had filed
a federal lawsuit against Shur-Brite Hi-Speed Carwash, which
recently signed a consent decree repaying them lost wages and
giving them a break room, first aid equipment, and labeling or
Another report from Nashville Public Radio >>
Here’s a brief sketch
of the book, from the
In what has been
described as “the crime wave no one talks about,” wages are
stolen from millions of workers in the United States ever year.
Between two and three million workers are paid less than the
minimum wage. More than three million are misclassified by their
employers as independent contractors when they are really
employees, allowing employers to shirk their share of payroll
taxes and to illegally deny workers overtime pay. Even the
Economic Policy Foundation, a business- funded think tank,
estimated that companies annually steal 19 billion dollars in
unpaid overtime. The scope of these abuses is staggering, and in
response, activists, unions, and policymakers are beginning to
take notice. Nationally-recognized social justice activist Kim Bobo’s Wage Theft in America is an incisive handbook for
activists, organizers, workers, and concerned citizens on how to
prevent the flagrant exploitation of America’s working people.
Bobo offers a sweeping analysis of the crisis, citing
hard-hitting statistics and heartbreaking first-person accounts
of exploitation at the hands of employers. She then offers
concrete solutions, with special attention to what a new
Presidential administration can do to address one of the gravest
issues facing workers in the 21st-century.
Senator Edward M.
Kennedy commends the book, writing:
“Kim Bobo has written an
excellent and informative book on one of the most pressing issues
facing millions of hardworking Americans. She offers bold,
practical, and progressive solutions for how policymakers and
advocates can end the growing crisis of wage theft in America.”
More on the book >>
|Hugo Chávez’ gift to Obama is worth our attention
When Venezuelan president Hugo Chávez, on his first
meeting with U.S. president Barack Obama, presented him with a book
about Latin American history, U.S. reports expressed some sense of
offense and some puzzlement, but people who know the book see it as
“a brilliant idea” of a gift, to quote Richard Gott, writing for
Gott opens his article:
Some surprise has been expressed in the Anglo-Saxon world that
should have presented a book to Barack Obama by Eduardo Galeano.
Ignorance can be the only defence, the very fault that the had
earlier accused his US counterpart of suffering from. For Galeano is
one of the most well-known and celebrated writers in Latin America,
up there with Gabriel García Márquez, and his huge output of fact
and fiction, as well as his journalism, has been published all over
the continent. His books have been continuously in print since the
1960s, read voraciously by successive generations.
was a brilliant idea of Chávez's to give Galeano's Open Veins of
Latin America to Obama, since this book, first published in
1971, encapsulates a radical version of the history of Latin America
with which most Latin Americans are familiar. Its subtitle, “Five
Centuries of the Pillage of a Continent,” gives a flavour of its
contents, which discuss the way in which Latin America has been
dominated and exploited by its European invaders (and later by US
corporations) for hundreds of years.
For the full essay >>
Kuhn and the Gray Panthers – for clues to dealing with such a
time as this
Witherspoon Issues Analyst, calls attention to a recent book by
Sanjek, entitled Gray Panthers. He writes as an
anthropologist, but also as a participant observer in the Gray
Panther movement during the 1970s and '80s. A long-time national
staff member of the Presbyterian Church, Kuhn was instrumental in
the founding and shaping of the Gray Panthers as an organization
advocating for the rights of "senior citizens," when that was a new
thing in U.S. society.
TeSelle notes that this book reminds us that the Panthers achieved
results in part because they refused to be a "single issue"
organization focused on the interests of the ageing -- but pointed
always toward a wider range of social justice issues.
Dr. Jack Rogers announces
the soon-to-be published second edition of Jesus, the Bible,
I am delighted to announce that today is the
official publication day for the updated and expanded second
edition of my book, Jesus, the Bible,
and Homosexuality: Explode the Myths, Heal the Church!
Amazon.com is still listing the publication
day as April 14 – but we think they are just doing that so that
folks will be pleasantly surprised when it arrives early! We
know that they are accepting pre-orders and that some people
have already received the book. You can pre-order the book on
The revised and expanded edition includes all
of the material from the first edition plus:
|A new preface with "stories from the
road" as a result of my two-year book tour in support of the
Updates on recent developments within the
Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.);
A new chapter that examines God's radical
welcome for all who have faith as revealed in Scripture;
A new appendix that maps the recent progress
toward lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT)
equality in major U.S. denominations; and
A study guide for group or personal
I hope the new edition will make a helpful
contribution to the conversation about equal rights in church
and society for people who are LGBT.
Many thanks to all who supported the first
edition over the past two years including everyone at
Westminster John Knox Press, the Human Rights Campaign, Covenant
Network of Presbyterians, More Light Presbyterians, That All May
Freely Serve, Witherspoon Society, Presbyterian Promise,
Presbyterian Welcome, GLAAD, PFLAG, Soulforce, allies in other
denominations, as well as families, pastors, co-workers,
friends, and congregation members who shared this book with
others. Together we are building a church for all God's people.
Peace and strength,
War: Do we hafta??
A book review by Arch Taylor
Beyond War: The Human Potential for Peace
by Douglas P. Fry (New York: Oxford, 2007)
The recorded history of humankind is replete
with stories of war and bloodshed. Consequently, most people
resignedly assume that making war must be a natural
characteristic of human nature, or at least of the masculine
half. The phrase, “man the warrior” has become shorthand to
express this generally accepted view.
Douglas P. Fry challenges that conclusion,
drawing on the evidence provided by careful research into the
evolutionary development of humankind. Modern Homo sapiens
has been in existence for at least 50,000 years, Homo
for over a million years prior to that, and earlier still
pre-hominids such as Australopithecines for even more millions.
During this great length of time our forebears lived in small,
nomadic hunter-gatherer groups characterized by egalitarianism
and generosity, and maintaining themselves by developing means
of limiting violence and keeping peace without resort to
warfare. This type of behavior has been verified in surviving
hunter-gatherer groups. When Europeans first settled Australia,
they found an estimated 750,000 aboriginals, none of whom knew
agriculture, but all living in typical small hunter-gatherer
groups in which warfare was a rarity. There was, indeed,
violence such as homicide and revenge killing, and cases where
small kinship groups engaged in violent retaliation or feud, but
this was always a matter of a few individuals acting against
known opponents on a personal basis.
Archaeological evidence, Fry finds, shows that
warfare is actually a very recent feature of human society,
having first occurred only about 10,000 years Before the Present
time (BP). Warfare in the proper sense appeared only with the
change from simple hunter-gatherer social organization to
sedentary, materially rich and socially stratified communities,
that is, after the agricultural revolution. The increase in
wealth and development of hierarchical social structures
provided the conditions under which warfare began to occur.
