What Did Karl Marx Really Think About Religion?

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I took a Sociology of Religion final yesterday, but rather than the usual post-exam attempt to purge everything I learned over the semester, I’ve actually just been thinking about Karl Marx a whole lot. I’m sure this is something everybody does, right?

We all know about Marxism and its relationship with religion, or at least we think we do. Communism and socialism are all about atheism and the removal of religion. Billy Graham really rose to national fame by establishing the dualistic relationship between us God-fearing democratic Americans and the godless freedom-hating communists.  That quote from Marx about religion as the “opium of the masses” gets bandied about all the time. But, I think we mis-read him a bit.

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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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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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Unable to Celebrate (yet)

awab In the wake of a General Assembly in which progress is being celebrated on bettering the relationship of the CBF with the LGBTQ community, with the announcement of the Illumination project and the statement in the wake of Orlando, I want to feel some joy, but I can’t help but feel some sense of reservation. Everywhere I looked, I saw nametags showing solidarity with the LGBTQ community, and a statement making the rounds on social media rapidly garnered hundreds of names of individuals willing to take a stand while also showing they were committed to remaining with the CBF in this effort. It gives me hope, and I think we’re finally making moves in the right direction, but, I can’t celebrate, not yet. Three particular issues stand out to me in reflecting on the week.

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For Father Dan (1921-2016)

(Apologies in advance for the length of this.)

berrigan cuffedaLast night, I felt my phone vibrate. I looked down to see just another notification for an AP news bulletin. No big deal. But then I read it. At least on my phone, which isn’t the fanciest and has a smaller screen than most, the notifications always come across as teasers. They never give you the full story, just enough to make you actually unlock your phone to read the full story. This one read “Vietnam War protestor and Catholic priest…”

Before I even opened my phone to see what the rest of the headline read, I somehow knew what it would say, and I was right. “Vietnam War protestor and Catholic priest Daniel Berrigan dies at 94.”

Most people probably swiped it away. Some random Jesuit priest. Who ever heard of Daniel Berrigan anyway?

Well, I have. I owe a lot to Dan Berrigan. He’s part of the reason I am where I am.

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