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May 2010

Barring females as clergy: 4-30-10

Sometimes people in faith communities wonder why others seem not to be attracted to join them -- or admire them.


Well, there are lots of reasons, but one of them, I think, has to do with a perception that some rules by which certain faith communities live are oddly out of sync with the culture. Indeed, it is a requirement of many religious communities that they stand against the culture and be intentionally out of harmony with it, for much in the culture needs to be challenged. But there are some matters on which some religious groups seem to be clinging to old norms that don't make sense to many people.

One example is the refusal of many religious groups to ordain otherwise-qualified gays and lesbians as clergy. Many people in our culture -- especially those age 40 and under -- simply don't get this. Homosexuality is a non-issue for them and they can't imagine why religious groups would be tearing themselves apart over this.

Another example is the place of women in faith communities. In an age when women in the U.S. and in many countries now have obtained something like legal equality with men and occupy such positions as U.S. secretary of state, governor, senator and CEO, it strikes many people as incongruous and archaic that some faith communities won't let women into certain leadership positions.

Yes, of course, such groups have their theological reasons and their allegiance to tradition, but these kinds of rules are a tougher and tougher sale in our post-modern world.

And yet just recently the Rabbinical Council of America, which represents America's Orthodox rabbis (not rabbis in the Conservative, Reform or Reconstructionist branches of Judaism), adopted this resolution saying that "we cannot accept either the ordination of women or the recognition of women as members of the Orthodox rabbinate. . ."

Similarly, of course, the Catholic Church does not allow the ordination of female priests, nor does Orthodox Christianity.

Again, I'm not arguing that faith groups don't have a right (even duty) to set their own rules. But I am saying that when those rules seem to go starkly against the grain of cultural norms, such communities have an increased obligation to explain themselves -- and they should not expect the rest of the culture to affirm their policies.

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What do Myanmar, China, Eritrea, Iran, North Korea, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Uzbekistan, Iraq, Nigeria, Pakistan, Turkmenistan and Vietnam have in common? The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom cited all of them yesterday as egregious violators of religious liberty. The USCIRF is a good and important agency to which the various branches of our federal government pay too little attention. The agency seeks to raise up religious freedom around the world as a core value -- not just an important American value, which it is, but as an important fundamental human rights value. The latest USCIRF annual report makes for sobering reading.

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Hand Wash Cold: Care Instructions for an Ordinary Life, by Karen Maezen Miller. A few Sundays ago at my church, our interim pastor preached a sermon called "Gratitude for the Ordinary." In it he tried to remind us of the joy found in days when we're doing just ordinary things without crisis to handle. Well, click on the link of his sermon title and you can hear it, if you want. The ordinary -- those things that are routine, comfortable, reliable. And yet things that truly are gifts, that define our lives in many ways. Karen Maezen Miller, a Zen Buddhist priest and teacher, offers here an ode to the ordinary and some thoughts about how to enhance our lives by paying attention to the gems we are offered in ordinary things -- things as simple as doing the laundry. Miller is an engaging writer, sometimes brutally honest about her own life. And she's a good storyteller. Her book about an ordinary life and my pastor's recent sermon about being grateful for ordinary days show once again the common ground that sometimes can be found between and among religions. By the way, Miller will be speaking at the Rime Buddhist Center in Kansas City at 10:30 a.m. on Sunday, May 30. For information, click on this link to Miller's schedule.

Toward Middle East peace: 4-29-10

I write today's post with a divided heart -- and, indeed, I recommend this kind of division for all people of faith who attempt to say something worthwhile and even prophetic about others. A divided heart can lead to humility -- a much-needed, much-lacking virtue.


This summer in Minneapolis, the General Assembly of my denomination, the Presbyterian Church (USA), will gather and once again consider what to say and do about countless internal and external matters, including peace in the Middle East.

Once again, we inevitably will anger people by what we say and do. I'm not against upsetting people when speaking a necessary word about justice and mercy, about love and compassion. But my fear is that sometimes we get it wrong and sometimes we speak arrogantly and without understanding as fully as possible the situations we are addressing. That certainly was the case in 2004 when the church voted (a vote later changed) to consider disinvesting from companies that do business in Israel and profit from the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

And I think that may well be the case in the various ways the church at this national gathering in Minnesota will approach the question of how to achieve a just and lasting peace in the Middle East.

Already the church has taken serious criticism for a report of the General Assembly Study Committee on the Middle East. Some Jewish groups, for instance, are outraged by the report.


