Monday, November 7, 2016

Driving Etiquette???

On a recent post, someone noted that
Folks don't say thanks all that much

Driving these days, I let someone in.
A wave, a nod?

Of course, some do: a nod, or a wave.
I like that ...

Friday, October 7, 2016

Evangelicalism, Violence and Abortion

Evangelicalism is a violent expression of faith.

Whether it be the conversion of others and the subsequent condemnation of their religion and life, or waving the flag in heated hyper-nationalism and cheering on the dogs of war, or threatening children with hellfire and brimstone unless they quickly receive Jesus as their personal savior and be baptized, there is violence in the heart and soul of evangelicalism.

But violence demands compensation.

Even the most violent of people create for themselves some kind of an honor code to compensate for their otherwise sad lives.

Evangelicalism has crafted its honor code with a stance against abortion.

In its own backward and upside down way, evangelicalism portrays itself as kindly and faithful, loving and wise, and obedient to the gospel of god.

It's compensation ... and oddly enough, even here, evangelicals cannot escape their inclination to violence.

Even as they defend the "unborn," they threaten violence to the mothers who choose abortion, and to those who offer the procedure.

Ever here, rather than perhaps hanging their heads in sorrow and fleeing to the throne of mercy, evangelicals do the evangelical thing: violence.

Because of evangelical violence, this bizarre honor code is maintained with its own forms of violence - "You see how good we are? How loving of the unborn we are?"

Even as Second Amendment rights are touted from pulpit and podium, the flags of war waved against others who not of their own kind and the social disease of racism maintained as an expression of purity.

Violence on every hand is the evangelical way, and to compensate, evangelicals have crafted an illusion for themselves, that they love and protect the unborn.

And in so doing, unwittingly, have fled from God and turned to the task of their own justification - a decision that never ends well.

Those who live by the sword die by the sword ... those who embrace violence do violence to their own soul, and what's left is a ragged and angry human being who can't shake his or her own condemnation, no matter the honor code they self-create to compensate for their willful and deadly violence against others.

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Karl Barth on Conservative Sexual Obsession

A gem from Barth ...

"So much secrete dissatisfaction with one's own conduct in this sphere, so much vexation at defeats which cannot be reversed and seem to cry out for revenge, so much indirect indemnification for virtue unwillingly maintained, so much repressed but in point of fact extremely virulent lust, can find vent in this preoccupation. One can be properly concerned about sexual ethics only when one has a clear head and a firm heart. Given a clear head and firm heart, sex will cease to be isolated and made a false absolute, either in theory or in practice. It will be understood in its vital connection with the real centre and with other aspects of the divine command and of the obedience we owe it. Therefore let it be said as a definite warning that the man who in reading or hearing ethics begins to pay attention only at this point endures the suspicion of being a doubtful character. And we can only advise or appeal to him to drop the matter for the time being and to consider how he might best come by the clear head and the firm heart which will enable him to give it proper consideration. A diversion from sexual ethics to the point of departure of al ethics and therefore to God and oneself is perhaps a fundamental requirement for many and even the majority of men in this matter of sexual ethics." CD, 3.4.119

When I read this gem from Karl Barth, I immediately thought of James Dobson and his evangelical cohorts, what with their fixation on human anatomy, that portion of the body located somewhere between the chest and the knees, a fixation that is clearly unbalancing Dobson, revealing, as Barth suggests, a man of "doubtful character." 

By making one aspect of our life before God the center of their concerns, evangelicals, are in fact, guilty of violating the command of God, to find purpose in God's own love for creation, for all, for one another. So, it's no wonder how violent and vicious evangelicals have become - living in violation of the heart and soul of God's mercy and grace, they turn upon one another, and the world around them, with the harshest of judgments and ceaseless condemnation, compelling their adherents, if not themselves, to live in blindness and fear, in some vain effort to quite the heart as it cries out for something better. No wonder they are such an unhappy lot.

Monday, May 16, 2016

Health in Your Hands???

"Your health in your hands" reads the tagline on a website ...

I thought, "True enough, but are there no other hands?"

What about the hands that manage the air I breath?
Or the hands that grow, process and package the food I eat?
The hands that mange the water I drink?
The hands that fill our world with ads to eat this, buy that, drink all the more?

Our health is in lots of hands.
Hands that would just as soon remain anonymous.

And, of course, if we get sick, it's our fault.
No one else's.
Because our health is in our hands.

Or so the other hands want us to believe.

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Well, It's Sunday!

Well, it's Sunday.
Now what?
For me?

Been there all of my life.
Early-on memories, dark
Vaulted, beamed

Pews too high for
Short legs.
Swinging away.

