I took in a talk yesterday given by Marcus Borg, professor emeritus in the philosophy department at Oregon State University. He spoke about his new book: Speaking Christian: Why Christian Words Have Lost Their Meaning and Power — and How They Can Be Restored.
It was the answer to the last question from the audience that has stuck with me. The question centered on how people can call themselves Christians and still advocate war and a “have/have not” society. To paraphrase Borg’s answer, he responded by saying that he found that almost impossible to reconcile. He noted that that the New Testament really comes down to two things: peace and social justice. His response was met with a thunderous ovation.
We have finished another budget round in Washington that leaves many of us feeling angered, frustrated, and saddened. The emphasis has been on cuts to needed social programs and a “hands off” attitude toward a military budget that is out of control.
It remains up to all of us who, for lack of a better descriptor, believe in the life-giving energy that flows from the words of Jesus Christ to continue to push our lawmakers to work for a more just and equal society.
I’m inspired by Diarmuid O’Murchu’s book: Cating Up With Jesus: A Gospel Story for Our Time, in which he writes:
“We have come a long way from the fiery prophetic figure of Nazareth who shocked and disturbed the conventions of his day in the name of justice and liberation…The following of Jesus is not a respectable religion, and I suspect it was never meant to be. It is a call to truth, justice, and liberation for those oppressed, excluded, and disempowered…Christians are called to be different and should be recognized for being different. Once we acquiesce to societal norms and procedures, we have effectively lost our capacity to be salt for the earth and light for the world.”
It is our time and our place to keep that thought alive. Let’s continue the work started over 2,000 years ago. We are the prophets of our times.