Monday, May 30, 2011

My Body Is My Enemy…

I found this quote buried within a post on Martha Becks blog. I am, of course, using it out of context….but wow...what far reaching implications!! As someone who has had a weight problem most of my life, I get this. I SO get this. But in "enlightenment" circles, in awakening some interpretations of Buddhist theology, there is also the pervading belief that “my body is my enemy.”  I must overcome the flesh.

Question then? Why did God put us in fleshly bodies if they are our enemy? Why did he choose to incarnate in a fleshly body as Jesus? Perhaps it is not so much that our body is our enemy, perhaps it is more so that our body must be reconciled with our spirit and then…and only then …will we be complete. Is this the hybrid (thanks Ron Sigler) that the NT speaks of? The new creation man? And the old man, the carnal man, that adamic man is the one who only knows himself as a body? Just musing....

Monday, May 23, 2011

“Particular People”

So...a while back....I wrote a few posts about the gay agenda....and how several folks did an about face in their views when they began to interact one on one with folks they had once considered their enemy.  They began to see specific human beings or what Ted Grimsrud refers to in his article "What Did Jesus Do?" as "particular people."  But like a Buddhist koan, there is a paradox in this truth. 

….the opposite of a profound truth may well be another profound truth. Niels Bohr

While it is easier to love and accept particular people…it is also easier to hate and avoid particular people.  

And, yes, it is easier to hate huge chunks of hypothetical is also easier to LOVE huge chunks of hypothetical people. 

Martha Beck said that she recognizes burn out in herself when she develops the following attitude.....

Though you live to serve humanity, you hate everyone.

That is a sentiment echoed by one of Fyodor Dostoevsky characters in The Brothers Karamazov

The more I love humanity in general the less I love humans in particular.

In my dreams, I often make plans for the service of humanity, and perhaps I might actually face crucifixion if it were suddenly necessary. Yet I am incapable of living in the same room with anyone for two days together. I know from experience. As soon as anyone is near me, his personality disturbs me and restricts my freedom. In twenty-four hours I begin to hate the best of men: one because he's too long over his dinner, another because he has a cold and keeps on blowing his nose.

I become hostile to people the moment they come close to me. But it has always happened that the more I hate humans individually, the more I love humanity.

And he goes on to say:

"I must make one confession," Ivan began. "I could never understand how one can love one's neighbours. It's just one's neighbours, to my mind, that one can't love, though one might love those at a distance.

Critic James Breech writes…about the above confession/insight

 “He loves humankind in general because he hates his concrete neighbor”"

Ahhhhh....but Jesus....had a keen insight into human nature. 

.....he knew all people and needed no one to bear witness about man for he himself knew what was in man.

And he understood this catch 22 "particular people" principle..and he is not letting us off the hook about loving the guy next door.  The one with the barking dog and the lawnmower at 6 am….or the loud party in the middle of the night.

In fact, he summed up the law as loving God and loving your neighbor as yourself. 

Jesus healed and ministered a wide variety of people...the woman at the well, the woman caught in the act of adultery, blind beggars,  epileptics, a leper, a centurion's servant, Peter's mother-in-law, two Gentile demoniacs, tax collectors, sinners, the daughter of a synagogue leader.

He announced he had come to the lost sheep of Israel but his ministry crossed all boundaries and social classes. 

Jesus showed us ….by word and action….that everyone is our neighbor…..

More on that in my next post….

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Christians “dissing” Christians…and other perplexing questions….

This weekend I came across some writings on a blog by Peter Kirk called Gentle Wisdom.  He's written several posts lately on the Rob Bell thing...specifically about the way another blogger named Adrian Warnock handled the whole "Love Wins" concept.  (More on that...and the universalism issue in an upcoming post)  I was not familiar with Adrian...or his website.  I took a look around and he seems to be a Calvinist....and he definitely does not agree with Rob Bell's theology. 

