Christ and Pop Culture on Ferguson and Racism

Alan Noble at Christ and Pop Culture posted an article yesterday that is actually a rebuttal to an article at Gospel Coalition by Voddie Baucham. I am linking to it because it has so much to offer in addition to the response to Baucham. Even though Baucham has been the victim of systemic racism, he relies on an explanatory framework which leads to a number of false dilemmas. I won’t review them all since Noble examines them well. Here is just one example from Baucham’s article:

I [Baucham] have been pulled over by police for no apparent reason. In fact, it has happened on more than one occasion. I was stopped in Westwood while walking with a friend of mine who was a student at UCLA. We found ourselves lying face down on the sidewalk while officers questioned us. On another occasion, I was stopped while with my uncle. I remember his visceral response as he looked at me and my cousin (his son). The look in his eye was one of humiliation and anger. He looked at the officer and said, “My brother and I didn’t fight in Vietnam so you could treat me like this in front of my son and my nephew.”

Again, this experience stayed with me for years. And for many of those years, I blamed “the system” or “the man.” However, I have come to realize that it was no more “the system” when white cops pulled me over than it was “the system” when a black thug robbed me at gunpoint. It was sin! The men who robbed me were sinners. The cops who stopped me were sinners. They were not taking their cues from some script designed to “keep me down.” They were simply men who didn’t understand what it meant to treat others with the dignity and respect they deserve as image bearers of God.

Baucham seems to see the problem in this situation as either sin or systemic racism. Can’t it be both? Systemic racism is sin but reframing what Baucham, and countless other African-Americans, go through as sin alone in some vague manner doesn’t help address the problem in the real world. Furthermore, racism exists in the church where everybody agrees sin is bad. Being against sin hasn’t kept white Christians from racism. Baucham’s analysis isn’t totally false, but it is incomplete and therefore unhelpful.

I have been in churches where everybody believed in sin but didn’t believe segregation and exclusion was sin. Unless the script to keep African-Americans down is named and confronted, nothing will change. The whites in the pews thought they were treating others with dignity but wanted the dignity to stay down the street at the black church.

As a teen, I sat in a church where white members didn’t want blacks to worship in the same building. In my hometown, I recall blacks being refused service at various establishments, including a bowling alley and swimming pool. When my father took over as principal at an integrated school, he was told that there were two sets of rules, one for the whites and one for the blacks. My dad’s answer: “Like hell there is! Not while I’m here.” My dad wasn’t an evangelical Christian but he did a very Christian thing without believing he was fighting sin in some theological sense.

Baucham calls the concept of white privilege “Gramscian” and “neo-Marxist.” This is stunning coming from someone who has experienced something because he is black that I have never experienced as a white man. I have never been stopped by police for reasons other than my conduct (i.e., my lead foot as a young man). I was never chased out of an establishment because of the color of my skin. I have never worried about my son being targeted because of the color of his skin. 

It is simply true that I have never experienced what many black men experience due to the difference in skin color. There is no virtue in dismissing a truth because it is unpopular with one’s ideological mates. Calling the concept of white privilege Marxist doesn’t make it false.

Noble closes with a hope that we can go deeper than an either-or analysis:

What Ferguson has demonstrated in a very public way is the deep divisions between the various ways that Christians understand race in America. While I am glad to see many in the evangelical church speaking out and having important conversations about race, we must be able to imagine a way forward which does not rely on an overly simple view of personal responsibility and causality.

 

Jared Walczak – RGIII: A Shakespearean Tragedy

For your Saturday morning reading pleasure, now comes Grove City College alum Jared Walczak (’08) with whimsy of the Shakespearean variety. Jared has this to say about his creation:

“The rise and fall of Washington quarterback Robert Griffin III is nothing short of “an athletic tragedy worthy of Shakespeare,” according to the Washington Post. Yet the Post served up but prose; I herewith step in to fill the void, with sincere apologies to the Bard.”*

