Sunday, January 26, 2014

Last Blog Post

This will be my last blog post as Mainstream Baptist.

For an explanation why I am no longer willing to identify myself as a Baptist, see the post below and/or the "No Room" statement given to our Bible Study class at NorthHaven Church.

See the Oklahoma Faith Network weblog for future blog posts.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Why the strikethrough?

Dan Nerren has left some comments:

Why the strikethrough over "Baptist?"

I looked at your blog today and noticed the word "Baptist" has a strikethrough over it? Is this something you did, or did a hacker do this?

Bruce Prescott responded:

I made this change. I have come to the end of my walk with Baptists.

Here's a brief explanation:

Thanksgiving 2013

Here's a fuller explanation:

October 2013 Issue of the Mainstream Messenger (pdf) the newsletter of Mainstream Oklahoma Baptists

I handed this newsletter out to those who attended the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship of Oklahoma's semi-annual meeting on October 24, 2013.

I use this tactic whenever the gatekeepers in Baptist life put a muzzle on dissent. It demonstrates my willingness to engage in open, honest, face-to-face dialogue about issues of mutual concern.

The first time I distributed the Mainstream Messenger by hand was at the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma in November of 1998. Here's a link to the November 1998 issue of the Mainstream Messenger (pdf).

Cooperative Baptists in Oklahoma were generally very supportive of my work when I was criticizing Southern Baptists. Now that I am criticizing Cooperative Baptists, some of them are singing a different tune.

Here's a response to my newsletter from one of the principal founders of the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship and the current interim moderator of CBF of Oklahoma (He's an interim because the elected moderator and moderator-elect have both resigned):

Lavonn Brown & Bruce Prescott from Bruce Prescott on Vimeo.

More will be posted about this later.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

An Extraordinary Life

Link to an 8 x 10 .pdf file with graphics (12MB) of "An Extraordinary Life"

In the third chapter of my doctoral dissertation, The Symbolism of Evil: An Application of Paul Ricoeur's Phenomenological Hermeneutic, I develop a "Second Naiveté Christology."

My discussion of "The Words of Jesus" centered on current scholarly research of metaphors and parables. Recent scholarship emphasizes how in Jesus' parables something "extravagant" or "extraordinary" directs the mind to something that transcends the context of ordinary life described in the stories.

In my discussion of "The Works of Jesus" I observe that this same process characterizes the gospels. I wrote, "Just as Jesus' parables employed the extraordinary within the ordinary to open the imagination to something beyond, the gospel writers found something extraordinary within the ordinary life of Jesus that pointed to an interpretation of his life that was beyond the ordinary."

The words to "An Extraordinary Life" were written to demonstrate that the life and works of Jesus could be described as "a parable of God."

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Appalachian Winter

Appalachian Winter at NorthHaven Baptist Church from Bruce Prescott on Vimeo.

The choir at NorthHaven Baptist Church in Norman, Oklahoma, under the direction of Music Minister Cheryl Tarter, performs Joseph Martin's "Appalachian Winter: A Cantata for Christmas" on December 15, 2013.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Channelling Christmas: Bringing the Christmas Story to Life

Channelling Christmas from Bruce Prescott on Vimeo.

"Channelling Christmas: Bringing the Christmas Story to Life," a children's play written by NorthHaven's own Josh and Autumn Lockett, performed on December 18, 2013 at NorthHaven Baptist Church in Norman, Oklahoma.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Faithful Progress

Here are links to the first two issues of Faithful Progress, the newsletter of the Oklahoma Faith Network.

September 2013 issue (pdf)

December 2013 issue (pdf)

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Thanksgiving 2013

Beyond the blessings of a marriage now forty years long it has been difficult to identify much to be thankful for this year. It has been a long and trying year. One that has stripped away more delusions about moderate Baptists than I care to count. I list them in the order in which the delusions became apparent to me.

