Sunday, February 26, 2006

Courtesy of the Blog from the Capital of the Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty:

Dr. James Dunn, president of the Baptist Joint Committee endowment, former executive director of the BJC, and professor of Religion and Public Policy at the Divnity school at Wake Forest University was a guest on Air America Radio's "State of Belief" this weekend, hosted by Interfaith Alliance President, Rev. Welton Gaddy! You can download a podcast of the show by clicking on the website below:

Saturday, February 25, 2006

New Website

In my first semester at Wake, I have helped a number of students with their computer problems, and suggested a lot of free software. Obviously, we are living on limited budgets, so this software can help a lot. But, the software I listed will be useful to other users as well. So, take a minute and visit the site. It isn't anything fancy, but it provides some good resources. If you know of some software or websites that should be added, leave a comment or send an email. You can visit the site by clicking here.

Friday, February 24, 2006


I am now half way through my second semester in Divinity School, which I find amazing. I finished midterms this week, and I will start working on research papers soon. I am the most excited about the fact that I only have to take one more Christian History exam!

You may be wondering about the picture above. Well, that is a picture of First Baptist Church of Statesville, NC, which is the church where my wife Gay works. I talked with the vocational formation at Wake today about my internship for next year, and they approved an internship at Statesville. So, Gay and I will be working together again which will be great. I am looking forward to it.

I also started reading a book today I want to mention. Exiled: Voices of the Southern Baptist Convention Holy War. As I said, I just started the book so I can't offer a review of it yet. It is a book of essays written by those affected by the fundamentalists' takeover of the Southern Baptist Convention. The book actually has 2 forwards, both of which are written by people I know. The first is written by Carolyn Weatherford Crumpler, who was a close friend of my grandmother, Mary O'Quinn. In the book, she even writes about the time she spent at one of my former churches, Seminole Heights Baptist Church. She writes that she served two years there as Youth director, and about an experience at a revival.

The second forward is written by one of my current professors, Dr. James Dunn. Those of you who have met Dr. Dunn know what a character he is. It was interesting to see that he writes exactly the way he talks.

If you are interested in this book, it is available on Amazon. According to the site, it is not going to be available until April, but I ordered it and received my copy yesterday. I will post more about the book as I read more.

Monday, February 13, 2006

A Response to Suffering

The following essay is a response to the book Disciplines of the Spirit by Howard Thurman.  I wrote it for my Introduction to the Spiritual Life class.
It would not surprise anyone if 2005 became known as the year of suffering.  The year began with the world responding to the worst natural disaster in modern times:  the Asian tsunami.  More than a quarter of a million people were killed and tens of thousands were left homeless.  In August, Hurricane Katrina slammed into the Gulf coast of the United States.  Although it initially appeared that New Orleans was spared, the city’s levies proved unable to contain the flood waters leaving three quarters of the city underwater.  More than a thousand were killed and tens of thousands were left homeless in one of the worst disasters in United States history.  In addition, earthquakes in Pakistan and Iran, wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, and genocide in Darfur undoubtedly affected hundreds of thousands more.
     Modern technology has given us instant access to pictures and video from these news stories.  Who can forget the pictures of the bodies on the beaches in Indonesia or the thousands suffering at the Superdome in New Orleans?  One would think that such images would make people more sensitive to the suffering of others, especially Christians.  Actual reactions, however, show that we still have a lot to learn about helping those who are suffering.  After each disaster, there were those in the Christian community, especially more conservative evangelicals, who said that the disasters were examples of God’s punishment of sin.  Unfortunately, this response ignores the suffering the victims are enduring, including young children who are presumably innocent of whatever sin God is allegedly punishing.
     Howard Thurman points out the danger inherent in this type of response.  He writes, “…when a man is driven by suffering to make the most fundamental inquiries concerning the meaning of life, he has to re-assess his total experience.”  This re-assessment will undoubtedly include questions about the meaning of life and the existence and/or nature of God.  Combined with Thurman’s assertion that sufferers often seek community to help them cope, the failures of the blame response become obvious.  If one blames the victim for his own suffering or for the suffering of others, he distances himself from the pain of the victim and removes himself from the support community.  A Christian cannot help a sufferer manage or overcome his suffering if he is excluded from the conversation.  Instead, he should nurture the spirit of the victim and discover, as Thurman writes, “that his life is rooted in a God who cares for him and cultivates his spirit, whose purpose is to bring to heel all the untutored, recalcitrant, expressions of life.”  Contrast that response with the image of a God who punishes the innocent for the sins of others.
     Those who used the “blame response” often used passages in the Old Testament to support their positions.  Such responses are often filled with images of Sodom and Gomorrah and Levitical laws.  Thurman however provides a quote from Jesus which addresses the whether or not sin is the cause of suffering.  Consider the following verses from Luke 13:
At that very time there were some present who told him about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. He asked them, ‘Do you think that because these Galileans suffered in this way they were worse sinners than all other Galileans? No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all perish as they did. Or those eighteen who were killed when the tower of Siloam fell on them—do you think that they were worse offenders than all the others living in Jerusalem? No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all perish just as they did.’ (Luke 13.1-5, NRSV)
So, did the people of New Orleans die because they worse sinners than the others living in the United States?  Jesus says no.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Typing my fingers off!

I'm sorry I haven't posted more recently, I am having to write at least 18 and as many as 24 pages a week, every week right now. So, the last thing I want to do is come type on the blog. Here's how I came to that figure.

God and the New York Times - 2 pages on an article from the Times every day except Saturday (12 pages a week), plus 3, 4 page book responses AND a 12 page paper.

History of Christianity 2 - 2 Page reader response twice a week, Plus 3, 4 page book responses and a 15 page paper. (At least 4 pages a week)

Intro to the Spiritual Life - 2 page paper every week in response to various subjects. (2 Pages every week) plus other misc. assignments.

Old Testament - No weekly papers!

So, you can see why I have more than enough writing to do every week.

However, there are some interesting articles I thought you would enjoy reading.

Thank God we have the Patriot Act to protect us from 80 year old nuns! Read the story here.

Evangelical leaders back initiative to fight global warming. Click here.

A commentary from Ethics Daily that criticizes the Bush administration's 2007 budget. Click Here.