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A Message To My Christian Brothers & Sisters

26/03/2015

This one is for my co-religionists, so here’s a cute animated gif of a bouncing cube of red jello for the non-Christians.

animated bouncing jello cube

I’ll see the rest of you after the jump.

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I Fail To See A Difference

21/03/2015

This is Barronelle Stutzman. She is a Christian being persecuted for staying true to her beliefs.

Barronelle Stutzman coverstory-4

This is Lester Maddox. He was another Christian who was persecuted for staying true to his beliefs.

lester-maddoxs-quotes-4

No, that’s not Lester on the left; Lester is the guy with the gun threatening an American citizen for demanding his Constitutional rights (the guy with the axe handle is Lester’s son, IIRC).

Lester’s religious belief was that African-Americans were subhumans who were being punished by God for their great-great-great-great-great-times-howmany-grandfather Ham’s sin against their great-great-great-great-great-times-howmany-grandfather + 1 Noah.

And because of that, Ham’s descendants were cursed with black skin and condemned to be slaves to white skinned people for all eternity.

Sez so right in the Bible…

Bad enough the US government went and changed the Constitution to get rid of slavery — which, after all, had been ordained by God — but then they went and let those uppity so-and-sos have equal rights with white people, and that just ain’t right!

Still, Lester and his buddies were willing to live and let live…just so long as the uppity so-and-sos were willing to live in the colored part of town and stepped out of the way when a white person passed by and not vote or go to public schools or run for election or expect fire or ambulance service.

And they sure as hell weren’t supposed to come into a fine white person’s establishment and demand to be treated just the same way as a white customer was treated.

Why, that was violating God’s holy law! That was a sinful abomination! If God had wanted people to treat each other the way they wanted to be treated, with kindness and compassion and mercy, well then, wouldn’t God have said that in His holy scripture?

Hunh?

 

Hunh?

Hunh?

Barronelle believes it’s her religious right to deny her fellow citizens their Constitutionally guaranteed rights.

Recently a couple of African-Americans…no, wait…a couple of Jews…no, wait, a couple of gay guys came into her florist shop to order flowers for their wedding.

Now, the thing a non-bigoted Christian American would have done would be to sell them the flowers. See, a non-bigoted Christian American might not approve of what another person’s religious beliefs are, but they will acknowledge they are supposed to treat them the same way they treat someone whose beliefs they agree with.

And that’s what same sex marriage is all about:
Their religious belief is that it is not a sin for two people of the same sex to marry.

Same as two divorcees re-marrying have a religious belief that it’s okay for two divorcees to re-marry.

Same as two people with different ethnic backgrounds have a religious belief that it’s okay for different ethnic groups to marry.

All of which had been outlawed at one time
but finally allowed when laws were changed.

Now, if your religious beliefs preclude that, no one is demanding you marry someone of the same sex, or who was previously divorced, or of a different ethnic background.

It would be wrong to force you to do that.

But just as it would be wrong to force you to do it, it is equally wrong for you to attempt to deny others their rights.

And that’s what Barronelle Stutzman is doing by refusing service to them.

Same as Lester Maddox.

The only people objecting to same sex marriage today are doing so from a conservative religious background.

They were taught it was wrong and nothing will change their mind.

Not even Jesus himself (God incarnate to Christians), who taught “Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets.”

Who quoted Rabbi Hillel, a Jewish heavy hitter of a century earlier, when he taught “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.”

And who taught “Love your enemies, do good to them which hate you”

And “Give to every man that asketh of thee”

And “Judge not, and ye shall not be judged: condemn not, and ye shall not be condemned: forgive, and ye shall be forgiven: Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again.”

And “And whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile, go with him twain.”

I’m sure Barronelle Stutzman and her allies think of her as a good, decent, kind, loving, generous, righteous Christian being persecuted for her faith; if they didn’t, why do they keep running pictures of like this when they try to gin up support for her?