I thought Cooperative Baptist leaders really believed in a servant-leadership model of ministry. This year I discovered that many of their practices cannot be distinguished from the most autocratic actions of corporate CEO's.

I thought Cooperative Baptist leaders really supported women in ministry. This year I discovered that that support does not apply to young women with young children.

I thought Cooperative Baptist leaders really believed that every believer is a priest and that all have equal worth in the eyes of God. This year I discovered that the testimony of one hired leader counts more than the testimony of an entire slate of volunteer lay leaders and ministers.

I thought that Cooperative Baptist leaders had the integrity to conduct conscientious investigations into the truth. This year I discovered that, when the integrity of a close friend is questioned, they rise quickly to his defense and deliberately devise processes to obstruct thorough investigations and obscure the truth.

I thought Cooperative Baptist leaders really believed in the autonomy of the local church. They affirm it as one of their four fragile freedoms and give it a lot of lip service, but their actions betray their words. This year I discovered how suspicious they are of entrepreneurial ministers who form partnerships with moderate Baptist mission efforts that are not under their umbrella. In practice, they value exclusive loyalty to their mission program more than local church autonomy.

Many will say that I am unfairly painting all CBF leaders with a broad brush. It is true that CBF has many leaders who serve with integrity and none of the above applies to them. None of them, however, appear to have much influence in Oklahoma.

Under these circumstances, I am truly grateful this year to learn, however belatedly, that I need to devote my time and energy to pursuits that are more productive.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

My New Initiative

I am blogging from a new blog with a more ecumenical and interfaith emphasis: The Oklahoma Faith Network.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

ACLU Files Suit Against Oklahoma Ten Commandments Monument

The Tulsa World is breaking the story about the lawsuit against placing the Ten Commandments Monument on the grounds at the State Capitol in Oklahoma. 

 I am the lead plaintiff. Jim Huff, another Mainstream Baptist, is also a plaintiff. 

 The suit was filed yesterday by the ACLU. The ACLU will issue a press release later today.   Link to the full text of Prescott vs. The Oklahoma Capitol Preservation Commission.

 Here is the text of the complaint I filed last year with Ryan Kiesel and the Oklahoma office of the ACLU about the Ten Commandments monument:

 Dear Ryan,

 This correspondence is to let you know that I have been to the Oklahoma State Capitol and have discovered that it is virtually impossible to use the stairs on the Northeast corner of the building without being forced to view the highly offensive Ten Commandments monument that was recently erected on the Capitol grounds.

 I frequently visit the State Capitol to discuss pending legislation for a variety of causes.

For example, I am on the board for Oklahomans for Excellence in Science Education (OESE). I visited the Capitol at least three times this year to address state legislators about legislation effecting science education.

 I also am a member of the impact committee for the Oklahoma Conference of Churches. We monitor legislation that would have an effect on five areas of concern to Conference Churches -- criminal justice, education, environment, immigration and poverty. I participated in the OCC annual day at the legislature and visited the Capitol more than three times this year to address state legislators about legislation effecting these concerns.

 I am also a member of the Sierra Club. I participated in their day at the legislature this year and on at least two occasions addressed state legislators about legislation that would have an impact on the environment.

 I am also a member of the Oklahoma Coalition for Reproductive Justice. I participated in a rally to oppose the personhood amendment and spoke to state legislators about this legislation on at least two occasions this year.

 All of the above activities were outside responsibilities regarding legislation that are part of my job as Executive Director of Mainstream Oklahoma Baptists.

 In regard to my official duties with Mainstream Baptists and the New Baptist Covenant movement, I visited the State Capitol on three occasions to discuss statewide opposition to payday lending among Baptists involved with the New Baptist Covenant movement and discussed the possibility that legislation be sponsored that would put a cap on the amount of interest that payday lenders can charge in this state.

