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Pastoral Blog (Page 10)

Blog postings by our pastor Rev. Ben Daniel.

Our Neighbors

As many of you know, the MPC session voted in September to explore ways our congregation might come alongside and offer assistance to the Ordoñez family who, last summer, escaped extreme violence in Honduras. So far our assistance, for the most part, has been to help them navigate the vague and obscure ins and outs of the US legal system. Currently the…

Providing Sanctuary

Friends, In 2008, when I started working on the writing project that eventually would evolve into my book on immigration (Neighbor: Christian Encounters with Illegal Immigration), the initial vision for the project was that I would write my book in conjunction with Mason Funk, a filmmaker who was interested in doing a full-length documentary on the same subject. Eventually, the book/film deal…

Blessing of The Animals

Friends, On Saturday I’m going to be blessing animals in the courtyard of Montclair Presbyterian Church, and here are two reasons why you should bring your animals to be blessed. First, in the ancient wisdom of the bible’s ancient mythology, we find that animals were our friends before humans were our friends. This is in the second chapter of Genesis: Then the…

Is ISIS Islam?

Over the last couple of months, as news of the vile and violent actions of the group calling itself the “Islamic State” in Iraq and Syria (or in the Levant, as the Obama Administration likes to say) increasingly has dominated the headlines, several people have asked me if I still believe Islam is not an inherently violent faith. After all, the ISIS…

No Time for Napping

Dear Friends, Here’s a confession: sometimes it’s hard to get my Contact article in on time. Usually, this has nothing to do with finding something to say (sometimes I have writer’s block, but I am a preacher; we seldom are at a loss for words), rather, I have a hard time writing for Contact because I usually end up writing my column…

Will Scotland Become An Independant Nation?

When I was a teenager several members of my church got excited about the Sandinista revolution in Nicaragua. This was a time when many politically progressive Christians hoped the rebels who overthrew the U.S. backed dictatorship of Anastasio Somoza might have the opportunity to establish a government, and a Central America, that was the embodiment of liberal values espoused and shared by…

"Welcoming the Stranger"

Friends, The immigration crisis that involves people fleeing violence in Central America to find safety in the United States has reached the East Bay’s Presbyterian community. Primera Iglesia Presbyteriana is a Spanish-Language Presbyterian congregation that worships on High Street in East Oakland. In recent months they have been joined by several Central American families in need of protection and, possibly, sanctuary. Primera…

"Let's Walk Together"

Friends, At the end of June I wrote in this column about the positive experience I had walking thought East Oakland with an ecumenical group of people who long for peace and economic prosperity in our city’s poorest neighborhoods. The walk symbolized our commitment to build relationships with and to work alongside our neighbors who live in Oakland’s lower elevations. I’ll be…

Let's Walk Together!

Friends, On the fourth Friday of June I participated in an ecumenically-organized march though East Oakland. The group wasn’t huge—we numbered 24—but the impact was powerful. We held signs calling for an end to violence and the ethnically-diverse group of us walked through a neighborhood that has seen far too much violence in recent decades. As we walked together we came to…

Beneath the Kayak

Family Camp was wonderful. On our last day at Lake Tahoe, my daughter, Mimi and I rented a double kayak and we decided to paddle out to the part of the lake where the color of the water reaches is deepest blue. I have no idea how far out it was, but we were paddling for the better part of a half…