Monday, April 23, 2007

Children's Vigil

On Saturday I gathered with many others at the Federal Plaza downtown to stand vigil with the families and children who have had a parent detained and deported. Families are being torn apart as our broken immigration policy causes people who have American citizen children and spouse's, who may even have a green card - a registered, documented resident in this country - in the case of one of the speakers - an American veteran of the gulf war - And they will take them and deport them and let the family fend for itself. Children come home from school and discover no one's home, the parents are gone.

You can't help but look at these children and hear their stories and know that this is wrong.

This is my first post on a big new part of my life - a public advocate for the voiceless and oppressed. I'm the only white evangelical type around at the multiple meetings I've been to over the last month - the rest are the folks who have always been there. I hope my presence there is a sign of a new movement by many who are people of faith, but who realize that we have been running so hard after power - the evangelical impulse to control the government and force this nation to be Christian - that we have forgotten Christ's role as an advocate for the weak and oppresed. The rise of the new religious left - people of faith leaving the religious right and it's power and money focus, and moving towards the left and it's focus on social justice and advocacy - is going to be one of the biggest new streams of change in this coming election. I predict the new religious left will be the new soccer mom's.

All the prophets were essentially advocates for the oppressed, speaking out against the oppresor. The scriptures are clear over and over about welcoming the stranger and the foreigner (more on that in another post).

Christianity is not about taking over the centers of power, it's about creating goodness and justice and fairness in society by serving, by associating with the lowly and the poor.

In a short time, I am going to be a part of a simultaneous nationwide launching of a new movement to protect the oppressed. It's been a very exciting month for me with numerous conference calls and organizing activities as we prepare New York, LA and Chicago along with 20 other cities to proclaim our intents and actions - I have to be purposefully vague because we have a press embargo until we launch.

I've already been involved in two press conferences that we planned not only for the issue itself, but also to be some practice in front of the cameras for the big one that's coming. I'm so grateful for these practice one's because I've really learned a lot. It's pretty funny, I've never even been to a press conference. And to be honest, it's kind of a giddy exciting feeling to know that you are being taken seriously and they are going to broadcast what you say.

I feel like I understand what has driven evangelical leadership towards their grasp for power - it is a heady experience to be listened to and to have influence - but from this I take a strong lesson - to remember that my voice is to be used to advocate for the poor and needy and afflicted - not to take over the power centers. Always from the bottom up, not from the top down.

9 comments:

d pope said...

Mr. Kursonis,

I wish to speak to your comment that there is a “evangelical impulse to control the government and force this nation to be Christian.” I for one see nothing wrong with being called into a position of “power.” The notion that Christians must stay away from business and politics to keep their salvation is outrageous. No matter the profession we hold to Colossians 3:23: “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men.”

Are there Christians who abuse this calling? Certainly. But as someone who wishes to join to ranks of the business “elite” I wish to tell you my point of view on the matter. I do not wish to legislate morality, or declare a national religion. I understand that God has made man free to choose and accept Him. I also believe that God calls individuals to be leaders of influence in this world.

Under this premise I base my life. I realize the need to understand not only the gospel of Jesus Christ, but the worldview of those I am trying to reach. Only then can I be most efficient. Would you rather have a Christian in congress or one who believes in the Machiavellian utilitarianism which states that the end justifies the means to obtain your so called “social justice”?

I do not wish to force anyone to do anything. My peers and I, for the most part, believe in a free market (although Christ can work in any market). However, the leaders of our world set the tone and culture for which society follows. This is why we need to have Christian leaders in the most influential areas of our society. Not to set into law Christian beliefs, but to set an example and tone of virtue today’s world so often lacks.

Even non-Christian business leaders, such as Jim Collins, will tell you that the companies that are most successful in the long run are those who do not obsess themselves with profits and have leaders who humble themselves before their employees. These leaders set a corporate culture that exhales success unlike the dog eat dog world of today’s Enrons. That is the sort of influence I wish to have. I pray I will do so with that concern for the poor and needed with humility; but I guarantee you even the business leaders Jim Collins talks of needed business training and strategy which we are getting here at King’s.

