Location: Granite Falls, North Carolina, United States

I'm an ordained United Methodist minister no longer pastoring churches, a former media producer with skills ten years out of date, a writer trying to sell my first novel, and a sales associate keeping body and soul together working for the People's Republic of Corporate America. I'm married to the most wonderful woman in the world, who was my best friend for 17 years before we married.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

On Christian Action

I just read Bill Moyers' s speech at Occidental College:

It started me thinking about my Christian faith, and what I'm doing about it. Last night in class we talked about Isaiah and Micah. Last week we talked about Amos and Hosea. One theme common to all Old Testament prophets is concern for the poor. Unanimously they condemn the rich for exploiting the poor, just as John the Baptist and Jesus Christ do in the New Testament. In fact, if you count the verses Jesus has more to say on this subject than any other.

But what do the "Christians" of today emphasize? The Christian Action League (or Association, or whatever they call themselves) concern themselves with keeping ABC stores out of communities, opposing liquor-by-the-drink, and other such matters of personal morality. What do they say about Wal-Mart exploiting their workers, forcing them to work off-the-clock, underpaying them and forcing the rest of us to cover their medical care through Medicaid?

Not one single word.

Locally, a Baptist church sold money for a new Wal-Mart that the majority of the community did not want built. The only stipulation was that this Wal-Mart would agree not to sell alcoholic beverages. Of course, the Walton family have enough high-powered lawyers to get them out of any such agreement in a very short time.

But why was a Christian church so unconcerned about something Jesus obviously cared so much about? Why is it all about personal behavior and policing other people's bedrooms while the weightier matters that the Old Testament and New Testament provide such a strong witness about are totally ignored?

Maybe it's all about the offering plate. They want the big donors in their pews to pay the salaries of the pastors and staff and to finance ambitious building programs. But where is the ministry? Where is the prophetic voice that this nation so desperately needs now?

Where are the prophets calling us out of our complacency and condemning the powers that be for selling out the poor, giving tax breaks to the rich, and increasing the burden of sustaining society for the rest of us while the fat cats get a free ride?

Where is the outrage?

I pledge to continue to be a lonely voice in the wilderness. I just wish I could hear some more voices locally to reinforce God's word in this world.

A wise man who I looked to as a mentor (Carlyle Marney) once told his distinctions of clergymen: There are the priests who bless the status quo and the prophets who call us out of our comfortable lives. Then there are the regular church pastors who try to balance the two roles in their careers.

Well, I am no longer a pastor, so I am free to be a prophet. Lord, show me where you want my voice heard, and give me the words to say to make a difference.


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