Category Archives: Debate/Discussion

Selective #outrage and Hypocrisy; the #CiaReports

Well, call me controversial… I am indeed attempting to resist the temptation of posting political posts, but this is more a begging for reason and sincerity than anything political although I know I will be accused of being a “political unreasonable, mean, heartless right winger”… Well, have the fullest of it, because here it goes:

Human beings are so complex and interesting! Politicians are extra-crisp more complex and interesting except that they are predictable! Of course we should be outraged that some guy is being tortured. But, at least he is, as per our Western standards, a bad guy and I m not going to be all shaken up because someone who contributed to the death of about 3,000 people “has water bubbles coming off his throat”. It is gross and inhumane, but, come on, are you really outraged because of that? How about being outraged drones; about the lies of Obamacare? How about being outraged by being called “stupid” by Mr. Jonathan Gruber, the many times cited by the government as the “A.C.A. (or Obamacare) architect? I am more concerned about a few people I know whose deductible was 1,500.00 and not is five thousand dollars on Obamacare and their monthly payment is also higher. Why? Because they make money and are obligated by the government to pay a tax so one that does not work can have a paper and an illusion of health care! The issue here, however, is not health care, but “selective outrage” which is nothing but hypocrisy!

I can continue till I lose what is left of my teeth from talking: how about the government harassing citizens using the IRS? How about outrage about the government (past and present) supplying weapons to drug cartels thinking that would be a good idea to discover where they commit their heinous crimes?

The CIA report was released on the day Jonathan Gruber, the A.C.A. architect was being confronted by the House on his “Americans are stupid” comments on 5 videos that we know of, exposing the lies told the American people so the A.C.A. would be acceptable. We can fairly be suspicious of the intentions of releasing the report on that day and after a tremendous elections loss and an attempt to “control the agenda”, which has now become a term to replace the terms “smoke screen” and/or “red herring”; huh, let me think: taking the attention away  from an issue that requires reasoning and thinking by bringing an emotional one! After all, Mr. Gruber said it “Americans are stupid!”. Following the “it is not a tax” and now “of course is a tax where one group will pay for the health care of others”, after “you can keep your doctor, your current plan”, after the ” I can’t do it alone because of the Constitution” 24 times also on video, and now (to the Spanish channels) “I never said that I couldn’t do it alone”, and this CIA report, the cheapening of life both in abortion mills and some our neighborhoods, even on the part of a tax greedy government that will not hesitate in hurting its citizens to ensure the collection of said taxes (as in New York), the disregard for the truth, the usurpation of authority, the fibbing ways in which ill-informed Americans are told about very serious issues in their lives, really demonstrate that are are really better than this, we are complicit because of our silence and passiveness, and most of all it points out that ministers, even insignificant ministers like me, are doing a lousy job in pointing out America’s errors simply because of our political preferences, if not for being the very beneficiaries of the lies government tells us. Come on, many ministers signed up for the Affordable Care Act, so how can they preach against the lies the government told them about it?. So, I am somewhat outraged, but not extremely outraged for all of this as such extreme outrage would be actually “selective outrage”. The lies that the government tell us, the drones, “innocent” lives being wasted, killed, secret operations against American Citizens, these are all reasons for real outrage… A mass murderer being thrown against a wall? Oh, please!!!!

As for the work of the CIA I will continue in my attempt not to be a hypocrite, because if one of my children were in a crowded mall where there was a bomb placed by a terrorist and the authorities had him in custody and there was even a slim chance that he would disclose where the bomb is and how to disarm it if pressured, I would want the government to use any means possible to gain such information… We can’t tolerate in ourselves that which we despise on others.

Now call me names… I have both years plugged by my index fingers and am going lah lah lah lah… Not that I don’t want to hear; it is that such name calling is too predictable!

#Racism: #Honesty feels good on rainy Fridays!

Random acts of Racism

Many of us, perhaps the overwhelming majority of us, do not carry one ounce of racism in our DNA if we consider racism regarding another person’s race inferior to ours and unworthy of our respect. However we are capable, and, in fact, do commit random acts of racism throughout our lives and a few of them with dire consequences to those in the receiving end of these acts.

Who, in their lifetime has not become irritated, often expressing anger, when calling an organization and the person answering the call has an Ebonics accent, an Indian accent or any other accent that may be not very easy to understand. Ah, some will say, the irritation and ensuing anger is due to the frustration in not understanding, but not racism. Well, that accent is directly related to the race of the person speaking it! Someone who was very close to me was very light complected and blue eyed, but had a very thick accent and often grammatically incorrect way of speaking and many times, in the store that she worked, customers would simple ask for another person to attend to them. Looking down, disrespecting a professional because of his/her accent may be at first out of a thwarted desire to communicate, but what lingers mostly in the back of the frustrated person’s mind is “why do they hire such a person?” This is in fact racism because it stems from the notion that if one is a foreigner and cannot speak as you do or in a manner understandable to you, he/she is unworthy of being hired and ultimately being worthy of providing you services. No, I don’t want everybody to waste their time in understanding heavy accents, and I am not since they are paying the same for the service being received one does not have the right to demand full service and not one impaired by differences. Unfortunately, however, this is a random act of racism since it renders a person who is trying their best to please you unworthy of your business or your attention and even your effort to communicate.

