Monday, March 6, 2017


At the moment, it is "Dual use"
1. Personal reflections, and
2. a discussion board for Newton Covenant Church.  The discussion board idea never caught on, for some reason. I had difficulty moderating the second response for technical reasons.  My bad...
Please ignore or comment as you wish!
A quick summary of two sermons, including yesterday's.  The intro was great: Rev. Smith, our Jewish preaching pastor(technically, his title is "Directer of Spiritual Formation and Outreach;-) said this:
Often, when people come to a difficult passage in the Bible, they just skip it.  The reason is that they've become accustomed to skipping or ignoring passages like today’s text from Colossians, which APPEARS to simply tell slaves and women to accept their lot as weak and inferior.  Today’s reader expects a paean to equality and the denunciation of slavery and patriarchy.  Given that Paul wrote this while a literal prisoner of the Roman government (he was eventually executed), such language would’ve been anachronistic, futile, and likely only to speed up his punishment. Instead, he knocked the props from under the entire system by proclaiming equality in Christ: we are all sinners, for sure, but also greatly beloved, and called to respond to God’s grace in Christ.  Instead of announcing, he demonstrated: The letter to the Colossian churches was sent together with a letter to Paul’s friend Philemon concerning Philemon’s escaped slave, Onesimus. Instead of commanding the release of the slave, Paul simply reminded Philemon that he and his slave were brothers!  This was an astonishing statement for the time; indeed, for all time.  We don’t have a written record of the outcome, but there is an inscription elsewhere concerning Bishop Onesimus.  It seems quite possible that the lowly slave, brother of Onesimus and Paul, became a Bishop: a position of humble service and authority in the church hierarchy.  Another example of undermining the system is an earlier sermon preached by Samuel Caraballo, about Jesus’ response to the question “should I pay taxes to Caesar, or not?” Jesus asked for a coin, and then asked about its inscription.  A typical coin of the period would’ve proclaimed “Caesar is god.” But Jesus’s quiet yet utterly contradictory response (to the assertion on the coin) was “Give to Caesar [only] what is Caesar’s.  Give to God what is God’s”

Monday, February 1, 2016

Four ways of framing the LGBT issue within church and society

1. Natural law “Nature tells us”
 2. Jesus’ definition, quoting OT word for word “The Bible tells us”
3. “Culture tells us” This is where PC(USA) and the rest of "Mainline Protestants" live.  The resolution I voted against at a meeting of the Presbytery of Boston [the local council of my denominations's churches] in Easton, Mass about a year ago even encoded culture’s inevitable shift, by saying PC(USA) ministers could perform same sex ceremonies where permitted by law.  The law has changed since that meeting!

I suppose position #4 might be personal revulsion “My gut tells me it’s wrong”  Where does the revulsion come from?  Natural Law?  Or from cultural attitudes, gutter-slurs, and fear of the other?  If the latter, then #4 is more similar to #3.  That’s why I reject #3 and #4, while recognizing the wisdom and usefulness of the other two, primarily #2.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Another perspective on the decision facing NPC

  Our church has been having a largely intellectual discussion about the background of our Session's recent decision to enter the process of moving from PC(USA) to ECO
Instead of denominations and labels, what if our two choices were represented by these words and emotions:
   #1“Stability” comfort. . . The way I remember things. . . “The church of my mother, my father, my grandparents”  Christmas eve services. . . Stained Glass. . . Peace. . . . . Openness. . .Harmony. . .security
   #2 : Change. . Hurry . .compulsion anger strife disagreement Doctrine “The church I left in sadness or anger years ago” Danger. . . risk “Doctrines I disagree with or don’t understand—that can’t be good” “Certainty of danger for an uncertain result” Fear. . .clamor. . .disquiet
When I hear the discussion, and when I feel my own emotions and imagine those of people in the room (including facial expressions), it seems like that’s what we are up against.  #1 vs #2. . . . . stability vs. the unknown or the unwanted.
For some, PC(USA) represents security and a defense against change.  PC(USA is the “way things have been” and/or “the way they ought to be”
This positive, historical image of PC(USA) may explain our division more clearly than philosophy.
ECO is different and seems strange: there are few ECO churches in our area, and the closest, in Quincy, MA, is not a church we have worked and fellowshipped with in the recent past.