Barronelle Stutzman coverstory-3

Funny thing is, I look at that photo and am reminded of this:

nazi family cropped

 

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The Parable Of The Statue

14/03/2015

Wasp-Nest

There is an exhibit called The Most Beautiful Statue In The World.

The people running the exhibit tell us how wonderful, how marvelous, how sublime the statue is, truly “a work of art, a thing of beauty, a joy forever”.

But when people enter the exhibit, all they see is a lump of misshapen mud, a dull drab ugly color, with lumpy uneven texture.

Some people leave immediately,
either in anger or bemusement, thinking:
“It’s a hoax, a fake, a fraud, some joker
trying to put one over on us.”

Others stay, and pretend
they see the beauty
the exhibitors claim is there.

Like courtiers in The Emperor’s New Clothes, they believe the hype more than the evidence of their own eyes, and rather than be shamed and ridiculed for not seeing the beauty everyone else claims to see, they pretend to see it, too.

Some actually do believe the misshapen mud is beautiful, because if they were creating a statue, that would be the best they could do, the best they could imagine.

But a few look at it more closely,
and see something much better,
far better under the mud.

And as they look closer, they see the mud
is just a crust over something far more perfect.

Looking closer still, they realize the statue
is covered by a crust of mud dauber wasp nests.

So they start cleaning the statue,
and when they do voices rise in alarm.

“What are you trying to do?”

“You’re ruining the statue!”

“Stop!  Stop at once!”

And the wasps fly out,
angry and attacking those
who dare clean the statue.

But bit by bit they clean up
a patch here and a patch there,
revealing more and more of
the beautiful, genuine, pristine
statue underneath.

And while the wasps may rave and the exhibitors bluster and the crowd tries to stop them, in the end those forces won’t succeed, but the true statue underneath the mud nests will be open for all to see just how beautiful it is.

 

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God’s Word

10/03/2015

Rick Warren tweet

God’s word:

Love one another

Treat others the way you want to be treated

Don’t judge others

Be a good neighbor

Feed the hungry

Tend to the sick

Comfort the dying

Clothe the naked

Visit the imprisoned

Turn the other cheek

Go the extra mile

Forgive seventy times seven

Let the record show that Pastor Rick Warren of Saddleback Church, Lake Forest, CA has stopped taking a salary from his church, has returned his previous 25 years worth of salary, and has donated 91% of the royalties of his book, The Purpose Driven Life, to charity.

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Latin Grace Prayer

1/03/2015

Latin Grace Prayer

“To those who have hunger
give bread and to those who
have bread give the hunger
for justice.”

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Teacheth Not Thy Childe The Bible

17/02/2015

After the jump I prattle on about a topic only of interest to Christians — and even then only some, not all. To entertain the rest of you I present this animated gif of Tex Avery’s Droopy:

animated droopy hooray

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The Internet Is For Porn

14/02/2015

In a study released recently, Allen Downey, a computer scientist at the Olin College of Engineering in Massachusetts, analyzed the General Social Survey, a 40-year+ sociological survey carried out by the University of Chicago, and drew an interesting albeit it speculative conclusion from the facts therein.

To make a long story short, Downey attributes most of the drop in religious affiliation with increased Internet availability & use.

There’s doubtlessly a correlation here, but it’s a good question as to whether Internet use creates dissatisfaction with one’s religious affiliation, or if dissatisfaction with one’s religious affiliation leads one to seek out other answers on the Internet.

Religion vs Internet

This chart is interesting.  While the overall percentage of non-affiliated people rose slightly from 1974 to 1990, it wasn’t a dramatic drop and was marked by peaks and valleys.  After 1990 (Downey’s arbitrary starting point for mass use of the Internet), the percentage of non-affiliated people dropped noticeably.  I’m sure there are several contributing factors to this, but I think the initial surge in the Internet gave a lot of people who had previous drifted from their churches a chance to re-link online, however briefly.[1]

That honeymoon was brief, however, an disinterest in religion rose apace with the spread of the Internet up until the late 1990s.  Part of this 8-year plateau can be attributed to anxieties following 9/11, but the plateau had started before then.  It was certainly a time of great resurgence in the so-called religious right / moral majority so perhaps their PR efforts paid off.

