What I Wrote This Week @UrbanFaith: July 4-8

Hitchhiker, NYC

It was a short work week because of the Fourth of July holiday, so even though I wrote three posts for Urban Faith, only one was published this week, and perhaps that’s appropriate given that it’s a bit of an apologetic for my role as News & Religion editor at the site.

The post was inspired by an article about the relaunch of AOL Huffington Post’s Black Voices and included a quote from Ed Gilbreath explaining his vision for Urban Faith. Here are bits and piece of the post, but I encourage you to read the whole thing.

“During the early days of the AOL Huffington Post merger, we had a chuckle when Arianna Huffington was named editor-in-chief of an array of AOL blogs outside her area of expertise … perhaps most glaringly, Black Voices.” So began an article in The New York Observer about the site’s re-launch. …

As news and religion editor at Urban Faith, I’m keenly aware of my own limitations in communicating stories that reflect authentic African American experience and interest, which is why I’m enormously grateful for the black men and women who contribute the majority of UF’s content. …

Urban Faith, on the other hand, has a specific, yet broad vision. Here’s how it was described in a 2008 pre-launch email I received from editor Ed Gilbreath:

Urban Ministries, Inc. is an African American-owned company. Our core audience is black, and UrbanFaith.com will naturally be rooted in that perspective. At the same time, recognizing the beauty of diversity in God’s kingdom, UrbanFaith.com will strive to also be ethnically inclusive and multicultural in flavor.

Today, urban culture transcends racial boundaries and covers many different socio-economic backgrounds. What’s more, Christians who are engaged in the exciting call to urban ministry come from all races and walks of life. UrbanFaith.com will be more about a way of looking at the world than where folks live or the color of their skin. It will be both for those who make their home in an urban setting and for those who care about the people, culture, and issues related to urban life.” …

Read the whole post here. And, look for those other two articles and more next week.

A Pilgrim Message for a Patriotic Weekend at First Presbyterian Church @ManasquanPatch

Rev. Steve Davis takes congregation on a journey from Abraham to America at July 3 worship service, and talks about The Samaritan Center afterward.

First Presbyterian Church of Manasquan“‘The thing that struck me when I first moved here is that there is a great sense of community,” said Davis. “We have people in our church who are the eighth generation.’

Volunteerism, camaraderie and inter-denominational cooperation are regional strengths, he said, and a series of local youth suicides have presented a unique ministerial challenge.

‘Responding to some of those needs through community support, through coordinating efforts between the churches, through working together with different agencies and helping professionals, it’s been gratifying to help pull those groups together and to respond in a united voice,’ said Davis.

One good that has emerged from the tragedies is the development of The Samaritan Center at the Jersey Shore, which is a counseling resource offering direct services to individua ls, but also a referral agency and educational tool for churches and families in the community, said Davis.

‘We have initiated that in the past year together with other churches in the community. We’re hoping that that is going to help contribute to better mental health in the broader community and a place where people can go in dealing with issues of either depression or suicide ideation or any number of other mental health issues,’ he said. …”

Read the whole article at Manasquan Patch.

What I Wrote This Week @UrbanFaith: 6/27-7/1

Hitchhiker, NYC

  • New Laws, Shifting Demographics: Whether the issue is gay marriage, the ‘war on drugs,’ African American marriage prospects, or the plight of undocumented immigrants, Americans are confronting the issues.
  • Michael Tait: ‘Living Integration’: The dc Talk veteran and current Newsboys singer on race, politics, and the beauty of diversity in Christianity, music — and food.

Michael Tait at Jersey Shore Will Graham Celebration May 22, 2011Michael Tait is lead singer of The Newsboys. He and the Grammy-nominated band performed an electric set at the Jersey Shore Will Graham Celebration in Ocean Grove, New Jersey, last month. Best known as a member of the pioneering Christian rock/rap group dc Talk, Tait’s career in the Christian music industry has been defined by stretching the boundaries of art, faith, and culture. Urban Faith News & Religion editor I caught up with Tait as he prepared to take the stage. …

  • Out in Greenwich Village: Should a church that helps people who struggle with unwanted same-sex attraction be allowed to stay in one of the nation’s most gay-friendly neighborhoods?