So, are we presented with a choice between stability and the unknown? People may sincerely feel this way, but this does not describe the real world in which finite humans must live.  Stability is not an option.  We don’t have a pastor.  We don’t have a low-maintenance, new, energy efficient building.  We don’t have a long list (or even a short list)of experienced, excited, educated pastoral candidates, eager to affiliate or remain with PC(USA).  We DO have uncertain prospects of raising the millions needed to return our building to its original condition, plus millions more to make it energy efficient.  In sum, we already have the emotions I’ve assigned to choice #2.  Wherever we go, denominationally, even if we choose to stay with PC(USA), Choice #2 is already our reality, and Choice #1 is simply not an option.  We can imagine stability, but we can’t manufacture it.  The only choices in a real world are between different paths of change that define the sort of future for which we are willing to sacrifice even more of our time and treasure. 
What do YOU think?  Are there any emotions involved, or is this purely an intellectual and financial calculation?  Let's talk--I will respond, and I will do my best to be fair.  Darrell

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Starting the Conversation

In light of today’s sermon, I’d like us to pray for unity in our church.  As Pastor Al said, diversity, although it has its own challenges, it's a lot easier to notice.  But my prayer is for greater awareness of the importance of unity, not taking it for granted, but earnestly making the effort that was preached about, with humility, gentleness and patience.  This would glorify the one God and Father of us all: one body and one Spirit. . . . one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all!
Also, please pray for the last week of the 9am discussions in the Carlston Room.  Weeks 1 and 2 have been well attended and very productive. Give thanks for the weekly community connection, and the discussions and fellowship made possible during that time.  For those interested in written discussions, online, feel free to use this blog, (moderated by Darrell; I will be fair to all)  

Monday, January 18, 2016

Today we celebrate the birthday of Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Please use this blog to post your thoughts about: church politics, national politics as it affects religion, and anything else that's on your mind. Please feel free to ignore older posts.  If they become distracting, I can hide them.
Please refrain from personal attacks.  Sadly, not only is this disclaimer necessary, but it is also difficult to comply with.  If one can't separate their self from the opinions they currently hold, any criticism of ideas can be inevitably seen as a personal assault.  Or, more informally, taken WAAY too personally.  I hope this doesn't happen.
For my part, I believe each individual is created in the image of God, and is of inestimable value.  God demonstrated the value He, Himself places on each person by sending Jesus, God the Son, to draw us back into relationship with God. This is God's free and gracious gift.  Though we do not deserve His grace, we can, and should respond in gratitude, seeking reconciliation and peace with all of God's Creation.
A reflection on this day of honor:
Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
I believe in the Christian doctrines concerning sin, but what if sin doesn't exist? If there is no sin, why should I feel bad about racism or homophobia? Without recognition of sin, without timeless truths that are accessible to humans, it just becomes a power struggle.  Sexual minorities [I read this term first in Bay Windows; it seems more personal the LGBTQ and whatever other letters we must append] have become a powerful group.  Blacks, Hispanics, and immigrants, not so powerful.  But what if, instead of arguing about who has the most power, we responded with compassion and repentance? King David, have committed adultery and murder, responded by first admitting that he had sinned against GOD. "Against thee, thee only, have I sinned, and done what is iniquitous in thy sight" Psalm 51

Please share your thoughts.  I have more to say, soon!

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

No posts for two years!?!? I guess I've been on FB.  See Darrell Hart, esp. under The 4,000 Footer Club:

The background for my blog is Pack Monadnock, viewed from the Spellman Trail on Grand Monadnock.  Taken around 2009 when I began my frequent assaults on my favorite mountain. One hundreth hike 12/16/2015

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Criticizing politicians is so easy it's almost not worth the time.  But since Googling this phrase produced no hits, let me be the first to say this about Sen. Ted Cruz and his Obamacare filibuster:
"Cruz missile drones on"