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.”
In this brief and mostly fun podcast Zac from Crazy Liberals and Conservatives
and I take a lighthearted look at the possible end of the world as we know it.(Note: there is a little technical glitch in the middle of one of the songs. It does correct itself. With apologies, we are trying to fix it).
This time on The State of The Christian Left Zac of Those Crazy Liberals and Conservatives
and I take a look at change and The Donald's exit from the GOP race to the White House. Enjoy. Engage. Respond!
Today Mark Sandlin from The God Article
and Zac Bailes from Crazy Liberals and Conservatives
discuss the fallout from the death of Osama Bin Laden. We also discuss the trajectory and state of the GOP. Come laugh and learn with us. We're trying to figure it all out, and we hope you can be in conversation with us along the way.
Dr. King's final speech, “I See The Promised Land,” was given on a stormy night which would become the eve of his assassination. He opened saying, “I'm delighted to see each of you here tonight in spite of a storm warning. You reveal that you are determined to go on anyhow.”
In his speech he imagined God giving him the option to live at any point in time. He soars through many of the peaks of history but ultimately tells God he choses to live in the second half of the twentieth century. He comments on his decision saying, “Now that's a strange statement to make, because the world is all messed up. The nation is sick. Trouble is in the land. Confusion all around. That's a strange statement. But I know, somehow, that only when it is dark enough, can you see the stars... something is happening in our world. The masses of people are rising up...the cry is always the same-- 'We want to be free.'”
Sounds a lot like the first half of the twenty fist century to me. As Dr. king noted about his day and age, we too are “forced to a point where we're going to have to grapple with the problems that men [sic] have been trying to grapple with through history, but the demands didn't force them to do it.” Dr. King tells us that the demands of the times now force us to do it. It is no longer, as he rightly points out, a question of violence and non-violence; it is a question of violence and nonexistence. Be they war and peace or human rights, these problems persist and so must we.
Not surprisingly, in his final speech, Dr. King gives us some sage advice for how we go about non-violently confronting these problems. It begins with staying united. Those of us who favor the side of peace and the promotion of all human rights must stay united. As he, points out with great historical acuity, when the Pharaoh needed to prolong slavery, he promoted disunity amongst the slaves. Unless we wish for all of humanity to continue to be enslaved to violence, unless we wish for select groups to continue to be abused and marginalized, we must stop our petty infighting and stand with a united voice that speaks out louder than any divisions based on nation, creed or educational background.
Dr. King also asked us to stay focused, to “keep the issues where they are.” We cannot be distracted by violence, name calling, holier-than-thou attitudes or hatred. We must be focused on our purpose – love. We must be brave and be bold in that purpose, but we must not let the seeds of hate take root in the fertile soil of righteousness. If we let them take root, it will grow into a thicket that will prevent us from reaching our goal. When we gather to non-violently oppose war and the abuse of human rights, the presence of violence, name calling, holier-than-thou attitudes and hatred only distract from the vision we are trying to cast. The vision will be obscured by our lack of focus on the message of love and while people will talk, they will talk about the hate and not about the core issue of debate. We must not be distracted.
To borrow from Dr. King, the question you must ask yourself is not, if I stop to help the victims of war and those whose civil rights are being ignored, what will happen to me? The question you should ask yourself is, if you do not, what will happen to them? You see, we must stay united and we must stay focused against the storm of violence and abuse of civil rights which continues to roll in on us from the mountaintops upon which the powerful sit. From Union busting to preemptive wars, a storm is brewing and it has been brewing.
Dr. King asks us the question, will you gather in spite of the coming storm? Will you unite? Will you stay focused? Are you determined to go on anyhow?
This edition of State of the Christian Left engages Libya, the end of the Tea Party, and the theological questions of providence concerning the disaster in Japan. Join Zac from Crazy Liberals and Conservatives
and Mark from The God Article
for what promises to be insightful, thoughtful, and fun commentary.
It is a sad commentary on the state of our nation, particularly the press, that the Birthers continue to have a national voice. Faux News is particularly guilty of covering this non-news “news” story.
Birthers believe that we have an illegitimate President. They claim that he was not born in the United States. Instead, they argue, Barack Obama is Kenyan, where his father is a native. Even when presented with the facts, including documents, which show clearly that Barack Hussein Obama II was born in Honolulu, Hawaii on August 4, 1961, the Brithers jump to conspiracy theories with claims ranging from faking the certificate to a mass government conspiracy involving Hawaii's Department of Health.
