Active church

(picture courtesy of flickr user tukanuk, under creative commons license.)

What image comes to mind when you hear the phrase active church? Hands working? Youth cleaning up the shrubs at the home of a shut-in? UM Women filling care packages? I wanted a picture to put with the phrase active church and with the Google image search, I got a lot of pictures of church buildings (although the deeper I went, the more people I saw). Granted, Google is not necessarily and indicator of what people think, but it is interesting.

People inside the church may see how active it is. We know that those folks visiting the nursing home are doing so because of the church, we know who is visiting prisoners or filling Thanksgiving boxes, but outside the church, it may not be so obvious.

I never really liked the UM “Open hearts…” campaign. I don’t know too many people who did, and I don’t know that it was the best use of the church’s money. The United Methodist church starts a new ad campaign next year, and I look forward to hearing more about it.

The subject of the campaign is “Rethink Church.” Some of the quotes in the article trouble me:

…the church population, institution and hierarchy will need to understand and embrace the idea that it is OK for “church” to start out as day care, a youth-group ski trip, a men’s basketball league or something that solves a secular need, such as Habitat for Humanity.

but overall, I think the concept is one that should even be good for people already in the pews. Church is living, breathing, a full time commitment, not just a place you go on Sunday. Hopefully (especially at the cost of $50 million) the campaign will strengthen us as we make disciples for Christ.

Second Life Divorce

This article, which comes from CNN, sounds like it comes from The Onion. Second Life affair ends in divorce. From the article:

she…hired an online private detective to track his activities: “He never did anything in real life, but I had my suspicions about what he was doing in Second Life.

At least the wife in this case seems to understand that mind and body are not entirely separate, but the fact that she went on to start a relationship with someone in World of Warcraft seems to indicate she has not entirely learned her lesson.

vote for Obama — go to Hell

A friend’s child was told by a Roman Catholic priest that anyone who votes for Obama was going to hell. Perhaps this is an isolated incident. But of course, in 2004 some RC bishops suggested that John Kerry shouldn’t be allowed communion based on his pro-choice stance. And now, a priest in South Carolina has told his parishioners that they should do penance for their vote if they voted for Obama, or risk putting their souls in peril if they take communion.

This is not isolated. I know I can be as myopic as the next guy, but this is horrendous. Why is pro-life defined only in regard to abortion? Granted, the Catholic church has a more consistent view of life issues than most faith traditions, but why not a similar stance on the death penalty, health care, war and other issues that are pro-life? (answer: because everyone who voted, or failed to vote, would have to repent, and perhaps we should anyway).

A great Christan blogger, Andrew Thompson, suggested a term last year that I have been trying to spread around: Pro-Vita. He wrote:

I propose a new term: Pro Vita Christians. It is a way of saying “for life” or “in favor of life” but without the political baggage of the term “pro-life.” It is a way of affirming God’s love and care for all of his creatures – from the unborn baby in the womb to the convicted killer on death row.

There is also an organization called Consistent Life which is

committed to the protection of life, which is threatened in today’s world by war, abortion, poverty, racism, capital punishment and euthanasia. We believe that these issues are linked under a ‘consistent ethic of life’. We challenge those working on all or some of these issues to maintain a cooperative spirit of peace, reconciliation, and respect in protecting the unprotected.

I really don’t know what else to say here without tearing my garments. This is disturbing. RC clergy are not the only ones doing this. I’ve seen various pastors on both sides imply that if you vote for the opposition, you’re not following God’s will. It’s too much.