By: Larry Greenfield
The Lenten practice of not eating meat has year-round benefits for the common good. That’s because the amount of water needed to feed the animals we consume far exceeds what's needed to grow veggies.
By: Larry Greenfield
The nation's largest chain of drugstores, CVS/Caremark, said it will no longer sell cigarettes and other tobacco products in its stores. Tobacco sales are inconsistent with their purpose, CVS' CEO said.
By: Larry Greenfield
Rayfield Wright, the football hall of famer for the Dallas Cowboys from 1967-79, isn't sure he'll watch the Super Bowl on Sunday. After multiple concussions, his attention span is too short.
By: Larry Greenfield
Before Jesus' baptism, John the Baptist spoke about bearing fruit. And what fruit should our baptism produce? The start of our pursuit for righteousness and justice.
John the Baptizer traveled the wilderness, calling others to repent. As poor families face the threat of more food stamp cuts, Congress seems eager to avoid the wilderness and a call to repentance.
Public prayers in political settings are inappropriate for both religious and political reasons. Yet some religious folk tolerate and even endorse prayer before government proceedings.
As the parable of the rich man and Lazarus reminds us, the rich are so presumptuous they expect the poor to serve them. You don't have to look farther than Congress to know this is still true today.
The healing of body and mind was integral to Jesus' ministry. That's why we must stand up to those politicians who try to keep people from accessing the Affordable Care Act.
Our nation is divided between haves and have-nots, rich and poor, well fed and hungry. Jesus, too, is interested in division, but it's one that will wipe out all the others.
The U.S. House of Representatives, under the guise of cost cutting and fiscal responsibility, passed a farm bill that aids the rich and attacks the poor. It reflects Jesus' parable about a foolish farmer.
In two rulings, five of the six Supreme Court justices, who are Roman Catholics, went against their church's tradition of advocating for the dignity and rights of workers.
Unless citizens express their opposition, we will soon see the toll on the poor of across-the-board spending cuts and at least 14 states opting out of Medicaid expansion.
Do you have clout? How do you use it? Some folks use it to deny sick and dying people access to affordable health care. Others use it to help people overcome poverty and illness.
Not all Protestants and evangelicals gravitate to the Religious Right. Many focus on social justice issues. Yet in the media, the Right draws far more attention than the Left. Why?
Are we willing to listen to Wisdom? In Scripture, she warns us of the danger of pride and arrogance. Perhaps we should travel with her along the way of righteousness and justice.
The Dow breaks 15,000, and everyone starts cheering. Or are they? We must not forget the homeless, poor, elderly and children who suffer because of sequestration.
The first-century church may have quarreled about who could be legitimate Christians, but let's be glad they didn't require all the steps proposed for undocumented immigrants.
Margaret Thatcher was described as a champion of "freedom and liberty," but what about of equality? All are essential and inseparable components in democratic life and community.
We don't know what Lazarus did with his life after being resurrected. Did he cower in obscurity to live a life with no risk or did he confront the religious and political powers?
When Mary washed Jesus' feet with an expensive perfume, did she know something tragic was coming? And was Judas right to ask why her gift was not used for the poor?
How do U.S. Christians respond to the death toll of innocent civilians, whether a few dozen in Somalia or hundreds of thousands in Iraq, in our wars? For many, they don't.
As Jesus in the wilderness faced a choice between serving his own self-interest or the common good, so too must His followers decide what they will serve.
Sure, it may be Groundhog Day on Feb. 2, but there's another reason to celebrate that day. Will you observe it by doing your part to ensure equality for everyone?
Jesus repeatedly opts to overcome the deficits that people face not by austerity but by extravagance. It is also what he teaches his disciples: in the face of deficits, choose abundant generosity.
Are the rules we observe during Advent just for the four Sundays before Christmas? Or do these principles apply to the Christian life throughout the year?
The late George McGovern came at public issues with a shared understanding of the way religious faith can provide a foundation for work on behalf of justice and compassion.
In the presidential election, the determining factor for the victor was attracting the votes of a diverse electorate. It's a change that may be redemptive for all of us.
Jesus made it clear that love for God and love for others is the biblical value from which all others must follow. So how could Billy Graham have been so far off the mark?
In the U.S. political process, citizens vote for their own self-interest. Shouldn't Christians reject their own interests and vote to support those without the power of the majority?