The problem with all of the Birther theories is that none of them can explain how back in 1961 it was foreknown that the fake birth certificate or the mass government conspiracy would happen and that somehow (I'm supposing with the help of a soothsayer or a crystal-ball) someone had the foresight to print in the Honolulu Advertiser the birth announcement of Barack H. Obama in order to back it all up:
Like I said, the whole thing is a sad commentary on the state of our nation. It can also be seen as a strong statement about Obama the Presidential candidate for 2012. The best thing they have on him, the thing to which they constantly return, is their doubt as to whether he is actually a citizen of the United States. They have no proof. As a matter of fact, the birth certificate which they claim has yet to be released can be found by a simple Google search
(many of the photos found are actually from news organizations that have confirmed it's authenticity) or (under a soon to be passed bill from Hawaii
) an official copy can be purchased from the Department of Health in Hawaii for $100.
But that isn't enough for Birthers. Why? Mostly because they just don't want it to be true. I have to believe that it is also partly because President Obama isn't white and doesn't have a name like George, Bill, or Ronald (maybe we should give the President a nickname like “The Gipper”... how about “The Hoper” - probably not). You can bet that if our current President was white and had a name like Mark or Jeff or Hillary, the proof that we currently have would be more than enough. Actually, no one would have even asked for it.
It would seem that many of those who want to be the Republican Presidential nominee realize that, if they hope to win (probably both the nomination and possibly the Presidency), they need to be identified with the Birthers to some degree. The most resent person to jump on the Kenyan bandwagon is Donald Trump who recently said on Faux News
that he would make the issue of “Barack Obama’s birth certificate a pivotal part of his bid.”
It's a sad commentary indeed. Worse yet, many of those who are doing it consider themselves Christian, yet seem to have no problem allowing cognitive dissonance to cause them to bare false witness against their neighbor (and yes, biblically, Barack Obama is your neighbor).
I wish I could say to the Birthers and to their most recent lead cheerleader, Donald Trump, “You're fired!,” but I'm pretty sure Donald's got the phrase trademarked, so I'd just like to say, “Stop the idiocy.”
All wars kill innocent people. The war in Afghanistan is no exception. A recent article on couterpunch.org by Kathy Kelly
, reminded me of that all too tragic reality.
Today, the Afghan Youth Peace Volunteers are holding a candlelight commemoration for the innocent children killed in the Afghanistan war. They will carry that compassion on and connect with other youth from around the world on the “Global Day of Listening” which is held on the first day of Spring.
Today, I stand with them in commemoration and grieving of the children killed in the Afghan War. So, I have lit a candle. Admittedly, it is a small thing, but it matters. You see it is a constant reminder of the atrocities of war. It is a constant reminder that the The War Machine doesn't care about life, it only cares about power. It is a constant reminder that I was too silent when the U.S. was considering war. I was not silent. I was simply too
silent. So the candle matters – it reminds me.
I hope you will consider lighting a candle today as well. Why? Because it matters. Why? Because it is a reminder. Why? Because you were too silent as well.
For me, today is not enough. You see, children are dying around the war because of war and because people are rightfully standing up in places like Libya, Syria, Yemen, Palestine and others where they are being mistreated. Children and adults are dying everyday – bloody and brutal. So, for me, today is not enough. I am setting a candle on my desk at work and I will light it every day to remind me. It will remind me that people are dying needlessly every day. It will remind me that it is not only the War Machine that doesn't care about life, it is all those who value possessions and money over life. Every day people die of starvation in a world where there is more than enough food. Every day people die from a lack of clean water when we have the technology and resources to provide it for most people. Every day people die from curable diseases because it would be too expensive or inconvenient to save their lives. So, I will light a candle everyday as a reminder that I have been too silent. So the candle matters – it reminds me.
I hope you will consider lighting a candle everyday as well. Why? Because it matters. Why? Because it is a reminder. Why? Because you were too silent as well.
The candle is a small thing, some will argue it is insignificant and just barely better than doing nothing – but it matters. When people ask me (when people ask you?), why there is a candle burning on my desk I can say, “Because I have been too silent about the children who die because of war. I have been to complacent about the innocent people who are dying every day in the name of money and power. It reminds me to use my voice, to stand up for those whose voices are being snuffed out with rifle fire, silenced by the lack of food, drowned out by a lack of clean water. I hope you will consider lighting a candle everyday as well – because it matters.
Pres. needs a new pair of shoes. Not literally, of course.
In a campaign speech in 2007, President Obama (at that point Senator Obama) said, "If America workers are being denied their right to organize when I'm in the White House, I will put on a comfortable pair of shoes and I will walk that picket line with you as President of the United States."
Mr. President, an attempt is
being made to deny American workers their right to organize... and we've not seen our President on "the picket line" (or the protest lines as the case may be).