Fry adopts this definition of warfare properly
so called from Roy Prosterman, author of Surviving to 3000:
A group activity carried on by members of one
community against members of another community, in which it is
the primary purpose to inflict serious injury or death on
multiple nonspecified members of that other community.
A beneficial result of the more highly
organized social organization was, however, the discouragement
of self-redress on the part of individuals. Revenge killing and
family feuding gave way to the establishment of internal law and
order and the organization of police and courts to deal with
crime. Fry celebrates the human capacity to make such an
Unfortunately, as he notes, within the broader
community of nations, humankind is still stuck in the mode of
self-redress. He comments: “Within nations this transition from
seeking justice through self-redress to reliance on legal
institutions has been made repeatedly in human history, offering
hope that a similar transition is possible internationally. We
are faced with the challenge of bringing the sheriff and the
judge to the global Wild West.”
Fry remains optimistic, however, because of
his faith in evolution. Our developmental process has not
predestined us to constant warfare. Surely we have the capacity
to get beyond war. “Replacing war with alternative ways to
insure security and resolve conflicts is the only rational way
to proceed into the twenty-first century and beyond.”
Arch B. Taylor, 10-18-08
Locked Up: Letters and Papers of a Prisoner of Conscience
Imprisoned for six months in 2004 as a result of
his protest at the School of the Americas, Witherspoon member
Don Beisswenger offers a personal collection of journal entries,
letters, and spiritual reflections during his incarceration. The
book has unusual richness and concreteness as Beisswenger
narrates his encounters with prisoners, prison staff, and many
people on the "outside." In the process he offered a pastoral
presence and a prophetic challenge within the prison system. And
he also gives an account of his own spiritual growth and the
things that made prison life bearable. (from Witherspoon
Issues Analyst Gene TeSelle)
reports on his arrest and imprisonment, and his own reflections
His book is published by Upper Room Books,
with a list price of $15. ISBN: 083589939X
Jim Wallis publishes new book following up on God’s
Jim Wallis of Sojourners
gained wide attention three years ago for the religious
perspectives of the left, arguing that the right should have no
monopoly on spiritual and moral concerns in political life.
His new book, The Great Awakening: Reviving
Faith & Politics in a Post-Religious Right America, calls
for spiritual revival as the foundation for real social and
political change. A revival of faith, he argues, is the only
force big enough to take on the greatest challenges of our time:
senseless poverty, deadly pandemic diseases, alarming climate
change, massive violations of human rights, and the endless
cycle of terrorism and war.
Sojourners is again urging people to buy the
book now, in order to move it onto the New York Times’
best-seller list, thereby giving it a huge boost to a wider
audience. That happened with God’s Politics, and they
hope it will happen again.
You can read more about the book, and even
order it, by clicking on the Amazon.com box to the right, where
you'll save money, and your order will provide
a small (but important!) bit of support for The Witherspoon
Why the Conservative Turn in the Catholic Church?
And What Can We All Learn From It?
Gene TeSelle, Witherspoon’s Issues Analyst, reviews a recent
book of four thoughtful chapters, mostly by Jesuits, analyzing
efforts in the Catholic Church to deal with the changes
initiated by the Second Vatican Council (“Vatican II”) – largely
by backing away from them. The authors see the Catholic Church’s
conservative trends as efforts to restore a “healing balance” to
the tensions between continuity and change in the church – a
struggle which is familiar to us Presbyterians as well.
TeSelle focuses on three particular aspects of the church’s life
in recent decades, as examples of the difficulties in finding
that healing balance. First he considers how these tensions have
affected Catholic bishops around the world, many of whom
(especially in Latin America) have struggled with the tension
between engagement in progressive social movements, and
ecclesiastical resistance to such activities.
Second, he looks at efforts by Catholics, as members of one of
the most diverse organizations in the world, to deal with global
tensions ranging from the Cold War to the current struggles over
globalization. Nurturing the global community of the Catholic
Church in the midst of all these tensions presents great
And those challenges are sharpened by the third reality: the
growing secularization of nations and peoples around the world,
which often is represented as a threat of “cultural liberalism”
that denies deeply held Catholic values and weakens the
commitment of many Catholics to their tradition.
that understanding these struggles – the “major ruptures of our
time” – might be helpful to Presbyterians as well.
The book is Vatican II: Did Anything Happen?, edited by
David G. Schultenover.
The full essay -- and a link to order the book.
Witherspooner Ross Kinsler
publishes new book on theological education:
Diversified Theological Education:
Equipping All God’s People,
edited by Ross Kinsler [12-6-07]
Ross Kinsler is a Witherspoon member, has been a participant
in some of the Ghost Ranch Seminars co-sponsored by the
Witherspoon Society and the Presbyterian Peace Fellowship,
and has provided good material for this website before.
for Ross and his wife Gloria's thoughts on the Biblical
principle of Jubilee in relation to the increasingly
The central concern of Diversified Theological Education, which
includes Theological Education by Extension, is access. TEE and
DTE models have made enormous progress in the urgent task of
opening access to and equipping all God's people for ministry
and mission. This has many interrelated dimensions:
Geographical, economic, cultural, ecclesiastical, gender, race,
class, pedagogical, and spiritual access. The case studies in
this anthology come from Zambia, South Africa, Ghana, India,
Nepal, Australia, Costa Rica, Argentina, Guatemala, Canada,
United States, and Russia.
"One of the most creative and widespread
movements of theological education in our time has been
called Theological Education by Extension. . . .The case
studies offered here demonstrate ongoing creativity, so much
so that a new name is proposed in the title for this
anthology: Diversified Theological Education." —
Foreword by Archbishop Desmond Tutu |
"This book will be of great interest to all
those involved in theological education around the world. It
has to do with the relentless quest for the relevance of
theological education to the mission of the church in the
contemporary world." —
Sapsezian, former Director of the World Council of Churches'
Programme on Theological Education |
"Testimonies recorded in this book show how
TEE/DTE equips God's people for God's mission in the face of
globalization and new forms of empire." —
Mabuluki, Secretary, All Africa Theological Education by
Ross Kinsler was part of the team that developed TEE in
Guatemala in the early 1960s. Then he joined the staff of the
Programme on Theological Education of the WCC, where he was able
to follow the global development of TEE, which he documented in
the 1983 publication of Ministry by the People: Theological
Education by Extension. Later he joined the faculty of the
Latin American Biblical University in Costa Rica, which is
included in this anthology. He now lives in Southern California,
William Carey International University Press
1539 E. Howard St. Pasadena, CA 91104 USA
296 pp 5.5 x 8.5
Paperback USD $19.95
The New Road to Serfdom
Naomi Klein's The Shock Doctrine
Naomi Klein has recently published an ambitious history of
neoliberalism, The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster
Capitalism, which has attracted lots of attention recently
-- both pro and con.
