Gulnare Free Will Baptist: Why Christianity Is Losing Talented Young People (UPDATE: No Ban)

UPDATE: The church voted to overturn the ban; actually they were reminded by the national association that their resolution was invalid as it violated state and federal laws. Interestingly, at least 30-40 people voted unanimously to overturn, either emboldened or cowed by the news that it was illegal. No breakdown as to whether the abstainers all voted and the ones who voted to ban stayed home.

You’ve heard about this. After a talented young interracial couple performed a gospel song at a small Kentucky church they had been attending, the former pastor told the girl’s father the couple was no longer welcome at her childhood church, and then several months later the pastor brought up a resolution banning all interracial couples from membership, or even participating in worship services as musicians.

The young couple, Stella Harville and Ticha Chikuni, are now engaged, and have a bright future. Their former church is now embroiled in scandal, brought on by the actions of just 9 people who voted for the “not-racist” resolution, and also by the INaction of about 25 people, who either abstained or left before the ballot. The church’s future is less bright.

This is NOT how we’re supposed to “do church.” It’s sure not how it’s done at Holy Moly.

There were only about 40 people in church that day. As a member of a small church myself, I know how hard it is to attract young, dynamic people. You can’t do the work Jesus calls His followers to do (feeding the hungry, welcoming the stranger, offering support to the afflicted) unless you have a really committed, loving core. Jesus may have started with a few fishers of men (we had the St Andrew reading last week) but He had a compelling message that still moves people to accomplish much with little.

25 abstentions? No wonder young people have such a poor opinion of Christianity. Who else would be rejected by action or inaction?

The national body of Free Will Baptists had no policy on interracial dating or marriage, because they rightly saw it as a non-issue. Unlike most Calvinist Baptists, they don’t believe in pre-destination. That is, they don’t believe that a select few are potentially headed to Heaven, but that all humanity has free will and can choose whether to accept Jesus, etc. etc.

Sadly, Stella and Ticha probably won’t be going back, and neither will the rest of her family, and everybody else will vote with their feet.

Meanwhile, the now-former pastor who started it all insists he’s not racist or prejudiced. Maybe he just really, really didn’t like the song the couple performed.

I hope they put it up on YouTube, and I hope they end up somewhere that values their talents and commitment to each other.

The resolution approved by the Gulnare church says it does not condone interracial marriage and “parties of such marriages will not be received as members, nor will they be used in worship services and other church functions, with the exception being funerals.”

Ballots were cast after the service, attended by about 35 to 40 people, but it wasnt clear why so few people voted.The church member and former pastor who pushed for the vote, Melvin Thompson, wouldnt tell The Associated Press why he did it.

“I am not racist. I will tell you that. I am not prejudiced against any race of people, have never in my lifetime spoke evil” about a race, Thompson said earlier this week in a brief interview. “Thats what this is being portrayed as, but it is not.”

via Gulnare Free Will Baptist Church In Kentucky Revisits Interracial Couple Ban After Uproar

Fannie May Fundraiser: Chocolate Pix

We’re doing a Fannie May Chocolates fundraiser at St Nick’s and a friend who lives pretty far from me wants to get something. Unfortunately, we can’t do it by credit card (unless I maybe have her pay my PayPal account – IDEA!) or she mails me a check. At least getting the chocolates to her is a snap: I can put her mailing address on the order form and they’ll go direct to her.

She wants Mint Meltaways and an assortment, but I need to know which size box, and which assortment. Also, there’s sugar free Mint Meltaways now. Rather than put prices here, I’ll email them to her, as I don’t really want to take the time to set up a frickin’ shopping cart on Paypal that pays the church direct right now as I’d need to set it up with the Wardens’ approval and the tax ID and bank info (and I’d need to verify if Fannie May would have a problem with selling online, since they don’t do the fundraisers that way). I don’t mind absorbing the small service charge if my friend tries the Paypal route.

Here’s the goodies that I think she wants – sorry I didn’t have time to hunt down links, as Fannie May doesn’t have their holiday collection online yet.

There’s plain Mint Meltaways (8 oz. and 1 lb. boxes) and “holiday” Mint Meltaways (1 lb box). There are “no sugar” varieties available. Same with the Pixies (aka Turtles).

The assortment she wants is probably the Colonial Assortment (1 lb. or 2 lb. boxes)

There’s also pre-wrapped Gift Towers – the big one is 2 lbs. 8 oz. and the smaller one is “just” 2 lb. They’re handy as hostess gifts.

Scholar in Residence at Kol Hadash Humanistic Congregation

This looks really interesting – you’d be surprised how many members of my immediate family are either going, maybe thinking about going, or at least intrigued by the concept.

Blogging this to be sure that they see the listing, in case they weren’t already planning on going.

