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CVA Weekly Newsletter
February 1, 2012

  1. Upcoming Activist Opportunities
  2. Essay: On Certainty, part 1
  3. This Week’s Sermon from Rev. Frank and Mary Hoffman
  4. Comments on the Essays about Substitutionary Atonement Theory

1. Upcoming Activist Opportunities

2/9 TX Corpus Christi The Rock and Worship Roadshow

2/9-11 AZ Phoenix Joyce Meyers Conference 2012

2/10 TX Dallas The Rock and Worship Roadshow

2/11 TX Wichita Falls The Rock and Worship Road Show

2/12 NM Las Cruces The Rock and Worship Road Show

2/17 OK Tulsa The Rock and Worship Road Show

2/18 TX Lubbock The Rock and Worship Road Show

2/18 MT Billings Women of Faith One Day

2/19 CO Colorado Springs The Rock and Worship Road Show

2/23 NM Albuquerque The Rock and Worship Road Show

2/23-25 TX Arlington Joyce Meyers Conference 2012

2/25 CA San Jose Women of Faith One Day

2/25 TX Dallas Women of Faith One Day

2/26 MO Springfield The Rock and Worship Road Show

3/2-3 OK Tulsa Extraordinary Women Conference

3/3 NY Rochester Women of Faith Dream On For Teen Girls!

3/3 LA Shreveport Women of Faith One Day

3/8-9 NC Charlotte Benny Hinn Miracle Crusade

3/10 WI Milwaukee Women of Faith Dream On For Teen Girls!

3/15-17 NC Winston-Salem Joyce Meyers Ministries Conference

3/16-17 SC Greenville Extraordinary Women Conference-

3/17 FL Miami Women of Faith One Day

3/17 PA Pittsburgh Women of Faith Dream On For Teen Girls!

3/24 IN Indianapolis Women of Faith Dream On For Teen Girls

3/24 NV Las Vegas Women of Faith One Day Conference

3/30-31 MO Cape Girardeau Extraordinary Women Conference

3/31 TX Austin Women of Faith Dream on For Teen Girls

3/31 KS Wichita Women of Faith One Day

3/31 MD Baltimore Women of Faith One Day

3/31 TX Austin TABLE Texas Veg Fest

4/22 CA San Diego TABLE EarthWorks' EarthFair 2012

4/22 MO St. Louis TABLE Earth Day Festival

4/28-29 CT Hartford TABLE Connecticut Vegetarian & Healthy

Living Festival

5/20 CA Van Nuys TABLE WorldFest 2012

2. Essay: On Certainty, part 1

On Certainty

We have all run across people who are absolutely certain of religious tenets. We often regard those tenets we don’t share as unreasonable or even absurd. How do people come to have certainty about beliefs for which there is little or no compelling evidence? If we have a sense of certainty about something, how can we know that this sense of certainty correlates to truth?

Certainty is a psychological state, and human psychology is so complex and multi-factorial that any explanation for human certainty is likely to be far from complete. When it comes to certainty about religious tenets, I think a look at comparative religion is instructive. Throughout human history and throughout the world, people have gravitated toward religious belief, indicating that religions address core human needs. For example, religions generally offer people answers to fundamental existential questions – Where did I come from? What am I supposed to do with my life? What happens to me when I die? It seems to me that most people have an intense desire to have answers to these questions, and in particular they seek answers that give them a sense of peace, well-being, and confidence about the future. Consequently, people are attracted to religions that offer such answers. Paradoxically, it seems that people hold with greatest conviction those beliefs for which there is the least empirical evidence. Evidently, strength of belief helps to compensate for lack of knowledge.

I think the thing about which we can be most certain (but not absolutely certain) is that we can’t have certainty. Next week, I will offer empirical evidence and logic to support this conclusion.

Stephen R. Kaufman, M.D.

3. This Week’s Sermon from Rev. Frank and Mary Hoffman

Learning to See the True Intent of Man’s Heart (Part II)

4. Comments on the Essays about Substitutionary Atonement Theory

Your points about the unhealthy societal implications of substitutionary atonement theory are well taken; I have known instances of oppressed persons urged to go on being Christlike and enduring abuse. Even apart from such problems, it is of value just to apply the term "theory" to this explanation of the Crucifixion, since many Western Christians are simply taught to equate this explanation with the events.

Jesus' central theme of the Kingdom of God apparently means a social arrangement of equality and mutual care for and by all; "Call no man your father upon earth, for you have one father who is in heaven; . . . and you are all brothers [and sisters}." God's Kingdom stands opposed to the prevailing imperial setup of exploitation of the weak by the powerful, enforced by the violence inherent in the rule of Rome and its underlings, including the collaborating High Priestly class and the Herodians, elite supporters of Rome. This view shows that Jesus' ministry arises out of his own Hebrew tradition; he is a prophet who, by teaching and action, condemns injustice and proclaims God's way of love for all. "The rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them . . . . but it is not so among you; for whoever would be great must be the servant of all." The meals of Jesus and his followers to which all were invited enact, symbolize, and foreshadow the coming of God's Kingdom of sharing and plenty. His horrible death at the hand of the representatives of Rome, especially stemming from his symbolic attack during Holy Week on the exploitative setup of the Temple, then appears as the result of the work of one who challenges the powerful and the violent in the name of identification with and compassion for the oppressed. There have been many such, in modern times as well as throughout history, both the well-known Oscar Romeros and their many obscure followers who had the courage to proclaim and enact the Kingdom.

In the Hebrew tradition of the prophets, God shows care for the enslaved and oppressed,and reveals God's will to bring them out of slavery to freedom and plenty, thus periodically renewing Exodus. But for Christians Jesus remains unique and the definitive incarnation of God, manifested particularly in his Resurrection, which reveals that God's power of new life, hidden in human beings, transcends the worst that greed and violence can do.

It is not surprising that the church, once it allied itself with Rome, no longer had much to say about Jesus as prophet. Even today, many Christians and others who profit from the exploitative arrangements of our country's economic empire would rather see his life and death in some other framework, which may help bring inner peace, but does not question any of their comforts.

We who oppose the imperial power of the animal exploitation industries in our country are largely protected from the naked violence that has been visited on others, by our country's tradition of individual liberties (despite the serious erosion of those liberties in the last ten years). The very real pain we experience from many who oppose us is not on the scale of that which other prophets have faced. But I believe we can count ourselves as called to be prophets, and enacting that calling in a small or large way. Those of us who are Christians may call ourselves followers of Jesus the Prophet of Nazareth, who lives and loves in us.

Gracia Fay Ellwood

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