Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Her Morning Elegance

a beautiful video and a great song...


ever think about the way that one culture translates into another?

take a look at the opening sequence of The Cosby Show as it is seen in India.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Why I'm a Baptist

I write this to remind myself... because I'm not happy with the directions the tradition has taken nor with the choices that have been made by my own denomination - The American Baptist Churches, USA.

Walter Shurden in his book The Baptist Identity: Four Fragile Freedoms, says there are four distinctive commitments that define what it means to be a Baptist.

1. Freedom of the Bible - the idea that scripture speaks for itself and the individual believer is obligated to study it using the best possible tools. There is no "official" interpretation of the Bible. Nobody can definitely say, "this is what the Bible means" and therefore there are no creeds or doctrinal checklists.

2. Soul Freedom - Each individual is both able and required to work out his or her own faith and relationship to God with no interference by clergy, church, hierarchies, or state. Nobody can tell you what your relationship to God is supposed to look like. That is between you and God.

3. Freedom of the Church - It is the responsibility of each congregation to work out the shape of its faith and its ministry in its context. No outside body can tell a church what they must believe or how they must do ministry.

4. Freedom of Religion - The state has no power to impose religious tests on anyone or shape religion in any way. The idea of separation of church and state in the US came primarily from the Baptists and the Quakers.

Obviously, Shurden says more about these distinctives than I have shared in 4 short paragraphs but you get the picture and can sense the radicalness inherent in these four commitments. They leave the door open to incredible diversity from TULIP fundamentalists on the right to unitarianism on the left and everything in between. Indeed, the Baptist tradition in the US includes the whole of that diversity. It is that wild and wide tradition that caught my imagination and continues to insire me. It is that crazy mix that seems to me to be the most viable shape for Christianity to take in this post-modern world. It is also a tradition that is frightening to many and seems to me to be being abandoned by almost all Baptist groups.

Let me give one simple example. In the ABCUSA, they are talking about a "common table," i.e. when representatives gather, each of the participating bodies agrees not to send a representative that another body would exclude. Left out are GLBT folk because some of the more conservative folk in ABC will not sit at table with them. How can we claim to be Baptists and then tell a church or group of churches that they cannot send an entire class of people as representatives to our gatherings? What about the first three freedoms? It was in that rough and tumble mix of differing ideas and interpretations that I most clearly heard the voice of the Spirit. And now we move to the lowest common denominator?

I am still a Baptist. I want to remain a Baptist and I dream of a day when some Baptist body stands up and clearly says, "THIS IS WHO WE ARE!" I fear it will never come and the tradition will morph into something it is not, and then disappear completely.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Father's Day

My father died on May 27, 2006. Below is the post I put up that day. I decided to copy it here rather than just link to it.

I still miss him and wish that things had been better. I'll think of him a lot tomorrow.

May 27, 2006
in memoriam George W. Donkin jr.

Some of you know that both of my parents were admitted into hospice in February. Both had severe emphysema and mom has an abdominal aneurysm as well. Dad died peacefully in his sleep this morning. I got to speak to him yesterday on the phone and assured him that we love him and it was OK to let go, we would see that mom was cared for.

Growing up we had the ambiguous relationship that children often have with their parents. Dad never showed his emotions very well and wasn't there a lot. He was a diesel mechanic and worked hard all of his life. He left for work before I got up, came home, often after a stop at a bar for a beer and talk with friends, took a hot bath, ate dinner, and went to sleep. Saturdays, he slept half the day. Sundays, we went to church and then to my grandmother's for Sunday dinner. Friday and Saturday nights were often cards with family or, for a few years, my parents went bowling. I never remember him missing a day of work for any reason. In his late 30's he had back problems... he wore a brace and went to work and when he came home he could barely stand, I would pull on his legs to relieve the pressure. The next day, he went back to work.

It was later that I began to realize that the hard work was his way of showing love. He understood his role as providing for his family and he did that the best he could as a blue collar worker for as long as he could. He probably should have died a few weeks ago but he hung on because he didn't want to leave mother alone.

When I turned 18 I learned that he was not my biological father. My mother married right out of high school, had my older sister, divorced, met my biological father & married, had me, and when I was 9 months old, he died. George Donkin, in his mid 20's, married Jean with a 6 year old daughter and 1 year old son. Three years later George and Jean had a daughter. My biological father was in many ways a fantasy - he was a first mate on an oil tanker and spent much of his time away at sea. When he was at home, it was all gifts and parties and the realities of living together never intruded. George competed with that image all of his life. I know it was difficult for him but he hung in there.

It wasn't until I was well into my adult years that I began to understand more of him and appreciate his love and the faithfulness with which he expressed it. I hope that I have learned that from him.

I love you, Dad. Peace be with you and may God hold you in the palm of his hands.