Wednesday, April 27, 2005


I propose that you all get a copy of the three main articles in this month's Harper's magazine and we post on it together. You can't access these articles online so you'll either need to go buy a copy of the issue (borders sells them), go to the library, or give me your address and let me mail you a copy. The cover article is "Soldiers of Christ" consisting of two parts, I. "Inside America's Most Powerful Megachurch" by's Jeff Sharlet about Ted Haggert (pastor of New Life church in Colorado Springs and head of the National Association of Evangelicals), II. "Feeling the Hate with the National Religious Broadcasters" by Chris Hedges (author of highly recommended text War is a Force that Gives us Meaning). There is a third relevant article by Gordon Bigelow called "Let There Be Markets" on the relationship between Evangelicals and free market economics. As a collective whole the articles address aspects of evangelical culture that rarely are looked at by those within or outside evangelical Christianity. So if you want a mail copy e-mail me your address, otherwise I expect you all to purchase and read these in the next week or two.

Thursday, April 21, 2005

Do this in Remembrance...

Hey guys,

The Board is back in town, and everyone is still largely in an uproar...So there is the campus update...I have less than a month now at good ol' HC...

Here is what was happening about 6 months ago on here, in case you have forgotten!



The Blessed Virgin

If you haven't heard, there's a real live miracle happening in Chicago. No, I still don't have a girlfriend, this is even better. The Blessed Virgin Mary has appeared on a wall at the Kennedy Expressway underpass at Fullerton Ave. Check out channel 5's website for the best coverage, including a remarkable slide show. So here's the scoop:

"Obdulia Delgado said she was driving home along Fullerton Avenue on April 10 after getting off work at St. Elizabeth Hospital when she saw what she believes to be the Virgin Mary on the wall. She quickly pulled over and examined the form, and then began praying.
"Monday through Friday I go to school and Saturday and Sunday I work, so since I haven't been able to go to church, I asked her, 'Please help me with school because I'm having my finals,' but I felt like she was like, 'If you can come to me, I'm going to go to you,'" Delgado said."

She eventually took her husband and he too believed. After talking to their priest about it (and writing her name on the wall), he assured them that they should believe it if they wanted to and not to let critics make them feel bad about it. The Catholic church, having a few more pressing matters to attend to, haven't had a chance to respond yet, and rumor has it they take their time on these sorts of things. But seemingly the rest of Chicago isn't taking their time about it, taking sides and lining up. Traffic has been shut down at this intersection because so many people are lining up every day to see the blessed virgin, offer prayer, and leave candles and flowers.

I've been by the site but am hoping to return in the next couple of days to take pictures and spend some time talking to the people there. Now Adam, I'm sure you've been camped out there for the week, so I'll try to find you when I visit.

There are honestly hundreds of people there from morning until night. Here's what one visitor had to say about it:

""We're here because the Virgin Mary is on the wall, and she's inside the wall, and we were just curious, but at the same time we're scared, wondering why she's there and what the meaning is of her being there," Annette Byrd said."
Here's the thoughts of someone who has obviously been trained in theology regarding the issue:
"Many of the faithful who believe in the marking said it's all in what you choose to believe in.
"If this is something that is going to help someone have faith, then that's great," said Irma Elderado, of Chicago."

I'll see you all there when you plan you visits.

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Death, Dying and Continuous Attacks on the Religious Right

It's becoming more and more popular to attack religious conservatives these days, separating them from the bulk of Christianity and making a public example of their extremism. First, the article Joey linked to in the SF Gate, and now a treatise on how Christians like death more than life from the NY Times. This should make us happy, right?

Yet, the indie kid inside me just thinks it's all getting a bit lame. Now that everyone is discovering how easy it is to attack fundamentalists without dragging down the rest of Christianity, I can't help thinking about how much I have in common with the religious right. Sure, there's enough there to make me hate with all the intensity of a 1000 fiery suns, but we do hold the same beliefs on who Jesus was and what he came to earth to do. I can't really say the same about myself and Unitarians.

Is it a bad thing to have a foot in each camp, kind of straddling the fence between obsessive fundamentalism and enthusiastic relativism? Or am I painting this in too stark of terms? Maybe the middle ground is much larger than I give it credit. All I know is that I don't feel very communal these days.

Friday, April 01, 2005

John Paul II

Came into the office today, checked, and read the headline "Pope in 'Very Grave' Condition." Of course this isn't much of a suprise given the constant news the past two weeks of his declining health. And it seems like since I can remember caring about the Pope on a deeper level (roughly the late '90s) he has always been about to go.

I'll admit for a Catholic I probably don't know as much about John Paul II as I should (maybe I'll check out a biography on tape, and listen to it on my way to school). My knowledge of the Pope is that he was profound in intelect, passionate in action, and deep in prayer. As the pontif he wrote more encyclicals, traveled to rare locations, stood up to what he considered the greatest evils of the time, and was constantly seen in prayer. Some more specifics that can be asigned to his life are as follows: he constantly promoted the dignity of all human life in his letters, documents and decrees. In fact human dignity could be viewed as his measuring reed for all his decisions (not to say all the decisions were correct). His most accepted teaching and pronouncements came against Communism and abortion, while his most controversial opposed Liberation Theology and a more inclusive clergy. In traveling he was the first Pope to visit both a Jewish Synagogue and Islamic Mosque as well as the gravesite of Ghandi (big time stuff for a church who used to say only Catholics were saved by God). There is no doubt he helped change the world (in a time were change was immanent), and there is no doubt his actions have been controversial. It's only recently that he has become the "grampa" of the world, admired and looked up to by Catholics and non-Catholics alike, previously (70's-early 90's) he ruffled quite a few feathers. These people can give a better (and fairly balanced) history than what I just provided: american catholic and national catholic reporter .

My experience of John Paul II is certainly one of admiration, but also, in recent years, of frustration as well. During college John Paul was my hero. When it was a very unpopular to be Catholic he provided me reassurance. Since becoming a minister in the church and feeling the influence of his leadership a bit more I find myself frustrated- at times extremely frustrated... Yet, I am Catholic, and he is my "Holy Father". I'll miss him.

So where to we go from here (and why do my posts always get so frickin' long)? For a good, and brief, explanation of the election process go here. The basic thing is that the Cardinal's debate and converse about who should be the next Pope, and don't come out until they find consensus. Unfortunately it is probably very political, but if you muster up enough idealism you can believe the Spirit is working in the process. Lots of people want to predict the next pope, but I think this guy has the better idea. Pesonally, I would like to see a person from Asia, Africa or South America in Peter's seat, but it's not my call. I am excited for the next Pope because it seems that John Paul fulfilled his commission, and now is a ripe time (socio-political world environment) for the next successor to lead the Catholic community of Christians.