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Same-Sex Marriage Redux (1)

imagesGay marriage is clearly “the great debate” of the hour. People on both sides, and all sides in between, debate the meaning of Scripture’s witness to the covenant of marriage and the role of the state in making civil law. On one side, Christians argue that “gay marriage” is not clearly envisioned in Scripture but the idea itself is acceptable because of how obscure the “proof texts” are regarding same-sex relationships. They argue the idea itself is grace-filled because accepting the sexual practice of a whole group of people who are differently oriented from the majority of us is what grace always does. (Honesty requires that we admit that the Bible does not say a lot about this issue, as advocates of same-sex practice often argue. Yet it seems that what it does say seems fairly clear to most Christians.) So proponents of gay marriage appeal to (virtual) textual silence and to grace. They then argue that marriage is a bond of love between two adults who commit themselves to one another. It is increasingly hard to

My Sisters the Saints (6) – An Inspiring Journey in Faith

images-1Colleen Carroll Campbell’s journey to femininity did not lead her to embrace a kind of Catholic “fundamentalism” with regard to the social, professional and economic gains that she had previously experienced because of feminism. John and Carroll Campbell clearly share a marriage of mutuality. They have just as clearly learned how to sacrifice and give up their personal agendas, one for the other. For those on the far right, who think the only way to respond to modern feminism is to throw “the baby out with the dirty bathwater” her conclusion will not satisfy you. At the same time if you want a radical feminist perspective that leads to a profound fear and loathing of men and motherhood then you must look elsewhere.

As Colleen read Edith Stein, and Pope John Paul II, she concluded that men are called to loving communion with others just as much as women. But Edith Stein believed that a man was called, more than a woman, to “action, work, and objective accomplishments. A man is less concerned with problems of being, whether

My Sisters the Saints (5) – An Inspiring Journey in Faith

images-3As Colleen Carroll Campbell tried to settle into her new work at the White House she found that she had never been so profoundly challenged in her work but so deeply dissatisfied with her life in general. She writes:

I wanted to blame patriarchy for my conundrum., blame my job, blame John. Deep down, though, I knew something else was pulling me home [i.e. back to St. Louis]. It was the force of my own desires, desires that sprang form a soft, passionate, feminine part of me that I thought I had smothered with résumés and credentials long ago. Decades of perfectionism and compulsive achievement had not managed to kill her off. Now she was daring me to reject the smart move and take a chance on love (79).

Trying to work her way out of this she turned to prayer. She turned to the Divine Mercy chaplet, the prayers that came from the journals and insights of Faustina. Don’t misunderstand. She was reading Scripture daily and meditating in the written words of the Holy Bible. Psalm

My Sisters the Saints (4) – An Inspiring Journey in Faith

imagesIn the spring of 2001, five years after Colleen Carroll Campbell had moved from Memphis to St. Louis to write for the St. Louis Post Dispatch, she fell in love with John Campbell, a young physician in training who would become her husband. Their love story is endearing and genuinely sweet. During this same time, in 2001, she took a year-long leave from the newspaper to write her book titled: The New Faithful: Why Young Adults Are Embracing Christian Orthodoxy (Chicago: Loyola Press, 2002). She describes this project as a “labor of love . . . a young writer’s dream” (55). She received a grant to travel around the country interviewing hundreds of her peers, mostly Catholics and evangelicals. Her desire was to track and reveal a growing trend among younger adults who were embracing more orthodox expressions of the Christian faith. Her interest grew out of her own experience of faith and astute professional observations. The book is not based on a poll, or the gathering of scientific data. It is anecdotal and profoundly fun to

My Sisters the Saints (3) – An Inspiring Journey in Faith

book-my-sisters-the-saintsAs Colleen Carroll Campbell’s spiritual memoir, My Sisters the Saints, evolves we begin to understand how her relationship with men was being changed profoundly. These changes clearly grew out of the spiritual formation that was now powerfully shaping her life as a growing Catholic Christian.

