Tag: current-events
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Pope Francis, ‘Throw-Away Culture’, and The Real Problem

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Once again, I agree with Pope Francis – but not on what you think.

Francis says abortion is a symptom of our “throw-away culture.”

Yes!  I agree that the rampant abuse of the practice of abortion is a symptom of our “throw-away culture.”

Instead of using our smartphones until they have ceased to work for our needs, we give in and get a new phone every two years – or sooner (with wireless carriers advertising heavily this sort of program, and profiting in a major way).  Instead of driving a car to the point where it no longer runs without thousands of repairs, we get a loan or lease for a new one.  Whenever a small appliance has a hiccup, our first reaction is often to go pick up a brand new one.

Now, there are certain situations where the above scenarios are the common sense thing to do.  However, we are trained from our youth to believe that the newer thing is the better thing – and then we need that thing.  This has trained us to believe that our desires are the only thing that should dictate our actions.

This is no different for many Christians, though it should be.

With that said, I believe the Pope didn’t go far enough.  Follow me, here.

Our throw-away culture is a symptom of our consumer culture.

Our consumer culture is a symptom of our capitalistic system.

Our capitalistic system is what makes this country the economic force in the world that it is, it is yet a symptom of our sin condition.

Each of our sins is our responsibility.  However, we cannot deny there is something else at work here.

Pope Francis has spoken out against greed and the financial powers of the world.  He made his latest comments on abortion to satisfy the faithful who spend way too much time on the big 3 social issues.

I just thought this connection needed to be made.

Though, not many people will read it.

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White, Male Pastor Responds to @GOPBlackChick

Before today, I had never heard of Crystal Wright. That was until the Christian Post published an op-ed by her, entitled Unlike Dr. King, Obama is Not Black.

In case you are wondering, no, I'm not kidding.

The title of the article is what drew me in – which was the point. The article doesn't really live up to the über-inflammatory title, though it does go off the deep-end.

It is, of course, what you'd expect from a conservative person who has decided anything from this president must be – in the words of Kathy Bates in The Waterboy – “ub da debil.” However, more specifically, Wright takes aim at the themes of race and how the POTUS has “used” and/or responded to them. As you'd expect, there is nothing positive to be found.

Essentially, her editorial remarks come down to this:

Sadly, dignity is far removed from discussions on race today. After a jury found George Zimmerman not guilty of murdering Trayvon Martin in cold blood, Obama blamed Martin's death on racial profiling…[r]ather than acknowledging black men are committing most of the killing in America, Obama continues to feed blacks the lies they want to hear to keep the support of his most loyal, blind constituents. After all when it comes to Obama and blacks, it's about the color of his skin not the content of his character.

Not only are these things inflammatory, almost none of them are true.

First, the only real conclusions that can be drawn from the verdict on Zimmerman is that Florida's gun laws are far too lax and George Zimmerman ignored police advice and followed an innocent, black teenager in the middle of the night. Oh, and there's some pretty damning tape of George Zimmerman's thoughts about how “they always get away.”

Second, Wright chooses to ignore the actual things POTUS has said on race, or what he's said when addressing the issues within the black community. Though this is a quote from yesterday's speech, it is indicative of the way Mr. Obama has addressed black Americans during his presidency (note the dignity in this particular quote):

 

 

Rather than placating blacks with reasons they should remain in a constant state of victimhood, the above quote speaks to the opposite effect.

In addition to that:

 
Again, rather than calling blacks to continued victimhood or to be permanent wards of the state, the implication is that one must actually do something in order to change their circumstances.

As I've said in previous social media engagements, the clever misuse of facts can make anybody's case – and that's what we're dealing with here.

Unfortunately, the issue of race – especially since the passage of the '64 CRA – has gotten more complicated. That is, finding broad swaths of racists or racism is difficult to do nowadays. As I told someone on Facebook yesterday, “It doesn't look like racism because it's done from afar and is based loosely on facts.”

Certainly, strides have been made on the issue of race. However, that does not mean racism has ended – nor does it mean that it doesn't still need to be identified and weeded out of the shadows.

Racists have become a savvy lot. The shining example remains when Regan identified “welfare queens in Cadillacs,” but code words and misused and misunderstood statistics have become the weapon of the racially biased.

What Wright does in her piece is to apply the GOP formula of “everything about Obama is bad,” and add in the digs on race. She added nothing new to the discussion, and nothing that we didn't hear from any number of black conservatives on August 28th, 2013 – disappointingly, I might add.

