Theology Crawl: Environment

Theology Crawl: Environment

Welcome to the Crawl

Before you start, make sure someone gives The Schpeel to your group. 

Also, remember these conversation tips: 1) Be polite, and don’t take offense, 2) Say something if you don’t understand, 3) Ask “why” and speak up if you disagree (It’s not rude, its just a good conversation). Now, order a drink and start unpacking the deep mysteries of the universe!

The Big Question: Is there a “Christian” Approach to Environmental Issues?

The Main Questions

  • What do most people mean by “nature,” “creation,” and “the environment” How are the above three terms related? How are they different?
  • How have you seen the Christian tradition used to the detriment of environmental health? What theologies supported these actions.
  • As a group, make a quick list of contemporary issues that you would include under the heading: environmental issues.
  • Look at the “Important Scriptures” section below and answer the following  questions:
    • How do these passages describe the relationship between God the natural world?
    • How do these passages describe humanity’s relationship with the natural world?
    • Does the natural world have a purpose? If not, explain. If so, what is it?
    • Is the concept of preservation/conservation of natural resources apparent in these passages? Is it anywhere else in the Bible?
  • Was Jesus’s life, death, and resurrection significant for the environment? If not, does Jesus matter at all for the environment? If yes, how so?
  • Can a person’s understanding of the second coming of Christ, final judgement, and the new creation (i.e. eschatology) have an affect on their treatment of the environment? How so?
  • What ideas and values should form the foundation of a Christian’s response to environmental issues? How is this distinct from other approaches?
  • What are some practical things that you can do now to embody an ethical Christian response to environmental issues? Choose a few from your list above and be specific.

Important Scripture

  • The earth is the LORD’S, and all it contains, The world, and those who dwell in it. For He has founded it upon the seas And established it upon the rivers // Pslam 24:1-2
  • Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; and let them rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over the cattle and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. God blessed them; and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it; and rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” // Genesis 1:26-28
  • A righteous man has regard for the life of his animal, But even the compassion of the wicked is cruel. // Proverbs 12:10
  • You shall sow your land for six years and gather in its yield, but on the seventh year you shall let it rest and lie fallow, so that the needy of your people may eat; and whatever they leave the beast of the field may eat. You are to do the same with your vineyard and your olive grove. // Exodus 23:10-11
  • But every species of beasts and birds, of reptiles and creatures of the sea, is tamed and has been tamed by the human race. // James 3:7
  • Consider the ravens, for they neither sow nor reap; they have no storeroom nor barn, and yet God feeds them; how much more valuable you are than the birds! “And which of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life’s span? “If then you cannot do even a very little thing, why do you worry about other matters // Luke 12:24-28
  • “We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. Not only so, but we ourselves groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. // Romans 8:22-23

THOUGHTS FROM OTHERS

  • Doth not all nature around me praise God? If I were silent, I should be an exception to the universe. Doth not the thunder praise Him as it rolls like drums in the march of the God of armies? Do not the mountains praise Him when the woods upon their summits wave in adoration? Doth not the lightning write His name in letters of fire? Hath not the whole earth a voice? And shall I, can I, silent be?” // Charles Spurgeon
  • The gravity of the ecological situation reveals how deep is the human moral crisis” // Pope John Paul II
  • Climate change is an issue that impels us to think about God’s justice and how we are to echo it in our world. // Rowan Williams
  • We must accept that a number of conservative evangelicals, especially from older generations, will never support significant action on climate change, especially if it means signing a global treaty. // Lisa Vox
  • We have lived our lives by the assumption that what was good for us would be good for the world. We have been wrong. We must change our lives so that it will be possible to live by the contrary assumption, that what is good for the world will be good for us. And that requires that we make the effort to know the world and learn what is good for it. // Wendell Berry

RESOURCES

SUPPORT AN ORGANIZATION

This summer, REUNION Somerville’s generosity team has teamed up with the Northern Crawl to turn our conversations into action. Each week, after the discussion, participants will vote on an organization to support financially.

Below are the organizations that will be voted on this week: 

  • GreenFaith – GreenFaith’s mission is to inspire, educate and mobilize people of diverse religious backgrounds for environmental leadership.  Their work is based on beliefs shared by the world’s great religions – that protecting the earth is a religious value, and that environmental stewardship is a moral responsibility.
  • Sierra Club – The Sierra Club seeks to explore, enjoy, and protect the wild places of the earth. Founded by legendary conservationist John Muir in 1892, the Sierra Club is now the nation’s largest and most influential grassroots environmental organization — with three million members and supporters. Their successes range from protecting millions of acres of wilderness to helping pass the Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act, and Endangered Species Act.
  • World Wildlife Federation – For 50 years, WWF has been protecting the future of nature. The world’s leading conservation organization, WWF works in 100 countries and is supported by more than one million members in the United States and close to five million globally. WWF’s mission is to conserve nature and reduce the most pressing threats to the diversity of life on Earth..

 

Theology Crawl: Sex

Theology Crawl: Sex

Welcome to the Crawl

Before you start, make sure someone gives The Schpeel to your group. 

Also, remember these conversation tips: 1) Be polite, and don’t take offense, 2) Say something if you don’t understand, 3) Ask “why” and speak up if you disagree (It’s not rude, its just a good conversation). Now, order a drink and start unpacking the deep mysteries of the universe!