She writes that before Christmas break was over she did not want to make long-term plans with a man who regarded God as a competitor for her loyalty (22). She, in her own words, “surrendered her relationship [to] take a chance on God instead” (22). Her attempts to enter into a relationship with God was, at first, one of fits and starts. She was grasping for something, anything, that would “help her get her bearings” but the journey was not easy. (Is is ever? If it is then it will likely not last.) She finished college with many more questions but writes: “Teresa’s example convinced me that my journey to understand who I was and how I should live as a woman was inextricably bound with my journey toward God” (24). The party

My Sisters the Saints (2) – An Inspiring Journey in Faith

Colleen Carroll Campbell’s new spiritual memoir informs the reader, very early in the book, of how her reading St. Teresa’s biography brought deep change. She understood anew why her parents read the lives of the saints as she found in Teresa a woman of passion and purpose whose journey was deeply compelling for its many detours. What she describes as Teresa’s “spicy, messy, and meandering spiritual journey cast my own struggles in a new light” (19). images-2She saw huge differences between her life and that of Teresa but she wondered if the aching hunger that she knew, and her boredom with worldly pleasures, could find an answer in such a deep spiritual experience.

Before Christmas break was over she realized that she did not want to make long-term plans with a man who regarded God as a competitor for her loyalty (22). In her words, she “surrendered her relationship [to] take a chance on God instead” (22). Her attempts to enter into a relationship with God was, at first, one of fits and starts. She was grasping for

My Sisters the Saints (1) – An Inspiring Journey in Faith


ColleenatChristendomCrop1Collen Carroll Campbell is an accomplished, award-winning author, as well as a print and broadcast journalist. I have followed her writing and professional career, at least from a  distance, since I read her first book, The New Faithful: Why Young Adults Are Embracing Christian Orthodoxy, back in 2002. I later quoted from that hopeful book in my own book, Your Church Is Too Small (Zondervan, 2010). I admit that Colleen has become one of my favorite religion writers in America. She writes an op-ed column on religion, politics, and women’s issues for the St. Louis Post Dispatch; blogs on those subjects for the New York Times and the Washington Post; comments on them on such networks as Fox News, CNN, and PBS; and discusses them as a host of Faith & Culture, a weekly television and radio show that airs on EWTN, the Catholic network. Colleen Carroll Campbell’s new book, My Sisters the Saints: A Spiritual Memoir, is an intensely readable and highly evocative book. As a college student, at a fairly secular Catholic university, she was

Voluntarist Protestantism and the Dangers of Secular Modernity

Voluntarist/Biblicist Churches

During the same period that I referred to yesterday, and especially since the decade of 1960s, churches deeply centered in teaching the Bible have grown numerically. Only recently has this growth begun to significantly slow down, a fact that very few are willing to openly face at this juncture in history. Was the success of these more conservative churches a result of turning against the subjective tendencies of their more liberal brothers and sisters? This seems to me to be the $64,000 question among modern religious sociologists. The early evidence appeared to support such a conclusion but now that conservative churches are also beginning to decline the data, and thus this debate, needs to be revisited. I believe the answer is that this simplistic analysis, namely that liberal churches in the mainline are in decline because they turned away from strong biblical teaching, is only a half truth.

religion-secularismThe compelling idea employed by conservative churches is that each person is directly responsible for their own religious commitment. This is what is meant by voluntarism. This idea has

The Real Threat to Personal Faith Commitment to Christ

imagesI would argue that in America the impact of personal and social secularization is different than in virtually all other Western nations. The reason for this is because religion was never formally established in America as a function in which the state had a compelling role. From every angle you can look at this question it now seems that state support for Christianity harms long term personal faith commitment. For this reason the “free market” of faith communities has led to a competitive context in which churches can, and do, appeal for people’s support and, in some ways at least, flourish accordingly. This shift to voluntarism means that churches must work to gain the personal commitment of their people. This has proven to be a very healthy thing, at least in one sense. But recent developments have begun to erode the impact of the church in this culture for what appear to be other compelling social reasons that are new to our history. Let me explain.

0226805328Within a democracy

Common Ground: God's Gift of a Restored Marriage

Common Ground: God’s Gift of a Restored Marriage, by Gordon Bals, is a book “God can use” according to best-selling author Larry Crabb. I agree and this is why I endorsed the book by writing:

Books on marriage are very numerous, but really good books on marriage are quite rare. This is a really good book! Couples will surely benefit by reading it. By practicing its truths they may enjoy much-needed growth and healing in their relationship. Highly recommended.

Dr. Gordon Bals is a professional Christian counselor who writes from the perspective of a flawed husband who is still trying to get it right. He doesn’t have all the answers but does offer a way to journey into wholeness that will lead married couples from entrenched places of battle to common ground.

Larry Crabb is right when he says a book cannot restore a marriage, only God can. But, says Crabb, “Common Ground is a book God can use. Gordon tackles tough issues with soundly biblical creativity, practical wisdom, personal integrity, and fresh insights that provide real

By |November 28th, 2012|Categories: Counseling, Marriage & Family|