RGIII: A Shakespearean Tragedy

by Jared Walczak

 
LARRY MICHAEL, an announcer.
RGIII out of the shotgun, pressure coming, he steps into the pass rush, pass is wobbly–it was tipped–picked off Number 23 of the defense in what is shaping up to be another ugly outing for the first round pick from Baylor…
SONNY JURGENSEN, a color commentator.
Alack, ’tis he: he doth throw even now
As though possessed of a wand’ring spirit,
which lists hither and yon, mad as the vex’d sea
Crown’d with collegiate laurels, now wilted and decayed,
The once flower’t, now decked with bitter weeds.
What offereth Subway foot-longs
In restoring pocket presence?
JAY GRUDEN, the coach.
What I believe I’ll wail,
What I know believe, and what I can redress;
As I shall find the time to reteach the fundamentals, I will.
What you have spoke, it may be so perchance.
This athlete, whose sole name blisters our tongues,
Was once thought talented: you have loved him well.
He had not disappointed you aforetime. I am new;
but something you may deserve of him through me;
To offer up a weak poor innocent coach,
To appease an angry owner.
ROBERT GRIFFIN III, the athlete.
I am not treacherous.
GRUDEN
But Snyder is.
But I shall crave your pardon;
That which you are my thoughts cannot transpose:
Draft day hopes are still bright, though the brightest fell.
Let us rather hold fast the final games, and like good men
Bestride our down-fall’n franchise: each new Sunday morn
New losses mount, new hopes are dashed, new sorrows
Strike the longsuffering fan in the face, that he resounds
As if he felt with indigenous persons long maligned, and yell’d out
With rage the syllables of dolour.
GRIFFIN III
I am dying, D.C., dying; only
I here importune being benched awhile, until
Of many advertising contracts, for the poor last
I extract my recompense.
GRUDEN
I dare not, Three–
My dear star, pardon,–I dare not,
Lest my career be ended: not the imperious show
Of the ill-fortuned Snyder ever shall
Be sufficient unto me; if fired, I am safe:
But shall I suffer my career to vanish
Along the shores of dank Potomac?
Go, quick, or I am done!
JURGENSEN
Here’s sport indeed! How heavy weighs lost draft picks.
Our strength is all gone into the ranks of St. Louis;
That makes the weight: had I great Fortune’s power,
The strong-arm’d Luck should fetch thee up,
And set thee well astride, in this division.
Yet come a little,–
Wishes were ever fools.
THE MALEVOLENT HOST, the tailgaters.
If we be not relieved of him within this hour,
We must return to the doubleheader: the game is better.
COLT McCOY, the journeyman.
The mob beckons me; now I begin my story.
GRIFFIN III
Be witness to me, O thou blessed owner,
When men revolted shall upon record
Bear hateful memory, that than Cousins and McCoy
I be the no less ennobled.
SNYDER, the owner.
Give me a living reason he cannot play.
GRUDEN
I do not like the office:
But sith I am enter’d in this cause so far,
Prick’d to’t by the tatter’d remnants of dignity,
I will go on. I started that star Griffin lately;
And, being troubled with enraging game film,
I could not sleep.
SNYDER
The fault, dear Gruden, is not in our stars,
But in yourself, that we are underlings in the NFC East.
*Really, with apologies. Much of this is taken directly from various works of Shakespeare with adaptations appropriate to the tragic tale being told.
Originally posted as a note on Jared’s Facebook page; posted here by the kindest of permissions.
 
 

Thanksgiving 2014: Gary Scott Smith On America As a Blessed But Not a Chosen Nation

