Violence and Faith

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You may sigh inwardly when you see the word “Charleston” now, tired of all the news and posts and commentaries and analyses of the past week. And yet we cannot turn away from this event — we should not turn away, nor feel cynical and discouraged when things like this happen. Because we are the very people — we believers — who are called upon to remind people of the hope of the Gospel, of God’s charge to us to be instruments of peace, vehicles for transformation, messengers of love. Even in the midst of — or perhaps because of — such terrible news happening seemingly all around us.

This Sunday we’ll be launching our latest course whose timing and message now seem even more appropriate than ever. Suzanne Ross is co-founder of The Raven Foundation, which is “committed to making religion reasonable, violence unthinkable and peace a possibility by spreading awareness of the transformative power of mimetic theory. Our goal is to foster peaceful individuals and harmonious communities that will reject scapegoating and violence as ways to form identity and achieve real and lasting peace.” Suzanne’s course for ChurchNext is called “Violence, Myth, and Scripture,” and it helps us understand how Scripture, unlike myth, draws our attention to systems of violence, shows God’s concern for the vulnerable and the victim, and how violence is not of God, but of human failing. We offer this course up as a way of perhaps thinking about the (misunderstood) violence in our cultural traditions as well as how God grieves with us. (The course goes “live” on Sunday.)

If the violence in Charleston is weighing heavily on you, causing you to wrestle with those big questions about evil and the nature of God, we also commend to you any of the following courses already in our library. Why not arrange a small group discussion within your faith community, as a way not only of remembering the martyrs in Charleston, but of actively seeking to effect change by fostering discussion, dialogue, and time for prayer? Make us instruments of your peace, Lord.

How to Forgive

When We Get Angry with God

Why Does God Get Angry?

Three Prayers You’ll Want to Pray

O God, you made us in your own image and redeemed us through Jesus your Son: Look with compassion on the whole human family; take away the arrogance and hatred which infect our hearts; break down the walls that separate us; unite us in bonds of love; and work through our struggle and confusion to accomplish your purposes on earth; that, in your good time, all nations and races may serve you in harmony around your heavenly throne; through Jesus Christ
our Lord. Amen. 

~ Prayer for the Human Family (Book of Common Prayer p. 814)

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animate: Bible 3 launches today

In our third course of the animate: Bible series with Augsburg Fortress and Sparkhouse Publishing, we are challenged to rethink how we read, interpret, and relate to the Scriptures. William Willimon and Jay Bakker offer us hopeful reminders that, though the Bible is complex and in need of interpretation, the overall message is simple: love and grace and freedom. animate

Though many have limited and oversimplified the Bible — even using it as a tool for inspiring fear or guilt — this course reminds us that the Bible is more complex than that. It cries out for interpretation and ongoing study, with prayer and in community. William Willimon reminds us that the Bible represents all the complexity and unpredictability of our God and speaks to us, who are complex creations ourselves. And yet, paradoxically, the Bible’s message of love and forgiveness are heart-freeingly simple. If you grew up in a tradition in which the Bible incited fear, guilt, and distress, Jay Bakker invites you to revisit it through the “lenses” of Jesus and St. Paul. They just may set you free.

We’re excited to offer this third opportunity to reanimate our thinking about the Bible, with such engaging and wise instructors.  Click here for more information or to register.