Tuesday, October 30, 2007

We Need Some Roomies!

Will and I have decided to rent out two bedrooms and share our home with some roommates, if we can find some!

Our only requirements are they:

1. Can't be a serial killer :)
2. Must like dogs
3. Must be able to pay rent on time

Rent is $350 per month and that includes all utilities. DSL and DirecTV are available in each room. We have two fully furnished living rooms, so there is plenty of space to hang out besides the rental rooms. :)

So if any of you know of anyone who would like to live in Northeast Georgia or would like to find out more info, please send them my way. They can e-mail me at BeauTIAful@aol.com

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Washington Through My Eyes

I arrived home from Washington D.C. today, and while I missed my hubby and my puppums, I am completely infatuated with our nation's capital and can't wait to go back. My three days in D.C. were spent touring the inside of the White House (a truly overwhelming experience), The National Museum of Art, The Smithsonian, The Lincoln Memorial, The Washington Memorial, and Jefferson Memorial.

My three nights in D.C. were spent at restaurants, bars, and jazz clubs sipping wine and discussing religion and politics (my two favs.) with my fellow Christian gal pal, my atheist professor, and agnostic student advisor.

While New York City will always remain the Mecca of American cities, D.C. has taken up residence in my heart. I love how the entire city radiates history. The monuments and buildings are truly majestic and most of the museums and historical attractions are F-R-E-E, so that's always a plus.

I loved every moment of this trip, the trekking through the city, the sight seeing, the tours, the vast amount of historical information absorbed, and the great fun and conversation exchanged with the group I was with.

One moment during the trip particularly stuck out in my mind. I was walking with my friend between the reflecting pools and the Washington Monument and the pathway was PACKED with busy preoccupied people hurrying along their way. We, too, were rushing to fit everything into our short trip. While my friend stopped to fix the settings on her camera, a small object on the ground caught my eye as people unknowingly kicked it back and forth. When it landed on the side of the path this is what I saw....

I watched person after person obliviously shuffle this beautiful little lost cross further down the path, splashing water on it from their shoes, almost crushing it. Seeing this tiny cross kicked to the side of the road next to sopping wet dead grass and a pile of mud made me think of the still small voice that is always speaking, but rarely heard, or the presence that is always there but remains unknown to so many. Just a small moment that spoke volumes to me.
Anyway, the Washington D.C. was phenomenal and I can't wait to go back!

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Sometimes It's Good To Compromise

This is an article from Sojourners, written by Editor and Chief Jim Wallis, about the values Christians hold dear and fight for in the political and social realms. Wallis puts forth a wonderfully constructive vision for how the Body of Christ needs to operate TOGETHER to live out God's Kingdom here on earth...even amidst the messy business of politics.

I'm grateful to Tony Perkins and FRC Action for hosting the October 19 dialogue focused on the "values" for values voters. I also thank Richard Land, my frequent dialogue partner and friend. I believe we found areas of real agreement and also healthy disagreement, and that is good.
We both agreed that the issue is not whether faith should help to shape our public life, but how.
I believe that Christians across the political spectrum might have more common concerns than people think—and potential common ground—on critical issues.

First, there are Biblical principles of the kingdom of God on which we can agree.
Second, there are prudential judgments on policies—where there is room for disagreement and deeper dialogue

Third, we must make sure our faith trumps ideology. For me, that often means making sure that my faith challenges the Left. And as I said to you on Friday, most of you probably don't have that problem! But how can you make sure that your faith challenges the Right?
And together, as Richard and I both try to do, we should challenge those who wish to banish religion from the public square.

On what do we agree?

We all agree that faith plays an important role in public life; faith is personal but never private. But as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said:

"The church should not be the master or the servant of the state, but the conscience of the state."

King also never endorsed a candidate but made them endorse his agenda. There's a lesson for us in that.

Red and blue, Left and Right, are not biblical categories. They are political ones, and religious people don't easily fit the labels—nor should we. God's politics resists ideology and often calls us to transcend our narrow political categories and place our commonality as Christians above any political allegiance or identification with a political party.

God is not a Republican or a Democrat. The people of God must not be in the pocket of any political party. There is a great danger in being too close to either side and not maintaining our critical prophetic distance. We should be the ultimate swing vote, judging all the candidates by our moral compass.