Christopher Hayes, the Washington Editor of the Nation,
offers a thoughtful summary and commentary on the book,
on the In
These Times website.
summarizes it in one sentence: “The Shock Doctrine is an
encyclopedic catalog of the tactics that governments,
corporations and economists have used to impose— usually over
popular opposition—what Klein calls the ‘policy trinity’ of the
Chicago-School program: ‘the elimination of the public sphere,
total liberation for corporations and skeletal social spending.’
While appreciative of her argument, Hayes objects that she
over-works her “shock doctrine” metaphor, which she draws from a
series of “CIA-funded experiments undertaken by a sadistic
Canadian doctor in the ’50s. Subjects were shocked, against
their will, into states of highly suggestible infantilism, and
the results were enshrined in the CIA’s so-called ‘Kubark’
manual, which Klein alleges has become a handbook for American
interrogators during the war on terror.”
New book surveys theology’s dealing with Empire
News release from Fortress
Press, Minneapolis, October 19, 2007
The radically altered situation
today in religion, politics, and global communication -- what can broadly
be characterized as postmodern and postcolonial -- necessitates close
rereading of Christianity's classical sources, especially its
In a groundbreaking textbook
anthology from Fortress Press, Empire and The Christian Tradition:
New Readings of Classical Theologians, twenty-nine distinguished
scholars scrutinize the relationship between empire and Christianity
from Paul to the liberation theologians of our time.
The contributors discuss how the
classical theologians in different historical periods dealt with their
own contexts of empire and issues such as center and margin, divine
power and social domination, war and violence, gender hierarchy, and
displacement and diaspora. Each chapter provides insights and resources
drawn from the classical theological tradition to address the current
Empire and The Christian
Tradition is a unique textbook anthology ideal for classroom use.
Kwok Pui-Lan is William F. Cole Professor of
Christian Theology and Spirituality at Episcopal Divinity School.
Among her many publications are Discovering the Bible in the
Non-Biblical World (1995), Introducing Asian Feminist
Theology (2000), and Postcolonial Imagination and Feminist
Don H. Compier is founding Dean and Professor of
Theology at Community of Christ Seminary, Graceland University,
Independence, Missouri, and author of What Is Rhetorical
Theology? (1999) and John Calvin's Rhetorical Doctrine of Sin
Joerg Rieger is Professor
of Systematic Theology at Perkins School of Theology, Southern
Methodist University, Dallas. He is author of Remember the Poor
(1998), God and the Excluded (2001), and Christ and
Empire – looking beyond Christ and Culture
a book review by Gene TeSelle
There’s been much discussion these
days about "the new American Empire" and the need for Jesus’ followers
to stand against it as he stood against the imperial powers of his own
time. This new book looks at the relation between "Christ and empire"
with depth and a recognition of the always ambivalent relationships
between faith and political power.
For the book review
the Gates of Hell – new book takes a sharp look at globalization and
faith-based resistance to it
Globalization has been a matter of concern to the
Witherspoon Society for some years. It was a focus of much discussion at
the Ghost Ranch Week of Peace, and
will again be discussed at the coming
Witherspoon conference in
Louisville, Sept. 16-19.
Fortress Press, Minneapolis, provides this preview:
Surprisingly vehement demonstrations at meetings of
the World Trade Organization and International Monetary Fund have left
many observers perplexed: What is the problem?
In her new book, Shaking the Gates of Hell:
Faith-Led Resistance to Corporate Globalization, Sharon Delgado
provides an eye-opening look at corporate globalization and spiritually
motivated resistance to it.
Shaking the Gates of Hell astutely analyzes the
major threats facing humanity that are exacerbated by economic
globalization, provides an invaluable overview of the global economy and
its institutional functioning, and offers a powerful vision for
faith-led resistance and hope for transformation.
• Offers an incisive overview and theological analysis of the global
economic institutions and their effects
• Reveals the larger cultural and social import of globalization
• Reports the stories of nonviolent resistance to corporate
globalization and gives examples of sustainable alternatives
Global economic integration is harmful, maintains
Delgado, since it undermines spiritual and cultural values, threatens
local economies and mores, vitiates human rights, precipitates rapid
environmental decline, and leaves a string of economic victims in its
wake. Key to this process, she observes, are corporations. Shaking the
Gates of Hell proposes a way for people of faith to respond to the
growing power of corporations and their domination of the world's
cultures, governments, and global institutions, and to develop creative
Part One analyzes major threats facing humanity that
are exacerbated by economic globalization: loss of biodiversity, climate
change, toxic pollution, harmful technologies, growing inequity, social
disruption, violence, terror, and war.
Part Two provides an overview of the global economy
and adroitly sketches the structure, ideology, and functioning of
economic globalization and the institutional "Powers."
Part Three asks what people of faith can do about this
global crisis, and points to Jesus as one who demonstrates the power of
faith-led resistance and hope for transformation.
"Delgado will not prove to you that corporate globalization is the
Beast running amok. She will instead nail the destructive logic of
the Beast, and show the way out of the interlocking network of the
IMF, World Bank, and the WTO. Reflecting on her participation in
nonviolent direct resistance against these Powers, and describing
movements of global justice, such as they have emerged in Chiapas,
Cochabamba, Nigeria, Argentina, India, and Kenya, Delgado prepares
Christians for faith-led resistance as a way of life." -Carol S.
Robb, San Francisco Theological Seminary and Graduate Theological
Sharon Delgado is an ordained United Methodist minister and is founder
and executive director of Earth Justice Ministries. A longtime activist
and advocate for peace, justice, and the environment, she lives in
Nevada City, California.
Shaking the Gates of Hell: Faith-Led Resistance to Corporate
By Sharon Delgado
Format: 5.5" x 8.5", paperback, 172 pages
Price: $20.000/CAN $24.00
Publisher: Fortress Press
Release: August 30, 2007
To order Shaking the Gates of Hell please call Fortress Press at
1-800-328-4648 or visit the Web site at
Or you can order
Shaking the Gates of Hell
for $13.60 through the Witherspoon Society from
The Horrors We Bless: Rethinking the Just-War Legacy, by
Daniel C. Maguire, Fortress, 2007.