One last thought I wish to leave you with. I think my peer Richie had something very powerful to say in his comment to you in your last blog. He mentioned that you should be attacking the real enemy, not your Christian brothers and sisters. It is my prayer that we learn to work together for the cause of Christ and not come to a point where we must argue that our version of Christianity is better than another’s. God’s wisdom “transcends all understand.” I wish not to sound like a hypocrite with my words to you but I only hope you do not go so far as to forget our orders to stand firm in 1 Corinthians 15:58 at the sacrifice at blending in to secular society around us. God will move hearts of men no matter what we do. After all, what are we but “just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away”? Let us not get caught up in arguing amongst each other in our short time here on earth, but let us together fulfill the great commission to the best of our God given ability.

-nance. said...

Jeff,

Can I recommend a book as you think through social justice? "Social Justice and the Christian Church" by Ronald Nash. It has some good thoughts about how to think powerfully and correctly about evaluating what happens from the top down. I'm sure you'd agree that what happens from the top down affects those on the bottom, and it can be for the better or the worse. I think this book helps give a Christian a perspective on changing the kind of thinking that is inadequate at the top.

Che Guevara cared for the people. So did Marx. But once their policies were "top down" legislation, they hurt the poor and marginalized. Loving people is best done one on one, but ideas that shape the social structures that people are a part of are still important to know and engage with. Both matter.

Godspeed!

Anonymous said...

I agree that Christians should not have this "greater than thou art" aura but what better way to truly make a difference than through the institutions of power...you seem to act as though power is a bad thing and that Christians should run away from anything with power. I got news for ya...we've been doing that for the last 50 years and look where its gotten us...to a society where the gap between the rich and the poor is growing and a world where millions go starving to death while us Americans bicker and complain. It is true that with power often comes corruption...I'm not denying that...but honestly how in the world to you expect to help out the poor and the disadvantaged without if you don't have the means...this is why Christians must go to the very place where the temptation is the greatest...where it's the hardest to follow God's will...and influence these institutions for the good. God created power after all and He created in certain people great leadership skills...He did NOT mean for these to go to waste...as Christians we are to use our gifts that God has given us to further the Kingdom of God not cower away in fear when God is telling us to step up. Also would you please be so kind as to address our responses...I thought that was after what bloggers did. Thanks!

-Wyatt B.

Anonymous said...

Okay and another this I have to say is this...I go to an emergent church Origins to be exact a church at which I believe you have spoken at (and whom I will request that you not speak at again until you decide to grow a little more) and I love this church but one key weakness that I even site in it is that it tends to overcompensate for the church's past legalistic tendencies. There were definite ugly aspects to this age of the Christian church but thats not to say that there wasn't some validity to these practices. It is a tendency among emergent Christians to paint this picture of Jesus being this lovey dovey rainbows and butterflies "Jesus loves everyone" tree hugging hippy...and He definitely was not that. While it is true that Jesus is compassionate and He helps the poor and the widows...He is also no push over...He stood in the face of evil and He turned over the tables at the Temple and He destroyed the market place...He was a man of action...He calls us to fight for the poor and the disadvantaged not just associate with them...as Christians we are to fight for what is right...and what better way to do so than to get into the institutions of power! The church really needs to find a middle ground between the Bible thumping legalists and the tree-hugging hippies...because neither one is the answer...trust me I grew up in rural southwestern Ohio I've seen the legalists...and I have seen how far from the truth they are...but that is not to say that you aren't any farther from the truth...God calls us Christians to stand up and fight for Him (not in the Jesus Camp way) but in a genuine ACTION to help those less fortunate than ourselves not just live amongst them and wallow in their pity...we are to help them RISE UP and out of poverty...so there's my second post.

-Wyatt B.

Anonymous said...

You really need to stop attacking The King's College with your posts. Even if you don't agree with everything that the school stands for...how many other Evangelical Christian schools do you see in Midtown Manhattan striving to make a difference and glorify God to the best of their knowledge. This college was already almost shut down by a board of anti-Christian atheists and receives constant ridicule from the secular institutions around them...the last thing they need is for their own brothers and sisters in Christ to start turning their backs on them. Even if you disagree with them don't bash them...work with them. From my interactions with TKC students I have been very impressed by their desire to make a difference and not settle to let the world rot in front of their eyes. Seriously Jeff show some support here. Your posts have been very inappropriate and I think it would be in order to apologize to Stan Oakes and the student body.

In Christ,
Anonymous

d pope said...