Presidential candidates were at your conference, seeking your vote; and you took a straw poll which became the center of media attention in their coverage of your gathering. But let me suggest that if your favorite candidate wins (whoever that turns out to be), they will not be able to really change the biggest moral issues of our time unless there is a movement from outside to continue pushing them. Remember, Lyndon Johnson did not become a civil rights leader until a faith-based civil rights movement made him one.

When politics fails to resolve the great moral issues, social movements often rise up to change politics, and the best social movements have spiritual foundations. We have been divided, but perhaps we can find ways we might work together in the future on the greatest moral issues of our time.

In the spirit of the great social movements that Christians have helped to lead—abolition of slavery, child labor laws, women's suffrage, and the civil rights movement—we might do it again.
The more we look like our evangelical fore-parents, the more we see our faith as the spark for social justice, the more faithful and united we could be.

And this is the key: The Biblical prophets tell us that God judges societies—not by their gross national product, their military strength, or their cultural dominance—but by their justice and righteousness, especially how they treat the weak and vulnerable.

We know there are multiple threats to human life and dignity that suggest a new moral agenda that could bring us together:

  • Strengthening marriage and families

  • Renewing the moral fabric of our culture

  • Overcoming extreme global poverty and disease; and unnecessary poverty at home

  • Advancing a consistent ethic of the sanctity of life

  • Ending human trafficking

  • Healing the wounds of racism

  • Protecting God's creation

  • Finding a better path to national and global security

If those we could agree on these basic principles, we could re-shape American politics—and, with God's help, we might change some of the big things that politics has been unable to.
As for politics in an election year, the Catholic Bishops have some good advice for us. They counsel Christians to be:

  • political but not partisan

  • principled but not ideological

  • clear but also civil

  • engaged but not use

Because, above all, (back to where we started) we are called to be faithful to the principles of the kingdom of God.

Let the dialogue continue

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Hearts And Minds

My American History Through Film class has moved on from The Civil Rights Movement to the Vietnam War (yet, another light and fluffy topic). Hearts and Minds, directed by Peter Davis, is a documentary chronicling the conflicting attitudes of Americans (both civilians and soldiers) and the Vietnamese towards the Vietnam War.

It features the MOST graphic and unabashedly raw footage from the actual war-and while this disturbed me deeply and left me with images that I will never be able to erase from my mind-it was imperative in revealing the REALITIES OF WAR that are usually kept quiet, glossed over, desensitized through "soft violence" reenactments in movies and documentaries, or spoken in vague abstractions that are hard to grasp without SEEING it. This film conveyed the magnitude of the senseless death, the permanent devastation of families, homes, villages, and communities, the fear and pressure that drives men to snap and commit abominable atrocities and become victims in the cycle of violence and revenge.

The astounding aspect of this film is that it was released in 1974, a mere year after the war officially ended. This was an extremely controversial move on the part of the filmmakers because emotions were still running HIGH, as well as the division over the legitimacy of the war. This film forced a nation that just wanted "to forget" to face the consequences of this war on the people of Vietnam: the mass bombings of *civilian* villages, children with their skin peeling off from the weaponry, the massacres in which the elderly, women, children, and babies were shot in cold blood, the horrendous psychological and physical damage done to our own troops, many of whom became consumed with callousness, disillusionment, and racism.

There are also interviews with directly affected Vietnamese people, journalists, public officials, and veterans of the war that recount personal experiences, deceptive tactics of the 5 presidential administrations that twisted and stretched information to justify the war, and how this propelled the rapid changes in political and social movements in the 1960s and 1970s in America.

Here are a few facts about the Vietnam War:

Between 1965 and 1973 the U.S. dropped more bombs on Vietnam than ALL OF THE BOMBS DROPPED ON THE ENTIRE GLOBE DURING WORLD WAR II, sprayed over 100 million pounds of chemicals that destroyed half the country's forests and killing thousands of people which became the most extensive use of chemical warfare in history. Almost 2 million Vietnamese people were killed throughout the war.