A book note from the Rev. Betty Hale, of Roxboro, NC
Daniel Maguire, who is Professor of Moral Theological
Ethics at Marquette University, aims "to challenge the seductive power
of war that so grips and hobbles our imaginations." A major cause, he
argues, is "Just-war" Theory. Its original purpose – to limit, control,
and even avoid warfare – now is commonly subverted to justify and
"baptize" it. The burden of proof intended to rest upon the warrior now
rests upon the conscientious objector.
Maguire has the gift of truth-telling in such a way
that you can see. Noting how we have sanitized the idea of war, Maguire
observes: "War can even be a form of armchair spectator entertainment.
It is acceptable for people to become 'Civil War buffs,' or
'Revolutionary War buffs.' If people were to announce themselves as
'prostitution buffs' or 'necrophilia buffs,' their perverted absorption
in such human disasters would raise eyebrows."
Rightly used, just-war theory would insist that
international force be deployed only "in a community context with
legal and internationally enforceable restrictions comparable to the
restraints we put upon our police." And Maguire has hope: "It is in
us to outgrow war. The formula is easy enough: put your main trust in
justice, not weapons, trust life-power more than kill-power, specialize
in diplomacy and imagination, not bludgeoning."
Grounds for hope abound: "Military power, even
'superpower' military power, is being embarrassed [by its failure to
assure peace], and examples of successful nonviolent modes of resistance
are multiplying." Maguire calls us to "the hard work of prophetic
citizenry," particularly during times like this post-9/11 period, when
"a White House spokesman noted that the president 'considers any
opposition to his policies to be no less than an act of treason.' "
Excellent for study groups: a good read, thoroughly
documented in history and the scriptures, inexpensive (mine was $7), and
concise – eighty-nine 4 x 7-inch packed and provocative pages.
Chalmers Johnson on his new book, "Nemesis: The Last Days of the American
In his new book, CIA analyst,
distinguished scholar, and best-selling author Chalmers Johnson argues
that US military and economic overreach may actually lead to the nation's
collapse as a constitutional republic. It's the last volume in his
Blowback trilogy, following the best-selling "Blowback" and "The Sorrows
of Empire." In those two, Johnson argued American clandestine and military
activity has led to un-intended, but direct disaster here in the United
In an interview with Amy Goodman, Johnson summarizes his
argument from the book.
Johnson says early in the hour that he is serious about
the subtitle of his book:
This is not just hype to sell books - "The Last Days
of the American Republic." I'm here concerned with a very real, concrete
problem in political analysis, namely that the political system of the
United States today, history tells us, is one of the most unstable
combinations there is - that is, domestic democracy and foreign empire -
that the choices are stark. A nation can be one or the other, a
democracy or an imperialist, but it can't be both. If it sticks to
imperialism, it will, like the old Roman Republic, on which so much of
our system was modeled, like the old Roman Republic, it will lose its
democracy to a domestic dictatorship.
Among the expressions of the new American empire he
discusses the growing number of US military bases (now reportedly 737
American military bases on every continent, in well over 130 countries),
and the great resentment those bases inspire; the use of the CIA as "the
president’s private army," and the militarization of space.
At the end of the interview, he laments the seemingly
inevitable and increasing reliance of the US on the "military-industrial
complex," about which Americans have been warned by leaders from George
Washington to Dwight Eisenhower. Amy Goodman asks whether he sees any
hope. Yes, he says – but only if we can "reconstitute the constitutional
system in America," which might happen only "by a mobilization of
[America’s] inattentive citizens."
The full text of
the interview >>
You can order the book from Amazon.com >>>>
A recent book offer tools for
reflection and action in a global economy
a Global Economy: Strategies for Home, Community, and World
Edited by Pamela K. Brubaker, Rebecca Todd Peters, Laura A. Stivers
Published by Westminster John Knox Press, July, 2006. List
Price: $19.95 (Paperback)
In addition to the editors, contributors include John B.
Cobb Jr., Wylin Dassie, Mary Elizabeth Hobgood, W. Anne Joh, Shannon Jung,
Daisy L. Machado, Marcia Allen Owens, Larry Rasmussen, and Carlton
Today’s complex social and economic problems leave many
people in the affluent world feeling either overwhelmed or ambivalent. Even
the small percentage of us who have examined the ethics behind our financial
decisions and overcome the often-deterring factors of self-interest rarely
know what to do to make any difference. By providing tools for examination
and concrete actions for individuals, communities, and society at large,
Justice in a Global Economy guides its readers through many of today’s
complex societal issues, including land use, immigration, corporate
accountability, and environmental and economic justice. Beginning with a
basic introduction to the impact of economic globalization, these ethicists
and theologians provide both critical assessments of the current
political-economic structures and examples of people and communities who are
actively working to transform society. Each chapter concludes with questions
for discussion and reflection.
If you have read this book and would
be willing to offer your comments,
or even a more complete review, we’d be happy to hear from you!
Just send a note.
A time to reflect on William Stacy
Johnson’s A Time to Embrace, and on same gender relationships
The first book to come from a member of
the recent Theological Task Force on the Peace, Unity and Purity of the
Church, has been written by William Stacy Johnson under the title A
Time to Embrace: Same-Gender Relationships in Religion, Law, and Politics.
Witherspoon Issues Analyst Gene TeSelle takes a thoughtful look at the
book, examining Johnson’s description of various attitudes that are being
promoted in dealing with same-gender relationships, pro and con.
TeSelle sees this typology of attitudes
as very useful, partly because of the breadth of Johnson’s exploration of
the different views. Further, he shows how Johnson arrives at his
conclusion that (in TeSelle’s words) "same-sex marriage is the only
approach that is truly just under U.S. legal principles." TeSelle agrees
with that conclusion, but then suggests that for the time being, it may be
strategically necessary to accept some compromises along the lines of
civil unions, until the American public gains enough awareness to affirm
The full review essay >>
George McGovern's new book focuses on war that has been a
Former South Dakota Sen. George
McGovern has recently published Out of Iraq, co-authored with Middle
East scholar William Polk. Their point is that "out of Iraq" is precisely
where the US needs to get. Soon. They argue that the war is doing such severe
damage to the United States – financially, psychologically, and in
undermining our basic values of idealism, democracy, tolerance, and decency
– that for our own sake, as well as for the well-being of the Iraqi people,
we should move quickly toward withdrawal.
And what do they propose?
They suggest that America should help fund and create an
effective national police force, along with helping to establish an
international force that would help police the country until the national
force takes shape. Some of the other steps would include the release of all
prisoners of war, and closing of all detention centers; support for a
national reconstruction corps; removal of all private security firms;
support for rebuilding, using Iraqi rather than American firms to do the
work; financial reparations to Iraqis for loss of life and property ... and
Read the review in the Missoulian >> Or you can order the book >>>>
Ex-GOP senator John Danforth says ‘good Christians’ can
be liberals, too [9-28-06]
Craig lives in western Kentucky, where being Christian and being
conservative Republican are pretty much the same thing. So he
appreciates a book by John Danforth, a retired U.S. Senator who says that
ain't necessarily so. Danforth is both Christian and Republican, but
says you can be both without being narrowly conservative.
Danforth's book is titled Faith and Politics: How the
"Moral Values" Debate Divides America and How to Move Forward Together.
his review >>
Theological Task Force member releases new book supporting
committed same-gender relationships
Stacy Johnson, professor of systematic theology at
Princeton Theological Seminary, and a former member of the Theological Task
Force on the Peace, Unity and Purity of the Church, has just released a book
entitled A Time to Embrace: Same-Gender Relationships in Religion, Law,
and Politics, in which he analyzes seven different ways that churches
have dealt with same-sex unions. His analysis leads him to offer
support of same-sex committed
relationships. You can look at the book, published by Eerdmans,
You can pre-order it on Amazon and save 34%
from the Eerdmans price.
For a brief
version of Johnson's analysis >>
An up-close look at
"Justice in a Global Economy"
just "out there" far away from us, but it certainly does seem to be an
overwhelming constellation of issues and problems, far beyond out reach.
This book offers a variety of materials dealing with globalization as it
impacts us in our daily lives, along with strategies for dealing with it
in our homes and communities, as well as in the public policy arena.
This should be a great resource for study and action in
provides a review of the book >>
Theologian puts questions about the 9/11 event in a deeper perspective –
and gives reasons for deeper concern
Christian Faith and the Truth Behind 9/11: A Call to Reflection
and Action, by David Ray Griffin
A book review by
Also -- Griffin book arouses opposition and support
Rita Nakashima Brock, in her regular
FaithVoices email, writes about
reactions to the book.
Read her comments >>
Middle Church – a new call for an alternative voice to the
Dr. Bob Edgar, the general secretary of the National
Council of the Churches of Christ and former six-term congressman, offers
a compelling call for people of faith to speak out on the real issues of
faith and values today: peace, poverty, and planet earth.
Former President Jimmy Carter writes of this book:
"A stirring call to American believers who resent their
spiritual beliefs being co-opted for a political agenda contrary to their
faith… Bob Edgar reminds us that faith belongs in the public realm—not to
advocate war, privilege and environmental degradation, but to promote
peace, the eradication of poverty, and the preservation of our fragile
by Bob Edgar
ISBN: 0-7432-8949-8 Price $25.00/$34.50can.
New book critiques the American Empire in light of the
Commonwealth of God [6-9-06]
Rita Nakashima Brock informs
us of a very interesting new book on American Empire:
The American Empire and the Commonwealth of God
offers a powerful critique of the rapidly emerging American empire. The book
discusses how the United States "is seeking to become the world's first
borderless empire" and how its expansionist policies constitute "the primary
threat to the survival of the human species."
The four co-authors,
David Ray Griffin, John B. Cobb, Jr.,
Richard A. Falk and
Catherine Keller, put forth the political, economic and ecological
arguments as well as the religious-spiritual-moral ones.
Joseph C. Hough Jr., President and William E. Dodge
Professor of Social Ethics, Union Theological Seminary, says:
Three outstanding theologians and one of the world's
leading experts on international policy issues have joined forces to
deliver a scathing critique of the aims, policies, impact, and pretensions
of the American Empire. While their criticisms may be familiar to some
readers, it is their alternative futures that offer such a practical and
morally compelling alternative to the disaster that looms ahead. Anyone
concerned about the future of American world leadership must read this
For more information, and to order the book >>
Ross Kinsler’s book God’s Economy wins
award from Catholic Press Association
Orbis Books has just announced that the Catholic Press
Association has given a Book Award, Third Place in the category of
Scripture, to God's Economy: Biblical Studies from Latin America.
The citation reads:
Real progressive and lasting social transformation
ought to be rooted in the Bible. Latin America, profoundly religious, is
fertile ground for cultivating such transformation. Over the past 30
years especially, popular reading and study of the Bible has stirred
human hearts and renewed hope for positive change so that Latin America
represents hope for all America. No one puts such hope into words better
than Orbis Books. The essays in the volume are an eloquent expression of
Kinsler, the happy author, adds:
We believe that the key to justice and peace in the 21st
Century lies especially in biblical teaching about economics, i.e.,
economic justice and ecological justice, as expressed so powerfully in
the WARC message from Accra. We have an enormous task before us, which
is to enable local churches and presbyteries to consider and respond to
this biblical challenge.
Orbis Books has agreed to offer a 40% discount on orders
of 10 or more copies of God's Economy and for similar orders of
The Biblical Jubilee and the Struggle for Life, which is now in its
5th printing. Call toll free 1-800-258-5838.
More on Ross and Gloria Kinsler's
Globalization – it’s more than economics
review of In Search of the Good Life: The Ethics of Globalization,
by Rebecca Todd Peters
by Doug King, Witherspoon WebWeaver and editor [5-13-06]
Books about globalization seem to be flooding the stores
like those inexpensive shirts pouring into our discount stores from ...
well, wherever they’re pouring in from these days. So the arrival of
another one raises the question: What does this book offer that’s
different from all the others? Well, it offers a lot, helping us to
see the values being assumed as the basis for four different approaches to
the global reach of the modern market economy. And it gives reasons
for concern, and for action.
The review >>
If you will be at GA in Birmingham -- Dr. Peters will
be signing copies of her book in the Cokesbury bookstore, on Sunday, June
18, from 1 to 2:30 pm.
Her book, originally published in 2004, has just been
issued in paperback, at the price of $16.95.
Does God make a difference in our world?
And if so, how do we relate to God’s activity?
Witherspooner Byron Bangert explores those big questions in
Consenting to God and Nature
From the publisher:
This book, an exploration in theological ethics, is
motivated by two central questions. First: How can we think and speak with
integrity about God as One who is active in human affairs and the world?
How can God make a difference in our world and in our lives? Second, and
no less important: What is the character of God’s activity in the world,
and how are we to relate and respond to this activity? How does God make a
difference in our world and our lives, and what are some of the
implications for our own actions?