"...pleasure, money, power, and safety are all, as far as they go, good things. The badness consists in pursuing them by the wrong method, or in the wrong way, or too much. I do not mean, of course, that the people who do this are not desperately wicked. I do mean that wickedness, when you examine it, turns out to be the pursuit of some good in the wrong way. You can be good for the mere sake of goodness: you cannot be bad for the mere sake of badness". - C.S. Lewis

Please do not generalize those who wish to rise to positions of influence. There is wickedness in every area, this is true. This means even in "the new religious left". Do not be so naive that you think you can paint God red or blue; He is beyond such petty assumptions.

Anonymous said...

Mr. Kursonis:

You claim that "in your college years, you should be a college student." Unless you intended this to be a tautology, what you seem to mean is "in your college years, you should be a typical college student. I strongly disagree. I did not come here to be a typical college student. Typical college students hardly lead Christ-like lives, and this has nothing to do with the way they dress. Furthermore, typical college students do not become judges, senators, or CEOs. Sadly, many of them do become pastors.

If I wanted to be an artist, I would not be going to The King's College. I want to be a businessman, and I am glad to be at a school that seeks to understand and minister to the business world in the way you seek to understand and minister to the artistic community.

Lucas Croslow
luke@croslow.com

James said...

I struggled mightily deciding whether or not your disjointed, rambling, illogical and incoherent blog even warranted a response, but, seeing how so many of my peers decided to so thoroughly ravage your arguments, I knew that I would be in good company in doing so.

I could go on about the countless (not much of a hyperbole) logical fallacies in your arguments, or I could critique your sporadic, ungainly style of insulting the mission, leadership, and students of The King’s College, as well as the occasional Mormon, but I won’t—unfortunately, I haven’t got the time. I’ll leave that to Peter Kreeft, one of our fine professors (if you haven’t heard of him, Google him when you have a minute) who ascribes to the mission and purpose of King’s.

I think most of what I have against your blog can be seen in this little excerpt:

“So, you should go to The Kings College and you should study your heart out about business and economics and philosophy and just get super smart and equipped - but we as a church need to take a different approach to how we implement our hopes to change the world. We need to be so freakin' sensitive to the real fears people have of people who want to change the world for God. It's super real and a failure on our part to deal with this reality will fundamentally affect our chance to save one of the upcoming generations and stop the ship from sinking.”

This just stuck in my craw, as they say “back home.” What is more culturally relevant (what are most people concerned with) than politics and the economy? What is it you would have us students spend our time studying—basket weaving and pottery glazing techniques? Who in the church today is addressing these two mammoth issues of how our country is run and how people in America make and spend their money? How is studying to understand—and eventually shape and change—politics and economics not “a different approach to how we implement our hopes to change the world.”? To me, it seems that if we are to be “so freakin sensitive” to the culture around us, we must learn to engage the institutions that drive it. THAT is the mission of The King’s College. And THIS ship is not sinking—because of the fact (which you brought up) that Stan Oakes is such a fantastic leader and fundraiser (which, by the way, necessitates that he be culturally “in tune” and aware, contrary to the opinions you voiced in your previous blogs). How dare you call into question the character of a man such as he, who has such an incredible impact on society—solely because of how committed he is to the mission of the Kingdom of God—over something so petty and asinine as a dress code (WHICH WE VOLUNTARILY ASCRIBE TO)?? Shame on you. As for George Clooney, I’m not sure he’s the guy you want to equate yourself with. George Clooney does not believe that Jesus is who He claimed to be. George Clooney is in favor of mothers killing their unborn babies. George Clooney is an actor. Perhaps you should find a better role model…a few examples spring immediately to mind.

Is the church in America failing? Yes! That is exactly why we must let go of our preconceived notions of what a Christian’s role in society is and aim to influence our society rather than simply reacting to it!

That is why I am a student at King’s. I am unwilling to sit back and allow American culture to shape my faith, as well as the faith of those around me. I am at King’s to become integrated into a culture that desperately needs the power of the resurrected Christ. I am at King’s because those who began King’s understand that the world needs a new type of Christian leader.

So, while I and my classmates go on to shape the future of American government, education, law, media, and the church, and you are still writing these ridiculous blogs about how oppressive neck ties are, look back at this blog and take to heart the unanimous opinion voiced by King’s students.

By the way, next time you walk past a corner news stand, and pick up a GQ, or a Men’s Vogue. Culturally relevant? Yes. T-shirts, sweat pants or jeans? Not a chance.



James Nordby
jnordby@tkc.edu

james said...

Shortly after posting my reply, I realized that I had posted a response for the wrong blog...I really have no problem with you being nice to lonely little kids; my comment was in response to the Stan Oakes/King's College blogs. Apologies!