I recommend Hearts and Minds, not because it's fun to watch, but because SO often war is glorified as some idealistic noble quest in which there are always clear enemies and heroes. It is so much more complex to look at the other side and see the civilians who suffered as a result of the actions of their county and ours. As people of faith, it is important that we think about these ugly realities, risks, and aspects of war. So, because of that, I recommend it. But this film is very explicit. In fact, there was one quick scene that my teacher censored because it was apparently degrading to women. So, be forewarned, it is heart-wrenching, but eye-opening.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Environmentalism: Dirty Word? (Deja Vu)

I published the following post a few months ago, but am now reposting it (with some additions) in honor of Blog Action Day. The blogging community has been asked to post something about their feelings on the environment-how it relates to faith or what you think should be done about the environment, so I am republishing this post because it thoroughly sums up my view. RE-ENJOY! :)

The devil has two horns: the horn of pride that says there is nothing we ought to do, and the horn of despair that says there is nothing we can do."

Environmentalism. It's a term used to describe a broad and DIVERSE range of concerns, beliefs, and initiatives pertaining to the atmosphere, the earth, the earth's resources and creatures who inhabit it. As opposing views in America become more and more polarized (and thus more cliched and shallow), an increasing tension has emerged between evangelicalism and environmentalism. There are many factors that contribute to this tension, and being that I identify myself with Christianity, I will address the mindset and/or objections coming from SOME Christian camps.

1. Association. SOME Christians deem environmentalism as a cause of democrats, liberals, New Agers, feminists, abortionists, gays (bit of a stretch), and atheists who refuse to worship God, so they worship nature instead. These stereotypes (yes, stereotypes) taint environmentalism for many believers. But I believe that we have unfairly over-lapped environmentalism with separate issues, perhaps neglecting a divine call to godly environmentalism and stewardship. I am unsure why non-christians who are involved in environmentalism are met with such hostility or bewilderment from believers. Whether non-christians know it or not, their desire to maintain God's creation is an act of obedience to the innate order God has set up: to be in awe of His glorious creation and treat it responsibly. It can also the manifestation of a person's deeper desire for God. Instead of branding them as tree-hugging hippies, we should recognize their appreciation for creation (even if it's misguided) and use it to reach out to them.

2. The Global Warming Debate. A good portion of American Evangelicals dismiss the concern over global warming for a myriad of reasons. Some honestly believe there is not enough conclusive evidence to prove that mankind is causing global warming or that global warming is even an imminent threat. A valid position. Some speculate that the earth is just going through its natural cycle. Other believers reject global warming on the grounds that Revelation lays out the demise of the world, and global warming ain't it (although one might argue that just because global warming might not cause our demise, it could still do some horrendous damage). And yet, I fear that SOME others have confused their politics with the tenets of Christianity. Some leaders discourage belief in global warming under the guise of religion when it has more to do with the effects on big business regulations. I am no scientist, so I don't pretend to have the answers about global warming, but I can see how some Christians view the hype as alarmism, but I also see how godly people are concerned about global warming, and that in no way should diminish the validity of their faith. Rejection or acceptance of global warming should in no way serve as a barometer to measure whether or not someone is "Christian" enough. The evidence is viewed and interpreted differently, and neither side (if dealing with the facts honestly) should be scrutinized for their stance. And here is an interesting tidbit of information I learned recently. It seems that there is a HUGE miscommunication about what exactly Global Warming entails. Most people who dismiss global warming are under the impression that Global Warming means the whole world is getting hotter and will eventually combust into flames or something. But actually Global Warming as more to do with weather instability, then it does with rising temperatures. So basically, there will be disproportionate weather patterns in different areas. Some areas will get too hot, others too cold. Some areas will get mass amounts of rain, hurricanes and floods, while other areas will experience drought and famine. Whether you buy that or not is another is up to you and your own research, but you should at least know WHAT you are dismissing. Anyway, global warming (just one aspect of environmentalism) has pushed the Christian community further away from environmental movements.

3. End-Times Mentality. SOME believers are so certain that Jesus' return will be SO VERY VERY SOON and the destruction of the earth is inevitable that environmentalism is deemed a useless waste of time and a deceiving distraction from "real moral issues." This mentality puts forth that the earth and our pilgrim-like earthly existence are temporary, so those who would put energy into a dying earth are "worldly" and in SOME VERY SMALL EXTREME circles, even the enemies of God.This End-Times mentality is disturbing for a few reasons. One, because every generation of Christians since the time of Jesus have believed that Jesus would surely return in their time. Could Jesus come back today? Absolutely. If He will or not, is another story. And since NO ONE knows the when (no matter how badly people want to pretend to know the when and how), it is bad theology to use the return of Christ as an excuse to dismiss environmentalism. Two, our temporal earthly existence does not negate our responsibility to be good stewards of the earth while we are here.

