Saturday, January 08, 2011

Theocracy Vs. Democracy

This isn’t for Christians only. And it isn’t for Democrats only. I write this hoping to reach anyone and everyone to explain that there is a theocratic movement among the GOP, that not all Christians are of a theocratic movement and that many, I pray most, Christians do not believe that man can influence nor know the timing of Christ’s return.

Theocracy means “God’s Government.” There are many in elected office today that would personally if not publicly espouse that it is time for God’s government to rule on planet earth. They are smart, well organized, and succeeding in their theologically misguided attempt to take over our government through the voting booths. They are doing it legally and, if not stopped, will bring continued war and poverty, famine and pestilence to the world as best they can. Those are some of the signs they see as positive (!) towards the end of times.

Those in office are smart enough not to speak openly of this, to leave no smoking gun, but some outside public office speak the theory clearly:

As Jay Rogers from Forerunner.com writes, criticizing the Christian Right for not going far enough fast enough in “How Theonomists Differ from the Christian Right?”

“The Christian Right may be criticized for putting an undue emphasis on "political solutions" and for not relying strictly on biblical law. Simply put: either we will have man's law or God's law as a standard for civil legislation. We are not looking for a "voice a the table" nor are we seeking "equal time" with the godless promoters of pornography, abortion, safe-sodomy subsidies, socialism, etc. We want them silenced and punished according to God's Law-Word.”

Aside from the “take no prisoners” approach to bringing God’s law to America and the whole planet, I worry most about who will interpret God’s law for man should they succeed. And they are succeeding.

Mr. Rogers points to a difference between the Christian Right and true theonomists (and frankly I think his word, “theonomists,” to be in error – they should be called “theocrats” which I will go with from here). Most of us see the Christian Right as a broad and well-unified base, which is to great degree true. However, many of the Christian Right seem unaware or uncaring that the extremists of their movement are extreme indeed. Those of more moderate right-ness may not believe the end of times is near, that man must proclaim his dominion (or dominance) over earth, and that Christianity must rule the planet for Jesus to return but they support this movement with their votes. Those are the people we need to reach most with the realization that no person knows the timing of Christ’s return, that we can only remain watchful and prepared on a personal level, and that we need to do God's work here on this planet in the mean time, by obedience through faith, not by theocratic rule.

Sara Diamond from “The Public Eye” magazine, original dated 1995 writes:

“Average people active in the Christian Right genuinely feel that the country is going to hell in a hand basket, which is true. The problem is that through a long process of ideological formation most have arrived at a distorted view of their own best interests. They look at the stagnant economy and see "illegal aliens," not runaway capitalism, which they generally support. They look at teenage delinquency and then blame teachers' unions instead of the consumer culture that trains young people to shop and not think.”

Some Republicans do get it:

Greg Goldin in his article "The Fifteen Percent Solution: How the Christian Right Is Building From Below To Take Over From Above" originally published in the Nation in 1993, writes:

"What the Christian right spends a lot of time doing," says Marc Wolin, a moderate Republican who ran unsuccessfully for Congress from San Francisco last year, "is going after obscure party posts. They try to control the party apparatus in each county. We have a lot to fear from these people. They want to set up a theocracy in America."

Apparently, the moderate Republicans are on the outside these days. So who are the Republicans that we can see as being part of the theocratic movement? I think it safe to assume those that worked hard, traveled late and signed quickly in favor of continuing the “life” of Terri Schiavo. This is a long list, and their success at passing legislation (quickly overturned by those darned legal-minded judges) points to them being in control of the legislature. The web site www.theocracywatch.org, which I highly recommend to all of interest, lists Senators Frist, McConnell, Santorum, Bennet, Bailey-Hutchison, Kyl and Allen among the worrisome. Add to the list our president, George W. Bush, and many of his cabinet as they fairly ran the Schiavo show.

What will this government look like? Frederick Clarkson from “The Public Eye” magazine March/June 1994 writes:

“A general outline of what the reconstructed "Kingdom," or confederation of Biblical theocracies, would look like emerges from the large body of Reconstructionist literature. This society would feature a minimal national government, whose main function would be defense by the armed forces. No social services would be provided outside the church, which would be responsible for "health, education, and welfare." A radically unfettered capitalism (except in so far as it clashed with Biblical Law) would prevail. Society would return to the gold or silver standard or abolish paper money altogether. The public schools would be abolished. Government functions, including taxes, would be primarily at the county level.”

The core of Dominion theology comes from a strict interpretation of Genesis 1:26, pointing to the dominion of man on Earth: “Then God said, ‘Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.’” Dominionists take this to mean that they have the right to do whatever pleases them with the planet and it gets worse when combined with another selectively strict interpretation of the words of Jesus Christ regarding when he will return as written in Luke 21: 10-11, 25: “Then he said to them: “Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be great earthquakes, famines and pestilences in various places, and the fearful events and great signs from heaven.” “There will be signs in the sun, moon and stars. On the earth, nations will be in anguish and perplexity at the roaring and tossing of the sea.”

Gosh, wars and earthquakes, famines and pestilences, fearful events, signs from the heavens and tsunamis are surely happening right now! So it seems they think (ignoring that all these same signs have been occurring from the beginning of mankind), “His time of return must be near! We must bring all the people to our faith and we need have no worries about destroying our planet because we don’t need it much longer!”

Christ’s return may be near. Or not. We do not know. Even Jesus Christ himself doesn’t know the time of his return as written in the books of both Matthew and Mark:

Matthew 24: 36-40,42,44.
“No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. For in the days before the flood, people were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, up to the day Noah entered the ark; and they knew nothing about what would happen until the flood came and took them all away. That is how it will be at the coming of the Son of Man.”

“Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come. So you must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.”


Mark 13: 32-33, 36-37.
“No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. Be on guard! Be Alert! You do not know when that time will come.”

“If he comes suddenly, do not let him find you sleeping. What I say to you, I say to everyone: ‘Watch!’”


It cannot be denied that these verses tell Christians (and all who read them) that we don’t know when Jesus Christ will return, but that we must remain watchful, ready, and true to our faith in him. Jesus tells us clearly that he will return, but has no idea when, only that he will return and we should each be ready.

The book of Revelation, by the apostle John, is an incredibly vivid apocryphal writing that can be interpreted from now until … Christ’s return … and have as many different meanings as there are people reading it. I chatted with one of my pastors about Revelation and how to interpret it. His reply was wonderfully unconcerned in that the essence to be taken is very much as for what Christ said in Matthew and Mark, above: He will return, be ready (with a polite look of "are you ready?"as he should to all). My pastor went as far as to say that anyone thinking the time is near isn’t reading the words of Christ, again, as shown in Matthew and Mark above saying even Jesus doesn’t know when he will return. Interestingly, my pastor also said that the Pharisees of Jesus’ day were on a path similar to Dominionists of today – wanting to prepare the entire world, or at the least their culture, to be more pleasing to God. The Pharisees’ rejection of Christ Jesus remains a sign of their blindness just as the present day Dominionists’ denial of Christ’s own word shows theirs.

I say yes, let us prepare all people, all those that seek preparedness, for Christ’s return. Let us make our planet more pleasing to God through showing love for all, through bringing peace, being good stewards of his creation and by sharing faith where the soil allows. Christ fully expects to return and turn some away when he does, those that don’t have ears, let them miss that journey as fulfillment of their God-given free will. Let us share his faith through person-to-person communication, not via some American Taliban-like governance, a theocratic rule that would force a face of faith where none may exist. How could a mere face of faith please God?

In reading the Bible to pull these quotes I also come up with some on the deceptions we will experience prior to the coming of Christ:

Perhaps most prophetically from Luke 21: 8-9
He replied: “Watch out that you are not deceived. For many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am he,’ and, ‘The time is near.’ Do not follow them. When you hear of wars and revolutions, do not be frightened. These things must happen first, but the end will not come right away.”

Matthew 24: 4-8
Jesus answered, “Watch out that no one deceives you. For many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am the Christ,’ and will deceive many. You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginning of birth pains.”