Aside from the interesting concept of a humanistic religious community, I’m currently involved in an outreach project for Holy Moly, and one of the goals is getting exactly this kind of press release published. How’s it done? Who’s the contact? I’ve already gotten signed up to do something like this at the Chicago Trib’s “Local Community News” site and I need to make sure we’ve got a login for the Daily Herald. It’s hard to break through the wall and get the right contact there.

Rabbi Binyamin Biber, rabbi of Machar, the Washington, D.C. congregation for Secular Humanistic Judaism, will be “Scholar in Residence” Thursday through Nov. 6 at Kol Hadash Humanistic Congregation.

In addition to his pulpit with Machar, Rabbi Biber operates the Humanist Chaplaincy Services of Metropolitan Washington, D.C., conducting public advocacy and education, social-change organizing, counseling, and Humanistic life-cycle ceremonies, including weddings for intercultural and same-sex couples. As a social worker and teacher experienced in working with all age groups, he serves as a veteran community organizer and educator on peace and justice issues, particularly focusing on the Middle East, on sexual minority equality and AIDS prevention, as well as on low-income housing and community economic development.

Biber is also president of the Association of Humanistic Rabbis and serves on the rabbinic cabinet of J Street, the largest U.S. Jewish group working for a two-state solution for Israeli-Palestinian peace and self-determination.

Rabbi Biber will speak on “Naturalistic Spirituality” at 8 p.m. Friday at the Heller Nature Center in Highland Park.

via Scholar in residence welcomed – Buffalo Grove Countryside

Chick-fil-A DO NOT WANT But They’re Coming Anyway

This is not all that good and joyful: anti-gay corporate poultry product shills Chick-fil-A are building a restaurant near me, I’ll pass it every day. Ugh.

Bet Chick-fil-A wishes this month would end. Over the past few weeks, the restaurant chain’s deep ties to the anti-gay movement have been exposed and uncovered by a number of activists, most notably Jeremy Hooper at Good As You. Whether it’s Focus on the Family, the National Organization for Marriage, the Pennsylvania Family Institute, or Exodus International, Chick-fil-A ties run deep.

Of course, the President of Chick-fil-A wants gay people to share no hard feelings. The restaurant will gladly feed homosexuals gobs of chicken sandwiches, after all. But when it comes to marriage, Chick-fil-A believes strongly that same-sex couples just don’t deserve equal rights.

via Yes, Chick-fil-A Says, We Explicitly Do Not Like Same-Sex Couples | Change.org News.

Notoriously Ignored Blog Pfalz Prophets Goes After Bigot Maggie Gallagher

My friend Pfalz Prophets has been blogging a bit lately on human rights issues for GLTB persons, and this post does not deserve to be notoriously ignored.

Disclaimer: I have sung in church with PP, and attest to his musicianship and scholarly chops.

I discovered a new hate group the other day, the National Organization for Marriage, thanks to my signing up with the Southern Poverty Law Center. Maggie Gallagher, the chairman of the group, issued a standard press release, to which I responded with this e-mail:”It has come to my attention that you are conducting a nationwide campaign opposing laws that grant same-gender couples the rights traditionally given only to hetero couples. Your most recent statements charge that those of us who support such laws are actually engaged in a campaign of hatred, attempting to silence your supporters by labeling them as bigots.”I have quite a great deal to say on this matter, because there are several issues here that need to be disentangled in order to be addressed:

via Beware of Pfalz Prophets: A National Organization for Marriage?.

Good Friday At Home

I was at home Friday, having planned ahead for once and asked for the day off for what is typically an extremely slow day.

I sang at the Maundy Thursday service, all went very well and it was very moving. I was disappointed that I blew the attack on the first “big” piece that we’ve been working on for months; when it came down to it, I pretty much funked the pitch for some reason, even though I’ve had no problems with it up to now.

We’ve got a good choir, and a good choir mistress, although she gets a bit shouty when I run late. There was a good laugh last night when she announced to the choir, “well since Ginny’s not here we can’t run the Exsultet (I share part of it with her, Douglas, and Father Manny, sung solo a cappella and together).”

I was all robed and sitting with my music in hand as soon as she said “the Exsultet,” and the others looked baffled and wondered why we couldn’t do it. “Ginny’s not here,” choir mistress Mary repeated, and I piped up and said “I’m here, I’m here!”

That was funny, at least, although later on it was not so funny as someone else was struggling with the heavy schedule demands of being in a choir during Holy Week. Enough said about that.

Other than my entry and non-absent absence it was a very moving service. We sang:
God So Loved The World

A bit more quickly than this, but it was just about as ravishing in the harmonies. We also did Pangue Lingua Gloriosi (Sing My Tongue The Savior’s Glory) and took turns singing verses solo and unaccompanied. I had the third verse, which in Latin was pretty opaque, but in English was “On the night of that Last Supper, seated (or reclining) with his chosen band, he the Paschal victim eating, first fulfills the Law’s command, then as food to His Apostles gives Himself with His own hand.”

