Sunday, January 30, 2011

That He May Have Mercy On Them All

I am always surprised (and not) to find that chief among my theological offences with Evangelicals is my Universalism - that not one soul will spend an eternity in a place called Hell. It is understandable, to give up Hell is to become powerless; at least in a coercive sense.

Having stepped out of Evangelicalism, it is easy to see the proclamation of an eternal Hell as simply a power grab. One's religion has a lot of command if no one comes to God except through you. Now that I am out of that subset of Christianity, I hear those statements as one amidst a myriad of other sects stating the same thing.

Each of them has the monopoly.

So many correct/only ways... so little time. :)

The thought of a generous and patient God would deprive them of control. It would also burst their hope for vindication. For within the heart of many religious people is a longing for the day when they will finally be proved RIGHT!

The writers of the scriptures recognized these characteristics ... and warned us against them many times.

Jonah was told to go preach to Nineveh. When God showed mercy to it's people, Jonah was not pleased.

"But to Jonah this seemed very wrong, and he became angry. He prayed to the LORD, “Isn’t this what I said, LORD, when I was still at home? That is what I tried to forestall by fleeing to Tarshish. I knew that you are a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abounding in love, a God who relents from sending calamity. Now, LORD, take away my life, for it is better for me to die than to live.”

But the LORD replied, “Is it right for you to be angry?”

In Matthew, we hear from Jesus the story of the workers. Some are hired at the beginning of the day, some just before quitting time.

"The workers who were hired about the eleventh hour came and each received a denarius. So when those came who were hired first, they expected to receive more. But each one of them also received a denarius. When they received it, they began to grumble against the landowner. ‘These men who were hired last worked only one hour,’ they said, ‘and you have made them equal to us who have borne the burden of the work and the heat of the day.’

“But he answered one of them, ‘Friend, I am not being unfair to you. Didn’t you agree to work for a denarius? Take your pay and go. I want to give the man who was hired last the same as I gave you. Don’t I have the right to do what I want with my own money? Or are you envious because I am generous?’

In Luke, Jesus tells the famous story of the prodigal son. When the Father is overjoyed at the return of the prodigal, the brother becomes sulky.

"The older brother became angry and refused to go in. So his father went out and pleaded with him. But he answered his father, ‘Look! All these years I’ve been slaving for you and never disobeyed your orders. Yet you never gave me even a young goat so I could celebrate with my friends. But when this son of yours who has squandered your property with prostitutes comes home, you kill the fattened calf for him!"

I think in our first moments, when we are all gathered before Him, there are going to be a lot of brothers, workers, and prophets who are bitter and angry. Angry because God gives generously to all without finding fault. That God kept no record of wrongs. That He always trusted, always hoped, always persevered, and did not fail.

These folks will sulk for a bit... but they'll get over it. :)

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Praying to a Bowl of Flowers

This was a comment on a post over at Naked Pastor.  It encapsulated a lot of my thinking this past year.

People have told me that church is for worship of God. 

Maybe that’s my main problem with it. He doesn't seem to be present, plus you can’t have a conversation with him, it’s all totally one-sided. 

It feels like me standing in front of a bowl of flowers or something and talking to the bowl and telling and singing to the bowl about how wonderful it is, etc. The bowl just sits there. 

Then the lady beside me says how the bowl told her something or made something happen for her recently.

I stand there puzzled and polite.

The comment was similar in tone to the kind of things David Sedaris wrote in The Santa Land Diaries. In it, David humorously recounts his absurd experiences working as a Macy's Santa elf one Christmas.

One of these days I need to pen The Church Land Diaries. I have very funny stories to tell.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

The Brodie Awards

I have developed an affection for all things Mormon since moving out to Utah. The majority of my friends are Mormon or post-Mormon. There are many aspects of the Mormon faith that I greatly admire. I am fascinated by the journeys of those who have left the Mormon faith; their path, in many ways, mirrors my own exodus from evangelical Christianity.

Since a portion of my blogging often ties into Mormonism, I caught the eye of someone over at Main Street Plaza and they added me to their blogroll. It is a "Community for anyone interested in Mormonism". They serve as a clearinghouse for about a hundred blogs related to Mormonism, in addition to their own articles covering the topics of politics, religion, life, etc. They also have THE BEST weekly round-up of articles I have ever seen.

They started "The Brodie Awards" a few years ago in which they award the "best of" in various categories. Two of my articles have been nominated. It is gratifying to be acknowledged by a great site.

My friend Kevin, over at It's A Curmudgeon's Life, has also been nominated. If you haven't given his blog a read yet, check it out! :)

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

But He Did It TOO!!!

I often state that the only difference between many of us adults and my sixth grade students is height. So often, I see the behaviors that we consider “childish” reflected in plenty of adults. One of the advantages of seeing certain behaviors displayed regularly amongst my sixth graders is that it helps me understand what is going on in the motivations of the adult who behaves in a similar manner. Somehow it is just easier to spot in a sixth grader.

