Sunday, December 20, 2009

De-friended on Facebook

I was voted off the island today.

I know that not all Christians behave in the way I saw earlier. I know many Christians who defy the stereotypical behavior I am about to present. However, as I stated in a previous post, they do not own the name. I know that in writing this, I am just fueling the stereotype.

But this just has all the makings of a good blog post. :)

Still, I will change the name even though there is no one innocent.

Curtis wrote a Christmas poem this morning and posted it on Facebook. Envision all of the forwarded emails you have gotten from ultra-right friends and relatives (or maybe that you have sent) and you can get a sense of the tone. In it he referenced a smiling president and congressman happy about all of the abortions that would be soon made available.

Below the poem a woman whom I did not know replied. She was actually very gracious and gently reminded him that things are not always so simple and she shared a personal experience. I always appreciate when a contrary opinion is stated politely.

Curtis wrote back (this I can quote because I get follow-ups in my email):

"I don't debate God-
'God overthrows the thrones of those who are disobedient to His law.

My political views are those of the Our Father'. -- St. Avitus of Vienna"

I believe this kind of reply to not only be weak, but rather blasphemous. After internally debating whether to say anything, I decided to remind Curtis that there are many people who hold various differing opinions they believe to be God's. I stated that he had every right to hold and defend his political views; but that I did not believe it is right to use God as a trump card or a lever to end the discussion.

I do not know if the lady was de-friended, but I was immediately ousted. A short time later, I received the following in my Facebook email box:

please don't tell me not to post political or religious views on my site. You accepted my request for friendship- but, I have now retracted that request.
Your posts have been quite controversial over the past several weeks and I have left it as freedom of speech. Keep voting for these liberals and that will be taken away too.
God Bless you and your family-"

Apparently, I have not only been defriended, but blocked too since I can't reply to his email.

Now, of course, I never said anything close to telling him he can't post political or religious views. This is a good example of the digital/analog thinking comparison I had made in an earlier post.

I could dissect all of the ironic elements in his email, but I will leave that to you, dear reader.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

How Would Others Refer to You?

There is debate amongst some in Christian circles about the term "Christian". Some have quit using it, and instead take on various euphemisms such as Christ Follower, Follower of the Way, etc. Others most often go by their particular sect - Lutheran, Mormon, Catholic, Pentecostal, etc.... Others stick with Christian because they either agree with all the baggage that now comes with the name, or they are determined to reclaim it from the more fundamental faction of the religion that now seems to typify the word.

I find myself rather ambivalent about it. I discover I am rather more interested with what word comes to mind when people get to know me. It seems rather pompous if I give myself the name Christian, but everyone else is thinking asshole.

Still, I see myself more and more on the outer edge of Christian circles ... and am finding myself happy there. The things that impassion the majority of Christians are no longer even a blip on my radar. For example:

• I do not believe God has any more investment in America than anywhere else. It is pure ego and insecurity that drives us into all of this "God is on our side" language.

• There is no "War on Christmas".

• I believe abortion is the murder of innocent life, but our attempts to legislate it away is closing the door when the horse has already left the barn. It is easy to shout against abortion, it is a sacrifice to work for the changes that need to come about to make a real difference.

• Christians are no different than anyone else.... really..... at all.

• I do not believe that any soul will spend an eternity in a place called Hell. Nope, not one.

• I believe prayer in public schools is motivated by a desire for power, not piety.

• I do not believe it is a threat to my children, nor to my marriage, if homosexuals marry.

• I believe the world would be a better place if the head of every ministry quit, then went and got a job at their local hospital.

• I do not believe in any kind of "rapture". I believe God wants us to redeem this world.

• I believe God is as close as out next breath, but that most Christian rhetoric shields Him from view.

• I believe Christianity competes with other religions, and that is a mistake.

• I believe most Christian parents lead their children to make spiritual decisions that they are not yet equipped to make.

• I believe organizations like Focus on the Family do more harm than good.

• I believe most churches indoctrinate their congregations and are houses of theological inbreeding. Inbreeding is bad in genetics and worse in theology.

• I believe Christians spend a lot of time working on "belief" rules (inerrancy of scripture, hell, trinity, salvation, etc..) so they can divide people into in/out and thereby give themselves a higher position.

• I believe Christianity has completely jettisoned the command to "love your enemy" and in doing so we have lost the heart of the gospel.

• I believe God stands with the poor. Christianity honors the poor while inside church doors, but mocks them in political discussions.

• I believe there are Christians who live contrary to what I have said, but they do not own the term "Christian" here in America.

I was motivated to write this after reading a quote this morning by Dorthy Soelle on Catholicanarchy. Her definition of Christianity would probably not be favorably received in many church circles.