As the book’s title indicates, Bangert claims that a
proper engagement in theological ethics requires both consenting to God
and consenting to nature. This means both consenting to the reality that
is God, the One with whom we ultimately have to do, and the acceptance of
the natural or physical world as hugely determinative of the limits and
possibilities of human life and all existence. He argues that this calls
for a theocentric, naturalistic, theological ethics.
"Bangert has done a remarkable job in bringing three
important constructive proposals for contemporary theology into respectful
dialogue with one another. In addition to presenting the positions of
Gustafson, Griffin, and McFague fairly and sympathetically, he makes a
convincing case that their respective contributions can only be
strengthened and enriched through critical engagement with one another.
This book has many virtues to commend it, not least of which are the
clarity of analysis and the simple elegance of its prose style. It is a
model of rigorous, yet irenic, theological argumentation." -Paul E. Capetz,
author of 'God: A Brief History'
Byron C. Bangert is Research
Associate at the Poynter Center for the Study of Ethics and American
Institutions at Indiana University, Bloomington. He is also an ordained
minister in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), with over 25 years’
experience as a parish minister. His Ph.D. in religious studies is from
An imprint of Wipf and Stock Publishers
199 West 8th Avenue Eugene, OR 97401
Rogers on Jesus, the Bible and Homosexuality
Kenneth Smith, president of
the Witherspoon Society, reviews Dr. Jack Rogers' latest book, exploring
further his new understanding of the Biblical perspective on sexuality and
the church. [4-21-06]
Wrestling Until the Dawn: The
Fight for Biblical Justice in a Postmodern World,
by John R. Preston [4-17-06]
Gene TeSelle reviews this recent book by
a Witherspoon member, who identifies with Jacob wrestling with an angel,
as an image for the struggles of faith in our own postmodern time, as
Christians seek ways to live faithfully in confronting the oppression and
suffering of human life.
Preston says of his writing the book:
"When I began this research and writing project over five years ago I
wanted to clarify my own personal theology. In particular I sought to
understand the connection between my theology and the three major global
moral issues of our age. I wanted to “grind a theological lens” through
which I could see the world more clearly and understand how my faith might
speak to these moral issues. What began as something very personal became
a book which, I believe, will prove helpful to people with three concerns.
I think this book will address persons who want honesty, those who are
concerned for advocacy, and those who desire a more prophetic ministry."
Douglas Ottati, prof. at Union Seminary/PSCE in Richmond and Witherspoon
writer, will be signing his new book at GA
Doug Ottati, who is a regular contributor of a column of
"theological musings" in the Witherspoon Society’s Network News,
has just published a new book entitled Theology for Liberal
Presbyterians and Other Endangered Species.
He will be signing copies of his book at General
Assembly on Thursday, June 15
11:00-1:00 and 5:00-6:00 at the Cokesbury Bookstore in the Exhibit
Here’s the publisher’s notice for the book:
In this witty, accessible, and concise book,
theologian Doug Ottati contends that liberal Presbyterians and other
liberal Protestants still have much to contribute to the contemporary
world. Offering an alternative to evangelical and conservative thought
that he believes now pervades the larger culture, Ottati presents what
he sees as the foundations of liberal, theological thought. Writing out
of the Reformed tradition and a theology of grace and with a dose of
humor, he addresses current issues such as evangelism, the ordination of
homosexuals, and the war on terrorism. Ideal for individual or group
study, this book is a call to liberal Presbyterians and other liberal
Protestants to restate, rethink, and revise traditional theologies and
beliefs in the face of contemporary knowledge and realities.
We’re proud to note that many of the essays in the book
have appeared previously in Network News.
Published by Geneva Press
A critical book review by Nancy Weatherwax
Interpretation and Moral Discernment, by Willard Swartley
Nancy Weatherwax reviews a study by a scholar who
earlier traced how Christian attitudes and readings of the Bible have
changed in dealing with slavery, the Sabbath, war and women have changed
-- but now can't see the need for similar growth in understanding
full review >>
|Issues Analyst Gene TeSelle authors new book on
The title? Well,
Abingdon Pillars of Theology is
a series for the college and seminary classroom designed to help students
grasp the basic and necessary facts, influence, and significance of major
theologians. Gene TeSelle, emeritus Oberlin Alumni/ae Professor of Church
History and Theology at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee,
introduces Augustine. He examines the major themes of Augustine's
thought following a more or less chronological order including human
fulfillment, evil, creation, the human self, the church and its doctrines,
the course of human history, and the relation of Christianity to political
A great resource for the ordination
Gene TeSelle reviews Ordination
Standards: Biblical, Theological, and Scientific Perspectives – a very
thorough guide for studying and discussing the complex questions
surrounding the debates of inclusive ordination. [2-8-06]
He concludes: "This is a thorough
discussion guide. In fact, given its length it is a discussion all
by itself. In that sense it would be suitable for solitary reading,
and in the process you can learn an awful lot! But it does invite — even
requires — live discussion, since various perspectives are explored
without reaching final resolution."
Read the review >>
A great resource!!!
from the mega-church world
Brian Cave, a student at Union Theological Seminary, New York, has sent
a note about a book on "seeker churches," otherwise known as
mega-churches, and the insights they may offer into ways that churches can
understand and relate to the changing culture of our time.
Seeker Churches, by Kimon
In my research on church growth, I have come across
Seeker Churches, a great book that provides an insight to the world of
mega churches. Sargeant, a sociologist who is an officer in the Religion
Program at The Pew Charitable Trusts, spent several years immersing
himself in the Seeker Churches, interviewing pastors, and talking with
members. His book clarifies many stereotypes that liberals have against
mega churches. Before you judge or condemn mega churches you must read
this book. There are some things that mega churches are doing right that
could help liberals and moderate churches reach out to the many people who
could use Christ in their lives.
Here are some quotes from the book:
"…Put simply, Seeker Churches present a more plausible
model of Christianity – a model that fits with pervasive cultural
understandings about choice, individualism, autonomy, the importance of
self…" (pg 31)
Sargeant points out the Seeker Churches are attractive
to people who do not like formality. These churches study malls and theme
parks in order to run their churches. Sargeant interviewed a pastor who
sent his staff to meet with executives from Disney to understand better
how they run the park, and from this learned better tools to run the
church. "Religious seekers value experience over tradition." (58)
"In sum, seeker churches’ church leaders define their
church as places where Christians avoid the two most unappealing extremes
of religious practice. Seeker churches are neither intolerant nor
lifeless, instead seeker churches practice a sincere and authentic – not a
formal and ritualistic Christianity." (92)
"And, as I have stated earlier, what attracts so many
people to seeker services across the country is the seeker service
emphasis on how God makes the lives of Christians more fulfilling. For
today’s religious consumers, the search for meaning and fulfillment is as
important as – and perhaps initially even more important than – the search
for God." (98)
"In sum, seeker churches introduce seekers to the
Christian message by presenting the exclusivist theology of evangelicalism
in the friendly guise of an egalitarian, fulfillment-enhancing, fun
religious encounter with God. As a result, seeker church pastors make
orthodox theology less offensive and more civil for a pluralistic society.
