The Weblog of The Reverend Dr. Richard E. Sanders The Sword

Welcome to "The Sword", a Weblog for the community covering topics that encourage theological discussion of the latest pop culture and news. Please subscribe by email, or better - become a "follower" so you will be notified of new posts. Comments are welcome.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Nuclear Meltdown

There is devastating news coming out of the Savannah River Site. Some weeks ago, the Augusta Chronicle detailed upcoming layoffs at SRS. Those cuts have begun. The report from the Augusta Chronicle seems to have been understated. The information I hear from those who work at the SRS is troubling, concerning, and sad.

The SRS is now in the process of cutting some 700 employees from their payrolls who make between $50,000 to $150,000 a year. Many of these employees are in their fifties and fall just short of years needed to receive full retirement benefits. Many have worked at the SRS all of their lives as faithful employees who have risen through the ranks without a formal education. These are the faces of those losing their jobs. The reduction of benefits can amount to a %40 decrease of current income. Tension at the SRS is severe, with folks literally waiting for a knock on the door, a tap on the shoulder, and a drive home.

The economic impact and outlook for our area is concerning at the least, and perhaps horrific. Our region simply lacks the ability to absorb 700 new workers with middle to upper income salaries into our workforce. Less money will flow through our regional economy. It's not a jump to conclude that housing prices will also fall. The financial calamity at SRS will affect us all.

Yet of greater concern is the human carnage. 700 individuals and possible families are being thrown into financial choas and even ruin. It would not surprise me to see an increase in suicides. Fortunatley, no one from this parish who works at the SRS is in danger of losing their job, but all are going through a difficult period. This is a very sad time for the CRSA.

They need our expressions of concern and prayer. Please keep them in your prayers, and feel free to post comments and corrections to my weblog.


Tuesday, January 11, 2011

The Cost of Being Christian?

In our Bible Belt world we have an expectation that everyone belongs to a church. Our typical religious conversation is not "Do you believe in God?" Instead, we ask "What church do you go to?" An assumption is made that everyone attends church. Assumptions create odd behavior. I know individuals who profess membership in my church, yet in my nine years as rector I have never seen them in church. In our Bible Belt world, claiming to be Christian is easy. We place less value on things that come to us easily. Easy means cheap.

It's not that easy at Our Lady of Salvation Church. On November 1 blood smeared her walls and pieces of flesh littered her pews. It was the worst spectacle of violence in Iraq since the war began in 2003. Fifty eight died and seventy eight were wounded. It's not that easy in Egypt, where on New Years Day bombs loaded in a car exploded outside a church killing twenty one. These Christains paid a high cost for their belief.

John Row's Christianity was not easy. He was a federal judge in Arizona who stood in line last Saturday waiting to thank Congresswomen Gifford for her help when he was shot dead. Judge Row had just left the Eucharist, which he attended almost daily. While not specifically attacked as a church goer, I have no doubt that Row's Christian expressions of gratitude and the high value he placed on public service led him to that moment.

Jesus is very clear that being his follower is not easy and comes with great cost. All of which makes me wonder, what if claiming to be a Christian in our Bible Belt world wasn't cheap and easy and the claim came with a cost? If it cost more, it might mean more.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

"The Fighter", a Theological Movie Review

You are wrong to avoid watching "The Fighter" if you worry it's just another "Rocky Balboa" punch out flick. "The Fighter" is less about boxing and more about people, and extremely dysfunctional people. I do realize that unhealthy families exist, but this film defines dysfunctional in an all but too stark reality. Crackhead brother Dicky Eklund, played by Christian Bale, makes one believe it's impossible for anything good to come out of such a dismal beginning, and then pulls off a miracle. Bale gets my Oscar vote for best supporting actor because he almost steals the film.

Among other theological threads:

Redemption: Crackhead Dicky mistreats his brother and ends up in prison. A television documentary about Dicky's life as a drug abuser breaks through his denial. While boxer Micky Ward (Mark Wahlburg) fights to redeem his boxing career in the ring, Dicky fights to overcome addiction in prison. This process begins and ends with prayer, though it's not called prayer in the movie. Instead, there are a couple of quick and silent shots when Dicky, hands clasped together, is obviously calling on a higher power for help.

Reconciliation: How this incredibly dysfunctional family, despised girlfriend, and estranged hangers on are able to put aside their broken past and come together for the good of Micky Ward and his run for a title is nothing but God's Grace.

Did you see any other theological threads in this movie? What are some of your favorite movie scenes that have theological threads?