Fairly dramatic, yes, but the original Latin is pretty convoluted to sing and I was glad to get through it with some sense of the words coloring the line. I was happy for Jess as this was her first year singing alone and unaccompanied; she took her line very well.

It was a quiet day yesterday, but then about half an hour before leaving there was a tremendous crash of lightning, and then it began to hail. David was dismayed because his car happened to be parked on the street in anticipation of the roofers’ arrival today, as they parked their dump truck/motorized skip in the driveway along with a stack of shingles. I managed to ease my car out of the garage and get going, and white-knuckled it a bit as I drove through torrential rain in a hard-pewter world. It was hard to see as sheets of rain were almost overwhelming my wipers, but I did make it in plenty of time.

Last night’s Good Friday wasn’t one we in the choir were “working,” it was designed by the Liturgy Committee (disclosure: I’m on it but more in an advisory mode) to be quieter and less “choral showcase-y.” It was REALLY well attended, in spite of the weather, I was really pleased! It’s always a sombre thing – I wore black and got choir mistress Mary’s approval, at least. We all sat wherever we wanted and weren’t sequestered in “choir jail,” so I sat with Katy. I miss sitting next to her (we’re separated now, we used to sit together when we were at Holy Innocents) and so it was very nice.

There were several people there last night that are relatively new – at least 5 people chose to come out on a blustratious night who have only attended a couple of normal Sunday services, very brave of them! I will say that transitional vicar Manny, who I hope will be tapped as “permanent vicar” as we go through the discernment, has been an outstanding leader and preacher during this time since Father Steve’s departure (it’s been a happy-sad transition, with minimal trauma and no broken relationships, thanks be to God). I will say that Manny’s preaching style is very engaging, very moving, very personal, and yet he doesn’t skimp on the scholarly unpacking of the text. He’s also the kind of leader who is great at getting people engaged, AND HE DELEGATES.

He’s also a fine liturgist, and I’m looking forward to tonight’s Great Vigil of Easter even though it’s going to be a long, emotionally taxing service fraught with opportunities to mess up musically. We always do a good job with “big” services, but this time around, the amount of advance planning (and advance tapping of acolytes, readers, and so on) has taken a lot of the last-minute guesswork out of the mix.

One really nice thing is that the two young people who acted as acolytes during all these services of the Triduum, carrying candles and such, were on the Liturgy Comittee and had a say in how we’ve done things, routes taken processing and recessing, and all that. I think it’s been a great experience for them – brother and sister who are pretty engaged generally, but really plugged in and getting a look at what takes place behind the scenes so that we can all “do church.”

There’s still the impromptu “past, would you like to be a chalicer” (offer the wine at Communion) during the service but we are a lot more organized and intentional about how things are going to go. And this is a really good thing.

Tonight’s service at St Nicholas Episcopal starts at 8pm and will be about 2 hours, and I’ll be pretty ticketed, but happy, when I get home.

Chicago Episcopalians pray for peace in Sudan – Chicago Tribune

Unfortunately, we didn’t do anything at St Nicks to mark this, as the energy at the time the Renk partnerships were starting was around keeping our own programs (and doors) open. This was all pre-merger with Holy Innocents and we all had other things on our minds.

Note at the bottom, Manya Breachear never fails to mention Teh Gay Bishop controversy. When Bishop Katharine visited St Nick’s in 2007, she was asked ONE question about gay clergy, and it was picked up by the Trib and the other papers and made headlines all over.

For nine years, Episcopalians in Chicago have shared a rare relationship with fellow parishioners in Renk, visiting the region regularly; helping build schools, homes and churches; and lobbying officials to pay more attention to troubles in the African nation. Renk Episcopal Bishop Joseph Garang graduated with a master’s degree from Seabury-Western Theological Seminary in 2000.

Jackie Kraus, a parishioner at St. Michael Episcopal Church in Barrington, initiated the relationship after her first trip in 1998 when she discovered no roads led to Renk from the capital of Khartoum, forsaking the border town of resources.

“We here have resources that others in other parts of the world do not have,” Kraus said. “The relationship enables them to receive our resources and prayers.”

Bemoaning how the conflict in Sudan often is portrayed between the predominantly Christian and animist south and mostly Muslim north, Chicago Episcopal Bishop Jeffrey Lee said that animosity doesn’t exist in Renk.

“In Renk and elsewhere, people of differing faiths coexist in relative harmony when left to their own devices,” Lee said.

The relationship between American and some African churches in the Anglican Communion have been strained since the 2003 consecration of New Hampshire’s V. Gene Robinson, the church’s first openly gay bishop. But Kraus said those tensions have not been a distraction.

“God transcends all of that,” she said.

via Chicago Episcopalians pray for peace in Sudan – Chicago Tribune.

In which I run off at the mouth ranting, then has a Pifanee!

