Sunday, December 7, 2003

Some words from Dr. James Forbes

The Rev. Dr. James Forbes is the senior minister at |Riverside Church| in New York City. The PBS series NOW With Bill Moyers (12/26/03) interviewed him and showed some clips from his sermons. He is articulate, passionate, and persuasive.  Here is some of what he said:

"What is God thinking about in these times of war, and a widening gap between the haves and have-nots? What is God thinking about when there are trends away from parity, equality, and justice? God's heart aches. And it is a sin to be silent."

"Jesus was tempted by the devil... I fear that the ideology informing the present policies of the nation are coming from some people who took the devil up on his offer: 'You elite, you handful with your special interests, if you act quickly, all the kingdoms of the world - their oil, their wealth, their resources - I will give it to you.'  Jesus said no. But somebody helping to set policies in this nation said yes."

"The real issue that's facing our nation now is, how do we justify a corporate officer making, through his stocks and options and salary, a thousand times more than the lowest paid worker? How do you deal with that? And when you look at the consequences of this disproportion, that means that povery is a weapon of mass destruction. And yet in our capitalist society to raise questions about the freedom of some to enjoy an inordinate proportion of the resources, while others die for lack of basic subsistance necessities; that's going to be a hard conversation to have if God were our economic consultant. Would God say, 'Well, it's a free enterprise system and let it work and everything's going to be allright' ? No. God would say 'You've got to look at that again.'

"We are called upon to hold a plumb-line up against the policies of this nation... It's a symbol of certain set of principles by which you can measure weather we are keeping faith with the principles upon which the nation was built. ... It is not an act of unpatriotic negation to love your nation well enough to tell the truth about it."
"Everything in my spirit is in revulsion against this domination, empire building, against the braggadocious prideful arrogance. The 'shock and awe' in Baghdad looked like it was not coming from God's assignment; it felt like it was the prideful way of saying, 'you mess with us, we're going to show you who we are'. There was something ungodly about the use of firepower in this way. The policies say we are trying to export democracy around the world, yet the homeland securities acts and the 'Patriot' act end up making us more vulnerable while at the same time robbing us of the liberties that our founding documents provide for us. And also, a handful of people... are selling down the river the concerns and the well-being of the masses of the people of the nation; to set policies, which upon examination, are primarily for the interests of the few rich people. Something is not right about that."

"The church perhaps is the only institution in this nation that can ask 'how are your principles squaring up?' - not only with the principles in the Bible, but with the principles found in the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. Everybody else is scared to do it. The church had better be scared not to do it."

"Maybe, just maybe, God once thought that all of his children were going go be straight, then one day He discovered that one of his children, that God had made, actually was gay. What's God's attitude? 'Too bad' -? Oh, no. I think that the God who understands that out of the created order there's some straight people, some gay people, and some that are in-between. I think that the God that Jesus reveals to me would prefer that special attention be given to the child that was different, especially if that difference had occasioned rejection, humiliation, and ostracism."

"The greatest theft of all is to rob one's right to be."