For example, here is a behavior that is exhibited regularly by some of my sixth graders. “Joey” is caught doing something he should not be doing. If it is a regularly occurring behavior, I will usually take him into the hall to talk to him about it. At this point, what Joey SHOULD BE is repentant. He SHOULD apologize. He SHOULD be giving me some game plan about how he is going to do better in the future. Instead, 99 times out of 100 I get:

“Well Jimmy was doing it too! Why aren’t you saying anything to him about it?!”

Or, if Joey doesn’t have an immediate co-conspirator, he will reach back into the vague past:

“Well Sabina did it last month and you never said anything to her!!”

This is a complete abdication of responsibility on the part of Joey. It is a diversionary tactic to take the focus off of his behavior and put the crux of the issue somewhere else. In most cases, I do not believe this is calculated. It is a defense mechanism to protect the ego. This reaction is instinctive.

At this point, discussing the situation with Joey in any format is almost useless. He will continue to build his defenses layer after layer until he sees himself purely as the victim. The most I can do is keep him out of the scenario where the bad behavior is occurring. Joey will never see himself as being in the wrong.

So how does this relate to adults? We see this behavior in ourselves all the time. I often catch myself doing it. Watch for it the next time you are reading a conversation on a blog or watching a panel discussion on the news. Team B critiques an issue concerning someone on Team A. If Team A acknowledges the issue at all it would be surprising; usually Team A will simply throw out some similar behavior committed by someone in Team B. Everyone protects their egos… their team… and the real issue is never dealt with.

And so the dance goes on….

Monday, January 10, 2011

Conservative Personalities

Fox News blows away the competition. I remember seeing a statistic that showed it had more viewers than the next three cable news networks combined. When it comes to radio, the top three spots are held solidly by conservatives. No one else even comes close.

If you were to judge which way America leaned politically according to the viewership of cable news and radio, you would assume America was firmly in the hands of conservatives. Yet, elections tend to be close. Congress regularly passes power from one side to the other.

So what is up with those cable/radio numbers?

As I churned over the discussions I had over the past few days, and recalled some recent conversations and incidences, I came up with a theory - People on the Right tend to have more emotional investment in their "celebrities" than do people on the Left.  Therefore, they watch and listen more.

Here are some observations (this is still an idea in progress).

Last spring I had a conversation with a friend and at some point Fox News came up. I made some disparaging remark about Fox's quality of news. My friend paused and said, "Ya know... I am kind of insulted by that."

"Why?" I replied.

"Well, I watch Fox News and I like it," he said.

"So how does that translate to my insulting you?" I questioned.

"Well, how would you feel if I trash-talked MSNBC?" he responded.

I shrugged, "I gotta say, I honestly wouldn't care."

I realized in that moment that we didn't just hold different positions, the way in which we held them was completely different.

A similar event happened over the summer. I was with another friend and the discussion drifted to politics. My friend referenced something Hannity had said recently.

I grinned, looked at a passing car, and made some statement about Hannity and the other two telling so many lies over the years that they can no longer differentiate truth.

When I looked back at my friend his face had gone red and all of the muscles in his neck had tightened. It looked like his eyes were about to pop from his head.  I recalled what had happened last spring and I realized my pronouncement had been like a slap to him!

My friend was gracious enough to turn the other cheek, and we quickly moved on to other topics.

I have seen this play out in numerous Facebook conversations over the past two years. The largest spikes in harsh rhetoric tended to follow someone making a critical remark about Fox News, Palin, Beck, etc...

As I look back on my own past, back when I was a Dittohead, I had similar reactions. Someone could critique this or that policy.... but if someone put-down Rush? Yeah, I got defensive! I was proud that I had gone to the "Rush to Excellence" tour. There was emotional investment there.

Yet today, when I think about it, there is no "liberal" personality that I am that attached to. If someone critiqued Moore, or Maher, or the President, etc... I may think their critiques are wrong, but I wouldn't be insulted by it. In fact, there are issues that those personalities hold to that I could be equally critical of.

And so, my theory of why the ratings of these shows are so comparatively high. For some reason, many on the Right form a deeper emotional investment into their "celebrities" than those on the Left. Critiquing one of the Right's center-stage personalities is taken as a personal critique. On the Right, there is more of a "team" bonding occurring. Not that there aren't exceptions on both sides, but I think this is generally the case.

What do you think?