The Big Question: Is there a “Christian” way to Have Sex?

The Main Questions

  • What does it mean to “have sex”, and what is the purpose of doing so?
  • What is sexual desire? What is its role in having sex? Under what circumstances can it be problematic for sex?
  • What is pleasure? What is its role in sex? Under what circumstances can it be problematic for sex?
  • How is justness reflected in the sexual act? Is it?
  • Look at the “Important Scripture” section below.
    • How do these verses speak about the relational (human and divine) dimension of sex?
    • What are some of the values that these Scriptures suggest as guides to a sexual life?
    • How might the category of “sin” relate to sexual activity?
  • How do you perceive the approach to sex by the following communities? Do you think this approach is healthy/unhealthy? Explain.
    • Evangelical Christianity
    • Roman Catholic Christianity
    • Popular Culture and Mass Media
  • What, if any, role do communities play in establishing and guiding sexual ethics?
    • Under what circumstances is sexual ethics no longer a matter between two consenting individuals? (e.g. marriage, age-of consent laws, polygamy)
    • Are corporate social institutions important for healthy sexuality? Why/why not?
  • Can specific sexual acts be immoral if the participants (or individuals) are both willingly consenting and desirous of participating in the sexual act? Why/why not?
  • Should the way Christian’s participate in sexual activity differently from the way that is commonly taken today? What would be different?

Important Scripture

  • That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh. // Genesis 2:24
  • Drink water from your own cistern, running water from your own well. Should your springs overflow in the streets, your streams of water in the public squares? Let them be yours alone, never to be shared with strangers. May your fountain be blessed, and may you rejoice in the wife of your youth. A loving doe, a graceful deer— may her breasts satisfy you always, may you ever be intoxicated with her love. // Proverbs 5:15-19
  • How beautiful you are and how pleasing, my love, with your delights! Your stature is like that of the palm, and your breasts like clusters of fruit. I said, “I will climb the palm tree; I will take hold of its fruit.” May your breasts be like clusters of grapes on the vine, the fragrance of your breath like apples, and your mouth like the best wine. May the wine go straight to my beloved, flowing gently over lips and teeth.  I belong to my beloved, and his desire is for me. // Song of Songs 7:6-10
  • But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart. // Matthew 5:28
  • Marriage should be honored by all, and the marriage bed kept pure, for God will judge the adulterer and all the sexually immoral. // Hebrews 13:4
  • It is God’s will that you should be sanctified: that you should avoid sexual immorality; that each of you should learn to control your own body in a way that is holy and honorable, not in passionate lust like the pagans, who do not know God. // 1 Thessalonians 4:3-5
  • Do you not know that he who unites himself with a prostitute is one with her in body? For it is said, “The two will become one flesh.” But whoever is united with the Lord is one with him in spirit. Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a person commits are outside the body, but whoever sins sexually, sins against their own body.  Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own;  you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies. // 1 Corinthians 6:16-20

Thoughts from Others

  • Any relgiion that doesn’t tell you what to do with your pots, pans and private parts isn’t worth believing in. // C.E.W. Green
  • Sex makes monkeys out of all of us. If you don’t give in to it, you wind up a cold, unfeeling bastard. If you do, you spend the rest of your life picking up the pieces. // Rita Mae Brown
  • We may indeed be sure that perfect chastity—like perfect charity—will not be attained by any merely human efforts. We must ask for God’s help. Even when you have done so, it may seem to you for a long time that no help, or less help than you need, is being given. Never mind. After each failure, ask forgiveness, pick yourself up, and try again. // C.S. Lewis
  • I’ve always understood the two to be intertwined: sexuality and spirituality. That never changed. // (The Artist Formerly and Currently Known As) Prince
  • You haven’t got to be in love every time you go to bed. // James Baldwin

  • Nothing one does in bed is immoral if it helps to perpetuate love. // Gabriel Garcia Marquez
  • Chastity does not mean abstention from sexual wrong; it means something flaming, like Joan of Arc. // G.K. Chesterson
  • The failure to understand the infinite depth of the human soul is often why people who are married have affairs. They stop exploring the person they married. They find somebody who appears more interesting. // Rob Bell

ReSOURCES

SUpport AN ORGANIZATION

This summer, REUNION Somerville’s generosity team has teamed up with the Northern Crawl to turn our conversations into action. Each week, after the discussion, participants will vote on an organization to support financially.

Below are the organizations that will be voted on this week:

  • RAINN – RAINN (Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network) is the nation’s largest anti-sexual violence organization. RAINN created and operates the National Sexual Assault Hotline in partnership with more than 1,000 local sexual assault service providers across the country and operates the DoD Safe Helpline for the Department of Defense. RAINN also carries out programs to prevent sexual violence, help survivors, and ensure that perpetrators are brought to justice.
  • Advocates for Youth – Advocates for Youth envisions a society in which all young people are valued, respected, and treated with dignity; sexuality is accepted as a healthy part of being human; and youth sexual development is recognized as normal. Advocates for Youth champions efforts that help young people make informed and responsible decisions about their reproductive and sexual health.
  • Amirah – Together we are giving hope to survivors of domestic sex trafficking by helping them restore their lives. The name Amirah comes from the Arabic and Persian meaning “daughter of the king/princess. “ As our name implies and based on our faith, we believe each human life is sacred, created in God’s image, and therefore, worthy of love, mercy and justice.  It is our goal that each woman served at Amirah will be restored and empowered with a sense of her inherent value and God-given strengths.
Theology Crawl: Feminism

Theology Crawl: Feminism

Welcome to the Crawl

Before you start, make sure someone gives The Schpeel to your group. 

