Month: July 2013
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Pope Francis Sides With Me Against @TheIRD

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A recent quote from the Pontiff

 

Pope Francis has done plenty to ingratiate himself to the widest possible audience – especially progressive and social justice-minded Christians, like myself.

In a papal tidbit I missed, he talks about the people in his own church who are stuck in an earlier time and think that the answer to Christendom’s problems lies in “going back” to some time when they were comfortable with things.

The Institute on Religion & Democracy is one example of a group within United Methodism which thinks that the answer to our denomination’s problems lies in reliving the 1950’s.

In an AP article, Nicole Winfield recalls how Pope Francis has publicly spoken about groups like the IRD:

Francis’ predecessor, Benedict XVI, had coddled traditionalist Catholics attached to the old Latin Mass and opposed to the modernizing reforms of the Second Vatican Council. That group greeted Francis’ election with concern – and now is watching its worst fears come true. Francis has spoken out both publicly and privately against such “restoratist groups,” which he accuses of being navel-gazing retrogrades out of touch with the evangelizing mission of the church in the 21st century.

“Restoratist…navel-gazing retrogrades.”

I couldn’t put it any better myself.

The problem with groups who believe that looking back is the most-significant thing an organization can do to reform is that they are dangerous and out-of-touch.

And, honestly, it’s nice when I can use a story about the Pope to further question the credibility of organizations like the IRD.

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The Pope Okay With The Gays?

A papal quote, made during a press conference on the way to Rome from Brazil

 

The Pope has made an early habit of saying pithy things that instantly get everyone's attention.

Today, he said, “If someone is gay, who searches for the Lord and has goodwill, who am I to judge?”

In no way is he changing church teaching on the practice of Homosexuality, but he is bringing the church in line with the stated position of the United Methodist Church – which is that the church is to be in ministry with and to the LBGT community.

I can't be sure which came first, but the UMC has favored this stance for a while – and I'm just now learning that this is a catholic teaching, as well. So, I'm gonna give the nod to the UMC.

Call me a “homer.”

Anyway, thought this could use a once over on the blog.

 

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Pastors Swear, Too (WARNING: Explicit Language)

Nadia Bolz-Weber

 

I don't swear much, period.

I don't swear very much in everyday life, and I swear exponentially less on social media – but I do swear. It happens, and I don't get all bent out of shape when I do it.

In my opinion, God is an “adult” – so our hangups about a few words matter little to nothing to God.

After receiving some flack for swearing on social media, Nadia Bolz-Weber – the tattooed, bespectacled Lutheran clergy-person from Denver – decided to repost a blog entry she penned about the subject.

I would echo much-if-not-all of her reasoning. In particular, she speaks to the hyper-sterile, overly positive world of cultural Christianity. Of the needs of the real-world disciple, she says:

But there are other folks out there who are comforted by ambiguity, who need a Word of grace which is not covered in strawberry syrup. Who need the stark truth of what it means to be broken and blessed at the same time. Who are at home in the Biblical story; stories of anti-heroes and people who don’t get it; beloved prostitutes and rough fishermen. They tend to not really care that I use colorful language. If anything, they are relieved that they don’t have to watch what they say around this particular member of the Christian clergy.

When someone accidentally lets loose with some obscenity in front of me, my relpy is always, “Listen, seminary isn't charm school. That's the way I'll continue to operate, and encourage others to operate.

A “f-bomb” – used as sparingly and correctly as possible – may even help one in the midst of a particular trial.

Weeks after the death of my own son, I was called upon by local authorities to come and be present for a family who had discovered their husband and father had died in the night. The wife had collapsed on the stairs, as if she could go no further. The children were being comforted by other family members. The deceased's sister was visibly and audibly the most distraught. She had attempted CPR, in vain attempt to revive her brother.

She was wearing a sock cap, grey hoodie, acid-washed jeans and a belt-buckle that read “vagina” in the style of the Coca-Cola logo, and all she could bring herself to do was pace the floor, wipe her red and swollen eyes and cry out, “I tried to fucking save him! Why couldn't I fucking save him?!?”

After having just suddenly lost your brother, I'm not sure anyone could blame her.

Honestly, I went home and wove a tapestry, myself.

It is what was needed for her in the time. Eventually, she calmed down enough to accept some tissue from me and have a smoke (no, I didn't give her a sermon about not smoking, either).

Forest is a “bedroom community” and the family never really came back to the house they were renting.

Unfortunately, I know far too many people who would have made a point to say something like, “I know you are hurting, but that language isn't going to help.”

Wrong. It's not wrong to be concerned with the raunchy language of a serial offender – especially when that person is yourself. It's wrong to be so concerned with a few words that you cease to be useful to God and “the least of these.”

Anyway, you won't really ever see it from me on social media – and that's probably the last time you will see a word like “f***” on this blog. However, if the possibility of running into a word you find questionable is just to much for you to handle. I invite you to find the appropriate “unfollow” or “unfriend” button.

No hard feelings, though.

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Random Internet Awesomeness: Unicorn Mask Customer Reviews

A Unicorn Mask, presumably worn by an adult male

After reading a story about how 'unicorning' is going to become the new 'planking' or 'Tebowing,' I decided to see how much it would set me back to get in on this sweet Internet memeage.

I got so much more than I could have dreamed of.

