Saturday, September 30, 2017

Conference Announced! "Unfinished Business: Bringing the Church Home"

I'm very excited to announce a conference that I will be hosting in November to dig into Luther's proposal for house churches! (TLDR folks can get straight to the registration page here.)

It was nearly 10 years ago that I first posted on this blog the little-known proposal that Luther wrote, in which he described lay-led, home-based faith communities. Since then it's never been far from my mind.

Now it's time to start a conversation and see what emerges from that. Like when Luther posted the 95 Theses expecting to start an academic debate and things kinda took on a life of their own. Just a little bit.  ;)  So here's the lowdown:

Date: Saturday, November 18th
Time: 9am - 2pm
Location: St. Stephen's Lutheran Church
                 West St. Paul, MN
Cost: $10 (includes lunch)

Registration Page
Facebook Page

What to expect:

We'll set the table with some information, first by looking at the text of Luther's proposal and any historical attempts to put it into practice. Then we'll have a quick fly-by of contemporary groups that are exploring ways to be church that are similar to Luther's proposal. With that as a starting point, the main focus of the conference will be working together to assess the pros and cons of this approach, and the arguments for and against putting it into practice.

The conference is open to the public. It will be of particular interest to people who are looking for renewal in the Church, and for those who have become frustrated or disillusioned by the challenges of the "standard model" for congregational life, with it's dependence on property, programs, professionals and presentational worship. (These people are often referred to as the "Dones," as they are "done with church, but not with faith." For more on them see my posts here and here.)

When the conference is over, I  will have print materials, summaries of conversations, and no doubt video of some sessions/presentations that I will be making available. If you would like to be notified when these materials are available, just fill out the form below and I will keep you in the loop.

Hope to see you there, and please, SPREAD THE WORD!!!


Mailing list for resource updates:

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Universal Basic Income and The Workers in the Vineyard

Here's an interesting reflection on theology, justice and economics for you...
A friend just posted a Buckminster Fuller quote that spoke to Universal Basic Income (UBI), and since I had been percolating on last Sunday's gospel text it seems I was ripe for recognizing a connection that had eluded me until now.
That parable perfectly describes a UBI scenario. Workers are paid the same regardless of how long they work, which is at the crux of why the parable is an offense to many. But *relative* compensation is not what it's speaking to. Rather it's speaking to *minimal justice.* That can be seen in two places:
First, they payment is "a days wages" which represents the amount needed for basic life for a family, maybe even more. That interpretation is consonant with what Jesus invited us to ask for in The Lord's Prayer, i.e. "our *daily* bread."
Second, it's notable that when the owner hires people at later hours of the day he says that he will pay them "whatever is right." Is it *right* to pay the same for less work? Not in terms of capitalistic wage equity. So in what sense *would* it be "right?" In the sense of UBI, in which it is socially and morally *right* to ensure that everyone has *enough* to live on (again, "daily bread.")
You could also note that this reading does not in fact *contradict* a capitalist ethic & system completely. Yes, it established a "floor" below which no one should have to fall. But it also allows for an Owner who is no doubt better off, financially, than the workers in his vineyard. This is the same sentiment as we find in 2 Cor. 8:15 where we read that "“The one who had much did not have too much, and the one who had little did not have too little.”"
So, there's that.

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Birth Defects and the "Image of God"

Thought I'd share a little theological musing with you this morning.

In a clergy group I belong to, a member asked; "God creates us and we are made in the image of God, what are some good responses to someone who questions this because they were born with severe handicaps/illness, etc.?"

Here's the reply I offered.

To me, being created in the "image of God" means that humans have, in the essence of what they are, a similarity to God in the essence of what God is. I understand the essence of God as being "persons-in-relationship" (with all the good Trinitarian stuff that evokes), and so I see the essence of being human is in our design to also be persons-in-relationship. From that perspective, the condition of one's physical body isn't that much related to how one bears the image of God.

As regards congenital handicaps etc., I see that as simply an aspect of the brokenness of creation which leads to some of us being born with bodies that are far from what God intended in the original design for humans. In my own case for example, I was born with propensities that have shown up over the years as both depression and diabetes. That's a reflection of the uniqueness of my personal brokenness.