Another example of an random act of racism, and this is more rampant, is when walking through a street and you see someone who does not look like you coming in your direction and you immediately take a defensive position. or, find a reason to cross the street, or do something so as to avoid a close encounter. Again, one may argue statistics and ponder that since statistically that person coming in your direction is of a race that has a higher likelihood to commit a crime than not. So you reason away your random act of racism! Again, I have to emphasize what I am not saying so people understand what I am saying: I am not saying that being safe is not good, that a simple act of crossing the street is racism, and that regarding is alone racism. What I am saying is that it may be not that you are a racist, but it is a random act of racism!

Sensitivity and Racism Against Americans

African Americans, especially, and us immigrants, have developed a special and ever so keen sensitivity to this! It really hurts! I am a strong guy comfortable within myself, and I grew up, since my earliest childhood, being discriminated because I was a Protestant (except that I was mean one and would beat the heck out of those who wanted to bully me because I was a Protestant), so I don’t get uncomfortable or angry with such acts, but others in great number do feel offended because of this. We foreigners are also very much guilty of the same types of random acts of racism as everyone else, and often against the people from our host country! You go to a restaurant and someone is talking too loud, or not knowing what is the point of using a fork and a knife, burping and worse, we immediately think “Americans…” “Red Necks…” “Hillbillies”… mostly those two latter adjectives can be summarized in the former one “Americans…” since we assume that Americans are impervious to common etiquette and care not about acting out their lack of finesse in public and that this is somehow related to “ignorance”. I speak a couple of the Latin languages and I am amused how much Latinos (and I do not consider myself a Latino) mock Americans, call them stupid, scoff at the fact that neighborhoods are being taken, turned into purple and yellow, or whatever uncommon color, and then the price of property in those neighborhoods is devalued, Americans move out to some other place and finally leave nice homes to be sold at the price of nothing, to others from that ethnic group, who, are little by little being able to get their planned “Reconquista” (Reconquering) of America without a drop of blood! I often rebuke these people stating to them that this is as racist as it is what they accuse Americans of doing to them, but they simply laugh it off because Americas are to passive and will never react against such a stance… Yes, we immigrants are capable of that as well. I am not even mentioning what some of my Arab acquaintances say about bringing Islam to America! The racism against America is as common and as bad as it is the racism practiced by Americans against foreigners.

The racism of lower expectations

I heard this term for the first time from Pres. George Bush. It is perhaps the worst form of racism! It is when we take a thought out conscientious decision to demand and expect less from someone because of their race. We do that by lowering the standards of black kids in black schools, we do that by assuming that certain ethnic groups will never learn certain things so it is useless to try to elevate them. Also, to demand from someone in authority less than we would another one based on his race an background. We have that going on in America where the majority of the press give our president a break and refuse to criticize him merely because, in these one-time journalists mind, the president is partly an African American and you cannot expect from him what you would expect from a white one. So, if the past president presided in a certain way stumble in a word or concept, he would be reviled and called names, such as liar, etc. But when the current president practices the same mistakes which are seen on TV, guarded on video tape etc. the press shrugs their shoulders to these mistakes because, after all, is is of an ethnicity that, in the minds of these members of the press, cannot be expected to be any different! So, they practice racism of lower expectations! Often they even express such type of racism and there is no need to mention it, just listen to the things they say about this president and what they say about the past president when the blunder or the infraction is of the same nature and kind! Chris Matthews, from MSNBC is to me the most evident example of someone who practiced racism of lower expectations, if you are craving for an example!

Honesty!

It will be hard to avoid random acts of racism. We just need to discipline ourselves, raise our own standards and exercise an effort not to commit it. Racism against Americans needs to be dropped! I know Americans are strong and thick skinned and can take it, but I urge my foreigner friends to understand that if I go to someone’s home and they are my hosts, I have to understand, and accept their ways instead of imposing mine. I have learned that day by day and in this 30 some years of USA, now as an American Citizen I can understand many things about Americans that supplant every bad impression I had of them in the early days of my life in the USA.

Now, in the wake of the events of Ferguson and New York allow me to say that the racism of lower expectations, combined with a random act of racism, were undoubtedly present. Of course we can’t judge thought, but we don’t have to be so naive either! We have, rather to be honest and ponder if we were in the spot of those same policemen what would we have done (not Jesus!)? Oh no, we are not trained for these situations but we are trained to survive and trained to react to biases built through a lifetime and also our knee-jerk reaction which makes us commit random acts of racism, which, in the case of Ferguson and New York resulted in death!

It is time for reflection! It is time to understand that we are humans capable of the most horrendous acts even though, overall we are kind and nice! Let us not deny that among these horrendous acts we can be, even for a moment, a racist for one reason or another and exact correction where is most desperately needed! That will be accomplished when we stop demanding from others that which we tolerate in ourselves!

 

Islamic Iman Leads U.S. House of Representative Prayer. #whynot

I’ve been thinking about this and have been asking the question “why not?” There are a few things to consider here:

Watch here

  • Is this or is this not a “freedom of religion” believing country?
  • Why are Christians only the ones to be blamed for America’s secularism?
  • Isn’t the text of the Islamic Iman’s prayer a text that even a Christian or a Jew wouldn’t volunteer an hearty “amen”?

