Sunday, June 28, 2015

Cheering, Jeering and Everything In Between

Lots of stuff going on at FB the past few days. All the way from cheers to jeers and everything in between about the Supreme Court ruling on marriage. marriage is legal. In all fifty states. Boys can marry boys and girls can marry girls.

Perhaps I should reword that because that is exactly one of the “look at what you did” complaints I’ve seen several times on my Facebook feed. Claims that the push is now on to have pedophilia legalized. Yep, it’s that slippery slope thing the American Family Association, Focus on the Family and Mike Huckabee etc have warned us about. I mean, it makes perfect sense that comes next. Homosexual love, pedophile love and the list goes on and on. “Love is love, no?”

Ahhhhhhh….no. There is the issue of CONSENT. Under the law, kids cannot give their consent to marry the dirty old man who lives next door. They cannot even give their consent to have sex with the dirty old man who lives next door. They aren’t old enough. Just like they are not old enough to drive a car, buy alcohol or get a tattoo. They are MINORS. And the bestiality worry. Different species but the same arguments apply. A dog, horse, cow, cat, monkey, goat etc cannot consent to marriage. They cannot consent to sexual relations. That argument is just ridiculous.

Why this became the evangelical Christian’s battle cry, pet issue, most horrendous “sin,” I can’t say. But they just need to let it go. Fairness and civil rights won. And really, aren’t Christians….followers of Jesus….citizens of another kingdom. The Supreme Court has no say in the Kingdom of Jesus.

Jesus answered, My kingdom is not of this world John 18:36

What would Jesus do in the wake of this ruling? Would he be posting on FB about how God will judge America? Would he be worried about hypothetical slippery slope outcomes? Would he be fretting that Christians will be persecuted? News flash...He told us we would be persecuted. Christians will be persecuted. That theme (that I don’t like any more than the next guy) is ALL THROUGH the New Testament.

I think Jesus would be doing what Jesus did….proclaiming the light of a higher kingdom, a light that shines in every man, ministering to the sick, the poor, the outcasts. Proclaiming the Father to a world desperately in need of a revelation of God’s love.

Monday, June 15, 2015

Tony Campolo Changes His Mind.....

I’ve written about or quoted Tony Campolo in a half dozen blog posts….HERE.

I love Tony Campolo and have followed his ministry...and his wife's ministry....for years. She has always been for the full inclusion of LGBT folks in the church. Tony, well, not so much, although his heart was always kind and tender.

It looks like Tony finally came around. There has been considerable backlash about his statement published on June 8th but he is no stranger to backlash. He has been riling up fellow evangelicals for years. He was even “tried” on heresy charges. In fact, he is the only living evangelical to have endured such a thing. And at the hands of his fellow believers. From Wikipedia:

Campolo was the subject of an informal heresy hearing in 1985 brought about by several assertions in his 1983 book A Reasonable Faith, particularly his claim that, "Jesus is actually present in each other person". The book became a hot button issue, and the controversy caused Campus Crusade for Christ and Youth for Christ to block a planned speaking engagement by Campolo. The Christian Legal Society empowered a "reconciliation panel", led by noted theologian J. I. Packer, to examine the issue and resolve the controversy. The panel examined the book and questioned Campolo. The panel issued a statement saying that although it found Campolo's statements "methodologically naïve and verbally incautious", it did not find them to be heretical.

What pompous asses Christians can be. It seems to me two of the beliefs that mainstream Christians hold nearest and dearest are their beliefs in hell and the depravity of homosexuality. They are also unwilling to take a closer look-see beneath the surface meaning of words in their modern bible translations to see if perhaps they could be mistaken....if the traditional church could be mistaken. That’s how Tony came to a different conclusion.

I was deeply uncertain about what was right.  It has taken countless hours of prayer, study, conversation and emotional turmoil to bring me to the place where I am finally ready to call for the full acceptance of Christian gay couples into the Church.

Another quote from Tony….

However, I am old enough to remember when we in the Church made strong biblical cases for keeping women out of teaching roles in the Church, and when divorced and remarried people often were excluded from fellowship altogether on the basis of scripture. Not long before that, some Christians even made biblical cases supporting slavery. Many of those people were sincere believers, but most of us now agree that they were wrong. I am afraid we are making the same kind of mistake again, which is why I am speaking out.  

Good for you, Tony….

You can read his statement HERE.

And another article that talks about his change of heart and whether this might be the tipping point for evangelicals is HERE.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Thank You For Making Me a Mother.....

I've been "journaling" here and there, now and then throughout my life...stuff too private or boring for a blog post. I've also been hanging out on Pinterest quite a bit lately and it seems as if there are several million journaling/writing prompts to choose from. I've randomly picked ones that strike my fancy. Yesterday the one that caught my eye was....

What decision or choice had the biggest impact on your life?

I thought my answer might make a good blog post in honor of Mother's Day. 

