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27 October 2004: It is Time to Vote!
The political campaign is almost over. Soon the constant barrage of character-assassinating rage so omnipresent on our television screens will end. If the pollsters are accurate half of this nation will celebrate on November 2nd. The other half will either be angry or in mourning. A divided nation will, I fear, still be divided on …
20 October 2004: Making Much of What Cannot Matter Much to God
I ask my readers’ indulgence this week as I roam over some of the terrain of my own ministry. My reminiscence revolves around a simple phrase: “when we would make much of that which cannot matter much to God.” These words have echoed in my mind for at least 50 years. I associated them primarily …
Overcoming the widespread Christian belief that "Jesus died for my sins" seems an insurmountable challenge! Preachers, liturgical rites, hymns and religious education curricula continue to reinforce "atonement theology/theories." Would you do a series on "atonement theology/theories" – their origins, rationale, continued justification, etc.? Personally and pastorally, "atonement" thinking creates a mire of destructive results and I, for one, would well appreciate your cogent analysis of how we might best approach this.
13 October 2004: Bishop Spong Answers Your Questions
Dear Friends, I now have more than 5000 questions on file from my readers. If I limit myself to one each week, my present supply will not be exhausted until the year 2101 C.E.! So I have decided to revive the practice of periodically devoting an entire column to the question and answer format. That …
6 October 2004: Do we have the moral right to choose to die?
Is death a natural and normal part of human life or is it an enemy that we must always seek to defeat? That is an issue being debated today in religious circles, pitting traditional religious groups, most notably the hierarchy of the Roman Catholic Church and leading Protestant Fundamentalists, against the rapidly growing movement of …
My dear friend of 25 years is a fundamentalist Christian who has prayed about my position on the gay rights issue (I am a gay rights advocate). Her position is that if God had made her a gay person, she would still not be free to indulge in sex. Also, if everybody got to do whatever made them happy, then where do we draw the line? She has challenged me to go to God and basically ask God which one of us is right. As a member of the church alumni, I really don't know what to say to her. Complicating matters is the fact that my son is gay but she doesn't know that yet. Can you help?
29 September 2004: The Place of the Bible in the Right to Die Debate
Alan Meisel is the Dickey, McCarey and Chicote Professor of Bioethics and Law at the University of Pittsburgh. I met him recently when we were both addressing a conference in Washington, D.C., sponsored by the Death with Dignity organization. Professor Meisel had previously served on the Ethics Workings Group of the White House Task Force …
I am dismayed by poll results that show consistently that people who attend church regularly are more likely to support the war in Iraq and the people conducting it, than people who are not associated with a religious organization. How can this be? What message are they hearing? Where do they hear it or read it?
22 September 2004: Were there twelve disciples? – Was Mary Magdalene one of them?
Dear Friends, Sometimes I receive a question that requires a whole column to answer. Such was the case with a question received late this summer. I am happy to devote this column to the answer and hope that you find it worthwhile. – John Shelby Spong John Schwally, a journalist film maker in New York …
I agree with most of what you have set forth about the war in Iraq. However, I support George Bush because I believe him to be an honest man who has, unfortunately, been grossly misled by our "intelligence" services. His only mistake, in my mind, is that he has not publicly announced this fact and sacked those responsible. We are now committed to Iraq. We must conclude with honor the job we have undertaken and withdraw as quickly as possible. It is unfortunate that our beloved "press" views its political agendas as more important than that of reporting facts. I remember when this was not so and long for the return of those honest days. I respect you, Dr. Spong, but must in all honesty ask how you can state without equivocation that the president is carrying out a "personal vendetta" against Saddam of Iraq because of his father's decisions, wise or unwise? How correct is your "intelligence" source?
15 September 2004: Bishop V. Gene Robinson – One Year Later
It has been more than a year since Gene Robinson was elected Bishop of New Hampshire by the clergy and lay deputies of the Episcopal Church in that state. The election and its confirmation, which took place at the General Convention of the Episcopal Church in September of 2003, created debate and elicited strong reactions …
In regard to your column on the resignation of James McGreevey in New Jersey, a bigger question is how New Jersey will deal with corruption - it is generally accepted that it is the most corrupt state in the United States. I met a couple one time that had been living in New Jersey for 23 years and she said her mother would still not tell her friends that she had moved to New Jersey. A Political Science professor at Rutgers said yesterday on T.V., "We have known the problem for years - now let's see it we can deal with it."
8 September 2004: Understanding The Christian Roots of My Political Depression
The Republican Convention in New York City forced me to face the fact that my feelings about the Bush Administration have reached a visceral negativity, the intensity of which surprises even me. So I decided to search introspectively to identify its source. Is it simply runaway partisanship? That is certainly how it sounds to many …
1 September 2004: Republicans at Prayer in Madison Square Garden
The Republican Party in New York City this week looks very much like the Democratic Party looked in Boston last month. Strip away the posters; mute the rhetoric and they are hard to distinguish one from another. Possibly the Republicans are a little older, a little whiter and little more established and bejeweled, but people …
As a Sunday School teacher of the teenage group and a parent of two teens, what resources are there for this age group? Most of what I've seen in written form is from a literal perspective. It doesn't seem like there's much geared for them, or else I just haven't stumbled upon it yet. Do you have any suggestions?
25 August 2004: A View from Europe
“What is it about George W. Bush that causes you to be so negative?” That was the question I posed this summer at a dinner party in Windsor, England. It was a topic that seemed to occur everywhere I went on this month-long lecture tour that took me to Denmark, Sweden, Scotland and England. The …
My problem with your suggestion that we must 'stay the course' in Iraq is that I don't know who the enemy is, what the 'course' is or how doing so would be any different from just pulling out now. I think variation could be to provide a winning strategy for resolving the mess created by the current administration. Each bomb we drop or rocket we fire or person we kill costs money and increases the risk of retaliation. The money could be used instead to right the wrong caused by our past bombing, rocketing and killing. To me, 'staying the course' looks too much like doing what the state of Israel has been doing the past 30 plus or minus years, following a strategy that we all know or should know by now is not the road to peace. It is ironic to consider how close the state of Israel is following our example of how to deal with the people who were there before we arrived. Just think how close the 'walls' being built in Israel today are to the solution we employed years ago by forcing the people who preceded us on to reservations. Am I seeing 'staying the course' correctly? Is this what you propose we do?
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