I cannot picture Moses, performing miracles in Pharaoh’s Court, using his staff, and then, when Pharaoh summons his magicians to perform the same miracles Moses was performing, that Moses would have said “no, I won’t accept this challenge… I can only accept miracles performed in the name of MY God, Jehovah”. No! Moses not only accepted the challenge but his staff-now-turned-into-snake consumed, devoured, ate, Pharaoh’s magicians staff-now-turned-into-snakes! Christians should not be afraid of any challenge from any other religion! We have to believe that God will prevail, and that our beliefs will surpass, metaphorically “eat” everyone else’s belief; otherwise we are nothing but religious weaklings, whiners and phonies! Jesus never shunned a challenge either! Let Muslims do what they do in between killings and beheadings, and let us as Christians do what we do in confidence that God will see us through as winners… In this the infamous Charismatic TV preacher is right: “I read the end of the book: We win!”

Over at Patheos: Progressive Brands, Sexism & DudeBro Politics: #CloseGamerGate

link to original post: here

Because this was now being handled in public, I was fortunate to receive the support of hundreds of people on Twitter – as well as attacks from others. I always expect some form of trolling, but I did not expect one of the attackers to be an editor at Salon, Elias Isquith, who questioned what my potential rape meant for “hashtags” and “brands”. “- Sarah Kendzior, On Being A Thing

Encountering the Emergent Church Brand

For a span of 2 years, my final semester of undergrad up until my second year in seminary,I tried and miserably failed to fit myself in the white Calvinist evangelical mold. As a black man in his early twenties, I didn’t fit in anywhere in predominantly white Christian educational settings. Some of my first friends in seminary were a group of white Christians who were well read with Emergent Christian literature: Tony Jones, Doug Paggit, Rob Bell, and Brian McLaren will all names that were dropped during our weekly Tuesday night taco dinners.  I would eventually leave the Neo-Calvinist movement on my own terms and started to see some freedom in the Emergent Church movement. Two of the more influential books on my journey were Scot McKnight’s The Jesus Creed and Donald Miller’s Blue Like Jazz. My Calvinist friends (who had not read these book/authors) were calling me a heretic for even reading these books, and as I look back then seven years ago, I can laugh.

I once preached a sermon on the Emergent church as the future of Christian tradition, and I even taught a Sunday School class on Black theology and Emergence Christianity.  However, I began to experience disaffection with the Emergent Church. All of the topics and controversies that the EC leadership wrote about/spoke about still made Whiteness as the center. Believers from marginated contexts were welcome to the table as long as they tacitly submitted to the ways of the dominant culture. In essence,  Emergence Christianities have become more about personal brands and the platforms of their recognized overwhelmingly White male leaders rather than being about the “future of Christianity.” You see, since we only live in the here and now, all talks of the “future of Christianity” are speculative. Yet, there is much money to be made when small groups of people decide to severe the multiracial Kingdom of God from any notion of the future. The “future” winds up looking very much like the status quo, and defenses (yes, even “progressive ones”) of the status quo are quite profitable.

Liberationist Killjoys And DudeBro Christianity

At Killjoy Prophets, there is a two-fold mission: first, we desire to center the experiences of Women of Color in Christianity, and secondly, we work to end DudeBro Christianity. Now, we often get asked, “what is DudeBro Christianity?” First of all, DudeBro is a descriptor of character traits; it is a politics in which any person of any gender, sexual orientation, or ethnic background can embody.  DudeBro Christianity is the passive embodiment of dominant cultural norms that conceal commitments to White supremacist and male supremacist narratives as defaults. The bodies of women and People of Color are made to be objects of contempt. The practice of DudeBro Politics includes someone who insists that all social encounters occur on their terms.  The future of Christianity is their private property (“post-Christendom”); like the plantation oligarchs, People of Color and the bodies of women are to be supervised by DudeBro Christian leaders.

Emergent Christian leaders often make excuses such as, well many PoC and women just do not have a big enough platform to draw a big enough crowd for conferences. In other words, profit is the driving force behind abstract discussions of “the future” rather than the Kingdom of God, which is justice, and peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit.  DudeBro Politics is the anti-Christ, posing as an angelic voice of progressive Enlightenment in order to deny faithful victory over the sins of White Supremacy, rape culture, and economic exploitation. DudeBro politics can play out in non-liberating events such as a White Cisgender queer male informing me that I use too strong of language when describing economic policies as anti-black racism. DudeBro Christianity is when for the sake of inclusion in the United Methodist Church, a White CisHet man uses his privilege to compare the General Conference to date rape. In order to build her brand as a magenta politics leftist, one political theologian dismissed Sarah Kendzior’s claims to being threatened with rape. Jason is right: in order for DudeBro Politics to remain the pre-eminent regime in this kyriarchal, White Supremacist economy, men have to control the bodies of women and PoC.