Also, remember these conversation tips: 1) Be polite, and don’t take offense, 2) Say something if you don’t understand, 3) Ask “why” and speak up if you disagree (It’s not rude, its just a good conversation). Now, order a drink and start unpacking the deep mysteries of the universe!

The Big Question: Should a “Christian” be a Feminist?

The Main Questions

  • In your own experience, how have your viewed Christianity’s treatment of women? What are some negative perceptions your have? Are there any positive perceptions?
  • Look at the section below labeled “Texts of Terror.” Ask someone to summarize a passage if you are unfamiliar with it.
    • What is your response to these? What specifically is troubling about them?
    • Are there any redeeming pro-women passages or themes within Scripture?
    • Do you see the Bible and Christianity’s legacy as liberating or repressive for women? Is this a result of the text itself, its interpreters, or both? Explain.
  • How would you define feminism?
  • Look at the section below labeled “Types of Feminism.”
    • Do you see any Christian ideas or values reflected in the various forms of feminism? What are they
    • Do you seen any ways in which Christian ideas oppose/react to the various forms of feminism? What are they
  • What are some of the most important issues facing women today?
    • What values/ideas/resources does Christianity have that help to address modern issues faced by women?
    • What actions can/should Christians take to address these issues? How are these actions expressions of the Christian story?

EVANGELICAL BONUS ROUND
Look at the section below labeled “Egalatarian Complementarian Debate”

  • Where do you see yourself falling one this spectrum? Why?
  • Pick a perspective you do not align with personally. Why might someone argue this perspective

Texts of Terror

Phyllis Trible argues that the Bible contains several “texts of terror.” These stories of abuse, exploitation, and violence against women expose the misogyny of patriarchal biblical cultures, and their lack of comforting resolution leaves uneasy questions for people of faith. Below are a few examples.

  • Genesis 16:1-16 // Hagar, a slave, is used, abused, and then rejected by God’s chosen family.
  • Judges 19:1-30 // A concubine is raped by a mob, murdered, then dismembered by her master.
  • 2 Samuel 13:1-22 // The princess Tamar is raped by her half-brother then discarded and left desolate.
  • Judges 11:1-40 // Jephthah kills his only daughter due to a foolhardy vow he made to God.

TYPES of Feminism

  • Liberal Feminism // This kind of feminism works within the structure of mainstream society to integrate women into it and make it more responsive to individual women’s rights, but does not directly challenge the system itself or the ideology behind women’s oppression. The suffragist movement is an example.
  • Radical Feminism // Radical feminism views patriarchy and sexism as the most elemental factor in women’s oppression – cutting across all others from race and age to culture, caste and class. It questions the very system and ideology behind women’s subjugation. The term often refers to the women’s movements emerging from the civil rights, peace and other liberation movements.
  • Black Feminism (Womanism) // School of thought which argues that sexism, class oppression, gender identity and racism are inextricably bound together The way these concepts relate to each other is called intersectionality.
  • Marxist/Socialist Feminism // Feminists, grounded in Marxist and socialist analysis, attribute women’s oppression principally to the capitalist economic system where global corporate power prevails.
  • Eco-Feminism // This form of feminism views patriarchy and its focus on control and domination not only as a source of women’s oppression but as being harmful to humanity as well as destructive of all living creatures and the earth itself.
  • Transnational/Global Feminism // This approach to feminism is concerned mainly about how globalization and capitalism affect people across nationalities, races, ethnicities, genders, classes, and sexualities and has reinforced a range of global movements.
  • Visionary Feminism (Womanism) // The notion of visionary feminism, as seen in the many writings of the African-American feminist, bell hooks, combines the need to challenge patriarchy, class, race and other forms of oppression such as imperialism and corporate control. She also focuses on love and the role of men.
    Definitions adapted from We Rise, “Different Kinds of Feminism

Egalitarian-Complementarian DEbATE

Within the evangelical world, the power relationship between women and men often fall into a debate between an egalitarian perspective on gender roles or a complementarian perspective. The below chart outlines a bevy of options around these two perspectives.

Position Roles in Church Roles in Home Roles at Work
Patriarchal Different Different Different
Strong Complementarian Different Different Similar
Moderate complementarian Some differences Different Some differences
Soft Complentarian Similar Similar Identical
Moderate Egalitarian Same in theory Similar Identical
Strong Egalitarian Identical Identical Identical
Extreme Feminism Different Different Different

Chart from excerpted from Adrian Warnock, “Gender: complementarian Vs Egalitarian Spectrum

PAUL ON THE ROLE OF WOMEN IN THE CHURCH

  • As in all the congregations of the saints, women should remain silent in the churches. They are not allowed to speak, but must be in submission, as the Law says. If they want to inquire about something, they should ask their own husbands at home; for it is disgraceful for a woman to speak in the church // 1 Corinthians 14:33-35
  • But I want you to understand that Christ is the head of every man, and the man is the head of a woman, and God is the head of Christ. // 1 Corinthians 11:3
    Yes, and I ask you, my true companion, help these women since they have contended at my side in the cause of the gospel, along with Clement and the rest of my co-workers, whose names are in the book of life. // Philippians 3:14
  • Older women likewise are to be reverent in their behavior, not malicious gossips, nor enslaved to much wine, teaching what is good, that they may encourage the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, to be sensible, pure, workers at home, kind, being subject to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be dishonored. // Titus 2:3-5
  • There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. // Galatians 3:28

