Having been caught up in other projects and deadlines, I picked up Pantelis Kalaitzidis’ Orthodoxy & Political Theology last night after several weeks’ absence. The following words reminded me of how our love for “Holy Tradition” can kill our witness.
A certain version of theology…[has] turned Tradition into traditionalism and taught us to associate the identity of the church mainly – or even exclusively – with the past, making us accustomed to an Orthodoxy that is permanently out of step with its time and history in general. In fact, Orthodox theology often suffers…from a kind of inertia with regard to participating in history and the socio-cultural context…Speaking about the church’s transforming presence and activity in society, culture, and politics is reduced to nothing more than wishful thinking. Continue reading →
If you don’t want tax dollars helping the sick and poor, then it’s time to stop saying you want a government based on Christian values.
I shared this picture on Facebook the other day because I agree with the sentiment, but I disagree with its simplicity. John Fugelsang correctly identified hypocrisy in the Christian Right, but he applied his diagnosis too broadly.
There are three legitimate reasons why a conservative Christian might want the government to get out of the welfare business: Continue reading →
St. George & the Dragon, detail [Wikimedia Commons]
I recently wrote that a Christian should not carry a concealed weapon because it violated the spirit of martyrdom and self-sacrifice the church tries to teach us. One common objection to this point was that to choose not to kill in the defense of another human being would be unloving. I agree. It would be unloving to the potential victim, and it would be unloving to the potential victimizer. In the Orthodox Church, killing in defense of self and country is still a sin. Continue reading →
This morning I came across six theses by Pantelis Kalaitzidis on the role the church should play in public life. They are in his book, Orthodoxy and Political Theology, which was recommended by my friend Brandon Gallaher. When the book arrived, I flipped it over and read the following question on the back cover, “Why has Eastern Orthodoxy not developed a full-throated political theological voice?” This is the same question that drove my dissertation and drives my book. (Once again, Brandon hits the nail on the head!) Continue reading →
The martyrs have been on my mind lately. The other morning I turned to the letter St. Ignatius wrote to the church in Rome, before he was executed. I read the following words,
I am corresponding with all the churches and bidding them all to realize that I am voluntarily dying for God – if, that is, you do not interfere. I plead with you, do not do me an unseasonable kindness. Let me be fodder for wild beasts–that is how I can get to God. I am God’s wheat and I am being ground by the teeth of wild beasts to make a pure loaf for Christ. I would rather that you fawn on the beasts so that they may be my tomb and no scrap of my body be left. Thus, when I have fallen asleep, I shall be a burden to no one. Then I shall be a real disciple of Jesus Christ when the world sees my body no more. Pray Christ for me that by these means I may become God’s sacrifice.
Brook Edwards is a high school friend of my sister, but I have gotten to know her a bit better over the years. We have a shared love of teaching, and I have found her insights into practical, pedagogical, and policy issues to be full of wisdom. In the wake of the Sandy Hook shootings, politicians and policy wonks have been talking about arming teachers. I thought maybe they should listen to a teacher’s opinion first. Brooke is dealing with a difficult family situation at the moment, and I am grateful to her for taking the time to share her experiences with us. – David J.
Sandy Hook Memorial (via Wikimedia Commons)
I taught in the inner city for four years, and the talk of arming teachers inside of the classroom got me thinking about if I would prefer to teach with a gun strapped to my hip or not. My first thought was, “Yes! Of course I would want a gun!” I was raised to believe that an armed society was a polite society and that guns helped otherwise unsavory people have better manners.
I taught social studies in one of the most dangerous school systems in America. Every year we competed with Detroit and Washington D.C. for the ignominy of having the highest crime rate in the country. Continue reading →
Mike Huckabee says that we have mass shootings because we have abandoned faith in God, but faith in God will not keep crazy people from harming the innocent. Only sane gun policy can do that.
I want to apologize in advance. My emotions are still raw. Twenty children died yesterday. Twenty families will never be able to cuddle their babies again. Twenty families had their lives torn apart 11 days before Christmas. (Now what do they do with the presents and pajamas they already bought for kids who will never scamper down the stairs again?) I normally try to keep an even tone when I write, but I can already tell I am going to have a hard time being patient with those who, in times like these, say we need God more than we need gun control. I have no problem with God. I love God. I am a Christian (like Mike Huckabee). I am even a theologian! Basically, I read, think, and talk about God for a living, but studying the history of the church also means that I am not daft enough to think that more Jesus means less violence. Continue reading →