What an appropriate question (and answer) for this particular day (that just happens to be Mother’s Day!) Without a doubt or moment’s hesitation, the decision to have children was the choice that had the biggest impact on my life. Matthew, Beth and Emily. For me it was a north pole/south pole life changing event, as showstopping and breathtaking as the demarcation between BC and AD. Before Children. After Delivery.

There were so many unparalleled heights and depths of emotions; doubts, frustrations, anxieties, worries, joys, surprises, dreams, disappointments, fears, discouragements, encouragements, inspiration, annoyances, elation, drudgery and downright life altering delight that entered my life when I became a mother.

“The thrill of victory, the agony of defeat….,” That was the tagline from The Wide World of Sports, a TV show from yesteryear. It applies to mothering just as much as it applies to the guy on skis wiping out. Mothers enjoy victories. Mothers endure defeats. There are times we tumble painfully, head over heels, down Motherhood Mountain. But thank goodness there are times we have reasons to pump our fists in the air…. victorious, proud of our accomplishments and our children.

I’ve known both the agony of defeat and the thrill of victory. I’ve had some pretty big mothering fails….but I’ve had some victorious fist pumping moments too.

When Matthew was born, I was stunned to find out there was a kind of love, a depth of love I never knew existed. before I became a mother. An “I’d die for you,” kind of love that made my comfort, my feelings, my well being secondary to his. And for about 21 months….almost two years….he was the sole recipient of my love.

When I found out I was pregnant with Beth I had this nagging concern that my supply of mommy love was already almost all used up on Matthew. Silly me. I didn't realize until after she was born that motherly love is not a finite thing. It grows exponentially to encompass and include every single child. I loved her just as fiercely and passionately and maternally as I loved Matthew. By the time Emily came along, I knew there would be plenty of love to go around….and indeed there was.

Motherhood changes you. It deepens you. It broadens you. It enlarges your heart in unexpected ways. It awakens your instincts, tries your patience, builds your endurance, and increases your empathy.

Motherhood impacted my life in so many ways .I know more and I love more. I am a better person because I am a mother and the thrills of victory have more than made up for the agonies of defeat. It has all been worth worth it.

A special thank you to Matthew, Beth and Emily for making me a mother....for putting up with my defeats and loving me through it all....

Monday, April 27, 2015

WWJD Revisited....

On a Christian blog called Formerly Fundie, in a post about the mistaken notion that Christians should try to “take our country back,” the following paragraph stood out.

Instead of just blindly following religious leaders off a cliff, Jesus people should always be asking and wrestling with the questions of, “But what did Jesus say about this? What did Jesus do? What example of Christ have we to follow?”

May I respectfully suggest that this is not rocket science. We can figure it out if we want to. After all, Jesus lived it out in real life situations for us to see. It’s not the knowing that’s hard….it’s the doing that’s sometimes damn near impossible.

There are four gospels all telling the same story (give or take a few minor contradictions). Jesus displays the same behavior, values, compassion, morals, faith, beliefs….sets the same example….throughout all four of the Gospels yet we struggle to figure out how a Christian should behave.

During the recent upheaval in Indiana, John Pavlovitz, a popular blogger, wrote these words that Jesus might say to modern day Christians:

You were designed to do this, to be this.  My kindness, my goodness, my forgiveness; you were created to be the method of transportation for all of it.

My beloved, I placed you here, not to defend or protect or replace me, but simply to reflect me.  That has always been my most critical commandment and your most pressing obligation; loving God and loving others. I thought that I was clear on that, when I was asked this before.

The thing is, he was clear. He was very clear. Could it be that we just don't like what we see....?

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Why Me? Why Not Me?

I wrote the following this past weekend - just now getting it posted.

I am in Ellwood City this weekend visiting my mom. I left yesterday afternoon from work, made the four hour trek across Interstate 80 and arrived at my mom’s in time to visit for a while and watch a few “as seen on TV” preachers that she’s taken a liking to. I enjoy visiting my mom even though I hate the drive and the lack of an internet connection here in her apartment.

I can venture across the street to Burger King, or a few blocks farther down to the city park on the main street where Armstrong cable provides free internet, or to the library a few blocks farther or across town to McDonald’s. That is a lot of free wifi choices for a small town like Ellwood City.

I walked to the library earlier today. It is consistently the noisiest library I’ve ever been in. Every. time. Loud librarians, boisterous meetings, noisy patrons and today they were hosting some kind of American Girl doll event. Quite a few little girls showed up with their mothers and grandmothers holding their American Girl dolls by the hand. It was kind of cute and since it was a first for me, I enjoyed it but it was still noisy. Just Noise (my favorite white noise app) blocked out the hub hub.

I tuned into Facebook and was surprised to find a status update from a friend of mine about a shooting last night in Williamsport. Five people were shot as they left a local bar called Imbibe. An earlier altercation in the bar seemed to be the starting point of the attack, but none of the victims were involved in the dispute and were merely innocent, probably drunk, targets leaving a bar at closing time. Been there, done that.

