• Book Reviews 18 hours ago

    Feasting on the Gospels — Mark (Bookmark)

    Feasting on the Gospels — Mark (Bookmark)

    by Roy Howard
    Cynthia A. Jarvis and E. Elizabeth Johnson, editors.  Westminster John Knox Press, Louisville, Ky. 541 pages  Another feast! Traveling on a food and wine tour in Italy, I heard this frequently while gazing upon a table laden with delicious and sometimes exotic foods. That same exclamation — another feast! — will be made about this commentary by pastors, teachers and church leaders. It is indeed another feast of scholarship — both delicious and occasionally exotic — for those working with the weekly Gospel texts. This is the second in a planned… continue reading...
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  • Editorials 2 days ago

    Ready to leave?

    Ready to leave?

    by Jack Haberer
    Prior to deciding to leave the Presbyterian Outlook to take the call to pastor a congregation again, I sought the counsel of a few friends. One of them, an Outlook board member, sent me an email that asked four probing questions, the first one being, “The things you said you felt called to do with the Outlook in that first interview — are they largely accomplished or still left undone?” To what was I called? Not simply to turn a black and blue newsletter into a full color magazine (although… continue reading...
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  • Movie Reviews 4 days ago

    Film in review – “The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby”

    Film in review – “The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby”

    by Ronald P. Salfen
    I know a couple who, like the couple in this film, seem to have a really good relationship. They talk regularly. They are genuinely glad to see each other. They share a lot of common history and have a lot of common interests. They met when they were very young, and as they have matured, their points of view have occasionally been divergent, but their level of acceptance for each other’s changes is pretty high. They care about each other a lot and cheer each other’s successes. But they just… continue reading...
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New UN document opens door for churches to do more for indigenous rights

NEW YORK (WCC) Scattered throughout the recent history of Indigenous Peoples are national treaties, declarations and laws that languish in obscurity or are brushed aside and ignored. Adding insult to injury, when many national and local churches attempt to speak out about the denial of rights of Indigenous Peoples they are told by governments that the church has no place in politics, effectively being seen but not heard. Yet a new “outcome document” of the United Nations World Conference on Indigenous Peoples is about to turn that perspective on its head. The world’s governments are now inviting churches and other civil society groups to be seen and heard when it comes to advocating for Indigenous Peoples’ human rights. For ecumenical representatives of indigenous faith communities who attended the U.N. conference, held in New York on Sept. 22 and 23, and other side events, the six-page outcome document is significantly lends motivation and teeth to a movement that has sought to … [Read more...]

Religious leaders try to cope with Islamic State attacks

(RNS) Religious leaders agree the Islamic State — also known as ISIL or ISIS — must be stopped. Their struggle is how best to do it. “As mainstream religious leaders of different faiths get together, it strengthens the voice of moderation,” said Ibrahim Hooper of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, the nation’s largest Muslim advocacy group. A group of mainstream Muslim scholars sought to strip the Iraqi and Syrian militants of any legitimacy under the cover of Islam in an open letter in Arabic issued Wednesday.​​ U.S. Christian leaders have also spoken out and say they hope to dissuade youth from joining the Islamic State ranks by developing an alternative world view that counters the group’s religious claims. “To offer a different world view endorsed by religions, as well as governments, in the long term will go a long way to defeating its appeal to those who are looking to join them,” said Antonios S. Kireopoulos of the National Council of Churches. The council … [Read more...]

The rise and fall and rise of the National Council of Churches (Commentary)

WASHINGTON (RNS) Like many mainline Protestant institutions, the National Council of Churcheshas had a rough couple of years. Once the public face of American Protestantism, the NCC is now just another face in the crowd. Yet with new leadership and a retooled mission, the NCC is poised to rebound from its low ebb of influence and carries a great deal of promise into the future. In its 1950s heyday, the NCC embodied the confident spirit of educated, mainstream religious elites in what was still largely a Protestant nation. The NCC regularly brought bishops and denominational leaders to the White House and boasted significant influence over members of Congress. Mainline theologians like Reinhold Niebuhr were renowned public intellectuals, practically household names. It was an ecumenical age as well as denominations were merging, not splintering. The baby boom and sustained economic prosperity enabled the historic denominations’ demographic strength. Beautiful churches sprang up … [Read more...]

Feasting on the Gospels — Mark (Bookmark)

Feasting Mark

Cynthia A. Jarvis and E. Elizabeth Johnson, editors.  Westminster John Knox Press, Louisville, Ky. 541 pages  Another feast! Traveling on a food and wine tour in Italy, I heard this frequently while gazing upon a table laden with delicious and sometimes exotic foods. That same exclamation — another feast! — will be made about this commentary by pastors, teachers and church leaders. It is indeed another feast of scholarship — both delicious and occasionally exotic — for those working with the weekly Gospel texts. This is the second in a planned series on each of the Gospels. (The two volume Matthew was published last year.) Several reasons make this commentary a welcome addition. It is purposely conversational. As the editors say, “At their best, people who write about Scripture are conversation partners.” They know they are entering into a process of interpretation with others who are responsible for public proclamation. The writers come from a variety of Christian traditions … [Read more...]

Pastors flock to North Dakota’s oil boom to save souls

(RNS) Sven Hauge goes every Thursday to the “man camps” surrounding the oil fields near Williston, N.D., and holds worship services that feature preaching, praying and singing. Sometimes a few men show up, and sometimes, nobody does. “That can be discouraging if you put great importance on counting heads,” he said. “But most of us have learned that it isn’t about numbers. It’s about doing what the Lord has called us to do and being faithful about it.” Three years ago, Hauge heard God calling him and other members of the Christian Motorcyclists Association to minister in the booming Bakken oil fields, where hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling pump out more than 450,000 barrels of oil a day. North Dakota has passed Alaska in domestic oil production and is now second to Texas, and daily production by 2017 is expected to nearly triple to 1.2 million barrels. The United States Geological Survey estimates that 7.4 billion barrels of oil will be recovered before the boom … [Read more...]

Ready to leave?

Jack long sleeved

Prior to deciding to leave the Presbyterian Outlook to take the call to pastor a congregation again, I sought the counsel of a few friends. One of them, an Outlook board member, sent me an email that asked four probing questions, the first one being, “The things you said you felt called to do with the Outlook in that first interview — are they largely accomplished or still left undone?” To what was I called? Not simply to turn a black and blue newsletter into a full color magazine (although I did). Not to bring the Outlook’s digital communications into the 21st century (which my staff members, especially Jana Blazek, did). Not to bring massive subscription growth or greater financial stability (which, indeed, I didn’t). Rather, my hope was to help my denomination become more faithful and effective in giving witness to Jesus Christ by more faithfully proclaiming the word of the Lord, more impactfully reaching out in mission and more palpably demonstrating the reconciling power of our … [Read more...]