** I have to add this note.  I was just de-friended by another of my more staunch Right-wing friends on Facebook.  This kind of defriending  has happened a number of times in the past few years.  Though they make Right-wing pronouncements regularly, it would never occur to me to defriend them over it.  Yet my often left-leaning views become too much for them to tolerate, and once again I find myself voted off the island. :)

Sunday, January 09, 2011

Tomorrow Morning on Talk Radio

My friend Thomas wrote a note on Facebook talking about what has happened over the past day in political discourse. He also had a prediction for what he believes will be the tone of the Glenn Beck show tomorrow morning. He envisions something like this:

"The tragic shooting of Rep. Giffords, one of the few remaining honorable blue-dog Democrats that had not gone over to the communist front. Taken out by a left-wing radical. This is what I was talking about! This is what I warned you of! The progressives, the socialists, the communists in this government. This is where it begins. They are starting a revolution, and it's happening right now."

I had to laugh when I read it because, even though it was only written text, Thomas managed to capture Glenn's voice.

Though I think Thomas is probably going to end up being pretty spot-on; I found myself hoping that the ghosts of radio personalities past, present, and future would visit Glenn tonight. Perhaps a Dicken's like transformation would occur, and this is what we would hear on the radio tomorrow:

"I know a lot of you are tuning in today expecting me to say certain things, and I really was ready to...

...but I have something different to say, and I want you to hear me out.

Politics... got... infused with a lot of high energy this year... some of it good.. no, a lot of it good! Great even!  People cared! But amidst that energy, a lot of things got said and implied that shouldn't have. Hostile, threatening things.

Now, understand, I hear you. I know they did it too. Hateful, angry things said about conservatives. We can point at them and they can point at us. Each accusing the other of starting it or being the more vicious. We could go back over the administrations and see the same heated rhetoric being played over and over, as the other team had the ball.

And I have to confess, these past few years, I had no small role in it. I'll be honest, the more I stirred the pot, the more my ratings climbed. The book deals, the spotlight, more money than I ever thought I would have. I told myself, "I'm being truthful... I'm just leaving out parts ... or directing the story... but it's ok because other media outlets are covering those details."

But in truth, most of you are never hearing those missing parts or details.

Then yesterday happened.

And I quickly started to lay out my defenses and plan my attack...

But did anyone, liberal or conservative want what happened yesterday?



So, I am going to step into a different, perhaps career ending, direction. I am not going to try to justify conservatives or blame progressives today. I am going to turn away from my usual approach - which brought in ratings... but wasn't all that fair or balanced.

Today, I am going to tell the whole truth.

And the truth is that I really do think conservative principals are the best way to run a government and an economy. And honestly, I think I am pretty good at making a case for it; but how I do so is going to seem quite different from this point on.

Maybe you will join me in making our case to the American people. Maybe you will turn your radio dial hoping to find more of what you are use to.

Well, it is your choice.

It is a free country after all."

Why I Like My Velocity Cruz Reader

So I bought a Velocity Cruz Ereader. There seems to be no end to the Ereaders available right now, and I am sure that more will be hitting the shelves soon.

I bought the Cruz because:

A. I wanted an excuse to try the Android OS.
B. I wanted a tablet that was not so expensive that I feared taking it out of the house.
C. Mary Lee was interested in an Ereader that could also browse the web.
D. It was only $99 dollars.

The Cruz functions like a 7 inch Ipad (and I think this is the ideal size for a tablet). No, it isn't as snappy. It takes a little more technical prowess to handle. The apps are not as prolific.

Still, I use Opera to browse the web, it has most of the apps I like (Pandora, USA Today, BBC, NPR), and it has plenty of Ereader apps available. It plays MP4 videos smoothly and is a very good comic reader. It does not do most of this out of the box; so if going out and finding that software intimidates you.....

Also, the battery lasts for a good 5-10 hours and charges quick. However, there are not many acessories out there for it and the few that exist are expensive.

It is a nice piece of inexpensive tech.

*NEW* I just bought a case for it. The one by Cruz is 50 bucks (half of what I paid for the unit) but I got this one at Amazon for 25. Very happy with it.

Saturday, January 08, 2011

On Sarah Palin and Garbrielle Giffords

Most people are aware of the shooting of Ms. Giffords and others at a political rally today in Arizona. A lot of details are still coming in about this tragedy, but everyone is understandably shocked and grieved.

However, there is a story that sits off to the side and it is a matter of debate whether it is even allowed to be brought up. Last Spring, you may remember, Sarah Palin drew a map with targets on it. Amidst a lot of "gun" and "second amendment response" talk, Sarah indicated through these targets that Ms. Giffords needed to be "taken out".

I raised these thoughts on my Facebook page, and some declared this to be despicable politicizing. Was I blaming Sarah Palin for the unbalanced behavior of a nut?

No, not blame. I am aware that our society protects free speech; even idiotic, irresponsible speech. If we are to have free speech, then the Sarah Palins of the world are the price we have to pay.

I do, unfortunately, get to add this to the list for why I think of Sarah Palin the way I do - along with how dumbfounded I am that people admire her.
Related Posts with Thumbnails