Thoughts from Others

  • Thus, it seems that through imprecise translation, our understanding of the powerful words used originally to describe Eve’s role have been diminished… Suppose we had all been taught to understand Genesis 2:18 as something like the following, “It is not good that man should be alone. I will make him a companion of strength and power who has a saving power and is equal with him.” // Beverly Campbell
  • Although we cannot answer all questions about the specific situation Paul was addressing in Corinth, we do conclude that he was addressing a specific situation rather than making a general prohibition on women speaking in church. His intent was to prohibit disruptive and disrespectful questions and comments that were part of the chaotic Corinthian meetings—and in Corinth, these particular practices were coming from the women.  // Joseph Tkach
  • Perhaps it is no wonder that the women were first at the Cradle and last at the Cross. They had never known a man like this Man – there never has been such another. A prophet and teacher who never nagged at them, never flattered or coaxed or patronized; who never made arch jokes about them; who rebuked without querulousness and praised without condescension; who took their questions and arguments seriously; who never mapped out their sphere for them, never urged them to be feminine or jeered at them for being female; who had no axe to grind and no uneasy male dignity to defend; who took them as he found them and was completely unself-conscious. There is no act, no sermon, no parable in the whole Gospel that borrows its pungency from female perversity; nobody could possibly guess from the words and deeds of Jesus that there was anything “funny” about woman’s nature. // Dorothy L. Sayers 
  • The current demographic shift in world Christianity should be analyzed as a women’s movement based on the fact that even though men are typically the formal, ordained religious leaders and theologians, women constitute the majority of active participants. // Dana L. Robert

ResouRCES

SUPPORT AN ORGANIZATION

This summer, REUNION Somerville’s generosity team has teamed up with the Northern Crawl to turn our conversations into action. Each week, after the discussion, participants will vote on an organization to support financially.

Below are the organizations that will be voted on this week:

  • National Organization for Women – NOW’s purpose is to take action through intersectional grassroots activism to promote feminist ideals, lead societal change, eliminate discrimination, and achieve and protect the equal rights of all women and girls in all aspects of social, political, and economic life.
  • Cambridge Women’s Center – The Cambridge Women’s Center offers a wide variety of programs, groups and workshops to meet the varied needs of women in Greater Boston. Our programming assists women in healing from traumatic experiences, offers opportunities for women to support each other, and develops new skills and leadership abilities among the women in our community. Our goal is to contribute to the empowerment of women and the creation of a just society.

  • Strong Women Strong Girls – Strong Women, Strong Girls is an award winning curriculum-based mentoring organization that works to counter the social pressures that discourage girls in under-resourced communities by combining multi generational group mentoring to build a community of strength around every girl. Strong Women, Strong Girls empowers girls to imagine a broader future through a curriculum grounded on female role models delivered by college women mentors, who are themselves mentored by professional women. 

Theology Crawl: War

Theology Crawl: War

Welcome to the Crawl

Before you start, make sure someone gives The Schpeel to your group. 

Also, remember these conversation tips: 1) Be polite, and don’t take offense, 2) Say something if you don’t understand, 3) Ask “why” and speak up if you disagree (It’s not rude, its just a good conversation). Now, order a drink and start unpacking the deep mysteries of the universe!

The Big Question: Is there a “Christian” Way to Be INvolved in War?

The Main Questions

  • What is war?
  • Can wars be good, or are they always bad? Why?
  • How is the use of physical force ethically distinct from the use of deadly force? How are these things related?
  • For an individual, is the use of deadly force during a war different than the use of deadly force outside of a war? Why or why not? 
  • How does the Bible deal with the use of deadly force? The below questions may be helpful.
    • What continuities do you see between violence in the Old Testament and in the New Testament?
    • How does Jesus utilize physical force in his own ministry? How does Jesus utilize deadly force?
    • How would you characterize the way that God utilizes war in the Bible?
  • Look below at the “Four Christian Stances” section. Read one at a time and answer the following questions as a group:
    • What are the strengths of this view?
    • What possible problems does this view present?
    • How does this view deal with Christian scripture?
  • Is a Christian permitted to use physical force against another person? Why and under what circumstances?
  • Is a Christian permitted to use deadly force against another person? Why and under what circumstances?
  • Can Christians bear faithful witness to Christ while engaging in military service? If yes, under what capacity and in what circumstances? If no, why not?