Wow, I actually got a comment that isn’t spam, a request for a washing machine part, or looking for Fry Sauce. It’s from a recent post called “My God is the God of the Poor,” which was just a link to a awesome recent post by Pastor Dan that ***Dave passed along.

In it, I said as I quoted pastordan

Something else I believe as a liberal Episcopalian, put a little more aggressively:

My God is the God of the poor. You can be for the poor or you can go to hell.

A month later, I get this rather condescending comment from someone named Dan Kegley, and since this is my blog, I get to be not only condescending right back, but also slightly snotty and obnoxious. But hey, it’s my blog. I suddenly got inspired to respond with important, well-thought out arguments, but those darn LOLcats got in my Bible and messed with my sin tax again.

I has a pifaneee!!1!

How sad that one would relate a man’s wealth, or lack thereof, with how God, in His wisdom, will judge us all at His time and place. How can you speak of liberalism, with its oddities and corruption of heart, being obviously at war with morality and values of any kind, as having a “leg up”, so to speak, in God’s eye? I have never heard that God wishes for us to take from producers and give to the lazy or unproductive. I am not referring to those on hard times, or those whose hardships have them in a bad place currently. Liberals, though, actually see a calling to punish hard working men and women, as if that elevates those who do nothing to help themselves. The Lord Himself, on many occasions, spoke of the need for man to strive and produce for his own family, as no one other than the head of the family can lay claim to the prosperity or destitution by which the family comes. I believe your words will never be taken seriously by progressives who cannot understand the good hearts of men, and who by their political nature want for destruction and chaos to reign, as in this they prosper in wealth, control over men, and unquestioned power. How sad.

— commenter Dan Kegley, who has a sad

How sad indeed that you seem to inhabit a completely different version of reality, because it will be very difficult for us to communicate across the divide. Since I know what state you probably hail from, I’d love to introduce you to some lovely liberal Christians there who might give you a whole new perspective on Jesus and His mission to the poor (and also the proper raising of cows, chickens, and dogs).  I’m a pretty rotten liberal Christian by comparison to them, but I mean well, give as much as I can, and hope to do better.

What are liberalism’s “oddities?” What “corruption of heart?” Are we talking religion or politics? If religion, best not raise the spectre of corruption lest we have to go into the many and varied kinds of priest/clergy sex scandals plaguing the conservative churches, not to mention embezzlement or financial fraud cases by either clergy or lay leaders (all too common in Utah, for example, as the sheep are very easily clipped there).

I’m not at war with morality, and I have values. This doesn’t give me a “leg up.” This puts me on a path that may be different from yours that is no better, and no worse. I think war is immoral, I think capital punishment is immoral. I also think Han shot first, which is both a moral position and a value judgement.

Let’s talk about taking from the producers and giving to the unproductive next. You really need to stop reading Ayn Rand, and start reading your Bible – it seems that at least one reading in church each week mentions the poor in some context (I go to church every week, unlike many Americans who claim church attendance but don’t actually go). Strangely, I do not think Ayn Rand thought much of this Bible thing. She seems very selfish and unpleasant and her characters are cardboard cutouts. Seriously, producers? Do you grow your own wheat? Weave your own linen, unmixed with wool? Live in a gulch? Of course not.

Here are a few mentions of the word “poor” in the Bible. Several of them are very familiar even to non-religious Americans – the ones that keep buying the Bible, but not reading it, apparently.  As it happens, the ones in the beginning are what Jesus said about the poor.

Multi-Version Concordance

Poor (276 Occurrences)

Matthew 5:3 “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven. (WEB KJV WEY ASV BBE DBY WBS YLT NAS RSV NIV)

Matthew 6:2 When then you give money to the poor, do not make a noise about it, as the false-hearted men do in the Synagogues and in the streets, so that they may have glory from men. Truly, I say to you, They have their reward. (BBE NAS)

Matthew 6:3 But when you do merciful deeds, don’t let your left hand know what your right hand does, (See NAS)

Matthew 11:5 the blind receive their sight, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, and the poor have good news preached to them. (WEB KJV WEY ASV BBE DBY WBS YLT NAS RSV NIV)

Matthew 19:21 Jesus said to him, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell what you have, and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” (WEB KJV WEY ASV BBE DBY WBS YLT NAS RSV NIV)

Matthew 26:9 For this ointment might have been sold for much, and given to the poor.” (WEB KJV WEY ASV BBE DBY WBS YLT NAS RSV NIV)

Matthew 26:11 For you always have the poor with you; but you don’t always have me. (WEB KJV WEY ASV BBE DBY WBS YLT NAS RSV NIV)

Mark 10:21 Jesus looking at him loved him, and said to him, “One thing you lack. Go, sell whatever you have, and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me, taking up the cross.” (WEB KJV WEY ASV BBE DBY WBS YLT NAS RSV NIV)