Seeker church proponents do not abandon the ‘Gospel Truth’ but repackage
it in a kinder, gentler format. They maintain the evangelical emphasis on
the importance of faith in Jesus Christ but subtly transform the reasons
why one should pursue such a faith." (99)
Union Theological Seminary in the City of New York
Master of Arts in Theology '06
Why Is Religion so Violent?
Gene TeSelle, Witherspoon’s Issues Analyst, offers a quick tour of
about a dozen books that explore the connections, so much discussed these
days in relation to Islamism, between religion and violence. They offer a
variety of understandings that may help us seek ways to expand the
peaceful potential of religious faith, and to defuse the impulses to
violence. The full
You can order any of the books mentioned through links of Amazon.com,
listed at the bottom of the page.
Biblical, Theological, and Scientific Perspectives
by North Como Presbyterian Church
A Presbyterian congregation has just published an extensive
survey of source material – Biblical, theological, and scientific – on
questions of sexual orientation and behavior, and how Christians might deal
with these within the church. [1-7-06]
The book notice
The Iraq War. Genocide. Globalization.
September 11, 2001. The war on terror.
A new study guide from the National Council of Churches USA helps you make
sense of the world.
For the Peace of the World
A Christian Curriculum on International Relations
You can assist workers and institutions
in countries where books are in short supply! Share your books by sending them to
Readers' Service, an agency of the PC(USA). It's a great way to help!
A book note:
Religion, Politics, and the Christian Right:
Post-9/11 Powers and American Empire
Princeton theologian Mark Lewis Taylor provides an astute analysis of how
after 9/11, Christian nationalists have forged an imperial America that
subverts what most U.S. citizens and most Christians hold dear about their
democratic life. Even as he exposes the dangers of the Christian right,
Taylor also retrieves and highlights an authentic democratic spirit that
U.S. citizens can nurture and develop in public life. [a book notice from Fortress Press]
For more on the book, and to
"Mark Lewis Taylor is the most prophetic theologian, political activist
and cultural critic of his generation. There is simply no one on the scene
like him. Don't miss this book!" -- Cornel West, University Professor of
Religion, Princeton University
A Witherspoon note:
Dr. Taylor will the the primary
speaker at the Semper Reformanda/Witherspoon Pre-General Assembly
Conversation, on the theme of American Empire. It will be held on
Wednesday, June 14, from 1 to 4 pm, in Birmingham. Watch for
Dr Taylor was one of the leaders of the Witherspoon/Peace Fellowship seminar
at Ghost Ranch in the summer of 2005. Witherspoon board member Jake
Young reported on the seminar, and especially on Taylor's presentations, in
Network News, Summer 2005, pages 9-10. You can read it in PDF
just click here, and scroll down to page 9.
|Biblical scholar sees a "wide, wide
circle of divine love"
A book note by Berry Craig
I hadn't heard of W. Eugene March or The Wide, Wide Circle of Divine
Love: A Biblical Case for Religious Diversity until I read The Layman
editorial against the book and its author.
The Layman, the ultra-conservative, if not fundamentalist,
Presbyterian Lay Committee's newspaper, was in especially high dudgeon.
Thus, I figured The Wide, Wide Circle had to be a good read.
I was wrong. It's a great read.
The rest of the review >>
Torture: A Human Rights Perspective
A new book
edited by Kenneth Roth and Minky Worden
A timely and provocative new anthology, Torture
is the first book to critically assess torture from a global human rights
viewpoint. International law has categorically outlawed the practice, yet
the global debate around torture—the legality of its use, the extent of its
use, its effectiveness—has intensified in the aftermath of the terrorist
attacks of September 11, 2001. Revelations of torture and degradation at Abu
Ghraib and other detention facilities have galvanized both proponents and
opponents of torture, and underscored how imperative it is to tackle the
Sixteen original essays from leading commentators take an
unflinching look at one of the most urgent issues of our day.
Read the review from Human Rights Watch
Church & Society
issue will focus on war, peace, and peace-making
The Nov. - Dec. 2005 issue
of Church & Society magazine has been developed by the Presbyterian
Peace Fellowship and editor by Tom F. Driver.
It will include Moderator Rick Ufford-Chase’s
essay on "Is Peace Possible?" Chris Hedges, Jack Nelson-Pallmeyer
and Nancy Corson Carter have articles dealing with "re-thinking war."
Offering thoughts on "re-thinking peace" are Ross and Gloria Kinsler,
Parrish W. Jones, and Glen Stassen. Anne L. Barstow and Walter
Owensby offer positive steps toward peace, followed by descriptions of a
number of specific projects of the Presbyterian Peace Fellowship.
Prior to publication (or after) you may order it from the
PPF, P.O. Box 271, Upper Nyack, NY 10960.
After publication will be able to order it from the
Peace Fellowship, or
directly from Church &
A great resource for preachers on the
interesting theme of WAR. (And peace.)
For all of us, but
especially for us who have the privilege and burden of preaching, the
current issue of The Living Pulpit is a much needed resource. The
issue is red-letter titled "WAR" with this
question below: "How do we preach about loving our country and loving our
enemies, too?" To see the table of contents, and a featured article, "The
Ambiguity of War," go to their website.
You'll be pleasantly surprised.
Also, the publisher, Presbyterian minister
Douglas Stivison, offers bulk copies at a special rate, and a half-price
introductory offer through the website. I hope we in Susquehanna Valley
Presbytery will take advantage of that and have some discussion groups
about preaching during this time of war.
Not incidentally, their editorial calendar for the next three years
includes Reign of God, Stewardship, Hunger, Ethics, the Marketplace,
Atonement, the Word, Mission, and Shalom.
Thanks to Len Bjorkman,
Co-Moderator Emeritus of the Presbyterian Peace Fellowship.
