Archives

Social Justice is the Love of Jesus in Action

At General Convention 79, Presiding Bishop Michael Curry kicked off the campaign “Becoming the Beloved Community”, The Episcopal Church participation in the larger interreligious ‘Jesus Movement’. There will be a churchwide focus on what we can do to become the ‘beloved community’ and live more fully into the teachings of Jesus; one of the hallmarks of the ‘Jesus Movement’ is ensuring there is a just society for all people.

According to the New Oxford American Dictionary social justice is “justice in terms of the distribution of wealth, opportunities, and privileges within a society”. Aristotle, in The Politics, said ‘justice’ ensured that individuals both fulfilled their societal roles and received what was their due from society. Joseph Joubert, a French moralist and essayist, said it more succinctly, “Justice is truth in action”. Over the years, these benefits and rights have come to include public education, access to health care, social security, the right to organize, and a broader spectrum of other public service: the citizen has the responsibility to vote, pay equitable taxes, defend the country, and work for the common good of all citizens. A progressive tax structure and regulation of markets have been developed to help distribute wealth more equally and give more people access to property ownership and job security.

Who could be against justice? If there’s one thing that the laws and prophets – and especially Jesus –agreed on, it’s justice for all, regardless of a person’s background or social status. Some Christians believe that justice is strictly the punishment of wrongdoing, as in our court systems. They would insist that helping the needy through generous giving should be called mercy, compassion or charity — not justice.

In English, however, the word “charity” conveys a good but ‘elective’ activity. Charity cannot be a requirement, for then it would not be charity. In Matthew 6:1-2, gifts to the poor are called “acts of righteousness”. Not giving generously, then, is not stinginess but unrighteousness, a violation of God’s law. In the book of Job, we see Job call every failure to help the poor a sin, offensive to God’s splendor (Job 31:23) and deserving of judgment and punishment (Job 31:28). Remarkably, Job is asserting that it would be a sin against God to think of one’s goods as belonging to himself alone. To not ‘share his bread’ and assets with the poor would be unrighteous, a sin against God – a violation of God’s justice.

Despite the effort to differentiate between “justice” as legal fairness and sharing as “charity,” numerous Scripture passages make radical generosity necessary to live justly. Just persons live a life of honesty, equity and generosity in every aspect of their life.

If you are trying to live a life in accordance with the Bible, the concept and call to justice is inescapable. We do justice when we give all human beings their due as creations of God. Doing justice includes not only the righting of wrongs, but practicing generosity and an interest in social concern, especially toward the poor and vulnerable.

Again and again in the Gospels, Jesus angrily challenges the religious authorities, mocking them for their self-aggrandizing, self-promoting ways. He alienated the elite by spending time with and showing favor to the poor and marginalized; he talked to women, ate without regard for the dietary rules, he healed those considered unclean and returned them to wholeness. He questioned current laws and challenged the status quo. And as a result, he became the target of those in authority. Ultimately, those authorities killed him.

Nevertheless, Jesus showed us that there are times when we must stand up and express ‘truth to power’ in constructive, meaningful, unyielding ways despite the possible consequences. Consider how often, and in how many ways, Jesus expressed anger in the Gospels. He was clear and direct, bringing about justice or revealing malice or ignorance. He made no personal attacks, but sought to uncover the evil behind the actions. There is no record of Jesus being angered by a personal offense, no matter how wrong, unjust, or violent it may have been. He lived and taught that the one who is persecuting us is also created in the image of God and loved by God, and in that reality, we can love our enemy.

Just as God is righteously angered over oppression and injustice, so we should be. Learning how to balance these teachings and actions is a lifelong process for those who choose to follow in God’s ways. The Good Samaritan wasn’t good because of his origins or because he was traveling. Instead, he looked around him, around where he lived and worked and traveled, saw a human in need, and got involved. He gave up time, money, and most likely status and respect in doing so. As he went about his day, he loved someone and righted an injustice.

There are many ways people of faith can be involved in helping set things right. We can encourage our government to shelter the homeless, feed the hungry, clothe those in need; we can advocate for those suffering from mental illness, work fora fair and rehabilitative prison system; we can work with youth who need an adult mentor, visit the sick or infirmed – the need for the love of Jesus, for real justice are everywhere.