Four Christian STANCES

  • Nonresistance // the Christian is dedicated to the work of the gospel as his/her highest priority as a
    citizen of a heavenly kingdom. One may pray for peace and must support the government, but must never be involved in any action that takes the life of another human being. If the unbelieving government needs to fight a war to fulfill its obligations to defend its citizens, let it do so, but no Christian should be an active member of combat troops. Christians holding this viewpoint ought to request noncombatant status when fulfilling a military obligation. 
  • Pacifism // The basic philosophy undergirding the nonresistance view is also foundational to the Christian pacifist viewpoint. The key difference is that the Christian pacifist will not serve in the military in any role. Whereas the nonresistance adherent may serve in a non-combatant role, the Christian pacifist must be a conscientious objector
  • Just War // Establishes guidelines to ensure the exercise of the military option in a just fashion. The criteria include the following:
    • A just cause is basically defensive in posture, not aggressive.
    • The intent must also be just—the objectives must be peace and the protection of innocent lives.
    • War must be a matter of last resort when all attempts at reconciliation or peaceful resolution are exhausted.
    • A just war must be accompanied by a formal declaration by a properly constituted and authorized body.
    • The objectives must be limited. Unconditional surrender or total destruction are unjust means.
    • Military action must be proportionate both in the weaponry employed and the troops deployed.
    • Non-combatants must be protected and military operations must demonstrate the highest possible degree of discrimination.
    • Without a reasonable hope for success, no military action should be launched
  • Preventive War // This view is an extension of the just war position. It supports preemptive action or first-strike options (even with nuclear weapons, when necessary) if an enemy’s aggression is thought to be imminent and unavoidable. Preventive war adherents also advocate the use of military force to recover territory unjustly seized by an aggressor.
    Adapted from William D. Barrick, “The Christian and War”

Important Scripture

  • For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. 4 The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. // 2 Corinthians 10:3-4
  • In the temple courts [Jesus] found people selling cattle, sheep and doves, and others sitting at tables exchanging money. So he made a whip out of cords, and drove all from the temple courts, both sheep and cattle; he scattered the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables. To those who sold doves he said, “Get these out of here! Stop turning my Father’s house into a market!” His disciples remembered that it is written: “Zeal for your house will consume me.” // John 2:14-17
  • Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God. // Matthew 5:9
  • Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, whoever rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves. For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and you will be commended. For the one in authority is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for rulers do not bear the sword for no reason. They are God’s servants, agents of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer. Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also as a matter of conscience. // Romans 13:1-5
  •  When you go to war against your enemies and see horses and chariots and an army greater than yours, do not be afraid of them… For the LORD your God is the one who goes with you to fight for you against your enemies to give you victory // Deuteronomy 20:1a, 4
  • You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’ But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also. // Matthew 5:38

Thoughts from Others

  • You cannot demand military service of Christians any more than you can of priests. We do not go forth as soldiers with the Emperor even if he demands this. // Origen
  • For the time being, we know of no other means to imbue exhausted peoples, as strongly and surely as every great war does, with that raw energy of the battleground, that deep impersonal hatred, that murderous coldbloodedness with a good conscience, that communal, organized ardor in destroying the enemy, that proud indifference to great losses, to one’s own existence and to that of one’s friends, that muted, earthquakelike convulsion of the soul. // Friedrich Nietzsche
  • The purpose of all wars, is peace. // St. Augustine
  • The whole rabble of these divided multitudes are called Christians and together they pray: Our Father which art in heaven. They approach God in this way while each party has in mind the destruction of the other. They think they are serving God by shedding others’ blood. And on both sides they say: Forgive us as we forgive. And every party seeks to increase its military force and never thinks of forgiving the other so long as they can hope to overcome them. Therefore their prayers are blasphemies against God. // Peter Chelchitzki
  • I think the art of life consists in tackling each immediate evil as well as we can. To avert or postpone one particular war by wise policy, or to render one particular campaign shorter by strength and skill or less terribly by mercy to the conquered and the civilians is more useful than all the proposals for universal peace that have ever been made; just as the dentist who can stop one toothache has deserved better of humanity than all the men who think they have some scheme for producing a perfectly healthy race. // C.S. Lewis
  • I say I’m a pacifist because I am a violent son of a bitch. I’m a Texan. I can feel it in every bone I’ve got. And I hate the language of pacifism because it’s too passive. But by avowing it, I create expectations in others that hopefully will help me live faithfully to what is true. But that I have no confidence in my own ability to live it at all. // Stanley Hauerwas
  • To ask God to prohibit war, then, is to ask him to prohibit the consequence of human behavior. Something he has never been wont to do. As long as there is sin there will be war. // Max Lucado

ResoURCES

SUPPORT AN ORGANIZATION

This summer, REUNION Somerville’s generosity team has teamed up with the Northern Crawl to turn our conversations into action. Each week, after the discussion, participants will vote on an organization to support financially.

Below are the organizations that will be voted on this week:

    • The HALO Trust The HALO Trust leads the effort to protect lives and restore livelihoods for those affected by war. We continue to play a major part in getting mines out of the ground, for good, but we are also increasing our role dealing with the broader debris of war – small arms, IEDs and unexploded ordnance. In our work to make people and places safe we embed ourselves in local communities, build capacity and work closely with local and national governments as well as aid and development partners. We create safe and secure environments, offer opportunities to rebuild lives and livelihoods, and prepare the way for development and long term stability.
    • Semper Fi FundThe Semper Fi Fund provides immediate financial assistance and lifetime support to post-9/11 combat wounded, critically ill and catastrophically injured members of all branches of the U.S. Armed Forces and their families, ensuring that they have the resources they need during their recovery and transition back to their communities.
    • The Carter CenterThe Carter Center is guided by a fundamental commitment to human rights and the alleviation of human suffering. It seeks to prevent and resolve conflicts, enhance freedom and democracy, and improve health. The Carter Center has become a pioneer in the field of election observation, monitoring 107 national elections to help ensure that the results reflect the will of the people.A culture of respect for human rights is crucial to permanent peace. The Center supports the efforts of human rights activists at the grass roots, while also working to advance national and international human rights laws that uphold the dignity and worth of each individual.
Theology Crawl: Economics

Theology Crawl: Economics


Welcome to the Crawl

Before you start, make sure someone gives The Schpeel to your group. 

