A Prayer for the Nation and the World

Almighty God, king of all nations, we pray to you today for our country and for all the people of the earth.

Bring peace to your world, O Lord, and establish your justice among the nations. Defeat the powers of death and destruction that rage throughout the world. Deliver the innocent from their enemies. Protect your creation from harm.

We give thanks for our country and for all that is good in our society. Bring joy to our land, we pray, and happiness into every home. Where we have gone astray, correct our faults and set us on the right path. Give us the means to provide for our all our families and to afford our children a better future. Build up our communities as places of well-being for everyone, and give us a love for each other that reflects the love you have for us.

We seek these blessings for our nation, and for all the people of the world. Amen.

The Covenant, the Land and the Canaanites

I hadn’t remembered the passage correctly. In the story of the call of Moses, God spoke to the future prophet from the burning bush.

I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob. . . . I have indeed seen the misery of my people in Egypt. I have heard them crying out because of their slave drivers, and I am concerned about their suffering. So I have come down to rescue them from the hand of the Egyptians and to bring them up out of that land into a good and spacious land, a land flowing with milk and honey. (Exodus 3:5, 7-8a)

I remembered that part of the story. God’s identification with people suffering in cruel bondage is good. Deliverance from oppression is good. The hope of living in a good land with plentiful resources is good.

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For Labor Day

The United States is today observing the civic holiday of Labor Day. According to the Department of Labor,

Labor Day, the first Monday in September, is a creation of the labor movement and is dedicated to the social and economic achievements of American workers. It constitutes a yearly national tribute to the contributions workers have made to the strength, prosperity, and well-being of our country.

We all benefit from the labor of others, and we should certainly acknowledge the debt we owe them. Labor Day became a national holiday in 1894. It has its origins in the labor movement of the 19th century and the fight against the exploitive and abusive conditions in which many people worked.

Still today, many people throughout the world toil in dehumanizing and dangerous conditions for tiny wages that are insufficient to sustain anything approaching a decent life. Some labor amounts to little more than slavery. Constantly changing economic conditions threaten the livelihood of everyone. Chronic unemployment and underemployment contribute to all sorts of social problems.

All people work so they can eat. Not everyone is lucky enough to have work that they find meaningful or personally fulfilling. Extremely fortunate are those who do.

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People, Persons and Jargony Mush

I thought of this quote today:

Do you want your writing to be instantly transformed into a mucky mess of corporate and legalese-sounding jargony mush? Then be sure to use persons as the plural word for person. Whiz! Bang! You’ve got yourself something no one will want to read.

when I read this tweet quoting the United Methodist Book of Discipline:

“People” is a perfectly good word. Why “persons”? 

“A mucky mess of corporate and legalese-sounding jargony mush” describes much of the language in the Book of Discipline. For those who are interested, Rethink Church’s citation comes from ¶163.C) of the 2012 edition.


All Available Resources

The United Methodist General Board of Global Ministries issued a statement today related to Mission Concerns for Refugees and Human Rights in Iraq. The statement contained this paragraph:

On August 8, United Methodist Bishop Hope Morgan Ward of North Carolina, president of the General Board of Global Ministries, and Thomas Kemper, chief executive of the agency, issued a joint statement appealing for prayer and international diplomatic measures on behalf of those being oppressed in Iraq.

Today’s statement does not accurately reflect the language of the statement signed by Bishop Ward and Secretary Kemper, or the statement of the World Council of Churches which it echoed. Both statements call for the marshaling of “all available resources to protect the people of Iraq.”

We join our voices to those of leaders of the World Council of Churches in asking U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to “marshal all available resources to protect the people of Iraq in this hour.” We agree with the WCC assertions that when nations are unable to protect their citizens that “responsibility is taken up by international bodies and their member states.” [Emphasis added]

The resources available to the United Nations are not limited to “diplomatic measures.” Under Chapter VII of the U.N. Charter, the Security Council

may take such action by air, sea, or land forces as may be necessary to maintain or restore international peace and security. (Article 42)

U.N. resolutions authorizing military force under Chapter VII often call upon member states to take “all necessary measures” to enforce international will. For example, Security Council Resolution 1546 (passed in 2004) authorized the multinational force then in Iraq to take “all necessary measures to contribute to the maintenance of security and stability.”

All necessary measures. All available resources. To-may-to. To-mah-to.

The Wrong Kind of Christian in Academia

Tish Harrison Warren writes at Christianity Today about being the wrong kind of Christian in the academic world:

I thought I was an acceptable kind of evangelical.

I’m not a fundamentalist. My friends and I enjoy art, alcohol, and cultural engagement. We avoid spiritual clichés and buzzwords. We value authenticity, study, racial reconciliation, and social and environmental justice.

Being a Christian made me somewhat weird in my urban, progressive context, but despite some clear differences, I held a lot in common with unbelieving friends. We could disagree about truth, spirituality, and morality, and remain on the best of terms. The failures of the church often made me more uncomfortable than those in the broader culture.

Then, two years ago, the student organization I worked for at Vanderbilt University got kicked off campus for being the wrong kind of Christians.

The author works for InterVarsity Christian Fellowship (an organization I have admired since my college days) and is an ordained priest in the Anglican Church in North America.

Another Chaplain Saint?

I previously wrote about Army chaplain Emil Kapaun, a Medal of Honor recipient killed in the Korean War, whose cause for canonization is being considered by the Catholic Church. In an article about the diverse group of American Catholics being looked at for sainthood, George Weigel at First Things reports that Navy chaplain Vincent Capodanno, a Medal of Honor recipient killed in Vietnam while serving with the Marines, is being considered as well. This excerpt:

The Servant of God Vincent Capodanno, M.M., was born on Staten Island and ordained for Maryknoll in 1957. After seven years of missionary service in Taiwan, he volunteered for the Navy Chaplain Corps and was posted to the 1st Marine Division in Vietnam in 1966. During a battle in the Que Son valley in September 1967, Fr. Capodanno, already wounded while administering the Last Rites to the dying, tried to save a wounded corpsman who had fallen near a North Vietnamese machine gun. The “Grunt Padre” was killed in the midst of his act of mercy and posthumously awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor.