Ervin Stutzman’s last day as executive director of Mennonite Church USA (MC USA) is April 30. I would like to thank him for his years […]
David and Leann Augsburger are two semi-retired people who co-lead a home base church (Peace Mennonite Church, Claremont, California) and volunteer to welcome, care, and connect people in the San Gabriel valley.
1. Why I Stayed, Why I left; Conversations on Christianity between an Evangelical Father and His Humanist Son, by Tony Compolo and Bart Compolo, 2017: Bart, the founder of humanist chaplaincy at the University of Southern California (USC) in Los Angeles announced to the family over a Thanksgiving dinner that he no longer believed in God. At 50, this highly respected and gifted pastor in our community moved from the church to the university, but continued caring for persons. Now father and son have authored a dual (not duel) conversation on their respective and shared Christian journeys of faith. An important read for all who think about their faith in depth.
2. Noodles: Home again from six weeks in Asia, we are remembering noodles—Vietnamese Pho, Laotian Pad Thai, the Bun Cha in Hanoi at the place Obama and Bourdain had lunch, Shanghai chili sesame noodles, Nanjing dumplings, Hong Kong breakfast ramen. Whether pulled, hand cut or rolled: amazing! Now satiated with Chinese tastes, we are craving German spaetzli, Ukrainian kjielkje, Italian fettuccini or Leann’s chicken soup with homemade egg noodles. Did the Chinese really invent the noodle or did everyone? Is some form of boiled dough a universal comfort food?
3. Taiping Rebellion, China, 1850-1864: We are reading A New History of Christianity in China by Daniel Bays to fill in what we could not read in the Chinese characters at the Taiping Rebellion Museum in Nanjing, China. It tells the story of the first indigenous Christian movement. It began as a faith community for the poor, the marginalized, the disinherited and out of work miners and charcoal workers; it attracted women by teaching gender equality and men with the promise of a new society. The leader, Hong Xinquan, rose in self inflation to claim he was the brother of Jesus, speaking directly from God with a mandate to eliminate all other religions. Hong soon left essential Christianity behind to trigger a violent uprising that led to an armed attempt to overthrow the old order. For the Confucian majority, though it was by no means authentic Christianity, it became precisely the accepted image held by Confucian elites. There are many parallels to another country where an evangelical rebellion has found a self-aggrandizing leader to become the face of Christianity in the minds of the wider world, which is startling.
4. Spiritual Practice in the Time of the Mad King: This article by Rabbi Rodger Kamenetz is the piece we have read and reread, mailed and remailed to all our friends and received unanimous affirmation of his wisdom. Trust us, log on to Tikkun (a website named after the Hebrew word for healing) and you will find some wisdom for sustaining spiritual practices in a mad world. Find the piece HERE.
5. Resisting Structural Evil: Love as Ecological-Economic Vocation by Cynthia Moe-Lobeda, is the book Mark McReynolds is leading us in discovering at Peace Mennonite Church in Claremont, California, this month. Christian ethics can move its starting point and horizon from personal and social issues to address the future and survival of planet earth. Moe-Lobeda lays out an ethical framework with a moral vision that is earth-honoring, justice-seeking and thoroughly Christian. Just now when so much is going the way of exploitation, it is time for fresh consideration of the sacred.
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