Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Judging Others

"By their fruits you shall know them" ... Matthew 7.16 ... are there no standards for Christian Life, for Christian Ethics? If someone says, "I'm a Christian," does that exempt them from scrutiny? BTW, Jesus said this in the "Sermon on the Mount" and in a passage where he warns against "false prophets who come in sheep's clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves."

Yes, I know, "Judge not" ... Jesus said that too, Mathew 7.1 ... so it's helpful to read the entire chapter ... the "judge not" is "the judgment of exclusion" ... a judgment that says, "You do not belong and can't enter because you're not good enough,or righteousness enough." Of such judgmental people, Jesus uses the word "hypocrite" - i.e. they fail to see their own foibles and weaknesses, but rather harshly exclude those whom they deem "unworthy" of God's love.

Jesus makes some very profound judgments ... against those who are quick to exclude, who are quick to pander to the powers-that-be, who parade around their religion before others in public places.

Jesus judges, and with his words and insights, so must we ... but not a judgment that excludes, but a judgment that exposes - exposes hypocrisy and falsehood and bigotry and hatred and spiritual one-upsmanship (something that really bugged Jesus, and Paul, too).

If I say that I love my wife and then turn my back upon her needs and hurts, one would rightly have to question my claim of love.

Just saying ...

Monday, March 30, 2015

RW Hermeneutics Inherently Unstable

Those who believe that "homosexuality" is an abomination ...

That women should not be ordained ...

And, those who still believe that "people of color" are less than the white race ...

... use an inverted triangle, balanced on its peak ... by taking a few verses and building huge ideologies on them, ideologies invariably of exclusion and domination, feeding into the power of those in charge by diminishing the power of others.

Not only are these huge ideologies based upon a few verses, less than ten in each case, but verses that have proven to be hard to translate, and have, over the centuries, been mistranslated. Give or take a few verses, there are 31,102 verses in the Protestant Bible. To build a huge system of repression and damnation on fewer than 10 verses, and mostly fewer than 5, is irrational at best and, at worst, dangerous.

Going back to the triangle image - the nature of an inverted triangle, trying to balance on its peak, is inherently unstable, requiring constant attention, lest it tip over to find its inherent stability. The frantic preaching of RW religionists is rooted in its inherent instability. It just doesn't stand up very well, so it has to be propped up again and again. Those who build their faith with an inverted triangle are weary to the core, frustrated and angry, and always eager to lash out at others whom they perceive as "enemies of the faith."

Rather, the great doctrines of faith, hope and love are clear and consistent throughout Scripture. The message of social justice woven into the fabric of the prophets is clear and consistent, and so is the teaching of Jesus and Paul.

Sure, there's plenty of room for interpretation - e.g. supralapsarianism or infralapsarianism? or free will vs. predestination, and "did Jesus die for our sins or because of our sins?"

But the great ideas of Scripture, the large doctrines of faith - the grace, mercy and peace of God - these are clear and consistent, and from these large doctrines, encompassing huge portions of Scripture, emerge the ethics of inclusion, welcome, equality and social mercies.

When Scripture is situated on the firm foundation of understanding - when the triangle firmly seated on its wide base - there's still plenty of opportunity remaining to consider the lesser verses, stories, etc., but the triangle isn't balanced on a peak, about to tip over, but rest on its broad and stable base.

Sadly, RW christianity has always been attracted to the few verses that consternate. Rather than saying, "I don't know," or "I'm not sure," or more accurately, "This little piece of Scripture simply doesn't align with the body of the text," they've proceeded to "tell the world what they mean," and, as noted above, tend to gravitate to those social ideas that exclude and dominate.

RW interpretation is NOT one alternative among others; RW hermeneutics are flawed and dangerous, revealing their inherent character in exclusion and domination, rather than welcome and equality. We know them by their fruits, and their fruits are not good, having caused much harm in the world - whatever the religious tradition might be.

Religious traditions will always "enjoy" variety and have their internal disagreements, simply because they're large, but it's time to be clear, very clear, that RW hermeneutics of exclusion and dominance, based upon a few verses, are flat-out wrong!

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Wars of Adventure

Let's tell the truth here ...
The loss of life
Occasioned by our Wars of

Have been pretty small.
I mean, tiny.
Compared to the
Great War.

World War 2, Korea or
Small loses.

But it's the profits, you see.
That keep the machine grinding
On a small group.

Of women and men and
Who join for duty.
Or hope for a better life.

By the fistful.
Coursing through the government

From our pockets.
To the reservoirs
of wealth.
To pay for their dreams.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Spiritual Failure

Just read a tiny prayer for those who grieve ... and it gave me pause.
I know a lot of folks who grieve today.
Their friends will never know it.
Clever are the ways we hide our tears.
So on we go.
The prayer asked for transformation.
That grief might turn to joy.
And that's the problem.
We hide our grief.
Because it hasn't turned to joy.
As everyone wants for us.
That's a cruelty, for sure.
So we hide our "spiritual failure."

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Of Wheat and Weeds ...

"We're not against the ones that work,' the writer said.

... in response to a piece I wrote about the GOP and it's irrational fear of someone somewhere getting a handout.

I've been thinking a great deal about the response, with some questions: Does anyone not work? Even street people work hard all day long, with their limited means of mind and body and soul to survive. I guess folks on the bottom of the heap who might turn to crime might be a problem, but there numbers aren't all that high. Who in the world doesn't work?

Who in the world lays around all day? Enjoying a government handout? (We could have some fun with this one ... visit a high-end gated community, or country club - but, hey, they work hard, too ... and much of their work depends heavily on government handouts - but that's a discussion for another day.

As I thought about the writer's comment, a Jesus Parable came to mind - the wheat and the weeds (Matthew 23.24-30).

When the weeds were discovered, the workers were eager to get into the fields and pull 'em up, but the owner offered wise advice. "We have to wait until the harvest; if we try to separate them now, we'll pull up the good with the bad and ruin the entire field."

Right now, conservatives are fretting and fussing about the "weeds" as they see them, and their running two and fro across the fields trying to pull out the weeds, and they're yanking up the wheat along with the weeds.

In the end, says Jesus, to his all-too eager disciples, "we can trust history; it'll work itself out. In the end, we'll know, but for now, let 'em all grow together."

With regard to immigration, we have slowed it down, and if we identify criminals, deport them. But right now, we're yanking up the good with the bad, whole fields of humanity, entire families and communities, and for every "weed" we'er pulling up, we're yanking up thousands of viable wheat plants.

We're behaving with the worst kinds of instincts, driven by irrational fears and anger at these "strangers in our midst." Spiritually and politically, Jesus offers sage counsel.