Thursday, May 31, 2007

Sunday, May 27, 2007

The Law says She Should be Stoned to Death!

Christians have once again demonstrated their love for the teachings of Christ by beating homosexuals in public. Here's an article from CNN along with some clippings posted here:

"We believe these perverts should not be allowed to march on the streets of Moscow, the third Rome, a holy city for all Russians," said Igor Miroshnichenko, who said he was an Orthodox believer who had come to support the riot police.

"It (homosexuality) is satanic," he told Reuters. One man holding a crucifix threatened to beat-up any gay person he saw.

Richard Fairbrass, a gay singer with the British pop group Right Said Fred, was punched in the face and kicked by anti-gay activists while speaking to Reuters in an interview.

"We understand this is a gay event and so we came down here today," Fairbrass told Reuters before being hit. Blood dripped from his face after the attack.

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While i hold a conservative view of sexuality, based on what i believe to be God's revelation and intention for creation, i also hold a conservative view of how we are to treat others.


"Love your neighbor as yourself"
"Love your enemy"
"Do onto others as you would have them do onto you"
"Bless and do not curse"
"In your anger, do not sin"
"Those who live by the sword will die by the sword"

 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be children of your Father in heaven; for he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the righteous and on the unrighteous. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet only your brothers and sisters, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect."

"I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”

"You shall not hate in your heart anyone of your kin; you shall reprove your neighbor, or you will incur guilt yourself. You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge against any of your people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the Lord."

"Hatred stirs up strife,
but love covers all offenses."

i don't believe gays and lesbians are our enemies. The point is, if this is how we are to treat our enemies, then what excuse do we have for the way we've treated this community?

A bit after writing this post i found a good post on this topic on Greg Boyd's blog. Check it out!

White Superiority (or Fear)

For some reason, the last few months, i've been very bothered about the slaughter of Native Americans, whom we ignorantly call Indians, because Columbus was confused about where he'd landed. Now we call it the United States.

i'm glad for my freedom, and democracy to an extent, but the history of my country really bothers me. i just thought i'd mention it.

Today, i told my wife that i was a bit bothered by where we were moving. One of the main reasons is this: There are lots of blacks in the area whom i feel i ought to integrate with. But i do have a fear. i fear black culture, especially hip hop gang mentality, and the angst i sense against white oppressors, which i believe to be absolutely reasonable. What else can we expect after hundreds of years of oppression and suppression of a people group. Yet i feel hopeless in redeeming these relationships. i want to retreat to my white neighborhood and feel justified in the idea that there just aren't any blacks around and if there were...of course i would befriend them.

i related to the following video on two levels. First, i am ashamed of a large portion of my cultural history. Second, i am part of the problem which perpetuates this history, due to my own fears.

Myth of a Christian Nation: Part I

Greg Boyd is the pastor of Woodland Hills Church St. Paul MN, where my wife and i attended for a number of years. He is one of the most sincere, passionate, and Christ like people we know. After preaching a series of messages confronting the nationalism and right wing politics we often associate with our faith, 1000 people left the Church. These were replaced by a diverse, multicultural influx! This story was covered in the NY Times.

Recently Boyd wrote a book called "The Myth of a Christian Nation: How the Quest for Political Power is Destroying the Church". The following is an interview with Boyd hosted by Charlie Rose:

Myth of a Christian Nation: Part II

Myth of a Christian Nation: Part III

Why i'm in Hiding

Well, you may have been surprised to get an e-mail inviting you to my private blog and then finding that it was the same blog that i've had for the last couple of years. Here's the deal: Some folks in my congregation began reading the blog and had issues with me declaring that i was going to vote for a democrat the next election. They felt it was endorsing a political party and that others in the church might think it was the church's position. (i secretly believe the bigger problem was that i wasn't voting for a republican, but i can't validate that).

i don't know how they got the blog link. i think i may have linked it to the church website some time in the past, but i'm not sure. If i did i apparently thought better of it and removed it, but a couple of people already had the address and must have kept it on an rss feed. So i'm going underground for a while until i feel enough time has passed to reopen to the public without any official connection with the church i'm pastoring.

Thanks for understanding. i don't know how difficult it is to log in after the initial log-in, so i understand if you aren't able to read regularly anymore. It is an inconvenience. Yet i think i'll end up posting more regularly now that i know i have a select audience.

P.S. i'm about to go postal on some issues that have been bothering me. Stay tuned...

Saturday, May 26, 2007

In Memory of Mr. Bojangles

May 1878 - Nov 1948

Legacy

Born in Richmond, Virginia on May 25, 1878, to Maxwell Robinson, a machine-shop worker, and Maria Robinson, a choir singer, Bill Robinson was brought up by his grandmother after the death of his parents when he was still a baby. At the age of 6 he began dancing for a living, appearing as a "hoofer," or song-and-dance man, in local beer gardens. At age 7, Bill dropped out of school to pursue dancing. He gained great success as a nightclub and musical comedy performer, and during the next 25 years became one of the toasts of Broadway. Not until he was 50 did he dance for white audiences, having devoted his early career exclusively to appearances on the black theater circuit.

