Russia’s present invasion of Ukraine is about to enter its fifth month, and once again the world is grappling with a multivalent crisis that is producing massive human suffering and displacement. Millions of Ukrainians have been driven from their land and untold numbers have lost their lives because Vladimir Putin is hell-bent on forcing them to conform to the madness of his imagined narrative and the lust for power that fuels it. Once again the complicated stories of borders and ethnicities and governments have collided, producing harrowing violence and swift destruction that will take eons to remedy, if ever.
At the messianic table, Christ invites us to participate in God’s imagination, to join a feast that reconnects us to food, land, and neighbor, and offers a way of remembering that confronts forgotten wounds, fragmented minds, and displaced bodies. Holding the bread of life, we present to the world the daily liturgy of eating as a profoundly communal, biological, spiritual, humanizing, and, as it turns out, counter-cultural act.
Creation, I believe, is the best place to begin when considering the art of poetry and why it matters. For every poem participates by invitation in that first creative act of God.
Just before Gene suffered a stroke in 2019, I was sitting next to him in church on a Wednesday morning at a men’s breakfast and book study. We were discussing the current friction in the denomination, which he was able to put into a much larger context of denominational history and the forces at work in society and culture. “I have come to the point where I think for the good of the church and for many Christians it would be better for us to graciously separate,” he said. Then he paused and reflected from his own heart and piety, “I must be humble as a Christian, and I must never say that I am somehow better or more faithful than those who feel led to separate. Sometimes at the end of life you don’t have all the issues of life entirely figured out and you must simply rest in Christ.”
I’ve been looking for a theory of everything, that explains not just Trump, sexism, and anti-wokeism, but also explains things as different as climate change denial, bad behavior on airplanes, Brexit, Mark Zuckerberg and Elon Musk, church splits, anti-vaxxers, threats of violence outside the homes of Supreme Court justices, and our tolerance of mass shootings. I know that’s asking a lot, but I think I may have come up with something.
Kuyper’s name and ideas (or at least versions of them) have spread beyond the confines of the Dutch immigrant denominations that originally laid claim to him, into the broader evangelical culture.
Beneath this contorted, soundbite driven, raging debate is, in my view, the real question: When does a fertilized egg in its development acquire, in the view of the state, the status of a full human being deserving constitutional rights and protections, like any other person?
Exactly what is the harm being done to anyone’s neighbor by the relationship of an LGBTQ couple? On the contrary, the harm we do to these brothers and sisters when we ostracize and condemn them is obvious. The HSR advises that the church declare that these brothers and sisters have no place in the church or the Kingdom of heaven. Shame on us if we make such a proclamation.
My work with RCA Disability Concerns has forced me to wrestle in deeper ways with ableism—the subtle, pervasive bias evident in attitudes, actions, or systems that consider a person with a disability as defective, broken, and “less than.” When I was hired in 2009 to launch this new RCA ministry, I resisted emphasizing the church’s many ableist practices because it seemed too difficult to start there. But as I’ve observed and repeatedly experienced ableist practices and systems over more than a decade, I’ve been convicted to name and challenge them.
Watching and listening to Eitan Haber, I felt the past and the present collapsing into each other. We were reliving the drama of Cain and Abel. Yigal Amir had murdered Yitshak Rabin, his brother in the faith, and Rabin’s blood was crying out to us from the text of Shir L’Shalom. One drama was interpreting the other. Rabin’s blood was crying out for peace and reconciliation, and I began wondering what the blood of Abel might have been crying. What did the blood of Abel want? What was it calling on the Lord to do?