And various other reports and proposed church policies are causing major consternation, too. You can read some of those reports and proposed ideas at this link.

As I say, what bothers me about all of this is not that we are trying to say anything at all about peace in the Middle East. It's a topic that should engage all of us. Rather, what bothers me is that we often seem to be tone deaf about how our words and actions will be heard and understood by groups that have even more of an interest in the matter than we American Presbyterians have. When, for instance, we accuse Israel of "apartheid," we drag in a concept from a different historical period and seek to apply it in provocative way in a context that doesn't match its original meaning.

Some may call that truth-telling, but it leads simply to further division and moves us away from, not toward, a solution.

Look, I want the Israelis and Palestinians to find a way to live in long-term peace and harmony and justice. I concede that neither side is above criticism. That should be obvious. And criticism of Israeli policies and actions does not automatically constitute antisemitism. Nor does wanting a brighter future for the Palestinians mean that we approve of terrorism.

But it seems to me that instead of issuing harshly worded reports and passing various resolutions, our task as Presbyterian Christians is simply to offer ourselves as peacemakers, to make ourselves available to all parties in any way they find useful and that conform to our desire for peace. In other words, we should be servants, not finger-wagging observers.

Once we state clearly the principles that drive us to seek peace and justice for all, we would do well to quiet our voices and ask all parties in this dispute how we can be useful in achieving that. Other approaches seem to toss gas on a fire that already has too much fuel.

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This fascinating analysis of this week's Goldman Sachs testimony in Washington says the hearings were "another remarkable window into the long moral decline of Wall Street and banking." And I think that's true. But it's equally true that the members of Congress hearing this testimony are part of an institution in its own long moral decline, fueled by private money that funds election campaigns that never end until the person elected retires or dies. Worship of money is the common denominator between the Wall Street executives testifying and the Capitol Hill big shots questioning them, and none of the ethical failures that helped create the recession will be fixed for the long term until we acknowledge and fix that idolatry.

Faith this and that: 4-28-10

Years ago, when my daughters were in single-digit ages, we were driving through a small town in mid-Missouri and noted that there was only one police car for the whole town.


My older daughter drew this conclusion: "Things here must happen just one at a time."

In some ways I wish that were true about life, but things pile up, I'm afraid. So today you get several subjects from me.

* First, I want to remind you about what promises to be an excellent and engaging event on May 8 featuring Robert K. Martin, who teaches at St. Paul School of Theology in Kansas City. He'll be leading a 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. gathering at Country Club Christian Church that day called "Little Altars Everywhere: Leading People to the Eucharistic Life." It's sponsored by the Disciples of Christ Historical Society. For a pdf file with details about how to attend -- a file you can download and share with friends -- click on this link: Download ReedLectureFlyer[1].

* Next: Recently I wrote here a bit about the struggle in the Church of England over whether to let women be bishops. For a much fuller report on that battle, I'm linking you to this piece in The New Yorker. Sometimes I wonder how churches get all bogged down in this stuff instead of simply encouraging people to follow Jesus. But every church seems to do it, including my own denomination, the Presbyterian Church (USA).

* Earlier this month here on the blog I wrote about domestic violence and efforts to train clergy in how to recognize and stop it. I mentioned there an event called "Safe Sanctuaries," and I want to remind you that this happens tomorrow at Avila University. Click on the "Safe Sanctuaries" link in the previous sentence to get the information you need to attend.

* What looks like it will be an extraordinary exhibit called "Vatican Splendors: A Journey Through Faith and Art" is coming to the Missouri History Museum in St. Louis starting May 15 and running through Sept. 12. The link I've given you here will tell you what you need to know to attend. The collection to be on display includes nearly 200 rare works or art, historical objects and cultural artifacts from the Vatican's collections.

* Julie Kohner, a teacher in the Los Angeles area, has created an organization called "Voices of the Generations" to help tell the story not just of her parents, Holocaust survivors, but of other Jews who lived through the Holocaust. The link to this non-profit organization I've given you will let you read an English version of a piece in the German publication Der Spiegel about Julie and her organization. As someone who, in my new book, has helped to preserve stories of Holocaust survivors, I like to spread the word about efforts like Julie's to do that same thing.