Matthew 24: 26-28
“So if anyone tells you, ‘There he is, out in the desert,” do not go out; or, ‘Here he is, in the inner rooms,’ do not believe it. For as lightning that comes from the east is visible even in the west, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. Wherever there is a carcass, there the vultures will gather.”

Mark 12: 38-40
As he taught, Jesus said, “Watch out for the teachers of the law. They like to walk around in flowing robes and be greeted in the marketplaces, and have the most important seats in the synagogues and the places of humor at banquets. They devour widows’ houses and for a show make lengthy prayers. Such men will be punished most severely.”

As you can see, most of these verses are interspersed within the very same chapters of the very same books from which the theocrats and dominionists pull their own justification to action. Picking up on the punishment aspect of the final quoted verse, above, I go to Matthew 25: 31-46 with Jesus saying:

“When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his throne in heavenly glory. All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.

“Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’

“Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’

“The King will reply. ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.’

“Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’

“They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison and did not help you?’

“He will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’

“Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.”


To sum it up, we have a great deal to be concerned about when it comes to the success of the Republican Party. Even many in the GOP should be and perhaps are concerned about this apocryphal understanding that many within their party hold. We must turn them out, turn them away, and banish them for blaspheming the Truth that is love, the Truth that brings peace, the Truth that cares for all, the Truth they are besmirching just as they besmirch the reputation of our fine country.

In all of this I will cover myself with a quote (a prayer actually) paraphrased from Abraham Lincoln that has been used Martin Luther King Jr., and most recently by Senator John Kerry (and yes, since then by George W., too). I think it appropriate whenever applying man's thinking to God's Word: "I pray that I am on God's side on this, and every topic I consider."

I’ll quote Luke 21:8 again: “He replied, ‘Watch out that you are not deceived. For many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am he,’ and, ‘The time is near.’ Do not follow them.”

Words for all to heed.

Here are some other links of interest with brief quotes:

Ann E. Hafften from “The Journal of Lutheran Ethics”

“The Rev. Munib Younan, bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jerusalem, has gone so far as to urge western Lutherans to consider the new Christian Zionism to be "heresy," in an effort "to alert all Christians everywhere to its dangers and false teachings."


Margot Patterson from the National Catholic Reporter:

“There is a group of people in the Defense Department and in the vice president’s office who are very, very pro-Israeli and very pro the Likud Party in Israel,” said Christison, who named Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz; Undersecretary of Policy in the Defense Department Douglas Feith; adviser to the Defense Department Richard Perle; Vice President Cheney’s chief of staff Lewis Libby Jr.; and Elliot Abrams on the National Security Council staff.

The United States’ current and exclusive focus on Islamic fundamentalism is a case of what some argue is selective blindness.

“We pay a lot of attention to Islamic extremism, but we don’t pay a lot of attention to Christian extremism or the extremism in the Jewish religion that is being used to justify what is going on today,” said James Zogby, founder and president of the Arab American Institute in Washington, speaking about the turmoil in the Middle East. Zogby argues that despite disclaimers to the contrary the United States is waging a war on Islam at home and abroad even as it tacitly supports extremist settlers in the occupied territories Israel controls."



From Theocracy Watch

In an effort to fulfill the dominionist belief in the manifest destiny of "Christian" nations, the theocratic right values an aggressive foreign policy. And it claims that the principle of separation of church and state is "a myth."


Pastor Phil Gaines, Bellevue Christian Center; Bellevue, Washington

a. The kingdom has come and will continue to come according to certain parameters which do not allow for dominion theology.

b. The will of God on earth, as detailed prophetically in scripture, does not allow for dominion theology.



Scott Bidstrup from Bidstrup.com

Fundamentalism is variously described by various authors, but to me it really boils down to a rather simple test: In my view, a fundamentalist religion is a religion, any religion, that when confronted with a conflict between love, compassion and caring, and conformity to doctrine, will almost invariably choose the latter regardless of the effect it has on its followers or on the society of which it is a part.

Fundamentalist religions make this choice because they uniformly place a high priority on doctrinal conformity, with such force that it takes higher priority than love, compassion and service.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Same Sex Marriage

To those of secular or other faithful thinking I apologize in advance; most of this statement can only be supported through Christian theological reasoning.