As we near a new ecclesiastical year, it is a good season for each of us to ask ourselves: How can our love of Jesus be channeled into loving action? We, as members of the Diocese of Southern Ohio, have an obligation to work for social justice in the world about us, just as Jesus did. And like Jesus, we should be angry at many instances of injustice that prompt us to speak truth in love to our friends, our neighbors, our legislators, our nation and the world.

We would do well to remember what Micah 6:6-8 says:

With what shall I come before the Lord, and bow myself before God on high? Shall I come before him with burnt offerings, with calves a year old? Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams, with ten thousands of rivers of oil? Shall I give my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?” He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?

The Good Samaritan was one person, one person who made a difference in the life of one man. Think about what a group of Christians could do if they combined their time and energy to right the injustices in the world.

Are you ready to take those steps necessary to carry out the teachings of Jesus?

Are you ready to ‘strive to do justice, love kindness and walk humbly with God’?
 
 

Written for Connections, Diocese of Southern Ohio, 1 August 2018

What is “the Church”?

When the impressive and dedicated group of candidates for our Vestry spoke last Sunday at the “Meet the Candidates” Forum, at some point each one expressed the aspiration to “grow the church”! But what does that mean, to “grow the church”? One immediately thinks of increasing membership and financial resources – and perhaps enhancing facilities. But is that the best definition?

The common definition of ‘church’ is ‘a building used for public worship, a body or organization of religious believers’. The word ‘church’ comes from the Greek word ekklesia, which is defined as ‘an assembly’ or ‘called-out ones.’[1] The root meaning of ‘church’ is not that of a building, but of people.

The Bible repeatedly reminds us that the church is the body/group of believers in Christ. Ephesians 1:22-23 says,

“And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church, which is his body”

The body of Christ is made up of all believers in Jesus Christ, gathered in one universal church. We read in Romans 12:5:

“So we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another.”

The true church, then, is the gathering of the believers (congregations) who come together to participate in fellowship with one another as they worship God, study scripture readings, and support each other in continuing the work of Jesus on earth. At its best, a congregation offers a sense of belonging and being involved with one another in common goals – a community of people with shared beliefs. It gives one another some spiritual safety, friendship, fellowship and encouragement. It teaches its people things they would not learn on their own. A congregation helps train our children, and supports families. It provides members with help in times of illness, and solace in times of grief. The ‘church’ creates opportunities for its members to serve others in their community and world. It helps us work together for more effective ministry, and gives us opportunities to serve that help us grow in ways we do not expect. This fellowship, worship, and ministry are all conducted by people, not buildings.

The purpose of the church building is

“to equip the people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ” (Ephesians 4:12-13).

A ‘church’ is a body of believers united in the teachings of Jesus. The ‘church’ is about praising and thanking our Creator, and nurturing and helping believers to mature in their faith. The ‘church’ is about spreading the Good News about Jesus, salvation, and eternal life.

The ‘church’ reaches out with compassion to those who are needy and searching for Jesus, striving to make a real difference in the world. A building can do none of these.

In summary, the church is neither a building nor a denomination. According to the Bible, the church is the body of Christ—all those who have placed their faith in Jesus Christ for salvation (John 3:16; 1 Corinthians 12:13). The ‘church’ is a community of people, encouraging, teaching, and building up one another in the knowledge and grace of Jesus. The purpose of the church is to both glorify God, and to inform the world about the words and work of Christ.

This is the kind of ‘church’ that Saint John’s aspires to be, and works daily to become. It needs resources and facilities, yes – but what it needs most is its people, and their love for Jesus Christ and one another!

Thanks be to God!
 
[1]      (Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance, #1577)
 
 

The Rev deniray mueller, CCrossroads, Saint John’s Episcopal Church in Worthington and Parts Adjacent, Worthington, OH; 7 February 2018

Healthy congregations are diverse congregations

The Episcopal Church prides itself in the acceptance of all people – those of diverse cultures, ethnicity, race, gender identity, sexual identity, and abilities. This allows congregations that share the wonderful uniqueness of each person, celebrate their varied differences, and promote stronger and richer missions through their shared ideas. Each culture brings with it an approach to worship that enriches the corporate celebration of the sacraments.

