A new year brings a change in the United States’ national government. Previously, Rev. Dr. Harold Delhagen’s statement of the Synod’s Social Justice commitment during the recent election season served as my Clippings. This month’s offering consists of two parts: 1. Excerpts from a Statement from Major Christian Organizations under the umbrella of the National Council of Churches of Christ about the proposed policy agenda and political appointments of the new regime. 2. A brief tribute to Huston Smith.
1. The Christian faith teaches us to act as ministers of reconciliation (2 Corinthians 5:11-21). As Presbyterians we recently expanded the scope of our commitment to reconciliation beyond that of The Confession of 1967 to include The Belhar Confession from South Africa. We ask President Trump, who claims Christianity as his religion, to fulfill with us this ministry of reconciliation.
A. The proposed policy agenda would jeopardize the most vulnerable citizens among us. Our Christian commitment to work with our most vulnerable neighbors is derived from the Apostles and Prophets of the Bible, and, for Presbyterians, from our Confession of 1967 and the Belhar Confession, as our commitment is mandated by our Form of Government and Directory for Worship. Safety Net programs lift more than forty million people out of poverty every year by reducing poverty and providing children and seniors with food, housing, and affordable health coverage. Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program grants feed low income workers, including the lower grades of members of our Armed Forces. We call on the new administration to honor these commitments, and not replace them with block grants.
B. Some of President Trump’s appointees epitomize extremist, racist, and fringe world views that support racism, anti-Semitism, white supremacist, xenophobic, anti-Muslim ideologues, and anti-GLBTQ bias. Such beliefs contradict the Christian values of loving neighbors, and stand antithetical to the US values of “liberty and justice for all.”
C. Therefore, we call on President Trump to preserve, protect, and defend the US through a policy agenda that improves the lives of the most vulnerable, and protect us from people with documented histories of racial hatred, bigotry, and xenophobia. We encourage the President to work hard to unify the nation, and move us toward a just, sustainable, and equitable future that lives up to the ideals of the United States of America.
Conference of National Black Churches, Ecumenical Poverty Initiative, The National Council of the Churches of Christ in the USA, and The Samuel DeWitt Proctor Conference.
2. Huston Smith was the most influential scholar and author in the field of Religious Studies. He studied the world’s major religions not as an intellectual project, or to compare and rank them, but in the only proven way to learn anything, by practicing them. Huston’s book on the Religions of the World still serves many colleges and universities as a textbook in the subject. A son of Methodist missionaries, he claimed that “the goal of spiritual life is not altered states, but altered traits.” (circlesoflight.com)
Written on a small piece of paper beside his bed was his favorite prayer, written by a 9 year old boy: “Dear God, I’m doing the best I can.”
He died on December 30, 2016, at 97 years of age.
Submitted by Rev. Ralph Garlin Clingan, PhD, Retired Minister in Residence.