The Radical Bible
Adapted by Eugene L. Conrotto
Rev. Joe Cherry
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A liberal religious voice in the Central Valley since 1953.
This UU sermon is to be given by three speakers: the Bible quoter (B), a male commentator (M) and a female (F) commentator.
Narrator: Western Civilization's foundation has three pillars. The Greeks command that you know thyself. Know your strengths and weaknesses -- and how fast you can run.
The Romans decree that you know what is practical. They believed that nothing worth learning could be learned while seated. They were into hands-on aqueducts and roads and armies.
And the third underpinning of our society is the Hebrew, who command that you know your god. Today we will focus on the latter and its relevance to the modern world. In that modern world there are now 6,602,224,175 of us going forth and multiplying.
We can agree or disagree as to whether the Bible is the word of God or the inspired word of God. I think we can all agree, however, that the Bible's language is superb - and important. When college professors are polled as to the single book with which incoming students should be familiar, the Bible invariably ranks number one.
Our focus on this Labor Day Weekend is justice and the Third World. Our text is taken from Bibel Provokative - the Radical Bible published in Germany in 1989. The word Radical means "having roots," "proceeding from the root." The Bible qualifies as a radical book for the supposed word of God deals with the very core of things.
Marian Eriksen will read the Bible passages, and commenting on them will be Kathy O'Brien and Adlai Frederickson.
B: From Genesis: Then God said, "Let us make man in our image, after our likeness; and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps upon the earth . . . "
M: From the Vatican Council II: God intended the earth and all that it contains for the use of every human being and people. Thus, as all men follow justice and unite in charity, created goods should abound for them on a reasonable basis . . .
B: From Genesis: And Adam said, This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called Woman . . .
F: From Simone De Beauvoir: One is not born a woman; one becomes one.
B: From Genesis: Then the Lord said to Cain, "Where is Abel your brother?" He said, "I do not know; am I my brother's keeper?" . . .
F: From Caroline Maria de Jesus, a Brazilian slum dweller: It seems that the slaughterhouse threw kerosene on the garbage dump so the slum dweller would not look for meat to eat . . .
B: From Exodus: Then the Lord said, "I have seen the affliction of my people who are in Egypt, and have heard their cry because of their taskmasters, I know their sufferings . . .
M: The words of Pierre Trudeau, former prime minister of Canada: Never before in history has the disparity between the rich and the poor, the comfortable and the starving, been so extreme . . .
B: From Deuteronomy: . . . When you beat your olive trees you shall not go over the boughs again; it shall be for the sojourner, the fatherless, and the widow . . .
M: The words of Julius K. Nyerere, President of Tanzania: We say man was created in the image of God. I refuse to imagine a God who is miserable, poor, ignorant, superstitious, fearful, oppressed and wretched-which is the lot of the majority of those He created in his own image.
B: From Proverbs: The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge.
M: From Mark Twain: A man is accepted into a church for what he believes and he is turned out for what he knows . . .
B: From Ecclesiasticus: The wisdom of a learned man cometh by opportunity of leisure; and he that hath little business shall become wise.
F: From Helen Rowland: The follies which a man regrets most are those which he didn't commit when he had the opportunity.
B: From Ecclesiastes: I have seen all the works that are done under the sun; and behold, all is vanity and vexation of spirit.
M: From Cervantes: The knowledge of thyself will preserve thee from vanity.
B: From Psalms: Man that is born of woman is of few days, and full of trouble.
F: From Kathleen Norris: Life is easier than you think; all that is necessary is to accept the impossible, do without the indispensable, and bear the intolerable.
B: From Proverbs: . . . get wisdom; and with all thy getting get understanding.
F: From Madame de Stael: To understand everything makes one very indulgent.
B: From Proverbs: He who closes his ear to the cry of the poor will himself cry out and not be heard.
F: From the Youth Delegates to the World Food Congress: It is not enough to free man from the hunger imposed on him by an insufficiency of food. Man must be freed of all the forces that oppress him, of the natural, economic and political order.
B: From Leviticus: And if your brother becomes poor, and cannot maintain himself with you, you shall maintain him; as a stranger and a sojourner he shall live with you. Take no interest from him or increase . . .
M: The words of Pope Paul VI: Free trade is not enough to regulate world markets. Free trade can work quite well between two equal partners. Free trade between unequal states can be disastrous.
B: From Proverbs: Do not rob the poor, because he is poor, or crush the afflicted at the gate.
F: The words of Barbara Ward, British economist: We have seen the developed world's financial leaders discuss the future of the whole regime of international trade with barely a mention of the two-thirds of humanity in developing lands who depend upon it for any hope of further advance.
B: From Psalms: Give justice to the weak and the fatherless; maintain the right of the afflicted and the destitute. Rescue the weak and the needy; deliver them from the hand of the wicked.
F: The words of slum dweller Carolina Maria de Jesus: I found a sweet potato and a carrot in the garbage. When I got back to the favela my boys were gnawing on a piece of hard bread. I thought for them to eat this bread, they need electric teeth.
B: From Proverbs: Open your mouth for the dumb, for the rights of all who are left desolate.
M: The words of Eugene Carson Blake, General Secretary of the World Council of Churches: Christians in our time have allied themselves with capitalism, colonialism and white racism.
B: From Amos: Woe to those who are at ease in Zion and to those who feel secure on the mountain of Samaria.
M: The words of S. L. Parma, United Church of Northern India: In economic history one has to search rather diligently to find instances where the "haves" of the possessing classes have willingly given up any of their privileges . . .
