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/

“Approve of Him”?

I’ve recently seen a spate of Facebook posts, political emails and opinion columns saying the writer can’t (and we shouldn’t) “approve of the President.”  I would suggest this is a fundamentally flawed approach…

Saying this suggests we should hate or dismiss the man for what and who he is.

Really?

And yet, as a minister, I and many of my peers constantly preach and demonstrate we love all of our neighbors no matter who they are or what they believe.  No matter what their race, income, nationality, immigration status, marital status, sexual orientation, or gender identity.  Jesus taught that we are to love each other without judgment, without preconditions.

That includes the President, too.

So, I cannot approve of him, nor disapprove of him.

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Unjust Justice or Just Injustice?

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A South Carolina high school teacher who says she was forced to resign after a student took her phone and circulated a nude picture of her has garnered the support of hundreds of students who signed a petition demanding she be reinstated. (NY Times, 3/3/2016)

This New York Times article raises a challenging question.

Absolutely the student did wrong, and should be made to face some sort of consequence for stealing his teacher’s smartphone and then accessing and distributing her personal [nude] photos on it. And, I agree that the school system was way out of line for condemning her, if [as it appears] they rushed to a judgment of her without simultaneously investigating and determining how to address the student’s actions.  (They’ve ducked the issue by saying his fate is being left up to Law Enforcement.)

The deeper question is this: how responsible is the content owner (the teacher) for creating and retaining such content, and then making it accessible – even if inadvertently or illicitly – by others?  Does an expectation of privacy prevail, as she claims?

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Not White Enough, Not Black Enough

Rachel Dolezal

You’ve probably heard the story of Rachel Dolezal in the news: a young woman who is (apparently) “White,” but who some now claim has been masquerading as “Black” for most of her adult life.  She is also the [now former] President of the NAACP chapter in her community of Spokane, Washington; and a professor of Africana Studies at Eastern Washington University.

The concern of many is that she is not a “real Black” even though she claims to be.  But, what is a “Real Black” – or, for that matter, a “Real White”?  And, is all this controversy over her perceived racial makeup relevant in any case?

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The Besiegement Narrative

Original Article: Even After Hobby Lobby, the Religious Right is Still Terrified

The “besiegement narrative” that the Right Rev. V. Gene Robinson talks about in his recent article found on The Daily Beast is indeed a theme I frequently saw and heard during my sojourn through many of this country’s more [religiously] conservative religious denominations.

Such an “us vs. them” theology has a long history in Christian thought, going back to at least the time of the persecutions and martyrdoms of the early church, and even further back into ancient Judaism.  And, in fact, in examining other faiths, you quickly find that it is a universal theme.  This is because such a narrative is  a good way to define the boundary between who is and who is not one of “us” (whoever “us” is).  It is a theme that can bind people together; generate and focus emotional and physical energy upon a (real, potential or imagined) threat; and define what it means to be “us” by making it crystal clear who and what we are not.

This is not necessarily a bad thing.  Being able to draw a line that separates “us” from “not us” seems to be necessary – because if a group cannot define that boundary, it has a very difficult time explaining who they are, what they stand for, why they should continue to exist, and why you might want to be one of “us.”

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Be Happy

Many have already noted the irony of hardliners in the Islamic Republic of Iran arresting the youth who appear in this tribute to Pharrell William’s video “Happy.”  It seems that happiness is not allowed in Iran, particularly for youth.

Maybe so, but what I also find ironic is the many in the West who claim to be Christian and who condemn Islam – as a whole – for being a cruel and violent religion.  From time to time, we all see videos or screeds (in various internet forums or email) warning us of the evils of Islam.  The thrust of these is that Islam, and usually every other religion that is not Christianity for that matter, are branded as evil.  The authors of such missives usually emphasize that Islam is a threat to Christianity and/or to the United States, and that we must respond in kind.  Usually, the rantings of one or more extremist Muslim clerics or out of context quotes from the Koran or various Muslim prophets are supplied as evidence that Islam is bent upon destroying anything that stands in the way of Islam’s domination of the world.

I have several responses to such drivel…

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