Part 1 of a 10-part series

Recent court decisions have raised questions about how to read and interpret both law and scripture. Disagreement about the right way to do so is being passionately debated in each discipline; even Supreme Court judges are stepping out of their normal posture of polite and measured disagreement to make rather strong declarations in criticism. The claim of each is no less than an assertion that their colleagues lack the basic understanding of how to interpret the law. Meanwhile, Jewish and Christian leaders, unharnessed from concerns for collegiality by the importance of their disagreement over what the bible may or may not say about marriage and sexuality, are almost ranting as they take their positions.

Little noted is the fact that the different ways the law and the scripture get interpreted is rather closely matched. That is, the modes of interpretation are pretty much the same for each. For example, there are legal analysts who read constitutional law as “strict constructionists,” and there are biblical analysts who read scripture by using a matching school of interpretation.

This should be of significant interest generally, given the ever-pressing question of how religion and society relate, and therefore the importance of how the disciplines of law and theology may clash and match. In particular the recent decision of the United States Supreme Court regarding the language of the Affordable Care Act (“Obamacare”) and the decision to recognize the constitutional right and equality of marriage between people either of the same or of the opposite sex has highlighted the different ways the judges read constitutional law, and the matching ways Jewish and Christian leaders interpret scripture.

(Do the personal opinions arise from the school an analyst chooses or do the personal opinions dictate the most effective analytical way to reach them? Either way, it is important for people of faith to understand, and even to choose, how to read and interpret scripture.)

Perhaps it will be interesting to approach the Christian interpretation of scripture related to same-sex marriage, and other issues of particular relevance to LGBT persons, through a comparison, on the one hand, of the modalities of interpretation of constitutional law and, on the other hand, of the constitutional foundation of the faith in scripture. Read More…


It is no secret that young people are leaving the Church like never before. How to retain young followers and why they are leaving are both hot topics in religious spheres. In a recent Patheos article, Bruce Reyes-Chow lists the “10 Ways to Disconnect from the Next Generation.” Below, you’ll find Addie Zierman’s own story of turning away, and the ways in which the rhetoric of fellow believers keeps her and other millennials from connecting to their faith.

By Addie Zierman

Addie Zierman is a writer, blogger, and calls herself a “recovering Jesus freak.” She recently published her debut book, When We Were on Fire: A Memoir of Consuming Faith, Tangled Love and Starting Over through Convergent Books, which was just named one of the Best Books of 2013 by Publisher’s Weekly. You can follow her on Twitter here and on Facebook here.

Addie Zierman is a writer, blogger, and calls herself a “recovering Jesus freak.” She recently published her debut book, “When We Were on Fire: A Memoir of Consuming Faith, Tangled Love and Starting Over through Convergent Books,” which was just named one of the Best Books of 2013 by Publisher’s Weekly. You can follow her on Twitter here and on Facebook here.

The statistics are in. The millennials are leaving the church, and nobody seems quite sure what to do about it.

I am one of them. Born in 1983, I belong to the wispy beginnings of the new generation. I turned 30 this year, and I’m raising two small boys. I hold within me both cynicism and hope. I left the church. I came back.

Here is what I can tell you about millennials: We grew up on easy answers, catchphrases and cliché, and if we’ve learned anything, it’s that things are almost always more complicated than that.

When I returned to church, it wasn’t because of great programs, alluring events or a really cool “café” set up in the foyer. I went back not because of what the church was doing, but rather in spite of it. I went back because I needed community, and because, thanks to a steady dose of medication and therapy, I was finally well enough to root through the cliché to find it.

But not all of us are there yet. For some of us, the clichés are still maddening and alienating. Recently, I asked my followers online for the five church clichés that they tend to hate the most. These were the top five responses: Read More…


The marriage of Bill Gatewood and Rich Taylor on Saturday, the pastorally sensitive and institutionally defiant decision of The Rev. Robin Hynicka to perform their wedding, the thirty Methodist pastors who offered a blessing to them on their special day and were threatened with charges by the United Methodist Church, and the outpouring of support from members of different religious faiths are all examples of the kind of reforms we at At the Threshold are trying to enact within the Church. As an organization, we stand for inclusion, social justice, and community.

We understand that reform does not happen in a vacuum. We are currently working with organizations like Faithful America, Reconciling Ministries Network, and Integrity USA to make sure that important issues, like marriage equality, become vital topics of discussion within the Church.

Read More…


The following is part of a series of Interviews of Prisoners and Prison Ministers by William Barnwell. The first article in this series can be found here.

“We’re called to find in everyone that innocent child we were created to be and to speak

 to that child.”

February 18, 2012

 

WHB: Deacon Cindy Obier and I are having a conversation here at Trinity Episcopal Church in Baton Rouge. A deacon is one of the clergy orders in the Episcopal Church: there are bishops, priests, and deacons. Like the first seven deacons in Acts 6, deacons have a special role of serving those outside of the church as well as those inside.

Talk some, Cindy, about your growing-up years and how your dad was so influential in your life. Tell us about your Kairos experience at the women’s prison at St. Gabriel’s and your experience with the DOCC ministries at Angola Penitentiary these past ten years. [DOCC stands for the Episcopal program called Disciples of Christ in Community. It is a national program that helps individual parishes build what Dr. King called “the beloved community.”] And talk about your ministry on Death Row. Read More…