* A recent article in the Irish Times by Hans Kung has created quite a stir in the Catholic world for the way in which this former classmate of the current pope has criticized Benedict XVI. So if you haven't read it, the link will take you to it. I admire Kung and know that the pope deserves some criticism for his handling of the priest abuse scandal, but somehow Kung's piece seems a little over the top. Or perhaps the right word is uncharitable. What's your take on it?

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The "Answers in Genesis Creation Museum," which opened in Kentucky in 2007, says it saw its 1 millionth visitor this week. Why hasn't someone who, instead, really understands how to read and interpret Genesis opened a facility that would help people grasp all that? Oh, I guess there are such places. They're called Mainline, Catholic and similar seminaries.

Shedding light on Egypt: 4-27-10

In many ways, Egypt is the most important predominantly Muslim country in the world.

Oh, I know that Indonesia has three times the population of Egypt and that, theologically, Saudi Arabia has been ground zero for Islam.

But Egypt is made up of some 81.5 million people, compared with 28.6 million for Saudi Arabia -- and Egypt's population has grown by more than 10 million people just in this decade.

Egypt's culture goes back thousands of years -- well before Islam. It's an ancient civilization that never ceases to engage people. That's why tourists (that's me in this photo on a camel at the pyramids in 2002) show up and visit the pyramids and the other ancient sites and museums. And those sites change, too. When I say the Sphinx in 1957, for instance, it was possible to walk right up to it and touch it. But today there's a barrier around it and there's more landscape within that barrier.

So I was drawn to the current exhibition at the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, "Exploring Egypt: 19th Century Expeditionary Photography," which runs through July 18 in Kansas City.

One often thinks of what ancient Egypt must have looked like and what Egypt looks like today, especially ridiculously crowded Cairo.

But to see snapshots of Egypt taken in the 1800s is quite remarkable. I hope you'll see the exhibit.

As I've said before of other locations, you simply cannot understand a people and the religious affiliations of those people unless you have some grasp of history. And the current exhibit at the Nelson helps many of us fill in gaps in that history. By the way, an estimated 90 percent of the population of Egypt today is Muslim (mostly Sunni), while 9 percent is Coptic Christian and the remainder either other Christian sects or adherents of other religions.

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Speaking of the Middle East, it's starting to look as if relations may be improving between Israel and the Obama administration. I hope so. Both sides have made some missteps, and the long-term future of Israelis and Palestinians in that area requires all parties to trust in the sincerity of one another. Egypt, which has diplomatic relations with Israel, could play an important role in moving the region toward a lasting peace, as can the U.S. But that won't happen if Jews, Muslims and Christians there are at each other's throats over various issues.

The Jews in WWI: 4-26-10

Drop back 100 years and imagine both the America and the Europe of the early 20th Century -- and, beyond that, the Jewish communities living in those two locations then.


Now ask yourself how they related to one another and how World War I, which began in 1914, affected both.

That's what Dr. Abraham Peck (pictured here), director and visiting professor of Holocaust, Genocide and Human Rights Studies at the University of Maine, spoke about this past Thursday evening as the opening lecture of the "Americans All" lecture series at the World War I Museum in Kansas City.

To understand any religious groups of people in their present circumstances, it's necessary to have a grasp of their history -- and, more than that, how that history has helped to shape their present.

Between 1881 and 1924, Peck said, about 2.5 million Jews came to the U.S. from abroad, mostly from Europe. Their task was to figure out how to be both Jews and Americans, and the Jews who were already here helped to teach the newly arriving Jews how to be Americans.

As this process was under way, he said, World War I broke out and provided, as if by accident, the first opportunity for immigrant Jews to share an experience with native born American Jews.

Peck's lecture ran nearly an hour of fascinating material. If you want to get a sense of the topic from an audio clip of the first 10 minutes of that, click on this link: Download Peck-1.

I do want to share with you one great story Peck told about Teddy Roosevelt.

In the early 20th Century in New York City, the publisher of an overtly antisemitic newspaper planned a massive rally in Madison Square Garden. But because he was being harrassed by people who opposed his agenda, he sought police protection at the rally.

"He sought the support of New York's commissioner of police at the time, Teddy Roosevelt," Peck said. Roosevelt, in turn, promised that he'd have a contingent of police officers on hand at the rally to keep the peace.

When the rally leader arrived at Madison Square Garden, "he indeed found a dozen large policemen on duty. But he did an about face when he read the names on their badges. Every one of them was a Jewish name."

(Can I get a high-five for TR?)