Environmentalism, like anything, can be distorted and abused. It can be turned into a form of idolatry by placing the earth and its fullness OVER the well being of human beings and "worshipping" creation, instead of the Creator. But I would contend that the other extreme of raping the earth and opposing (sometimes demonizing) movements of environmental preservation is not only poor stewardship, but a violation of loving your neighbor AS YOURSELF. As long as God has placed precious life on this earth, we must do what we can to preserve and maintain the earth, which in turns preserves human life. Many preservation efforts are about keeping waters from being contaminated, keeping animals from extinction (which affects the balance in nature), keeping lands healthy and fertile, so they can harvest food, etc. etc. Those are all preservation efforts that, for a Christian, are just as much about loving our neighbor, as it is caring for creation. Without maintaining clean water, fertile lands, and animal life, many humans would needlessly suffer and die, as they already do. A "Jesus is coming back, so we don't worry about the state of the earth" kind of attitude, is not only lazy, but harmful. When millions of people (mainly children) die every year because they do not have access to clean water, or their land cannot produce food, or pollution corrupts the air (which spurs on all kinds of diseases), then environmentalism IS a MORAL issue. By neglecting the earth or abusing it, we harm our neighbors. It's easy to dismiss the efforts of those trying to preserve clean water as "worldly" when we have an abundant supply of it, but I bet environmentalism would be viewed as a Godsend, if we couldn't get clean water, or food from our lands. That is a reality for millions of people.

Currently, there are environmental movements within the evangelical community (The National Association of Evangelicals, Evangelical Environmental Network, Restoring Eden, etc.) that are coming under fierce criticism from many conservative evangelicals. It saddens me to see their efforts belittled as a "lesser cause" or "a waste of time." If these faithful servants of God are caring for the environment because they desire to honor God's creation and better the quality of life for our neighbors, families, and future generations, then it's not a lesser distraction, but an act of obedience, a manifestation of loving God with all their heart, soul, mind, and STRENGTH, and loving their neighbors as themselves. And it should not be so easily dismissed. Here is the website for the terms of Creation Care signed by hundreds of evangelicals:


Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Jesus VS. The Rest of The Bible

The following article is an open letter from Sojourners Magazine written by Tony Campolo in response to Stan Guthrie's criticism of Red Letter Christians, who take the words and teachings of Jesus exceedingly seriously. I find it bizarre (and yet sadly predictable) that when Christians start reiterating Jesus' message that is marked with radical sacrificial love, they are immediately accused of being "liberal" by the religious right. It is as if the religious right believes that all they have to do to discount other Christians who do not ascribe to their political ideology is utter that magic, dirty word: liberal and that will automatically dismiss whatever points Red Letter Christians are trying to make.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007
Stan Guthrie's Red Letter Blues (by Tony Campolo)
In response to Stan Guthrie's article in the October 2007 Christianity Today, "When Red Is Blue: Why I Am Not A Red Letter Christian," Tony Campolo wrote the following open letter as a response.

Dear Stan,
I have to say, "You got us right!" You said:

Though I own several Bibles with the words of Christ in red, I've always found the concept a bit iffy. After all, we evangelicals believe in the plenary, or full, inspiration of Scripture, don't we? Setting off Jesus' sayings this way seems to imply that they are more holy than what is printed in ordinary black ink. ...[I]f all Scripture is God-breathed, then in principle Jesus' inscripturated statements are no more God's word to us than are those from Peter, Paul, and Mary - or Ezekiel.

While we, like you, have a very high view of the inspiration of Scripture and believe the Bible was divinely inspired, you are correct in accusing Red Letter Christians of giving the words of Jesus priority over all other passages of Scripture. What is more, we believe that you really cannot rightly interpret the rest of the Bible without first understanding who Jesus is, what he did, and what he said.