Christianity, at its best, is an all-embracing tradition, taking all that is good and true and beautiful in the world, bringing it together to give it a home. In so doing, it is able to appreciate a wide variety of practices, spiritualities, theologies, philosophies, and cultural adaptations. Of course, there are elements which transcend differences, such as the sacraments which bring us into the Church: baptism, chrismation, the eucharist, clerical orders, marriage and anointing may be celebrated in a variety of unique ways, but the central core is still in the celebration.

With diversity, however, comes many challenges. There are established cultural ‘norms’ that discourage some members of the congregation from being open to new ideas. There are social and racial biases so ingrained that some congregants don’t even realize they have them. Every person comes with his or her own customs, manner of dress, music and liturgy preferences, and political views. Saint Paul encountered this in his ministry; each city he proselyted was different, with difference mores, cultures and social guidelines. These differences created a messy church – just like ours today.

A major hindrance to creating a unity within a diverse church is the tendency of human beings to cling to ‘their own kind’, even if they live, work, and worship in multi-cultural neighborhoods. It is more ‘comfortable’ to be among people just like one’s self, rather than ‘stretch’ to acknowledge and come to understand customs and behaviors that are unfamiliar or different.

Even within the church, many people accept the concept of diversity until activities become culturally uncomfortable to them – then they want to go back to ‘how we have always done it’, discounting the possibility that new ways or approaches might even be more enriching, or open their minds and spirits to God in fresh and exciting ways. Styles of music become a serious impediment to solidifying a congregation – there are those who refuse to acknowledge any worth in contemporary Christian or non-piano/organ music. Many cultures worship in a participatory manner during the service, especially during the sermon. To those who could be labelled the ‘frozen chosen’ (sitting silently during the sermon), this is an anathema!

No matter the number of sermons preached on embracing those who are not like us, social and cultural norms reinforce that concept that ‘that’s okay for other people, but not for my church’. Past schisms in The Episcopal Church demonstrate evidence of how rigidly some beliefs are held.

Today’s church is no different from the early church, where Saint Paul preached:

There are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. There are differences of ministries, but the same Lord. And there are diversities of activities, but it is the same God who works all in all. But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to each one for the profit of all (1 Corinthians 12:4-6)

One of the best ways we can achieve true unity in diversity is to move from speech to action, by actually celebrating diversity in our churches. It takes a concerted effort by all members of the congregations; but it can be rewarding, inspiring, and joyful!

First, we must come to understand some core obstacles that may keep us from unity:

  1. Pride in one’s identity must make room for embracing the identity of others. Racial, political and educational characteristics are at the core of our ego and self-identity. If we pridefully cling to our differences as the core of ‘who we are’ and ‘what is right’, we are unable to embrace the identities of those ‘not like us’ – often resulting in bigotry and judgment, rather than loving and sincere interest in others. Realizing that much more unites human beings than divides them, is essential to unity.
  2. Openness to doing things in new ways must supplant the discomfort of not doing things ‘my way’.
  3. We must meet changes and new ideas with patience, genuine interest, and honest responses rather than anger and apathy. We should always care what happens in our church, and if we do not agree with it, gently and earnestly express our opinions, remembering that someone may cherish what we disdain – compromise can always be found among truly united people!
  4. Forgiveness for perceived hurts and misunderstandings, rather than holding grudges, is essential for moving forward to a united church. We must help one another look at past slights and offenses in order to forgive, and put such incidents in the past.
  5. A sense of ‘ethnic-awareness’ and appreciation must replace ‘color-blindness’ for true unity. We are not ‘all the same’, but we are all wonderful products of God’s creative imagination!

We pray daily that God’s Kingdom will come ‘on earth as it is in Heaven’. Our churches should be the best example of what that Kingdom should look like! Blind conformity, rote ritual, token motions of mission and outreach, power plays, and denominational pride are not found in God’s Kingdom – nor is disregard for the feelings and needs of each individual. The Kingdom of Heaven must be heralded by a church that is intentionally loving across ethnic, racial, and gender differences. Churches that are struggling together to love and care for those in need, will declare and model the Good News of Jesus in all they do.
 
 

written for Connections, Diocese of Southern Ohio, 30 November 2017

A Terrorist is a Terrorist – No Matter WHO It Is!