Today is the last in the series of articles by historians posted during Thanksgiving week. I deeply appreciated the contributions of my distinguished colleagues John Wilsey, Jared Burkholder, Barry Hankins, Andrew Mitchell, Fred Beuttler, and today Gary Scott Smith.
Happy Thanksgiving!
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Dr. Gary Scott Smith chairs the history department at Grove City College and is a fellow for faith and politics with The Center for Vision & Values. He is the author of “Faith and the Presidency From George Washington to George W. Bush” (Oxford University Press, 2009) and “Heaven in the American Imagination” (Oxford University Press, 2011).
Thanksgiving Revisited: A Blessed But Not a Chosen Nation
In November 1620, 102 English Pilgrims arrived at Cape Cod after an arduous 66-day voyage across the Atlantic. The first winter, half of their company died. Nevertheless, after the residents of Plymouth gathered their first harvest the next November, Governor William Bradford invited Chief Massasoit and other Wampanoag Indians to join them for a feast that lasted three days. Describing the first Thanksgiving in “A Journal of the Pilgrims at Plymouth” in 1621, Edward Winslow thanked the “goodness of God” for the venison, wild fowl, and other food they enjoyed.
In 1777, during another trying time in American history, the Continental Congress issued the first official Thanksgiving Proclamation. Twelve years later George Washington proclaimed a national Thanksgiving to give gratitude to God for the newly ratified Constitution. The first president urged Americans to render unto “that great and glorious Being, who is the beneficent Author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be” “our sincere and humble thanks—for his kind care and protection of the People of this Country … for the signal and manifold mercies, and the favorable interpositions of his Providence,” evident in the nation’s “tranquility, union, and plenty.”
This belief that God has specially blessed America has been widespread in our history. Many Americans have insisted that this country has a unique calling from God. This theme is evident in the nation’s sacred ceremonies, quasi-sacred scriptures, and presidents’ inaugural addresses. Strongly identifying with ancient Israel, many Americans have concluded that God chose us to play a principal role in bringing his kingdom on earth.
The Puritans contended that they had a “divinely appointed errand in the wilderness.” John Winthrop, the first governor of Massachusetts Bay Colony, whose residents came ten years after the Pilgrims, declared in his 1630 sermon, “A Model of Christian Charity,” “For we must consider that we shall be as a city upon a hill, the eyes of all people upon us.” Jonathan Edwards, America’s greatest theologian, expected a “great work of God” to soon begin in America. His grandson Timothy Dwight, an early president of Yale, claimed that the new nation was “by Heaven designed, the example bright to renovate mankind.”
Numerous presidents have argued that God selected the United States to perform a special mission: to spread democracy, liberty, and biblical morality to the world. They asserted that its seemingly miraculous birth; rapid spread across the continent; remarkable increase in population, industry, affluence, and might; successful assimilation of millions of people of diverse ethnic and religious backgrounds; modeling of republican government; and pivotal role in deciding the outcome of international wars all testified to God’s choice, use, and blessing of America.
Washington announced in his first inaugural address that “the destiny of the republican model of government” depended on America’s success. Thomas Jefferson labeled the American experiment “the last best hope of mankind,” and Abraham Lincoln called the Union “the last best hope of earth.” “Upon the success of our experiment,” alleged Theodore Roosevelt, “much depends … as regards the welfare of mankind.” “Our nation is chosen by God and commissioned by history,” declared George W. Bush, “to be a model to the world of justice.”
The United States’ success and support has encouraged people in countries around the globe to throw off the shackles of despotism and embrace democracy. As Dwight Eisenhower put it, “The American experiment has, for generations, fired the passion and the courage of millions elsewhere seeking freedom, equality, [and] opportunity.”
Although the conviction that God has selected the United States for a special mission in the world has contributed to some good results, it is biblically suspect. The Bible provides no basis for believing that any nation enjoys a unique relationship with God, as Israel did in Old Testament times. This Thanksgiving (and continuously) we should thank God for the many blessings our nation has enjoyed. Our geographical location, rich resources, fertile soil, unique blend of peoples, numerous liberties, and outstanding leaders have indeed been great blessings.
At the same time, we must reject the idea that we are God’s chosen people, a conviction that has helped motivate and vindicate America’s actions at home and abroad. Belief that God has assigned the United States a mission has helped inspire Americans to engage in countless acts of self-sacrifice, generosity, and charity. However, it has also contributed to imperialism, concepts of racial superiority, cultural insensitivity, and unwarranted interference in the affairs of other nations. It has stimulated Americans to fight injustice at home and abroad, but it has also contributed to simplistic moralizing, overlooking of our national flaws, ignoring moral complexities, and a hatred abroad of American hubris.
Therefore, while we celebrate Thanksgiving and give gratitude to God for his bounty, let’s remember Christ’s statement, “to whom much is given, much is expected.” Hopefully this will motivate us to reach out in compassion to the needy throughout our world
For more from this Thanksgiving in history series, please click the links below:

Thanksgiving Week: What Historians Think is Important About Thanksgiving – Thursday, November 20
John Wilsey On What The Public Should Know About Thanksgiving – Sunday, November 23
Jared Burkholder On Politics And The First Thanksgiving – Monday, November 24
Barry Hankins On Thanksgiving as the Perfect Civil Religion Holiday – Monday, November 24
Andrew Mitchell: Reclaim the Spirit of Thanksgiving – Tuesday, November 25
Fred Beuttler On the First Federal Thanksgiving – Wednesday, November 26
 

