Friday, October 23, 2009
It's been awhile since I've dropped a line or two here at the Outlook blog site.
I'm sure some are delighted at my vacation since I'm pretty upbeat about the current state-of-affairs in the Presbyterian Church.
God's relentless love is moving us along in a deep and swift current taking us far beyond all the usual categories in which we formerly found comfort and too often took unwarranted pride.
Yes, we had the world by the tail, so to speak, but times change, and the world in which we now live is vastly different. But I'm hopeful, and more than hopeful, because I know Presbyterians - surely, not all of them; just a few actually over my 39 years of ministry, starting in West Virginia in the former West Virginia Mountain Project created by missionaries who rode into the area on mules.
I have known laity and clergy, pastors and executives, and I have witnessed a steady effort to be faithful to the large images of Scripture and the Great Commandment and the Great Commission. Have we always done it right? It's hard to say. Numbers and dollars, while so tantalizing to our eyes, is of no account to God. Sin itself abounds, but so does grace, allthemore.
In the last 40 years, demographics and culture have changed radically, and we, and other mainline groups, nosedived on membership, and the more independent and self-confessed evangelicals grew.
Looking back over the carnage, I chuckle a bit, because their "growth" was constantly rubbed in our face, and we hung our heads in shame or anger.
For the growing churches, it became a matter of pride - their techniques and innovations, their technology and their theology, were clearly "right" and we were clearly "wrong."
But pride goeth before the fall.
And now the stats are coming in: the evangelical world is losing membership, they struggle with issues of second and third generation leadership vacuums, heresy trials abound as evangelicals try to define who they are and what they believe. Compelled by the Great Commission, thy sent thousands of their young to the mission field who come back home with a new sense of the Great Commandment and a passionate regard for justice, often at odds now with Mom and Dad.
I recently attended a luncheon at a large evangelical Presbyterian Church to hear a speaker from Internation Justice Mission.
I was shocked at what I heard, because I heard the language and thelogy and passion of justice. There was no bashing of the mainline, but only a sharp review of how the evangelical movment in this nation overlooked justice.
In my own words, the evangelical movement, bright and energetic, too often settled for the joy and power of charity and conversion, mostly ignoring the systemic issues of justice.
IJM deals with slavery (27 million in the world today), the sex trade and the theft of widow's property, and it was clear to me, they are dealing with systemic issues.
If charity and conversation are the two "c's" of faith, there is a third c, Change ... systemic change.
I was heartened by what I heard, and I believe that God's Spirit is moving mightily among a younger generation of evangelicals taking them beyond charity and conversion to changing systemic evils.
More than ever, I am grateful to be a Presbyterian - we have a fine track record on justice - our mission agencies, our missionaries - have tackled some incredibly tough issues around the world, and we've been making a huge difference.
Where it will all end, who knows. But I think mainline and evangelical Christians will find a lot to talk about, and pray about, TOGETHER, when we find common ground in the Great Commandment and the Third C.
Just a few random thoughts from a random kind of a guy!
Tuesday, October 20, 2009
If you would be so kind as to forward this to your president.
As a Presbyterian Pastor who served in Tulsa for 12 years at a church long supportive of the College, and sharing with Sam and Helen Walton at numerous luncheons in the Tulsa area, I have admired deeply the character of the school and its unique commitment to providing a quality education for students who might otherwise be unable to attend college because of financial constraints.
Yet, I was shocked when I read of the decision to have Sarah Palin as a college guest to address matters of character and morals.
There are dozens and dozens of ably qualified speakers from all sorts of religious and political persuasions who might address such matters with skill and experience, but to suggest that Ms. Palin is qualified is a matter for Saturday Night Live.
That she's a lightening rod for the far right-wing is undeniable, but as a speaker on these matters? Hardly.
I'm disappointed in the decision to invite Ms. Palin, though I'm sure there are monied interests behind this, and knowing the tough role of a college President these days, I'm sure there are some interesting guns being held to your head on this one.
I sympathize with your position, and I suspect you'd have rather chosen any number of other far-better qualified people.
Wishing you the best ... and to honor the heart of the founder of the school, you might well invite a missionary, a pastor or a professor of ethics to address matters of morals and character ... I would suggest historian Diana Butler Bass as an able and knowledgeable speaker for the college, or the Rev. Dr. Michael Lindvall, pastor of Brick Presbyterian Church, New York City, a most excellent preacher and a teller of stories.
Blessings on your work and that of the college.
The Rev. Dr. Thomas P. Eggebeen, Interim Pastor
Covenant Presbyterian Church
Los Angeles, CA
Tuesday, October 13, 2009
From time-to-time, I receive forwarded emails decrying the efforts of some to eliminate “god” from our national story.
Over the years, I’ve read a dozen of similar notes, long before email was available – remember those days?
Now, with the internet, these stories, slightly updated, flow fast and furious, but, in fact, are false.
Recently, a note about the World War 2 Memorial in Washington, D.C., and the alleged misquoting of Roosevelt’s speech before Congress after Pearl Harbor.
Maybe you’ve seen the note.
If the author of the note were Pinocchio, the nose would be a mile long, and sadly, a lot of decent people unthinkingly forward these notes to their friends and family members, furthering the lie.
If you’d like to check this one out, click HERE to visit Snopes.
And to actually read all the monument inscriptions, click HERE.
As you will see, the email notice is patently false.
As Christians, we have a duty to know the truth, for Jesus is The Truth. We cannot and must not play loose with such things.
And as Paul Tillich noted in his famous “Protestant Principle,” we put a question mark over everything until we have tested it and found it either wanting or true.
It’s terribly important that we not be gullible. Remember – test everything you receive in email, especially “angry notes” that decry the decline of the nation, or some such nonsense.
And if you’re not sure, check with me. I’ve been working on these things for years.
And, please, if you’re not sure of something, trash it; don’t send it on to family members and friends.
Monday, October 12, 2009
For the Women Who Work in the LAX Hotel Corridor
Thursday, October 8, 2009
Written in response to a Facebook query ...