Saturday, May 28, 2011

10-A and the future of the PC(USA)

Reactions to the passage of Amendment 10-A have in large part reflected the division of the vote. Many have cheered its passage, while others have bemoaned it. What is interesting and somewhat surprising is that the debate appears not to have boiled over, at least not yet. To be sure, feelings are running high, but so far both sides have acted with considerable restraint.  Supporters of 10-A have spoken graciously about their hopes that those on the other side will stay, and opponents have not, at least not yet, headed for the door en masse. What should we make of this?  Is it a hopeful sign of a new day or are Presbyterians simply acting pragmatically?

I want to suggest that competing visions of the church forged in the debate over ordination are now informing the prevailing restraint.  In the next months these visions will be tested and perhaps transformed, and in the process they may help remake the PC(USA) and perhaps American Protestantism more broadly. The competing ecclesiastical visions are 1) the church as a community of hospitality and 2) the church as the antithesis to the world. To see the power of these visions we need first return to their interpretations of 10-A, then to the current restraint, and finally to some future possibilities.

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Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Is It Time to Say Good-bye to Afghanistan?

istanWith Osama bin Laden dead, it is worth asking if now is the time for the United States to get out of Afghanistan. President Obama, however, has shown no sign of wavering from his commitment to delivering basic security and a functioning central government to Afghanistan.

Many have been slow to notice, but the president does not easily give up on his objectives and even less so on his commitments. Still, bin Laden’s death might give added momentum to a search for a negotiated end to the war.
Even before bin Laden’s death, a consensus appeared to be emerging that the war in Afghanistan could not be ended by military action alone. Negotiations with the Taliban are increasingly seen as a key part, perhaps the key part, in ending the war. There are, however, reasons to be skeptical of talks with the Taliban, especially when those talks are seen as the key to ending the war.
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