Dear Friends,

This summer for Southminster Reads, we are reading Linda Tirado’s book, Hand to Mouth:  Living In Bootstrap America.    Near the end of August we will discuss it together.

A reviewer for the New York Times wrote:

“It’s rare to hear directly from the poor. Usually their voices are filtered through journalists or activists. So Tirado’s raw clarity is startling. It’s nice to imagine her ranting to a class of stunned M.B.A. candidates who are preparing to employ people like her; they would learn how denying dignity corrodes attitudes toward work and authority. In her world, medical practitioners are condescending and preachy, caseworkers are cruelly imperious, government systems are Kafkaesque and the downward spiral at the workplace is defeating.”

Please order the book and join us.  If you would like the book ordered for you, please contact Janet Cruz, jcruzmex@yahoo.com.

Also during the summer we are going to have “church chats” after the sermon.  The topics for the sermon will be about biblical passages that are connected to the call for social and economic justice, and even eco-justice.

Part of the reason for this series of sermons is reflection on my part to the book by Dan Barker, God: The Most Unpleasant Character in All Fiction.    Here is Amazon’s description of this book by evangelical-preacher-turned-atheist Dan Barker:

“What words come to mind when we think of God? Merciful? Just? Compassionate? In fact, the Bible lays out God’s primary qualities clearly: jealous, petty, unforgiving, bloodthirsty, vindictive—and worse! Originally conceived as a joint presentation between influential thinker and bestselling author Richard Dawkins and former evangelical preacher Dan Barker, this unique book provides an investigation into what may be the most unpleasant character in all fiction. Barker combs through both the Old and New Testament (as well as thirteen different editions of the “Good Book”), presenting powerful evidence for why the Scripture shouldn’t govern our everyday lives. This witty, well-researched book suggests that we should move past the Bible and clear a path to a kinder and more thoughtful world.”

As “people of the book” I think we need to take Dan’s critique seriously.

And yet, despite the character God being found over and over to fit the description by Dan Barker, others have found a subversive voice in these pre-modern words that inspires us to be better than even the “God” the scriptures portray.

Our challenge is to provide an honest critique but not dismissal of our scriptural heritage.  We must wrestle with it as Jacob wrestled with the divine being on the banks of the Jabbok.   We no longer can accept whole cloth the Bible as “word of God” as our ancestors might have and as many do still today.

But I don’t want to take the easy road and toss out its lure, call, and summons to be partners in transformation of unjust systems.

Join me will you?
Blessed Be,

John