I recently read/pillaged an article by Linell Cady which calls for a re-evaluation of the role and methods of public theology in light of our post-secular context (brill.com/ijpt).
The term “public theology” appears to have been coined by Martin Marty. It was a liberal Christian response to a growing religio-political fundamentalism. Of course, religio-political fundamentalism (i.e. the religious right) was itself responding to secularization. So, in a way, public theology attempted to be a better, more “right” kind of response. Think of it as the “B” side of Jerry Falwell’s Moral Majority, but with a smaller PR budget. Continue reading “Public Theology in the Post-Secular?”
Matthew Heimbach is a white nationalist and an Orthodox Christian (see photo). Many of you already know this story. For those who don’t, I’ll sum up the major points: People found out that this guy was recently received into the Orthodox Church and raised hell because he, and several other individuals, seemed to believe that Orthodoxy was consistent with their racist beliefs. Mr. Heimbach was recently excommunicated, pending repentance and renunciation of his beliefs. Since then, some of his compatriots have come out to insist that they are not racist at all, and the entire thing is a big misunderstanding pushed by anti-white communist leftists who are in the pockets of the Jews (read the comments).
I try not to write when my emotions are raw, and this whole thing has me reeling. It will take me days, or more, before I am able to work toward an intelligent response. Right now, I just cannot help but wonder what’s wrong with us. Seriously, Orthodoxy in America has a problem. What do I mean? You might think I am over-reacting. This is an isolated incident of a few white guys in a very racist city (Bloomington, IN) not understanding that Orthodoxy frowns upon using crosses as weapons to push a racist agenda. But I wonder what the chances are that somebody could not “get” the church’s teachings about this:
(Addendum: Some might say that there are no canons about using crosses as weapons. That is true. And in my home, there are no rules about not peeing on the television. Because there are some things you just should not have to make rules for.)
Pretending to be an ostrich is not an effective Christian social theory, but we Orthodox do just that when it comes to sex and gender-identity issues. For example, now that I have said those words, someone is sure to tell me that I am sowing confusion. “You see,” they will say, “the Orthodox Church has been clear and consistent in its position on ‘homosexuality’ for centuries.”
Except it hasn’t! The claim itself is offensive! Why? Well, obviously, those of us who keep talking about “homosexuality” are either ignorant of the clear teachings of the church or we are just stubborn, preferring intellectual gymnastics to intellectual humility necessary to accept what the truly spiritual Orthodox Christians know in their hearts what’s right.
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.
Like everyone, I sometimes get into tit-for-tats online, but on those rare occasions in which I am being the better version of myself, I keep in mind that online discussions tend to generate more heat than light. The nastier the critics, the less likely they are to change their minds, and the more frustrated I am going to feel. So it is best to stay out of it.
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 Public Role of Church and Theology”