“but I think it’s pathetic for some [recognized Emergent Church leaders] to stand around and comment on the failings [of Mark Driscoll/Mars Hill Church], while cowardly never admitting your own sh*& (which is strikingly familiar!!) misogyny, mental and emotional abuse all hidden behind a new found liberalism and feminism because the times they are a changin’, jumping on the same sex marriage band wagon because its the hot new ride in town, and you just might get to be relevant again…these people are very cunning and smart and they will use anything (theology, controversy, sensationalism) and anyone to get ahead. it’s a clinical diagnosis and a pathology that looks like this kind of carnage, and they ALWAYS leave bodies in their wake. soliciting white male leaders of the emergent church willing to cover it all up for their crony. wipe out evidence on organizations website. lies and betrayal.”- Julie McMahon, comment, Tony Jones On Mark Driscoll, What Came First, The Thug or The Theology?

On Ending DudeBro Christianity, #GamerGate, & #NotYourShield

Emergence Christianities and their leadership has unfortunately found itself more often than not on imperialist quests for fame and fortune rather than being in solidarity with the least of these. In the process, as Julie McMahon pointed out, brand-creation and marketing leave the bodies of the marginalized in its wake: objectification, emotional, physical and mental abuse, gaslighting, racist microaggressions, and “post-modern” defenses of White Supremacy. Progressive spaces such as Emergence Christianity have made it okay for others to promote themselves at the expense of others (women mostly). For example, the whole #GamerGate #NotYourShield movement is a whole group of gamer dudes violently backlashing against women gamers who have spoken up versus misogyny. Last week, my friend Drew Hart discovered that a #NotYourShield sock puppet had been using a picture of his to advance the racist*, sexist agenda of #NotYourShield / #GamerGate.

#GamerGate is more than a few Internet trolls. They harass their critics, take down their blogsites, spread vicious rumors, and send emails promising gun violence and sexual assaults towards women who dare speak out. It’s time for progressives to find new ways to brand themselves, and this should start by rejecting DudeBro Politics. It means living by the preferential option for the marginalized (women & People of Color), preferring to choose human life and people over profiteering and brand-making.  Such a rejection also means a public rebuke of #GamerGate / #NotYourShield.    #CloseGamerGate #CloseGamerGate #CloseGamerGate

“[…] upon this rock I will build my church; the gates of hell will not prevail against it.”- Matthew 16:18 KJV

Buffy the Vampire Slayer, “The Gift”
  • I refer to #GamerGate/ #NotYourShield as racist because of #1, the persistent blackface sock puppeteering that they do, and #2, their reliance on negative stereotypes of Blacks as thuggish, criminal, and culturally “backwards”/homophobic.

How Churches Can Avoid the Nightmare of Lawsuits over Wedding Ceremonies

WEDDING

This is simple and perhaps even simplistic, I admit, but, I guarantee you it is at least one first step to avoid legal problems, that is, if you object to performing gay marriages.

(Disclaimer: I have voiced my opinion as to gay marriage plenty of times in different ways with the same main thrust, so, this is not an opinion on gay marriage but an advice to Churches that want to avoid the nightmare of lawsuits.)

Many Protestant churches reject the idea of marriages as a sacrament. Too bad that they perform and require that marriages be performed by their ministers as if it were a sacrament. However, many of these Churches use wedding ceremonies as a revenue generator for the Church and even rent their facilities for other ministers to perform marriages of people outside of the host Church membership. Well, that was fine and dandy up until now, but, unless Churches find a way not to “have it both ways” or, a quasi sacrament, whereas saying is not one, which they charge everyone to offer, and even offer it to people whose spiritual life they do not oversee, Churches will be open for all kinds of lawsuits because now we have a different, uncommon before, group of people who feel that, in spite of the fact that they never cared for that church facility in their neighborhood, and even when it is not in their neighborhood, they want to challenge that Church by wanting to have their gay marriage in that specific facility. In my not expert opinion, as it is plain to see, and as I consult friends of mine who are attorneys, it will be hard for that Church ministers to deny their facilities to perform a gay marriage on the basis of religion, since they only have an “expectancy” that the people whose weddings are performed in there are indeed religious people. My discussion here is not whether it is right to sue a Church for that or not, my discussion is that it will be hard for a Church to prove that they are not discriminating!

What then can be done?

Number one, from start, Churches should get out of the business of performing marriages. By that I mean, they should not charge for that which they believe to be a function of the Church. Otherwise they have to deny that such ceremonies are relevant and the function of the Church. They can’t have it both ways. They cannot charge; perhaps a nominal fee is fine for “maintenance” purposes, such as removal of flowers, or things of this nature, or cleaning the “social hall”, if the reception is also carried in its facilities, but charging a fee for the marriage itself, should be a “no, no”.

Then, not only should Churches not use weddings for a revenue generator by charging wedding fees, but also they should perform, or bless marriages of members of their congregations only, or the people whom the Ministers of that Church oversee spiritually. That means that they would not rent their facilities for marriages of people outside those who are under spiritual supervision of the ministers of that Church, whom they know, counsel, pray with, and to whom they offer communion regularly. I know that this will hurt churches financially, but it will hurt even more to have a lawyer in their payroll or to pay expensive legal fees to dispute lawsuits. All that is happening may be a Sovereign act of God in turning Churches more like the Body of Christ, and turn to their main purpose here on earth than to simply “server” the community as a venue for community indiscriminant celebrations.

