Saturday, January 3, 2009

Our Family's New Edition

The highlight of my Christmas break was meeting my cute, cuddly, newborn niece. Her name is Kennedy Abigail, and she was born on December 18. Enjoy these pictures of her!

Of course, I also got to see my other niece, Bella, who turned 4 on December 27, and my nephew, Max, who is 5. They're pretty cute too! I think I'm the luckiest aunt in the world.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Pro-Life and Democrat

Although the excitement has died down a bit since the end of election season, I just came upon this video of Dr. Shaun Casey. Dr. Casey is a graduate of ACU and served as a Senior Advisor for Evangelical Outreach for Barack Obama during the campaign. He is a member of the Church of Christ, and he visited ACU during election season to talk with students, faculty, and staff about faith in public life (ACU also invited a prominent Republican speaker). In this video, he addresses the myth that having a Republican president or a Republican majority Congress or Supreme Court will lead to the overturning of Roe v. Wade and, therefore, to the end of abortion in the US. For those of you have asked me and countless other Christians who identify themselves with the Democratic party, this is how I can be a Democrat and pro-life.

Shaun Casey on Abortion from Christopher Berry on Vimeo.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Witnessing History

Regardless of our individual political ideologies, that today is a great moment in American history is undeniable. As I watched the celebrations last night and listened to the speeches of both McCain (who was very gracious and did his best to encourage unity) and Obama, I couldn't help but get a bit choked up. When I talked to two of my African American students today, however, my heart swelled even more for what this means to them, their families, and their future children and grandchildren. Both stressed that they have never felt like the same opportunities were available to them because of their skin color. Both mentioned that, until now, there was no proof available to them that their potential for achievement was unlimited. This is their time. And if Obama's greatest achievement in his presidency is that he will have opened these doors for my talented, brilliant students (although I'm very optimistic that he'll do much more), that is enough for me.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Faith Priorities

Here is a posting from Jim Wallis' blog, God's Politics, that most closely matches my own personal integration of my faith and my political views. I hope that, as he states, we'll all take our faith into the voting booth with us, realizing that our friends, family members, and colleagues are doing so as well, perhaps with different faith priorities than us.

In 2004, several conservative Catholic bishops and a few megachurch pastors like Rick Warren issued their list of “non-negotiables,” which were intended to be a voter guide for their followers. All of them were relatively the same list of issues: abortion, gay marriage, stem cell research, etc. None of them even included the word “poverty,” only one example of the missing issues which are found quite clearly in the Bible. All of them were also relatively the same as official Republican Party Web sites of “non-negotiables.” The political connections and commitments of the religious non-negotiable writers were quite clear.

I want to suggest a different approach this year and share my personal list of “faith priorities” that will guide me in making the imperfect choices that always confront us in any election year — and suggest that each of you come up with your own list of “faith” or “moral” priorities for this election year and take them into the voting booth with you.

After the last election, I wrote a book titled God’s Politics. I was criticized by some for presuming to speak for God, but that wasn’t the point. I was trying to explore what issues might be closest to the heart of God and how they may be quite different from what many strident religious voices were then saying. I was also saying that “God’s Politics” will often turn our partisan politics upside down, transcend our ideological categories of Left and Right, and challenge the core values and priorities of our political culture. I was also trying to say that there is certainly no easy jump from God’s politics to either the Republicans or Democrats. God is neither. In any election, we face imperfect choices, but our choices should reflect the things we believe God cares about if we are people of faith, and our own moral sensibilities if we are not people of faith. Therefore, people of faith, and all of us, should be “values voters” but vote all our values, not just a few that can be easily manipulated for the benefit of one party or another.

In 2008, the kingdom of God is not on the ballot in any of the 50 states as far as I can see. So we can’t vote for that this year. But there are important choices in this year’s election — very important choices — which will dramatically impact what many in the religious community and outside of it call “the common good,” and the outcome could be very important, perhaps even more so than in many recent electoral contests.

I am in no position to tell anyone what is “non-negotiable,” and neither is any bishop or megachurch pastor, but let me tell you the “faith priorities” and values I will be voting on this year:

1. With more than 2,000 verses in the Bible about how we treat the poor and oppressed, I will examine the record, plans, policies, and promises made by the candidates on what they will do to overcome the scandal of extreme global poverty and the shame of such unnecessary domestic poverty in the richest nation in the world. Such a central theme of the Bible simply cannot be ignored at election time, as too many Christians have done for years. And any solution to the economic crisis that simply bails out the rich, and even the middle class, but ignores those at the bottom should simply be unacceptable to people of faith.
2. From the biblical prophets to Jesus, there is, at least, a biblical presumption against war and the hope of beating our swords into instruments of peace. So I will choose the candidates who will be least likely to lead us into more disastrous wars and find better ways to resolve the inevitable conflicts in the world and make us all safer. I will choose the candidates who seem to best understand that our security depends upon other people’s security (everyone having “their own vine and fig tree, so no one can make them afraid,” as the prophets say) more than upon how high we can build walls or a stockpile of weapons. Christians should never expect a pacifist president, but we can insist on one who views military force only as a very last resort, when all other diplomatic and economic measures have failed, and never as a preferred or habitual response to conflict.
3. “Choosing life” is a constant biblical theme, so I will choose candidates who have the most consistent ethic of life, addressing all the threats to human life and dignity that we face — not just one. Thirty-thousand children dying globally each day of preventable hunger and disease is a life issue. The genocide in Darfur is a life issue. Health care is a life issue. War is a life issue. The death penalty is a life issue. And on abortion, I will choose candidates who have the best chance to pursue the practical and proven policies which could dramatically reduce the number of abortions in America and therefore save precious unborn lives, rather than those who simply repeat the polarized legal debates and “pro-choice” and “pro-life” mantras from either side.
4. God’s fragile creation is clearly under assault, and I will choose the candidates who will likely be most faithful in our care of the environment. In particular, I will choose the candidates who will most clearly take on the growing threat of climate change, and who have the strongest commitment to the conversion of our economy and way of life to a cleaner, safer, and more renewable energy future. And that choice could accomplish other key moral priorities like the redemption of a dangerous foreign policy built on Middle East oil dependence, and the great prospects of job creation and economic renewal from a new “green” economy built on more spiritual values of conservation, stewardship, sustainability, respect, responsibility, co-dependence, modesty, and even humility.
5. Every human being is made in the image of God, so I will choose the candidates who are most likely to protect human rights and human dignity. Sexual and economic slavery is on the rise around the world, and an end to human trafficking must become a top priority. As many religious leaders have now said, torture is completely morally unacceptable, under any circumstances, and I will choose the candidates who are most committed to reversing American policy on the treatment of prisoners. And I will choose the candidates who understand that the immigration system is totally broken and needs comprehensive reform, but must be changed in ways that are compassionate, fair, just, and consistent with the biblical command to “welcome the stranger.”
6. Healthy families are the foundation of our community life, and nothing is more important than how we are raising up the next generation. As the father of two young boys, I am deeply concerned about the values our leaders model in the midst of the cultural degeneracy assaulting our children. Which candidates will best exemplify and articulate strong family values, using the White House and other offices as bully pulpits to speak of sexual restraint and integrity, marital fidelity, strong parenting, and putting family values over economic values? And I will choose the candidates who promise to really deal with the enormous economic and cultural pressures that have made parenting such a “countercultural activity” in America today, rather than those who merely scapegoat gay people for the serious problems of heterosexual family breakdown.

That is my list of personal “faith priorities” for the election year of 2008, but they are not “non-negotiables” for anyone else. It’s time for each of us to make up our own list in these next 12 days. Make your list and send this on to your friends and family members, inviting them to do the same thing.

Saturday, October 18, 2008


My friend, Shelly, and I went to see W. last night. It was better than I expected. If a movie can make me feel empathy for George W. Bush, that means it was well-balanced. It portrayed Bush as a man who is not unintelligent, which is the way I typically view him, but as someone who coveted his father's approval and got in way over his head in his quest to achieve it. It was a good reminder to see his pain and frustration, his love for his wife, and his anger and anxiety when it was discovered that there were no WMDs in Iraq. It reminded me that he, like me, is only human. No one, except for Dick Cheney, was portrayed as especially evil or sinister. From the perspective of the movie, Cheney was the primary architect of the Iraq war with Donald Rumsfeld being an important sidekick. The most fascinating character was Condoleeza Rice, simply because she was such a non-significant voice. During the entire two-hour movie, she may have spoken 5 complete sentences. According to the movie's portrayal, she had no power or influence. The covert message seemed to clearly be that she has been a puppet National Security Advisor because of her sex and race. There were some humorous moments, and some of the most well-known Bushisms made an appearance, but it was clearly meant to be a drama. If you've been considering seeing it, I would say it's worth the time.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Prayer for Peace

Our prayer in graduate chapel today:

O LORD, Sovereign of all the heavens and earth,
Holy and Awesome is your name.
The earth and all that is in it is yours,
And so is the world and those who live in it.
You created us and placed us here to love you and one another,
And to lie at peace with all people.
But LORD, we have failed to do this,
And so your peace has eluded humanity.
We come before you conscious of many who live without peace;
Without the inner peace of knowing you and without the outer peace of security.
We humbly beg you:

O LORD, Sovereign of all the heavens and earth
We plead that you may grant your peace.

For the people of Iraq and Afghanistan,
For the people of Israel and the Palestinian territories,
For the people of Syria and Lebanon,
For the people of Pakistan and India,
We humbly beg you:

O LORD, Sovereign of all the heavens and earth
We plead that you may grant your peace.

For those who live in Sudan and Somalia,
For those who live in Uganda and Kenya,
For those who live in the Democratic Republic of Congo and Cote d'Ivoire,
For those who live in Liberia and Sierra Leone,
For those who live in Chad and Zimbabwe,
We humbly beg you:

O LORD, Sovereign of all the heavens and earth
We plead that you may grant your peace.

For the people of Georgia and Russia,
For the people of North Korea and South Korea,
We humbly beg you:

O LORD, Sovereign of all the heavens and earth
We plead that you may grant your peace.

For the poor and homeless,
For the neglected and the rejected,
For the abused and the molested,
For the orphaned and the fatherless,
For the widow and the lonely,
We humbly beg you:

O LORD, Sovereign of all the heavens and earth
We plead that you may grant your peace.

For the greedy and the selfish,
For those who live in plenty and yet are never content,
For those who promote greed by their cowardice,
For those who condone selfish living by their silence,
We humbly beg you:

O LORD, Sovereign of all the heavens and earth
We plead that you may grant your peace.

For us who are impoverished of your love,
For us, sinners in need of your grace,
We humbly beg you:

O LORD, Sovereign of all the heavens and earth
We plead that you may grant your peace.
Through Jesus Christ your son, we have prayed, Amen.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

My Wii Fitness Age... 44 years old. Forty-four!! I was pulling for 25. For those of you who don't know, my real age is 31. The Wii thinks I'm 13 years older than I really am. And how was this determined? By how quickly I could get my center of balance within bars that decrease in size and hold it there for three seconds. After an entire summer of exercising faithfully, I'm delivered with the news that my body is that of a 44-year-old. How encouraging! What is the point, I ask, of exercise if it makes no difference in your Wii fit age? I guess I should get back to work so that I can convince an inanimate object that I am worthy of its approval by decreasing my "age" to at least match reality.