The big news out of New York last weekend was the legalization of gay marriage, but The Village Church in Greenwich Village is under threat of eviction from the public school where it meets and a New York Times op-ed writer says it should be because its ministry to people struggling with unwanted same-sex attraction doesn’t represent the community. I spoke to the church’s senior pastor, Sam A. Andreades, about the church and it’s unique position as the only Exodus International affiliate church in New York City. …

A Fitting Tribute

Opening Ceremony at The Overnight Walk, NYC, 6/4-5/11
Over the weekend, my niece and I joined 2000+ suicide survivors for the 18 mile Overnight Walk through New York City. A record $2.5 million was raised for suicide prevention, research, and survivor support services. Our team contributed more than $5000 to the pot.

Lumaire dedicated to Gabe at The Overnight Walk, NYC, June 4-5/11

People assume, I think, that I write about Gabriel’s suicide and raise money for causes related to it, because doing so aides in my healing, or redeems the horrific reality, or brings meaning to my life. In reality, exposing this wound exacts an emotional toll that I’m increasingly unwilling to pay.

I shouldn’t be writing about my son killing himself; I should be writing about how he’s taking the world by storm with his many talents and passions.

What? by Gabriel G. Scheller

I’m sure Mariel Hemingway would rather talk about her grandfather’s literature than his suicide too. But there she was at the Overnight Walk speaking eloquently and tearfully to the crowd about her pain, and filming a documentary about suicide, because, I think, she recognizes the danger to the rest of her family (including her daughter) in not talking about its legacy of suicide.

She wants it to stop.

Mariel Hemingway and her daughter at The Overnight Walk, NYC, 6/4-5/11

In the last four years, with the help of both loved ones and strangers, I’ve raised somewhere in the neighborhood of $10,000 for causes related to Gabriel’s death, not because it’s fulfilling, but because I felt compelled to do something to stop the pain for others.

NF Endurance Team 2008

Now don’t hold me to this statement if I change my mind, but I think I’m done with public fundraising campaigns that draw attention to my loss. This means no more big events that require $1000 minimum fundraising goals in order to participate, unless I can afford to write a $1000 check myself. It was incredibly difficult, for example, to tell my neighbors that I was hosting a block party to raise money for suicide prevention because my son killed himself.

Overnight Walk Block Party 026

It was a great party, but I really hated exposing myself like that. I don’t want to do it again.

Don’t get me wrong. If you’ve given to one or more of my fundraising campaigns, I offer my sincere gratitude. Your money was well spent, so well spent in fact that I hope you’ll keep giving to The Children’s Tumor Foundation and the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention until neurofibromatosis and mental illness no longer threaten the well being of those whose lives they touch.

However, instead of continuing to focus on Gabriel’s death, in my new position as News & Religion editor at UrbanFaith.com, I’ll honor his life. He cared deeply about the issues Urban Faith reports on, so I think it’s a fitting, subtle tribute to work on these issues too.

I’ll be updating the site too frequently to post links to my articles as they’re published, but I’ll try to post a weekly update. Here’s what I’ve done so far:

There’s much more to come.

As you read my words at Urban Faith, it can be our little secret that they’re written for Gabe.

Thousands Attend Jersey Shore Will Graham Celebration @NJShorePatch

Jersey Shore WIll Graham Celebration

13,821 listen to evangelist Billy Graham’s grandson preach at Great Auditorium in Ocean Grove.

When Billy Graham preached at Ocean Grove’s Great Auditorium in 1955, he was 36 years old. Last weekend, his grandson Will Graham preached three messages in the same venue at what the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association (BGEA) called the Jersey Shore Will Graham Celebration.

