Category Archives: Debate/Discussion

What to say about Christian #nihilism?

This article, written by a member of the World Reformed Fellowship (I am a member) serves a full plate of food for thought  about, perhaps, an explanation for the “clash of civilizations”.

Read the article here

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.