A New Reformation Sunday

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martin-luther-95-theses-e1268997282362On or around October 31, many Protestant churches celebrate “Reformation Sunday” which commemorates Martin Luther’s nailing of 95 Thesis to the front door of All Saints Church, Wittenberg; a college town in north-east Germany. Luther’s rant began with his theological disapproval of Paper Indulgences (a written piece of paper from the Church shortening the amount of time people would spend in punishment purgatory).

Luther had no intention of breaking away from the western church headquartered in Rome, due to the invention of the printing press Luther’s thesis was published, and the formal process of the Reformation began splintering the church, enabling the creation of Enlightenment, changing the course of humanity.

The church in Rome lost power to control and dictate thought as well as managing the future of nations. Of the Enlightenment philosopher Immanuel Kant quite adequately named the process as, “the emergence of man from his self-imposed infancy.”

In two years we’ll be approaching the 500th anniversary of Martin Luther’s 95 Thesis, and it makes me wonder of we are losing sight of what Luther’s had begun. Martin Luther, in 1517, took on the status quo, challenging accepted sociopolitical structures as a means of life. Luther looked at doctrine, not as a means of allowing people to thrive, but saw that that the church enveloped doctrine as a means of total control not only of people, but of nations and people’s well-being.

Over the years, the Protestant church in Europe entered into the fray, and slowly but surely fell into the trap of telling people how to think, and how to act, turning once Catholic countries into nations espousing Protestantism, thereby creating a circle of religious freedom into nations just as tyrannical as the preceding regime led by Popes. Self-imposed infancy once again became the norm, not from a centralized church in Rome, but by individuals claiming to know the truth, using power and might to impose yet another theocracy all in the name of “Scripture Alone.”

We, the Protestant church in the United States, though protected from a theocracy by our Constitution and Bill of Rights, has worked its way into the establishment of society sometimes afraid to speak out for fear of losing wealthy members, and our jobs and pensions.

I suggest on Reformation Sunday, the church once again should take it upon itself to present  to each community it inhabits making known what they stand for, not in religious terms, that’s too easy, but to name what is preventing society from flourishing, and to say we stand against this inadequacy.

Here’s my list:

  1. People should be paid a living wage (Matt. 20, Parable of the Vineyard Workers)
  2. Fair Distribution of food so that people are not starving (Mark 6, Feeding of the 5000)
  3. Respecting human dignity (Matt. 25, Parable of the Sheep and Goats)
  4. Helping to eliminate homelessness (Isa. 58:6-8)
  5. Helping our neighbors (Mark 12:28, the greatest commandment)
  6. Abhorring violence in all forms (Romans 12:9-21)
  7. Welcoming the stranger (Jeremiah 22:3)
  8. ?????? (Keeping adding to the list…mine was just to get you started)

The Protestant Church should once again become the protestant church, not waging war against each other, but waging a campaign to remove the yoke of violence, hunger, pain, iniquity, and pestilence. I think that is a group good people might want to join, and then they can find out that we are meant to participate with God to bring about a new world.

Let’s Dump Columbus Day and Create…….

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PETITION-ABOLISH-COLUMBUS-DAY-124626215443Almost anyone with a decent education already knows that Columbus did not discover America. Almost everyone knows that the Vikings were the first to set foot in what is now North America in the year 1000, about five hundred years prior to Columbus’ landing around a group of island south of Florida now called the Bahamas.

We know that Columbus and those who followed should be seen as insensitive to the nations they met, and reeked havoc with the people who greeted them with hospitality, or at least curiosity, soon finding out that the people from a far off land with wooden ships were arrogant and greedy souls who had the audacity of claiming land that did not belong to them. Imagine a group of people stepping off a private plane landing in a meadow in the middle of Iowa who after stepping from the plane claiming the land around Dubuque as now belonging to another country; it’s almost laughable, but that’s what happened by people we call explorers. It’s one thing to explore, but its another to exploit. It’s a bad legacy.

There is a recent movement to rename Columbus Day to something paying honor to the indigenous people inhabiting the United States. Though we have much to answer to regarding colonialism, and claiming land killing off a nation of peoples, I’m not sure re-framing Columbus Day is the answer.

Anthropology has said that the people who inhabited North America are best termed “First Nations” because these early travelers came to this land via the Bering Strait when Siberia and Alaska were connected. DNA research says that migration happened in three waves as far back as 25,000 years ago. So, by the time Europeans came into the picture, First Nation peoples were here on this land, and were quite well established. The important fact is that all who came here, no matter what point in history, are immigrants.

I think its time to lay Columbus Day to rest, and to recognize the importance and value of the United States as a nation of immigrants. All of us in this land are immigrants who came to this land over time, and from various waves if migration. My family came to the USA after World War I when Austria-Hungary was broken apart due to war and aggression. Similar stories such as mine can be found over various periods of history.

We, as a people, must set aside a day to recognize the value and importance of immigrants, and to realize that we, as a nation, is strong not from our independence, but our conglomeration of nations who chose to make this land our home, the ever mingling of people of different traditions, and ethnicity which makes us a beacon to the world.

Let’s end Columbus Day and call for a celebration named Immigrant’s Day. Immigrant’s Day, a time to reflect on how we came here, and how we can best serve, and open our hearts and hospitality who seek to make this land their home.

 

 


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