Sunday, October 30, 2011

Reading History

The gift of reading history - plenty of scoundrels, for sure, but plenty of people who rise to the occasion - they envision a just society where privation and suffering are limited;
they challenge the powers that be, especially those powers heavily funded by the super-wealthy;
they bristle when they see human beings degraded in the workplace;
they strive for good schools;
they are generally skeptical about military adventurism;
they are not swayed by slogans and throw-away phrases;
they read and they think;
they are generally of good humor, and enjoy a good laugh at themselves;
sometimes they're religious and sometimes not, but they all look at human beings with awe and hope.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Baalism - Alive and Well in Christian America

The obscene differential in income is a genuine issue for anyone who takes Scripture serious, Jewish or Christian. God's vision of justice is clearly one of balance - not perfect balance, but dynamically so, where the haves have not too much, and the have-nots have not too little (2 Corinthians 8.15). 

Surprising how many Christians pay no attention to the Bible's economic/social justice materials, opting, instead, to worship Baal, the feel-good God of Money and Power and libido.

And that's the point: Baalism is a feel-good religion - all about me, my welfare and my salvation.

Ancient Israel was able to skillfully confuse Baalism with the worship of Yahweh.

People bought it hook, line and sinker. When the prophets said, "You're worshipping Baal," they replied, "No we're not. Look at our temple, look at our liturgy, listen to our hymns and prayers - they're all to the God Israel."

But Baalism it was.

A Liberal Who Likes Joyce Meyer

For reasons known only to God, or worse, I've read and followed Joyce Meyer for some years now.

Several years ago, she flirted with some of the fundamentalist jerks not-to-be-named, but I think someone got to her (I wrote her note expressing my disappointment), and I've seen her back away from them (not that my note made any difference).

I listen to her podcasts a couple o' times a month while walking - I always learn something. For me, she works quite well with Scripture, and the larger message, and she's hell-bent for leather, so to speak, to break the fundamentalist hold on people's minds - what with the fear and judgment that has condemned so many.

She also deals powerfully with abuse (as she was abused by her father).

At this point in time, I think she's made a decision to side-step the LGBTQ question; I can live with that.

Of course, I thought the same about Joel Osteen, until, on Piers Morgan, he inserted foot all the way down his throat.

I think the women who attend her conferences come away with a keener sense of their identity and power (much needed in the circles those women typically run in). She's knows her world, and speaks positively and powerfully to it. It's not my world, but I'm grateful for her iconoclastic ministry. I think she's clearly helping fundamentalist women find a better day.

And besides, she doesn't take crap from anyone!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Genesis 3 Supports Women's Right to Choose

What does "life begins at conception" mean? What is life anyway? Let's face it - it's a political weapon; obscure theology - it's not science, it's bad theology, and it's surely not faithful to Genesis 3.

In Genesis 3, the only curse is against the snake and against the ground ... what God does "to" the woman is of interest for this essay.

But let's begin with the man first.

With regard to the ground, God introduces a unique element for the man - frustration with thorns and thistles. To frustate his temptation to define himself by toil. Because toil alone cannot define a man. If the man seeks to define himself, he must return to the original story - a partnership with God and a profound care for the entire garden.

For the woman, no curse, just pain - in the process most powerful to a woman - to conceive and carry a child and rear it. As part of the process, she'll watch her children duke it out with the snake's family, a duel with an unhappy ending for both parties: Eve's child will crush the serpent's head, but in its death-throes, the snake will nip the heel, and that means death as well. Such is the burden and sorrow of the woman and her children. There is no salvation in bearing children (Paul's New Testament promise is that a women need not fear going through birth - 1 Timothy 2.15 - she will be saved IN the process, not BECAUSE of the process).

God doesn't bless a woman's fertility, make it divine, or the defining element of her being, but troubles it. So that the women isn't tempted to define herself by her body and its incredible powers, and hopefully, to deter men from doing the same. Though she will desire her husband, he will "reward" her only with a boorish effort to rule over here. Not much pleasure here.

Why for all this trouble?

So she won't waste her time by defining herself as a physical entity, and won't allow anyone else to define her as such, as well.

It's not about her body, her ability to conceive, or anything else related to birth.

Those who are pro-birth - that a woman must conceive and bear a child no matter what, no matter where, regardless of the outcome for either mother or child or both, and the family - disregard Genesis 3 and its effort to free the woman from her body and her husband's control.

A woman remains in charge of her body, not simply as a bearer of children, but in partnership with the husband, to care for the earth in the largest of all possible ways (Genesis 2).

While abortion is a serious business, it's well within the rights and powers of the woman as laid out in Genesis 3. To force a women to carry every pregnancy to term is to contravene the intent of God's purpose. She's not a baby-factory. Only in a wretchedly sinful world would any dare to define a woman solely by her reproductive powers. And only in wretchedly sinful world are men defined in terms of their labor (a cross-over term, for sure) - the end result being the demeaning of the man, the lowering of his status to nothing but an automaton in the grinding machinery of the means of production (Cain's world, Genesis 4.17-25 - which ends in mighty accomplishments, for sure, and then vanity, arrogance and unrestrained vengeance).

As for when life begins, the Bible knows nothing of uterine life - yes, God knows what's in the womb - God watches us take shape in the womb; so what? God knows a whole lot of things, like where the worm goes at night, and where the eagle roosts and where Leviathan lives. And because God knows them, we should, too. But God's knowing them doesn't make them divine, or beyond the reach of responsible management or choice. We do not worship the natural word, because it's not god, though it is very good, including the fetus. But we are given the right and the responsibility of management, and that includes the fetus. Is this so hard to figure out? Only if we make the fetus divine, giving it more status than the woman who carries the child, her family, and a thousand other elements that constitute the web of life.

According to Genesis 3, the woman is defended against those who would define her by physical function only - that of conceiving. And defends her right to choose!

When we read the text faithfully and carefully, it's clear.