Arch Taylor looks at US interpretations
and uses of the attacks on Pearl Harbor and later on Hiroshima as an
example of our "subversion of values"
Witherspoon Issues Analyst Gene TeSelle
reviews his book [9-28-05]
In Pearl Harbor, Hiroshima, and Beyond:
Subversion of Values, Arch B. Taylor, Jr., who served as a
Presbyterian minister in Japan for over thirty years, looks at two key
events — the beginning and the end of the war in the Pacific. He has had
many reasons to look at the relations between the two countries during the
Second World War — and at the many questions they have raised with each
other, and with themselves, from then until now.
The review >>
US violations of human rights since 9/11
A new book edited by Ann Fagan Ginger, Executive Director of
Meiklejohn Civil Liberties Institute, provides a listing of the US
administration’s breaches of our laws since Sept. 11. Ginger presents
reports of 180 alleged violations, in 30 categories, by the White House; the
Pentagon; the Departments of State, Justice, and Labor; the FBI; the
Attorney General; immigration officials; and state and local police against
people in the United States, Iraq, Afghanistan, GuantÁnamo Bay, and
elsewhere. Each report includes the sources for the allegation, and each
section lists the specific US and international laws allegedly violated.
Challenging US Human Rights Violations Since 9/11
Ann Fagan Ginger, ed., Prometheus Books, 2005, 574 pp.
More on the book >> [6-1-05]
The paradoxes of ministry [6-1-05]
Amy Ukena has sent a note listing the 21 paradoxes that
are analyzed in Judson Edwards’ book, The Leadership Labyrinth: Negotiating the Paradoxes
of Ministry. You may find them helpful or not, but they’re pretty funny.
Here’s a sampling:
1. The Leadership Paradox: The harder you try to control a
group, the less control you will have.
2. The Calendar Paradox: The busier you are, the less you will accomplish.
4. The Anxiety Paradox: The less you worry about the church, the better it
9. The Power Paradox: The weakest people in the church tend to wield the
13. The Controversy Paradox: The issue you are arguing about is not the
issue at all.
16. The Ministry Paradox: The more you try to help people, the more helpless
21. The Attitude Paradox: Only pastors who are having fun can seriously
proclaim the Gospel.
For more on
the book from the publisher >>
In Search of the Good Life: The Ethics of
This recent book by Rebecca Todd ("Toddie") Peters offers what Cornel
West has called "…the best treatment of the complex debate on
globalization by a religious ethicist now available."
Read more about the book
A review of Jim Wallis,
God's Politics: Why The Right Is Wrong and The Left
Doesn't Get It
Jim Wallis of Soujourners has hit the best-seller
lists with this prophetic/evangelical survey of the US political scene.
Robert Boehlke, Presbyterian minister and long-time professor of Christian
education at one of Indonesia's major theological seminaries, summarizes
the book's main points and offers some critical thoughts.
Fortress Press releases text
for a new generation of theologians
Constructive Theology: A
Contemporary Approach to Classical Themes presents an exciting and
engaging way for today's students to encounter theology.
Coordinated by Serene Jones of Yale
Divinity School and Paul Lakeland of Fairfield University, nearly fifty of
North America's top teaching theologians (members of the Workgroup on
Constructive Christian Theology) have devised a text that allows students to
experience the deeper point of theological questions, to delve into the
fractures and disagreements that figured in the development of traditional
Christian doctrines, and to sample the diverse and conflicting theological
voices that vie for allegiance today. [2-11-05]
A Presbyterian minister is selling books
We've received this note -- posted here on
I am a retired Presbyterian Minister.
I have a fairly extensive library which could be of some help to
Presbyterians. I am in the process of liquidating some of the older books
in my library on eBay. I might list a dozen during the week. I expect to
be doing this over the next several months at least. My concern is that
these books find their way to someone who will appreciate them and make
good use of them.
Anyone interested can check my offerings
from time to time on eBay.
If this link fails
www.ebay.com and click on Advanced Search
in the upper right hand corner, then on the next page, click on Items by
Seller on the left hand side - then enter apple9077.
Many of these books
are of direct interest to Presbyterians and Presbyterian history.
If you have any
questions, or want to communicate directly with me:
The Fight to Stop the Corporate Theft of the World's Water
Alfred Davies reviews a book
that outlines that crisis building as private corporations gain ownership
and distribution rights over more and more of the world's water.
Jim Wallis book offers a " national voice
for progressive faith"
The editor of Sojourners has just published a
book offering "a much stronger national voice for progressive faith."
Politics: Why the Right Gets It Wrong and the Left Doesn't Get It,
it offers progressive perspectives on the issues of faith and values that
have been so much discussed since the election. [1-11-05]
Out of last summer's Ghost Ranch seminar on "A
Biblical Vision for the Future," Jane Hanna suggests
three helpful books.
Check out her ideas -- and order any of them direct from Amazon.com
Click here for an
Archive page covering entries from 2000 through 2004
We invite you to add your comments to any of these
or suggest and comment on books that you find interesting!
Just send a
note, to be shared here!
Some blogs worth visiting
Mitch Trigger, PVJ's
Secretary/Communicator, has created a Facebook page where
Witherspoon members and others can gather to exchange news and
views. Mitch and a few others have posted bits of news, both
personal and organizational. But there’s room for more!
You can post your own news and views,
or initiate a conversation about a topic of interest to you.
for Life" website
Long-time and stimulating blogger John Shuck,
a Presbyterian minister currently
serving as pastor of First Presbyterian Church of Elizabethton,
Tenn., writes about spirituality, culture, religion (both organized
and disorganized), life, evolution, literature, Jesus, and
Click here for his blog posts.
Click here for podcasts of his radio program, which "explores
the intersection of religion, social justice and public life."
John Harris’ Summit to
Theological and philosophical
reflections on everything between summit to shore, including
kayaking, climbing, religion, spirituality, philosophy, theology,
The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), New York City and the Queens
neighborhood of Ridgewood -- by a progressive New York City
Presbyterian Pastor. John is a former member of the Witherspoon
board, and is designated pastor of North Presbyterian Church in
Voices of Sophia blog
Heather Reichgott, who has created
this new blog for Voices of Sophia, introduces it:
After fifteen years of scholarship
and activism, Voices of Sophia presents a blog. Here, we present the
voices of feminist theologians of all stripes: scholars, clergy,
students, exiles, missionaries, workers, thinkers, artists, lovers
and devotees, from many parts of the world, all children of the God
in whose image women are made. .... This blog seeks to glorify God
through prayer, work, art, and intellectual reflection. Through
articles and ensuing discussion we hope to become an active and
Got more blogs to recommend?
send a note, and we'll see what we can do!