We can beat the looming challenges that face us when we get the word out about what is working, Bill Clinton proclaims. It's what makes him a paradigmatic evangelist.
As Chicago's teachers went on strike, many city churches opened their doors to students. They aced Jesus' test by welcoming the vulnerable. How do you measure up?
Many in the U.S. think the nation is moving in the wrong direction. Perhaps we could learn from Jesus' encounter with a foreign woman who changed his mind.
Washing hands before meals may not be a priority for Jesus, but he is concerned about what's in our hearts. And each election, our nation decides what is in our hearts.
Chicago murders were down in July, and the overall crime rate is down 10 percent. However, a new source of injury, mayhem and death hit Illinois when drastic Medicaid cuts went into effect.
Although they begin their work from different ends of the physical-spiritual spectrum, politicians in election campaigns and preachers in revival services are a lot alike.
In this election year, "It's Even Worse Than It Looks" is required reading for people of faith who want a balanced look at the dysfunction in our U.S. democratic system.
As Herod kept his oath and delivered John the Baptist's head on a platter, so too are gang members in Chicago keeping their oaths as the murder rate rises. Will Jesus' gang keep their oath?
To participate in an investment campaign in and for Palestine without standing against Israel's subjection of the Palestinians sides with the oppressors and opposes the oppressed.
As Jesus' mustard seed parable points out, it's not the time to practice austerity when the ground is bare. It's time to invest in seeds. Will economic and political leaders grasp this?
To listen to the words offered at Christian funerals, eternal life sounds like perpetual and passive retirement. But isn't it truer to say it's the start of our work for God's reign eternally?
There's a word for U.S. reps, who confess to follow Jesus Christ yet voted to restore cuts to the defense budget by slashing domestic programs that help the vulnerable. It's heretics.
How do you know a person, group or nation abides in God's love? They help those in need when they possess the resources. With the House GOP seeking deep domestic cuts, do they pass?
With the GOP presidential nominee all but confirmed, U.S. voters will need to decide if the CEO model of leadership is what the nation requires at this moment in its history.
Christians who want to revoke the Affordable Care Act and offer no alternative will allow millions to suffer and die. And, as Jesus said, when you do it to the least of these, you're doing it to Him.
Two strikingly similar feasts – one where the guest of honor is taking the mantle of Messiah, the other seeks the title of president – have one major difference.
Jesus threw the money changers out of the temple, but will any Christians today challenge the wealthy and powerful who are corrupting the temple of democracy?
We commonly think of Lent as a time of denial and discipline. While they are part of the Christian faith, Lent is also a call to leave the wilderness and enter God's new realm.
What's the definition of an authentic follower of Jesus? A conservative or a liberal? A revolutionary for change or a reactionary against it? Mark's Gospel suggests an intriguing answer.
When Jesus healed a possessed man, the crowd seemed to miss that unclean spirits were all around them. Today, do we miss the unclean forces that attack the vulnerable?
GOP presidential hopeful Mitt Romney seems to routinely bear false witness, yet he could certainly make a strong case for his candidacy without the lies. So why does he do it?
GOP presidential hopeful Newt Gingrich called Palestinians an invented people, but is that so bad? In some respects, Christmas, the United States and even Christianity are inventions.
We only have one life to make the best use of the time and gifts extended to us. But during that life, we have many chances to make decisions that inch us toward a more fulfilling life – or less so.
If we believe God is generous, our actions toward those in need will reflect that generosity. But in a nation where the gap grows between the rich and the poor, have we missed that point?
God's gift of faith must always be invested. Although it may seem safer to keep it to ourselves, we must share it with others even if we must stand up to those who are intent on gaining the whole world.
Religious leaders may have earned certain titles, but Jesus had a strong warning for those who use titles for the purpose of lifting themselves above others.
Those who occupy Wall Street don't have the wealth of the 1 percent. However, as they demand their slice of the economic pie, they're also not in the same league as the truly impoverished.
What we increasingly hold as civically sacred is not just liberty at the expense of justice and equality, but also a particular kind of liberty – economic liberty – at the expense of everything else.
The heavenly host and the son of the heavenly host are moving the banquet table out of where these wedding celebrations normally take place and are setting up tables out there where the new invitees are.
Like Jesus' parable of the tenants who refused to pay a landlord the profits from his vineyard, do we have more in common with the current tenants or the new ones?