B: From Micah: They covet fields, and seize them; and houses, and take them away; they oppress a man and his house, a man and his inheritance.
M: The words of Ernest Feder of the UN Economic Commission: More often than not, a peasant would have to work at least several hundred years in order to earn the annual income of one rich landlord from one of his estates.
B: From Habakkuk: Woe to him who heaps up what is not his own . . .
F: From the World Council of Churches: Since many Christians are deeply rooted in the status quo they tend to be primarily concerned for the maintenance of law and order. Where the maintenance of order is an obstacle to a just order, some will decide for revolutionary action against that injustice, struggling for a just society without which the new humanity cannot fully come. The Christian community must decide whether it can recognize the validity of their decision and support them.
B: From Isaiah: Woe to those who join house to house, who add field to field, until there is no more room and you are made to dwell alone in the midst of the land.
M: The words of S. L. Parmar: Rightly understood, development is disorder because it changed existing social and economic relationships, breaks up old institutions to create new, brings out radical alterations in the values and structures of society.
B: From Micah: Hear, you heads of Jacob and rulers of the house of Israel! Is it not for you to know justice?- you who hate the good and love the evil, who tear the skin from off my people . . .
F: From the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights: Everyone is entitled to realization of the economic, social and cultural rights indispensable for his dignity and the free development of his personality.
B: From Isaiah: They shall not hurt or destroy in all my holy mountain, for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea.
F: From the Council of African Churches: Our task is to work for the expression of God's reconciliation here and now. We are not required to wait for a distant "heaven" where all problems will have been solved. What Christ has done he has done already. We can accept his work or reject it; we can hide from it or seek to live by it. But we cannot postpone it, for it is already achieved. And we cannot destroy it, for it is the work of the eternal God.
B: From Luke: The voice of one crying in the wilderness: Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight. Every valley shall be filled, and every mountain and hill shall be brought low, and the crooked shall be made straight . . .
M: The words of Bishop Mortimer Arias, speaking for the Methodist Evangelical Church: The God whom we know in the Bible is a liberating God, a God who destroys myths and alienations, a God who intervenes in history in order to break down the structures of injustice and who raises up prophets in order to point out the way of justice and mercy . . .
B: From Luke: And he lifted up his eyes on his disciples, and said, "Blessed are the poor, for yours is the kingdom of heaven . . . "
F: From the Fourth Assembly of the World Council of Churches: The Word of God testified that Jesus takes the side of the poor and oppressed. We Christians who have not always taken sides as he did, now see a world-wide struggle for economic justice.
B: From Luke: And Zacchaeus stood and said to the Lord, "Behold, lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor, and if I have defrauded any one of anything, I restore it fourfold . . . "
M: The words of Claude Julien, French social scientist: What Hollywood films do not explain is the civilization of the automobile, private swimming pool, air conditioning, private airplane, material comfort and waste of material things is not only based on the idea of progress and virtues of private enterprise, but also on the exploitation of the mine and plantations of the Third World: where low wages and low selling prices of basic products are the reason for the prosperity of 300 million people in the United States.
B: From Luke: . . . but a Samaritan, as he journeyed, came to where he was and when he saw him, he had compassion, and went to him and bound up his wounds . . .
M: The words of Mahatma Gandhi: There is no limit to extending our services to our neighbors across State-made frontiers. God never made those frontiers.
G: From Matthew: No one can serve two masters . . . you cannot serve God and mammon . . .
M: The words of Robert L. Heilbroner, economic historian: It may be that the challenge will be too great. It may be deemed political suicide to speak of problems of development in blunt terms, to force a consideration of unpleasant alternatives and moral dilemmas, to encourage governments whose political and economic structures are alien and even antipathetic to ours. It may appear impractical to urge an internationalization of foreign aid . . .
B: From Matthew: You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hid . . .
F: The words of Daisuke Kitagawa of Japan: Christianity is so identified with the Western powers that many non-Christians, especially in Asia and Africa, regard the Church as a tool of Western imperialism.
B: From James: What does it profit . . . if a man says he has faith but has not works?
F: From the Fourth Assembly of the World Council of Churches: To be complacent in the face of the world's need is to be guilty of practical heresy.
B: From Romans: Do not be conformed to this world but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that you may prove what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.
M: The words of Dom Heider Camara, Archbishop of Olinda and Recife, Brazil: What horror has the world come to when it uses profit as the prime incentive in human progress and competition as the supreme law of economics!
B: From Romans: Love does no wrong to a neighbor, therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.
M: The words of Jorge Manrique Archbishop of La Paz, Bolivia: One would be immoral and iniquitous to favor slow, gradual change, because that would be tantamount to keeping alive the institutionalized oppression we face.
B: From Revelation: Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God . . .
F: The declaration of Recife: There is hope, and there is a great dream of a world in which there will be no more misery, no more war, no more prejudice, and all men will be free. This was the dream of Jesus, of Mahatma Gandhi, and of Martin Luther King, Jr. This is our dream, too.
Narrator: This concludes our commentary. I would like to thank Marian, Kathy and Adlai for reading, and thank you all for your attention.
[Delivered 02 September 2007. Eugene L. Conrotto is a member of the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Stanislaus County. The Radical Bible was published in Germany in 1989 under the title "Bibel Provokative".]This is a (copyrighted) Guest Sermon from our collection. If you enjoyed it, or if you'd like to use part of it, please contact us via E-mail:
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