Mark 12:42 A poor widow came, and she cast in two small brass coins, which equal a quadrans coin. (WEB KJV WEY ASV BBE DBY WBS YLT NAS RSV NIV)

Mark 12:43 He called his disciples to himself, and said to them, “Most certainly I tell you, this poor widow gave more than all those who are giving into the treasury, (WEB KJV WEY ASV BBE DBY WBS YLT NAS RSV NIV)

Mark 14:5 For this might have been sold for more than three hundred denarii, and given to the poor.” They grumbled against her. (WEB KJV WEY ASV BBE DBY WBS YLT NAS RSV NIV)

Mark 14:7 For you always have the poor with you, and whenever you want to, you can do them good; but you will not always have me. (WEB KJV WEY ASV BBE DBY WBS YLT NAS RSV NIV)

Luke 1:48 For he has had pity on his servant, though she is poor and lowly placed: and from this hour will all generations give witness to the blessing which has come to me. (BBE)

Luke 4:18 “The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim release to the captives, recovering of sight to the blind, to deliver those who are crushed, (WEB KJV WEY ASV BBE DBY WBS YLT NAS RSV NIV)

Luke 6:20 He lifted up his eyes to his disciples, and said, “Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the Kingdom of God. (WEB KJV WEY ASV BBE DBY WBS YLT NAS RSV NIV)

Luke 7:22 Jesus answered them, “Go and tell John the things which you have seen and heard: that the blind receive their sight, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, and the poor have good news preached to them. (WEB KJV WEY ASV BBE DBY WBS YLT NAS RSV NIV)

Luke 11:41 But if you give to the poor such things as you are able, then all things are clean to you. (BBE NIV)

Luke 12:33 Give what property you have in exchange for money, and give the money to the poor; make for yourselves money-bags which will not get old, wealth stored up in heaven which will be yours for ever, where thieves will not come nor worms put it to destruction. (BBE NIV)

Luke 14:13 But when you make a feast, ask the poor, the maimed, the lame, or the blind; (WEB KJV WEY ASV BBE DBY WBS YLT NAS RSV NIV)

Luke 14:21 “That servant came, and told his lord these things. Then the master of the house, being angry, said to his servant,’Go out quickly into the streets and lanes of the city, and bring in the poor, maimed, blind, and lame.’ (WEB KJV WEY ASV BBE DBY WBS YLT NAS RSV NIV)

Luke 16:20 And a certain poor man, named Lazarus, was stretched out at his door, full of wounds, (BBE DBY YLT NAS RSV)

Luke 16:22 And in time the poor man came to his end, and angels took him to Abraham’s breast. And the man of wealth came to his end, and was put in the earth. (BBE DBY YLT NAS RSV)

Luke 18:22 When Jesus heard these things, he said to him, “You still lack one thing. Sell all that you have, and distribute it to the poor. You will have treasure in heaven. Come, follow me.” (WEB KJV WEY ASV BBE DBY WBS YLT NAS RSV NIV)

Luke 19:8 Zacchaeus stood and said to the Lord, “Behold, Lord, half of my goods I give to the poor. If I have wrongfully exacted anything of anyone, I restore four times as much.” (WEB KJV WEY ASV BBE DBY WBS YLT NAS RSV NIV)

What Jesus said, world without end, amen.  Pray silence for reflection…

Okay, pause over. And as it happens, it turns out Jesus’ Mom the God-Bearer was poor!  No wonder he’s always harping about them…

That’s only about a third of the quotes – some of them are repetitive because of the multiple versions of the Gospel. But Luke is my favorite of the Evangelists, because his language is poetic and full of interesting detail. There are a bunch more quotes on that web page of course, these are just the Gospel ones to illustrate what has become an increasingly tiresome and over-argued point.  Jesus loved him some poors.

So how is it that the unproductive are different from those fallen on hard times? Poverty is poverty. Or are you quietly saying “the undeserving poor?” Kind of like the sort of people who show up on Hoarders screaming and yelling and arguing over piles of garbage and dead animals? The “those people” that live in urban blight and rural squalor, far from where sight of their hovels would disturb us?

Hard times is hard times. Sometimes poverty is a multi-generational weight crushing people down so far that they don’t know that there’s an up. Sometimes we’re only 4 or 5 decisions from shitting in a bucket.

Can you possibly see that liberals fight to support working class people? Fight for clean air and water and food? Fight for family leave legislation, fight for a fair wage? fight for worker’s compensation laws? Fight for universal, affordable health care (and don’t succeed because of conservative obstructionism)?
These are all things political and religious conservatives were AGAINST. Conservatives are AGAINST health care coverage for children, and against adult children who don’t yet have insurance staying on their parents’ plan for a few extra years.

Conservatives were AGAINST civil rights. They were AGAINST abolition of slavery. They were AGAINST the minimum wage, and AGAINST any increase in the minimum wage. They were AGAINST the 40-hour work week. They were AGAINST health and safety laws in the workplace. AGAINST. AGAINST. AGAINST.