The Old Testament goes far in speaking against homosexuality, and provides extreme punishment for those actions. The New Testament (The New Covenant) speaks more softly about the issues with Jesus not speaking one word towards them but does, through the Apostle Paul infused with the Holy Spirit, tell us to "avoid sexual immorality, that each of you should learn to control his own body in a way that is holy and honorable, not in passionate lust like the heathen who do not know God; ... The Lord will punish men for all such sins, ... for God did not call us to be impure, but to live a holy life." (1 Thessalonians 4: 3-7)

In Romans 1: 18-32 Paul speaks, almost shouts, about God's wrath against mankind for sexual immorality and unnatural relations. It is very evident that Paul saw these things as horribly against God and sure to invoke God's wrath come judgment day.

In the very beginning of the next chapter however, writing to Christians in Rome and all the world, Paul says this: "You, therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else, for at whatever point you judge the other, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgment do the same things."

Jesus, in Matthew 5:27-28, says this: "You have heard that it was said, 'Do not commit adultery.' But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart."

We are all sinners. It is simply a matter of what one's sins are. With Newt Gingrich in an affair while he publicly chastises Bill Clinton for his, who is the greater sinner? Neither. All sin is the same.

In "The Augsburg Confession", a document from 1530 written by Philip Melanchthon that is considered early papers of the Lutheran Church, the theology of Original Sin is this: "(We) ... teach that since the fall of Adam all men begotten in the natural way are born with sin, that is, without the fear of god, without trust in God, and with concupiscence; (Saving some time: "concupiscence" means a powerful feeling of physical desire, or lust) and that this disease, or vice of origin, is truly sin..."

All Christians are sinners. All sin is the same. Don’t use another’s sin as the basis for recrimination, especially in the public eye.

Gay marriage is seen as a church issue only because the church is the place many get married. A church, as a private institution, may choose to marry gays, or may choose not to. Differing churches have differing acceptance of this issue. Gay marriage is but one of many differences of interpretation of God’s Word that are the reasons for diverse denominations within the greater church of Christ. If you seek Faith, regardless of your sinful nature, there is a church there for you. Go, be welcomed, and learn the Word. Worth noting - even in a church that allows gay marriage, consider that you will likely need to have a long chat with the pastor about your faith and what it means before they will agree to bring your union before God.

Gay civil union is a different matter entirely. In considering laws for or against civil unions among people of the same sex the ONLY consideration is the Constitution and the other laws of this land. America is a country based upon great personal freedoms, not a theocracy. Those that wish to hold religious beliefs are entitled to do so but, while they hold themselves (or are held as may be appropriate) to God’s Law, there is no basis in American law for forcing God’s Law on those outside their faith.

My sense is that marriage should be handled by churches and civil union should be the governmental responsibility. For those that "believe in the sanctity of marriage", I say do so in your church. You are bound by your faith and that is honorable. Condemning those outside your faith to live by the laws of your faith only pushes them further from any desire to learn of that faith. Giving gays the opportunity to commit, legally and/or before God, brings all the blessings and curses any union that fails about half the time can offer.

If you are against gay marriage, be so on personal grounds, but don’t bring Christ into it unless you are without sin.

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Abortion

This is the topic that many people use as a litmus test for their political vote. With very strong opinions on either side. Rabid in fact. For those that I am about to offend, I apologize in advance. I just hope I offend both sides equally. Abortion is wrong. A late term abortion is seen as wrong by more people than an earlier term abortion. Partial birth abortion is certainly a horrific murder as I see it. Abortion in the first trimester, I don’t know. I can only say that: I don’t know.

Before I had children I was much more liberal regarding this matter. I wasn’t knowledgeable about Christ at the time although I called myself a Christian, I just didn’t put the time or effort into even thinking what Christianity meant. Then my wife got pregnant and we were off to Lamaze classes. It was there that I saw a woman with a very small pin on her blouse. It was a pair of feet not much more than a half-inch in size and I was told that this is the size of the feet on a fetus at 10 weeks. I was simply stunned. My realization was that there was probably life at that time.

My sister-in-law was recently pregnant. At 8 weeks into her pregnancy the doctor let her hear the heartbeat. I am amazed again.