At 36 years old, the younger Graham’s vocal tone, delivery, and message reverberate with his grandfather’s influence.

Graham made the most of media hype overFamily Radio founder Harold Camping’s failed prediction that the Christian rapture would take place Saturday evening at 6 p.m., mentioning it in all three messages, but saving his strongest statements on the topic for Sunday afternoon.

There is increasing interest in the “end of days” theme, Graham told 4135 people Sunday. He’s heard Muslims and Hindus talk about it, he said, and the topic permeates pop culture and movies.

“There is nothing left to be fulfilled for the rapture to take place,” said Graham. …

Go to Manasquan Patch out what else he said and what else happened at the three day event.

What Does the Missional Church Look Like? @TheHighCalling

The story of ORB.

Christian Andrews was in his sixth year of studies at Princeton Theological Seminary when he walked away from those studies to help a small proof of the garden stategroup of Christians reach out to youth in his home town of Red Bank, New Jersey.

“This group over time began to sense that God had called them together to do ministry with high school students. They sensed that in the joy they received from doing it, in the effectiveness of their work, and in the way it brought them to life,” said Andrews.

“They wanted someone to live in this town and facilitate their doing the work they felt called to—not someone to come and do ministry for them, but to equip them to do ministry,” he explained.

Andrews began to live in Red Bank “with eyes that were formed by this idea that what God had done in Christ was done for all people and that the difference between me and another person might just be that they haven’t come to know it yet and I’ve been given to know it and that I should live in such a way that maybe God would use me to help them see,” he said….

Read the whole thing at The High Calling. You’ll be inspired or challenged or both.

May 21 Doomsday Message Is Doomed Say Local Clergy @NJShorePatch

Harold Camping’s controversial rapture prediction draws ire of local clergy, but serves as reminder to live well.

Family Radio founder Harold Camping’s widely publicized prediction that Jesus will rapture his church on Saturday May 21 is foolish and irresponsible, said local clergy on Tuesday, but it serves as a reminder that we should live as if this day could be our last, they said.

“I’ve already received an email today, as fate would have it, saying ‘What do I do about that? Should I be frightened about that?” said David Cotton, Parish Associate at First Presbyterian Church of Manasquan and Manager of Pastoral Care at Jersey Shore University Medical Center.

“As a Christian, I completely believe that Jesus coming back is a good thing, a beautiful thing, a positive thing. He’s going to restore the earth to the Garden of Eden. It’s nothing but good, and to scare people and frighten people has it backwards,” said Cotton. …

For more wisdom from Cotton, Rev. Carlos Wilton, and Will Graham, go to NJ Shore Patch.

A Mother’s Day Prayer for Those Who Have Lost a Child

peonies

Is there a holiday more challenging for mothers who’ve lost a child than this one? If there is I don’t know it. Where once there had been homemade cards and breakfast in bed, now there is a glaring reminder of what will never be again.

The day doesn’t have to be a morose tribute to our pain though. Instead we can honor ourselves for having loved our children well and for having the courage to continue living in a world without them. If we have other children, we can decide that their love and presence alone are worth celebrating. As people of faith we can rest and rejoice in the hope that we will one day be reunited with all those who’ve gone before us into the next world, especially our children.

We don’t have to like what has happened or even understand it, but we can choose joy over sadness, love over loss, life over death. Annie Dillard helps me do this with these words from Holy the Firm:

We do need reminding, not of what God can do, but of what he cannot do, or will not, which is to catch time in its free fall and stick a nickle’s worth of sense into our days. And we need reminding of what time can do, must only do: churn out enormities at random and beat them, with God’s blessing, into our heads–that we are created, created, sojourners in a land we did not make, a land with no meaning of itself and no meaning we can make for it alone. Who are we to demand explanations of God? (And what monsters of perfection should we be if we did not?) We forget ourselves, picknicking; we forget where we are. There is no such thing as a freak accident. “God is at home,” says Meister Eckhart, “We are in the far country.”

