by Reid Fitzsimons (note: other names used in letter replaced with XXX)
Greetings Pastor XXX:
This is Reid Fitzsimons writing. I am the husband of XXX, who was to an extent raised at St. John’s Church in the 1950s and 1960s. We attended your service on July 10, 2016 while visiting the area. You kindly invited me to partake in Communion but I mentioned I am not a Christian and felt it disrespectful of the Communion tradition and intent for a non-Christian to participate.
I am writing to offer some observations and thoughts of your service and sermon, but please bear with me for a moment to describe my relation with Christianity. I was not raised in any religion and was quite atheistic when I was younger. In my early 40’s I quit gainful employment to do volunteer work in Guatemala, Kenya, and later Honduras. In doing so I encountered many Christians and came to believe that the basic tenets of Christianity, especially Do Unto Others and Love Thy Neighbor, are the best prescription for any society regardless of religiosity, but at the time I was quite ignorant of the most elementary theology.
In July 2008 (a month after XXX’s mother died) we moved to Southern Alabama and divided our time between Alabama and running our charity in Honduras. While in Alabama XXX asked if I would help her find then attend church with her. We decided on a Presbyterian church (PCA, not PCUSA) and soon became fairly close to the pastor, a very gracious and learned person who actually went to seminary in France, in French. He invited me to attend a multi-denominational men’s Bible Study despite knowing unequivocally I was not a Christian. This stimulated an interest in theology, which continues to the present. As an aside, this study group, located in what is derisively called the Bible Belt, not only tolerated an agnostic Yankee who was not reluctant to bring controversy into the study, but kindly accepted me into their fellowship. I continue to attend church with regularity, mostly a small Regular Baptist Church since we moved to Pennsylvania, and continue to study theology on my own.
by Barry King
Crazy about "rights" in the USA: OK, so you find certain rights (real rights, without scare quotes) occasionally inconvenient, even though they are established in the text of our founding documents. Such as: the rights to life, to bear arms, to free speech, and to religious liberty. I get that. They are inherently controversial, always were, still are. That's why the list is so short and why it was so carefully considered, and is in the Constitution and Declaration, rather than in easily changeable law. (At least until the SCOTUS gets started on indefinitely expanding it according to modern preferences and fads.)
But I don't get this: what makes a long and growing list of individual preferences worthy to be called "rights", worth fabricated outrage, petitions, boycotts, blacklisting, cancellations, and protests? What are the motivators for that? Are you bored, self-indulgent, lost in Maslow's hierarchy, or nostalgic for the era of real civil rights issues?
What are you going to do when the guy who demands his "right" to use the girls' shower according to his preference, meets the girl who demands her "right" not to have her stress triggers pushed by meeting a guy in her shower, because that is her preference? Are you going to boycott / blacklist / fire both of them? Are you going to call for opposing groups of protesters to face off against each other in the streets? That's not a recipe for "diversity" or peace or civility, it's just a recipe for a pointless civil war.
by Reid Fitzsimons (note that this is written the day following the terrorist attack in Nice, France)
Reasonable people, not just provincial redneck hicks, can divine a correlation between Islam and these rather persistent terrorist attacks, the toll of which is not insignificant. The perpetrators are running pretty much at 100% in the yelling Allahu Akbar thing, and they aren’t, to the chagrin of progressives, declaring themselves to be conservative Christians slaughtering in the name of Jesus. The Ivy League educated powers that lead us are quite vehement in instructing the ignorant masses there is no association between terrorism and Islam, with the caveat that there would be no benefit in stating such if it was true, which makes us conclude they suffer from the Islamic Culpability Denial Syndrome, or ICDS.
Characteristics of ICDS include ignoring that the perpetrators of terror unequivocally state they are Muslim and are acting on behalf of Islam, that they have historically received material and philosophical support from “legitimate” Islamic oriented governments (including our new BFF Iran), and the brutal and perpetual Islam on Islam violence. Combined with the paltry denunciations of violence done in the name of Islam by people who might reasonably be considered Islamic leaders both internationally and in the US, in both political and religious realms, ICDS is baffling. ...continue reading