Category Archives: Bible Study

Biden and God

In Joe Biden’s July 5 interview with George Stephanopoulos, the president brusquely rebuffed all the reporter’s promptings about quitting his race for re-election: bad poll numbers, calls from a few elected Democrats, the panicked appeals from the pundit chorus. . . .

A defiant Delaware “Meh” to them all.

Then Biden made one concession:

“Look. I mean, if the Lord Almighty came down and said, “Joe, get out of the race,” I’d get out of the race.” Continue reading Biden and God

“Tell It Slant”: The New Quaker Biography’s First Review Is Out!

The Western Friend is continuing evidence (tho it’s still news to some) that there is lively Quaker periodical publishing outside Philadelphia. When the editor learned about Tell It Slant, she didn’t hesitate: Friend Mitchell Santine Gould’s review, the first, was included in its current online newsletter edition.

Mitch is a distinguished independent historian with a theological bent. His special interest in the quasi-Quaker poet Walt Whitman has produced many impressive essays, including Walt Whitman: 10 Misconceptions, Least to Greatest, which is here,  and very much worth a look (but read this review first . . .)

Published: June 22, 2024, in The Western Friend:

Emma Lapsansky-Werner “Tells It Slant

in a Mammoth Biography of Publick Friend Chuck Fager

Tell it Slant: A prophetic life of adventure and writing on religion, war, and justice, love and laughter (Kimo Press, 2024)

More book details here.

Reviewed by Mitchell Santine Gould, Multnomah Monthly Meeting (6/19/2024):

Emma and Chuck at a 2017 history roundtable at Earlham School of Religion.

Emma Lapsansky-Werner offers us a sprawling biography of Quaker journalist, activist, and gadfly Chuck Fager, in Tell It Slant. I read the first half with growing appreciation for two essential aspects of Chuck’s life. The first is his truly impressive involvement with so many historic moments in politics, society, and religion. The second, which nicely humanizes this history, is a very frank, very modest account of his own life – warts as well as triumphs. It must be rare that a biography succeeds so admirably on both aspects.

Chuck’s long experience as a professional journalist and author gives perfect clarity to his parts of the overall narrative. However, he had so much to say, that in order to marshal some flow and organization to so many anecdotes, memories, and histories, he was lucky that Emma Lapsansky-Werner extended her invaluable editorial contributions into the role of co-author.

As she put it, “In crafting this narrative, I have echoed Chuck’s scaffolding, weaving my spin together with many of Chuck’s own words; biography is interwoven with autobiography.” Although Dr. Lapsansky-Werner is an academic — a professor of Quaker history — she delivered the kind of powerfully clear and simple journalistic prose that seamlessly matched Chuck’s own. I think given all the constraints, Lapsansky-Werner acquitted herself well.

We’re no longer in an age of book-reading — info-snacking is more like it — and one might set the book aside rather read the whole thing at once. But should you resume in the middle of the book, its humor, charm, interest, and insight will even more deeply impress you. Tell It Slant is inspiring and above all, highly relevant. In addition to his decades of involvement with Quaker faith, practice, and internal politics, Chuck really kept his finger on the pulse of American society and politics — precisely because of his investment in his faith, of course.

When the stories are this compelling, you want the book to be perfect. Viewing Friend Chuck as the modern-day equivalent of history’s Publick Friend, I wanted him to be the exponent for liberal Quaker faith as I understand it. I hoped to see a conscious allegiance to the key innovation of Quakerism: its Inner Light theology. Informal polling that I did years ago revealed that Friends today have reduced the doctrine of Inner Light to little more than a sentimental “that of God in everyone.”

But historically, the Inner Light was recognized as a secret, silent hotline to the Divine, quite specifically as a source of guidance in times of an ethical crisis. Crucially, it was seen as capable of over-riding the two ubiquitous avenues for all moral supervision: the Bible and the clergy. Chuck mentions the Inner Light only twice, exclusively in anecdotes about an old Quaker lady he once admired. In reality, the Light is the power behind the often-praised Quaker virtue known as “discernment.”

Mitchell Santine Gould

Having said all this, let me turn to the controversial proposition that Quakerism can be succinctly described as SPICE: simplicity, peaceableness, integrity, community, and equality. I could write a whole sequel review showing how Chuck hits quite robustly on all these cylinders. And that ultimately trivializes all my criticisms of his book. I believe every Quaker should read it, and non-Quakers will also be deeply inspired, as I have been, by it.

– Mitchell Santine Gould, Multnomah Monthly Meeting (6/19/2024)

It Took a Split to Rainbow The Methodist Church. Is Rome Next??

AP News: United Methodists repeal longstanding ban on LGBTQ clergy

May 1, 2024

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — United Methodist delegates repealed their church’s longstanding ban on LGBTQ clergy with no debate on Wednesday, removing a rule forbidding “selfavowed practicing homosexuals” from being ordained or appointed as ministers.

Justice and “Justice?” in Prisoner/Hostage Swap: More Gaza Bible Study

[NOTE: It is a delicate matter to complain about the Israeli justice system. Was there any justice in the Hamas attacks? (Not a rhetorical question: I say NO.) Any “due process”? Right to an attorney, etc.? Of course not.

And that’s not the only reason for being measured here.  As the New York Times reported in September:
Since 2002, roughly 780 detainees have been held at the American military prison at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba. Now, 30 remain. Of those, 11 have been charged with war crimes in the military commissions system — 10 are awaiting trial and one has been convicted. In addition, three detainees are held in indefinite law-of-war detention and are neither facing tribunal charges nor being recommended for release. And 16 are held in law-of-war detention but have been recommended for transfer with security arrangements to another country. Continue reading Justice and “Justice?” in Prisoner/Hostage Swap: More Gaza Bible Study

Jesus’ First Prophetic Proclamation: “Release To The Captives” —

Luke 4:16-21 King James Version

16  Jesus went to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, and on the Sabbath day he went into the synagogue, as was his custom. He stood up to read, 17 and the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was handed to him. Unrolling it, he found the place where it is written:

18 “The Spirit of the Lord is on me,
because he has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives . . .  

. . . and recovery of sight for the blind,

to set the oppressed free,

19 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”[f]

20 Then he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant and sat down. The eyes of everyone in the synagogue were fastened on him. 21 He began by saying to them, “Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.”

[NOTES: Muslims regard Jesus as one of the great prophets who brought divine guidance to humanity before Prophet Muhammad.

Jews traditionally reject Christian theological claims about Jesus. However, “Considering the historical Jesus, some modern Jewish thinkers have come to hold a more positive view of Jesus, arguing that he himself did not abandon Judaism and/or that he benefited non-Jews.” (Wikipedia )]