The Alliance Defending Freedom and others have been hard at work for years organizing pastors to challenge (i.e., break) tax laws by electioneering from the pulpit. ADF insists this is about a pastor’s freedom of expression. I’m inclined to land where Amelia Thomson-Deveaux does: You can say anything you want (legally; let’s save theological arguments for another time)—once you give up your tax-exempt status.
I called my carpenter friend Daryl when I needed some bookshelves installed on the wall of our tiny spare room. I have a collection of books that I had no room to store. I wanted the south wall of the room full of shelves, top to bottom.
Daryl came and studied the room.
“Why do you want shelves on the south wall?” he asked.
There are things which, when you are an inerrantist, never cross your mind, and yet when you cease to be one, you wonder how you could possibly have failed to think those thoughts, notice those things, and ask those questions.
It happens all the time: I’m reading a beautiful piece of theology, and while the thinker is waxing on elegantly about God and man, he barrels in on the subject of women or Jewish people, and suddenly I’m hit by a barrage of nastiness.
Last weekend's This American Life included a great Planet Money segment about GiveDirectly, a charity that gives poor Kenyans not food or equipment or livestock or training but cash. The idea is that, whatever risks or downsides exist in just giving people money, these are outweighed by a) extremely low overhead, and b) the fact that the poor actually know best what they need.
What will we do in the next ten years, if we have choked out all of the available pastors in this clergy bottleneck and the shortage comes upon us? Even if we simply plan for 70 percent of our positions to go away as 70 percent of our pastors retire, we will still need the 30 percent who are left.
Jeffrey Gros, one of the liveliest and most penetrating ecumenical thinkers I ever encountered, died earlier this month. A conversation with Jeff was always illuminating as well as a bit disorienting, for he had the many voices of global Christianity freshly cataloged in his brain.