“In a theological perspective it is evident that the content of this fascist religion [right wing Christianity] contradicts the message of the Jewish-Christian tradition. The God of the prophets did not preach the nation-state, but community between strangers and natives. The apostle Paul did not base the justification of sinners on the Protestant work ethic, but on grace, which appears for young and old, for diligent and for lazy people! And Jesus did not make the family the central value of human life, but the solidarity of those deprived of their rights. The most important norms of the Moral Majority are not contained in Christian faith, as we can see from the many critical remarks against the family that appear in the gospels. It is characteristic of Christofascism that it cuts off all the roots that Christianity has in the Old Testament, in the Jewish Bible. No word about justice, no mention of the poor, whom God comes to aid, very little about guilt and suffering. No hope for the messianic reign. Hope is completely individualized and reduced to personal success. Jesus, cut loose from the Old Testament, becomes a sentimental figure. The empty repetition of his name works like a drug: it changes nothing and nobody. Therefore, since not everybody can be successful, beautiful, male, and rich, there have to be hate objects who can take the disappointment on themselves. Jesus, who suffered hunger and poverty, who practiced solidarity with the oppressed, has nothing to do with this religion.

“At a mass meeting a thousand voices shouted: ‘I love Jesus’ and ‘I love America’—it was impossible to distinguish the two. This kind of religion knows the cross only as a magical symbol of what he has done for us, not as the sign of the poor man who was tortured to death as a political criminal, like thousands today who stand up for his truth in El Salvador. This is a God without justice, a Jesus without a cross, an Easter without a cross—what remains is a metaphysical Easter Bunny in front of the beautiful blue light of the television screen, a betrayal of the disappointed, a miracle weapon in service of the mighty.”

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

The Darwin Fishy

Back in 1976, I remember sitting at a Christian music festival listening to Keith Green banging away on the piano. Between songs, Keith bluntly ripped on the merchandisers who were selling "Jesus Junk" at the back of the festival grounds. It seemed good to me though. I had my Christian comics, Christian t-shirt, and Christian frisbee.

Thirty-three years later, I practically have an alergic reaction to "Jesus Junk". The merchandisers of the seventies were amatuers compared to what is available today. One item I always thought was beyond absurd are the Testamints (little candies with a cross on it). So I was a little suprised when my daughter had a knock-off tin of mints called "Fish Mints". (Their website claims to "Be Reaching the World one piece at a time.")

"Sweetheart, where did you get these?" I inquired, turning the small tin in my hand. The lid said these were sugar-free and promised a bible verse inside.

"At the Hobby Lobby," she shrugged.

"Let me rephrase... Why did you get these?"

"I don't like Altoids, and these were cute," she replied.


"Yeah," she answered, taking back the tin. "They have these cute little fish named Darwin."

I choked on my drink and spluttered, "Darwin??"

"Mm-Hmm," she smiled. "These little fishy are called Darwin Fish."

I have obviously been neglectful in my duties to raise my children in the Christian subculture. :)

Sunday, December 06, 2009

Ebenezer Scrooge Could Write a Best Seller in America

Scrooge may be one of literature's unsung heroes. He is the victim of having been created at the wrong place and in the wrong era. His value system was scorned and treated with derision. How would he be judged today?

Today, there are scores of Americans loudly trumpeting and rallying for his values. He is not a miser, but a hero! In the past, he was the archetype of a failed human being; today he would be doing book signings and preaching his message on the AM radio dial.

Consider some of his quotes which used to earn him the reputation of a miser and wicked man...

"I wish to be left alone, sir! That is what I wish! I don't make myself merry at Christmas and I cannot afford to make idle people merry. I have been forced to support the establishments I have mentioned through taxation and God knows they cost more than they're worth. Those who are badly off must go there."

Here he articulates a belief that anyone receiving assistance is "idle".

"Another word from you, Cratchit, and you will celebrate Christmas by losing your position."

Scrooge uses his financial advantage to further line his pockets while paying as little as he can. The abuse of workers does not bother him because if they do not like it, they may go elsewhere. In his mind, he has committed no foul. This is a completely justifiable position to many Americans.

Scrooge believes virtue comes from making money and being shrewd in business. The following statement by Jacob Marley runs in complete opposition to his worldview:

"Business?! Mankind was my business! The common welfare was my business; charity, mercy, forbearance, and benevolence, were all my business. The dealings of my trade were but a drop of water in the comprehensive ocean of my business!"

Yes, Scrooge may have been a failure in the mind and era of Dickens; but in many town halls across today's America ....

He would be the featured speaker.

Thursday, December 03, 2009

The Manhattan Declaration - Who Cares?

The latest get together by well-known Evangelicals has produced The Manhattan Declaration. It seems that every few years now, someone in this genre of Christianity writes up a new manifesto and sends it around for everyone to sign. So once again, we have another written proclamation stating that Christianity's primary concern is with abortion and making sure that gays stay in the closet.

One thing the writers and signers of this document all have in common is that they think everyone is out to get them and that they must protect themselves.

I disagree.

I don't think anyone cares.....
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