Come to find out that my birthday boy (25 years old yesterday) was celebrating at the very bar not too much earlier. They left for more celebrating at another bar in town. My daughter, who works around the corner from where the shooting took place is sometimes part of that closing time group of partiers. She was out of town with her boyfriend.  

Nobody died although there were two life threatening injuries that involved Life Flight. Suspect is still at large. I am thankful I was not one of the moms who received an emergency call at 2 a.m. My offspring are not lying in a hospital bed at Geisinger. But it could just as easily have been one of them. Different timing, different plans and it could have been a whole different scenario. But for the grace of God, there go I. Figuring out why it wasn't is above my pay grade but I am infinitely grateful.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Love is a tenet of the Christian Faith

The other day, I listened to a sermon by Adam Hamilton entitled, Love the Sinner, Hate the Sin. He used an illustration about an encounter between Billy Graham and the Clinton’s that took place at a public event during the firestorm of the Monica Lewinsky/”I did not have sex with that woman” debacle….

My father is so accepting, so nonjudgmental," says eldest daughter, Gigi Graham Tchividjian. During the height of the Clinton scandal, she was her father's date at the 75th anniversary celebration for Time magazine. The Clintons were also in attendance.

"Daddy sat with the Clintons and was so warm and gracious," Tchividjian told Charisma. "In the limousine going back to the hotel, Daddy and I were talking about how difficult it must be for the Clintons with so many people gossiping and judging them. His comment was: "It's the Holy Spirit's job to convict; it's God's job to judge; and it's our job to love."
The excerpt above is from a Charisma article

I love that exchange…

I never really paid that much attention to Billy Graham in my BC - before Christ life. Oh sure, my grandmother used to watch his crusades on her little black and white TV when I spent my summers with her. She would cry during his altar calls when folks came forward in droves. I didn't pay much attention to him after I became a Christian. He was getting old. His crusades were fewer and farther between.

A few years ago, I came upon an article on one of those cult watcher blogs about a conversation between Billy Graham and Robert Schuller that smacks of universalism. It resonated so I wrote about it in a post called A Vortex with a Different Name.

I remember other here and there reading about Billy Graham; his reaction to a close call on an airplane (he was very afraid but trusted God with the outcome). And I’ve been reading snippets this morning, my curiosity piqued by this story of his encounter with the Clintons. He had/has his critics. Many criticized his seemingly lukewarm commitment to integration. Others point out that he was either too involved or too UNinvolved with politics. I’ve read some quotes, perhaps taken out of context, that are questionable. Sometimes he seemed to waffle back and forth on some issues.

But the encounter above illustrates a key component of Christianity. As Billy Graham points out, a Christian’s job is to love. You know, the greatest commandment...the command that sums up all the law….love God, love your neighbor as yourself.

Greg Boyd repeats this same sentiment in a video from 2012 during the time a vote on a gay marriage amendment was taking place in Minnesota. Greg Boyd is not one to back away from controversial issues (as he is accused of in the comments) and has taken infinite slack about his opinions and beliefs.

(Probably) More of this rambling, somewhat disjointed discourse to come…..

Monday, April 6, 2015

“CYA” is not a tenet of the Christian faith

The only thing that one really knows about human nature is that it changes. Change is the one quality we can predicate of it.” – Oscar Wilde

Well, yes and no….

In the recent and ongoing battle taking place in Indiana, we see a spectrum of human nature on display. Unfortunately a lot of it is just ssdd….same shit, different day. Different decade...different bias, but at the heart of it is the human tendency to sort people into categories….us and them.

Are Christians being treated unfairly in this country….even persecuted? One big issue I have with this persecution thing is that it seems many Christians are crying wolf. For so many years, Christians were the king of the hill. Now, when the law requires them to extend the same rights they enjoy to others, some cry persecution. Not being able to force our views and beliefs on others is not persecution. Having to give equal rights to religions and lifestyles we disagree with is not persecution.

But let’s just say, for the sake of argument, that Christians are losing their rights these days and they are being persecuted. Why does this comes as such a surprise… outrage to Christians. It’s not like Jesus did not address this when he said, “If they persecuted Me, they will persecute you”(Jn. 15:20).

The recent law in Indiana is meant to protect religious folks from being sued for refusing service that goes against their sincerely held religious beliefs.  When it is factored down to its lowest common denominator, it seems earmarked to protect Christians who refuse to provide their services to gays….specifically at a gay wedding. The law is vague and there are tons of loopholes that seemed to allow businesses to refuse service almost on a whim. There is an amendment in the works that is a bit more specific but it still seems to be motivated mainly by prejudice and a “cover your ass” mentality.

As far as I can tell, Jesus never taught this. “CYA” is not a tenet of the Christian faith.

I’ve wrangled with this since the day it was announced and Facebook and the internet lit up with indignation. I’ve read articles and blog posts both pro and con. This is a big topic that goes beyond the situation in Indiana. It deals with what it means to be a follower of Jesus. I plan to share some of the stuff I’ve been reading, with my two cents worth thrown in at no additional charge.

More to come…...