We are most deeply asleep at the switch when we fancy we control any switches at all. We sleep to time’s hurdy-gurdy; we wake, if we ever wake, to the silence of God. And then, when we wake to the deep shores of time uncreated, then when the dazzling dark breaks over the far slopes of time, then it’s time to break our necks for home.

There are no events but thoughts and the heart’s hard turning, the heart’s slow learning where to love and whom. The rest is merely gossip, and tales for other times.

If the death of a child teaches us anything, it teaches us that we’re not in control and that the world makes little sense apart from God. If we’re wise, it will teach us where to love and whom.

My prayer for you is that you will love well those whom God has given you to love in the absence of your child, and that you will have the courage not to waste your time with those who increase your suffering. Be kind to yourself. Thank God for the glorious privilege of being a mother. Cry if you need to you, and then have a Happy Mother’s Day!

How Far Should Forgiveness Go?

“Forgiving love is a possibility only for those who know that they are not good, who feel themselves in need of divine mercy, who live in a dimension deeper and higher than that of moral idealism, feel themselves as well as their fellow men convicted of sin by a holy God and know that the differences between the good man and the bad man are insignificant in his sight.”
—Reinhold Niebuhr, An Interpretation of Christian Ethics

I wish I could believe every one of these words from Reinhold Niebuhr. Instinctually, I don’t, wishing instead for Dante’s hell for certain kinds of sinners—like corrupt pastors who egregiously violate their calling and never repent. In my unregenerate opinion, I believe these types of sinners should be relegated to the eighth and ninth circles of Dante’s Inferno.

I’ve read numerous books on forgiveness. Some of them lead me to conclude that the authors have never known the kind of spiritual betrayal some Christians, including myself, have known. If they did, they could never write the pabulum they are selling.

A diverse collection of books—L. Gregory Jones’s Embodying Forgiveness, Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s Ethics, Simon Wiesenthal’s The Sunflower, Miroslav Volf’s Free of Charge, and Desmund Tutu’s No Future Without Forgiveness—offer honest help for my unforgiving heart. These writers grapple with the call to forgive in the face of real evil. They understand that pop psychology and cheap theology are no match for it. The murderous societies under which most of them suffered find their Christian complement in churches that, for example, allow or ignore the sexual abuse of children and punish those who call the abusers to account.

I’m certainly not unique in having a long history with clergy misconduct (“Sorrow But No Regrets,” Christianity Today, July 2007). Perhaps I have the distinction of having walked with a sex-abuse survivor and her family in their quest for justice in a famous mega-church whose leaders vilified them for their decision to prosecute—and of having faced similar treatment for reporting a suspected pedophile in this church (“Day of Reckoning,” CT, March 2007).

Two years after my husband resigned his pastoral position there due to systemic corruption, our firstborn child died by suicide (“In the Valley of the Shadow of Suicide,” CT, April 2009). I hold certain church leaders responsible for a multiplicity of sins, beginning with false advertising and ending with causing many little ones—including my own—to stumble.

Niebuhr’s moral equivalency statement asks me to place my sins on par with those of sexual abusers and their accomplices. I instinctively don’t believe it. Nor do I believe that the difference between the sins of “the good man and the bad man” is insignificant in God’s eyes.

One only needs to read the parable of the Prodigal Son to see that God acknowledges a difference. When the obedient older brother asks his father why he had never slain “even a young goat” (Luke 15:29) on the son’s behalf, the father explains that his younger son was dead, but is now alive, was lost, but is now found. That’s a significant demarcation—one that describes not only the father’s love but also the sinner’s repentance.