My belief isn't that you can't be black and conservative, but that you can't talk about events and twist them in a way that meets your ideological needs. This is the problem with Wright's article.

Now, I'm a white guy. I'm also a pastor. I'm a white, male pastor. Why do I choose to blog about this?

Having been a history major at Ball State University – and having taken classes specifically on the black experience in America – it has become far too easy to see when people are choosing to gloss-over the more painful and disgusting portions of our history.

Glenn Beck and his lackey, David Barton, are the best at it.

The trick is to appropriate all the “pick myself up by my bootstraps” and “rugged individualism,” while dismissing and ignoring important facts about the poor and marginalized. Unless it speaks to American Exceptionalism – which has become a dangerous and idolatrous religion for too many people – it has no place in our history, nor does it belong in our collective conscious, according to people like Beck and Barton.

Race is still a problem in this country. Not only in this country, but it still exists here. As a product of my faith, I believe it is the job of people like me – and people who are unlike me – to persist in the march for social justice.

I don't care if that phrase has come into disrepute in certain circles, I will always believe in the importance of social justice. The issue of race is still in need of attention, even when it comes to social justice.

Someone left me a wonderful and beautiful comment on Facebook yesterday. It is written by a friend and colleague in ministry. I treasure it. I wanted to share it with you, because it speaks in direct opposition to the unwise and misguided words of the aforementioned CP contributor:

Chris, I have appreciated your posts and support in regards to racism, (particularly towards black people) since we've become fb friends. I continue to appreciate it. It is so healing to have racism not only acknowledged (named) by a white person, but, understood (so to speak). The fact that you have educated yourself about the history of racism in this country speaks volumes during a time when everyone is suddenly, “color blind” and “so over it.” I pray that those who read your posts will understand, as you seem to, the deep wounds that racism has caused us as a people, and more, to the human race and that it will help some of us to work more closely and purposefully towards healing them. God bless you my friend and brother.

The wounds of racism are still real and raw for many. In part, that is the reality because racism is still alive and well in our country – despite people's desire to deny it.

The good news is you don't have to agree that something exists for it to actually exist (lucky for us Christians, huh?), so Wright's article isn't all that big a deal. However, in the wake of #MLKDream50, let's not faulter in continuing to seek out the dream.

We've made some strides, but let's not mistake that for a job well done.

 

Christians: How NOT to React to Secular News – #DOMA

Christians have not been setting a good example on social media today. The Supreme Court ruled The Defense of Marriage Act and California's Proposition 8 unconstitutional. Reactions have been anything from “they're heathenous sinners, but I'm called to love 'em” to…well…I wanted to share these with you. First up, we have a random pastor: Next,

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Persecution Schtick Makes Christians Look Like Dopes – @TheIRD

A screen-grab from the 'Fortnight for Freedom' website

A screen-grab from the ‘Fortnight for Freedom’ website

 

If it weren’t for @TheIRD, I would have no idea what the above event is.  I’m talking about Fortnight for Freedom – an effort by the US Conference of Catholic Bishops to bring attention to what they feel is a war on religious liberty.

There is, of course, no war.

At all.

It.

Doesn’t.

Exist.

That hasn’t stopped the USCCB from creating this event from whole cloth.  What is it?  It’s a two week event that begins today, and ends on July 4th – which isn’t heavy-handed in the least.

Independence Day.  Get it?

What does @TheIRD have to do with it?  Nothing.  They just featured a blog post from one of their interns about it.  The thing is, @TheIRD uses any excuse to add another layer to the myth – yes, myth – that religious liberty in this country is under attack.

It has become no more than a schtick to them – or any of their ilk.  The phony cries of a “war on religious liberty” are more often fundraising pleas, than actual concern for actual instances of incursions on those who seek religious liberty.

Whenever some semi-prominent religious person is shouted down by someone with a differing opinion – or some small town nativity scene is forced to move from city hall to the church grounds – certain Christians hit the airwaves to cry foul.

It also doesn’t help that pompous media figures posing as journalists bring the offended parties on their FOX News shows and ask questions to get answers that aren’t actual journalism – but shilling to a particular population subset.

Why does this persecution schtick make us look like dopes?

This story from Patheos recounts 6 recent stories of actual persecution against Christians in portions of the world where Christians face actual opposition.