At first glance, Jesus' parable about laborers' wages seems harsh, but each worker was paid what he needed. If only today's laborers, beset by a bleak economy, received such equal treatment.
While attitudes change toward corporal punishment in the U.S., politicians who push for cuts in programs that benefit poor children practice another form of corporal punishment.
Jesus was clear that humans were defiled by the evil thoughts and deeds that spring from their hearts. Should individual corporate bodies, such as Standard & Poor's, be held to the same standard?
When Jesus invited thousands to a banquet, the disciples were peeved that they didn't have an intimate bread-and-fish dinner. Much like today, many are peeved that our democracy is for everyone rather than a few.
Activists for smaller government must be delighted to know we soon will have fewer teachers, caseworkers and drug counselors. Instead of asking if government's too big, we should ask if it's providing essential services.
The original meaning of Jesus' parable of the sower is an enigma. We may never know the central point, but it may cause us to reflect on how useful or useless we are for the kingdom.
Whether it's sin or righteousness, we're all enslaved to something, the Apostle Paul wrote. As a nation, many of us are enslaved to pride, wrath, greed and envy. When will we become slaves to a nobler cause?
After giving Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu 24 standing ovations during his 50-minute speech before Congress, maybe it's time for our national politicians to revise their pledge of allegiance.
When fully implemented, health care reform will expand insurance to better than 30 million Americans. Without it, an estimated 28,000 Americans will die needlessly each year. It's a life-or-death choice.
Jesus made it clear that he's the gate that protects the sheep. Those who lead his sheep fall in one of two categories – shepherds or thieves. Which leaders are today's sheep following?
A panel appointed by Congress to investigate the financial crisis only sent a handful of cases to the Justice Department. In another case of selective forgiveness, the powerful and wealthy benefit.
The crowds following Jesus saw him as more than doing God's saving work only through individuals. They believed salvation and redemption worked in religious communities, economic orders and political systems.
Jesus' healing of a blind man, which frustrated others in society, reminds us healing is still needed today. Many need health care; our earth and our economy are sick. Yet some are blind to these needs.
The stop-gap spending bills to keep the government running have caused chaos with federal agencies. The poor, vulnerable and young are hit the hardest by these frequent trips to the well.
How do politicians, especially those who claim to be Christians, religiously justify cutting programs that help the poor, the weak, the vulnerable and the young? Maybe they think they're God's "Lenten Helpers."
Jesus probably would have tolerated Valentine's Day, that day we focus on the special someone's in our lives. But he may have reminded us of God's higher ideal – that we are to love everyone. No exceptions.
Sargent Shriver, perhaps best known as the founder of the Peace Corps, died last month at the age of 95. He attended to the social teachings of the Catholic Church and dedicated his life to the service of others.
Our divided nation will not come together anytime soon, but we can agree to certain ground rules to avoid violence and resolve conflicts, a columnist observes. Paul faced a similar division with the Corinthian church.
When the Constitution is read at the beginning of the new session of the House of Representatives, may it be more than a ritualistic gesture and serve as a reminder of the responsibilities of our public officials.
With its message about the wealth disparity in the early church, James is just as relevant today, with politicians ready to extend income tax reductions for the rich.
Many GOP politicians repudiate health care as a universal right and are determined to dismantle or defund health-care reform. If they do, millions will have no hope for coverage and many will die.
There seems to be a roar of approval for reducing taxes with little concern for those who would be hurt by the curtailing of government services. When will Christians rise up for a just tax policy in our nation?
Highly paid financial employees complain new reforms will limit their bonuses. Wealthy folks are incensed their tax cuts will expire. It seems the wrong people are crying out for justice.
Jesus had harsh words for his followers who led newcomers in the faith to sin. His warning should be heeded by those who urge others who are new in the faith to take political positions opposed to Jesus' teachings.
Glenn Beck declared that President Obama practiced a religion that was "a perversion of the Gospel of Jesus Christ" by focusing on victims and the oppressed. Yet these are the very people that Jesus invited.
The civic and religious leaders opposed to an Islamic center and mosque near Ground Zero are not interested in restoring relationships. Isn't it time for people of all faiths and no faith to work and play together?
As Christians look to Scripture to determine a biblical response to the current immigration debate, a passage in Hebrews delivers a stark reminder. The parent of our faith family was an undocumented immigrant.
