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A bottom-up approach to Bishop Finn's indictment

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The recent charges against Kansas City's bishop and his diocese for failing to report suspected child abuse have been analyzed six ways from Sunday, including by me on my "Faith Matters" blog.

And they have deserved all the commentary, given the shocking nature of the failure alleged in the indictments.

But I want to look at this distressing case from the perspective of a Protestant whose form of church governance is not hierarchical but, rather, republican, in the lower-case-r sense. And I want to suggest that the two approaches to polity yield different results, though each has its strengths and weaknesses.

It may be too simplistic to put it this way, but the system of governance used by the Presbyterian Church (USA), to which my congregation belongs, is essentially bottom-up. The congregation elects its ruling elders. In turn, some elders, based on the size of the congregation, become voting commissioners at meetings of the presbytery, which is our regional governing body. Clergy also are voting commissioners of the presbytery.

How will they remember in 100 years?

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The 10th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks brings even those of us who are members of 9/11 families (my nephew perished on American Flight 11) closer to acknowledging a hard truth.

Some day -- in 90-plus years or so -- no one will be around who lived through that malevolent day.

And: One day the story of 9/11 will dissolve into the maelstrom of history's long, sad parade of violence. For several decades (or even centuries) history books will refer to it, but unless the world ends first, some distant day almost no one will speak of, read about or commemorate this faith-based catastrophe any more. (Ask the average American to recount the early 20th century genocide of the Armenians.)

Author David Rieff, in a recent essay in Harper's Magazine, puts it this way: "What history shows is that even the most monumental achievements and martial accomplishments of human beings are ephemeral."

Monk's story gives new reason for death penalty opposition

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Arguments against capital punishment come in many forms.

When I was a columnist and editorial writer for The Kansas City Star I would take almost any opportunity to express our editorial board’s long-held opposition to the death penalty by writing impassioned editorials urging citizens not to let their government sink to the moral level of common criminals by killing people to keep them from killing people.

Sorting through kid's technology use tough for grandparents

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The oldest of my six grandchildren just turned 9. What a stunning child: Smart, curious, beautiful, creative, obedient, compassionate.

Which is why I worry about her and my five other grandkids, my descriptions of whom would include many of the same words that describe Olivia. But my worry is not overwhelming, partly because she’s surrounded by people who are models for her and who can teach her right from wrong.

Christians must play a pivotal role in conflict mediation

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When I was a boy of almost 13, I went with my family to Jerusalem, which at the time (late 1957) was divided between Israel and Jordan.

We had to stay on the Jordanian side because next we were headed to Egypt, and that country wouldn’t allow us to enter if we were coming from Israel, with which it had no diplomatic relations and no intentions of ever having them.

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July 4-17, 2014

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