The "Americans All" lecture series at the museum is made possible by a grant from the Barton P. & Mary D. Cohen Charitable Trust and the Harry Portman Charitable Trust. The series explores the important role American minorities played in World War I. For a list of upcoming events, including lectures in this series at the museum, click here.

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President Obama's meeting yesterday with evangelist Billy Graham gives me the opportunity to suggest that if you want to understand the relationship Graham has had with presidents since Harry S. Truman, the book to read is The Preacher and the Presidents: Billy Graham in the White House, by Nancy Gibbs and Michael Duffy. Whether you think Graham is a prophet or something much lower on the theological scale, he's had a remarkable connection to our presidents, and that's a story worth knowing.

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P.S.: Thanks to all of you who contributed to AIDS Walk KC this year, and special thanks to those of you who made pledges to me. It was a great morning for the walk and because of your generosity I was able to turn in $850 total.

Reflecting our ethics? 4-24/25-10

What's one major thing all religions try to do? (I can hear some cynics saying, "Take your money." But that's not what I have in mind.)


They try to teach adherents to make moral choices. Which means living ethical lives.

Maybe it's because Americans are a profoundly religious people that a recent poll shows that 80 percent of us don't trust Washington. We apparently think most members of Congress have the morals of a vacuum cleaner.

But let's think this through a little deeper. Would any of us do any better in Congress? Are we, in our private lives, any more moral or ethical than members of Congress or the executive branch or the judicial branch are in their public lives?

This interesting analysis by a man who has covered Washington for a long time suggests the answer to those questions is no. Or at least suggests that we citizens might be enabling the people we elect to behave in the unethical way some of them do.

Perhaps we have exactly the kind of Congress we deserve. Perhaps our own virtue or lack of it is reflected in the virtue, if any, found on most work days in the District of Columbia.

I'm not suggesting that things haven't changed in the way Washington runs or the way we elect people to office there. There have been many profound changes in recent decades, and the importance of money in never-ending campaigns for re-election has twisted our body politic into knots.

But I think that as we criticize the ethical standards we find in D.C. we might also look into our own hearts -- especially those among us who recently spent a long day filling out 1040s for the IRS by hand and wound up at the end of it with cheater's cramp.

* * *


The Vatican says a lawsuit filed against the pope in the sexual abuse scandal is "without merit." My, oh, my. Who would have thought that we'd be talking law suits and defense strategies and on and on when proper action by priests, bishops and the church hierarchy in the first place could have avoided it? How sad.

Convincing others to convert: 4-23-10

Think about the three Abrahamic faiths in this way:


* One says God asked an old man to leave his home and head to somewhere -- the man didn't know where. And he did, receiving various promises from God about what was to come.

* Another says God's son was born of a virgin, died but was resurrected.

* And one says an angel dictated holy writ to an illiterate man chosen to be God's final prophet.

Mark Twain, about whom I wrote here this week, might well have called those assertions "stretchers."

And that's always an issue for religion. Some of its stories seem so impossible, so wildly made up. And no doubt some religious stories are exactly that.

The organized effort to defend the beliefs of a particular religion is called "apologetics." And I was intrigued to learn recently that the Mormons -- members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints -- have created a new apologetics tool online.

It's called "Mormon Scholars Testify," and the clear intent is to help convince people that the stories of the Mormon faith are believable -- stories such as a man finding plates with strange writings and having angelic-like help to interpret them, stories such as how the son of God, once resurrected in the Middle East, came to what is now the United States.

You will find there page after page of testimony about Mormonism from Mormons from many walks of life. My question is whether such testimony is convincing to anyone besides other Mormons. In other words, is this kind of testimony the means by which people convert? Or is it something else -- say, a personal relationship with a believer?

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An interesting debate is shaping up over whether the religion of Supreme Court justices matter, as the only Protestant on the court, John Paul Stevens prepares to retire. I'm not interested in a justice's religion. I'm interested in her or his view of the law and Constitution.

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P.S.: The annual AIDS Walk Kansas City is tomorrow. So today is your last chance to help me reach my fund-raising goa. To sponsor me for this year's event to benefit AIDS service organizations, click here. And thanks.

Who's in the pews? 4-22-10

Based on your perception of conventional wisdom, would you agree that attendance at church worship services in recent decades has slipped substantially or at least noticeably?


Well, a University of Nebraska researcher's findings suggest you would be wrong if that's what you think.