Parents, brother.
Preacher in the pulpit.
Windows, glass, stained.

Pot luck dinners.
VBS, and I didn't like it.
Not one bit.
Played a seed in the Sower Drama.

Early-on memories.
Good and kind and loving.

I don't know what religion means.
I don't know what church is all about.
It's my DNA.
It's bone of my bone.

I cry with music.
I nod my head in hope.
I pray to be mindful and kind.
I want things for my family.

Life is short.
And gets shorter all the time.
Days hurry on.
Time passes on.

It's Sunday.
A time to think about
Passing things, and things, that may be

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Mud Everywhere ... a Memory of Beginnings!

The end of 1969, D and I left Holland, MI in our light green ‘66 VW Beetle and drove down to Charleston, West Virginia to begin a two-year stated supply with the West Virginia Mountain Project.

It had rained a lot, and West Virginia south of Charleston was flooded, so we holed up in Charleston motel for a few days. We arrived at night, so it was only in the morning, with cloudy skies and barren trees, that we saw the “hills of West Virginia” and the swollen Kanawha River, in what would be our first home after seminary, an experience that would come to shape the remainder of my ministry and political values.

We finally got to our home, a new little manse, off the main road, over the railroad tracks, up the holler, next to the white clapboard church, on a little rise at the foot of a mountain, the mining town of Ridgeview - everything there high and dry, and so we moved in, without furniture, as it would be a few days until the moving van arrived.

My first task, hurriedly arranged, an agent for FEMA, and my “office,” a dingy bar beneath a railroad trestle, beside Brush Creek, Nellis, West Virginia, to fill out reports for people claiming flood damage.

I remember: mud everywhere.

Cold, damp, grey, and the tired, tired, faces of those who had lost so much.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Is There a God?

Is there a God?
Perhaps ... maybe not.
Whether there is or isn't doesn't seem to make a lot of difference ... as folks seem to make of it whatever they darn well please ...
A god of hate?
A god of love?
A god of damnation?
A god of welcome?
And a little of this and a little of that.
We all know the tired and dangerous claims: god spoke to me ... god said to me ... it's in the revealed word of god ... god's spirit convinced me ...

And, yes, a lot of goodness comes from that ... but so does a lot of evil.
Hospitals and schools built ...
and slaves to farm the cotton and cane ...
and prisons for those who would make trouble for those who own the cotton and cane ...
and visions of social justice in the likes of a Martin Luther King, Jr. ...
and the healing hands of Mother Teresa ...
and the gun-slinging patriots who believe that Jesus favors open-carry ...
and every form of nobility and love ...
and every form of bigotry and hate.

This pretty much leaves the question open.
I guess its up to you and me to chose.
And like the Knight said to Indiana Jones, "Choose wisely."

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Ash Wednesday.

Ash Wednesday it is ...
A time for deep and dark things.

For some, anguish and mourning.

For others, an unspecified, "I'm sorry."

Maybe a time to think of Christ:

His journey.
His pain.


None of which is easy, of course.

So, maybe Ash Wednesday shouldn't be easy either.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Words ...

Words ...

A word isn't really word until it's embraced in a sentence of some sort.

That's what a word is all about ... the words that precede and follow it ... and depending on those words, the word itself might take on many a shade of meaning ... perhaps this or that ... or maybe not ... or maybe ...

Hinting at what it means ... leaving the final decision up to us ... for good or for ill ... up to us.

How to string words together ... in familiar patterns that comfort with their familiarity ... or in discomfiting ways, that catch our attention and arouse uneasiness ...

Words are not easy ... every try to catch smoke?

Words convey the mysteries of life ... from the salacious to the salubrious ... our highest hopes of a better world to the bitterness of disappointment ... trying, trying, trying, to understand what is always just beyond the tip of the finger, defying our gasp ... eluding us, and quickly pecking our cheek with an enticing kiss that keeps us alive and alert and still seeking to find ... slipping away at the moment of embrace ... laughing ... deriding ... beckoning ... and maybe we continue ... or maybe we retire from the field for a drink ...

Words ... they're all we have ... no matter the language, though other languages capture their own reality in their own way ... and it pays to know something about other languages other than one's own ... even a few words of another can shed light on whatever it is we seek.

And who knows what we seek?

If it isn't one thing, it's another ...

The human spirit is restless ... always seeking ... never finding ... at least anything permanent ... but only the passing, the fragments, like a good lunch that satisfies until about 6 o'clock, and then hunger once again ... and so we get out our victuals, and turn on the stove ... and get out our dictionaries, and take up our pen, or the keyboard ... and we prepare something to satisfy ... and we know, to satisfy, only for a time.

Words ... strange critters ...

They're all we have.