Fred Beuttler On The First Federal Thanksgiving

Last week, I asked numerous historian colleagues to opine about what the public should know about Thanksgiving. I am pleased and thankful for the responses I received and the series will run through at least Thanksgiving Day. In this article, Fred Beuttler commemorates today as the first federal thanksgiving.
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Fred W. Beuttler, Ph.D., the former Deputy Historian of the U.S. House of Representatives. Fred teaches history at Carroll University, in Waukesha, Wisconsin.
The First Federal Thanksgiving
Today, November 26, 2014, marks the 225th anniversary of the first Federal Thanksgiving in 1789, “a day of public thanksgiving and prayer” to “Almighty God” for the U.S. Constitution.
In late September, 1789, on one of the last days of the first session of the First Federal Congress, the most productive in history, Congressman Elias Boudinot of New Jersey proposed that the American people should “with one voice” give to “Almighty God their sincere thanks for the many blessings he had poured down upon them.”   Boudinot  introduced a resolution for the President to recommend “a day of public thanksgiving and prayer, to be observed by acknowledging, with grateful hearts, the many signal favors of Almighty God, especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a Constitution of government for their safety and happiness.”
Predictably, as it was Congress, there was some grumbling.  One congressman complained that it was “mimicking of European customs,” while another suggested that maybe the people were not inclined to give thanks for the Constitution, at least until they could see if it did give them safety and happiness.  It was a state, not a federal function, one argued, “a business which Congress have nothing to do; it is a religious matter, and, as such, is proscribed to us.”  This could have been a significant objection, as the previous day the House had passed what would become the First Amendment, that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof …”
But the members of Congress did not see this call for a national day of thanksgiving as at all contradicting religious freedom.  Roger Sherman of Connecticut justified the practice of a day of thanksgiving as laudable in itself, referring to “holy writ” at the dedication of Solomon’s temple, an example “worthy of Christian imitation,” and Boudinot cited precedents “from the practice of the late Congress.”
The House of Representatives carried the resolution in the affirmative.  The Senate agreed a couple of days later, and that same day they also agreed to transmit copies of the Bill of Rights to the several states.  A joint committee of Congressmen and Senators called on President George Washington to recommend a day of national thanksgiving to “Almighty God” for the Constitution.
A few days later, President Washington submitted the following proclamation, calling upon the American people to assign Thursday, November 26, 1789, as a day of public thanksgiving for the national Constitution:

Whereas it is the duty of all nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey His will, to be grateful for His benefits, and humbly to implore His protection and favor; and Whereas both Houses of Congress have, by their joint committee, requested me to “recommend to the people of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer, to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many and signal favors of Almighty God, especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness:”
Now, therefore, I do recommend and assign Thursday, the 26th day of November next, to be devoted by the people of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being who is the beneficent author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be; that we may then all unite in rendering unto Him our sincere and humble thanks for His kind care and protection of the people of this country previous to their becoming a nation; for the signal and manifold mercies and the favorable interpositions of His providence in the course and conclusion of the late war; for the great degree of tranquility, union, and plenty which we have since enjoyed; for the peaceable and rational manner in which we have been enable to establish constitutions of government for our safety and happiness, and particularly the national one now lately instituted for the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed, and the means we have of acquiring and diffusing useful knowledge; and, in general, for all the great and various favors which He has been pleased to confer upon us.
And also that we may then unite in most humbly offering our prayers and supplications to the great Lord and Ruler of Nations and beseech Him to pardon our national and other transgressions; to enable us all, whether in public or private stations, to perform our several and relative duties properly and punctually; to render our National Government a blessing to all the people by constantly being a Government of wise, just, and constitutional laws, discreetly and faithfully executed and obeyed; to protect and guide all sovereigns and nations (especially such as have shown kindness to us), and to bless them with good governments, peace, and concord; to promote the knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue, and the increase of science among them and us; and, generally to grant unto all mankind such a degree of temporal prosperity as He alone knows to be best.
Given under my hand, at the city of New York, the 3d day of October, A.D. 1789.
georgewashsign

 
So this Thanksgiving of 2014, remember that the First Congress and our first President called upon all American citizens to observe “a day of public thanksgiving and prayer” to “Almighty God” for the U.S. Constitution and our civil and religious liberty.  That is something for which truly to be thankful.
 
Watch tomorrow for an op-ed by Gary Scott Smith titled: America: Blessed But Not Chosen
To read all articles in this series, click Thanksgiving 2014.
 