Also, remember these conversation tips: 1) Be polite, and don’t take offense, 2) Say something if you don’t understand, 3) Ask “why” and speak up if you disagree (It’s not rude, its just a good conversation). Now, order a drink and start unpacking the deep mysteries of the universe!

The Big Question: Is there a “Christian” Economic System?

The Main Questions

  • How do you define an economic system? What are some examples of economic systems in the past? What are some examples of economic systems in the present?
  • Look below at the “Comparing Economic Systems” section. Which system do you think the United States most closely resembles? Why?
  • Do religious actions have anything to do with economic actions and economic systems? If no, why not? If yes, explain.
  • How does the Bible deal with the concept of economic profit? How is it dealt with in our current economic system?
  • How does the Bible deal with the concept of private property? How is it dealt with in our current economic system?
  • How does the Bible deal with the relationship between work and compensation? How is it dealt with in our current economic system?
  • How does the Bible deal with the concept of lending with interest? How is it dealt with in our current economic system?
  • Do you think the Bible supports/disavows a particular economic system? If yes, which one? If no, are all economic systems created equal?
  • What qualities are important for judging the ethical quality of an economic system? In other words, what criteria would you use to judge whether or not an economic system is bad or good?
  • What are some actions that Christian communities can take to help create/witness-to a more just economic system?

Comparing Economic Systems

  • Capitalism (Private Enterprise Economy)
    • Ownership of Production: Businesses owned privately, minimal governmental ownership
    • Management of Enterprises: Managed by owners , minimal governmental interference
    • Rights to Profits: Entrepreneurs and investors
    • Rights of Employees: Choice of occupation and joining a union (long recognized)
    • Worker Incentives: Considerable, motivates people to perform at their highest.
  • Communism (Planned Economy)
    • Ownership of Production: Government owns the means of productions with few exceptions
    • Management of Enterprises: Centralized management in state-sanctioned plans (sometimes decentralized)
    • Rights to Profits: Profits are not allowed
    • Rights of Employees: Limited in exchange for protection against unemployment
    • Worker Incentives: Still emerging in communist countries
  • Socialism (Planned Economy)
    • Ownership of Production: Government owns basic industries, private ownership of some enterprises
    • Management of Enterprises: State enterprises manage by state, significant economic planning
    • Rights to Profits: Only private sector generated profit
    • Rights of Employees: Choice of occupation and joining a union, some governmental influence in career choice
    • Worker Incentives: limited, yet do motivate private sector work
  • Mixed Economy (Planned Economy)
    • Ownership of Production: strong private sector blends with public enterprises
    • Management of Enterprises: private sector management resembles capitalism, some professionals may manage state enterprises
    • Rights to Profits: Private entrepreneurs and investors, state enterprises sometimes expected to make returns
    • Rights of Employees: Choice of occupation and joining a union,
    • Worker Incentives: Considerable in private sector, less-so in public sector
      Adapted from Contemporary Business, by Louis E. Boone

Important Scripture

  •  For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs. // 1 Timothy 6:10
  • Then another came, saying, ‘Lord, here is your mina, which I kept laid away in a handkerchief; for I was afraid of you, because you are a severe man. You take what you did not deposit, and reap what you did not sow.’ He said to him, ‘I will condemn you with your own words, you wicked servant! You knew that I was a severe man, taking what I did not deposit and reaping what I did not sow? Why then did you not put my money in the bank, and at my coming I might have collected it with interest?’ And he said to those who stood by, ‘Take the mina from him, and give it to the one who has the ten minas.’ And they said to him, ‘Lord, he has ten minas!’ ‘I tell you that to everyone who has, more will be given, but from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away. // Luke 19:20-26
  • “You shall not have in your bag two kinds of weights, a large and a small. You shall not have in your house two kinds of measures, a large and a small. A full and fair weight you shall have, a full and fair measure you shall have, that your days may be long in the land that the Lord your God is giving you. For all who do such things, all who act dishonestly, are an abomination to the Lord your God. // Deuteronomy 25:13-16

  • For even when we were with you, we would give you this command: If anyone is not willing to work, let him not eat. // 2 Thessalonians 3:10
  • If your brother becomes poor and cannot maintain himself with you, you shall support him as though he were a stranger and a sojourner, and he shall live with you. Take no interest from him or profit, but fear your God, that your brother may live beside you. You shall not lend him your money at interest, nor give him your food for profit. // Leviticus 25:35-37
  • The silver is mine, and the gold is mine, declares the Lord of hosts. // Haggai 2:8

  • The rich rules over the poor, and the borrower is the slave of the lender. // Proverbs 22:7
  • And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus. // Philippians 4:19
  • Honor the Lord with your wealth and with the firstfruits of all your produce; then your barns will be filled with plenty, and your vats will be bursting with wine. // Proverbs 3:9-10

