To an American minister

There can be no argument now that the rising tide of fascist and white supremacist ideology in this country has reached a tipping point. In Charlottesville it was the Alt-Right, in El Paso a lone gunman, and in Oregon the Proud Boys – add to this a recent string of foiled mass-shootings, and it would be impossible to argue that the political far right has not escalated the conflicts in this country. Historically when the far right has sought political power, it has done so primarily via violence, and although the same can most certainly be said for elements of the far left, there has only briefly been a radical far left in this country who viewed violence as a means to an end. The era of the Weather Underground is gone, but never has the era of the Ku Klux Klan or white supremacy been snuffed out in the United States, from Jim Crow to Oklahoma City to a Walmart in El Paso. A literal civil war was not sufficient to exorcise these elements from society, evidenced not by monuments to the failed Southern rebellion, but the actions of individuals like Timothy McVey and the numerous perpetrators of the church, synagogue, and mosque shootings in the past three years. A resurgence of xenophobia now combines the worst elements of racism with the empowering elements of political rhetoric – and in this country, political rhetoric echos in church sanctuaries.

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The Twelfth Epistle to John

When you approach the New Testament – and the Bible as a whole – as though it were a single text, implicit to that approach is a belief in an ahistorical unity of composition, as though the individual books were written with the intention of becoming a single volume. But this was not the case, and as the individual books of the New Testament were being written, there is absolutely no evidence that there was any thought given to compiling them into a single volume. That single volume was assembled by others, centuries later, and in response to very specific and particular historical conditions – to say nothing of the fact that the texts were then edited to agree with one another doctrinally. One glaring example of this comes from the very opening lines of the Gospel of Mark, which in later versions of the text have the words υἱοῦ θεοῦ (“son of God”) added. These are notably missing from our earliest extant copy of Mark, the Codex Sinaiticus, which anyone can verify online.

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