Soma Church Clarifies Relationship With Mars Hill Bellevue

Amid questions about how Mars Hill Church is going to dissolve, Mars Hill Bellevue (now doing business as Bellevue Church) has announced that it will affiliate with Soma Tacoma.  The move has raised many questions among Mars Hill folk, and apparently among Soma people as well. The following communication was sent to Soma Churches nationally about the move to replant Mars Hill Bellevue as a Soma Church. The note is from Todd Morr, school coordinator and deacon at Soma Tacoma (did I mention that is fun to say?).

Hey everybody,
A growing number of you have been asking for clarification about what’s happening with Jeff [Vanderstelt] and Soma in relation to the Mars Hill Church in Bellevue.
I thought I would clarify here quick, so that you get the right information, rather than some misinformation flying around social media.
Bellevue Church (which was formerly Mars Hill Bellevue) approached Jeff and the Soma Tacoma elders sometime this past month to ask for help with replanting their church. After much prayer and discussion with the Soma Tacoma elders, many other Soma Tacoma leaders, and the Soma family of churches around the U.S., it was determined that we would proceed with helping them replant the church, with the goal to become part of the Soma family of churches. This is not being considered a transition, but starting over.
Over the course of the next month, much work will be done by Jeff and our elders in cooperation with the previous elders of that church to determine, if that’s what their people do indeed want and if Soma Tacoma should continue to help them in that direction.
There are many hurting people involved with what has happened there these past months, and at this time, we’re feeling like we should be good family to help bring healing, restoration, and a healthy future to the church there.
So, that’s the current story. Please Pray! Pray for peace, unity, healing, repentance, and right relationship with each other and with Jesus!
Abe gave a talk 2 Sundays ago about conflict and reconciliation that is an absolute MUST! Every person on the planet needs listen to this and consider the personal implications for all of our relationships. It’s really, really important!
http://www.somatacoma.org/teaching-audio/2014/11/19/jesus-relationships-how-do-we-resolve-conflict
Thanks,
Todd [Morr]

This is an informative and gracious note. It seems encouraging that the Soma leaders want to discern what the people of Mars Hill Bellevue want in addition to knowing what the leaders want.
However, many questions remain. Now that Mars Hill Bellevue is moving toward Soma, will the Bellevue elders maintain the silence about the Global Fund and Mark Driscoll’s investigation? Matt Rogers chaired the Board of Elders committee that investigated Driscoll and sits on the Board of Advisors and Accountability that currently maintain that silence about Global and the investigation. According the BoE, Driscoll needed to leave the pulpit and enter restoration; according to the BoAA, Driscoll was not disqualified. Even if Mars Hill Bellevue joins another church, some of those Bellevue elders have unfinished business with Mars Hill. Soma inherits these problems if they don’t clear them up before a transition takes place.