In fact, Churches who want to avoid lawsuits, as long as it is legal to present issues (which is about to be legally debated in America) to your members, you should have a formal teaching plan where you teach your members about sin, sexuality, marriage, along with all your doctrinal foundations such as justification, the Trinity, etc. That alone will prevent anyone who disagrees with you from even the desire to be in your zip code, let alone get married in your Church!

Lastly, Churches should write all the above in their Constitution and By-Laws and ensure, assure and reassure that such is being followed to the letter!

How can this protect a Church?

Some may ask how these measures will help a Church avoid lawsuits; let me ask them that if you want to fly shirtless in an airplane there will always be a hard nose flight attendant, or steward, whatever they call it nowadays, to tell you that “it is not the company policy that people fly shirtless”. Churches need to know what their policy is. Whether they choose to perform gay marriage or not, they have to enact a policy that is understood by the community so as not to invite anyone even to consider attempting to violate such policy. That, added to the Constitutional provisions will aid a Church to be protected against most of the lawsuits and local ordinances that ultimately violate the Constitution right to assemble, which may be interpreted with “right to associate with likeminded folks”, freedom of speech, or religion and freedom to worship as one desires.

The advantages of a well established policy in their Statutes and By-Laws will be that Churches will get out of the “wedding business”, will be able to bless only the marriages of whom they oversee whereas being kindly and legally able to sustain a claim that any rejection of weddings of the general public within their walls is not discrimination.

The time has come, and again, I think by God’s Sovereign Act of disciplining the Body of Christ, that His Churches function more as the “assembly of those who worship God” and are under the supervision of a duly established Pastor or Bishop (the overseer) and not a community pleasing organization in the sense that, instead of “Christianizing the community, they are allowing the community to worldanize the church.”

Whatever has befallen to some Churches and Ministers in facing lawsuits from gay activists because of denial of facilities and ministerial blessing of a gay wedding (if such lawsuits are still in vogue…) is often the Churche’s fault for not safeguarding the mission that God commanded them to fulfill. Now a couple, from that church or not, can walk up to a minister, “rent” the church facilities for the wedding, either pay the minister of that Church for the wedding or bring their own minister and all is good. How is that not a fertile ground for all kinds of legal problems, including discrimination, if these same Churches deny the same facility and ministerial blessing to anyone? How is that not transforming a religious act, or a quasi sacrament for some, and a real sacrament for others, into a business? Want to keep your wedding revenues coming? If they do, save them because you will have to spend it all in lawyers and lawsuits and it will be your fault; you will lose! Sadly, the only way to avoid discrimination lawsuits is to discriminate by performing ONLY marriages of people within your Ministerial Oversight, or, the members of your congregation who agree to your definition of sin, marriage, sexuality, etc.

Christianity is a faith with no temple made by man’s hands; however this cannot be an excuse to consider a place of worship a “party hall” for the community and not even the “favorite wedding chapel” of the community. Without transforming church buildings in shrines, Churches must understand the difference between an exclusive worship place and the “community center”. This is old fashion but efficacious in swatting away lawsuit bugs. That can be achieved starting by ending the urge to generate revenues by providing a venue for non-member weddings.

An Uncontrollable Urge to Scorn.

This research considers people who live in the so called Bible Belt as “Conservative Christians” and also “implies” that anyone who identifies themselves as Religious Conservative, really is any or both… So, if I live near gold mines on in a gold mining area, that makes me a nugget!

How  different are these researchers from ISIS when they say that everyone who lives in America, or every American, just by living in America or being in American, or just by living in the West, is an enemy of Islam?

Now, the reason men may resort to internet porn in the Bible Belt is perhaps because there are less whores and promiscuous women there… So, I can also draw unreasonable conclusions judging by the way a geographical area is identified.

Aware that I am disseminating sheer stupidity, and an uncontrollable urge to scorn those who are genuinely Christians, read here

“The hypocrisy common across the conservatives parties and movements is that while demanding the the government stay out of your hospital and your gun cabinet, they are forcing the government into your bedroom.”

Yeah, the hypocrisy, unfortunately, is of the non-conservatives who do not want conservative governments in their bedroom but want conservative governments and everyone else to pay for aids that they use mainly when they are having sex in their bedroom, thus inviting ALL to their bedroom while saying they wish not them to be there… Oh, I forgot, non-conservatives don’t have sex in bedrooms…

A mental disease? #transgender

Dr. Paul R. McHugh
Dr. Paul R. McHugh

“…transgenderism is a “mental disorder” that merits treatment, that sex change is “biologically impossible,” and that people who promote sexual reassignment surgery are collaborating with and promoting a mental disorder.”

(Former psychiatrist-in-chief for Johns Hopkins Hospital and its current Distinguished Service Professor of Psychiatry)

Well, this guy is a doctor on the subject… So, don’t kill the messenger!

read more here

Unbelievers Are Weak In Their Unbelieving Convictions!

In the eighties when I flew constantly over Brazil and a few countries of below the Southern Hemisphere, I used to notice how many “agnostics” and “atheists” all of a sudden would become “religious” during periods of heavy turbulence or any commotion during flight that posed a danger of a massive loss of life. I even got to the point of exposing a Bible that had my name engraved in golden letters “Rev. Milton Almeida” (although I despise the “Rev” title) only to find out how many people would procure a conversation with the “Rev.” carrying a Bible during a turbulent and uncomfortable flight. It was, pardon me my mean spiritedness, even amusing when people would approach me and ask me questions as to whether I really believed the Scripture and if I prayed for the flight and then confess to me as if I requested, that they were unbelievers.