Conservative means STOP. Progressive means GO. Liberal means GO FAST. Oh, and independent might therefore mean “Could go either way, stuck in neutral, may need a new clutch.”

Conservatives were FOR tax cuts for the wealthiest 2 percent in this country, whose deep pockets paid for their political campaigns and for their huge megachurches, and also paid FOR whisper campaigns and “funny business electioneering” to disenfranchise the poor and the brown. Wealthy Christian Reconstructionists like the Mellons and Howard Ahmanson Jr bankrolled “dissenters” and “orthodox believers” within mainline churches bent on splitting them apart from within. They did this because they claimed to be “for life, Jesus and morality,” but really they were in favor of regaining all the power, property, and prestige that they had lost as the mainline churches liberalized through the 60’s and 70’s. As the older churches lost membership – a lot of people stopped believing, stopped caring about religion – the newer churches that survived gained converts who were hardliners fleeing from the Lutherans or the Presbyterians or the Episcopalians, who weren’t real Christians in their eyes any more. I can’t tell you how irritating it is to be told by a fellow Christian that I am not Christiany enough, because I don’t make the Christianist cut by being more Christianish than thou.

People are supposed to be different. Conformity is boring to the Creator – we were created to be a beguiling and delightful array of allsorts. Anyway…

The moderate and liberal Christians stayed put, wondered where everyone else was, and got on with the work of the Church: serving the poor, and praising God in prayer and song. The conservative Christians preached the Prosperity Gospel and solicited donations from… yes, the poor, promising them riches on Earth as it would be in Heaven. And they had really, really crappy music (sorry, I’m a church music snob, I’m sure God is happy with whatever joyus ruckus His children make on any given Sunday).

What would Jesus think of that Prosperity Gospel, I wonder? I wonder.

The 80’s marked the time of the Republican Right’s resurgence – and also a time when the Reagan “Teflon Presidency” produced a remarkable amount of administration officials being convicted for corruption, which never touched Saint Ronnie himself. Strangely enough, Reagan was for emigration amnesty or reform, and raised taxes, and the Jim Brady law must have been galling to the NRA crowd. Reagan must have been a closet liberal, but then you can’t trust these faux-Republican Hollywood actors, can you?

There was more political corruption through the 90’s, mostly from the Right side of the aisle (yes, Clinton was a bad husband, but also a good statesman, and the country prospered). Meanwhile, Newt Gingrich went through a few wives, usually when they were seriously ill. Who’s the moral man? The man who asked his wife for forgiveness, or the man who did the unforgiveable?

And then there was Bush, and then…  and we all grieved together, and then our grief was cynically used against us to frighten us into acquiescing when they curtailed our civil rights, because TERRA!  A noun, a verb, and 9-1-1! And then Madrid and London, terra terra terra WAR WAR WAR.

Of course, the conservatives, who are always FOR the military-industrial complex were FOR WAR WITH afghanistan IRAQ (but whispered that IRAN was next and the fringe hoped that Armageddon was nigh).

And they were all FOR Halliburton getting the bidless contracts for services to the military, because duh, they were FOR OIL too.

And they were FOR the Supreme Court being just as hard-right conservative as possible, which came in deucedly handy when the Florida election almost got won by that creepy Al Gore guy.

It wasn’t just the hanging chads, it was the shortage of voting machines in urban precincts in both Florida and Ohio – but the Supes stopped the recount and there we were, stuck with that idiot pretzel-gobbling Bush guy again and his evil puppet master, Darth Cheney. Talk about your high crimes and misdemeanors, you had ’em all along with that pack of robber barons in office.

The Republicans are FOR the right people having the right to vote and AGAINST the wrong people having the right to vote. And of course they are AGAINST any group that works to enfranchise the urban and suburban poor, who the Republicans don’t wish to represent anyway, because they are unproductive parasites who can’t give them more than a few dollars.

Liberal politicians and religious leaders have always fought FOR hard-working people, but the message isn’t getting out to the people who need to hear it. It’s been co-opted and turned around 180 degrees, so that the oppressors and the corporate plutocrats cry foul, play the victim and claim all the financial benefits for themselves and their cronies. How do they do it? They own the loudest, gaudiest, blaringest propaganda machine since 1940s Argentina: FOXNews. All lies, all the time. Unfair, and unbalanced. All the news we think you need to know. Meanwhile, a good bill or a great innovation for local communities goes unreported, because politics is boring unless somebody is getting beat up by the Republicans on their pet “news” channel. And local or national religious leaders can’t get any press UNLESS TEH GAY.

How can you possibly say that conservatives have ANYONE’s interests at heart unless it’s the corporations and lobbyists who take them to the Caribbean and Scotland, and the shadowy people in the background buying the media and Congress? Whether we’re talking religion or politics, no progress has ever come from going backwards.

