SERMON: I’m Done Talking About the ‘End of Church!’
Over the past few years you may have noticed the prevalence of a certain topic in my preaching, teaching and committee work. During this period of transition I have continually repeated the message that in the United States the traditional church—that is, a congregation with a building, with Sunday morning worship as its central spiritual practice, with staff, with committees, with many bills to pay—is in serious decline. Some might say it is in free-fall. Across denominations, across faiths, membership is down, attendance is down, participation is down, volunteerism is down, financial giving—especially since the Great Recession of 2008—is down. Churches are moving from full time professional ministers to part-time professional ministers. Churches are closing. Continue reading….
SERMON: Part of All That Ever Was: A 2015 First Harvest Reflection
A few weeks ago I spent an afternoon picking up garbage around the Mortensen Riverfront Plaza on the Connecticut River in Hartford. This was part of my court-ordered community service after engaging in civil disobedience for Moral Monday CT and the Black Lives Matter movement on June 8th. The Hartford Community Court had deployed our doughty crew to beautify the Hartford riverfront in advance of the Food Truck Festival which took place over the second weekend of July.
The park appeared very clean when we got there, but the more we looked for garbage, the more we found: cigarette butts, candy wrappers, plastic water, juice, soda, athletic drink, and beer bottles, tin cans, hub caps, tires, exhaust pipes, mufflers, shoes, pants, underwear (men’s and women’s), Styrofoam and waxed cardboard take-out food containers, paper and plastic bags, plastic forks, knives and spoons, spent fireworks, etc. I understand that the impact of garbage accumulating along the Connecticut River is relatively small and largely cosmetic when compared to the impact of greenhouse gasses accumulating in the atmosphere. But there is a connection. One of my co-defendants wondered philosophically why apparently so many people feel it is OK to leave their garbage on the ground rather than placing it in garbage cans, which are abundant in the parks along the Connecticut River. My response, which I blurted out without giving much thought, was that it’s the symptom of a spiritual sickness. And that spiritual sickness is our modern-world, industrialized nation, human disconnection from Nature. Our capacity to litter is rooted in our disconnection from Nature. Continue reading….
ON THE RADIO: “Politics, Tragedy and the Public Sphere” on On Point.
I was honored to be invited to appear on WBUR Boston’s National Public Radio program “On Point” on July 6th. The title of the show was “Politics, Tragedy and the Public Sphere.” It was guest-hosted by Michel Martin. You can listen to the podcast here.
LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Malloy Right About Drug Law Racism
I congratulate Gov. Dannel P. Malloy for his bold attempt to address racism in our criminal justice and drug policy statutes, and I am mystified as to why The Courant would contend doing so “poisons the debate” [May 15, editorial, “Mr. Malloy Poisons Debate”].1
Malloy’s recent comments on the racist outcomes of urban drug-free zones were careful, nuanced and accurate. As the editorial points out, the enhanced penalties for possessing or dealing drugs within the 1,500- foot drug-free zones cause people who live in cities (where zones are plentiful and overlapping) to experience much greater incarceration rates than people who live in suburbs (where zones are sparse). Continue reading….