In Matthew 18:1-10, Jesus teaches a familiar lesson that contrasts unbridled ambition with undefiled faith. It includes a dire list of consequences for those who harm the undefiled. “[W]hoever welcomes a little child like this in my name welcomes me,” he says. “But if anyone causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a large millstone hung around his neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea.” That’s strong language. Jesus continues by admonishing the guilty to mutilate body parts that cause them to sin rather than have their bodies and souls thrown into hell. “See that you do not look down on one of these little ones,” the gentle Savior warns. “For I tell you that their angels in heaven always see the face of my Father in heaven.”

But wait. Luke the Evangelist adds something in his telling (17:1-6). Jesus ends his lesson with a far different warning: “Take heed to yourselves. If your brother sins against you, rebuke him; and if he repents, forgive him. And if he sins against you seven times a day, and seven times a day returns to you, saying ‘I repent,’ you shall forgive him.”

To this, Jesus’ disciples understandably reply, “Increase our faith.” And then the Lord promises that if they have faith as small as a mustard seed, it is more than enough.

Gracious Condemnation

I have seen ministry leaders rebuked not once but seventy times seven, and not one of them openly repented or was reconciled to the communities their actions destroyed. The young woman I mentioned wanted two things: change in a church that stubbornly resisted it, and an apology for the punishment she and her family received in the years following the abuse. She didn’t get either. Instead, attorneys negotiated the price of an apology, and she received a cash settlement in exchange for her silence.

What is a Christian to make of that?

In Life Together, Bonhoeffer writes the following:

The first service one owes to others in community involves listening to them. Just as our love for God begins with listening to God’s Word, the beginning of love for other Christians is learning to listen to them …. Christians who can no longer listen to one another will soon no longer be listening to God either; they will always be talking even in the presence of God. The death of the spiritual life starts here, and in the end there is nothing left but empty spiritual chatter and clerical condescension which chokes on pious words.

In The Sunflower: On the Possibilities and Limits of Forgiveness, Wiesenthal, an Austrian Jewish Holocaust survivor, writes that for a time, the world could not believe the Nazi atrocities were really happening because it couldn’t comprehend the systematic extermination of a people. But before long, “priests, philanthropists, and philosophers implored the world to forgive the Nazis.” Bitterly, Wiesenthal concludes, “Most of these altruists had probably never even had their ears boxed, but nevertheless found compassion for the murderers of innocent millions.”

In contrast, Anglican Archbishop Tutu’s 2000 memoir, No Future Without Forgiveness, describes the liberating power of public testimony and confession in paving the way to freedom for post-apartheid South Africans. Tutu commends a decision made before the Truth and Reconciliation Commission hearings to grant amnesty to all who confessed, regardless of whether or not they expressed remorse, because true repentance is too difficult to evaluate in a moment.

So how do we forgive the spiritual leaders who betray us in the absence of confession and observable repentance?

In Free of Charge: Giving and Forgiving in a Culture Stripped of Grace, Yale theologian Miroslav Volf says, “Condemnation is not the heart of forgiveness. It’s the indispensable presupposition of it.” Forgiveness that does not take seriously the offense against an injured party is fraudulent and cheap. Authentic forgiveness, writes Volf—whose family suffered under communism and whose brother died in a preventable accident—”cuts the tie of equivalence between the offense and the way we treat the offender. I don’t demand that the one who has taken my eye lose his eye or that the one who has killed my child by negligence be killed. In fact, I don’t demand that he lose anything. I forgo all retribution. In forgiving, I absorb the injury—the way I may absorb, say, the financial impact of a bad business transaction.”

Don’t misread Volf: In his view, discipline is consistent with forgiveness. Criminals should go to jail. Clergymen who violate church teaching (or the law) should be defrocked. Our laws rightly prohibit murder, not anger, even though Jesus said the source of both is the human heart. “Forgiveness,” Volf writes, “places us on a boundary between enmity and friendship, between exclusion and embrace. It tears down the wall of hostility that wrongdoing erects, but it doesn’t take us into the territory of friendship.”