American Christians are so spoiled and weak.  Is it any wonder that the church continues it’s decline, considering that a mere disagreement with a Christian is construed to be an attack on religious liberty?

It seems silly to have to explain this, but your First Amendment rights mean you have the right to say what you want.  It also means that others have the right to say what they want.  Free speech rights do not protect you from people saying they disagree with you.

When we don’t act like we understand that, we look like dopes.

Now, the Fortnight for Freedom has more to do with the USCCB’s snit with HHS over reproductive issues. It’s still not a war on religious liberty.  It’s figuring out that your religious rights stop at someone else’s reproductive system.

So, I mean, come on.  Let’s act like adults who understand that we don’t always get our way, and not petulant children who throw fits when we don’t.

*dismounts soapbox*

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“Do You Read the FOX News Version of the Bible?”

This is one of the best quotes I’ve heard in a while.

This quote was uttered by Dr. Mark Lamont Hill to Bill O’Reilly on his show.  It was in response to the outlandish – and ignorant by default – statement made by O’Reilly; and you will see it in this clip:

“Jesus was killed over taxes.”

Wrong.

Real quick, Jesus was killed for being a threat to Roman and Jewish leadership, and Jesus encouraged people to pay taxes (“give to Caesar what is Caesar’s” – Mark 12.17).  If Bill will remember, Pilate gave the crowds a chance to free Jesus (John 18.40).  If they really wanted him for tax-related issues (a ridiculous claim made by the cable “news” host), he would have gone down without that little opportunity for escape.

Not to mention the fact that Pilate also found him not guilty (John 19.6).

Only in the FNT (FOX News Translation) Bible can it be found that Jesus was killed over the issue of taxes.

Bill O’Reilly.  Bad Catholic.  Bad journalist.  Bad historian.

Unfortunately, the fact that he is bad at his many jobs doesn’t preclude him from being able to write another “history” book.  This time, he is taking on the subject of Jesus in his “Killing…” series.

His book about Jesus should be about as historically accurate as Quentin Tarantino’s portrayal of the death of Hitler in Inglorious Basterds.  

Remember the outrage over the artist who submerged a crucifix in urine – literally called Piss Christ?  I believe there should be similar outrage over this “book.”

Oh, and don’t forget, NatGeo – the cable channel named for National Geographic magazine – is working on a TV version.  Why not?  They produced his other two, widely historically panned books.

I will read this book, only so that I may get in on the long lone of critiques this book will face.

It appears more and more obvious that these types of attacks from the likes of O’Reilly and Barton are going to have to be met with critiques by the adults in the room.  Why are the critics the adults?  Because, the truly childish thing these people do is produce this razor-thin dreck for the highest possible monetary return.

Good day.

P.S. Check out what my friend, Joel, wrote about it.

Election of Francis I Means Rome Wants Reform – But What Kind?

  Early indications are that Pope Francis I is someone who appeals to a wide audience.  That’s not to say he’s a moderate, just that he can appeal to that broad middle ground. The National Catholic Reporter put together biographies of the candidates for Pope – in the days running up to the conclave.  The

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Not At All, NAGR, Not At All

  The NRA's lame cousin – NAGR – does this every once in a while. They create a graphic that is so simplistic that it resonates with a large portion of their following – one million strong. It needs to be pointed out for the sycophantic crap it is. Once again – because they don't

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Mr. Tooley (Pot) – @MarkDTooley – I’m The Kettle

In response to a press conference that featured prominent clergy people from across the ecumenical spectrum, Institute on Religion & Democracy president Mark Tooley decided he needed to weigh in on it – as if we didn’t already know what he was going to think about it.  However, he didn’t just go to the point of saying

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The Church Is Not A Business, Jeffery Walton – @TheIRD

  In the wake of Atlanta-based pastor Louis Giglio’s decision to back out of praying during President Obama’s 2nd inaugural – due to backlash he received based upon an anti-gay sermon he preached in the 90’s – The Institute on Religion & Democracy has made sure to display it’s righteous indignation. I’m not writing to comment

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Alex Jones Is A Dancing Monkey

Alex Jones is a radio talk show host, based out of Austin Texas.  From his early work helping to rebuild the Branch Davidian complex, he has been a firebrand mouthpiece for neo-patriotic libertarianism ™.  Every conspiracy theory you have ever heard, dealing with the New World Order and “big brother,” has been championed by this

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