Follow-Up on Desmond Tutu and the Three-Mile-Per-Hour God.

2013.02.12 Follow Up on the 3MPH God
Speaking of interfaith worship, last month I wrote about Archbishop Desmond Tutu’s concept of the “Three-Mile-Per-Hour God.” I have finally re-discovered the video footage online!
The Seeds of Compassion conference has video archives but I cannot figure out how to access them. But I found it at the University of Washington’s online UW-TV website. You can both stream and download this and other videos from the conference for free. Considering how long it took me to find the footage again, I would download it if you fall in love with this image of God as much as I have. I don’t feel like I’m in a position to take out the piece in question and embed it here, so all I can do is point you in the right direction and get out of the way.
If you go to the 48-minute mark of this video, you’ll see

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Sorry, God, That's Not Our Policy.

2013.02.07 Sorry God That's Not Our Policy
This morning I read a news story explaining that the pastor from the Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod in Newton, CT had to issue an apology to the LCMS president for participating in a prayer vigil two days after the murder of innocent adults and children because leaders of other faith traditions also participated.
Here’s a highlight from Pastor Rob’s apology letter (read the entire letter for context here):

To those who believe that I have endorsed false teaching, I assure you that was not my intent, and I give you my unreserved apologies. If any of you know church members or friends or family who are now confused because of my participation, believing that the Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod fully endorses the doctrine of anyone else who was on that stage, please correct this confusion lovingly, and I will personally be happy to help in any way that I can. Feel free to pass on my apologies for having given that impression.

Here’s an excerpt from LCMS President Harrison’s open letter response (read the entire letter for context here):

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My Two Nights on a Hermitage Retreat.

2013-02-05_17-12-32_764
No electricity.
No plumbing.
No clock.
All wonderful.
I spent Monday afternoon through Wednesday morning in a space called Pacem in Terris, a spiritual retreat center in central Minnesota. Its roots are in the Catholic tradition and its doors are wide open. My seminary offered students a blessed discount rate for this experience and after discussing the opportunity with my wife, I elected to go. I’m so grateful to her for saying “Yes, and…” to this one. She elected to hold down the fort at home so I could try to surprise myself and be open to God surprising me, too.
What follows is a brief reflection on my hermitage experience. It’s stream-of-consciousness style and just as much about my processing the experience as it is hoping to entice you to try such an experience. Whichever reason shows through clearest, I hope you’ll enjoy. Stick around for a gallery of photos at the bottom of the post and you can click each photo for a much larger version and then scroll through them. You can also click any of the photos in this post for larger versions.
What Got Me There.
I needed a break. I’d been in full-time classes for six months straight. My supervisor is on sabbatical so I’ve

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Dr. James Dobson's Theology Is Heartbreaking.

2013.01.15 James Dobson Is Wrong
Dr. James Dobson addressed the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting on his weekly radio program last month. You can listen to the entire 25:55 episode to hear the founder of Focus on the Family in full context. Below is a the piece of what he said that has left people like me in disbelief:

Our country really does seem in complete disarray. I’m not talking politically, I’m not talking about the result of the November sixth election; I am saying that something has gone wrong in America and that we have turned our back on God.

I mean millions of people have decided that God doesn’t exist, or he’s irrelevant to me and we have killed 54 million babies and the institution of marriage is right on the verge of a complete redefinition. Believe me, that is going to have consequences, too.

And a lot of these things are happening around us, and somebody is going to get mad at me for saying what I am about to say right now, but I am going to give you my honest opinion: I think we have turned our back on the scripture and on God almighty and I think he has allowed judgment to fall upon us. I think that’s what’s going on.

I am constructing my theology. I don’t have it all formed yet. And really, forming never stops! And yet, something about this does not sit well with me. When I read this and listen to it, I believe Dr. Dobson is intentionally implying God has judged the US because there is legalized abortion and legislation and conversation surrounding marriage equality and the tragedy at Sandy Hook is a direct consequence of God’s judgment as we “turned our back on God” for these reasons.
I have three thoughts on this:
1. I think Dr. Dobson’s timing is unfortunate at best.

Dr. Dobson made these comments on Monday, December 17, 2012. That’s three days after the slayings at Sandy Hook Elementary School. Only one day after the first memorial service for two of the victims, two boys aged six. One day after persons of faith experienced what their own pastor had to offer on the situation and one day to process what one of their most trusted faith mentors offered in prayerful thought. One day after people were back at back at work, back at school, back to regular ol’ “weekdays.” That’s not a lot of time.
The following phrase gets used

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God Is a Three-Mile-Per-Hour God.

2013.01.20 The Three-Mile-Per-Hour God
I delivered a sermon this morning about how the Beatitudes (Matthew 5:1-12) might inspire us to create a New Year’s Resolution focused on being the person we wish to be not because we owe it to ourselves but because we wish to better serve God. The podcast will be up later if you want to listen and I will update this post when the audio is available. In the meantime I want to address the final piece of the sermon, a quotation from Archbishop Desmond Tutu of South Africa.
In 2008, the Archbishop was part of an interfaith conference in Seattle, WA called Seeds of Compassion as part of his speaking tour with His Holiness, the Dalai Lama. During one of the panels, a young man, around the age of 12, asked, “How can you learn to not be so hard on yourself… for a mistake?” It’s a big question and certainly not only on the mind of merely children but of persons across the age spectrum and across the world. Here’s a portion of Archbishop Tutu’s answer (emphasis mine):

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