“Often,” he concedes, “that’s all we can muster the strength to do, and all that offenders will allow us. Yet at its best, forgiveness hopes for more.”

Hoping Against Hope

It hopes for more, and very often doesn’t get it. After my husband and I left the mega-church, we joined an Anglican church that was being sued by the Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles over a property dispute. Six months later, the rector who had led our congregation out of the Episcopal Church was forced to resign over alleged inappropriate conduct toward another staff member. He moved to another state and quickly took up ministry in a sister church. The reformer refused to be reformed.

Meanwhile, the assistant priest—who had written his master’s thesis on restoring fallen clergy—handled the crisis with considerable care. There was no question that the rector would step down, or that the recipient of his unwanted advances would be protected. Public meetings were held where congregants could express feelings of betrayal and ask questions. We were shown a diagram of possible outcomes, and were challenged not to allow ourselves to be crippled by the priest’s failure.

The vestry enlisted outside support from various sources. This included a healing service for the women of the church. A licensed therapist led us through an exercise of releasing our former pastor. I hadn’t been there long enough to have an emotional investment in his betrayal, so I invited the sex-abuse survivor’s mother to the service, and together we applied the exercises to our situation.

Because this new faith community handled the crisis with integrity, it facilitated my spiritual restoration from the previous one. My husband and I were asked to write a letter to our bishops describing the consequences we had witnessed when clergy misconduct goes habitually unchecked. Church leaders—who themselves had been willing to pay a high price for following their consciences—heard and affirmed us. Not only that, every Sunday, we confessed our sins corporately and asked the Lord to forgive us as we forgave those who trespassed against us.

For two years, many of my prayers of confession were related to actions I had taken in regard to the megachurch. No matter how just a cause, when one chooses to act against friends and spiritual leaders, even in communities where Jesus’ command to forgive is used to manipulate, and where accusations of vengefulness are thrown in anyone’s direction who confronts wrongdoing, one struggles with guilt. Yet week after week, I was comforted by the post-Communion prayer “assuring us in these holy mysteries” that through the body and blood of Christ, we all were forgiven.

The Fellowship of Human Guilt

At the time he was involved in a plot to assassinate Hitler, Bonhoeffer wrote: “If it is responsible action, if it is action which is concerned solely and entirely with the other man, if it arises from selfless love for the real man who is our brother, then precisely because this is so, it cannot wish to shun the fellowship of human guilt.” To this, he adds, “Before other men the man of free responsibility is justified by necessity; before himself he is acquitted by his conscience, but before God he hopes only for mercy” (Ethics).

The righteousness of Bonhoeffer’s actions is still debated by theologians, if not by descendents of some Holocaust victims. So are the actions of sex-abuse survivors who sue their former churches for negligence. In my mind, there is no question about the righteousness of either cause in the face of complicit silence from the people of God.

And yet, I cannot seriously wish hell upon corrupt spiritual leaders while clinging to my faith in the mercy of God for my son and for myself. Suicide casts on those left in its wake unanswerable questions and a pall of guilt for sins both real and imagined. Thus the distance has closed in my mind between myself and all the clergymen I would so easily condemn. I yield ground in my resistance to cheap grace, because my unforgiving heart is broken, and because the sinner I am most concerned about is my son.

The prologue to Niebuhr’s statement about forgiveness is this: “There is no deeper pathos in the spiritual life of man than the cruelty of righteous people. If any one idea dominates the teachings of Jesus, it is his opposition to the self-righteousness of the righteous. The parable spoken unto ‘certain which trusted in themselves that they are righteous, and despised others’ made the most morally disciplined group of the day, his Pharisees, the object of his criticism …. They were proud in the sight of God and they were merciless and unforgiving to their fellow-men. Their pride is the basis of their lack of mercy. The unmerciful servant, in Jesus’ parable, is unforgiving to his fellow-servant in spite of the mercy which he had received from his master.”

