In any case, there's not too many links today. Apparently the religion writers are all off hanging their stockings. Oh, well. RNR will take advantage of the lull to bring you a new feature and some "personal" news. Today's categories:
Prompted by delusions of grandeur (ie, a couple of requests for links to our postings here on dKos), RNR has decided to strike out on its own. Relax, we're not leaving Kos anytime soon. But we are starting another puny blog: faith forward. It's a work in progress, but we'll keep at it, with the hopes of building up some kind of community for progressive Christians. In the meantime, you'll find these Roundups broken down by category for easier linking (hint, hint), as well as a mix of other cross-posts and with any luck original content. We'll keep you posted. Now go visit the damn thing.
Meanwhile, the Vatican has founded an AIDS-relief fund. But as the Revealer points out, throwing $132,000 at the problem is...a bit odd.
Contrary to recent reports, Gene Robinson is still planning on attending the next Lambeth Conference, the Anglican Communion's worldwide gathering. However, as Robinson reports, the Conference is an invite-only affair, at the discretion of Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury. Robinson has volunteered to participate in a "reduced capacity" if that will make his presence easier to take for conservative bishops from Africa.
The NYT Sunday Magazine has an interview with Beth Stroud. RNR thinks the interviewer's questions are a bit unfair to the United Methodist Church, and display some real ignorance of what it means to be an ordained minister in a large denomination. We're relatively certain that Stroud would be the first to agree with us. But she, as always, comes across as gracious and deeply spiritual, which is more than RNR can say for itself sometimes.
This press release from the Church of the Brethren carries two items of interest: first, the Brethren office responsible for aiding conscientious objectors was recently visited by an official from the Selective Service. Church officials wanted an explanation of the visit, and met with higher-ups in Selective Service. Their answer? It was a bridge-building visit. No draft is coming. Oh my, no.
The second item from the same PR release is a brief column from a Church Peacemaker stationed in Hebron. CPMs, if you didn't know it, are brave souls who attempt to keep a lid on conflict in such places as Israel and El Salvador. They have been known to physically stand between ranks of Israeli soldiers and Palestinian youths to prevent confrontations from spiraling out of control. They are, in brief, real Christians, and RNR takes its hat off to them.
Those CPMs might want to do some work with this US military base near Fallujah:
We suppose the image above makes as good a segue as any to talking about the ongoing controversies popping up around the country over religion's place in holiday celebrations. The Dallas Morning News reports that voters in Mustang, Oklahoma turned down a bond issue for the local school district in large part because the district superintendant removed a creche from school holiday play. RNR would have voted the other way, but we have to admit this is how the democratic process is supposed to work.
The WaPo has a decent report here. It's a good start, explaining that the fuel for these fires might be either conservative activism or liberal overreaction. That's true, but there's another possibility that so far has been overlooked: the US, of course, is an increasingly diverse society. That diversity is beginning to pop up in places where its presence has not been felt before. Look, for example, at this story about gays and lesbians in Oklahoma--same state as the controversy above--many of whom are not giving up on the Sooner State after the "moral values" elections.
So keep track of where these stories come from: we're pretty confident that you'll find that many of them originate in surburban or exurban areas. Meaning, of course, places that are changing.
Jesus' General is tracking one such story from Polk County, Florida. The general provides a choice quote from a county commisioner, explaining why he doesn't think Muslim symbols are important in holiday displays:
He also assures us that real Christians are not shirking their duties:
RNR has to admit being a bit jealous of General J.C.'s sources. How does he get the inside scoop on such brave actions, and we're just stuck with Christian Peacemakers?
Tales of the Shut-Ins
Part of RNR's day job is going around to visit members of the church confined to nursing homes, or who otherwise can't make it in to church. Often, these folks have great stories to tell, which makes our visits a pleasure. We've decided there's no reason to hog them all.
So: the oldest member of our church is a retired librarian who recently turned 100. For many years, she and her husband lived in Midland, Texas. In fact, they lived right across the street from W. and Laura. Our Shut-In also taught Sunday School with W.'s mother at the Presbyterian church in Midland.
In any case, she liked George and Laura. He was a nice guy, and she was almost painfully shy. Apparently, she's come a long way since then. Our Shut-In was proud to vote for W. in the last couple of elections, and we're too good a pastor to disagree with her.
But here's the real point of the story: she told us that she met W. right after he got out of Yale. Except she's deaf, and can't enunciate very well sometimes, so we thought she said "right after he got out of AA."
And Godhelpus, we thought we had a scoop to end all scoops.
This 'n' That
This has gotten quite a bit of notice from the blogs, but it's disgusting nonetheless: 44% of Americans believe "the US government should restrict the civil liberties of Muslim Americans." (via Americablog).
Peter Steinfels of the NYT has a disgusting commentary on the "God Is Still Speaking" ad flap that recycles much of the conservative backlash against the ad. Apparently, he didn't read the UCC's PR release that described how the ad designers often had to wait 90 minutes while their focus groups vented about being excluded from churches.
Less serious items: Relentlessly Optimistic has some "troubling signs" from Google, and the Thai government is considering adding a warning to packs of smokes sold in that country: "donating cigarettes to monks is a sin." Don't say we didn't warn you.
Booze news: an Episcopal church in D.C. is attracting new visitors after introducing a church homebrew to its "pub Sundays." Sounds like the right kind of church for Bill in Portland Maine. Also this teaser from Ecumenical News International:
And with that, we've got to go work on our new blog. Right after we buy a plane ticket to Jo-burg.