I also remember, as a child, hearing of awful things happening when women went to get illegal abortions. There were stories of botched procedures in dirty offices, loss of the woman’s ability to ever have children again, and loss of life of mother and child. Mostly these stories involved people of lesser means, those that couldn’t afford to go places well equipped to provide abortions while they were still outside of the law.

Later in life, when in my teens into my twenties, it was the 70’s; I knew two women that had abortions. One was prior to Roe v. Wade, the other after. Neither was carrying my child, but both were close friends that confided in me. The fear of the procedure in each case was extreme but was nothing compared to the feeling of loss afterwards. Both women were certain that they had done something horribly wrong and still, to this day I am sure, carry that burden with them. Imagine for a moment, all you parents that read this whether man or woman, how you would feel today if many years ago you had terminated a pregnancy. If every time you looked at your living and loving child you were reminded that there had been another one, one that had started the life cycle at the very least, one that would never be alive because of your personal decision. That feeling or worse is with these women from the moment of abortion and for each day thereafter.

My point is that abortion is as awful as awful gets. Yes, more so for the child than the mother, but simply awful all around. But, if illegal, those of lesser means face a much more dangerous situation than those that can afford expensive private clinics in other countries. If abortion is again made illegal in this country, those of means and need will still have safe places to go to and have this awful procedure but those that aren’t of means will do whatever is necessary to terminate that life. With that in mind I strongly say it is not up to the people of this country to decide what one woman does when faced with this life changing and yes, life stopping or possibility-of-life stopping situation.

I personally think that third-trimester abortions are murder and second-trimester abortions probably the same. I also think the “morning after pill” may be the only solution that I can support. The time in between, I go back to “I don’t know.” As for the “morning after pill” I don’t see it as a perfect solution because, again, I don’t know when life begins. I don’t find the answer in the Bible and I don’t think anything truly authoritative has been written on the matter.

Sadly I say, let each woman make her decision and live with the consequences. It is not up to the rest of us to judge her. The policies of the Republican Party seem to be to reverse Roe vs Wade by any means available, and the Democrats to defend it unfailingly. I say there needs to be new legislation, with some options remaining. Not the party line in either case. It is my perception of the Republican Party’s desire to outlaw all abortions that makes me think they go too far and want to control too much.

As Jesus says in John 8:7: “If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.” And Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 4:5 “Therefore judge nothing before the appointed time; wait till the Lord comes. He will bring to light what is hidden in darkness and will expose the motives of men’s hearts. At that time each will receive his praise from God.” Or not, as the case may be. But it is not up to us to judge.

We should all pray for forgiveness. For ourselves and for others. None of us are perfect.

Adoption is a fine alternative but not in cases that would force a not-of-Faith rape victim to carry the rapist’s child to full term. Also, in cases where the mother’s life is at stake, abortion needs to be a legal and acceptable means to preserve the mother’s life. I applaud those that feel differently from me on this last item, for their personal decisions to trust God to do His will, but I do not believe we, as a country, should force that decision on others.

I believe a majority of Americans do oppose partial birth abortion. I also believe that a majority of Americans saw that the legislation passed and signed in 2004 was intended to go further than those Americans wished and I am thankful that our Supreme Court had the wisdom, even in their Republican biased seating, to see through the text of that legislation to the intent within the words. That legislation was entirely designed to appear much less inspiring of future litigation than it truly was.

One final comment here - if Roe vs Wade is to be overturned, I would hope for it to be put to a plurality vote across the nation or on a state by state basis - but only with women voting. Men have no place in this discussion.

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On Christianity

To be a Christian, in the simplest sense, means that you have accepted that Jesus the Christ is the son of God and came to earth to die on the cross, be resurrected and provide each of us with redemption and salvation for the sins that we commit.

From there the various churches of Christianity differ to varying degree in their interpretation of scripture and in their ceremonies. Going further, members of any given church each have their own personal understanding, or lack thereof, of scripture as well as their perception of God , Christ, and the Holy Spirit.