The Lord himself, on many occasions and not just the ones quoted above, urged his followers to sell everything, give the money to the poor, and follow Him. He urged disciples to leave family behind, if necessary. Now, that sounds pretty radical and extreme to me, and I doubt many people would take Him up on it; but that’s what’s on the table. Not “get your hands off my stack, Jack” or “I’ve got mine.”

No, it’s “Possessions and wealth will not get you into heaven. It’s what you do here that counts. Put on your sandals, pull up yo’ pants, and go tell it on the mountain.”

Now you go on to this: “no one other than the head of the family can lay claim to the prosperity or destitution by which the family comes.”

What does that even MEAN? OH, right, it’s part of the doctrine of submission and the headship of the man in the family over the woman and children, his chattel. This is a disgusting tribal artifact inflicted on Western civilization by cranky old zealots with an axe to grind, who wanted to keep the uppity wimmenfolk (especially the purty-mouthed fertile ones) under their control. It’s one of the reasons I absolutely cannot stand much of what St Paul wrote regarding the role of women in the church. We’re not going to see eye to eye on this one, Daniel, because I am a very uppity woman indeed. The man as “head of the family” is an insulting, offensive concept to me personally.

I reject your reality and substitute my own.

By the way, that whole SUBMIT thing is sekrit fundamentalist code for “you must have sex with me every time I want it, whether you want to or not! And wash my smelly socks! And you will like it! And now I will read aloud from the Bible, and after that we can pretend I am a slavemaster of Gor and you are my latest acquisition. Send the children and goats out into the fields, and assume the position.”

See? Disgusting tribal artifact.

Strange that Jesus spoke to unmarried and widowed women who were not his blood relatives, whose place in His society was so precarious. This was unheard of at the time, and it’s still unheard of in ultra-orthodox Jewish communities in Israel and the US. Imagine how RADICAL, then, this was 2 millennia ago. His actions and statements were not just radical, they were dangerous and possibly blasphemous according to the standards of the time. They threatened the status quo.

Jesus had radical compassion for women, because they worked so hard drawing water (the Syro-Phoenecian woman), were too busy cleaning house and cooking to hear the Gospel (Martha), because they were poor and still gave what they had to others (the widow and her mite), or they were so broken up with grief that they didn’t even recognize Him (Mary Magdalene).

Stranger still that He chose to appear first to women at the Resurrection, including the woman called “apostle to the Apostles.”  Why do you think that might have been?

If you ask me, Jesus was very much a long-haired hippie radical. After he left, the literati got busy and did a re-write for the masses so he was a little more moderate, a little less rabble-rousy. And they made sure to put the women back down in the dust, even though the rich ones were financing the church and the poor ones were doing all the work looking after the priest’s house. It’s always the way…

It doesn’t matter to me if I’m not taken seriously by other progressives – most of whom aren’t interested in this churchy stuff.  Meanwhile, I think that progressives DO understand “the good hearts of men;” I think that progressives and liberals are good men and women who are inherently generous in spirit,  and community-minded. I think that conservatives and fundamentalists are like the Grinch, with hearts two sizes too small, never thinking of other peoples’ needs and certainly not giving any of their money away to those horrible parasites, and grumbling about the taxes they pay as the drive on federal highways and drink clean water.

Like I said, stop reading Ayn Rand and think for yourself. Because, dude: don’t you get who you’re really talking about? When you say “who by their political nature want for destruction and chaos to reign, as in this they prosper in wealth, control over men, and unquestioned power” you’re talking the Republicans, Wall Street, the US Chamber of Commerce, the TSA, the Bush Era FEMA, the Bush Era Federal Secrets Act, the AT&T deal for wireless wiretapping, Halliburton, BP, Xe, and the Koch Brothers, man!

These are the ones who:

  • took us into war with Afghanistan (right country, still there, trillions of dollars later)
  • Iraq (wrong country, still there, trillions of dollars later),
  • prospered at the expense of everybody else (toxic mortgages, credit default swaps, Bush era TARP),
  • controlled men (stop-loss rules in the military, limited amount of credit available for small business loans and job creation, obstructionism in Congress, offshoring of jobs by large companies for obscene profit margins)
  • held unquestioned power and drove the national narrative with questionable motives (Hello, Congressman-Oversight Police Officer Darrell Issa! Hello, Orange Speaker Boehner! Hello, Weeping Glenn Beck! Hello, Word-Salady Sarah Palin! Hello, Batshit Crazy Michele Bachmann! Hello, all you double-talking, fact-spinning, truth-distorting, fake-crying, black-boarding, propaganda-spouting wool-pullers!).

Do you see it yet? Soylent Green is people. SOYLENT GREEN IS PEOPLE.

