Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Madness and Blood in the Bible - Exodus 32.25-29

There is much in Scripture that I love, much that I find instructive, much that deserves to be read and pondered again and again.

And then, this:

25When Moses saw that the people were running wild (forAaron had let them run wildto the derision of their enemies), 26then Moses stood in the gate of the campand said, “Who is on the LORD’S sideCome to me!” And all the sons of Levi gathered around him27He said to them, “Thus says the LORDthe God of Israel, ‘Put your sword on your sideeach of youGo back and forth from gate to gate throughout the campand each of you kill your brotheryour friendand your neighbor.’” 28The sons of Levi did as Moses commandedand about three thousand of the people fell on that day29Moses said, “Today you have ordained yourselves for the service of the LORDeach one at the cost of son or a brotherand so have brought a blessing on yourselves this day.” [Exodus 32.25-29].

What was Moses thinking?

Taking out on the people his own frustration and anger, justified as it might have been, but to raise up a priestly horde, self-ordained, with the blood of a son, a brother or a friend? Madness!

A fiendish scheme, a horrible, hideous, device by which to "prove one's loyalty to God," with a god-forsaken promise of a "blessing on yourselves."

I think of Ahab pacing the deck of the Pequod or Kurtz with his ivory, mad, obsessed, willing the death of others to satisfy some insatiable appetite for revenge, for power.

Horrible enough as it is, how is this read by evangelicals, so many of whom are beset self-righteousness, raging and bellowing against the evils of the world? ... and worse, how this is managed in the hands of self-ordained preachers, many of whom have their own love affair with violence and death?

I don't have to reject the whole of the Bible because of a passage like this, but something like this has to be rejected as an aberrant voice, one of the many voices gathered up in this anthology of faith. That some voices should perceive god like this is not surprising, but always sad ... for there's no way that this can be read with approval.

Read it for what it's worth - an ugly picture of the human reptilian brain ... a version of faith scripted in hell rather than in the saga of heaven.

Monday, March 19, 2018

The "Most" Corrupt President in History???

Written on another thread, where a writer challenges someone for suggesting that Trump is the "most corrupt" President in history ... to that challenge, I wrote the following:

Well, he may not be the "most" of anything ... but the word corruption certainly applies to this man of lies, deception and self-serving manipulation of everyone and everything around him.

A lot of people were willing to "give him a chance," but after a full year, with constant chaos, and what I see to be the unravelling of American foreign policy, not to mention the collapse of education under DeVos, and the collapse of most everything related to environment, climate and health, there aren't many chances left for this man to show us something good.

I don't know where Trump fits on some kind of scale, but in my eyes, with what little I know of our history, and what it means, I think, to be a leader, a President, Trump reflects something dark and insidious, something hollow and angry ... whether it be his business dealings or his family life, none of it seems to make any sense, and everyone around him is scrambling constantly to stay on their feet, and most seem to stumble, falling flat on their faces, where he wants them to be, believing that everyone else's fall will make him look great.

He's not a nice man - that's obvious to me. He's the first President since 1897, or something like that, to not have dog, and I know why: because a dog knows better than we sometimes what a man is like - he loves nothing or no one except his own image in the mirror and the money he seeks, never satisfied, but alway needing more.

Maybe I'm the blind one. Maybe he's wonderful and sweet and kind; maybe he's a world-class leader, a man of vision and compassion; maybe he's a terrific husband and father; maybe he's deeply spiritual and a man of faith, hope and love. Maybe he is, but I don't see it. Maybe I'm blind ... or maybe not!

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

A Lunatic in the White House

A word to the reader: read this aloud.
There's cadence in all of this.
A flow of words, and thoughts.
Line by line;
Best read aloud.

We have a lunatic in the White House.
A purveyor of shoddy goods and shabby values.
A man who loved to fire people.
As he ran his small potatoes outfit.
All on Daddy's money.
And the money loaned to him.
Because some thought his hideous name had value.

Trump this they might say.
And then handed over the cash.
To this measly man of no means.
Just a dirty mean man ... mean as a boil on the neck.
As a pit bull chained by fear and hate.
His little mean life.
His dirty mind.
His filthy hands.

A lunatic running the affairs of this nation.
He loves conflict, he says.
Chaos and noise.
The more the better.
He thrives, or so he thinks.
In the rancid stew of arrogance and ignorance.
Know-nothing is his value.
Read-nothing is his defense:
Against a world that exists, in spite of his lunacy.
A world waiting for something, anything.
A word for the world.
Something that makes sense.
But his mouth mumbles the inchoate.
The nonsense of his own defective sense of greatness.
His dirty little hands move about.
He folds his arms and lays down the law of his lunacy.