Likewise, we believe the morality in the red letters of Jesus transcends that found in the black letters set down in the Pentateuch, and I'm surprised you don't agree. After all, Stan, didn't Jesus himself make this same point in the Sermon on the Mount? Don't you think his red-letter words about loving our enemies and doing good to those who hurt us represent a higher morality than the "eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth" kind of justice that we find in the Hebrew Testament? Is it really so hard to accept that, as God incarnate, Jesus set forth the highest law in the Bible, and therefore that law is more important than the Kosher dietary regulations we find in Leviticus and Deuteronomy?

You got us RLCs right again when you suggested we were anti-war, pro-environment, and deeply committed to ending poverty primarily because we believe Jesus is anti-war, pro-environment, and deeply committed to ending poverty. The only mistake you made was to imply that thinking this way - or trying to influence our government according to these values - makes us the Religious Left!

Unfortunately, the platform of Red Letter Christians always seems to come out of the wash blue, just as some other "nonpartisan" Christian groups consistently align with the Republicans.

That you think asking questions such as, "Do the candidates' budget and tax policies reward the rich or show compassion for poor families?," or "Do the candidates' policies protect the creation or serve corporate interests that damage it?," is partisan saddens us. We believe these are the questions that every Christian should be asking, no matter which political party or candidate has the better answers at a given time in history.

Ambiguously Gay Duo Gets A New Getup!

Sam and Scrappy got new outfits today. They look like little sailors/inmates. :)

And as you can see below...they love 'em!

And I just find this picture says it all.."I love ya man, but you're in my personal space."

Monday, October 8, 2007

More To Divorce Than Meets The Eye?

The following article appeared earlier this week in Christianity Today. It deals with the different interpretations of biblically permissible divorce. I found this article to be in depth and fascinating in its findings. What are your thoughts on the topic?

"A divorce is like an amputation: you survive it, but there is less of you."--Margaret Atwood

What God Has Joined
What does the Bible really teach about divorce?
David Instone-Brewer

I was being interviewed for what would be my first church pastorate, and I was nervous and unsure what to expect. The twelve deacons sat in a row in front of me and took turns asking questions, which I answered as clearly as I could. All went smoothly until they posed this question: "What is your position on divorce and remarriage? Would you remarry a divorcée or divorced man?"

I didn't know if this was a trick question or an honest one. There might have been a deep-seated pastoral need behind it, or it might have been a test of my orthodoxy. Either way, I didn't think I could summarize my view in one sentence; when I thought about it further, I couldn't decide exactly what my view was. I gave a deliberately vague reply.

"Every case should be judged on its own merits." It worked; I got the job. But I made a mental note to study the subject of divorce, and to do it quickly.

It's a good thing I did. As it turned out, I was surrounded by people who needed answers to questions raised by divorce and remarriage. My Baptist church was located near an Anglican congregation and two Catholic churches. Divorced men and women from these congregations came asking if we would conduct their weddings, having been denied in their local churches. Then I found that some of my deacons had been divorced and remarried. Should I throw them out of church leadership? If I did, I would lose people I considered some of the most spiritual in the church, people with exemplary Christian homes and marriages.What Does the Bible Say?

The New Testament presents a problem in understanding both what the text says about divorce and its pastoral implications. Jesus appears to say that divorce is allowed only if adultery has occurred: "Whoever divorces a wife, except for sexual indecency, and remarries, commits adultery" (Matt. 19:9). However, this has been interpreted in many different ways. Most say that Jesus allows divorce only for adultery. But some argue that Jesus originally didn't allow even that. Only in Matthew does he offer an out from marriage: "except for sexual indecency." Beyond what Jesus says, Paul also allows divorce. He permits it for abandonment by a nonbeliever (1 Cor. 7:12-15). Many theologians add this as a second ground for divorce.

Yet some pastors have found this teaching difficult to accept, because it seems so impractical—even cruel in certain situations. It suggests there can be no divorce for physical or emotional abuse, and Paul even seems to forbid separation (1 Cor. 7:10).

As a result, some Christians quietly ignore this seemingly "impractical" biblical teaching or find ways around it. For example, they suggest that when Jesus talked about "sexual immorality," perhaps he included other things like abuse. Or when Paul talked about abandonment by a nonbeliever, perhaps he included any behavior that is not supportive of the marriage or abandonment by anyone who is acting like a nonbeliever. Many have welcomed such stretching of Scripture because they couldn't accept what they believed the text apparently said.