Thoughts from Others

  • The idea, so familiar to us today and yet in reality far from obvious, that one’s duty consists in pursuing one’s calling, and that the individual should have a commitment to his “professional” activity, whatever it may consist of, irrespective of whether it appears to the detached observer as nothing but utilisation of his labor or even of his property (as ‘capital’), this idea is a characteristic feature of the ‘social ethic’ of capitalist culture. Indeed, in a certain sense it constitutes an essential element of it. // Max Weber
  • A third proletarian tendency therefore necessarily arose, along with the Zealots and Essenes, and in fact combining the two. This found expression in the Messianic community. It is generally recognized that the Christian community originally contained proletarian elements exclusively, and was a proletarian organization. This remained true long after the first beginnings. // Karl Kautsky
  • Religious suffering is, at one and the same time, the expression of real suffering and a protest against real suffering. Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, and the soul of soulless conditions. It is the opium of the people. The abolition of religion as the illusory happiness of the people is the demand for their real happiness. To call on them to give up their illusions about their condition is to call on them to give up a condition that requires illusions. The criticism of religion is, therefore, in embryo, the criticism of that vale of tears of which religion is the halo. // Karl Marx
  • With reason, then, the common opinion of mankind, little affected by the few dissentients who have contended for the opposite view, has found in the careful study of nature, and in the laws of nature, the foundations of the division of property, and the practice of all ages has consecrated the principle of private ownership, as being pre-eminently in conformity with human nature, and as conducing in the most unmistakable manner to the peace and tranquillity of human existence. // Pius XIII
  • The diviners and seers of The Market’s moods are the high priests of its mysteries. To act against their admonitions is to risk excommunication and possibly damnation. Today, for example, if any government’s policy vexes The Market, those responsible for the irreverence will be made to suffer. That The Market is not at all displeased by downsizing or a growing income gap, or can be gleeful about the expansion of cigarette sales to Asian young people, should not cause anyone to question its ultimate omniscience. Like Calvin’s inscrutable deity, The Market may work in mysterious ways, “hid from our eyes,” but ultimately it knows best. // Harvey Cox

RESOURCES

SuppoRT AN ORGANIZATION (NORTHERN CRAWL ONLY)

This summer, REUNION Somerville’s generosity team has teamed up with the Northern Crawl to turn our conversations into action. Each week, after the discussion, participants will vote on an organization to support financially.

Below are the organizations that will be voted on this week:

  • YouthBuild USA 
    There are at least 2.3 million low-income 16 – 24-year-olds in the United States who are neither in school nor employed.  Globally, over 200 million youth are working poor and earning less than $2.00 a day. All are in urgent need of pathways to jobs, education, entrepreneurship, and other opportunities leading to productive and contributing livelihoods. YouthBuild programs provide those pathways by unleashing the positive energy of low-income young people to rebuild their communities and their lives, breaking the cycle of poverty with a commitment to work, education, community, and family. YouthBuild’s international Headquarters in Davis square, and locally they serve young people in Cambridge and Roxbury.
  • Kiva 
    Kiva connects people through lending to alleviate poverty. Leveraging the internet and a worldwide network of microfinance institutions, By lending as little as $25 on Kiva, anyone can help a borrower start or grow a business, go to school, access clean energy or realize their potential
Theology Crawl: Reconciliation

Theology Crawl: Reconciliation

Welcome to the Crawl

Before you start, make sure someone gives The Schpeel to your group. 

Also, remember these conversation tips: 1) Be polite, and don’t take offense, 2) Say something if you don’t understand, 3) Ask “why” and speak up if you disagree (It’s not rude, its just a good conversation). Now, order a drink and start unpacking the deep mysteries of the universe!

The Big Question: Is there a “Christian” way to respond to racial inequality?

The Main Questions

  • What does it mean for a community to be “diverse”?
  • What does “racial reconciliation” mean?
  • How does working for “diversity” differ from working toward “racial reconciliation?” How are they similar?
  • Do Christian Scriptures call for Christian communities to work toward racial reconciliation or diversity?
  • Is the Scriptural call for reconciliation different from non-Christian calls for reconciliation? If no, how are the the same? If yes, how so?
  • How does the Biblical concept of reconciliation interact with the Biblical concept of justice? Can reconciliation occur without justice?
  • Is societal inequality between races a barrier for racial reconciliation in Christian Churches? In other words, can disparities in power outside of the Church affect communal dynamics within the Church?
  • What does the concept of “reparations” mean to you?  Are they related to the process of Biblical justice?
  • What should be the role of Christian churches be in addressing societal level racial inequality?
  • What would it mean, in the American context, for racial reconciliation to be accomplished? Be concrete, what would it look like? What facts would be evident?
  • What would it mean, in American churches, for racial reconciliation to be accomplished? Be concrete, what would it look like? What facts would be evident?
  • What actions do you need to start taking to pursue racial equality and racial reconciliation? What actions do you need to stop/reconsider?