I remember an occasion when I was flying from the Southern part of Brazil to the city where I used to live, São Paulo, when this, as reported to me later, important and well known psychiatrist was sitting next to me in an Airbus, the same model that had been found to be involved in several crashes during that time which resulted in massive loss of life. When he saw my Bible “accidentally” slipping off my briefcase be engaged in a conversation with me in a sort of challenging and mocking tone asking me if I believed the things written in the book, and then challenging me with issues of mental illness, homosexuality (remember this is in the 80’s!), and took the time to tell me “the ridiculous things that Scripture readers rejected” in a demonstration of his sheer ignorance of what Christians believe and how stereotypical even a man of his knowledge and education can be on issues of religion.

Then, the storm hit! That plane was swinging as a blender… Trust me, I was scared to death! But not scared of death! I always had a sentence in my mind during crisis in airplanes, of which I could write a book as they were many during the 15 years of flying as a management consultant for an international firm and later to a Brazilian firm: I am not scared of crashing… it is the sudden encounter to the ground that scares me”. So, I was attempting to draw smiles, and stay calm, but it was very difficult.  The air movements were so intense amidst the Cumulonimbus clouds that the captain later told us that in one of the “drops” we actually went down 1,000 feet in a split second. Oh, I remember that one! He didn’t have to tell me! No… not because of the impact of the drop, but because the man sitting next to me, had a sudden conversion, not to Jesus, but to me… Out of the thin air, no pun intended, he was asking me if I would be praying for the flight so nothing serious would befall us and that soon we would land safely and survive. I simply told him that all he previously had said about Scripture believers was wrong and that now he was making another mistake which was to expect me to believe for him, in other words, vicariously have faith for him. I mentioned to him that I was a protestant and although I could pray for him I could not believe in his instead… that he would have to find a way to believe himself. Nervous and frightened as he was he actually babbled a small prayer, always that conditional “if you’re there God, do this and do that”. God must have heard him because we did land safely for mine and his joy!

I don’t want to stretch your permission to my “mean spiritedness” in telling you of the occasions when unbelievers called me crying out for prayer when their babies were seriously ill, another one, who owned a company where I worked, who asked me to pray for his dying mother, and another who mocked me every day he would see me calling me “padre” knowing the differences between what I was and a “padre”, a man who had been diagnosed with cancer and consulted me about praying for him, and if in my denomination we would pray for the sick. The point is, however, that unbelievers are not very convicted of their convictions. Well, they are, until they need something from the entity they despise and do not believe. This is good, not bad and not something that followers of Christ should mock, but it is just a real crack on the credibility of those who populate the Internet today to express their unbelief, mocking the Scripture and its followers. I do not see very many Scripture believing Christians resorting to pagan deities when they are in some kind of predicament, so it is fair for me to expect that, the self-proclaimed and publicly open unbelievers, more so yet, from those who make a point to mock believers in virtually everything they write, would have the same convictions; the latter should merely admit that their unbelief is temporary, until something threatens their comfort zone and attempt to refrain from mocking believers.

I am not defending ignorance and that Christians should shun intellectuality and take advantage of every moment of crisis in someone else’s life simply to act in a “I told you so…” kind of stance. Christians should be followers of Christ in whatever circumstance and find wisdom not to appear that they want others to do badly in order for them to be somehow, “attracted” to faith. Followers of Christ should never rejoice in anyone’s suffering, but suffer with them; we should bring Christ to them in their level and not take a lofty stance as if we are not subject to the same fears of suffering. The idea of taking advantage of situations where the other person is in some kind of predicament to “preach at” them and to defend the tenets of the Christian faith is not what I propose with this article. What I propose with this article and the examples herein is just to convey that most believers are fully convicted of their beliefs. Unbelievers, I doubt!

 

 

Of being a former Pentecostal/Charismatic preacher

The price to pay for being a former Pentecostal preacher is often high and it comes in all sorts of currencies. People often look upon you as “a little of that, but not much of that other” as in “too Pentecostal for the Calvinist and too Calvinist for the Pentecostal”, a phrase that causes a few to laugh but that it is a huge roadblock if one wants to change his image into a reasonable and well balanced Christian. Bearing in mind that if you are a Christian many will find you unreasonable anyway is not something that soothes the pain of being stuck with a label that is not only slanderous but it is also an impediment for any progress in the denominational circles in America Evangeliville. There is one softer side, however, which often assuages one’s ire of such unfair state of affairs, though: That’s when people still look upon you as a superstitious Pentecostal (if there is any other kind…), and when they meet you in a public place, as a restaurant, for example, they feel that they should come to you and tell stories upon stories that are completely insane, to say the least, that cannot be substantiated, that, if true, the whole world would have known, believers and unbelievers alike, the latter, a kind that would be nothing but extinct if these stories could have been validated and authenticated. Indulge me in presenting to you a recent event and the way it ended so, perhaps, I can contribute to your day laughing quota.

Here it goes:

I am sitting in this rather popular restaurant chain and all of sudden I am reminded of what a teacher told me once about undesired encounters: “You turn on the lights and you won’t be able to control what kind of bug crawls or flies in.” A person who recognized me as a former Pentecostal preacher, but who knows how diametrically opposed I have become on the superstitious nature of Pentecostal/Charismatic faith and felt that they have to “witness” to me a few things that are happening in their hallucinating world. Needing a few inward laughs in that busy and hard day, I gave ears to the story about a certain preacher whose name I will leave off the story, in whose services God is doing something that unquestionably He is capable of doing, but one can hardly find a purpose for Him to doing it and also the results whereof, should He have really done it. “Oh, and God is filling tooth cavities in those services; the anointing (as they call not knowing that references to “anointing” in the Bible are references to the Anointed One), is so heavy that some people had their cavities filled! Isn’t that wonderful? (Expecting me to respond…) Since my silent is deadly, they continue: “Oh, and there was a diamond rain in the service! The Lord poured down a rain of diamonds in that service”. What a wonderful thing the Lord is doing through the ministry of (names the person). Now, at this point it is useful to mention that the person relating these purported Godly feats to me is doing so as if “it” was there in person (I don’t want to reveal whether “it” was a man or a woman); in other words, I was made, by the emphasis and detailed exposition of the facts that this person was there and saw the tooth fillings and the diamond rain, perhaps having picked up some gems, and all the other miracles that “it” mentioned to me and that I don’t mention here because they are common in Pentecostal/Charismatic conversations.

The Truth Comes Out

Well, still being warm-hearted to this person, I preamble a question and then asked it as so: Wow, how interesting. Listen I write in a blog in the Internet with a certain degree of readership and it wouldn’t be wonderful if I could meet some of these people with tooth fillings, obviously with their dentist records that the tooth was unfilled so as to avoid the mockery of skeptics (heh heh), and interview them, and also have someone show me one of those heavenly diamond rocks, or dust, or whatever, and photograph it since I think it would be such a blast to have these great things published and allow the public to know of them and of your preacher?. Silence! Total silence! One can expect the other to be in awe at these stories or object to them, but, ASKING EVIDENCE??? O, no, that is unusual and in the Pentecostal/Charismatic circles it is the same as “persecution and unbelief”. After all you don’t question miracles do you? Well, I don’t question miracles; I just want evidence because the miracles in the Bible had evidence that others, including unbelievers could verify!

Then, after the silence, the truth comes out: O, brother, I am sorry if I gave you the impression that I was there… that was related to me my so, and so, daughter. Okay, I continue my pursuit of authentication, and say: My I have an address, a name that I can search of this person so I can verify these miracles and publish them? A few seconds of the same silence as before and then… “Well, I don’t know if “their” daughter was there, I think someone who was there told her. But why in the world do you want to publish this?” Well, beloved, (see I am nice), don’t you think that if God is doing these things today they shouldn’t be in the papers, on TV, on Bill O’Reilly, Oprah, so the world could know what a mighty God we serve (alluding to one of their chorus)? Don’t you think that would be good for people seeking God to “seek him even harder”? (I am NOT entrapping anyone… I am looking for authentication). O, brother, (here we go again), unfortunately I can’t tell you because it is something that I heard from a very good person who is really a powerful sister in the Lord… (and then the illogical challenge): “Why do you want to see proof anyway; don’t you believe that God is capable of doing these things?” I have a prepared answer for this kind of question that I used to Mormons when they ask me if I doubt that Jesus had power to come to the Americas and present the Gospel to natives): “O, I believe He has all the power, He is all powerful, including the power to end the world right now and kill us right now, but, is He doing it or has He done it already?” Usually I get silence, but what I got was a shift on the conversation to the political situation in this country…

How it spreads and become believable?

What I am trying to relate here is a true fact. People will relate these things to others of the same like faith (or what they call faith) and it will spread as uphill fire or and downhill water, just as fast and deadly. People who believe as this person does will never challenge anything and will hurry in relating to others the same story and always presenting it as if they were physically in the place where these events took place. As such, these stories spread and the breath, width, heights that they go are now damaged by something involving the name of God and the faith of Christians that cannot be substantiated by facts and not supported by evidence. What they really want, as all sycophants want, is to convey the idea of familiarity with the minister in whose services these things are happening and find a social acceptance among those who believe the same way they do… As dogs sniffing the other dogs backside, these people use these stories to find their pack (no offense to the dogs).

How it ended?

I could finish my meal with the certainty that such person would go home and reflect on the meaning of evidence as I enjoyed my so much needed inward laugh aware that I was laughing at a tragedy and not at a comedy; the tragedy of misplaced faith and the deceitfulness in the ministry; I was also aware that I was mocking and mocking is a often a sin and took the opportunity to pray for that person, asked forgiveness for mocking, as I thanked Him for exclusively by His Grace, removing from the circles where people think that God needs to endear Himself with miracles so people can believe Him, and that the message of the Gospel, in its less adorned and sugarcoated way is not enough for Him to do His work in saving those whom He will save, and that I am no better than that person other than the Grace that God bestowed upon me saving me when I was a disgraceful sinner occupying His pulpit! While I chewed another bite of a baked salmon, since God doesn’t mind me speaking with my mouth full, I prayed for the story teller in front of me and I prayed for me that I would never feel compelled, by any situation in my life to go back to the vomit of Pentecostal/Charismatic superstitions.

Laughed with me?

If I really contributed to your laughing quota of the day, I have also contributed to your need to pray for yourself as it happened to me; so use this post as an opportunity to do so.

Of the “Ice Bucket Challenge” and Matthew 6

icebucketbreeBy now everyone knows and many have participated in the so called “Ice Bucket Challenge” with the intent to help charity.

It is absolutely wonderful that someone helps charities and, often, the motivations and ulterior motives for one doing so, are ignored on behalf of the end result of an act of charity, regardless as to whether such act is sincere or just a stunt.

One of the greatest marketing campaign in my opinion, in the field of charity as a skillful way to make people publicly demonstrate their charity by using the proverbial “blowing the trumpet” through getting an icy self inflicted shower, this cleverly planned campaign made people who otherwise are not attracted to charitable giving finally show some interest in altruism.

Now, even if one for the gift sake, or the cause it benefits, may ignore the fact that self-serving, opportunistic giving is not “real” giving, I really can’t say that the benefits of genuine Christian charity can be ascribed, to those who participated in such a public manner. Jesus told us to practice our charity in private. As God privately rewards those who pray in private, He will reward those who give in private; as men reward with accolades and recognition those who do it all in public, no reward will be left to those who find public approval and acceptance.

I know that, for many the Bible is a book to be questioned, ant it is only a part of other sources of religious authority, but, if these apologists of plurality of Christian authoritarian teaching could tell me, I would like to see any of their own para-sources of authority that teaches that our charitable acts should be practiced in public… Oh, but it is all for fun, intended to combine charity with fun… I’d say that I own a company, inactive at this moment, called “FunRaisers” whose slogan is “We put the FUN on FUND RAISING”, so, I am for having fun in giving, but, when the fun of giving becomes a buffoonish way of being ostentatious about your giving and attracting the attention to you more than to the cause you’re giving, then, YES, giving can become and exercise in the futile violation of Matthew 6.

Am I splitting hairs? Am I being demanding and legalistic? Well, saints, the little foxes spoil the vines, and often the things that we consider to be unimportant, and faddish, perhaps even innocent, but massively practiced, are the ones that will ultimately water down and dissolve good and traditional Christian teaching and trivialize the cause of those who truly depend on charitable donations. It will be not so far fetched for me to say that henceforth it will be very hard to motivate people to give to a great cause without somehow affording them some type of public recognition even if it includes something as innocent and clownish as wasting cold water! It is already happening! People get naked in the streets for the protection of animals, radio stations offer donations for each cockroach one can eat (as it happened in So. America) etc. So, where is the good old secret and worshipful giving?

I congratulate all of those who risked so much with a bucked of iced water being poured over their bodies, specially in summer, who sacrificed so much for the cause of charity. I give you my recognition and so do many Facebook and Tweet readers and the overwhelming majority of the population. Now with mine and the world’s recognition, plus the thrill of the cold water suddenly changing your body temperature, “you have received your reward”; expect none other!

I.R.S. to monitor sermons now? Yoohoo, they may be saved!

Read here

If the article linked is true there will be many interesting and rather unexpected results. The immediate one is that some black churches will be hurt the most as they are the ones who invite candidates that not necessarily share their faith,  but promise (and never fulfill) to fight for what African Americans consider to be their issues. However, if this becomes a manner in which Pastors will dedicate their very short time with their congregation to the exposition if the Gospel exclusively, it may not be such a bad thing. The problem is that most pastors who resort to political speech from their pulpits often choose to do so because of their lack of theological preparation to do anything other than to rant on Sunday mornings against issues that are not exactly leading to “eternal life”, and do not pertain to “life and Godliness”.

The poster of the article on Facebook, makes the following pertinent comment, to which I agree:

This whole article is based on the assumption that 501c3 is even necessary for churches. As the author noted but didn’t fully explain, churches are automatically tax exempt. But they don’t need to file for 501c3 status. The disadvantages are they there is not certain “liabilities protection” that come with the 501c3 status since they would not be a “non profit organization.” The other disadvantage is there is no “tax exempt number” to allow the churches to not have to pay sales tax on purchases. Everything else is the same including the right for congregants to deduct their tithes and offerings if they qualify for itemizing on their annual tax returns.”

I decided that my church that I pastored in the past would not apply for a 501(C3) because I felt that the government has no right to “recognize” an organization as a church when the people who congregate together calls their congregation a church; I also believe that the only motivation for a Christian to give to the work of the ministry must be exclusively the love and interest for the work of the ministry. Do not give to my church expecting a tax exempted letter at the end of the fiscal year. I also believe that it is not the role of the government or the I.R.S., or through the I.R.S. or any other governmental organism to police and censor what is said by a group when they decide to assemble enjoying the constitutional right to assemble. So, I have mixed feelings about this measure (if proven true, again I say) since I think that God prompts men to enact certain laws and rules when He feels that it is necessary to keep His people within the boundaries of that which they are called to do. Not everything that man does that appears evil is evil resulting… remember the story of Joseph… but let’s wait and see. What thinketh Thou?