(This article is also posted as audio file read by the author at the end of the post).
Dear John and Jane Public,
Honestly, don't fret over it. I get it. Dear God, I get it. You've found a new god. Truthfully, I've seen this coming for awhile. I tried to deny it. I even tried to change it. (I have to admit, even in all my divine wisdom, I just did not see the whole MLK, contemporary prophet thing not working. But humans, YOU try to figure them out).
You know, there was a brief time there, just after 9/11 that I thought we were going to make it. I really thought you finally “got it.” In the midst of chaos you sought out community. In the midst of anger and fear you united over differences and seemed to be hoping for a greater good. Good times. Hopeful, even.
It's OK, I understand why the new god in your life is so appealing. Sure, it hurts a little, but c'mon, I'm God. Seriously, I'll be OK. This new god of yours is all shiny and is promising you “prosperity.” Let's face it, the certitude of the “prosperity” your new god offers has a particular kind of appeal that the hope of love, peace and grace that I offer you just can't touch. This new God of yours, he offers you everything without sacrifice (well, without sacrifice on your part; others will pay quite dearly), and admittedly I ask a lot of you. I ask you to lay down your life for the sake of others. I ask you to love your enemies and to be a servant of all. Honestly, I get why you want to be with him.
In a lot of ways, it's better like this for now. This relationship between us hasn't been very good for me either. Don't get me wrong, I still love you. You have no idea. But, honestly, you've been more of a user of me than a follower of me. I thought Jesus put it about as clearly as possible when he said, “you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross, and follow me.” Really, I thought that was pretty clear, but like I said, “Humans, YOU try to figure them out.” You post My name on your money and even added Me to your pledge, but you deny the sacrifice it takes to follow Me every time a child dies of hunger in your nation of plenty, every time a person dies of a curable disease for lack of health insurance, every time you kill people to show them that killing people is wrong. Did you realize that both corporate profits and the poverty rate are growing? That's one Hell of a problem... and I'm finally getting the message.
You know when I really knew it was over? Or at least when I finally admitted it to Myself? In the last two debates. Please, don't act like you don't know what I'm talking about. I'm God. I know you know. When they cheered for death. Twice. That's when I had to admit it. You see, I came to put an end to death, not celebrate it... at least not that way.
There were lots of tell tale signs. I just love you so much, so I guess I let myself overlook them. Take for instance, until recently it was only the things I created that were considered people, but now the things you've created are considered people. (How something as literally heartless as a Corporation can be treated as a person, in all of My infinite knowledge, I will never understand). I don't think you are actually playing God by doing it (much), but I do think you are denying Me and, in doing so, denying who I created you to be.
I'm not giving up, just giving in a bit, for now. I love you - so much. I will keep sending my prophets. You will know them by their love. If the people you follow are teaching you to hate and fear, to exclude people for any reason, then they are not sent by Me, even if they say they are. So, when your infatuation with this new god of extremism, nationalism, might-makes-right, and privilege is through using you... I'll still be here. Waiting. Loving.
My Peace, Love and Grace to you,
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Religion and nations alike have bought, hook, line and sinker, into the myth of war. Not that war itself is a myth - clearly it is not. Rather, they bought into the myth that War can make things better. We have this convoluted idea that War is redemptive, that through acts of violence (whether they be preemptive or in retaliation) we can squash out... well, violence. Said differently, we genuinely believe that the path to peace (God's peaceable Kin-dom) is violence.
There is something sadly human about it. Possibly even, sadly masculine about it. From cartoons to video games, kids (particularly boys) not only buy into, but are instinctively drawn toward this myth, as we take on the role of "good guy" (after all, most of us want to believe that, in such a messed up world, at least we, ourselves, are “good”) and project our own less that laudable personality traits onto the bad guy. "You loser!" “You're nothing but a violent punk.” From pretending to be Superman in our backyard as kids to playing Call of Duty or even Angry Birds as grown ups, we have a deep inward desire (need?) to take on our perceived role as “good guy” and project our negative, violent, aggressive and even lustful behavior onto the villain (be they Lex Luthor or eggs stealing pigs... those nasty, rotten, mucus-nosed, structure-building, egg-stealing pigs... but I digress).
In a sort of sub-conscious psychological dance, we attempt to vanquish this world of all the evil we see in ourselves and in others through acts of physicality, violence and aggression which we justify by pointing to the higher good they achieve – ridding the world of nastiness and evil. That's the myth of redemptive violence. It says that violence can end violence, that war can make peace, that domination can usher in equality.
The reality of it is that it breeds. Violence breeds violence. War breeds war. Domination breeds domination. Superman never ushers in world peace. He keeps fighting the same battles over and over again.
It turns out, we already understand this reality of violence and war; we already intrinsically get that redemptive violence truly is a myth. Even as we played superheroes as kids, we understood that our actions would never really end the violence in the world. We knew that victory was temporary when it was won through force. We knew that Superman would never usher in world peace. We hoped for it, but we knew different. We cannot beat the demons within (or without) by calling on the very source of their power – namely, excerpting power over others.
As Christians we are called to practice the love of our enemy (even the one within). The concept is essentially “redemptive love.” Rather than practicing power over, it calls us to participate in power with. In short, Jesus calls us to stick with love. At all cost. Just look at his own life.
As for me, I've decided to go with the advice of Dr. Martin Luther King who once said, “I have decided to stick with love. Hate is too great a burden to bear.”
"He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness,and to walk humbly with your God?"
