Sunday, August 30th, 5 PM
“If Jesus Ran for President”
First in a Series exploring the relationship between one’s theological framework and political viewpoint …
Here’s an extended description of our upcoming series and this month’s program, in particular; along with our guest presenter’s information:
Jesus, a cleric and a politician walk into a bar …
If that sounds like the beginning of a bad joke, consider the 3-ring circus of political debates and punditry already well underway 15 months before our next national election. The leading candidate of one of the major parties is asked if he has ever repented and asked God for forgiveness. One of the other candidates vying for their party’s nomination is a Baptist minister who is just as fundamentalist in his religious views as he is conservative in his political views. And a stock answer from numerous other cesndidat is that their positions on everything from abortion, to same-sex unions or “traditional marriage,” or “religious freedoms” are all “informed by their faith.”
Internationally, if you think religion and politics don’t meddle in each other’s business, try assessing the battle over the Iran Nuclear agreement, devoid of the influences of Iran’s Ayatollah or a form of Zionism backing Netanyahu’s coalition government in Israel.
“How we think about religion — even if we are skeptics or atheists — will spell itself out in how we think about society,” says philosophy professor, David Galston. “In other words, our theology and politics are inextricably linked. The difference of course is that politicians get to enact their thinking as policy.”
So, should one consider a candidate’s religious bent when assessing the way they would make political decisions? Absolutely!
The first in a series of upcoming Pathways programs exploring the relationship between one’s theological framework and political viewpoint will start with a presentation by Pathways participant, Michael Cooper, entitled “Jesus: Jewish Settler or Rabbi for Human Rights?”
Michael is a novelist who has just released his second book (see below), and also a local (Jewish) pediatric cardiologist, who makes several trips each year to settlements in Israel-controlled Occupied Palestinian Territories to help serve the needs of children otherwise lacking such medical care. Out of that context, he recently shared an article with me that posed the question: “If Jesus were alive today, living in the Holy Land, where would you go about looking for him?” The question was part of a statement made by a former Israeli ambassador to Washington, and member of Netanyahu’s ruling coalition, Michael Oren:
“Jesus, Mary, and John the Baptist would today be considered Jewish settlers in Bethlehem,” Oren said. “We are on a holy mission to ensure the Jewish state remains strong and beloved.”
A contrary point of view could contend Jesus was not a Jewish settler, but a rabbi who spoke out for human rights on behalf of an oppressed people living in the legendary place of his birth, in what is now the Occupied Palestinian Territories. The two viewpoints are not only a prime example of the mix of politics with a theological perspective, but is nothing new, as well.
Ancient Jewish scriptures contain within them both a divine-sanctioned claim to a holy land, and a prophetic tradition that always advocates for justice on behalf of “the orphan, the widow, the alien in your midst;” with the reminder, again and again, that “you were once aliens yourself.” (Exodus 22:21)
This is the religious tradition out of which Jesus the Galilean sage preached and taught. It is also the political context in which the historical Jesus found himself embroiled and at odds with both the religious hierarchy and political powers of his own day.
If, in fact, a theological mindset informs political opinion, how does one go about discerning both for one’s self; and consequently decide who one would choose to represent you? Sound interesting?
RSVP now if you can join us, Sunday, August 30th, 5:00 PM!
PS – If you pre-order Michael’s second historical novel, The Rabbi’s Knight, due to be released Aug. 18th and delivered to you before our Pathways gathering on August 30th, you will also receive a free copy of his first novel, Foxes in the Vineyard. All the information can be found here. A copy of the book jacket endorsements, including my own, is here.
Always a free event, open to everyone. RSVP: email@example.com
Newcomers always welcome. The 2015 Calendar of Gatherings is here.
In the last four decades, John Bennison has been a teacher, preacher, lecturer, trainer, carpenter, coffin builder, counselor, spiritual advisor, ethicist, writer and lyricist, musician and entertainer, assembly-line union worker, small business entrepreneur, residential real estate specialist, corporate cog and executive director of a faith-based non-profit organization.
He’s authored eight publications on faith and values, and as an ordained minister served as a parish pastor over 25 years. He earned his Doctorate from Claremont School of Theology, as well as his BA degree in philosophy and religion from Lake Forest College.
John contributes his leadership experience as Executive Director and Lead Teacher at Pathways, as he writes the Words & Ways commentaries and blogs on The Christian Progressive, engaging others everywhere in meaningful dialogue. He also volunteers as Director and President of the Mountain Shadow Film Society.
Meanwhile, John also continues to provide professional client services to buyers and sellers of residential real estate in the Bay Area area market (www.imaginecominghome.com).
Having raised two daughters, he resides with his spouse and golden retriever in Walnut Creek, California.