Indeed, for the past three or four decades, church attendance has stayed pretty steady, according to the new study by University of Nebraska-Lincoln sociologist Philip Schwadel. His findings appear in the current edition of the journal Sociology of Religion.

What has changed, Schwadel's research suggests, is the makeup of church goers over that period of time. As traditional heavy attenders have become more educated, their rate of attendance has dropped off some.

And women have taken increasingly important leadership positions in many churches, Schwadel says.

That's certainly true at my church, where women hold lots of leadership positions, including the chairs of the church finance committee and the pastor nominating committee.

One of the points of raising all this is to suggest that we not draw our conclusions about religious life in America from the images of religion we find in pop culture, including the way it's seen on TV. Things are much more complicated than that, which is why study's like Schwadel's are helpful.

(Can anyone tell me what church you're looking at in this photo?)

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P.S.: My latest Presbyterian Outlook column now is online. To read it, click here. And my latest National Catholic Reporter column also is now online. To read it, click here.

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A man in Wyoming has painted on a fence a verse from the book of Leviticus that most people read as anti-gay. What a needlessly provocative thing to do. It's called prooftexting -- taking a single verse from the Bible and building an entire theology on it. If you want to know what the Bible really says about homosexuality, read my essay on that subject found under the "Check this out" headline on the right side of this page.

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Faith Interrupted: A Spiritual Journey, by Eric Lax. As a boy -- and even into early manhood -- the author had what he thought of as a strong faith, even if it was a faith that hadn't been challenged with many questions. His father was an Episcopal priest and young Eric served the church of his father in many ways, too. But as life -- including the Vietnam War -- happened, Lax's faith began to become unglued until finally he had to acknowledge to himself and others that things that once made sense, such as the Nicene Creed, no longer did. Lax went on to write a number of books, including a popular biography of Woody Allen, but the solid faith of his youth no longer was within his reach. This is the story of his frustration about that, his angst, his hope that maybe some day he can find faith again because, as he concludes, "I miss it." Lax is a good story teller, careful with words and reflective of the many ways in which he has had to ponder the eternal questions. This is not a book that ends with faith restored, God in God's heaven and everything right with the world. But it is a book in which faith is taken seriously and, in the end, respected, even if the author cannot count himself among the faithful.

Mark Twain's faith: 4-21-10

Samuel Clemens, AKA Mark Twain (pictured here), the man who wrote the greatest novel ever written by an American, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, died 100 years ago today.


What does the death of this native Missourian have to do with the primary topics of this blog, religion and ethics?

Ah, well, Twain, a sort of fallen-away Presbyterian, was like most of us in that he struggled nearly all his life with the eternal questions. And he wrote about them in wonderfully enlightening ways.

In Huck Finn, for instance, Twain sets up a brilliant scene in which Huck is on a raft with a runaway slave named Jim (he "belonged" to Miss Watson). Jim had been nothing but tender and solicitous toward Huck. But Huck is struggling with the rigid religious lessons he grew up with -- lessons that taught him that slaves aren't fully human and that runaway slaves ought to be taken back to their owners, otherwise Huck couldn't be right with God and if he wasn't right with God he'd spend eternity in hell. But Huck was having trouble praying about all this to help him decide what to do.

Let's pick up the scene at this point:

"So I was full of trouble, full as I could be; and didn't know what to do. At least I had an idea; and I says, I'll go and write the letter--and then see if I can pray. Why, it was astonishing, the way I felt as light as a feather right straight off, and my troubles all gone. So I got a piece of paper and a pencil, all glad and excited, and set down and wrote:

"'Miss Watson, your runaway nigger Jim is down here two miles below Pikesville, and Mr. Phelps has got him and he will give him up for the reward if you send. HUCK FINN'

"I felt good and all washed clean of sin for the first time I had ever felt so in my life, and I knowed I could pray now. But I didn't do it straight off, but laid the paper down and set there thinking--thinking about how good it was all this happened so, and how near I come to being lost and going to hell. And went on thinking. And got to thinking over our trip down the river; and I see Jim before me all the time: in the day and in the night-time, sometimes moonlight, sometimes storms, and we a-floating along, talking and singing and laughing. But somehow I couldn't seem to strike to places to harden me against him, but only the other kind. I'd see him standing my watch on top of his'n, 'stead of calling me, so I could go on sleeping; and see him how glad he was when I come back out of the fog; and when I come to him again in the swamp, up there where the feud was; and such-like times; and would always call me honey, and pet me, and do everything he could think of for me, and how good he always was; and at last I struck the time I saved him by telling the men we had smallpox aboard, and he was so grateful, and said I was the best friend old Jim ever had in the world, and the only one he's got now; and then I happened to look around and see that paper.