Robinson was dogged by lifelong personal demons, enhanced by having to endure the indignities of racism that, despite his great success, still limited his opportunities. A notorious gambler and a high liver but with a big heart, he was a soft touch for anyone down on their luck or with a good story. During his lifetime Robinson spent a fortune but his generosity was not totally wasted and his haunting memories of surviving on the streets as a child never left him. In 1933, while in his hometown of Richmond, Virginia, he saw two children risk speeding traffic to cross a street because there was no stoplight at the intersection. Robinson went to the city and provided the money to have a safety traffic light installed. In 1973, a statue of "Bojangles" was erected in a small park at that intersection.

Bojangles co-founded the New York Black Yankees baseball team in Harlem in 1936 with financier James "Soldier Boy" Semler. The team was a successful member of the Negro National League until it disbanded in 1948.

In 1989 a joint U.S. Senate / House resolution declared "National Tap Dance Day" to be May 25th, the anniversary of Bill Robinson's birth.

Death

In 1949, Bill "Bojangles" Robinson died penniless in New York City at the age of 71 from heart disease. Television host Ed Sullivan personally paid for the funeral. More than half a million people lined the streets when Robinson's funeral procession made its way through Harlem and down Broadway to Times Square on its way to his interment in the Cemetery of the Evergreens in Brooklyn.

Jerry Jeff Walker wrote a song about Robinson, "Mr. Bojangles". This song was covered numerous times. Here's a familiar version:



I knew a man Bojangles
And he danced for you
In worn out shoes
With silver hair, a ragged shirt
And baggy pants, the old soft shoe
He jumped so high, he jumped so high
Then he lightly touched down
I met him in a cell in New Orleans
I was down and out
He looked at me to be the eyes of age
As he spoke right out
He talked of life, he talked of life
He laughed, slapped his leg a step
He said his name, Bojangles
And he danced a lick across the cell
He grabbed his pants
in fettered stance
Oh, he jumped up high
Then he clicked his heels
He let go a laugh, he let go a laugh
Shook back his clothes all around
Mr. Bojangles, Mr. Bojangles
Mr. Bojangles, dance!
He danced for those
At minstrel shows and county fairs
Throughout the south
He spoke with tears of 15 years
How his dog and him traveled about
His dog up and died, he up and died
After 20 years he still grieves
He said I dance now
At every chance in honky tonks
For drink and tips
But most of the time
I spend behind these county bars
Cause I drinks a bit
He shook his head
And as he shook his head
I heard someone ask him
Please, please
Mr. Bojangles, Mr. Bojangles
Mr. Bojangles, dance!

Nina Simone Mr Bojangles lyrics

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Friday, May 18, 2007

Overlooking the Obvious

We have a lot of filters and presuppositions that sit just below the surface of our consciousness and give us directions. It's like a back seat driver that you didn't know was in the car.

i've been driving around thinking about what i can do for God. What might i think up that he could give his blessing to? The thing is, i started with the wrong presupposition. This is often the way it goes.

Rather than thinking up something we can do, we ought to be looking for what God is already doing and join in. Even in this we can limit ourselves. We instantly look to see what other Christians are doing. But what if he's not just doing it through the Christians? Is it taboo? Could we ever join forces outside of our denomination, or worse yet...Faith? Will we forever be wandering around singing "I still haven't found what i'm looking for"?


i discovered God working through the ONE campaign. This led me to realize that he's probably at work in a lot of other areas that aren't necessarily connected with the Church, and we ought to widen our boarders to allow for these possibilities and join in where we see him working. The mission is not to advance the Church, but to advance the Kingdom of God, which is God's will for his creation. The Church is one vehicle through which this can happen, though not necessarily the only one. Wherever you see restoration, justice, acts of mercy, and selfless abandon, you also discover God at work through his Spirit.

i'm not talking universalism, but i am talking restoration and social justice.

Social Justice (or impotence)



Certainly when we divide ourselves up into groups and sects we run the risk of becoming elitist and intolerant, as well as vicious & violent. When i saw this video, i was outraged. Yet i also felt helpless. What can "i" do? How can "i" help?