But that is not the point of this post.  It seems the blogger at Gentle Wisdom was having some second thoughts about some of his comments.  And he cites a post by Martin Trench, another UK pastor (all three of these guys are in the UK) called "Do You Ever Feel Like a Hypocrite?"

It is a thought provoking post.  And it grapples with questions I've asked myself many times.  Oh….like perhaps…..

"And just who do you think you are, missy, writing some of the bitchy things you post on your blog?"  "Pretty full of yourself, aren't you?" 

I will admit my posts sometimes take on a somewhat…ahh….sarcastic tone. 

Following are a few quotes from the Hypocrite post...

I hate to hear Christian’s judging other people. It seems clear to me that Jesus taught “Do not judge others, and you will not be judged. For you will be treated as you treat others. The standard you use in judging is the standard by which you will be judged” (Matthew 7:1-2). Why is it then, that so many Christians love to pass judgment on other people? Even on other Christians? The vitriolic, hate-filled, Tweets and blog posts that many Christians (including some well known pastors) put out, is, (in my humble opinion), a disgrace to the name “Christian” and an embarrassment to the gospel.

I would not disagree. 

If you don’t like another preacher or author – don’t listen to them or read their books. It’s simple. You don’t have to preach hate and accuse them of all kinds of crimes against God or hurl names like “heretic” about. arguments here. 

So I do not like to see people judging other people, and I tend to be pretty free from judgmental attitudes myself …….. with one exception. I tend to judge judgmental people. I know it sounds ludicrous, but I tend to judge their level of Christianity by the fact that they go about judging other people’s Christianity.

Yes, indeed....

And there's more.  He also discusses those mean spirited theological debates that often turn very ugly and hateful.  Like a dog chasing it's tail...they go round and round and round but don't get anywhere or accomplish anything. Participants tend to stick their fingers in their ears while silently reciting the “close minded mantra.”

(la-la-la-la-la-la-la-la-la-la....I can't hear you)  

But then..the purpose is not to hear .....the purpose is not discussion.  The purpose is to defend and prove one's pet theology.  Two topics that often spawn this kind of debate....

    • free will vs. sovereignty
    • universalism vs. hell

These two topics have been debated down through the ages and only rarely do minds or hearts change. 

So he doesn't like these kinds of discussions.  I don't either.  And I usually bow out of them on e-groups and message boards....because they are fruitless time wasters. 

And there is something else that bugs him....

I know that it sounds self-righteous of me, but I can’t stand seeing or hearing people being self-righteous.
If I see you going after another
person, I am going to go after you!

And here is where my views differ somewhat (and where it gets hazy and blurred) He thinks that's a bad thing.  And perhaps, it is a bad thing if you journey around the internet searching for heresies and threats to the faith and differing theologies.  If you are searching simply to find and set right those who have a different world view...or scriptural view....or moral view...perhaps that is self righteous. 

And really....are those who espouse different world/scriptural/moral views a danger?  Perhaps Adrian Warnock and others who have spoken out against Rob Bell feel it is their Christian duty to call out a perceived universalist. But is it really?  Where do you draw the line?

Perhaps I feel it is my Christian duty to call out those who take their theology to such an extreme that it hurts others.  Seriously, irrevocably hurts others. 

I am thinking of the "Christian" backed initiative in Uganda that makes homosexuality a crime punishable by DEATH.  Talk about an Old Testament mentality.  Sharia Law anyone?

And I am thinking of Fred Phelps and his gang.  Who doesn't want to speak out against idiots like Fred Phelps?

And looking back….didn't Christians and their unwillingness to oppose Hitler play a part in his regime?  And even Hitler declared he was just doing the will of God.

I believe today that my conduct is in accordance with the will of the Almighty Creator.

- Adolf Hitler, Mein Kampf, Vol. 1 Chapter 2

So exactly where does self righteousness end and "I'm my brother's keeper" kick in?

Good questions.  I hope you didn't expect to find definitive answers in this blog post. 