But does the literal text mean what we think it does? While doing doctoral studies at Cambridge, I likely read every surviving writing of the rabbis of Jesus' time. I "got inside their heads" enough to begin to understand them. When I began working as a pastor and was confronted almost immediately with divorced men and women who wanted to remarry, my first response was to re-read the Bible. I'd read the biblical texts on divorce many times in the past, but I found something strange as I did so again. They now said something I hadn't heard before I read the rabbis!'Any Cause' Divorce

The texts hadn't changed, but my knowledge of the language and culture in which they were written had. I was now reading them like a first-century Jew would have read them, and this time those confusing passages made more sense. My book, Divorce and Remarriage in the Church (InterVarsity Press), is a summary of several academic papers and books I began writing with this new understanding of what Jesus taught.

One of my most dramatic findings concerns a question the Pharisees asked Jesus: "Is it lawful to divorce a wife for any cause?" (Matt. 19:3). This question reminded me that a few decades before Jesus, some rabbis (the Hillelites) had invented a new form of divorce called the "any cause" divorce. By the time of Jesus, this "any cause" divorce had become so popular that almost no one relied on the literal Old Testament grounds for divorce.

The "any cause" divorce was invented from a single word in Deuteronomy 24:1. Moses allowed divorce for "a cause of immorality," or, more literally, "a thing of nakedness." Most Jews recognized that this unusual phrase was talking about adultery. But the Hillelite rabbis wondered why Moses had added the word "thing" or "cause" when he only needed to use the word "immorality." They decided this extra word implied another ground for divorce—divorce for "a cause." They argued that anything, including a burnt meal or wrinkles not there when you married your wife, could be a cause! The text, they said, taught that divorce was allowed both for adultery and for "any cause."

Another group of rabbis (the Shammaites) disagreed with this interpretation. They said Moses' words were a single phrase that referred to no type of divorce "except immorality"—and therefore the new "any cause" divorces were invalid. These opposing views were well known to all first-century Jews. And the Pharisees wanted to know where Jesus stood. "Is it lawful to divorce your wife for any cause?" they asked. In other words: "Is it lawful for us to use the 'any cause' divorce?"

When Jesus answered with a resounding no, he wasn't condemning "divorce for any cause," but rather the newly invented "any cause" divorce. Jesus agreed firmly with the second group that the phrase didn't mean divorce was allowable for "immorality" and for "any cause," but that Deutermonomy 24:1 referred to no type of divorce "except immorality."

This was a shocking statement for the crowd and for the disciples. It meant they couldn't get a divorce whenever they wanted it—there had to be a lawful cause. It also meant that virtually every divorced man or women was not really divorced, because most of them had "any cause" divorces. Luke and Matthew summarized the whole debate in one sentence: Any divorced person who remarried was committing adultery (Matt. 5:32; Luke 16:18), because they were still married. The fact that they said "any divorced person" instead of "virtually all divorced people" is typical Jewish hyperbole—like Mark saying that "everyone" in Jerusalem came to be baptized by John (Mark 1:5). It may not be obvious to us, but their first readers understood clearly what they meant.

Within a few decades, however, no one understood these terms any more. Language often changes quickly (as I found out when my children first heard the Flintstones sing about "a gay old time"). The early church, and even Jewish rabbis, forgot what the "any cause" divorce was, because soon after the days of Jesus, it became the only type of divorce on offer. It was simply called divorce. This meant that when Jesus condemned "divorce for 'any cause,' " later generations thought he meant "divorce for any cause."Reaffirming marriage
Now that we know what Jesus did reject, we can also see what he didn't reject. He wasn't rejecting the Old Testament—he was rejecting a faulty Jewish interpretation of the Old Testament. He defended the true meaning of Deuteronomy 24:1. And there is one other surprising thing he didn't reject: Jesus didn't reject the other ground for divorce in the Old Testament, which all Jews accepted.

Although the church forgot the other cause for divorce, every Jew in Jesus' day knew about Exodus 21:10-11, which allowed divorce for neglect. Before rabbis introduced the "any cause" divorce, this was probably the most common type. Exodus says that everyone, even a slave wife, had three rights within marriage—the rights to food, clothing, and love. If these were neglected, the wronged spouse had the right to seek freedom from that marriage. Even women could, and did, get divorces for neglect—though the man still had to write out the divorce certificate. Rabbis said he had to do it voluntarily, so if he resisted, the courts had him beaten till he volunteered!