In the broader sense, as one dives more deeply into the teachings of Jesus the Christ, one realizes that we are meant to attempt to live our lives as Jesus lived his. With compassion, forgiveness and love for all. Not that this perfection can be achieved, because we simply are not wired to be that good, but that we truly attempt it. Christ came to save us simply because of this shortcoming.

What does this mean?

It means that we must put aside our personal desires to whatever extent we can, help those in need in whatever way we can, and spread the Word of Christ’s promise to all we come in contact with. We must attempt to live Godly lives, without sin, so that we bring God greater glory by our actions.

In Phillipians 3: 12-14 Paul writes of the Christian goal: "Not that I have already obtained this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead. I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus."

Jesus taught many lessons, each important in it’s own right and timely to each of us in our own time of need and learning. I make no claim to being a perfect interpreter of the Word and can say only that I attempt to do this with the love of Christ for all the inhabitants of this planet. I simply ask, as a Christian and as a Democrat, which party you think best exemplifies by it's actions the teachings and the example that Jesus Christ was, is, and forever shall be.

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Starting Anew

Tumultuous barely describes the last two years of my life. Going back that time has Obama just being sworn in to the presidency, the economy as scary as scary can be, hope and fear all wrapped up in a package the media and pundits love to play with. My church was about to split over the issue of gay clergy and my business was about to collapse.

My family, thankfully, hung tough though worried. Two daughters in college, one about to come home early for a couple of good reasons, the expenses on both causing us to borrow against the equity of our house while looking forward to diminishing income and all the worries those factors bring into play.

Citibank cut us off from the equity line with what appears to be about 40% equity in our house and long before we had reached the original maximum agreed upon. A total freak out at the time. Sell the house in 2009? Not really an option.

And yes, I did pray to God, thanking Him for all He brought us, all He gave us, and asking for some help, peace of mind, comfort amid the mess. He responded.

2009 was my lowest earning year in the last twenty. 2010, at roughly four times that income, was scraping by with no additional savings but no additional borrowing either. The daughter that came home from college early? Back at the same college and on the Dean's list. That's the great news in a time of good news seeming so.

My church did fall apart, many of us leaving a fascist pastor that wouldn't speak about the issue, wouldn't lead the congregation to any peace other than a vote that he knew he would win. So we started a new church, entirely within the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America with no ties to more conservative groups. We've put out a call to a new pastor and expect her to be preaching with us in the new year. We teach, worship, and serve and I am thankful again for the opportunities God gives us. They don't always seems so great at first but growth often comes from painful circumstances. It's all good, really.

And Obama, well, he disappointed us all at some point. I really wanted universal health care, seeing it not just as a right akin to proper police protection but as the solution to our economic problems. The money we could save as a country would cure the economic woes we now face. But don't get me started on that yet.

Were it not for the extreme fundamentalist views of the Republican party which I feel must be combatted at every opportunity, I would likely take this blog to the next level - ChristianIndependent. But no, the fear of those that love to breed fear in the population requires that I remain a Democrat. The lesser of two evils, given only two options, is the good.

Perhaps one day the American public will wake up and realize that we have two parties in this country - the extreme corporate policies of the GOP and the moderate corporate policies of the Democrats. Business does hold sway in both parties.

So I'm starting anew by posting some of my original writings, the thoughts that showed a convergence between Christian theology and Democratic Party ideology. I still strongly feel that the Democratic party best espouses the love of Jesus Christ in their actions while the GOP simply stirs the fears of fundamentalists using their own interpretation of scripture and acts according to their own desires for greatness here on planet Earth.

May this country and this world somehow grow to know a peace beyond understanding.

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Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Jerry Brown's Credentials



I moved to California in 1976, a college student only peripherally aware of the politics of the state. Jerry Brown was governor and the coolest thing about him was that he declined the use of the Governor's mansion and limo for a small apartment and his own crappy car both of which he sometimes shared with Linda Rondstadt, a singer still popular with some of us. He did quickly acquire the nickname, "Governor Moonbeam," well earned by his use of platitudes deep of thought that some couldn't quite get.