No? Oh, right, you’re in that other reality where the black man in the White House isn’t American (psst, they’re lying to you) and the Founding Fathers wrote Jesus, God, and the Holy Spirit into every paragraph of the Constitution (no, they didn’t) and that this is a deeply Christian country with deeply conservative values (actually, most people aren’t all that interested in religion or politics – NEWS FLASH). Also, they have your back (sorry, they’re lying again) and share your convictions (the only convictions they have will be for election fraud, financial chicanery, or sexual misconduct).

We are all so screwed, but the delusions of people who think as you do got us in this mess by electing Bush and his pack of merry military-financial plunderers. And then you and they believed all the lies they told you and elected even more of these geniuses to the Congress, and we are all so screwed double-plus-ungood.

So after years of obstructionism by the Republicans, the Democrats “failed” to pass a GOP bolus in the bowels of the Senate pass a budget. Yet they somehow managed to get a lot done in spite of the kicking and screaming from the GOP (and health care could have been so much better, but is watered down thanks to these same obstructionist goops).

And now, it’s up to the Boehner Congress. We get to sit back and watch the stupid unfold before us for the next few years, especially going into the 2012 elections. We’ll all have to watch them punish hardworking men and women, and send many more families into destitution without “laying claim” or taking the blame for it, just to prove to President Obama that they are the ones with unquestioned power.

How sad indeed.

Resolutions Not Meant To Be Broken If I Can Help It And Not Force-Fed Chocolate

Isn’t this a boring blog? Isn’t it? My life’s not really this boring, it’s just that I rarely take the time to write a full-bore flat-spin blog post anymore. I fall back on my old standbys, Google Reader (shared news) and my various Twitter accounts. I can’t catch up on blogging during the work week for going on 3 years, so every now and then I do a big “here’s what’s been going on” catchall.

Yeah, boring. And I haven’t even really done a big London mixed-grill slap-up bang-up, either. The pictures are still on my hard drives – the laptop, the desktop, AND the iPad – but I hope to work through the main archive, cull the weaklings, and upload the lot to Flickr and Facebook.

Come to think of it, I don’t think I even did a write-up of the last trip to Hawaii. I suck at blogging, so I resolve to do better.

I resolve to write more blog posts – ideally, every other day if possible. I used to update multiple times a day but most of that was “ZOMG look at this dumb political hack putting his big fat cloven hoof in his pie-hole” stuff.

No, I want to blog more about what goes on, day-to-day, in a house with 2 somewhat disorganized geeks, more computers than can conveniently be counted while wearing shoes, and a cat who stalks dust bunnies and re-delivers them up in covert locations.

Also, I resolve to write something so funny, rant-astic, or well-written that it blows “How Old Is Your Whirlpool Washer” off my ALL-TIME MOST READ, MOST COMMENTED POST list (I don’t mind that the post about installing the graphics card is second, I’m just glad people find it useful).

Meanwhile, Allie Brosh gets all kind of love from famous Internet geeks like BoingBoing and TV’s WilWheaton, and any day now I expect that she’ll get a book deal, rather than self-publish like Betsy did. And while I’m at it, gosh darn it, I’m going to update my blogroll. Okay, done.

I also resolve to find more awesome for my blogroll.  However, this could take some time, as I tend to burn about 10-15 minutes per link, because I keep finding more and more awesome stuff.

Other resolutions: I will sign up for the health club at work after the new year. The monthly rate is higher – no longer subsidized by the office – but dammit, I’ve regained some weight and I liked feeling trimmer and slimmer. I know I can do it, and I know I can say “NO DAMN YOU CHOCOLATE BROWNIES, YOU MAY NOT GET IN MY BELLEH” when necessary at work. It’s tough getting through the candy holidays, though. I did it last year, didn’t avoid it much this year. Will have to be strong for Valentine’s Day and Easter, and then we’re good until Halloween.

Another resolution: I will try to get to bed earlier.

And some more:

  • I will try to read more books this year.
  • I will not settle for another Top Gear or Mythbusters rerun, I will seek out new worlds, new civilizations.
  • I will try to update the church website more frequently and promote events via Twitter and the blog.
  • I will try not to grumble, bitch and moan about those things that frequently make me G, B, and M.
  • I resolve to make eye contact and smile at people more often. I don’t do this, and it seems to matter. Duh.
  • I will try to behave as if I have a normal-sized amygdala.
  • I will try not to bore people with my doings at church, with the cat, or in Second Life.

And oh, crap: now I need to do a whole raft of boring, Second Life-specific resolutions like everyone else. Huzzah!

Happy New Year, everyone! Let’s be not boring out there!

My God Is The God Of The Poor: How Religious Liberals Can Reframe The Debate

Something else I believe as a liberal Episcopalian, put a little more aggressively:

My God is the God of the poor. You can be for the poor or you can go to hell.

pastordan is awesome, and I grew up in a Protestant mainline church distantly related to the UCC so I know where he’s coming from.

H/T to ***Dave FTW.

via Note to Religious Liberals: God Does Take Sides | Religion Dispatches.