These three rights became the basis of Jewish marriage vows—we find them listed in marriage certificates discovered near the Dead Sea. In later Jewish and Christian marriages, the language became more formal, such as "love, honor, and keep." These vows, together with a vow of sexual faithfulness, have always been the basis for marriage. Thus, the vows we make when we marry correspond directly to the biblical grounds for divorce.

The three provisions of food, clothing, and love were understood literally by the Jews. The wife had to cook and sew, while the husband provided food and materials, or money. They both had to provide the emotional support of marital love, though they could abstain from sex for short periods. Paul taught the same thing. He said that married couples owed each other love (1 Cor. 7:3-5) and material support (1 Cor. 7:33-34). He didn't say that neglect of these rights was the basis of divorce because he didn't need to—it was stated on the marriage certificate. Anyone who was neglected, in terms of emotional support or physical support, could legally claim a divorce.

Divorce for neglect included divorce for abuse, because this was extreme neglect. There was no question about that end of the spectrum of neglect, but what about the other end? What about abandonment, which was merely a kind of passive neglect? This was an uncertain matter, so Paul deals with it. He says to all believers that they may not abandon their partners, and if they have done so, they should return (1 Cor. 7:10-11). In the case of someone who is abandoned by an unbeliever—someone who won't obey the command to return—he says that the abandoned person is "no longer bound."

Anyone in first-century Palestine reading this phrase would think immediately of the wording at the end of all Jewish, and most Roman, divorce certificates: "You are free to marry anyone you wish."
Putting all this together gives us a clear and consistent set of rules for divorce and remarriage. Divorce is only allowed for a limited number of grounds that are found in the Old Testament and affirmed in the

New Testament:
Adultery (in Deuteronomy 24:1, affirmed by Jesus in Matthew 19)
Emotional and physical neglect (in Exodus 21:10-11, affirmed by Paul in 1 Corinthians 7)
Abandonment and abuse (included in neglect, as affirmed in 1 Corinthians 7)

Jewish couples listed these biblical grounds for divorce in their marriage vows. We reiterate them as love, honor, and keep and be faithful to each other. When these vows were broken, it threatened to break up the marriage. As in any broken contract, the wronged party had the right to say, "I forgive you; let's carry on," or, "I can't go on, because this marriage is broken."

Therefore, while divorce should never happen, God allows it (and subsequent remarriage) when your partner breaks the marriage vows.

Reading the Bible and ancient Jewish documents side-by-side helped me understand much more of the Bible's teaching about divorce and marriage, not all of which I can summarize here. Dusty scraps of parchment rescued from synagogue rubbish rooms, desert caves, and neglected scholarly collections shone fresh light on the New Testament. Theologians who have long felt that divorce should be allowed for abuse and abandonment may be vindicated. And, more importantly, victims of broken marriages can see that God's law is both practical and loving.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

How My Boy Makes Me Proud!!!

The following is part of a interview between writer Mishka Assayas and Bono on the subject of God and faith. I like this article, one, because it's about Bono, and two, because he articulutes the the matters of faith in such artistic terms that reveal deeper truths.

From new book:
The Singer Speaks: Bono in Conversation with Mishka Assayas
Note the classic CS Lewis lines as Bono shares his faith with the interviewer..

Assayas: Some of your fans had a hard time with records you made in the nineties.

Bono: That’s right. They didn’t see it. On Pop, I thought it was a tough relationship with God that was described there: Looking for to save my, save my soul/ Looking in the places where no flowers grow /Looking for to fill that God shaped hole. That’s quite a interesting lyric, because that’s the real blues- that comes from Robert Johnson, it happens through the machine age, through the techno din, but there it is: the same yearning. But he (Bob Hewson, Bono’s father) didn’t see it. A lot of people didn’t see it, because they wanted to feel it, not think it. (25)

Bono: (Paul McGuinness) would sit me down and say, “You have what it takes. You must have more confidence in yourself and continue to dig deeper. And I don’t be upset or surprised when you pull something out of the depth that’s uncomfortable.”

Assayas: So you discovered things that, on first glance, you’d rather have kept hidden? What were those?