"It was a close place. I took it up, and held it in my hand. I was a-trembling, because I'd got to decide, forever, betwixt two things, and I knowed it. I studied a minute, sort of holding my breath, and then says to myself:

"'All right, then, I'll go to hell' -- and tore it up."

Greater love has no boy than this--that he would give up his eternal life with God for a friend. That's what Mark Twain knew about religion.

(For more of Twain's words on religion, click here. And for information about an award-winning new book on Twain, the publication of which is timed to the anniversary of his death, click here.)

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I've been waiting for this. Finally some folks are saying that the volcano eruptions on Iceland are a sign of God's wrath. Sort of makes me wish they'd take a breather and go read Huck Finn.

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P.S.: The annual AIDS Walk Kansas City happens this Saturday and I'm short of my fund-raising goal for it. To sponsor me for this year's event to benefit AIDS service organizations, click here. And thanks.

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ANOtHER P.S.: My latest Presbyterian Outlook column now is online. To read it, click here.

A top Bible scholar: 4-20-10

Non-traditional biblical scholarship has made a big splash in Christianity in the last 25 or so years. Perhaps the Jesus Seminar has attracted most of the attention with its insistence that most of what the New Testament records Jesus as saying he never said at all.


For my money, the Jesus Seminar has a very mixed record. It has popularized the study of theology, which has been a good thing, and some of its members, especially Marcus Borg, have added some important new insights to the faith. But many of its members have been much more interested in simply undoing traditional Christianity. That certainly was the agenda of the late Robert Funk.

But even while the Jesus Seminar folks were getting most of the press, other wonderfully solid New Testament scholars were offering insightful alternatives. Two who come immediately to mind are the late Raymond E. Brown and Luke Timothy Johnson (pictured here).

I had a chance to hear Johnson speak the other night when Village Presbyterian Church in Prairie Village, Kan., brought him to town to lecture.

You may not believe that listening to a top-cabin theologian for an hour and a half could be fun, but it really was. Johnson, who teaches at Candler School of Theology in Atlanta, has a charming way about him, a nice sense of humor and lots of really helpful insights to pass along.

He noted that people everywhere seem to be hungry to learn about Jesus, which is why they buy up so many of the books produced by folks in the Jesus Seminar.

But Johnson contended that the best way to learn about Jesus is through the faith and practices of the church, which includes meeting Jesus in the pages of the New Testament. It's better to learn the history of the first century, he said, so as to understand the context of Jesus better rather than deconstruct the New Testament looking for the historical Jesus. People who look for the historical Jesus in that way inevitably end up finding a Jesus that looks a lot like them, he said. But the more history of the first century world we learn the better readers we are of the four gospels.

I want to give you a sense of what it's like to hear such a solid scholar and good speaker, so to hear the first 10 or so minutes of Johnson's talk, click on this link: Download Johnson-1.

In the Kansas City area we have lots of opportunities to hear great scholars like Johnson. I hope you'll take advantage of these occasions.

AND: Speaking of good scholars and speakers, you may or may not recall that in my last roundup of new books here on the blog I mentioned one by Glenn Carson called The Eternity Principle. Carson, who leads the Disciples of Christ Historical Society, will be here June 5 as a keynote speaker for a Disciples regional leadership summit. If you're interested, click on this link: Download GKCRegionalLeadershipSummit2010Schedule[1]

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Poor old England -- still struggling with the question of female bishops in the Anglican Church. Folks, the 19th Century and even the 20th Century are over. Women know how to be church leaders. It's OK. Let 'em in.

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P.S.:  At 7 p.m. tomorrow Rabbi Jacques Cukierkorn and I will be speaking at the Jewish Community Center Campus in Overland Park, Kan., to introduce a four-part series we'll lead on subsequent Friday mornings called "They Were Just People: Holocaust Lessions for Today." The series will focus on lessons we learned writing our new book about Jews in Poland who survived the Holocaust with non-Jewish help. The Friday sessions -- April 23, April 30, May 7 and May 14 -- will run from 9:30 to 11 a.m. For details on how to sign up for this series, click here and scroll down to the "They Were Just People" headline. Hope you can join us.