As i thought about it, i encounter this feeling frequently when it comes to social justice issues. The little "i" feels, well...little. i'm starting to believe that it's not just apathy that makes us apathetic. It's the feeling of helplessness. Not knowing what to do besides send a check, and feeling bad when you can't afford to do that.

i'm searching for ways to become active in social justice issues. i'm looking for ways to help my church and community become active in social justice issues. What is lacking is leadership and information on how we can do more than donate money, though the money does help. How we can do more than a "one touch" mission trip, that places a bandaide on a severed artery.

i was having a chat with a great person the other night who suggested we get a group of people to fly to New Orleans and help out there. My question was this: "Then what happens? Do they have to send of group of people to help out our city?" You see, the community where my church is located is in one of the poorest counties in our state. Why would we go somewhere else when we've failed to begin right where we are? The question is, how do we impact our community and the world in a lasting way? These are the questions we must all seek to answer.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Muzzled

















What will Pat Robertson have to say about Jerry Falwell's death?

i don't rejoice in the death of anyone, but i don't always mourn either. i do pray Falwell's soul has found peace in the presence of God. i would not be surprised if he had to take a vow of silence for the first million (or so) years in paradise.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Are you Republican or Democrat?

i remember being surprised to find all my new Christian friends upset that Bill Clinton won the election. Being new to the Christian faith and culture, i'd never before met someone who voted republican. i knew they existed, i just never saw one before. i also knew that i should keep my political profile low-key so as not to bring myself under the persecution of the brethren. i really didn't know much about politics and i wasn't prepared to defend my position.

i voted for Bush the last two elections. i don't have anything negative to say about his presidency. i'm just glad it's not my job. But this election i'll be voting democrat. i'm breaking free of Right Wing Conservative Politics for a while. Here's a couple of reasons which i won't fully expound on:

1. It's giving Christians a bad reputation
2. We need to be more balanced in our political allegiances

Did you know God has no political party or allegiances? Here's something you may be surprised to hear: When Joshua was leading Israel on a campaign into Canaan, he encounters God, who appears to him as a military commander. Joshua doesn't recognize which nation this commander is affiliated with. He asks the Lord which side he's on. Of course God is on the side of Israel at this time right? They just entered into covenant with one another. The answer changed me:

Once when Joshua was by Jericho, he looked up and saw a man standing before him with a drawn sword in his hand. Joshua went to him and said to him, "Are you one of us, or one of our adversaries?" He replied, "Neither; but as commander of the army of the Lord I have now come." And Joshua fell on his face to the earth and worshiped, and he said to him, "What do you command your servant, my lord?" The commander of the army of the Lord said to Joshua, "Remove the sandals from your feet, for the place where you stand is holy." And Joshua did so.
Joshua 5:13-15

Neither.

First, we shouldn't be tied to any one party (God's not). Second, we really ought to have a Christian perspective influencing both sides. Why do we limit ourselves?

i always liked this song:


What are you?

Friday, May 11, 2007

One World Religion (or Church)

ok, i just found out that the president of the Evangelical Theological Society converted to Catholicism. This has to be one of the funniest things i've ever heard. This ought to go a long way in bridging the gap between Catholics & Protestants!

i like Catholicism and recently started wearing a necklace with the picture of Saint Jude around my neck. i've often thought i might convert if they change the regulation on marriage. Not because i line up with their theological tenets, but simply because they're Catholic. i like the longevity, symbolism, and...well, that's all i can think of.

They really do have nice churches.

This past Easter i had the opportunity to offer the opening prayer in a Catholic church for the sunrise service. Another gentleman from our congregation gave the message. It was a wonderful display of Christian unity.

The ETS is huge. If you haven't heard of the organization then you probably don't realize that this group has a major impact on your theology (what you accept, know about, and what never reached your ears).

i've begun to find a number of people who are distressed about the breaking down of denominational barriers, especially between Catholics and Protestants. They think it's going to lead to this endtime "One Religion". For some reason this is not a good thing i guess. i personally think this is a radically speculative reading of Scripture.

My thoughts:
Don't fight against unity within the Church or you'll find yourself fighting against God. Any theology that calls for division within the body is unbiblical. And if it's not of God, then you know where it comes from...

I ask not only on behalf of these, but also on behalf of those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one. As you, Father, are in me and I am in you, may they also be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me." John 17:20-21
(NRSV w/ Apocrypha!)


Did you like my red letter edition blog entry?


Wednesday, May 09, 2007

One Nation Under God

i am not sad that America is no longer a Christian nation. i'm not sure that it ever really was. i am sad that others (outside the country) think it is. i do not think we live in a difficult time that is incompatible with Christianity, or that there were times when the "soil was better for planting & growing". i do think we live in a time as diverse and odd as any other, and that Christianity is able to grow precisely because it has it's own soil, and comes pre-potted.

i think if Christianity struggles to stay green and vibrant, it's because we aren't properly watering, feeding, and placing it in the right type of light. We don't add anything to the soil, or change the soil, or set it in the sunlight...or talk to it. We wet it with the water of repetitious belief statements (when we remember) and hope that's enough to keep it alive. We don't mist it. Sometimes we go through extended periods without watering it at all. Then we wonder why it withers.

What are some of the foods and sources of energy that we need to feed this plant in order to make it flourish?

What does "flourishing" look like?