Violence Begets Violence

I can understand a church’s desire to protect its’ people. We’ve seen far too many massacres at churches (or anywhere, for that matter).  But, despite that reality, threatening more violence in reaction to violence doesn’t even remotely approach having anything to do with the teachings of the faith.

When relating the story of Jesus’ arrest in the Garden of Gethsemene, Matthew 26:52 tells us that when a disciple sought to defend Jesus from those arresting him:

…Jesus said to him, ‘Put your sword back into its place; for all who take the sword will perish by the sword.

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The Fallacy of Atheism

One thing I’ve noticed about many who reject Faith without thoroughly exploring the subject to begin with (“It just doesn’t make sense to me.”) – is that they envision faith as being focused on The Creation and The Afterlife – on narratives of The Beginning and of The End.  They see these narratives – which most or all faiths have – as factually and fatally flawed, if not downright foolish; and so not worthy of serious consideration.  Therefore, in their eyes, the faith as a whole must be flawed.

Now, there are many people who have adopted the label “Atheist” because they see the evil and pain in this world and cannot believe that a loving God would allow such things. (And perhaps even blame faith as responsible for much of the world’s pain – which, sadly, is true).  Therefore, they say, there is no God.  But, that’s an entirely different topic that I have referred-to in some of my past posts here on this site.)

When talking about the Creation or the End Times, the problem – at least in my view – is that focusing on a factual interpretation of a Faith’s narratives of The Beginning and The End completely misses the point.  (Biblical interpretation Literalists, please take note.)

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An Incoherent Bully: thoughts on the GOP, ICE, and Sanctuary Cities

Several Boston media outlets are reporting this morning that Federal immigration officials arrested 50 people in Massachusetts as part of a nationwide sweep focusing on what they called “sanctuary” jurisdictions…

Said one ICE official: “This [is] a concerted effort to target those locations where we don’t get the cooperation from those agencies. We need to put additional resources into these locations to make these arrests.”

In other words, the Federal Government is stooping to bullying those who are acting to protect innocents from the current administration’s cruel and racist immigration policies: hoping to beat such dissenters into submission.

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Racism and The Star Spangled Banner

A great deal has been made in the last year or so of NFL’er Colin Kaepernick’s kneeling during the National Anthem.  I thought it might be useful to understand some of the reasons why he does so.

For one, Francis Scott Key, who wrote the Star Spangled Banner’s lyrics, was a slaveowner.

For another, read the original verses of the song for yourself, particularly the third and fourth verses…

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Mourning an Uncivil Past

While passing through Mississippi back in 1987, I took the opportunity to spend a day visiting the Vicksburg National Military Park there.  I’ve long been a student of the Civil War and its impact on our country.  I knew a fair amount about the Siege of Vicksburg and its importance in the War; and was excited at this, my first opportunity to visit an actual Civil War site.

It wasn’t what I expected.  In those days before the internet, getting detailed information and images for places of interest was not easy or straightforward – especially when driving across the country on a more or less random vacation journey.  So, I was a bit taken aback by what I saw there: a long trail looping around both sides of the siege tench that surrounded the hilltop that is the heart of Vicksburg.  Every few feet along that trail is a historical marker – some small, some large: telling where and when particular military units and individuals were at that spot during the siege, and any actions of note that occurred there.

It has the feel of a huge cemetery, which is what it is: a monument to all those who bravely fought and died on both sides in a bloody and prolonged battle that was a major event in a war that has been over and done with for more than 150 years.  Over 1400 monuments, memorials and commemorative plaques can be found in the park.

Many of the Civil War battlefields I’ve been to in the years since have a similar feel, such as Gettysburg, but none of those I’ve seen provide a detailed and profound narrative that comes close to what I found at Vicksburg.

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Plagiarism, Privilege, and the State of Christian Publishing

The words of a fellow Minister in the UCC, Rev. Emily Heath: “I’m left with this fact: a man walked into a Christian publisher with my own words – words deemed too controversial for publication – and got those same words published. He took my testimony, and the testimonies of an unknown number of others, and he cashed in on them. I don’t care about the money, but I sure can’t ignore the irony. When privilege is combined with mediocrity and dishonesty, it’s hard not to feel frustrated when it gets rewarded.”

Emily C. Heath

For the past several weeks I’ve been reading about the Rev. Bill Shillady and his book, Strong for a Moment Like This: The Daily Devotions of Hillary Clinton. During the campaign Shillady sent Secretary Clinton daily devotions to strengthen her faith and keep her focused on the work at hand. When I heard the book was coming out, I made a mental note to buy it.

Then I started to hear about allegations of plagiarism, and about how Shillady had used the work of others without properly citing it. I was saddened to hear that, especially given how easy it is for an author to say “this idea is not mine…it comes from this person”. Giving credit where credit is due should be standard practice, especially among preachers and writers. After a few days, though,I didn’t pay too much attention to the story.