KEY DEFINITIONS

  • Reconciliation (A) //  Reconciliation is the spiritual practice of seeking loving, liberating and life-giving relationship with God and one another, and striving to heal and transform injustice and brokenness in ourselves, our communities, institutions and society. // The Episcopal Church
  • Reconciliation (B) // Reconciliation is the restoration of friendly relationships and of peace, where there had previously been hostility and alienation. Ordinarily, it also includes the removal of the offense that caused the disruption of peace and harmony // Dr. Eric Mason
  • Reparation // (1) The action of making amends for a wrong one has done, by providing payment or other assistance to those who have been wronged. (1.1) reperations, the compensation for war damage paid by a defeated state. // Oxford Living Dictionary

IMPORTANT FACTS 

  • Wrongful Convictions // Black people are 12 times more likely to be wrongly convicted of drug-related crimes than white people. // CNN
  • Incarceration // 58 percent of prisoners are black or Hispanic, despite making up one quarter of the U.S. population. // NAACP
  • Voting Rights // 3 percent of all black men are denied the right to vote. // Race Forward
  • Segregation // 74 percent of black students and 80 percent of Latino students attend schools that are more than half-minority populations. // The Atlantic
  • Unemployment // In 2013, the unemployment rate for black college grads was almost twice as high as the rate for grads overall. // USED
  • Homebuying // Asian American homebuyers are shown 20 percent fewer homes than white homebuyers. // USHUD
  • Wealth Inequality // White families hold 90 percent of the national wealth. Black and Latino families combined hold less than five percent. // Demos

Important Scripture

  • If any of your people—Hebrew men or women—sell themselves to you and serve you six years, in the seventh year you must let them go free. And when you release them, do not send them away empty-handed. Supply them liberally from your flock, your threshing floor and your winepress. Give to them as the Lord your God has blessed you. Remember that you were slaves in Egypt and the Lord your God redeemed you. That is why I give you this command today. // Deuteronomy 15:12-15
  • In the last days the mountain of the LORD’s temple will be established as chief among the mountains; it will be raised above the hills, and all nations will stream to it. // Isaiah 2:2
  • There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. // Galatians 3:28
  • For he himself is our peace, who has made the two groups one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, by setting aside in his flesh the law with its commands and regulations. His purpose was to create in himself one new humanity out of the two, thus making peace, and in one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility. // Ephesians 2:14-16
  • All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. // 2 Corinthians 5:19
  • The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’ “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’ “They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’ He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’ Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life. // Matthew 25:40-46

Thoughts from Others

  • Gospel-grounded racial reconciliation begins with what Christ accomplished at the cross. He united one-time enemies to God and therefore to one another. He made the two one. Racial reconciliation begins, in other words, with the “indicative” of who we are in Christ. And then racial reconciliation shows itself in our love for the “other.” It flows from the Spirit-empowered obedience and demonstration of who we are in Christ. To define racial reconciliation as simply diversity, or to think that our churches are racially reconciled simply because they might be diverse, is misleading. // Jarvis J. Williams
  • Besides the crime which consists in violating the law, and varying from the right rule of reason, whereby a man so far becomes degenerate, and declares himself to quit the principles of human nature, and to be a noxious creature, there is commonly injury done to some person or other, and some other man receives damage by his transgression: in which case he who hath received any damage, has, besides the right of punishment common to him with other men, a particular right to seek reparation. \\ John Locke
  • One cannot escape the question by hand-waving at the past, disavowing the acts of one’s ancestors, nor by citing a recent date of ancestral immigration. The last slaveholder has been dead for a very long time. The last soldier to endure Valley Forge has been dead much longer. To proudly claim the veteran and disown the slaveholder is patriotism à la carte. A nation outlives its generations. // Ta-Nehisi Coates
  • America freed the slaves in 1863 through the Emancipation Proclamation of Abraham Lincoln, but gave the slaves no land, nothing in reality to get started on. At the same time, America was giving away millions of acres of land in the west and the Midwest, which meant that there was a willingness to give the white peasants from Europe an economic base and yet it refused to give its black peasants from Africa who came here involuntarily, in chains, and had worked for free for 244 years, any kind of economic base. So Emancipation for the Negro was really freedom to hunger. It was freedom to the winds and rains of heaven. It was freedom without food to eat or land to cultivate and therefore it was freedom and famine at the same time. // Martin Luther King, Jr.
  • Your privilege as a White Christian means you can practice this faith free of intellectual conflict. You needn’t worry about being taunted for choosing to believe and practice our faith because it was used to persecute and enslave your ancestors. Your whiteness shields you from the need to decolonize our religious text so that you can digest it. // D. Danyelle Thomas

Resources 

SUPPORT-AN-ORGANIZATION VOTE (NORTHERN CRAWL ONLY)

This summer, REUNION Somerville’s generosity team has teamed up with the Northern Crawl to turn our conversations into action. Each week, after the discussion, participants will vote on an organization to support financially. Below are the organizations that will be voted on this week:

 

  • Equal Justice Initiative
    The Equal Justice Initiative is committed to ending mass incarceration and excessive punishment in the United States, to challenging racial and economic injustice, and to protecting basic human rights for the most vulnerable people in American society.
  • N’COBRA
    The National Coalition of Blacks for Reparations in America is a mass-based coalition organized for the sole purpose of obtaining reparations for African descendants in the United States.
  • The Movement for Black Lives
    We believe in elevating the experiences and leadership of the most marginalized Black people, including but not limited to those who are women, queer, trans, femmes, gender nonconforming, Muslim, formerly and currently incarcerated, cash poor and working class, disabled, undocumented, and immigrant.
  • Emmanuel Gospel CenterRace and Christian Community Initiative 
    We envision Christians continuing Christ’s reconciling work by collaborating across racial lines to foster shalom between individuals, communities, and systems damaged by racism.  We equip Christians in Greater Boston to engage issues of race in ways that honor the image of God in all people