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Southern Religion

‘… neither fear to die nor refuse to live …’

Theologian Richard John Neuhaus on death as recalled by David Brooks. Neuhaus recounted his near-death experience:

“I was sitting up staring intently into the darkness, although in fact I knew my body was lying flat,” he later wrote in an essay called “Born Toward Dying” in his magazine, First Things. “What I was staring at was a color like blue and purple, and vaguely in the form of hanging drapery. By the drapery were two ‘presences.’ I saw them and yet did not see them, and I cannot explain that …

“And then the presences — one or both of them, I do not know — spoke. This I heard clearly. Not in an ordinary way, for I cannot remember anything about the voice. But the message was beyond mistaking: ‘Everything is ready now.’ “

That was the end of Neuhaus’ vision but not his experience. “I pinched myself hard, and ran through the multiplication tables, and recalled the birth dates of my seven brothers and sisters, and my wits were vibrantly about me. The whole thing had lasted three or four minutes, maybe less. I resolved at that moment that I would never, never let anything dissuade me from the reality of what had happened. Knowing myself, I expected I would later be inclined to doubt it. It was an experience as real, as powerfully confirmed by the senses, as anything I have ever known.”

Ours is a skeptical era and that did not erode Neuhaus’ faith:

“Be assured that I neither fear to die nor refuse to live. If it is to die, all that has been is but a slight intimation of what is to be. If it is to live, there is much I hope to do in the interim.”

The rest is here.

January 14, 2009 Posted by | Cultural, Religion | , , , | Comments Off on ‘… neither fear to die nor refuse to live …’

(Saving) Hookers 4 Jesus

hookers4jesus

We found Hookers For Jesus on twitter, not a street corner.

Annie Lobért’s story is not for the faint of heart or easily-triggered.

Her ministry is not a street-corner operation, either. It is a well-promoted operation which apply some Las Vegas techniques to the Las Vegas task at hand. Like the popular Saving Sex City series featuring Lobert with JC’s Girls founder Heather Veitch on YouTube.

Along with the outreach, they do a good job with the statistics of human trafficking and how it causes lasting psychiatric trauma in those who sell themselves.

The Hookers For Jesus site is well worth the time required to explore it. And well-supplemented with visits to other human-trafficking sites, like those reached via Foreign Policy Association’s Modern Slavery and Human Trafficking Links.

January 14, 2009 Posted by | Cultural, Religion | , , , , | 1 Comment

Release your women, Southern Baptists

Christian Church president Rev. Dr. Sharon Watkins will in a week be the first woman to give the sermon at the National Day of Prayer service capping the inauguration of the first black president in U.S. history.

Thus Pastor Wade Burleson’s timing was exactly right when in his blog this week he hinted at the value of a change in the Southern Baptist Convention’s view of women in the pulpit.

Officially, they despise the idea, and the SBC’s drive to subjugate women is costing the huge but shrinking denomination in lost churches and member anger.

With introductory hints, Burleson merely reprinted a blog post by Mimi Haddad which appeared at Sojourners.

Haddad recounts how a South Korean megachurch grew to 830,000 members by giving “gifted women teachers” places of leadership. The church’s pastor is quoted as responding to the “small size” of churches in another country he visited:

I told them to release their women, but they insist that’s not the problem. They ask me, “What’s the key to your church?” I tell them again, “release your women … . “

The reform-minded Oklahoma pastor does not directly challenge SBC policy but is certainly aware of addressing himself to a church which is foundering on growth problems when he writes:

I have two questions: What fault, if any, do you find in Mimi’s biblical reasoning? Has Beth Moore been released within the Southern Baptist Convention?

Might Southern Baptists reasonably ask, without being cursed as apostate, if their fundamentalist leaders were misguided when they generated the self-crippling theologies which bar women from their pulpits?

January 14, 2009 Posted by | Politics, Religion | , , , , , | 4 Comments