Roman Catholic Bishops Under Pressure

One of the most stressful church positions in the United States today is the position of local Catholic bishop.  President Trump and the Vatican see eye to eye on few issues and Catholic bishops are expected to agree in some ways with both.  These divided times do little to reduce blood pressures of Catholic bishops.

How else today is experiencing similar pressure?

Three Congregational Dichotomies Today

Congregations today struggle with at least three either/or dichotomies which are really both/and.  Both perspectives need to be respected.

Worship needs to be both catholic and contextual.  The service both needs to express the worldwide church and to express the local context.  A local example is when Pastor Heather and I wear stoles during Fiesta (catholic) but the stoles have a Hispanic flair (contextual).

A second dichotomy is autonomous and accountable.  Congregations need to be free  but they also be responsible to the larger Christian community.

Third, congregations need to represent the communio sanctorum while also being a club of the like-minded.  Congregations need diversity but the people also need to have some things in common.

Where would you put MacArthur Park Lutheran Church in this discussion?

House of Prayer Lutheran Church

I communed with this congregation today before leading an adult forum on the work of the Southwestern Texas Synod Poverty and Justice Task Force, on which I represent the Alamo Conference.  We had a free-flowing conversation about a number of advocacy opportunities for Lutherans in the San Antonio area. We also discussed the Interfaith Welcome Committee, COPS/Metro, and San Antonio Sponsoring Committee.

In addition to Pastor Sandra Leifeste of House of Prayer, I was joined by Pastor Julie Rowe of University Hospital and Pastor Kris Franke Hill of Shepherd King Lutheran Church.

During Sunday school time, we were treated to donuts and leftover wedding cake from a wedding yesterday.  I was also able to speak with some friends on the St. Luke's Lutheran Health Ministries Board of Directors.

Coptic Church Interest in Social Ministry

Some members of the congregation which now worships here have expressed interest in participating in some ministry opportunities with us.  I plan to notify some members of our Community Based Advocacy team of their interest.

Would you like to work with the Coptic congregation on a project?

Telephone Tuesday

I have found Tuesday to be the best day to reach people by telephone, especially in churches.  Consequently I try to initiate phone calls on Tuesday.

Likewise, since I am trying to make phone calls out of my office, Tuesday is probably the best day to call me by telephone in the church office.

Firepower for the Police

One of the challenges of working in Texas is that some want individuals to have whatever weapons the Second Amendment will allow while others always want the police to have superior firepower.

How do you reconcile these conflicting desires in your life?

The Changing Loop 410

When I came to San Antonio in the 1990s, Loop 410 was truly a loop around the city.  Now it is more like an ordinary urban freeway.  Today when people talk about the loop, they are as likely to mean Loop 1604.

What other changes have you seen in this neighborhood in the last 20 years?

The Three (or Four) Cardinal Virtues

Traditionally, the three cardinal virtues for Christians were faith, hope, and charity.  Now there is a growing movement to make love a fourth cardinal virtue since the Great Commandment is about love and love is so needed in  our world.

What are the cardinal virtues in your life?

The Charismatic Personality Pastor

Two or three decades ago, pastors with charismatic personalities were in great demand, especially in developing or growing congregations.  Two problems developed. 

One, such pastors had a higher incidence of sexual misconduct.  Second, these congregations often struggled when the charismatic pastor left because the congregations were focused on the pastor and not on God.

Today spiritual depth is growing as a desired characteristic for pastors.

Pico de Gallo

Sister Consuelo Tovar and I ate at this restaurant just west of downtown, a popular restaurant in that neighborhood.  We talked about the San Antonio Sponsoring Committee and how we would function between organizers..

This is the place Mayor Ivy Taylor used to have breakfast with her clergy supporters while she was in office.  I usually eat tacos when at Pico de Gallo.

I am convinced that with my culinary habits, if I did not go to the gym as often as I do, I might have serious health problems by now.

Five Points Local

COPS/Metro lead organizer Walker Moore and I ate at this trendy restaurant just northwest of downtown to discuss mutual interests.  I ate a different kind of dish with a name I cannot remember.  But the food was good.

I enjoy going to different places to eat.  Where have you been to eat recently?

Book by Steve Murdock, et. al.

I recently read Changing Texas: Implications of Addressing or Ignoring the Texas Challenge.  In this book the former demographer of Texas and others project what Texas will look like in a couple decades if current trends continue.  In general, the state is projected to be less white, less educated, and less affluent unless some fundamental changes are made.

While I think the book is not appropriate for a congregational study, I would encourage those interested in the future of Texas to check out the book.

By the way, Murdock is a member of the ELCA.

Three Kinds of Non-Profit Boards of Directors

Boards of Directors have different functions, often based on the size of the organization.

In larger organizations, the primary function of a board is to raise money.  In medium sized groups, the primary function is to make leadership decisions.  In smaller groups, the primary function is to provide volunteer service to the organization.

The same pattern often applies to congregation councils.  In the largest congregations, the council raises money since the staff makes most decisions.  In medium sized congregations, the council makes major decisions for the group.  In smaller congregations, the council members are the primary workers in the congregation.

Organizations are most effective when the role of the leadership group is consistent with the size of the organization.


A Conversation on Fasting

Mehmet Oguz, Rabbi Mara Nathan, and I had a fascinating conversation on fasting in Islam, Judaism, and Christianity.  All three Abrahamic faiths practice fasting but the reasons for fasting vary among the respective faith traditions.

Why do you think Christians fast?  Why do you fast, if indeed you do?

Sirach 29: 21-23

This passage in the Roman Catholic Bible is one of the best regarding concern for fair housing, adequate water, food, and clothing.  I have often thought it would be fun to study some of these passages not found in Protestant Bibles so we might better understand the social teachings of the Roman Catholic Church.  

Racism and the Estate Tax

With the growing interest in civil rights in the last few decades, there has also been growing interest in reducing estate or death taxes.  Why?  Currently money is concentrated among whites.  This concentration of wealth has a greater chance of being redistributed if estate taxes are fairly high.

The estate tax has a primary role in structural racism in our country, though few opponents of estate taxes will say race is a consideration.

Though we say we are a land of opportunity, class mobility in the United States is one of the lowest among industrialized nations.  Most wealth in the United States is attained through inheritance.

One Reason Protests Focus on Hollywood and Athletics

A basic principle of community organizing is the need to organize power, a combination of people and money.  Without people and money, a cause usually goes nowhere.

In our day, Hollywood and professional athletics both have a concentration of money and people.  Because of that combination, we should expect to see more protests in both of these settings. 

Mislabeling Opponents

We live in a time when a common tactic in public life is to mislabel an opponent or give that opponent an obnoxious name in order to show power over that opponent.

Jesus was often accused of supporting causes he did not support and he was often called obnoxious names.  If we are going to be faithful disciples of Jesus, we must expect some of the same behavior to come our way.

A Failure of Stress Management Training

A common remedy for stress is to take control of one's life.  Yet this approach assumes a person actually has means to be in control of one's life.  The advice assumes the suffering person is from the middle or upper classes and has resources to do something about the problem.

People who are poor and lack resources are unable to take command of a situation.  Part of poverty is not having the resources to adequately handle stress.


2903 Nacogdoches Rd.     San Antonio, TX 78217    phone: 210-824-7135  fax: 210-826-5146