Voting for Mani: Why the Lesser of Two Evils is still Good

Andrea di Bonaiuto (14th century), via Wikimedia Commons

Some evangelical Christians and black church leaders say we should not vote this election season because the choice is between a Mormon and a man who supports gay marriage. For them, “The lesser of two evils is still evil.” This saying implies that voting a candidate who is not Christian or moral enough would be sinful. This argument is straightforward, but it is also a modern version of the Manichean heresy.

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My Childhood Experience of Poverty



An old photo of me at a disappointing Christmas (courtesy of Linda Dunn)

When you are a child, there is a lot you do not understand about money. You notice that your mom scolds a bit louder and cries more often. Sometimes you pour water on your cereal instead of milk, you eat lots of things from cans, and you get a smaller, dingier room in a new neighborhood. You understand that your mom needs money. So you color her something resembling a green rectangle, and you watch a sad smile spread across her face as she thanks you, then tries to explain why you don’t need to color green rectangles anymore. Continue reading “My Childhood Experience of Poverty”

Post-Imperial Orthodoxy

This morning I read a quotation from my well worn copy of The Orthodox Church by Fr. Sergius Bulgakov, and I wanted to share it with you. Writing “by the rivers of Babylon,” so to speak, exiled from Soviet Russia and tending to the Orthodox Christians in Paris, Bulgakov writes about the way church and state have related in the past and they way they should relate in the future.

The Church’s methods of influence change; the work is no longer done outside, from above, but from within, from below, from the people and by the people. The representation of the people by the Christian sovereign, in force at the time of the Orthodox Empire, no longer exists; the laity participate in the life of the Church, without any intermediary, so that the Church influences the state in a democratic way. But it is a democracy of souls. New dangers, new difficulties arise in this way, analogous to those which existed at the time of the alliance between Church and state. The Church m ay be led to interfere in party politics; the latter, in its turn, may divert the Church from its true path. But an essential advantage remains; the Church exercises its influence on souls by the way of liberty, which alone corresponds to Christian dignity, not by that of constraint. Constraint leads more quickly to certain results, but it carries with it its own punishment. Contemporary history in both East and West proves this. Continue reading “Post-Imperial Orthodoxy”

Lessons from Silence: Culture-Wars Orthodoxy

I announced last month that I would be taking a short hiatus from the blog because I learned that some of the heat I occasionally get has been singeing other people. (You can read the full post here.) I was planning on a much shorter break, but I got bogged down with an essay I was submitting for an academic journal. Over the course of what turned into a month, I did learn some lessons. Continue reading “Lessons from Silence: Culture-Wars Orthodoxy”

The Kingdoms of God and Pilate



Nikolai Ge, via Wikimedia Commons

When Jesus faced the man who was about to crucify him, the Roman governor Pontius Pilate, he was asked, “Are You the King of the Jews?” Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not of this world…My kingdom is not from here” (John 18:36). But that does not mean Jesus rules a “spiritual” kingdom. Christians often talk about the kingdom of God as if it is something “in the heart.” After all, Jesus did say, “For indeed, the kingdom of God is within you” (Luke 17:21). But that word “within” may be one of the most atrocious mistranslations in the history of modern Bible production. The eternal Word was born a Jew, and Jews did not think the kingdom of God was “spiritual.” In the original Greek, Jesus is saying something more like, “The kingdom of God is in your midsts.” Or, as most modern translations indicate in their footnotes, “The kingdom of God is among you.”[1] The kingdom of God was among them, and continues to be among us, because Jesus is!

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