Here's an excerpt from one of the Amazon customer reviews for the mask they sell (presumably, these are written by grown-ups who pay taxes and shave certain parts of their body:

I'm going to be honest, I have tried several different unicorn masks in the past. I have about 6 masks from various retailers around the internet and I've gotta say, this is the right one for me. When I put it on, I feel the rush of pretending I am a real-life unicorn! It is so realistically styled that there's a connection I feel deep inside when I put it on.

Here's another (again, presumably, another adult human being):

As others have said, this IS a magical mask. There's simply no disputing that. The other day, when i picked up my daughter from school wearing the mask, the look on the faces of her classmates left no doubt that they had been touched by its magic. It's not every day you see a unicorn at a community college, after all.

I encourage you to read the rest at the link above;)

So, whenever you begin to feel like you're not making a difference in the world, take refuge in the idea that someone else is contributing less to the advancement of the species.

BTW, I never imagined covering topics like this on my blog. You've just witnessed an Internet first.

 

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Is @JohnLomperis “Skeevy” or “Hateful?”

"Irony" ft. John Lomperis

 

Before today, I wouldn't have characterized the IRD's UM Action Director John Lomperis as “skeevy” or “hateful.”

That was before today.

For, you see, I've read his latest diatribe against his fellow creatures of sacred worth in the LBGT community.

In response to Arizona laws that discriminate against and criminalize the behavior of transgender brothers and sisters who identify as a sex other than the one they were born with – by preventing them from using public bathrooms according to the sex they identify with – the Desert Southwest Conference of the United Methodist Church passed a resolution stating the following:

  1. the Desert Southwest Annual Conference and the United Methodist

  2. 42 Churches of the Desert Southwest Annual Conference make the public statement that our

  3. 43 Churches and facilities (building, gathering spaces and bathrooms) are safe places for all

  4. 44 regardless of gender identity and that transgendered people may use the bathroom of their

  5. 45 choosing in our churches and affiliated buildings.

As you can see, this policy is designed to treat with dignity all of God's people – not just the ones people like John Lomperis are weirded out by.

Mr. Lomperis, however, decides it isn't enough to say he disagrees with it – he has to demean an entire class of people to get his point across.

Such an “open bathrooms” policy is ripe for abuse by a few perfectly heterosexual, non-gender-identity-disordered, perverted individuals who now seem to have an invitation in Desert Southwest UMC congregations to go into the opposite sex’s bathroom. If anyone questions them, they simply need to claim (perhaps with a sarcastic smirk) that they identify with that sex, at least that day. The resolution suggests no safeguards or concerns for such abuses.

Any church worth anything already has a “safe sanctuaries” policy that is designed to deal with such individuals to which he refers. In other words, it's a non-starter and an attempt to emotionally manipulate the reader into siding with him.

Along with using dog-whistles such as the term “gender-bending,” Lomperis just takes his shot (by lumping transgendered individuals into the same category with heterosexual abusers) at anything with which he doesn't personally agree – pretty skeevy, if you ask me.

He even tries to co-opt the argument of an LBGT activist to mislead his readers (a tactic he isn't new to, as you will see me address in the closing paragraph of this Huffington Post piece).

Overall, his piece demonstrates just how hateful he and his ilk can be when they try to approach an issue that both upsets them and weirds them out.

The policy he rails against is designed to treat all persons with dignity. His attempt to pervert the idea or make it into something it isn't shows just how weak his argument truly is.

P.S. Lomperis is likely to treat this type of article as a badge of honor, rather than criticism he should listen to, so I don't ever really expect a reply. The fantasy of living as some type of martyr is very appealing to the conservative, evangelical elite.

 

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SERMON from 7-21-13: ‘Church Goes to the Movies: Luther’

My sermon from 7-21-13 on Amos 8.1-12

Part 1

 

@eJoelWatts & Myself Respond to @JohnLomperis on @HuffPostRelig

A quick post to direct you to a response I penned with Joel. John Lomperis of The Institute on Religion & Democracy wrote a Washington Post op-ed, and we believe it is woefully incorrect.  

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Joel is Right, but Needs Further Clarification

The Cross, the Church and the Flag

My friend, Joel, posted an interesting theory about the decline of the mainline church and the anti-intellectual streak within evangelical mainline enclaves.

How much better would we be if we had taught questioning our faith instead of absolute intellectual surrender when the New Atheists and Ken Ham arrived?

Essentially, he suggests that this “intellectual surrender” has forced the church to surrender credibility in order to maintain uniformity of thought. When a person with a question is told to “just believe” or that their question represents a lack of faith, why wouldn't that questioner find somewhere else to be? This is my paraphrase, but I think this is what he's saying.

I believe his theory to be correct, but insufficient.

We in the church must, first, disabuse (this word not used accidentally) ourselves of the notion that commercial success and the American Dream are synonymous with faithful Christianity.

They're so not.

They may even be the antithesis.

However, those who foster an unquestioning faith tend to experience the greater numeric church success.

Unless these ideas are separated by as much ground as we can get between them, the numeric success experienced by anti-intellectual evangelicalism will motivate the defense of the status quo – and his theory will wither on the vine.

SERMON from 7-7-13: “Church Goes to the Movies: ‘Secondhand Lions'”

This is the first in a four-part sermon series called “Church Goes to the Movies.” Part 1:   Part 2:    

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SERMON from 6-30-13: “The Nons, the Nones and the Buts”

On Luke 9.51-61, here is my sermon from June 30th.

Part 1:

 

 

Part 2:

 

 

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