merle harton

selected short essays

"Bishop Spong sings to the rotting carcass of postmodern theology"
And it doesn't stink pretty. I spend an evening at Barnes & Noble reading the weirdest book, A New Christianity for a New World by Rt Rev John Shelby Spong, retired Episcopal Bishop of Newark, NJ. From New Quaker Notebook (November 23, 2003).

"Christian Politics"
Our Christian station and its duties override any commitment to the politics of the world. The true political strategy is the one Christ instructed us to follow.

When we are called to follow Christ, our fate is not determined by the manner in which we respond to that call, but rather in our strict obedience to his voice.

"Drinking the John Lennon Kool-Aid ... It's Easy If You Try"
Peace is a skill, and we aren't very good at it. Even our activist leaders don't know how to do it. From New Quaker Notebook (December 8, 2007).

"Free Sex, More Free Sex"
Outside of God's will for us, there is nothing that we cannot do; only our neighbors and the land's laws are there, like fences, to narrow the boundaries of our personal desires. From New Quaker Notebook (May 2004, October 2007).

"Holidays for the Rest of Us"
Ah, Festivus—and all the rest. We should cease to cry out against the paganism of Christmas, stop fighting the commercialism of the holiday, and recognize that, while it exists at many social-spiritual levels, it is not in effect a religious festival at all. From New Quaker Notebook (December 23, 2003).

"Household Gods"
Household gods are personal idols. I have yet to meet anyone with such an object about the house, but I have indeed come across contemporary equivalents of the household god—and so have you, I suspect. From Louisiana Quaker eLetter, vol 1:7 (1999).

"Living by Faith"
Being Christian by its very nature requires that we live out our obligations as humans and social creatures. Always, therefore, the choice is before us: To live by sight, the life into which we were first born, or to live by faith, seeking the goal of a new existence and fixing our eyes "not on what is seen, but on what is unseen."

"One Road Home"
In the quest for honest diversity within our faith communities, Friends have abrogated the responsibility to be good stewards of God's word. While we can claim success in domestic and international social services and reform, Quakers still fail miserably in the most important area of our obligations—our commitment to the truth.

"Person, Human, and Thing: Afterwords"
How do we go beyond the mere physical, mammalian, human—what is it that marks us as persons?  Philosophical notes toward an answer.

"Stop the Invocation! Out with the Bastard!"
We shouldn't perhaps lay the Invocation at the feet of Benjamin Franklin, but what we are left with now is something to offend everyone. And we are tricked into it by stealth. The Bastard must go! From New Quaker Notebook (March 26, 2004).

"Walking Pastward"
I have a concern about the national commemorative time set aside for Martin Luther King, Jr.  Its very position as just another party day stymies efforts to look beyond the man to the goals he worked hard to achieve. From New Quaker Notebook (January 15, 2006).

"Why We Do It"
I used to think the most important question on earth was: Why is there something rather than nothing? Now I think the most chilling of questions has to be this: Why do we bother getting up in the morning? From Louisiana Quaker eLetter, vol 1:8-9 (2004).

© Merle Harton, Jr. | All rights reserved