We cannot begin to comprehend God's awesome capacity to forgive our deep and profound sins if we do not also have some sense of our sinfulness as well as our human capacity to do good as a minimal level.
Jesus may not have talked about the unemployed, but he could have. What would he have said about more than 14.6 million out of work today and about the politicians who don't care to extend unemployment benefits?
Christians, in their freedom from self-preoccupation and from the law, are to work for the common good of the whole human family. Now that our nation is no longer flush with cash, will we choose to sacrifice those most in need?
To recognize the full extent of one's sins allows for those sins to be forgiven. To recognize only partially the extent of one's sins allows for only partial forgiveness and, in turn, the capacity to love little.
Today's politicians have much to learn from the centurion who knew the limits of his authority before Jesus. They are more concerned with their own survival and refuse to submit to the authority of serving the common good.
The Rev. Janine Denomme, who devoted her life to the Catholic Church and had been ordained as a priest, died on May 17. That ordination was grounds to deny her a Roman Catholic burial at her local parish.
Is it time to vote some politicians out? Maybe the Tea Party crowd is right – just for the wrong reason. Too many politicians don't have the courage to raise taxes to allow government to function as it should.
Paying taxes is a sign of membership in our democracy, which the anti-tax crowd fails to grasp. Even Boston Tea Party folks didn't oppose paying taxes; they opposed paying them to a government that wasn't their own.
How is the nation redeeming itself after years of reckless economic growth? Rather than drawing on the abundance among us, we're forcing the poorest among us to endure the suffering for the rest of us.
Why should Christians be involved in the health-care debate and budget reconciliation? After all, Paul said we no longer consider things from a human point of view, right? You better take a closer look.
Christians can learn something from the tea partiers. We ought to be in serious discussions about a whole range of issues that must include the roles of government.
Jesus gave authority to his disciples to cast out demons and cure diseases, according to Luke's Gospel, but they couldn't help a demon-possessed child. If God gives us authority, why do we not use it to help?
I’ve been introduced to you this morning as Larry Greenfield, the Executive Minister of the American Baptist Churches of Metro Chicago, but that was just a cover so I didn’t draw too much attention to myself. Actually I’m your old – maybe “ancient” would be a better word – your ancient brother in Christ, Paul…Paul from Tarsus
Jesus' custom was to attend church but he broke the customary way to worship. Are we comfortable with worship that has become part of our routine or that compels us to change our communities?
Jesus' first recorded miracle is more than turning water into wine. It's a reminder that we often distort what it means to be righteous, keeping something set apart when it's meant to be shared and celebrated with all.
Amid all the cries of joy and jubilation at the Christmas season, will we finally hear the cries of those in the Middle East who await the coming of the God of justice and peace?
Months after the joyous cries of Elizabeth and Mary for the births of their sons, another cry was heard from mothers in and around Bethlehem. But these were not cries of joy.
Does 90 percent of America have hearing loss? They do if you count people who willfully ignore what is happening in the world. Many tune out the lack of health care, rampant Wall Street greed and other injustices.
At first glance, Eli was quick to dismiss Hannah as a drunken woman but soon learned she had real needs. Will our senators be an Eli to the millions of Hannahs without health care? Or will they walk away?
Pay-to-play politics has brought about the death of democracy in Illinois. A group of citizens tried to resurrect it, like Lazarus, but their efforts were thwarted. Will someone have the courage to raise a stink?
A different kind of health-care legislation is facing Congress. Climate-change legislation will ensure our planet's health, but will Christians step up to make sure the poor aren't burdened?
When asked about how to achieve eternal life, Jesus said, among other things, to not defraud, which is taking that which someone else deserves. What are the implications for us today?
We don't often see them, but many of us wear racial lenses that distort our reality. Somehow we must find corrective lenses to help us conquer our racist distortion of reality.
When politicians favor the wealthy – those who make large campaign contributions, for example – over those who can't even afford health care, they violate the fundamental principle of equality for all.
The health care debate seems to be largely taking place among those who have chosen to treat health as a commodity, rather than an essential right. Do Christians need to go on the offensive?
While Baptists don't hold to the idea that the bread in the Eucharist transforms into Christ, we might be a little envious of the revival of the practice of perpetual adoration.