Andrew Mitchell: Reclaim the Spirit of Thanksgiving

Last week, I asked my historian colleagues to opine about what the public should know about Thanksgiving. I am pleased and thankful for the responses I received and the series will run through at least Thanksgiving Day. Today, Andrew Mitchell looks back and forward to encourage us to regain the spirit of Thanksgiving.
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Andrew Mitchell is an associate professor of history at Grove City College. Dr. Mitchell recently contributed a chapter, “Por Dios, Por Patria: The Sacral Limits of Empire as Seen in Catalan Political Sermons, 1630-1641,” in The Limits of Empire: European Imperial Formation in Early Modern World History (Ashgate, 2012).  Dr. Mitchell is currently working on a book provisionally titled, “Long live the King and Death to the Enemies of the Faith!” Religion & Revolution in the Revolt of the Catalans, 1640-1643.
Reclaim the Spirit of Thanksgiving
Thanksgiving is one of only two holidays Americans celebrate that consciously looks back to a colonial past.  It also happens to be the only national holiday that is relatively free of political implications, at least on first glance.  That is quite remarkable, since Americans are, and have been, a diverse group of people—of different ethnicities and faiths—who have agreed to unite over a number of political principles.  It has been our commitment to those principles, rather than to specifically religious or economic ones, that has helped the nation endure for close to 250 years.  Recently, historians, following the general trend of academia, have directed their research at exploring American diversity, and holiday celebrations have not escaped scrutiny. By stripping away the legends associated with “Pilgrim Fathers,” a fascinating story emerges.
It is quite evident now that the first “American” Thanksgiving celebration did not take place in 1623 at Plymouth, nor in 1619 at Berkley Hundred, nor in 1610 at Jamestown, but rather on 8 September 1565, in present-day St. Augustine, Florida.  On that day a group of Spanish-speaking Catholics gave thanks to God for their safe travel across the ocean and afterwards held a modest feast, inviting the local tribe of Timucuan Indians to join them.  In fact, regardless of whether the Plymouth Separatists were giving thanks to God or to Massasoit and the Wampanoags, it is clear that the Puritans of New England and their descendants ignored them entirely.  The word “Pilgrim” to describe the Plymouth colonists only shows up in 1799; the record of their 1623 celebration first published in 1841, during a time when New Englanders and Southerners were ransacking historical sources, engaged in a fierce fight to prove that their traditions (and theirs alone) were authentically “American.”  In light of this, Abraham Lincoln’s 1864 proclaiming a “day of thanksgiving” on the last Thursday in November appears more controversial—an affirmation right before his reelection that the Northern (New England-influenced) side had won.  Indeed, despite subsequent presidents continuing Lincoln’s tradition, most Southern states did not acknowledge the day, or develop any rituals around it, until the last decades of the nineteenth century.
Sadly, the history of Thanksgiving is not devoid of political wrangling and gamesmanship.  Franklin Roosevelt—in this as in other elements of his presidency—deviated from the traditions established by his predecessors, by moving Thanksgiving a week earlier in 1939.  Roosevelt was acting on the recommendation of his Secretary of Commerce who was concerned that the lateness of Thanksgiving (30 November) would compromise Christmas-season retail sales.  The president’s decision created a significant uproar across the country.  In a response that demonstrated how politicized America had become, nearly one-half of the states ignored the presidential declaration and celebrated a “Republican Thanksgiving,” instead of “Franksgiving.”  The following year, 16 states kept to the traditional date.  In 1941, after conclusive evidence that retail sales had not significantly improved, Congress passed a joint resolution declaring the fourth Thursday in November as “Thanksgiving Day.”  Nevertheless, the reality of rationing during the Second World War meant that most Americans did not come to share in Norman Rockwell’s idealized depiction of until 1945.
Rather than being disconcerted by revisionist demonstrations that popular conceptions about our national celebration is little more than a peculiar New England tradition writ large and embellished, traditionalists should see in them a chance to celebrate.  Despite the diversity of language and creed, all European colonists to the Americas acknowledged their need for giving thanks, and demonstrated their joy through unusual periods of festivity, whether the religious ceremony was accompanied by culinary indulgence or not.  Furthermore, all of these thanksgiving celebrations, from Florida to Virginia to Massachusetts, included guests: strangers who were made welcome and encouraged to share in the community’s bounty, and for a few moments, perhaps, united in fellowship.  For these people, most of our ancestors, thanksgiving was not a single day made special through capitalization, but one of life’s essential rituals, too important to practice only once every 365 days, and too special to keep to one’s own.
With increasing evidence from the realm of psychology that giving thanks is good for the mind as well as the body, perhaps this provides Americans today with something solid to grasp.  In a society whose members are increasingly concerned about diversity and yet increasingly isolated from one another, whose daily call to self-indulgence tends to dull our physical and spiritual palates, perhaps we need to focus on the thankful theme that has united us in the past.  By scaling back our own daily consumption (starting, perhaps with the last Friday in November), by beginning to reach out in loving hospitality to the strangers in our midst, we might be able reclaim some of that attractive spirit—and lifestyle—of giving thanks that all our ancestors (and their guests) shared.
For further reading, Dr. Mitchell recommends:
Diana Appelbaum, Thanksgiving: An American Holiday, an American History.
Kathleen Curtain, Sandra Oliver, and Plimouth Plantation, Giving Thanks: Thanksgiving Recipes and History, from Pilgrims to Pumpkin Pie.
Robert Emmons, Thanks! How Practicing Gratitude Can Make You Happier.
 
To read all articles in this series, click Thanksgiving 2014.

Statement From Michael Brown's Family In Advance of Grand Jury Announcement; No Indictment From Grand Jury

UPDATE:No indictment of Darren Wilson in Brown shooting.
Rep. John Lewis knows what he is talking about:


From the Brown family:


……………………
(Original post)
The Grand Jury’s decision in the Michael Brown case will come down at 9pm ET. Just happened to see this on Twitter: In advance of the decision, Michael Brown’s family released a statement via reporter Jason Sickles.


