August 25, 2007

Wiley Update

The LA Times has an update on the controversy surrounding Wiley Drake, who endorsed a candidate on church letterhead and then after having an IRS complaint filed urged Christians to give cursing prayers against Americans United for the Separation of Church and State. (For background, check out my previous posts here and here.) The LA Times piece offers a couple of interesting items:
On the advice of his attorneys, Drake has since declined to be interviewed.

... There needs to be a distinction between one's personal enemies and the enemies of God, said Sister Thomas Bernard MacConnell, founder of the Spirituality Center on the campus of Mount St. Mary's College and a veteran teacher of spiritual direction.

"It is very possible that my enemies are not God's enemies," she said. Referring to Drake's targets, she added, "Who is to say that those people are God's enemies?"

... The Rev. Dickson Yagi, a Southern Baptist pastor and an expert on Buddhism, says in some streams of esoteric Buddhism, such as Shingon and Tendai, adherents perform a fire ritual as the main worship.

... "This would be quite shocking to all Southern Baptists," he said.

"In the New Testament, Jesus Christ comes and says, 'Forgive your enemies, pray for your enemies, love your enemies,' " Yagi said. "This idea of enemies has really changed in the New Testament. We cannot do those things, because Jesus Christ taught us to forgive our enemies, love our enemies, pray for our enemies and he died for his enemies."
It seems that Drake is starting to take this issue seriously and realize that he might be in real trouble for his endorsement. The comments by MacConnell and Yagi are excellent! Hopefully, the whole Drake episode will remind us about working harder to love and lovingly pray for everyone.

2 comments:

  1. I dunno ... Psalm 109 and other imprecatory psalms are in the Bible. and I think for good reason: they often contain elements of protest against grave injustice. they don't merely ask God to smite the people we don't like.

    I have personally used imprecatory psalms in my blog. for example, I dedicated one to Yale New Haven Hospital, which used abusive collections practices against poor people, did not inform them about how to apply free or discounted care, and in fact made it quite difficult for them to do so. given the number of statements Jesus makes about money, I think it's reasonable to assume that he would be upset with them. there's a great tradition of protest psalms and literature in the Bible. I think we should connect with it and use it. I do not think we should politicize it, although the lines can be blurry.

    in Drake's case, though, I think he was clearly in the wrong to endorse a candidate, being the head of a religious organization. that being the case, he better hope his children don't end up as orphans, and his wife as a widow...

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  2. Thanks for the thoughtful comment! However, I think there are a few important differences. The Psalms were originally delivered as personal prayers not as public war cries. And the imprecatory prayers in the Bible are generally dealing with issues of life and death, not tax exempt status.

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