Even his demented gang of thieves see his lunacy.
The chaos, the noise.
They come and go, this demented gang of thieves.
All hoping to enrich themselves on the tears of America.
All with some kind of deranged sense of power over others.
First-class flights of fancy.
Fancy dining room tables.
Fancy this, and fancy that, they say, with a sneer on their faces.
Looking at America with a cruel smile, smug in their self-containment.

This demented gang of thieves can't stand the lunatic in the White House.
They can't stand themselves, either.
Full of hate and piety and greed and monstrous ideas:
Devoid of life, and hopeless with despair.
Because money can't buy what they want.
So they pile it up higher.
Beg for more from the nations of the world.
When America has been depleted.
Beg for me, creep around for more.
Because they can't ever have enough of the filthy stuff.

And these are the people gathered around the lunatic in the White House.
They sing his song, or maybe their own song.
It's all the same ... full of me, full of themselves, full of festering desire.
For the world. It's what they want. All of it.
Each a lunatic ... all of them.
Destroyers of what little truth there might be in this beleaguered world.
Destroyers of hope for those in the dark night of the soul.
Destroyers of life, because all they can do is take it, take it away.
Fondle and feel it, and then destroy it ... because it's not enough.
More they must have ... more and more, until it's all gone.
Done and gone ... gone and done ... in their lunacy of lust.

The lunatic is looking pretty lousy these days.
A sagging face, a bull-dog mouth, and tired eyes.
He hugs himself, because no one else will.
These are folks who don't hug; they hate it: a real touch to give.
They can't ... they have nothing to give ... they can't hug another.
But only themselves.
So the lunatic hugs himself endlessly ... at every meeting, every moment.
To protect himself from all the bile streaming to him:
Darkness, confusion, bewilderment, fear and the greed.
The greed of others looking to score points with the lunatic.
For a slice of the shrinking pie.
He laughs, they laugh.
They congratulate him.
And pile on the compliments.
While despising him as the scum of their own earth.
Their dirty dungeons of wealth and pride.
Their mansions and their clubs.
Their golf courses and their large, fat, black, cars.
Paid for by tax-payer money.
What a deal for them.
A ripoff for the nation.
This lunatic in the White House.

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Prayer in Schools

Now, again, evangelicals call for prayer in schools.

Well, which kind?

How about a Muslim Prayer on Monday.
A Jewish Prayer on Tuesday.
A Sikh Prayer on Wednesday.
A Wiccan Prayer on Thursday.
An Atheist reflection on Friday.

Each read by a practitioner.

And the following week:
Prayers from Native Americans
Prayers from China, Vietnam and Thailand.
India and Pakistan.

Not to mention Liberal Christians.
Liberal Jews.
Hasidic Jews.
This and that, and everything else.
Since most everyone prays.
One way or the other.
And if not prayer, then a reflection.
Thoughts about the nature of life.

And all the other variants and varieties of each religious tradition ... and philosophies ... and interpreters of history ... and poets and artists and dancers, who pray with their bodies ... and a group of puppies chasing one another, with the sheer joy of life.

Oh, wait a minute.

My evangelical friend just told me:
Only prayers written by his kind.
And no others.

Oh well, I guess that settles it.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

A Rat Problem

The GOP talks about the poor:
As if they were a rat problem.
A scourge upon the estate.
Something to spoil the view.

The GOP cannot see people, but only problems.
Problems to be solved, with eradication.

The poor are immoral, they say.
The poor are lazy and dirty, they say.
The poor are poor for their own fault, they say.
They say a lot of things.

And none of it is right.
They lie through their pearl-whitened teeth.
Admiring their prowess in a pitiful mirror.
Plastic surgery for the women and viagra for the men.

Slapping one another on the back.
Or grabbing one another in the nether parts.
Laughing all the way to the bank.
Grateful that so many rubes believe their lies.

The poor be damned.
Though we know the truth.
The poor are poor because of theft.
Wage theft and health theft.

Life taken away and hoarded by the few.
Because the few are really afraid.
Afraid of not having enough.
The death of the soul; the real scourge on the land.

The poor be damned.
Take away what little dignity they have.
Strip them bear in the public square.
Shame them all the more.

Why must it be this way?
What deformity of their DNA would prompt such lies?
Wealth has distorted their vision.
And for the rubes, the dreams of wealth kills the spirit.