Praying for a peaceful night in Ferguson, MO.
A group called Evangelicals 4 Justice is having a teach in at 10pm.

Barry Hankins On America's Perfect Civil Religion Holiday

Last week, I asked my historian colleagues to opine about what the public should know about Thanksgiving. I am pleased and thankful for the responses I received and the series will run through at least Thanksgiving Day. Today, Barry Hankins reflects on America’s perfect civil religion holiday.
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Barry Hankins is Professor of History and Director of Graduate Studies, Department of History and Resident Scholar, Institute for Studies of Religion at Baylor University.
Christians can celebrate Thanksgiving by infusing it with all kinds of religious and national significance.  But, people of other faiths and of no faith at all can celebrate the holiday equally.  Christians have no corner on being thankful.  Moreover, Thanksgiving has an advantage in this respect over Christmas and Easter.  Although those holidays, especially Christmas, are commercialized and secularized to a large extent, they are still specifically Christian.  In fact, they are the two central events of the Christian liturgical calendar, which means that to celebrate them commercially non-Christians have to ignore their potent religious meaning.  Not so for Thanksgiving, which commemorates a national event, not a religious event.  So, Thanksgiving is what I call “America’s perfect civil religion holiday.”
To read all articles in this series, click Thanksgiving 2014.

Final Appeal Filed on Behalf of Asia Bibi

Today in Pakistan, an appeal was filed to Pakistan’s Supreme Court on behalf of Asia Bibi.
The Christian mother of five is hoping to be cleared of blasphemy charges via this appeal and/or to receive a pardon and perhaps find refuge in France.

A Pakistani Christian woman sentenced to death for blasphemy filed an appeal in the country’s top court Monday, her final legal recourse after being found guilty of insulting the Prophet Mohammed four years ago.

A high court in the eastern city of Lahore confirmed the death sentence of Asia Bibi last month, dashing hopes the conviction might be overturned or commuted to a jail term.

She has been on death row since November 2010 after being convicted of insulting the prophet of Islam during an argument with a Muslim woman over a bowl of water.

“On behalf of Asia Bibi I have today filed an appeal in the Supreme Court,” defence attorney Saiful Malook told AFP.

Please click this link to sign a petition to the President of Pakistan asking for a pardon for Asia Bibi.

Jared Burkholder On Politics And The First Thanksgiving

Last week, I asked my historian colleagues to opine about what the public should know about Thanksgiving. I am pleased and thankful for the responses I received. The series will run through at least Thanksgiving Day. Today, Jared Burkholder discusses the political aspects of the first thanksgiving.
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Jared S. Burkholder is Associate Professor of History and Chair of the Department of History and Political Science at Grace College, Winona Lake, Indiana. He co-edited The Activist Impulse: Essays on the Intersection of Anabaptism and Evangelicalism (Wipf and Stock, 2012) and Becoming Grace: Seventy-Five Years on the Landscape of Christian Higher Education in America (BMH Books, 2015).
Its good to remember that the “First Thanksgiving” probably had more to do with politics than fellowship, especially if seen through native eyes. Although we might be tempted to think of New England’s native residents as falling into categories of either “friendly” or “hostile” depending on how they got along with Europeans, Indians were, like most of us, intent on protecting their assets and gaining advantages. Treating foreign peoples, including Europeans, as either friends or foes was based on strategic self-interest.
Constructing their settlement at Patuxet (Plymouth) in 1620, the pilgrims had thrust themselves into the middle of a complex system of tense rivalries and alliances among various Indian nations. The Wampanoag, which had been devastated by sickness as a result of earlier contact with Europeans, likely saw their interaction with the pilgrims as an opportunity to garner allies that could help defend against the neighboring Narragansett, who had escaped the plague of 1616 and were powerful enemies. Even Tisquantum (“Squanto”) was playing politics, as Governor Bradford admitted, likely attempting to leverage relationships for his own purposes. Thus, the first thanksgiving was not so much a Sunday afternoon potluck of food and good feelings, but rather an opportunity for testing boundaries and political posturing.
Want a good read on the political angles of the “First Thanksgiving”? See this engaging Smithsonian article, Native Intelligence.
For all articles in this series, click Thanksgiving 2014.