Fast forward to earlier today when…

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You Lost Me…

Beth Woolsey’s blog is always entertaining, and often deeply insightful: filled with a deep passion for life and compassion for others.

This particular post of hers (which lays out why she left Conservative Christianity behind) in many ways reflects my own journey on the same path.

http://bethwoolsey.com/2017/09/how-i-became-a-heretic-or-how-the-evangelical-conservative-church-lost-me/

Lord of the Flies

The recent news that a remake of the classic film, “Lord of the Flies” with an all female cast is in the works has sparked quite a bit of backlash.  Reactions have ranged from outright derision and mocking to those who point out that the original book (and film) are about toxic masculinity (implying that the plot’s basic premise can’t work with an all female cast).

Hmmm.

I remember that many years ago I was the only male in my department within a large and well known company.  And, every so often, my boss – who’s office was directly across the hall from mine – would rush out of her office, muttering  “I hate managing women, they’re so damned CATTY!” as she ran down the hall.

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1566 Churches in Houston Doing Nothing?

This meme (which has been making the rounds over the last few days) is purely a case of thoughtless and blatantly dishonest church-bashing…
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Even if the claims it makes were accurate (which I highly doubt: given the unsettled conditions in Houston, how would you find and verify such information?), most churches do not have the resources to do much by themselves, especially on short term notice – they tend to rely on their denominations to do the heavy lifting in such cases.  Their parent organizations have the trained staff and dedicated resources (and fundraising capabilities) needed to support such work.  Local churches don’t.
There are definitely a number of denominations, including my own – the UCC – that are ramping up major support efforts, with the intent (and proven track record) of being there and staying there to help folks rebuild, years after the news cameras and social networking site feeds have forgotten about them and their needs.
For more information on what the UCC is doing, read this article on their website:
 Also, here is a blog post about what the ELCA is doing in the area…
Churches that are part of the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship are also setting up a long term relief effort…

Getting Real: Harvey

The New York Times just published an Op-Ed piece that discusses the link between Hurricane Harvey and Global Warming in a reasoned and balanced way.  The author, David Leonhardt’s point is that: “…when we are faced with actual misery that stems in part from climate change, we should be honest about it.  … What’s happening in Texas is heartbreaking, and yet it will be a more frequent part of modern life unless we do something about it. That, ultimately, is the most compassionate message about Harvey.”
 
Sadly, when we use the words “Climate Change,” many on the Right hear only “Libtard Conspiracy.”
 
Hurricane Harvey will not change that.

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Climate Change Is Here To Stay

A few hours ago, the New York Times published an article summarizing the findings of a just completed congressionally mandated Climate Change Assessment Study.  The report is currently awaiting final approval of the current Administration before release.  Scientists from 13 Federal Agencies participated in the study.

There was concern that the report would be suppressed by the administration, so the final draft was leaked by unnamed government scientists to the New York Times, which has a summary here (“Government Report Finds Drastic Impact of Climate Change on U.S.”), and the complete draft of the report here (“U.S. Global Change Research Program Climate Science Special Report”).

I’ve perused the first few dozen pages of the report.  Very little of what I read was a surprise, but the magnitude of the environmental changes to come that are foreseen because of this research is larger than seen in past forecasts.  The report is carefully written, thoroughly researched, and very sobering reading.  Even if we stopped burning fossil fuels today, the cumulative effects of the carbon dioxide already released into the atmosphere will continue to increase for centuries to come.  Large areas of coastal land will likely be flooded by the end of this century, including most of Florida.

We can no longer ignore what is coming.  Those who continue to do so, particularly those in leadership or who are in a position to influence public opinion, are putting the lives and livelihoods of hundreds of millions of people at risk – doing us, our nation, and our children, serous harm.

Climate Change is not a partisan issue.  Climate Change is not a political football.  It is not a left wing conspiracy.

It is a certainty.  And, responding to it is a matter of survival.

God help us all.

Misogyny in the IT World: a Rebuttal

The furor that erupted in the media this week in response to a Google employee’s manifesto that claimed women aren’t biologically suited for high tech careers got me to thinking, and reflecting, on my own 25+ years in the high tech world.

I began working on this post by trying to list all the female superiors, mentors, co-workers and subordinates I’ve had over the years who have had a positive impact on my own career.  But, that list quickly became quite long; and so I quickly set aside that effort.

Besides, while recalling my old friends and co-workers brings back many fond memories for me, it would be meaningless to you, the reader.  I also did not want to risk missing someone, and wasn’t sure how some of my long ago co-workers would feel to see their name popping up here without warning (or permission).  So, I’ll just say that I could not have been who I was in the IT world, and the man I am now, if it hadn’t been for them.  To each and every one of of them I give a deep and heartfelt (though anonymous) “Thanks.”

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