Who am I to say I won’t forgive, when I know forgiveness does not mean to condone their actions or to absolve them—since God alone can absolve? I am no better than the apostles who rightly understood the challenge that was before them. With them, I can only reply, “Increase my faith, dear Lord.”

Mercifully, there are Christian men and women who are gifted to guide stubborn disciples like me. In his magnificent Embodying Forgiveness, Gregory Jones, former dean of Duke Divinity School, offers a definition of forgiveness that is adequate to a world full of evil and ambiguity:

Forgiveness is not so much a word spoken, an action performed, or a feeling felt as it is an embodied way of life in an ever-deepening friendship with the triune God and with others. As such, a Christian account of forgiveness ought not to simply or even primarily be focused on an absolution of guilt; rather, it ought to be focused on the reconciliation of brokenness, the restoration of communion—with God, with one another, and with the whole Creation. Indeed, because of the pervasiveness of sin and evil, Christian forgiveness must be at once an expression of commitment to a way of life, the cruciform life of holiness in which we seek to “unlearn” sin and learn the ways of God, and a means of seeking reconciliation in the midst of particular sins, specific instances of brokenness.

Each of us lives in the midst of particular sins and specific instances of brokenness. And each of us must choose how we will respond. Living a life of holiness and learning the ways of God sometimes mean letting go of our need for justice and instead embracing a world that groans in anticipation of the day when it, and we, will be redeemed.

It means accepting with humility that God alone is good.

This article was originally published in the October 2010 issue of Christianity Today.

What Does It Mean to Walk Worthily? @TheHighCalling

The Church as Parable and Witness, part 3 in the Missional Series w/ Princeton Theological Seminary Professor Darrell Guder.

Fourteen years after World War II, Laity Leadership Institute Senior Fellow Darrell Guder began doctoral studies in Germany.

“My experience there was actually the experience of the trauma of the whole society realizing, after two horrible wars, that Germany was a country in which the traditions and structures of Christendom were disintegrating,” said Guder.

This revelation started the missiologist on a pathway that eventually led him to study how the church in the post-Christian west can regain its missionary footing. …

Read the whole thing here. It’s really good, IMHO.

What Is Scripture for? An Architect Wrestles with His Calling @TheHighCalling

Rick Archer was a rising architectural star in Washington, D.C., when some fellow believers challenged him: “You’ve always chosen what was best, but have you chosen what was right?”

For Archer, what was right was synonymous with what was best for his career, and he had just been offered the opportunity to rise further in his field through a two-year all expenses paid fellowship to study in Florence, Italy. His friends advised him instead to take a sabbatical so he could learn about Jesus and what it means to be his disciple.

“The story of the rich young ruler who went away sad because he wouldn’t follow Jesus hit me like a ton a bricks,” said Archer. …

Find out what happened next and why at The High Calling.

Evil Through the Eye of the Lens @NJShorePatch

Jewish Federation of Monmouth County hosts documentary screening and discussion on Nazi-era progaganda; honors Congressman Christopher Smith.

April 11 022What do a Congressman, a documentary about Nazi filmmakers, and a 10-time Emmy Award winning director have in common?

A discussion about propaganda and human rights, of course!

Evil Through the Eye of the Lens, an event held at the Jewish Community Center of Greater Monmouth County in Deal Monday night,  combined a 100-minute subtitled documentary about Nazi filmmaker Veit Harlan, a talk on the difference between propaganda and art by acclaimed filmmaker David Grubin, and humanitarian awards for United States Congressman Christopher Smith and executive director of the New Jersey Commission on Holocaust Education Paul Winkler.

Harlan: In the Shadow of Jew Suss is the compelling story of the only Nazi filmmaker who was prosecuted (and acquitted) of war crimes for the Nazi propaganda films he made. More than this though, it is the story of his family’s complicated relationship with its legacy. …