The Common Good

Ordained for Prophetic Ministry

Sojomail - December 6, 2007


"The really uncomfortable part for the administration, aside from the embarrassment, is the policy implication. The dirty secret is the administration has never put on the table an offer to negotiate with Iran the issues that would really matter: their own security, the legitimacy of the Islamic republic, and Iran’s place in the regional order."

- Flynt Leverett, Middle East expert at the New America Foundation, who served on President Bush's National Security Council, describing how the White House has consistently ruled out any real diplomacy with Iran that could resolve the conflict over its nuclear program. (Source: The New York Times)

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Ordained for Prophetic Ministry

Tuesday evening, Virginia Lohmann Bauman was ordained to the ministry at First Baptist Church in Granville, Ohio. Gini (as we know her) is Sojourners' Ohio Field Organizer. In her ordination paper for the American Baptist Churches, Gini wrote:

My faith journey began in my childhood and continues to evolve in wonderful and challenging ways. I am a preacher's kid, a wife, a mother, a lawyer, a mediator, a minister, an ecumenical bridge-builder, and a child of God who feels called to preach the good news of Jesus Christ and to serve God and the church through prophetic ministry and advocacy.

I had the privilege of participating in the service, along with several other staff members. It was truly a memorable occasion, full of the special joy I always feel when women are ordained to ministry, after long being excluded from church leadership. I was especially struck by the reflection by Dr. George Williamson, Gini's former pastor and a key mentor in her life and a long-time friend of Sojourners. George spoke about Jeremiah, Gini's favorite prophet, and his call to prophetic ministry. With his permission, I share it with you.

A mentor's reflection upon the ordination of Gini Lohmann Bauman
by George Williamson, Jr.

Gini said for me to speak to prophetic ministry with reference to Jeremiah. Okay. Jeremiah clearly says prophetic ministry's a damn fool thing to do. It's certainly not something you choose to do. You get chosen - like being entered against your will in the divine lottery, and losing. In which case, he would have you beg to get out of it, and failing that, whine and complain to God.

Jeremiah, you know, was not a happy man, because the depth of human wretchedness revealed itself to him. He was not a married man, because who would marry him? He was not a pretty man, or pleasant to know. But he had a huge voice, like a volcano stored in soul barrels between eruptions. His images got under peoples' minds and gnawed on them. He was a prophet. Everybody knew he was a prophet, and mostly left him alone.

Jeremiah never did any good. His first prophecy was of invasion by a mysterious "foe from the north," which never happened. He joined King Josiah's religious reformation, whose politically appointed revolutionaries didn't need him. Anyway, he decided it was a cover for rampant injustice, and, as it became law, he came out against it. He got ordained, but was defrocked and disfellowshipped for preaching unbearable sermons. So he preached from the temple steps and was jailed.

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Mitt Romney’s Defining Moment (By Randall Balmer)

In what may be the defining moment of his campaign, Mitt Romney, the former governor of Massachusetts and a Mormon, addressed the issue of faith and its bearing on his pursuit of the presidency. Pundits inevitably compared Romney's speech in College Station, Texas, with the speech that John F. Kennedy gave just down the road at the Rice Hotel, Houston, on Sept. 12, 1960.

What Would Jesus Buy? (By Becky Garrison)

My interest piqued in this unique brand of street theater activism, I decided to check out the movie What Would Jesus Buy? Throughout this new documentary, Rev. Billy and his Stop Shopping choir assume the persona of street preachers as they rally against the gospel of consumerism. According to Rev. Billy (real name Bill Talen), "If we can change Christmas, then we can change the rest of the year." ... This film's highlights include the righteous reverend driving the money changers out of the Mall of America before he is chased away by mall security, performing a funeral for small town America at Wal-Mart's headquarters, and getting arrested on Christmas Day at the Promised Land (aka Disneyland).

Where Does The Golden Compass Point? (by Gareth Higgins)

Here's the good news: The Golden Compass does not promote atheism. It isn't going to steal your children. It does not signal the end of hope for religion in the West. That's the good news. Here's the bad news: it promotes the same, shallow "don't touch my stuff or I'll kill you" message that appears in so much of popular culture. But more than this, in spite of delightful visual imagery, and a couple of performances in which it's clear the actors are having fun (an icy Nicole Kidman, and the great English theatrical knight Derek Jacobi to name two), it's simply a boring film.

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Days ago, another article, from AlterNet, described a recent CBS investigation that found an alarming trend in those who have served our country. I would never have believed the finding had it not been for the devastating news Iraq Veterans Against the War (IVAW) received last Tuesday. One of our active members had taken their own life. Their spouse, another IVAW member who suffers from PTSD, had found the body the night prior. In 2005, an average of 17 vets committed suicide every day. No, that is not a typo: 17 every day.

A Reality Check on Iran (by Jim Wallis)

After months of increasing talk of military strikes against Iran to prevent it from developing nuclear weapons, the Bush administration has suddenly received a dose of reality. In what news reports called "A Blow to Bush's Tehran Policy" and "An Assessment Jars a Foreign Policy Debate About Iran," a new "National Intelligence Estimate," representing the consensus view of 16 U.S. intelligence agencies, used its strongest language – "We judge with high confidence" - to say , "We judge with high confidence that in fall 2003, Tehran halted its nuclear weapons program ..."

How Did Advent Accelerate? (by Amy Ard)

How odd that the older we get, the faster Advent seems to fly by. Barely has the Thanksgiving turkey been devoured before we find that we're out of time to prepare for Christmas. There have been several years when I've realized that Christmas was a week away and I'd not yet put up a tree or even hung a wreath on the door. The units of time have not changed over the years; a minute is still 60 seconds, a day is still 24 hours. How is it, then, that Advent speeds past us when once it crawled along?

Poverty and Climate Change Are Clearly Linked (by Jim Wallis)

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Suddenly it seems there's a full-scale war going on in our neighborhood, and we and our neighbors here are in a new kind of danger. On their way back to college after helping out at our weekly dinner party, our friends Jenny and Alyssa stopped at an intersection and noticed a group of guys milling around in the early evening, less than a block from our church. A moment later, guns started firing on both sides of them, and, before they could pull away, four bullets entered their car. They weren't hurt, but they could have been killed.

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