I do, of course, have an opinion.  For me, a good rule of thumb is to determine if there is a real live, actual victim in the situation.  To quote Elie Wiesel, Holocaust survivor, author and activist...

"We must take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented. Sometimes we must interfere. When human lives are endangered, when human dignity is in jeopardy, national borders and sensitivities become irrelevant. Wherever men and women are persecuted because of their race, religion, or political views, that place must - at that moment - become the center of the universe."


"There may be times when we are powerless to prevent injustice, but there must never be a time when we fail to protest."

Monday, May 16, 2011

Grey’s Anatomy on Gay Marriage….

Grey's Anatomy is the only TV show I watch.  For those of you who have not been following the story line...two of the doctors...Callie and Arizona (interesting name, no?) are lesbians.  The show has tastefully chronicled their love affair through ups and downs which include (but are not limited to)

Callie's dream of having children.  Arizona's refusal (in spite of the fact that she likes kids...being a pediatrician and all)  Several break ups.  Several make ups. 

Arizona left Callie standing at the airport as they were waiting to board a flight bound for Africa where Arizona had taken a new job in a back woods, jungle pediatric clinic.  Callie quit her job to go along.  Last minute change of plans.  Ooops.  See ya' later. 

So Callie (who technically seems to be bisexual) found refuge in the arms of her bud, Dr. Mark Sloan.  The refuge produced a baby. 

Arizona came back....couldn't live without Callie.  Yes, ditched me.  And.  Big AND.  I'm pregnant with Mark's baby.

More turmoil surrounded the dropping of that little bombshell.

So there have been ups and downs and disputes between Mark and Arizona (she didn't care much for him before he impregnated Callie...and now...well, not even that much)

And then....soap opera drama....a major car crash.  Callie almost died.  Some cliffhanger moments.  Baby almost died.  More cliffhanger moments. 

And then....all was well....they were on the mend, they were planning a wedding.  A wedding that fell apart.  Callie's mom is a diehard catholic.  Wouldn't touch the baby.  Finally admitted she couldn't even stay for the wedding.  And then....the minister who was slated to marry them (and there were many who would not) was in a car crash and couldn't perform the ceremony. 

“Forget this nonsense,” Callie said, “It’s all just a sham anyway.”....and called off the wedding.  It was Dr. Bailey...surly, sarcastic chief resident who delivered the following poignant speech to a teary eyed Callie who was moping on the couch….kleenex in hand. 

I just love this speech.....

"Okay, first of all, you do not need the law, or a priest, or your mother to make your wedding real. And the church can be anywhere you want it to be: in a field, on a fountain, right here in this room, anywhere. Because where do you think God is? C'mon now! He's in you, he's in me, he's right here between us.

Wow...profound....he's in you.  He's in me.  He's right here between us.  That omnipresent thing. Or as David coined it in in the Psalms, where I can go from your presence? Wherever I go, behold thou art there!!!

Now your church hasn't caught up to God yet. Your mother, she hasn't caught up to God yet. And, by the way, she may not ever catch up, but it's okay. It's okay.

It seems that many, many Christians who profess to know him have not caught up to God yet. 

If you are willing to stand up in front of your friends and family and God and commit yourself to another human being, to give of yourself in that kind of partnership, for better or worse, in sickness and health — honey, that is a marriage, that is real, and that's all that matters.

Which is a great explanation for the reason gays want to marry in the first place…for the same reasons heterosexuals want to marry.  Unfortunately, that doesn’t always turn out as planned. Bailey, who is newly divorced continues…  

Besides, girl, I got legally married to a man in a church. Look how good that turned out." others have pointed out....

Heterosexuals have been doing a fine job of ruining the 'institution' of marriage for decades.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Freedom From the Fear of Death….

Cruising here and there….this Mother’s Day….virtually speaking that is.  In “real time” I haven’t left the house all weekend…’cept a quick trip to McD’s this morning with Keith. My kids came to me for Mother’s Day lunch…bearing Chinese food from Wing Wah.  It was nice having them all under my roof….sitting at my table…just like old times.  Just like the meals of yesteryear….