We are all reeling from yet another atrocity – the massacre at the First Baptist Church in Sutherland, Texas. The fact that someone chose to mow down people worshipping on a Sunday is an anathema of all this country professes to be. Unfortunately, we live in a world that is sadly marked by increasing violence and terrorism. It seems like very few days go by, if any at all, without some horrible act of terror or random violence. It has become such a ‘normal’ occurrence that some in the country hardly react any longer. There is surely something wrong in our society when the solution to a problem or reaction to anger is to not only kill the offender, but also massacre innocence people in the process.

But equally disturbing to me is that whenever there is a terror attack, the natural impulse is to blame a Muslim or ISIS. Are we so influenced by the national attitude that we can’t wait to immediately attach the nomer ‘Islam’ or ‘ISIS’ to the word ‘terrorist’? Perhaps it is easier to accept that a foreign element is responsible for our mounting atrocities than to accept the perpetrator may be the person next door, but clearly that is not so.

It is human nature to seek scapegoats for the causes of evil – it is far easier to look upon the things that come from without than the things from within. That chosen scapegoat suffices only until another deadly attack happens; then we repeat the blaming (mental health, access to guns, foreign agents).

If you look at the last six massacres, each one was perpetrated by a home-grown, All-American citizen – not some foreign boogey man. They may have had mental health issues, but they grew up and lived as a citizen of the United States. We are reluctant to admit that ‘we’ have spawned this monster.

We do not call their actions ‘terrorism’ . . . but terrorism is terrorism. . . – no matter who the person is. Whether they have a mental problem or are seeking revenge for a perceived slight, when one kills and maims dozens of innocent people, they are still ‘terrorists’. And until we accept that their actions are not solely, ‘mental health issues’, or ‘gun control issues’, but ‘acts of terror’, it will be nearly impossible to address these actions.

Living among us as law-abiding and patriotic Americans are thousands of Muslims. In a knee-jerk reaction, to continually label them as a group as being the cause each time we have an incidence of terror in our midst, is unfair, unjust, and weakens our ability to address the real causes behind the terrorist’s act.

We, as Christians, need to begin to address the causes of terrorism. We need to provide services for those who feel they have been a victim of injustice. And we need to be a strident, but loving voice against those who spout hatred against those who are not ‘like us’, whether ethnic, racial, gender, or religious. If we begin to ‘love one another as we love ourselves’, maybe we can begin to change the world.

We can pray this will be so – and put our prayers into action.
 

written for The Crossroads, Saint John’s Episcopal Church in Worthington & Parts Adjacent, OH; 12 November 2017

Moving toward the Promised Land: The Reforming Catholic Confession

About 500 years ago, as the legend goes, a small-town German Augustinian[3] friar named Martin Luther nailed his ’95 Theses’ on the door of the Wittenburg Cathedral. This action was the most obvious of many events during the 17th century that marked the rejection of the many of the tenets and practices of the Roman Catholic Church, and led to the Protestant Reformation.

Luther believed that Scripture alone was the sole authority (Sola Scriptura) for doctrine, and that Christ’s death fully satisfied the penalty of sin. The Protestant mantra became: justification is by grace alone, through faith alone, because of Christ alone. This was a sharp divergence from the Roman Catholic doctrine that salvation came from works and faith (Sola Fide).

Luther had no intention of leaving the church he hoped to reform, but his theological fury led to his inevitable excommunication as a heretic and the splintering of Christendom. As a result, with the help of Philip Melanchthon, Luther precepts became known as the Lutheran religion. From this Reformation Movement what developed was the church known today as ‘protestant’.

Now, 500 years after the Protestant Reformation, one of the most common charges against the Reformers is that they divided the Church. What’s more, once the division came, inevitably division after division followed, with fragmentation, splintering and dissension; there are now approximately 33,000 different protestant denominations in the world.

On September 10, 2017, over 250 prominent scholars, pastors, and church leaders drawn from every continent and spanning most Protestant theological traditions and Communions (Lutheran, Reformed, Anglican, Methodist, Baptist, Free Church, Nazarene, Pentecostal, etc.), released a theological statement affirming the essentials of the Reformation. Its Protestant authors contend that in this 500th anniversary year, the document must be a “catholic” statement in the best sense of the word.

