Unity: What a Concept!

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In an increasingly divided America, where might unity be found? It certainly is not to be found in politics. Neither is unity found in the immigration battle. Then, of course, there are legion other de-unifying issues: economic, racial, and gender equity; reform of the judicial and corrections systems; abortion rights; death penalty; gender identify;…  With so many factions clamoring for power and control in order to have their way, and spending obscene amounts of money to win control, the appearance is much like the ultra-competitive American sports scene: win at all costs.

Perhaps, if the slung mud were to be washed off, we could all see real humanity and moral sensibilities of those on both sides of issues. But then, that would not be much of a sport; would it?

It seems to me that unless America unifies around our common future that our house (country), now so deeply divided against itself, will surely fall.

In unity, seek the common-good (shalom) among and for all people.  How might one go about this? Follow the link for more information: Communities of Shalom.

Can we get enough of that good-time stuff?

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In our consumptive society, we are programmed to have a voracious (but conservative) appetite for “things”; however, the counter-voices that motivate us to be good stewards (wise-caretakers) of our environment from which all “things” come are far less prominent. Why? One reason is that wise care-taking does not satiate the gnawing hunger created by consumptive desire: we just can’t get enough of that good-time stuff.

With regard to Scripture and what its messages admonish us to “do” toward care-taking are these (and more): to love one another (John 13:34), to set the oppressed free (Luke 4:18), and to be shalom-makers (Matthew 5:9).

Perhaps we consumers are the oppressed; yet, who will set us free so that we can truly love one another and fully participate in holistic care-taking as shalom-makers? What do you think? What will you do?

A strong thread of shalom-making is caring for the earth (creation) for which all humanity is responsible. For a well-researched and developed discussion of “shalom” and “shalom-making”, see Robert C. Linthicum’s The Shalom Community: The Thread That Ties the Bible Together: http://www.piut.org/papers.htm.

And, for a good article and additional resources on caring for the garden (earth) in which we live and for which we simply “must” care, see the winter 2009 issue of Divinity: http://www.divinity.duke.edu/publications/2009.01/features/feature5/index.htm.

Finally, this 2007 statement of support for environmental stewardship by an array of evangelical leaders and scientists is a testament to broad support of wise care-taking as a necessary component of responsible consumption: http://www.pbs.org/now/shows/343/letter.pdf.

Shalom: what is it?

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What is “shalom” to you?

In his book, Building a People of Power (2005),  Robert C. Linthicum, writes of shalom, “In order to capture the nuance of the Hebrew word [shalom] as it is used in specific contexts, translators have had to use the following English words: weal, welfare, completeness, to cause to be at peace, to make peace, peace offering,  at rest, at ease, secure, safe, to finish well, to prosper, to be whole, to be perfect, to be victorious. In other words, in any given context, shalom can mean any of the above English words…Shalom is the theology of hope of Israel and of the early church, its vision of what the world would some day be”.

Communties of Shalom (www.communitiesofshalom.org) envision completeness and equity in the physical, social, economic, and spiritual spheres: http://www.communitiesofshalom.org/principles.html.

Finally, take a look at Isaiah 65:19-25 for a glimpse of a shalom community in which housing, jobs, health care, mutual support, environment, wealth and peace are inextricably woven ino a fabric of common destiny. Mutuality and shared power (power among) — not power over — are essential.

And so, what is shalom to you?