Jerry Brown was, and is at age 72, a deep thinker. Graduating from a Catholic high school, two years in a local college, and then two years in Jesuit seminary shows us he has considered matters of theology to fair degree. Given that and his life-long record of service I'll say good enough by me as regards what I need to know of a public servant's faith.

California's budget (and really the world economy) was in a shambles in 1976. The oil embargo of '73 had punched us in the gut, Gerald Ford was the interim president, stagflation was the term of the day, and it was as bad as all that sounds. Jerry Brown was a pragmatist in the face of declining state income and still rising costs. In 1975 he managed to remove the "depletion allowance" given oil companies as one aid in solving the budget problems. He also established the first agricultural relations law in the nation, started the California Conservation Corps, enacted the California Coastal Protection Act, halted nuclear power development and made the state the national leader in solar and alternative energy. He also appointed more women and minorities to high government positions than any other governor in California history.

People didn't like hearing straight talk then, and they don't now, but Jerry Brown's direct nature may well show us all just how thin the veneer of Meg Whitman is. More importantly, despite his life of service to the state he is an outsider still. Brazen enough to call his own party for the partisan bickerers they've become, and to tell us all we have some hard decisions to make.

We do. California is in deep doo-doo and there won't be an easy way out. Cuts to services will occur. The question becomes "How deep?"

In retrospect, something most politicians can't stand the light of, Jerry Brown's achievements have been in public service done with humility. Currently the state's attorney general, I look to his two terms as mayor of Oakland as an example of a guy doing a job needing to be done, not one with much celebrity. That is a quality I would like to see in our next governor.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

New ELCA in the SCV - Living Faith

Two months have passed since my last posting. Amazing times, truly. The greater church - in the form of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America's southwest synod, so many of it's unique churches, pastors, congregations and individuals - as well as the Episcopalian church in the form of sharing alters and pulpits and prayerful support - has come together and a new congregation is born.

Amazing times, truly. We give thanks to God for the opportunities He gives us.

Having chosen a name - Living Faith Lutheran which I like a lot - we're in the midst of mission statements, logos, web site, developers, music planning and doing, worship planning and doing, welcoming planning and doing, a new and wonderful pastor every week, often with visitors from their congregation, education planning for all ages, food drives always food drives thankfully, blood drive, too, and we are a church, graciously and wonderfully we are a church.

Pastor George Tan, a wonderful preacher, a leader who listens and guides nicely, reminded us recently that it prayer is key. Talking to God and listening. He's right.

Take a moment, please, and pray as you might.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

New ELCA In the SCV!

It was a wonderful meeting last night with Bishop Nelson and Pastor Tan from the ELCA synod leading a fruitful discussion towards seeding a new congregation in the Santa Clarita Valley. With some well selected scripture and thoughtful prayer to begin, Bishop Nelson candidly informed us of our options as a gathering group of Christians, gave us the business side of running a church, an overview of the processes ahead. He then introduced Pastor George Tan, Director of Evangelical Ministries who will be working with the steering committee, a wonderfully enthusiastic speaker.

A steering committee was selected as was a facilities committee. There were talented musicians and teachers of all age groups present, expressing desire to actively participate in running the educational programs.

Questions from the gathering ranged from practical - expected costs and funding sources - to simple outpourings of pain. There is still much healing needed for many. While it was rightly called out that we need to move ahead, we also need to help those forward from where they are. Talking about it does help everyone realize they weren't the only ones to feel as they did and there is peace in that.

With 50 people present and at least that many again of family members and others that couldn't be there, there is no doubt that this is a viable congregation, moved to gather and serve in God's name.

Amazing times. Amazing God. Give Thanks.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

New ELCA In the SCV?

ELCA Southwest California synod bishop Dean Nelson will lead a meeting to discuss the possibility of seeding a new Evangelical Lutheran Church in America congregation in the Santa Clarita Valley.

All interested persons are invited to attend a meeting to be held:

Monday, February 22nd, 7:00pm

at:

Valencia Methodist Church
25718 McBean Parkway

Please share this information with friends that may be interested and invite all to attend!

Sunday, February 07, 2010

Sunday Morning: 1 Cor 13

1 Corinthians 13

If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing.

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when perfection comes, the imperfect disappears. When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me. Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.

And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.