By 2005, however, the decline in religious affiliation once again matched the spread of the Internet.[2]

Again, correlation is not causation, and there are any number of mechanisms that can be at play here, with no single one the sole agent responsible.

Aww, but what fun is that if you’ve got a cultural axe to grind?

Meet Joel J. Miller, author & blogger, who has parsed Downey’s analysis and has decided people no longer go to church because of Internet porn.

With no numbers to back his assertion up, Miller states Downey’s analysis reflects “the modernist prejudice that equates religion and ignorance.”

Well, yeah, it does, if by “ignorance” you mean “not knowing the self-righteous, self-congratulatory, self-important, self-centered jerks who run too many religious organizations and denominations were banking on none of their parishioners comparing notes with anybody outside the system.”

See, what’s driving people away from mainstream religions is the exact same thing that got them flocking to Jesus in the first place:  A recognition that whatever the current orthodoxy is trying to accomplish, it has nothing to do with what God wants, but more to do with said orthodoxy lining the pockets of its leaders and increasing the political clout of its membership.

Add to this the truly treacherous stewpot of misogyny and borderline-to-full-blown child abuse that flourishes in far too many denominations and mega-churches and even small neighborhood churches, and it’s no wonder many people are opting to hit the silk on the whole organized religion experience.

Who can blame them?[3]

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.

.

[1]  I think the 1976 to 1980 hiccup can be explained with Jimmy Carter.  Carter was a sincere, devout Christian who, in the aftermath of Nixon, got people who had only recently drifted away from their affiliations to come back; as the economy grew more problematic and several scandals erupted in & around his administration, people became dissatisfied again.  Reagan, a not-particularly religious person, could sure act like one and under his administration the trend reversed itself somewhat though it began rising again.

[2]  The Internet’s hiccup in 2007-09 I attribute to a decline in the economy, particularly a decline in middle class spending power prior to the big stock market / housing collapse:  People just couldn’t afford all the Internet services they had enjoyed before.  As the economy recovered and as technology prices dropped, Internet use came back.

[3]  Not any true Christians, who in order to be genuine followers of Christ need to adhere to his teaching of “judge not lest ye be judged”.

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Indians

10/02/2015

05_discovery_wyeth_indianprayer

a good Indian
stays on the reservation
a better Indian
leaves it

some people think
that means they are better
because they stopped
being an Indian and left
to become something else

actually it means
they’re better Indians
because they aren’t letting
others decide who is / is not
a good Indian

when others decide
who is / is not an Indian
they’re making “bad Indian”
the default
and the good Indian
is the Indian who stays
where they’re told

the better Indian
ignores this

I am a follower of Christ
and I’m off the reservation

.

.

.

art by NC Wyeth

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“Suspended” by Denise Levertov

22/12/2014

I had grasped God’s garment in the void
But my hand slipped
On the rich silk of it.
The ‘everlasting arms’ my sister loved to remember
Must have upheld my leaden weight
From falling, even so,
For though I claw at empty air and feel
Nothing, no embrace,
I have not plummeted.

(found at Centre For Public Christianity)

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Thinkage

17/12/2014

“A majority of nearly every group — non-whites, women, young adults, the elderly, Midwesterners, suburbanites, Catholics, moderates, the wealthy — said that torture of suspected terrorists can be often or sometimes justified.

“A majority of only one other group beyond liberals and Democrats disagreed: people with no religion.” — Emily Badger, Washington Post article “From moderate Democrats to white Evangelicals, nearly every demographic group believes torture can be justified”

Christian Please Jesus-Facepalm

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