Today, Oct. 11, is National Coming Out Day
. The fact that we even have to have this day is a sad statement about how committed we are as a nation to justice and to equality. It is also a sad statement about the hate and fear-mongering that continues in this great nation. There are still untold numbers of people who must pass for someone they are not, out of fear for how they will be treated.
Yes, we live in a nation where, for some people, being the people God created them to be must be feared and hidden... “In God we trust,” indeed. Justice is blind? From what I've seen, it is not nearly blind enough.
In terms of seeking equal rights for our gay brothers and sisters, we have been traveling in the right direction for some time now, but we have been traveling too slowly, to begrudgingly and by asking too many to hide too much of the reflection of God that is uniquely revealed in them. Justice delayed, certainly is justice denied. And as Dr. King reminded us, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.”
Today I ask my minister friends and my straight friends to stand with me on this National Coming Out Day. Stand with me and our homosexual brothers and sisters who were made equally in the image of God and should be treated equal in this great nation of ours. I ask you to come out for equality.
Fear can be overcome with knowledge. So let's let those who have had to pretend to be someone they are not for so long know
that not only does God love them, but we love them – that not only does God stand with them, but we stand with them.
Equality is not up for biblical questioning my friends. We are all created equally in God's image. “There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”
So I ask you to step up and speak out. Share the HRC
logo on your FB page, on your Twitter page. Post quotes about equality, loudly claim your love for all of God's children and demand that they ALL be treated with the same grace, dignity, respect and rights that are afforded to you.“There may be times when we are powerless to prevent injustice, but there must never be a time when we fail to protest.”
The Christian Lef
t is much more than a Facebook (FB) page, it is a growing movement
. It is the future hope of The Church and the only non-hypocritical way The Church stands any long term chance of being an effective Christian voice in politics. (Wow. I hope I didn't overstate that. Let's see, “ the future hope of The Church and the only non-hypocritical way The Church stands any long term chance of being a effective Christian voice in politics.” Nope, that's about right).
Let me say that while The Christian Left is much more than its FB page, if you want to participate in this very important dialogue, the FB page is a fantastic place to start. It engages head and heart, politics and religion, theology and contemporary topics...it's worth the read and the engagement it takes to be a part of the dialogue will do us all some good. I might just add, if you do decide to join the dialogue (and I hope you will), it'd be helpful if you were to check out our Code of Conduct
But let's get on with the whole “We Need The Christian Left, Now More Than Ever” title. Bit of a bold statement, isn't it? Well, not really.
Christianity, over the course of a few thousand years, has drifted away from the teachings of it's founder. That man was a walking Heath Care System. He wisely, gently and unapologeticly confronted hate at every turn. He always believed people could be better than they are and when he met someone, he asked them to change – toward the better person he knew they could be. He loved people and abhorred abuse of power (in both religions and politics). He walked quietly on this earth and yet made a loud impact. He was willing to lay down his life for the love of others.
In a world where big business seems to control everything, even the government; in a time when the Supreme Court is sometimes promoting businesses' rights over individual's rights; we need a guiding principle that reminds us that our Creator wants us to put people first. In an environment when news channels are formed around encouraging people to be afraid and fear people who are not like them or don't believe the things they believe, we need a point of light that beacons us toward acceptance and love. In a nation where businesses' bottom lines continue to be promoted over the health and welfare of the 'least of these,' we need the image of a healing hand that reached out, even to lepers, to heal without asking for or expecting anything in return...other than faith. In a world being devastated by our consumerist attitudes and privileged lifestyles, we need Jesus' life to remind us that we must walk gently on God's Creation. We need the man who hung on a cross for love, to teach us to live our lives for love.
You see, the reason we need the Christian Left now more than ever, is because it is not really 'the left.' If anything, what Christian 'leftist' stand for is just good theology. If anything, we should be the “Christians centrist” or the “Christian originalist.” Ultimately, we are 'left' only by comparison, relative to what the dominate voice of Christianity in the U.S. claims Christians stand for. The same voice that has left younger generations beleiving that Christians have become, well, unChristian
We need the Christian Left now more than ever, because we need to follow the teaching of Jesus more than ever.
Repost from http://sandskript.blogspot.com
on 9/11/2010Terry Jones, pastor of Dove World Outreach Center in Gainsville, Fla., is holding a book burning on 9/11. He's burning Korans. I know, hard to believe - right?
The first question I asked myself is, does he really believe that the entire Islamic faith is responsible for 9/11? If so, he is either naive or misinformed. Then I thought, does he hate them that much? If so, he's missing the point of many of Jesus' teachings - love. Finally, I thought, does he really think that burning paper with words on it matters (unless of course you are burning all of them that exist). He probably thinks it's symbolic. If so, I'd like to point out that God is much bigger than his symbolic hatred.
Ultimately, I've decided to FedEx (to make sure it gets there in time)Rev. Jones my personal Bible. I've had it since I was 6 years old. It went with me to college when I left home and has always been with me. I'm asking him to include it in his book burning. Because my God is big enough to handle it and my God's love is large enough to stand with others who claim Abraham as a religious relative.
It is a shame that this one act of Christian hatred has recieved so much press. I think it would be a wonderful statement of love if the news also had to cover shipments of Bibles coming in to Rev. Jones with personal notes saying to burn this with the Korans, because the God of Abraham is big enough.
If you would like to do the same, the mailing information is readily available athttp://www.doveworld.org/contact : Dove World Outreach, 5805 NW 37th St., Gainsville, FL 32653 Attn: Rev. Terry Jones