Will You Be the Repairers of the Breach? A Lenten Reflection on Isaiah 58

Note: I’m a little late getting this posted, but I wanted to pass along my sermon for Ash Wednesday at Oakhurst Baptist Church here in Decatur, GA.

On Ash Wednesday, we pause here on the front end of Lent to reflect and repent and recognize where we have gone wrong and where we can still go right. And I think that moment of reflection necessitates a discussion of sin. Because, as progressive as I am, and as many central doctrines of the Christian faith as I’ve attempted to throw to the wayside, I’ve held onto sin, and I’ve done so for a reason. What I would like to do, and what I think most progressives seek to do is to broaden the conception of what sin is. In your bulletins, you saw a quote from James Cone, the renowned theologian, in which he describes sin as a state of falling short of what we ought to be as Christians. In his words, sin is “a condition of human existence in which we deny the essence of God’s liberating activity as revealed in Jesus Christ.”[i] It’s living according to one’s own interests instead of the interest of the greater community.

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What if he came and we sent him away?

Passing along an advent reflection I wrote for CBF’s blog:

CBFblog

By Adam McDuffie

adammcduffieIn the weeks following the election, we’ve often seen headlines about the possibility of a ban on immigrants based solely on their faith tradition, coupled with a registry for those who are already here or the deportation of undocumented migrants who came here seeking a better life for their families.

In response, many Americans have demanded cities and institutions label themselves as sanctuaries, while others have stated they would register as Muslim themselves if such a registry came to be. I’ve been proud to see many churches among those pledging to provide sanctuary to those who need it.

We find ourselves now in the season of Advent, a season of waiting.

In worship at my church on the first Sunday of Advent, as I’m sure was the case at most churches, we began this season of waiting by joining the voices of Christians echoing through the ages singing…

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“American Culture,” Burqa Bans, and the Need to Embrace the Other

screenshot-2016-12-08-09-06-26What I should’ve been doing this morning was preparing for the meeting I have in an hour, or working on my paper that’s due tomorrow, or studying for the Hebrew exam I have tomorrow. I did none of these things. Instead I decided to read the paper, and, as has happened before, I came across something which pissed me off. Maybe my problem is just that I read the Letters to the Editor, or maybe the problem is on the editors’ end over at the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, because some of these letters are just real winners. This particular letter, which expressed support for burqa bans as a means of promoting American identity and freedom, really just pushed one too many buttons, and I know the author of the letter is not the only person harboring these views (in America or abroad), so I’d like to address the flawed thinking behind it.

Mr. Watkins writes responding to opposition expressed by Soumaya Khalifa of the Islamic Speakers Bureau over a bill proposed in the GA legislature which would have banned the wearing of any face covering. The bill has already been withdrawn, but Mr. Watkins seems to think that was a mistake. Whereas Khalifa argued that the bill was “un-American,” Mr. Watkins disagrees, claiming that Khalifa simply “misunderstands American culture.” The wearing of a veil covering the face is “of a completely different cultural tradition,” because “Americans do not cover their face in public.” Americans “do not subjugate women.” American is “an open society.” Covering your face amounts to rejecting American culture and expresses a “desire to remain unassimilated.”

Where to start…

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How Do You Think We Did?

Note: The following homily is not mine, it was written by my sister, Lauren McDuffie, and delivered at a Service of Unity and Communion at First Baptist Church in Morehead, KY on November 9th.

John Wesley, that foundational theologian of the Methodist church, wrote in 1774 before the British Parliamentary elections:  “I met those of our society who had votes in the ensuing election, and advised them: To vote, without fee or reward, for the person they judged most worthy; To speak no evil of the person they voted against; and To take care their spirits were not sharpened against those that voted on the other side.”

So…how do you think we did?

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The Walking Dead/Night of the Living Evangelicals

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Evangelicals actually denounced the GOP candidate this cycle, and yet the evangelical voting bloc elected Donald Trump. Trump had more support from white evangelicals than John McCain in 2008 or Mitt Romney in 2012. Trump garnered five times as much support from evangelicals as Clinton, with 78% of the white evangelical vote.

This isn’t an evangelical voting bloc, this is a zombie evangelical voting bloc. The heart and soul of the evangelical bloc, the actual evangelicals, have left. What remains is a group of angry white people who couch their anger in religious language about fighting for their faith. Russell Moore of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission took a stand and called out Trump as antithetical to Christian values. Trump still won evangelicals by a commanding margin.

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Can you not walk and pray?

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Last night saw protestors marching in the streets of Atlanta. As I watched the various livestreams, the people I saw marching gave me hope for humanity. As I read the comments streaming in on the feed, that hope for humanity faded pretty quickly. I just want to take a second to unpack a few of the comments that stood out to me.

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