There’s nothing, absolutely nothing, coercive about what I’m going to invite you to do now. It’s just this: in silence to recognize and to focus on your Ultimate Parent who makes you a part of an all-inclusive family, whose DNA is love, to recognize that God is strengthening you through the power of God’s Spirit to be a lover and someone who has the capacity to care not just for yourself but for others, to receive Christ into your heart again today, to let his DNA work within you so that you can recover and reclaim your own essential DNA, and to recognize, through the eyes of faith, that you are being rooted and grounded in love.
Picking up after the neighborhood's litterbugs is an irritating and often thankless chore. When someone overturns the trash cans, anger can be justified. Or can it?
All four Gospels, especially John, contain lots of theology about Jesus' feeding of the multitudes, but let's make sure we don't miss the point. Everyone is fed.
Politicians often take a simple answer and make it complex. Look at Illinois, where lawmakers axed a panel's simple reforms for a complex system favoring incumbents and party leaders.
Jesus’ encounter with a hemorrhaging woman is a lesson for the church. If we haven’t felt a power loss, do we deserve to be called the Body of Christ?
Elected officials have an obligation of aiming to please those they represent through the adoption and implementation of policies that justly serve the needs of all, rather than serving themselves or their political benefactors.
The psalmist extols God's role as giver and taker of life, but some have taken God's place, satisfying their individual needs at the expense of other creatures, their own species and even the planet.
Our nation's divorce rate shows it's not easy for married people to stay in love. But what about those outside our immediate circle of love and care? It's easy to divorce ourselves from society's less fortunate when times were good.
Like the hired hands of Jesus' day who ran for safety instead of protecting the sheep from wolves, many politicians lack the courage to protect the growing number of people who are suffering.
For society's extraordinary individuals who ruined our global economy, violated human rights with torture and used politics for personal gain, it seemed that Lent failed. It's up to the ordinary among us to manifest God's love.
When Paul says every knee ought to bow, it's not as a ritual of religious homage. It's a physical act that serves as an ethical symbol of the way one is choosing to live one's own life as we serve others before ourselves.
The 2009 BMW 535i xDrive Sport Wagon costs $72,000-plus. It makes sense that something created for good works will come with high costs. The writer of Ephesians appreciated that truth.
While prayer and financial support are important keys to resolving the conflict in the Middle East, they are not the only keys. Our own silence and complacency must end if justice and peace are to prevail.
Americans have been led to think that all they have to care for is their own selves. And that turns out to be a lot of people in this country—people who have bought into, whether upon deep examination or casual and almost unconscious commitment, a comprehensive philosophy of self-interest.
We ought to give contemporary environmentalists a little slack for misreading Psalm 50.
If it is the case that the true follower of Jesus continues to be commissioned to engage in the ministry of exorcism -- of exposing and casting out demons in people, in communities and in the structures of societies -- then Patrick Fitzgerald and his staff ought not to be the only ones exposing and casting out demons in the city, state and nation.
Maybe more than doing an updated, imaginative and expanded version of Jesus’ call to his disciples, we need to listen again to what, cryptically stated, he said was at stake.
More than anything else, it appears the American populace may simply be too disinterested or too distracted to engage in believable change on this issue, despite its obvious far-reaching importance not just in the region but across the globe.
Could it be that Democratic leaders Harry Reid and Dick Durbin didn’t get immunized to the abuse of power?
The alternatives here are not between leaving Jesus in or out of the gospel picture. Jesus figures centrally in both options, but in much different roles. In one he is the decisive object of faith. In the other he is the decisive figure who points to the object of faith by his words and deeds and who invites others to be a part of the new thing that God is doing.
What about putting at least a minimum number of acts of charity on one's daily "to-do" list and committing oneself to checking them off when they are completed?
Our county has such immense power, influence, and control over the lives of other nations and peoples that it would be unjust and irresponsible for individual Americans to vote only on their own self-identity and self interest within a national context.
It's pretty tempting, after the commemoration of the 9/11 attacks on the United States in 2001, to make the case--based on Jesus' teaching about forgiving an offender 70-multiplied-by-seven times--that serious Christians ought to figure out how to extend that forgiveness to brother bin Laden and his Al Qaeda accomplices.
Analyzing election results is a tricky business, even for the experts, and I'm no expert. But it's hard, at least for me, not to try to get a feeling for what is happening and finding patterns that reveal where the electorate is heading, even if the sampling is a single state like Pennsylvania.
The writer of the Gospel of John has John the Witness (a.k.a. John the Baptist in the other Gospels) saying, upon seeing Jesus approaching him: