Monday, May 30, 2005

DominionTheology

I keep stumbling over those words "Dominion Theology" and have read a few pieces that may be of interest. I'm posting a few links here and hope some will take the time read and comment in my absence. The first is a good recent piece from Harpers that only touches on Dominion towards the end, two of the other three are more scholarly. Sentiments, please - how real is this?

http://harpers.org/FeelingTheHate.html

Theocracy Watch


http://www.religioustolerance.org/reconstr.htm

http://zena.secureforum.com/Znet/zmag/articles/feb95diamond.htm


http://www.apocalipsis.org/reconstr.htm

Hypocrites

Well, it happened again. There I was, chatting with a group of guys about religion, a non-practicing Jew, a Spiritualist, and myself, and I heard “Christians are a bunch of hypocrites.” Man, that hurts.

Those that don’t understand Christian theology think that Christians are supposed to be perfect, to live by the Ten Commandments and be Christ perfect in all we do. Those that do have a sense of Christian thinking may take it further – believing that Christians know they are forgiven, so they can act poorly without worry.

There are variations in Christian theology that point in different directions on this issue. Some Christians believe that through Faith alone, they are forgiven, that good works and behavior are not part of the equation. Some Christians believe that on top of Faith, they are judged by God for what they do on His behalf and how they carry themselves as His children in His creation.

But I’m not here to talk about theology; I’m here to talk about public perception of Christians and how we must reach higher in His name.

It is true that we are all hypocrites. By my theology we all sin in some way at some time, probably more than we care to admit to. Not all sin is viewable from the outside. Sin of thought is still sin. But I’m not here to talk about private sin either, it’s the stuff other people see that we must get a better handle on.

The secular public and those of other faiths rightly judge Christians by their actions. With so much media attention on Christianity, and fortunately the media is starting to speak about different Christian groups as separate entities, the Christian people of this country are getting considered by many from outside the church. This isn’t anything new, but it is happening to greater degree, I sense, than ever before.

And they call us hypocrites. Ouch.

Be aware that you are being watched. Realize that you are an example, to all others at all times, of a person of Christ.

Put forth His peace in all you do, treat every person you come in contact with the love Jesus called for. Show them kind consideration and caring for them as a person, especially those that seem to need it least, for they need it most.

When you know you will be in a situation that could become loud or unfriendly, say a prayer to yourself asking for God’s guidance in that discussion, that He may show the love of His Son through you to those you are with. Ask for calmness and understanding of the other person’s view or situation such that you can better comfort them or lessen their issue.

Know that if you don’t put forth the face of Christ, meaning a true show of compassion and reasoned care, you do harm to His name and His church. Know that by putting forth the face of Christ you bring glory to Him.

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Public Prayer

I have sent over 3000 emails to workers in the Democratic Party. Not the elected officials, but the workers, down to the county and precinct level. Seeking a response to the concept of secularists and non-Christian faithful working happily alongside Christians evangelical and otherwise, an avowed atheist wrote, “I can agree as long as you don’t have public prayer like those hypocritical (so and so’s) of the GOP.” The comment kind of set me off – I like to pray although I feel I don’t pray enough – and I feel I can pray pretty much anywhere I choose. It shouldn’t affect anyone else what I’m doing, and we do have that whole religious freedom thing here in America, too.

But then, as usual, I got to thinking.

Prayer, to me, is a wonderful personal time with my God. Prayer, to me, can be done anywhere – in my car out loud, a big “THANK YOU, GOD!” or at a table in a restaurant, alone or with non-praying friends, a simple moment to myself that probably many don’t even notice, especially if I time it well. And prayer, to me, is best done in a quiet place either alone, or with a group of people that I know well and share the bond of our faith with. When groups of people pray together led with one voice, out loud together, or in a reflective quiet time of prayer, it is a beautiful thing.

Prayer is a Holy moment. My understanding of the definition of “holy” is “to be set apart.” By that definition, prayer is almost always better done in private or with a group of people of faith unencumbered with outsiders looking on.

Public prayer is another matter entirely. Public prayer can be private, as in a family or other group sharing a prayer before a meal at a restaurant. And public prayer can be public, as in a governmental boss insisting that all in his office, or platoon, pray together. That is where public prayer goes wrong.

Who would want to pray knowing that someone standing next to them, ostensibly part of the prayer, doesn’t accept Who is being prayed to with thanks, Who’s blessing is being humbly asked for, Who’s healing touch is desired?

To do a show of prayer in front of people that don’t share your faith is to be one of several things: inconsiderate of others, far-from-humble yourself, or a subversive (and mostly ineffective) proselytizer. To insist that a person outside of faith share in your prayer is to possibly inflict spiritual abuse on them, will probably conflict their perception of faith, and will likely make them wonder just what your real intentions are. Do you think they will be filled with faith from being part of a prayer they don’t understand? Perhaps. Wouldn’t it be better to share the meaning of faith with them first, at their request and with their desire for understanding before going to prayer? Isn’t prayer a holy moment?

Interfaith prayer must be an interesting thing to pull together. How to pray such that each person feels connected to their God yet none of them feel faith-trampled would take a delicate touch. I bet it’s wonderful when well done. I haven’t been there yet. Someday I hope to be a part of such a thing.

Christian prayer should be allowed anywhere, and when done properly, even in public situations, it should be invisible to those outside the prayer. It’s when prayer is done without consideration for those present of other faiths or no faith that offense is taken, especially when the indication is that they should join in because the prayer is the “right” thing to do. For them it isn’t. It’s when people pray self-righteously, without concern for those that might disagree with the faith outspoken, that religion seems forced on others. Religion should never, can never, be forced.

I have a friend whose family prays before every meal. Pretty common thing, actually, among many faiths. When his family goes out to eat, and it is an extended family, they gather in prayer before heading to the restaurant, or find a quieter place at the restaurant before being seated. He says this is because all the noise and bustle of the restaurant bothers their prayer and they like to be apart from that when they pray. Apart. Holy. Prayer.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Evolution & Creation

There is no more proof that the first single celled organism formed by accident out of the primordial ooze than there is of God's creation of all in however long six days would be to such an entity. Some significant scientists say it takes greater faith to believe in pure evolution than it does an "intelligent designer." (Warning - heavy Christian commentary along with a really good case for intelligent design)

As you might expect, I fall on the side of that intelligent designer being the God of Abraham, et al. You may think differently.

I'll go so far as to say that if the theory of creation can't be taught in schools, neither should pure evolution, it's a theory without basis in fact, much like creation. Adaptation, yes. Evolution, no.

Besides that fine point, so what!

What does this have to do with feeding the poor? With making better PUBLIC schools? With sharing health care that people can afford? With stopping the power flow from the people to the corporations? With saving Social Security and, of more immediate need while it's hardly being discussed, Medicare and Medicaid? With ousting a tyrannical regime that will desecrate this country's true democratic foundation?

Nothing.

Let's move on towards getting them out of our government. All Americans will get back a democracy and we moderate Christians will stop having apoplexy every time we turn on the TV.

Saturday, May 14, 2005

Judges. God. Law. - SB520

What doesn’t fit in that title? Depending on your viewpoint, what seems either a little hemmed in by mankind or totally out of place? Or should I ask, Who?

I am a Christian and I love to consider my God and what I know of His desires through the Word and ministry of Jesus Christ into my decision-making processes. In fact, when I am actually capable of doing so, I think I come up with better decisions, resolutions and actions.

But that is me, with my God, working on my personal life as it affects ... me and my family.

There is a Senate Bill in the works - “The Constitution Restoration Act” ( S 520 ) that is poorly written at best, but taking into account the skills of those writers, it can be safely assumed that it says exactly what they want, and leaves it open to further interpretation to support some future legislation that will go further towards their cause. The moment I read its name I knew it was bad. The way they name their laws is amazing - one only has to take the name, reverse its intent to the worst degree and there you have the simple truth of it. Obfuscation rules when it comes to naming laws, some call it framing.

Here is a portion of the text:

“Constitution Restoration Act of 2005 (Introduced in Senate)

S 520 IS
Sec. 1260. Matters not reviewable

`Notwithstanding any other provision of this chapter, the Supreme Court shall not have jurisdiction to review, by appeal, writ of certiorari, or otherwise, any matter to the extent that relief is sought against an entity of Federal, State, or local government, or against an officer or agent of Federal, State, or local government (whether or not acting in official or personal capacity), concerning that entity's, officer's, or agent's acknowledgment of God as the sovereign source of law, liberty, or government.”

When I read these things, I try to simplify it down to the basic meaning, taking out the legalese so that I can better understand it. Maybe this will help you, too:

... the Supreme Court shall not have jurisdiction to review any matter to the extent that relief is sought against any governmental anything, or governmental officer in official or private context, concerning that group’s or person’s acknowledgment of God as the sovereign source of law, liberty, or government.

It is so far-reaching that still I find it difficult to wrap my head around it. Maybe another cup of coffee will help. OK, here goes:

First of all, if the Supreme Court is the highest law of our land, why should they not be able to review any case that they consider worth reviewing? Very simply put, to limit the review powers of the SUPREME Court is to deny them the responsibility that they were put in place to handle.

And second - “(their) acknowledgment of God as the sovereign source of law, liberty, or government” is missing one word, and has several extras. The only way I can agree to a statement even close to this would be:

“(Their) acknowledgment of God as their personal source of sovereign law and liberty.”

Faith cannot come from government. Nor can one faith define our governmental laws. Faith must be shared personally, and should be proclaimed personally, but should not be declared as law for all in a country that is accepting of different faiths. Whose God will be used if a Buddhist speaks out about a Muslim issue?

Freedom of religion is THE first founding tenet of our country. That means all religions, placing no more importance on one religion over another, or on no religion at all. All religions are equal in they eyes of our Constitution. To allow some element of our government to define their God’s law as the law of the land leaves too much open to interpretation, to a definition of God, and to mankind’s ability to get it right.

God cannot be proven outside of theology. The Faith in God is a personal understanding of many things; some would say all things, in one’s life. Not all Americans have that understanding, nor should they be judged by another person’s understanding of God.

Is God my personal sovereign source of law? Yes. As I understand God’s law, and desires of me, He will judge me at my time beyond any judgment I may have here among men.

Is God my personal sovereign source of liberty? Yes. As I understand God’s creation and my small place in it, God provides all for me to make good or bad of within the context of Free Will and His desires.

Is God my personal source of government? This becomes a trapping question – there is no “personal” in government, there are only “the people” as a whole. “The people” do not agree on who God is, or even if there is God. God and government do not go together in this country, nor should they.

For a government official to acknowledge God as the sovereign source of law, liberty, or government is the same as that person declaring only God’s laws as the basis of this country. That puts them up against the Constitution and who knows how many other legal documents of this country. They should be fired, impeached or recalled, and rebuked by their Christian and political brethren alike.

For a government official to acknowledge God as their personal source of law and liberty is entirely acceptable as long as they agree that the laws of this country are the laws to be upheld in our courts.

Congressman John Conyers (D – MI) wrote in his press release of 9/21/2004 that the “(Constitution Restoration Act of 2004) is a response to anger at two federal court decisions that cited foreign law and found certain governmental invocations of God to violate the First Amendment.” I am told that those two decisions were 1. The death penalty decision in a crime committed before the age of 18 and 2. The Ten Commandments case in Alabama.

As for the death penalty case (Roper v. Simmons) of a minor, no foreign laws were considered in the ruling, nor was theology. The worldwide confirmation of the courts decision was only noted as: “(c) The overwhelming weight of international opinion against the juvenile death penalty is not controlling here, but provides respected and significant confirmation for the Court's determination that the penalty is disproportionate punishment for offenders under 18.”

The Ten Commandments case I choose to differ with in outcome, and think it failed because of faulty arguing. My understanding, as stated elsewhere on this blog (comments in Church and State), is that The Ten Commandments are historical as well as theological. There is wide confirmation that Moses did bring two tablets off the mountain with some very significant laws written on them, regardless of who you think Moses spoke to while up there. As such, I see them as historical and worthy of public display along with other historical depictions.

Still, it appears to me that this bill, the deceptively named “Constitution Resolution Act,” desires to create a theocracy, and that is something I, as a Christian, am against even if it is a theocracy in support of my God. My interpretation of God and His Word may not be the same as your interpretation of His Word and it is too open to variation within interpretation to be used as a basis for law.

BUT WAIT … there’s more, also included in the bill are these “Enforcement” provisions:

“To the extent that a justice of the Supreme Court of the United States or any judge of any Federal court engages in any activity that exceeds the jurisdiction of the court of that justice or judge, as the case may be, by reason of section 1260 or 1370 of title 28, United States Code, as added by this Act, engaging in that activity shall be deemed to constitute the commission of--

(1) an offense for which the judge may be removed upon impeachment and conviction; and

(2) a breach of the standard of good behavior required by article III, section 1 of the Constitution.”

Some say this can be interpreted to mean that the Supreme Court couldn’t review S520, as it would be outside their jurisdiction. If so, is this bill also taking the law of the land away from the judges and into the House and Senate with a stacked deck? Is it, perhaps, really the judges that this is all about?

I have also been told that this bill, if passed, would be found unconstitutional. If, however, the enforcement provisions keep the Supreme Court from reviewing it, what has that done to our Constitution?

Faith cannot be legislated; it must be shared.

Friday, May 13, 2005

Letters

I’ve spent the last three days sending emails to workers within the Democratic Party telling them of this web site and asking them to visit. I give the subject “Christian Democrats” to the email. Pairing those two words together almost always gets attention. While I have gotten a couple of emails back saying that Christian Faith shouldn’t be discussed as part of any Democratic ideology, by a margin of about six to one the emails are entirely encouraging.

Letters are great, but posting to the blog is better. It is set up for two-way communication and in doing so we show a community of Democrats that are of Faith. This is something that the country needs to become aware of. At the bottom of each article is a little thing with the number of comments "0 comments," "8 comments," etc. Click right on the “comments” word and it will open up a little place for you to write whatever is on your mind. I get sent an email that you wrote something, and I will respond here.

Here are some samples from the encouraging side:

From the short and sweet (and an agnostic I have happily since come to learn):

“What a wonderful idea! Thank you, so much!”

To a personal statement:

“From a personal point of view this is important to me.”

To a more thoughtful, considered and considerate comment:

“It is a part of my fundamental values as a Democrat and as an American that each individual is free to worship and believe as he/she chooses. Just as I would not want you (or anyone else) preaching your version of morality to me, I would not seek to preach my beliefs to anyone else. I abhor the influence of the so-called Christian Right on the politics of today; I would just as vigorously oppose any Christian Left movement for exactly the same reasons. Among the most moral things I can do are caring (and acting on that concern) about children, the elderly, the poor, the sick and the persecuted and mistreated. I am pro-life, in that I abhor capital punishment, murder and war. I am pro-choice, in that (I) believe a woman and her mate have the right to subscribe to the values of their own choosing. I suspect that Jesus would agree with me on many of my beliefs, but I am NOT a Christian (I am Jewish by birth). I suspect also that Jesus would be horrified by the actions and words spread about in his name by the "Moral Majority" and their kind. Based on my scant knowledge of Christianity, I expect that racism, sexism, denial of sustenance to the poor and ill, abandonment of the elderly and non-acceptance of classes of people would be counter to his teachings. While I applaud your spirit and enthusiasm in condemning the GOP's preposterous supposition that God is on their side, I hope you will not defame and devalue your own faith by attempting to politicize it or to weave it into the political thought process.”

I replied to that writer with this:

“Thanks for taking the time to put it to words. I know that there are many of the same opinion that keep it to themselves and it does me good to hear it plainly spoken.

Just as you and I feel the GOP is trampling on a fine country, my pain is double because they are doing the same to my faith which is as my family. From your perspective consider it being twice riled to the same degree at the same time. I don't know if you have read anything on my blog yet, but my position is pretty clearly stated in "Faithful or Not, Here We Come! Together."

I give you my word that I will not try to convert you. Once I've let you know that you can talk to me about faith, any faith, I leave it to you to open the conversation. Without your request I will work by your side to remove the GOP and build all those things you mentioned that we have in common as part of our society and no longer preach to you. I have a good friend, an art director as it so happens, and a confirmed atheist. He says he likes me anyway because I don't always try to convert him.

But my faith is a part of my person and a part of my thinking process. As such it is also part of my political thought process. The neocons have bastardized it, taken the words, the hymns and the cadence and are using it to lull some that don't think so much into a camp I consider ... sorry, no other word for it ...wrong. My aim is two-fold - to reach those that have been swayed that are still open to the ideas I share, and to make peace between people of all faiths, including no faith, towards a common good. Our world deserves it.

Again, thanks for the comments. I hope someday to meet you and share a smile.”

An email expressing support and action (love that!):

“Thank you. That is well written and I will use some of it in my letter to the editor, with proper acknowledgement to the author.”

And an email from a person who has quite obviously been thinking along parallel lines:

“Thank you so much for your web-site. Christian Democrats need to stand up and speak the truth about the fundamentalism that threatens both Christianity and democracy.

The hatefulness and arrogance of the Christian right is diametrically opposed to real Christian values. For me, it is summed up in these simple phrases that occurred to me one day as I was driving to work:

Jesus Would Vote to Feed the Hungry
Jesus Would Vote to Heal the Sick
Jesus Would Vote to Clothe the Poor

Any one of these would make a great bumper sticker for the next election and might just get people thinking about real Christian values. Those Christian Democrats with the courage to stand up for the real values Jesus taught are true patriots.

The country needs to know that fundamentalism, of ANY kind is dangerous. Fundamentalists do not believe in democracy. They only use the democratic process to achieve their own ends. They do not believe in the rule of law. They are a greater threat to our democracy than any foreign terrorist. They are the enemy within-- constitutional terrorists who will continue to erode away at our constitutional rights for as long as we let them. This dialog is a beginning and one that will hopefully take root as time is running short.”


From a person that genuinely made me feel good with few words:

“I'm not quite sure how you found me, but I just wanted to tell you how much your e-mail means to me!! I'm off to check out your blog, and be assured that I will forward this info to as many people as I can think of.

I am a firm believer that the Christian faith does not belong to the Republicans. I am a Democrat, and am proud to say that I am Catholic as well.

So, I just wanted to say thank you for sending this my way. I truly appreciate it!!”


And from a woman speaking plainly, beautifully (with locations deleted for her privacy) –

“I am a home grown woman from ...

I am a Christian but not like I was taught in Sunday School at the Baptist Church. I am in the … Democratic Executive Committee, Woman's Federation, LWV and American Legion Executive Committee, so I stay very busy. I want to know how Democrats can get across that we are Christians. I believe that the Christian Right are hypocrites.”

And one more that gets right to the point:

“This is a good thing that you do.

I am a Democratic activist and a religious scholar. I am very much
informed by Christian tradition. This thing that you are doing will help Democrats understand people of faith.”


Thanks for the letters, folks, but let's post our comments here and keep it open for all to see.

Saturday, May 07, 2005

Stuff

We all like STUFF. It can be any of a variety of things, or many things, but a simple almost universal weakness is STUFF. I wrote this in response to a posting on our church’s youth group blog that spoke of wanting “a shiny new BMW.” I’ve only altered it a bit here, to make sense to the audience here.

Cars are shiny. Cars are fast. Cars make neat sounds and push you back in the seat. Cars are freedom. A cool car makes us feel cool. (excuse my aging verbiage, please, but you know what I mean) Cars are one of the best examples of STUFF that we often crave.

Why do we crave STUFF? There are a couple of big reasons. We get marketed to by masters that know how to pull all our heartstrings of desire for acceptance and coolness. The price of every car sold in the U.S. includes, on average, in the neighborhood of $1800.00 for marketing. We each pay for the privilege of having others think what we drive is cool. We also see others with STUFF and we want it, too.

But what are we really buying? Get a cool car and half the people (the half that are easily impressed and not all that deep) think you are cool, about another quarter of the folks that see you are jealous or saddened because they have bought into the whole cool STUFF thing, and know that they can’t afford something as cool, and the last quarter just doesn’t notice at all. OKOKOK a few folks think you got a nice car and deserve it for working so hard, yeah, that can be true, too, but not with a Bentley Continental GT, the current way-cool car for cats with way fat wallets to the tune of $150K plus – just to get around town, right. (Yeah, I’ll admit I have the desire for cool, too, but I’m close to getting over it - uh-oh - I just got that whole lust for STUFF thing going in my brain just by writing the words Bentley Continental GT – aaarrgh – there it is again - dang, gotta stop that ;>)

Ya see how that works?? We have all taken in so many impressions about what is cool, and what cool brings us (and ladies, it might be $120 A&F jeans with rips in them and paint on them already or shiny jewelry or the biggest house on the planet, or it might be cars and yes, guys think huge houses are cool, too) ... so many impressions of what cool brings us ... that it’s really hard to not respond to the mere mention of the cool thing. All the images of smiling beautiful people in the cool thing or with the cool thing, all the nice sunsets and balmy breezes we’ve seen on TV, all the reassuring words from the perfect voice telling us that WE WILL BE COOL TOO if only we have this cool thing, all that is stuff that we’ve been sold. It’s not our thinking; it’s thinking we’ve bought into because masters of manipulation have sold it to us. I think there’s even a major in manipulation at some colleges, oh yeah, they call it marketing.

Let's forget about STUFF for a moment and think about the real things we want - how about acceptance? Who do we really want to be accepted by? The cool folks? C'mon, it ain't them that we need. We need to accept ourselves before we can hope to be accepted by anyone else. Ask anyone a few decades of age that has known true love and they will tell you that nobody else can love you ‘til you love yourself. Truth.

But Jesus accepts us simply because He loves us. And with that acceptance and love we find some comfort in our own shoes, walkin’ the walk of life, alone except for Jesus by our side. With Jesus we find a base on which to build, a base that supports us through good times and bad, one that will actually support us when we fall down. Amazing guy, Jesus, I am thankful to be gettin’ to know him. With Jesus’ love, we start to love ourselves. Our real selves. For who we are and for what we do. Not for what we have or who we hang with. For us. And Him. Thank You Jesus.

And with that comfort, we begin to find real relationships with real people based upon real caring and real situations that aren’t just drama show.

We get that unconditional love from our parents, too. Hard to realize sometimes because they’re always tellin’ us what to do and we don’t always want to do what they tell us. Hmmm … isn’t that the way we are with Jesus sometimes, too? But a parents love for child is something only a parent knows – total desire for one’s child to succeed to their best ability and to be happy with who they are. Sounds like Jesus again, doesn’t it?

Almost enough preaching for the moment –

Here’s the problem with shiny new anything. We really like the “new” more than the shiny, more than the anything. We all buy stuff thinking it will make us feel better only to find out a year or two down the road that the new is gone and so is the feel better. The masters of manipulation have gone ahead and created the next cool thing, the thing that just happens to make our old cool thing look just old.

Jesus isn’t like that, He’s always fresh. We’re reading parables in my men's group and each of us is amazed that we always get something new from them, they are fabulously refreshing and stimulating each time. We find applications to real life we hadn’t considered before and fresh thinking to carry with us out into the secular marketing driven world we live in. And they comfort us as we go. Amazing.

What’s a car without a friend as a passenger? What’s a house without a family? What is jewelry without the smile of a loved one giving it to you? Which part of each of these is more important to you?

Friday, May 06, 2005

Gimme Gimme Gimme

Well, I mentioned it in my bio, so it isn't a secret … I'm a golfer. Aside from being a wonderful game, it provides me with the opportunity to relate to people of different opinions than mine. There are many who follow the Republican line on the links, and many who swear on a repeated basis. Both are fertile ground for spreading the word, and spreading The Word.

Golfers swear too often. They take the Lord's name in vain mainly in two ways, by expressing to Jesus Christ when they make a mistake and by asking God to damn some aspect of their game. I don't understand either use and those that I hear it from usually get a response from me. In the first case I tell them Jesus doesn't care about their golf game even if he does care about their soul. In the second case I ask them “Suppose for a moment that there is a higher power by the name of God. Do you really want Him to damn what you are doing?” Most of the guys I play with don't swear too much anymore.

Our weekly foursome is evenly split, two Democrats and two Republicans. Mostly we play golf, but we also discuss issues as they hit the news and sometimes more generally the basic platforms of the two parties. The other day one of the Republicans made this comment: “The Democrats are the party of 'Gimme, Gimme, Gimme,' and the Republicans are the party of 'Earn it, Sucker'.” I'm quoting here, and that is just how it was said. I don't mean to say that this gent speaks for the GOP, but he does speak with a tone I find familiar from those Republicans with whom I do speak candidly.

I didn't have a response for a few holes, but then it came to me. The Democrats are not the party of “Gimme, Gimme, Gimme,” they are the party of “Give, Give, Give.” Give to those that can't get for themselves, give to those that need health care, and give to the child an opportunity that the parents may not be able to.

I will agree, however, that the GOP is the party of “Earn it, Sucker.” Earn it, Sucker, and we'll give you a job that you can't provide for a family with, or two jobs that still don't provide. Earn it, Sucker, and we'll give you no health care. Earn it, Sucker, and we'll sit happy in our huge homes brightly lit at night while you sit unemployed for a second year, coddled by our spin of Scriptural sounding language that gives you comfort, but no food, no house, and only bare hope.

I apologize to those that this may hit close to home with, but I am angered by what I see as hypocrisy on the right, and as simple acceptance by many of faith that don't see through the veil of Scripture and familiar Biblical language that the right uses against them and against God.

How much does one person need?

As written in Luke 12: 20, the parable of The Rich Fool: “But God Said to him, 'You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?'”

There are two ways to interpret this Scripture as I see it, and maybe more from you, the reader, but this is what I come up with:

1. Without enjoying real relationships with those around you, and without a relationship with God, you have nothing. Without giving to others you fall short in God's eye. What is life here on earth without real friends? What is the life after this without Grace?

2. “Who will get what you have prepared for yourself” can be interpreted that the rich fool will get exactly what he has prepared for himself.

We all get caught up in the material things of this world. I'm raising my hand to say that I am a fool, too, but I am realizing my errors and working towards changing my ways.

It isn't always about giving money to church although that is a great place to start. Give time of yourself and you may find a real reward even sooner. Give time at a soup kitchen and listen to the stories from the people you meet. Give time by walking through your neighborhood asking for donations to the food pantry and see what your neighbors say, what they share with you, how they look at you. Give time at any service project for the military folks in Iraq, for kids in another country, for old folks that don't have family near by or with young kids that are missing a parent and you will find an incredible richness that costs ... nothing.

Give. Give. Give.

Monday, May 02, 2005

Faithful or Not, Here We Come. Together.

These words are intended for all in the Democratic Party, with or without faith:

I am an evangelical Christian, and I am a Democrat.

Some in the Democratic Party are not Christians. I can accept that. A person can be of high morals, treat those they come in contact with consideration for them as individuals, with caring for their situation, with honesty and a sincere desire to help, and be without any faith. People can be of faith other than Christianity and be great people, too. I know many such people and I enjoy their company. Whether agnostic (not sure), atheist (thoroughly-considered non-believer) or of other faith, these people may vote the Democratic line for many reasons but it usually comes back to the fairness for all that the Democratic Party espouses as the reason we vote blue.

I believe in Jesus as my personal Savior, and while I probably won’t do it the first time we meet, I believe that I should share that news with you. I also believe that you have the option to say a variety of things when I do so. You can say, “No, thank you, I’ve considered that information and choose to think otherwise.” You can say, “I’m uncertain, but am not comfortable talking about religion because (fill in the blank).” Or you can say, “Let’s talk about faith, please.” These are all appropriate responses as are others that show your consideration and kindness.

But please don’t say, “Christians are all stupid Republicans ... or hypocrites ... or selfish ... or war-mongers ... or corporate scribes” because that is simply wrong. I have come across many non-Christians here in California that are amazed when I tell them of my faith and my political left-ness. They have seen too much of Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell, heard too many times our President invoke faith and tell a lie in the next sentence, known too many folks that speak of going to church on Sunday and then sin openly on a regular basis. Many Christians are very upset with the public persona of Christianity in America that can be attributed to the Religious Right. My aim with this blog is to alter that perception.

I apologize for some of my large and diverse Christian family whom, I think, simply get it wrong in the doing. They may be Christians, but I think they miss the broad points oft spoken by Jesus; of helping the poor, making peace, protecting God’s creation and of accepting any who come to the table. I will also openly say here that I am not a perfect Christian either; there is no such person alive on this planet unless Jesus Christ Himself has already returned. For those of you that don’t follow Christian theology, the concept of Christians not being perfect, but forgiven, sums it up pretty well. To take it one step further, Christians are supposed to try to be perfect in God’s eye and know it is not possible, but that is a paper for another day.

I urge all Democrats, whether secular, Christian or Jew, Muslim or Hindu, Buddhist, spiritualist or otherwise, to accept each other as worthy companions on the march towards a common goal. Let’s measure each other by our actions.

I ask secularists to honor our faith, whatever it may be, as part of our person. Similarly, I urge those of divergent faith (and this means Christians, too) to accept each other and those without faith with love and compassion, accepting those that think of God differently, or not at all, as still being God’s children. We are all God’s children and yes, sorry to some of you who don’t believe in any deity, I do believe you are God’s children too, but I promise not to berate you with that thinking any more than I have here.

For those of faith, I ask that you offer your faith to others if you are so inclined, but warn that you will need to accept that some will not be open to the concept and, in fact, you may be trampling on their faith in so doing. To be atheist is to state openly against faith and is, in a sense, a statement of personal faith in the moment. People of other faiths may or may not share the God of Abraham, but with or without a common God they will have major differences in theology. If a person rejects your offer of faithful explanation, accept it and move on towards common goals. If you are Christian, read the parable of the Four Soils and know that you may be softening hardened ground, but honor the person your are speaking with and give them their personal theological space. I don’t know enough about religions other than Christianity to speak of those perceptions, but do see “love of all” as strong common ground on which to build.

Again to those without faith - those of us that have faith like to pray, some more than others. Opening and closing any gathering of people in prayer we see as a call to our God to help us achieve our objectives, and we truly believe He hears us and helps us. If you don’t believe, what can it hurt? More importantly, you can listen to our prayer and hear our hearts. Respect us, please.

I urge us all to be the example of good Democrats united together towards common goals. Let’s accept each other for the good works we can do together and with the differences we can overcome politely. Let’s move America and this world forward towards a better future together.

I invite all to post comments and create a discussion here. I especially pray that some non-Christians will post positive comments about the common ground we share such that I can learn more and we can build an understanding together. We have much work to do. Let’s get to it.