Archive for the ‘Ethics’ Category

More on resistance

August 11, 2018

Yesterday I wrote about grounding our actions, especially social justice actions in faith. My friend Leslie commented, “A challenge because there are large groups who align with a faith or use faith as an reason for egregious behavior.”

And yes, she is correct. How can we know if we are truly centered in God’s will or simply kidding ourselves and using faith to justify the ideas and beliefs we already have?

It is a tough question. You can find well respected and/or popular religious figures on all sides of any issue.

One of the first things I was going to say was that we should be in conversation with people who think differently than we do. People who will challenge us. But for most of us, myself included, our religious homes don’t include a wide variety of beliefs or political views. All of us tend to hang out with folks who have similar values. There’s not much point in pretending otherwise.

Speaking as a Christian, I can read the Bible. But so do six day creationist and complementarians to name a couple of examples. Frustratingly it is possible for people to disagree about Biblical interpretation each having prayerfully and thoughtfully engaged the text.

We could add that if our actions promote justice and peace maybe that means we have properly aligned ourselves. Brain science tells us how incredible easy it is for us to convince ourselves that our motives are pure.

Are we loving? Surely that is a good criteria? I know people who think the loving thing to do is to tell LGBTQ folks they are going to hell. They sincerely believe that and feel that for the good of the other’s soul that they need to speak this “truth”. A lot of damage has been done by people who believe they are “speaking the truth in love.”

This isn’t easy, is it?  And Leslie’s comment needs to be taken seriously. Let’s hope that Ginger Gaines-Cirelli the author of Sacred Resistance will help me out with this question as I keep reading.

Today the only answer I have is humility. We need to consider carefully, prayerfully that we might be wrong and be open to change. Which, if we are honest, is hugely difficult. That’s what I’ve got tonight. I’d love to know if you have a better answer.




God’s Dilemma

October 7, 2017

Everytime I read the story of Moses, the slaves, the Egyptians and the parting of the sea- if I read with expectation and anticipation- there is something new in the story.


Read it again, read it as if for the first time  Exodus 13:17-14:31.

What do you notice?

The last time I read this, I noticed the pillar and cloud at first leads the people who will become Israel (will become- because at this point in the story they are a bunch of refugees) out, away from bondage into an unknown future. They have been redeemed- bought and brought out of slavery into a yet to be created future.

Once they are on the shore of the sea, there are two impossible choices. They can walk into the sea or they can stay and wait for the Egyptian army.  Sometimes in life none of our choices are good ones.  Sometimes our choice is between two lousy options.

In the story the pillar moves from in front of the people to behind them, in between the people who will be Israel and the Egyptian army.  The pillar stays there all night. “Bringing darkness to one side and light to the other side”. Which side received the darkness and which the light?

I wonder why the pillar moves and stays between the two groups.  To protect the people who will be Israel? Probably. But I also wonder if God in the pillar also had a word for Egypt.

  “You don’t have to do this.”

 “You can stop right here.”

 “You can turn around and leave.”

 “No one has to die tomorrow.”

“My choosing of these people doesn’t mean I reject you. My choosing of these people doesn’t have to mean your destruction. Beloved, turn around.”

Who waited in the light and who waited in the darkness? Could the Egyptian army have been held in the light?

God chose the people who will become Israel but that choosing of them doesn’t have to mean the rejection, the destruction of others. In fact, God tells Abraham he is the one through whom the rest of the world will be blessed. He is blessed so that he and his descendants can be a blessing to others.

At the same time, God doesn’t compel or force. The people who will become Israel and the people who are the Egyptian army both have a choice to make.


I once hear a rabbi ask, “Who is the most tragic figure in the Bible?”  (I wrote about this ten years ago, here and here.)

Who would you say?

His answer was God. Because God never gets what God wants, and God never gets what God deserves. But why doesn’t God get what God wants and deserves?

I wonder if because God decided to be God with and for and through us, that means that God sometimes ends up with two impossible choices?  Egypt or the people who will be Israel?

Do the choices we make leave God with limited options? What if the Egyptian army stopped their pursuit?  What would God have done? What could God have done with that decision?

What if the people who will be Israel didn’t step into the sea? What would God done?

God can do whatever God wants, but if God’s decision was to give us true freedom and choice, didn’t God limit God’s own self?  When we relate to another in freedom, we don’t have complete control over them. When we love another, we don’t want to control them.  So I wonder, do the choices we make, the choices I make leave God with limited options?  What do you think?

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