The GOP talks about the poor:
As if they were a rat problem.

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Federal Judges

The damage is done.
If that's what it is.
To the Federal Bench:
Judges appoint by 45,
And quickly approved by the Senate.

Judges who will sit for a lifetime.
Who will make judgments about the law of the land.
And what's right and what's wrong.

All judges, in some form or another,
Are ideologues ... they have a penchant:
For this or for that.
How they see the world.
Or believe the world should be.

So, the damage is done.
And more judges to come.

So, I pray.
That the high bench will lend its grace.
That responsibility will temper intemperance.
That wisdom will emerge, at least in some.
Along the way.

Sure ... but thoughtful, too.
Willing to bend, to give, to listen.
To grow and change and give heed:

To the common good,
The Constitution and the Bill of Rights,
The best angels that set people free,
And secure justice for all.

Now that they serve, I have to pray.
That in their time, and for their day.
Their gavel will sound, and their words will stay,
The hand of greed and malice.
To sustain what is good, and offer to the soul of the land, justice, peace and solace.

Saturday, November 4, 2017

Korban and Texas Law

Jesus notes how a religious tradition intended for good, i.e., communion with god through offering and sacrifice, is used, instead, to further greed, and to avoid caring for (i.e. honoring) one’s parents in their days of need (Mark 7.11 and Matthew 15.

The written word commands care for parents - i.e., to “honor them” …  in their day of need, a child is bound by the Word of God to offer assistance to her parents.

But as Jesus notes, a tradition had emerged by which a child might say to her parents, “Sorry Mom, sorry Dad, what you might expect in support from me isn’t available any longer - I intend to give the money to the Temple, it’s Korban.”

Jesus condemns the practice, because it was a cover for greed. I suspect that it became an easy way for a child to avoid caring for Mom and Dad, with flippant words of a future gift to the Temple,  and we all know what time does to such promises: Mom and Dad die in need, and the money promised to the Temple, oh well, the check never gets written, or at least gets written for a much smaller amount. 

It was Korban that occurred to me in mulling over aTexas bill recently passed in the House, that women should get abortion insurance, if they intend to ever get an abortion, and specifically, because the law offers no exceptions for rape or incest.

In other words, the good and righteous lawmakers of Texas don’t want Christian money to pay for an abortion through taxes and state provisions. So, if a women is raped, and doesn’t have any “abortion insurance,” she can pay for the abortion herself, or better yet, go through with the pregnancy, or better yet, teach others not to get raped, because, according to conservative minds, rape is mostly the woman’s fault anyway God-abiding women are never raped, and if they are, it’s God’s will for a greater purpose - who knows, the child so conceived might grow up to become a great leader, a scientist, or a even better, a Baptist preacher like Mike Huckabee.

As I read the article about the bill (not yet signed by the governor, but likely so, because the Senate is also considering a similar bill), I thought of the notion of Korban (Corban), wherein a religious tradition is used to avoid responsibility to one’s parents.

I can only imagine some young hotshot evangelical saying to her parents, “You should have planned better for your retirement, you should have saved more, invested in the Stock Market, put money aside for your day of need. Don't count on me to help, because I’ve promised my money to my megachurch pastor. Oh, I’ve not paid it yet, but I will. It’s promised to the LORD, so no help for you. You’re on your own, and I hope you learn your lesson, and others, too, will learn from my righteous example.”

Evangelicals don’t want their money associated with rape, pregnancy, abortion, sin and sorrow. Women are on their own in this matter, and that’s just the way it is. You’ll not see any Evangelical money helping anyone in need, because this money is promised to the LORD. So there. And if anyone is in dire straits, poor and suffering, it’s there fault for poor decisions and bad planning. And, besides, it’s all in God’s good will, and God will provide. Woo hoo … praise the LORD, and look at my bank account.

Jesus calls the crowed together in Mark 7.14-16 and says: There’s nothing outside of a person that can defile one, but what comes out of a person is the defilement. The “righteous,” who are fussy about what they eat and drink, and their pots and pans and cups (Mark 7.1-4), are mistaken. They fail to see what’s coming out of them as the issue, and what’s coming out of them is greed, all gussied up in religious jargon.

The proposed Texas law, and so many like it, have nothing to do with God’s purpose; it’s all greed, a means by which the “righteous” can keep more of their money, and the means by which human suffering can be ignored, and those who suffer can be scolded for their wayward behavior.

The story of Korban: a well-intended purpose subverted for the purposes of greed.