 As these examples indicate, I have been a frequent visitor to the Oklahoma State Capitol. That is why I urge you to take some action to address constitutional concerns about the Ten Commandments monument that has been erected on the Capitol grounds.  That monument is an affront to every person who affirms that the U.S. Constitution's first amendment prohibits the government from establishing religion.

 I am a Baptist minister. I am not opposed to the ten commandments. In fact, I exhort people to obey them. I am not opposed to monuments to the ten commandments that are placed on private property and/or on the grounds of religious institutions. I am opposed to erecting ten commandments monuments on public property and particularly on the grounds of the State Capitol where people of different faiths and of no faith go to exercise their rights as citizens.

Baptists in the revolutionary era were instrumental in supporting the passage of the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Those Baptists, my spiritual ancestors, were determined to insure that every citizen had "liberty of conscience," i.e., the freedom to worship or not worship according to the dictates of their own conscience. That is why they were adamant in denying support for the Constitution until it separated church and state and protected the equal rights of citizenship for all religious minorities. That is a legacy of which Mainstream Baptists are most proud in our religious tradition. And that is why we find the Ten Commandments monument on the grounds of the State Capitol so offensive. In effect, it sends a signal that certain faith traditions are endorsed and sanctioned by the government while those who adhere to other faith traditions are second class citizens in their own society.

 I do hope you will take action to challenge the constitutionality of this Ten Commandments monument.

 Be assured that the Mainstream Oklahoma Baptist organization and I will do everything possible to assist you in such efforts.

 Sincerely, Rev. Bruce Prescott, Ph.D.
Executive Director, Mainstream Oklahoma Baptists

Tuesday, August 06, 2013

Reprise of Oklahoma's Monument to American Theocracy

A challenge to the ten commandments monument at the Oklahoma state capitol will soon be in the news. Here is a reprise of blogs I wrote about the ten commandments monument at the courthouse in Haskell County Oklahoma seven years ago.



This is a four part series about the Ten Commandments Monument on the Haskell County Courthouse lawn in Stigler, Oklahoma.

Part One, gives an opinion on whether the monument is religious in nature and whether it endorses biblical religion.

Part Two, gives and opinion on whether the monument endorses a sectarian interpretation of the Bible and whether it endorses a Christian covenant.

Part Three, gives an opinion on whether the monument could be perceived to endorse a Christian theocracy.

Part Four, gives and opinion on whether the monument strongly endorses a Christian democratic theocracy.

Sunday, June 30, 2013

Introducing the Oklahoma Faith Network

Mainstream Oklahoma Baptists have started a new project that will involve ecumenical churches and interfaith houses of worship in our mission to preserve separation of church and state and to promote the common good.

Here is a link to our new weblog: Oklahoma Faith Network

Most of my work will be on that project and at the weblog in the future.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Review of Oklahoma's 2013 Legislative Session

Excerpt of Arnold Hamilton Reviewing the 2013 Oklahoma Legislative Session from Bruce Prescott on Vimeo.

An excerpt from Arnold Hamilton's review of Oklahoma's 2013 legislative session for Cleveland County democrats on June 7, 2013. Hamilton is an award winning journalist and editor of the Oklahoma Observer.

Click here to view his entire presentation.

Tuesday, June 04, 2013

Rev. Sarah Stewart: Do You Hear Him?

Rev. Sarah Stewart: Do You Hear Him? from Bruce Prescott on Vimeo.

Rev. Sarah Stewart, Minister to Young Adults at First Baptist Church in Oklahoma City and 2013 Moderator of the Cooperating Baptist Fellowship of Oklahoma, preaches a sermon entitled "Do You Hear Him?" at Spring Creek Baptist Church on June 2, 2013. The text for the sermon is John 10:22-30.

Monday, June 03, 2013

Wanda Pratt at the Invisible Eve Exhibit

Wanda Pratt at the Invisible Eve Exhibit from Bruce Prescott on Vimeo.