I don't actually expect to see the President of the United States join in a protest - the tactical logistics of protecting him would be a living nightmare. I am asking him to be more vocal about protecting the very folks who helped get him elected - joining the voices of those on the protest line.
A campaign has been started on Twitter, to remind President Obama of his own words and to remind him of all the feet that will walk the rally lines this Saturday. We are sending him our comfortable shoes. The President needs to slip off those dressy business shoes and walk around in our shoes for a bit. Shoes from police officers, firefighters, teachers, public employees - Union members.
So send the President your comfortable shoes. Remind him of his words and of the people to whom he spoke them. Ask him to stand up for us, because we stood up for him. Ask him to stand in our shoes.
Send your shoes to:
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20500
Tell your friends about it. Share this article and ones like it on Facebook. Tweet about it using #shoes4Pres or #Obamaswalkingshoes. Send the President a message wrapped in a pair of comfortable shoes.
Also, put on YOUR comfortable shoes and get out to a Rally to Save the American Dream
this Saturday (2/26/11). Don't forget you Rally signs as well. This is the one I'm taking. You can find more on The Christian Left's FB page
And...just for fun, a song about comfortable shoes."You can be king. You can be President. It don't mean a thing if your toes are bent."
Don't get me wrong, I am a BIG Obama supporter
. I've even been called an Obama apologist. I just happen to think that people who shout and yell that they are disappointed in Obama just haven't been paying attention before the election or they came late to the game. Not to mention, the realities of Washington (completely messed up and dysfunctional when it comes to serving the will of the people) are such that bold actions are no longer as possible as they once were. The most effective civil servants in Washington, in recent times, have been the ones who take a centrist approach (I'm not saying it's a good thing, just a reality).
While the swelling rhetoric of Obama certainly played a big role in his election, it would be shortsighted to miss that it was clear, decisive, strategic thinking that put him in a position to be a candidate at all. Being disappointed in him for his record thus far is like being disappointed in Jon Stewart for having a rally to support civility and then being too civil (hmmmm, maybe that's a bad example).
So, yes, I'm a big Obama supporter (possibly to a fault). And, yes, I think that clear, decisive, strategic thinking is ultimately what it takes to 'win' out on Capital Hill, but I happen to think that some things are worth fighting for. I happen to think that there are some principles that should not be compromised. Unfortunately, the budget President Obama is presenting to congress crosses a line for me and I'm bummed. O-bummer.
The budget being presented (to quote a recent Huffington Post article
), “attacks programs that assist the working poor, help the needy heat their homes, expand access to graduate-level education and undermine that type of community-based organizations that gave the president his start in Chicago.” I completely get that he is trying to overcome the largest deficit in our history. As a minister, I just happen to have a problem with him trying to do it on the backs of the lower and middle class. Go figure.
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., once said, “A man can't ride your back unless it's bent.” Approximately, 75% of the people in the US fall into the categories of lower and middle class
. These are the people whose backs must bare the burden of this proposed budget. But this shouldn't be a game of numbers, which is what placing the deficit recovery burden on the lower and middle classes does. This should be a game of dollars. Considering that the upper class in the United States, the top 25%, own approximately 75% percent of the wealth
, the solution needs to fall more squarely on their shoulders... but it doesn't, because they own Washington and don't have to bend their backs.
We, the working (and want to be working) class, must take a message from our brothers and sisters in Egypt. When will we stop bowing down with bent backs for the wealthy to ride as we labor? When will we cast aside the yoke of the lower and middle classes that the wealthy and well-to-do are only all to glad to use to steer us towards their will?
In the book of Matthew, Jesus says, “Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” Those on the right love to quote scripture when in gives them an upper hand, but it is time to claim the gospel reality back. I do not want a church state, but I do want Christians to claim the gospel reality that lightens the burdens of the weary, gives hope to the hopeless and a hand up to those who have fallen down.
Mr. President, we the people, respectfully reject your budget. I personally refuse to believe (being the good Christian that you are) that you really think the solution to the deficit burden should be placed on the backs of those already weary with work, weary with finding work, weary with unmanageable hospital bills, weary with worries of sending kids to college and paying for our own retirement - worries so great that our backs are already bent from the strain of reality in such a way that it is hard, almost unbearable, to continue to bow our backs up every time the powerful try to break them and along with them our will.
We need you Mr. President. We need you to be our voice. With the state of our great nation this is no longer a negotiable point. This is a line that must not be crossed. A budget that takes further advantage of those who suffer the most is not acceptable.
We need you Mr. President, but here's the thing: as much as you have done for us (and I do see what you have done), we are Americans - we will bow our backs up again if we must, but we elected you so it would be easier, not harder. Please do not forget that. Please do not forget us. I promise you, either way, we will not forget.