This Reforming Catholic Confession (A “Mere Protestant” Statement of Faith to mark the 500th anniversary of the Reformation) is a document which outlines the main theological commitments held by a large majority of Protestant Christians since the Reformation. The purpose of such a statement is to “demonstrate the remarkable commonality that exists throughout the world among Protestants on the core elements of Christianity”, claims Jerry Walls, an author and professor of philosophy at Houston Baptist University.[1]

The Reforming Catholic Confession contains 12 articles that outline shared beliefs in such basic Christian tenets as “The Triune God,” “The Atoning Work of Christ,” “The Gospel,” and “The Church”.

The beliefs are followed by 25 “why we say what we say” explanations that capture key cornerstones and dimensions of the Christian faith. The final section of the Confession states the resolve of the authors to honor the distinctions among the variety of Protestant traditions, but to aim for even greater unity in the Body of Christ.

It is much like the creation of the Nicene Creed, developed in 325 CE, as a statement of faith that could be professed by all the faithful. It is a negotiated statement among the leaders of the various factions of the church at that time, and is still used by a majority of Roman Catholic and liturgical churches.

As in 325 CE, no single group of participants gets everything they wanted to express in the document, but they nevertheless arrive at a mutually agreed upon declaration. “The question is not ‘Does this statement say everything you would want it to say, but ‘Can you agree with us thus far?'” Walls said.

It is called a “catholic” confession, to reclaim the word (little ‘c’) “catholic”, meaning the church universal. The document is an attempt to recover the speaking of truth in love between divisions of the church, Too much dissension and negative rhetoric between members of the Protestant churches has come down through the ages. This is an attempt, much like the Nicene Creed, to emphasize what we all share, rather than how we are different.

Phyllis Tickle, a renowned authority on American religion once said:

“Every 500 years, the empowered structures of institutionalized Christianity, whatever they may be, become an intolerable carapace that must be shattered so that renewal and growth may occur. Now is such a time.” [2]

In a PBS interview, Tickle referred to this

 “[e]very 500 years” theory and said, “the church has a giant rummage sale.” She said, “Christianity is in the midst of a new reformation that will radically remake the faith.”

There is still much analysis to be done on The Reforming Catholic Confession by varied denominations of the church universal, but this may well be the beginning of a ‘modern’ reformation, working to bring disparate factions of God’s faithful into closer communion with each other. The statement has already been translated into French, Korean, Portuguese, and Spanish.

The complete document can be found at http://reformingcatholicconfession.com/.
 
[1]      http://www.christianpost.com/news/over-250-protestant-leaders-sign-reforming-catholic-confession-on-essentials-of-christian-faith-198747/?utm_source=newsletter
[2]      Phyllis Tickle, The Great Emergence: How Christianity Is Changing and Why (Emergent Village Resources for Communities of Faith), Baker Books/Emergent Village-Emersion Books, 2008
 

[3] Thanks to Tunney Lee King, who corrected me: Luther was an Augustinian friar.
 

Written for Connections, Diocese of Southern Ohio, 1 October 2017

7 Things Christians Need Remember About Politics

This is an article published in Relevant Magazine, written by Bryan Roberts. In light of the current primaries, I felt it was noteworthy. The original article can be found at the URL at the bottom of the page.

How to be in the world, not of the world, in a culture of political vitriol.

political boxingPolitical discourse is the Las Vegas of Christianity—the environment in which our sin is excused. Hate is winked at, fear is perpetuated and strife is applauded. Go wild, Christ-follower. Your words have no consequences here. Jesus doesn’t live in Vegas.

Not only are believers excused for their political indiscretions, but they are often applauded for committing them. Slander is explained away as righteous anger; winning arguments are esteemed higher than truthful ones (whether or not the “facts” align); and those who stir up dissension are given the pulpit. So I balk when pastors tell me the Church should engage in the political process. Why would we do that? The political process is dirty and broken and far from Jesus. Paranoia and vitriol are hardly attractive accessories for the bride of Christ.

Rather than engage in the political process, Christians have a duty to elevate it. Like any other sin, we are called to stand above the partisan dissension and demonstrate a better way. Should we have an opinion? Yes. Should we care about our country? Yes. Should we vote? Yes. But it’s time we talk politics in a way that models the teachings of Jesus rather than mocks them.

It’s time we talk politics in a way that models the teachings of Jesus rather than mocks them.