Bono: The gauche nature of awe, of worship, the wonderment at the world around you. Coolness might help in your negotiation with your world, maybe, but it is impossible to meet God with sunglasses on. It is impossible to meet God without abandon, without exposing yourself, being raw. That’s the connection with great music and art, and that’s the other reason you wanted to join a band: you wanted to do the cool thing. Trying to capture religious experiences on tape wasn’t what you had in mind when you signed up for the job.

Assayas: What about your own sunglasses, then? Do you wear them the same way a taxi driver would turn off his front light, so as to signal to God that this rock star is too full of himself and not to hire at the moment?

Bono: Yeah, my insincerity… I have learnt the importance of not being earnest at all times. You don’t know what’s going on behind those glasses, but God, I can assure you, does. (53-54)

Bono: I know what God is. God is love, and as much as I respond in allowing myself to be transforrmed by that love and acting in that love, that’s it... Where things get complicated for me, is when I try and live this love. Now, that’s not so easy.

Assayas: What about the God of the Old Testament? He wasn’t so “peace and love.”

Bono: There’s nothing hippie about my picture of Christ. The Gospels paint a picture of a very demanding, sometimes divisive love, but love it is. I accept the Old Testament as more of an action movie: blood, car chases, evacuations, a lot of special effects, seas dividing, mass murder, adultery. The children of God are running amok, wayward. Maybe that’s why they’re so relatable. But the way we would see it, those of us who are trying to figure out our Christian conundrum, is that the God of the Old Testament is like the journey from stern father to friend. When you’re a child, you need clear directions and some strict rules. But with Christ, we have access to a one-to-one relationship, for, as in the Old Testament, it was more one of worship and awe, a vertical relationship. The New Testament, on the other hand, we look across at a Jesus who looks familiar, horizontal. The combonation is what makes the Cross. (200)

Assayas: The son of God who takes away the sins of the world. I wish I could believe in that.

Bono: I love the idea of the Sacrificial Lamb. I love the idea that God says: Look, you cretins, there are certian results to the way we are, to selfishness, and there’s morality as part of your very sinful nature, and, let’s face it, you’re not living a very good life, are you? There are consequences to your actions. The point of the death of Christ is that Christ took on the sins of the world, so that what we put out did not come back to us, and that our sinful nature does not reap the obvious death. That’s the point. It should keep us humbled… It’s not our own good works that get us through the gates of Heaven.

Assayas: That’s a great idea, no denying it. Such great hope is wonderful, even though it’s close to lunacy, in my view. Christ has his rank among the world’s great thinkers. But Son of God, isn’t that farfetched?

Bono: No, it’s not farfetched to me. Look the secular response to the Christ story always goes like this: he was a great prophet, obviously a very interesting guy, had a lot to say along the lines of other great prophets, be they Elijah, Muhammad, Buddha, or Confucius. But acctually Christ doesn’t allow you that. He doesn’t let you off that hook. Christ says: No. I’m not saying I’m a teacher, don’t call me teacher. I’m not saying I’m a prophet. I’m saying: “I’m the Messiah.” I’m saying: “I’m God incarnate.” And people say: No, no please, just be a prophet. A prophet we can take. You’re a bit eccentric. We’ve had John the baptist eating locusts and wild honey, we can handle that. But don’t mention the “M” word! Because, you know, we’re gonna have to crucify you. An He goes: No, no. I know you’re expecting me to come back with an army, and set you free from these creeps, but acctually I’m the Messiah. At this point, everyone starts staring at their shoes, and says: Oh, my God, he’s gonna keep saying this. So what you’re left with is: either Christ was who He said He is- the Messiah- or a complete nutcase. I mean, we’re talking nutcase on the level of Charles Manson. This man was like some of the people we’ve been talking about earlier (Islamic fundamentalists). This man was straping himself to a bomb, and had “King of the Jews” on his head, and, as they were putting him up on the Cross, was going: Ok, martyrdom, here we go. Bring on the pain! I can take it. I’m not joking here. The idea that the entire course of civilization for over a half of the globe could have its fate changed and turned upside down by a nutcase, for me, that's farfetched …

Bono: … If only we could be a bit more like Him, the world would be transformed. …When I look at the Cross of Christ, what I see up there is all my s--- and everybody else's. So I ask myself a question a lot of people have asked: Who is this man? And was He who He said He was, or was He just a religious nut? And there it is, and that's the question. And no one can talk you into it or out of it.