Monday, November 21, 2011

Sexual Ethics at College - Richard R. Crocker

Sexual Ethics in College
Richard R. Crocker
Rollins Chapel
November 20, 2011
I Corinthians 9:9-20

During the past weeks, the press has given a good deal of attention to sex on campus – the national press covering the scandals at Penn State, the local Dartmouth press printing its annual “Sex Issue”. Since the topic of sexual behavior is so central to many conversations at Dartmouth and elsewhere, or perhaps because the topic of sexual ethics is so absent at Dartmouth and elsewhere, I think it is important for us to consider it in this series on the Bible and the newspaper.

I have chosen to read from scripture tonight a passage from Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians which is, perhaps, the most used and ab-used scripture passage on sexual ethics. In it Paul gives us a list of “wrongdoers” who will, in his words, “not enter the kingdom of Heaven.” Although there is dispute about how some of the Greek words should be properly translated, the list is nonetheless a list that, however we wriggle, delights the hearts of some Christians and appalls many others. “Fornicators, idolaters, adulterers, male prostitutes, sodomites, thieves, the greedy, drunkards, revilers, robbers – none of these will inherit the kingdom of God.’ So declares Paul, without qualification. The presence of several sexually related words on this list – fornicators, adulterers, male prostitutes, sodomites (Greek words which almost every English version translate differently) – has fueled so many blatant condemnations of so many by so many for so long that the presence of greed and drunkeness and revilers in the list has been almost forgotten.

Many of us wish that Paul had been a bit less specific in his list of sins, or that he had been a bit more charitable. Most of us, finding this passage quite problematic, simply ignore it.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Merit, Entitlement, and Grace - Kurt Nelson

Mark 10: 17-27
Rollins Chapel, 11.13.11

This term has been for me,
if nothing else,
an exercise in forcing myself to read the news theologically.
And sometimes an idea takes hold,
which simply will not let go.
Even if I want it to.
I was taken by a very strange op-ed piece by NYTimes columnist Ross Douthat,
His article calls out our near-worship of merit,
and the ways it has pushed us to the brink.
And ultimately I was convinced,
That I too am a worshipper of merit.
Even thought I'd prefer not to talk about it.

Its been a big week, after all, for important news.

Friday was Veterans Day.
A day forged by those wishing never to fight again,
since become, in some corners,
a celebration of valor and American exceptionalism.
But thankfully voices ring out
reminding us that this is a holiday
of grief for the horrors war,
and prayer that war should cease.
Even as we remember those who serve so honorably.

The weeks biggest story, probably,
is the unfolding scandal at Penn St.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Why the Church is Divided - Richard R. Crocker

Why the Church is Divided
Richard R. Crocker
Rollins Chapel
November 6, 2011
John 17:20-23

Despite the prayer of Jesus that all his followers might be one, the church is deeply divided. And it is not divided chiefly by denominations (though those divisions are real), but by fundamental attitudes. As is shown by the careful research of Robert Putnam and his associates, in their book called American Grace, conservative American Catholics seem to have more in common with conservative evangelical Christians than they do with Liberal Catholics, and liberal Protestant Christians in some ways have more in common with liberal Catholics than they do with conservative Protestants.[1] Although the words conservative and liberal do approximate the differences in fundamental attitude, they do not adequately describe it. I would say that the divide is more accurately described as those who see the church as the bastion of order and personal morality on the one hand, and those who see it as the advocate of justice on the other.

This conflict is nowhere more clearly and poignantly revealed than by the story, which you might have missed, in this week’s New York Times about the protest occurring at the entrance to St. Paul’s Cathedral in London.