Here are seven things to remember about politics:

  1. Both political parties go to church
    There’s a Christian Left and, perhaps even less well-known, there’s a secular Right. Larry T. Decker is a lobbyist and head of the Secular Coalition for America. He’s an “unaffiliated Christian,” but his entire job is devoted to keeping religion out of the U.S. government. Party lines are drawn in chalk, and they’re not hard to cross. The Church must be engaged in politics, but it must not be defined by the arbitrary lines in politics.
  2. Political talk radio and cable “news” only want ratings
    When media personalities tell you they are on a moral crusade, they are lying to you. These personalities get rich by instilling fear and paranoia in their listeners. If we give our favorite political ideologues more time than we give Jesus, we are following the wrong master. There are unbiased, logical and accurate news sources out there. But it’s up to you to be a good steward of information—to fact-check for yourself, take ideology with a grain of salt and make decisions based on facts rather than gossip.
  3. Those who argue over politics don’t love their country more than others
    They just love to argue more than others. Strife and quarreling are symptoms of weak faith (Proverbs 10:12; 2 Timothy 2:23-25; James 4:1) and are among the things the Lord “detests.” We need to rise above the vitriol and learn to love our neighbors the way God commanded us. We need to love our atheist neighbor who wants to keep creationism out of schools; our Democrat neighbor who wants to keep gay marriage and abortion legal; our Republican neighbor who celebrates death penalty statistics and gun ownership; and yes, even the presidential candidate from the other side.

    If you’re mocking your governing leaders on Facebook, the Holy Spirit is grieved.

  4. Thinking your party’s platform is unflawed is a mistake
    The social policies of your party were constructed by imperfect politicians fueled by ambition. It’s nearsighted to canonize them—and it will make you obsolete in a few years. Every four years, the parties adopt a current, updated platform at their respective conventions. And while they stay on general tracks, every four years the platform evolves to meet the needs of a growing, modernized and changing party. The Republican party of today doesn’t look like it did 10 years ago. We need to know when to change our views to meet a changing culture—and when to stand by them.
  5. Scripture tells us to pray for our governing leaders (2 Timothy 2:1-4) and to respect those in authority (Romans 13:1-7)
    Translation: if you’re mocking your governing leaders on Facebook, the Holy Spirit is grieved. We should spend more time honoring our leaders and less time vilifying them. This doesn’t mean praying the President will be impeached; it doesn’t mean praying your candidate will win. God commands us to pray for our leaders—for their wisdom, for their hearts and for them to be led by Him.
  6. Don’t be paranoid
    The country is not going to be destroyed if your candidate loses. As 2 Timothy 1:7 says,

      “God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.”

    Stand up and demonstrate what God has given you. America has functioned—albeit, at varying levels of success—for years under the direction of alternating Democrat and Republican control, and at every flip, the other side thought it was the end of the world. It’s not. And if we’re a Church that believes God is in control, we have to believe that He is the one in control of the end times—not whoever’s in office now, and not whoever succeeds them.

  7. Stop saying, “This is the most important election in the history of our nation”
    It’s not. The most important election in the history of our nation was when Abraham Lincoln was elected president. Before that, we thought it was OK to own people. Every generation thinks it’s living in the most important moment in history. We’re not, our parents were not and our children probably won’t be. And that’s OK.

 
Bryan Roberts, Relevant, February 1, 2016
7 things Christians need remember about politics

Tempest in a Coffee Cup

I could not have said it better:
 

starbucks red cup“I’ve found in life there are many, many things we become better people by having patience about. Crazy Christians who want to make a coffee cup a symbol of their “oppression” are not one of those things.

Color me flat out of patience with people so blind to their own entitlement that they see a Starbucks cup as a war on Christianity while black churches are being burned, Christians are fleeing for their lives in Pakistan, Syria and Sudan, and Muslims in this country live with the daily scourge of Islamophobia.

Religious persecution is a very real thing — a thing way too real to be diminished by this kind of foolishness. And if Christians who get that don’t speak out then the ones who don’t get it will speak for us.

So here’s my “final answer” on the Starbucks Cup Controversy as a priest, a pastor and a life-long fan of Christmas: It’s a cup. For coffee. And if you find yourself getting whipped up about it you might consider switching to decaf — and volunteering somewhere to work to address actual oppression. (I’ve got a list if you need it.)”
 
 
By The Rev Susan Russell
Tempest in a coffee cup