With one notable exception, though.  NOBODY WAS FIGHTING.  The older they get, the more they seem to like each other. 

So today when I was surfing, I came upon a sermon about Good Friday (Yes, I know that was for Easter...which…yes, I know was a couple of weeks ago…but it’s that day late/dollar short thing again) The following snippet of a painting was used for an illustration in the sermon.  It obviously depicts the hand of Christ after the crucifixion.  The discoloration is what captured my attention.

Hans Holbein the Younger, The Body of the Dead Christ in the Tomb, 1521-1522, oil on limewood. Kunstmuseum, Basel

I’ve seen many depictions of Jesus after the crucifixion.  His hands always have rather neat, sanitary looking wounds….like something that might have been caused by a ten penny nail or a big tack…and they are usually lily white. Yet, it was something more akin to a railroad tie that crushed his hands. There would have been bruising before death. There would have been discoloration after death. The picture is mesmerizing. 

Below is a small thumbnail of the whole painting.  Landscape view.  Like peering into a coffin.  Like looking at a corpse.  Because Jesus was a corpse.  Dead as the proverbial doornail.  This picture…for me anyway…drives that point home. 


This picture haunted the famous Russian author Fyodor Dostoyevsky after he saw it in a museum.  He put his thoughts about it in the mouth of one of the characters in his novel “The Idiot”.

“A man could even lose his faith from that painting.”


When you look at the corpse of this tortured man, a particular and curious question arises: if all his disciples, his chief future apostles, if the women who followed him and stood by the cross, if all those who believed in him and worshipped him had seen a corpse like that…how could they believe, looking at such a corpse, that this sufferer would resurrect?

But that is exactly the point. They didn’t think he would resurrect. He was dead.  He was a corpse.  We’ve all peered into a coffin and looked a corpse in the face wondering where they were.  IF they were.  As in…is there life after death or is this all there is?  Even the most devout Christians wonder sometimes. That was part of the reason Jesus came and lived….and died as one of us. As the Son of Man.  He showed us that death is not the end.  Hebrews 2

14Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might destroy him who holds the power of death—that is, the devil— 15and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death. 16For surely it is not angels he helps, but Abraham’s descendants. 17For this reason he had to be made like his brothers in every way, in order that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God.

Death where is your victory?  Where is your sting?

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Christians gone stark, raving mad…

I came upon a story earlier today…on several blogs…outraged at Stephen Bishop, a pastor in Russiaville, Indiana.  Apparently at last week’s children’s sermon, he decided to use some dramatic methods to spark the evangelistic zeal of the church’s youth. 
Quoting the pastor on FB ( private and unavailable, but there are some screen shots HERE and HERE and HERE)
“Well, yesterday's sermon was a big hit! We had a mass execution of feeder fish that I pulled out of a fish tank and then threw all over the floor. The kids were in shock and then started to pic[sic] them up and put them back into the fish tank. Obviously, most of them died in the effort...the point however was made that they cared more about .15 cent feeder fish then[sic] they do about their friends dying w/o Christ.”
free vector clipart gold-fish

He defended his methods…and the non-worth of the fish…and gave a lot of lip service to justify his methods.  He also claimed that the elders of the church approved the demonstration.  There is a big, long list of comments (mostly negative) and the original post…about this pastor’s actions on reddit. 
Google it if you want to read more.  Just another example of Christians gone mad in their methods to win the world to Christ.  Geeez.  I’m sure Jesus is so proud…..

Monday, May 2, 2011

Coming out of a gay agenda fixation….

And so....the fear of a homosexual agenda....which was based, at best, on ignorance and hearsay and, at worst, downright deceit and bigotry, delegates gays to a nameless, faceless "them." As in "them vs us." It is oh so easy to demonize nameless, faceless people. They go from strangers to enemies in no time flat.

