slavery

The Burden of Inheriting Stolen Property

Imagine for a moment that you inherited something from a distant relative.  It wasn’t much, and you didn’t know him very well, but hey, it turned out to be a bit useful.  Perhaps it made the difference between being able to buy a car or not, or part of a down-payment on a house.  We might even be grateful to our predecessors for helping us out through a timely inheritance.

But what if you learned that what you inherited was in fact stolen?  And what if you learned that the theft meant that the rightful owners had not been able to buy a car, or had not been able to pull together a down-payment on a house? (more…)

Reflections on Sexuality

The issue of homosexuality has been prominent in church discussions for several years now, long enough for most parties to be sick of the issue and incredulous that other people don’t see the matter as seems obvious to them.  In many ways, the debates have resembled the debates about American slavery in middle third of the nineteenth century: both sides dug in and called the others non-Christians, and almost every denomination split over the issue in the period leading up to the American Civil War (and indeed, the Southern/Northern Baptist split remains to this day, even if the Northerners changed their name to “American Baptists” with all the arrogance of military victors). The disagreements over sexuality persist, in part, because both sides have been making really stupid arguments which are easily caricatured by their opponents.  Conservatives have been accused by liberals of simply reacting with a knee-jerk “yuck” and seeking to justify their irrational prejudice with appeal to the Bible and tradition.  Conservatives in turn have accused liberals of throwing out all that characterizes Christianity in their desire to kowtow to the current cultural trends. (more…)

“You’re Doing Nothing, God”

Sometimes, you’re reading the Bible and skimming along in a familiar story, and then STOP.  SOMETHING has caught your attention, which you’ve never noticed before.  This was one of those moments.

The story of the exodus is familiar enough to me and to most: Moses is sent by God (after some initial reluctance) to Egypt to lead the Israelites out of Egypt to Canaan.  The elders really like the idea – being slaves of the Egyptians kinda sucks, even after they repealed the infanticide law – but the Pharaoh takes a dim view of the enterprise.  In response, the Pharaoh makes it so that being slaves of the Egyptians really sucks, and the Israelites take a short-sighted view of the case and complain about Moses stirring up trouble.  But God stirs up a whole lot more trouble for the Pharaoh, a lot of people die, and eventually the Israelites leave Egypt not only with the Pharaoh’s permission but with his, uh, you might say, encouragement.  But then he changes his mind and drowns in the Red Sea chasing after the Israelites to re-enslave them.  Moses, throughout, was the unflappable spokesman for God.  Or was he? (more…)