Wanda Pratt, mother of NBA Basketball star Kevin Durant, speaks at the opening of the Invisible Eve Exhibit at the Gaylord-Pickens Oklahoma Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City on May 30, 2013. The exhibit highlights the work of Yousef Khanfar who spent three years photographing women in Oklahoma prisons in order to call attention to the need to find a more just and human way to rehabilitate women who break the law. The exhibit is on display at the Oklahoma Heritage Museum from May 30 to June 7, 2013.

For more information visit the invisible eve website.

Friday, May 31, 2013

Invisible Eve and her Visible Children

Invisible Eve and her Visible Children from Bruce Prescott on Vimeo.

Video excerpts from the opening of the "Invisible Eve" exhibit at the Gaylord-Pickens Oklahoma Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City on May 30, 2013. Internationally renowned photographer Yousef Khanfar spent three years photographing incarcerated women in Oklahoma. The children of these invisible mothers offer visible testimony for the need to find a more just and humane way to rehabilitate the women who break the law. For additional information visit the invisible eve website.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Joey Pyle on Shrines and Signs

Rev. Joey Pyle on Shrines and Signs from Bruce Prescott on Vimeo.

Rev. Joey Pyle, Associate Pastor at Spring Creek Baptist Church in Oklahoma City, preaches a sermon entitled "Shrines and Signs" from the text of Genesis 12:1-9 at Spring Creek Church on May 26, 2013.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Don Holladay on The Inconvenient Life

Don Holladay on The Inconvenient Life from Bruce Prescott on Vimeo.

Don Holladay speaks about environmental issues and climate change in a speech entitled "The Inconvenient Life" at the United Church of Norman (UCC) on May 26, 2013.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Dr. Phil Fenn on Motivated Belief

Dr. Phil Fenn on Motivated Belief from Bruce Prescott on Vimeo.

Dr. Phil Fenn, retired pastor emeritus at McFarland United Methodist Church in Norman, OK, speaks about "Motivated Belief" at the United Church of Norman (UCC) on May 23, 2013. Dr. Fenn's speech is the conclusion of a series of speeches sponsored by United Church on the topic, "The Progressive Sermon I Always Wanted to Preach."

Tuesday, May 07, 2013

Common Ground: An Interfaith Theology

Common Ground: An Interfaith Theology from Bruce Prescott on Vimeo.

Dr. Bruce Prescott, Executive Director of Mainstream Oklahoma Baptists, preaches a sermon entitled "Common Ground: An Interfaith Theology" at the United Church of Norman (UCC) in Norman, Oklahoma on May 5, 2013.

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Walter Brueggemann's Sermon on "Beyond Anguish"

Beyond Anguish from Bruce Prescott on Vimeo.

Walter Brueggemann preaches a sermon entitled "Beyond Anguish" at First Christian Church in Norman, Oklahoma on April 21, 2013.

A Jubilant Rondo

A Jubilant Rondo from Bruce Prescott on Vimeo.

The handbell choir at First Christian Church in Norman, Oklahoma plays C. Dobrinksi's " A Jubilant Rondo" during the worship service on April 21, 2013. The handbell choir is in the balcony behind the camera.

Monday, April 29, 2013

Walter Brueggemann on Psalm 104

Walter Brueggemann's Bible Study on Psalm 104 from Bruce Prescott on Vimeo.

Walter Brueggemann leading a Bible Study on Psalm 104 at First Christian Church in Norman, Oklahoma on Earth Day -- April 21, 2013.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Walter Brueggemann: Journey to the Common Good, Part Three

Walter Brueggemann: Journey to the Common Good, Part Three from Bruce Prescott on Vimeo.

Walter Brueggemann, world renowned author, leading Old Testament interpreter, and William Marcellus McPheeters Professor of Old Testament Emeritus at Columbia Theological Seminary, speaks about the "Journey to the Common Good" at First Christian Church in Norman, Oklahoma. This is part three recorded on April 20, 2013.

Brueggemann was the guest of the Oklahoma Institute for Biblical Literacy.