In this post, I'm going to write about two guys who, at one time, saw gays as nameless faceless thems....enemies. But their perspectives changed when circumstances forced them to take a closer look and they actually saw in, really saw them....for exactly what they are. People just like them. People just like you. People just like all of our eclectic splendor. Not carbon copies. Not exactly the same....with diversity and variation and eccentricities to rejoice in and celebrate.

The first guy was on a mission to protect heterosexual marriage. His name was Louis J. Marinelli, a conservative-Republican. The guy behind the 2010 Summer for Marriage Tour that took place in July and August 2010....sponsored by the National Organization for Marriage. In March of 2010, he hooked up with Brian Brown, director of the National Organization for Marriage about sponsoring and participating in a series of traditional marriage rallies here and there across the country. It was at one of these very rallies, in Atlanta, that the counter protestors...the folks he had "made a profession out of opposing" "became real people" almost instantly. He said

For the first time I had empathy for them and remember asking myself what I was doing. didn't stop him. He toned it down a bit....made his campaign a bit fairer and more balanced although he admits he used strong and unnecessary rhetoric. Especially the You Tube videos he produced.

And then:

One article I wrote, towards the end of October, 2010 caught the attention of a blogger by the name of RJ, who writes on the blog AmIWorking. He responded to my article about the homosexual agenda with an article addressed personally to me regarding marriage equality. In short, his article had the miraculous effect of instantly putting things into perspective for me.

At that point, between what I had witnessed on the marriage tour and RJ’s post about marriage equality, I really came to understand that gays and lesbians were just real people who wanted to live real lives and be treated equally as opposed to, for example, wanting to destroy American culture. No, they didn’t want to destroy American culture, they wanted to openly particulate in it. I was well on my way to becoming a supporter of civil marriage equality. You can read my statement retracting the statements I made about gays and lesbians here.

I read about him in an article entitled I Now Support Full Marriage Equality"

And te other guy....a former Presbyterian minister....who preached against homosexuality from the pulpit. His turning point....points....getting to know "particular people"

In the article  I preached against homosexuality, but I was wrong Murray Richmond talks about what changed his views

1. An online (platonic) friendship with a gay Christian man who had struggled with his sexuality for a long time...until he finally accepted it and himself.

2. One of his gay parishioners who had tried for years to rid himself of an attraction for men....using alcohol, therapy, marriage, support groups etc. wanted to exorcism.

3. A woman, former wife of a minister who left her for another man. She refused to dis him, saying instead that he was the best pastor she had ever known but he came to the point he could no longer live with the lie.

Richmond questions why homosexuality has been singled out as a litmus test for True Christianity in the first place, a lightning rod for self-righteousness? (A good question to ponder)

His conclusion?'s easy to condemn homosexuality if you are not gay. It is much harder

than condemning pride, or lust or greed, things that most practicing Christians have struggled with. It is all too easy to make homosexuality about "those people," and not me.

Ah-ha... back to the us vs them theme

We all have our "thems." We all have our "those people." Folks we see as so different from us, there is little hope of embracing their differences. For me, it is far right wing, totally conservative folks...who are, in my view, bigoted and hypocritical, who live by the letter of the law and not by the spirit of the law.

Modern day Pharisees.

Okay....let's try to wrap up this rambling post.

A belief in a covert homosexual agenda turns individuals into clumps of nameless, faceless, dehumanized "thems" who are easy to fear/hate/mistrust.

I'm going to close with a comment from a post on a blog called "The Faulking Truth" Very interesting play on words going on there in that title. His opinion concerning a homosexual agenda. Is there one?

In reality, the gay agenda is not unlike the agendas of the civil rights or womens suffrage movements before it. It is an agenda based on acceptance and equal rights under the law and in the eyes of the general public. And unlike the extremist Christian agenda, it doesnt seek to overthrow governments or indoctrinate everyone to a homosexual or lesbian way of life.

Can fundamentalist, evangelical Christians say the same?