Taking a tip from the left, Christians created the “P” word.

The left-wing in this country has been very clever in creating what I call “buzzwords” whose purpose is to intimidate people from voicing opinion on almost anything. For example we have the “R” word so that when one voices any opinion of disagreement with the White House, the left automatically raises the “R” word for racism, meaning that, if you keep disagreeing with the most disagreeable policies of the man who occupies the White House, then you will be labeled, zeroed in, attacked, slandered and ultimately ostracized as a racist only by being so bold as to speaking out your conscience.

The same is done with the “H” word, or homophobic even if you accept the legal right for gays to marry in the legal system but you oppose their intolerant persistence in destroying those people whose professions involve a service that, once performed, implies a personal endorsement of the persons or events in which the services will be used, such as photographers and bakers, oh, if you say that these professionals should be left alone, along with churches and ministers who prefer not to bless a gay marriage, and that there are plenty of ministers and churches that would, then you are labeled with the “H” word, and then all the process used for the “buzzwords”, that is, labeling, zeroing in, slandered and ostracizing, commences.

How about the P.C. (political correctness) buzzword for any attempt to point out that which is, in your opinion, an opportunity for societal revision? Try that one and you would suffer the same process of influence murder (because this is what it is) even if you present the most reasonable of all reasons. After all there is nothing you can explain to people who refuse to understand. Well, Christians, since it has worked so well for the left-wing, decided to take a stab on creating a buzzword of their own,  and they decided that perhaps, because of all the historical implications, the past examples, and recent events in the Middle East, the word “persecuted” with its initial “P” would be a great idea and cause the same deadly impact of the left-wing buzzwords. So, if anyone levels even any childish opposition to any of the, so called, Christian symbols, as Santa Claus, for example, Christians will immediately scream “bloody persecution”, and label the opponent as a “persecutor” because, after all, Christians in America are persecuted.

 Trust me here, but He didn’t mean persecution by having your opinions and childish symbols questioned in the public arena, but that you would be persecuted by being in the arena with ravenous animals.

Fellow Christians, allow me to point a few things to you so you would veer off the path of using the left wing method of influence murder:

First, The Man to whom you credit for founding that which you call Christianity, told you that, by following Him, which supposedly is what the word Christian should mean, you would be persecuted. Trust me here, but He didn’t mean persecution by having your opinions and childish symbols questioned in the public arena, but that you would be persecuted by being in the arena with ravenous animals. Even if some of the claims that this ever happened in great scale may be doubtful, but if they are true, having your neighborhood oppose to your Christmas decoration, having a rock with the Ten Commandments removed from a Court House, having pundits mocking you on television, having the government interfere with the free practice of your religion, is far, far, far, may I say, far, better than to be martyred and genuinely persecuted, whether it be in the Roman Arena or in some town in the Middle East. There is a Brazilian saying, obviously inherited from our Portuguese ancestors that says that “hot pepper in the other fellow’s eyes, refreshes the eye of the beholder.” That means, in other words, someone else’s suffering and agony can often make us feel comfortable and blessed! Yes, Christians today should look upon genuine cases of persecution and martyrdom and quit the stupidity and the laughable use of the “P” word and enjoy their very real peace they have in America.

Second, I have said many times, I believe that those who are opposing to what is labeled Christian symbols today are unknowingly doing God’s work because it is past the time that Christians would stop cheapening the message of the Gospel attempting to tell its story with nothing but nursery rhymes as if everyone was in the toddler Sunday School class of a small church where the Sunday School teachers are as trained in what they do as the toddlers they teach. Christianity should stop developing public displays of faith so as to replace their inability to reasonably do what one of their leaders of the past said that they should do which is “be prepared to give an answer for the hope that is in you”.

Oh, Christians today have had it easy in America; no one for ages questioned them “Christian what you believe?” The overwhelming majority of Christians cannot provide a public profession of faith that will give them some credit for thinking and believing the way they do. The opposition to high Christian education is rampant among some Christian circles, the opposition and the name calling of theologians who attempt to train Christians and to equip them with “intellectual ammo” (to parody a known Christian Web Site), is so fierce that, a few theologians of whom I know will refuse invitations to speak in Churches, which is the very place they should be! So, you are not being persecuted; you are just not being persuasive enough about your faith.

Well, I know that many will disagree with me and say that Christians do not have to explain anything, that this is the role of something questionable called “apologetic” and that I am saying the things that I say because I am myself a liberal (thus labeling me and drawing slanderous conclusions abut me as well), therefore I think the way I think and write these things here. I know that persecution must come for the reason I mentioned above, namely, Jesus Christ said they would! But we are far from there yet! We are still feeling that sense of comfort as we gaze upon the visual effects available in art which depict the real result of persecution in the past. It is not because one is liberal or conservative that they will call balderdash the exaggeration of that which Christians call persecution; it is because, simply, by the “standards” of persecution, no one yet is being persecuted!

Perhaps, at this point, to be fair, I should say that I am fully aware when things go against my ways and the ways of those who write mocking, or fairly warning, Christians for their persecution complex, we will raise the same banner of the “P” word, but until then, allow me to create my own “P” word, but rather than persecution, let that “P” word be a few other good “P” words: Perseverance, Persuasion, and Patience.

What motivated to write this? Well, there is a movie, supposedly a Christian movie (what is a Christian movie anyway?)  called “Persecuted” a name that, for the reasons expounded in this piece, I refuse to go see! From this right-wing perspective Christians should be imitators of Christ and not imitators of the methods of those who prefer to shut the opposition up by emphasizing words whose purpose is none other than to shut up open and salutary discourse.

Ken Ham, not content on sending humans to hell, now looks to the stars for the godless

War of the Worlds

Do you know our lord and savior, Zenu-nu-nu the Bloody Conquerer? (Photo credit: jurvetson)

A few weeks ago, Ken Ham posted something decrying the United Methodist Church and our internal troubles. Several of the more conservative people on the forums ate it up as they do with most things non-Wesleyan. I suggested it would be easier to tolerate the basest of changes to “traditional marriage” than it is to swallow anything by Ken Ham.

Ham’s latest spewing is why. A few weeks ago, NASA (not a UK news site) suggested we may find proof of alien life within 2 decades. Ken Ham has, by far, the most expected response:

And I do believe there can’t be other intelligent beings in outer space because of the meaning of the gospel. You see, the Bible makes it clear that Adam’s sin affected the whole universe. This means that any aliens would also be affected by Adam’s sin, but because they are not Adam’s descendants, they can’t have salvation. One day, the whole universe will be judged by fire, and there will be a new heavens and earth. God’s Son stepped into history to be Jesus Christ, the “Godman,” to be our relative, and to be the perfect sacrifice for sin—the Savior of mankind.

via “We’ll find a new earth within 20 years” | Around the World with Ken Ham.

He goes on to say “Jesus did not become the “GodKlingon” or the “GodMartian”!  Only descendants of Adam can be saved.” Beyond this idiotic statement is the underlying misunderstanding anthropos. I can do nothing but laugh at how silly his reasoning is. But, I note it is in line with fundamentalist views of God. God is limited to our words and to our expectations. Further, our notion of atonement is limited to those with the correct knowledge. Ham’s philosophy is no more evolved than the small-pox soaked blankets given to Native Americans or the enslavement of Africans, both actions taken (in part) because those people were somehow less worthy of humanity (and salvation) than the rest of us.

So, beyond the inane stupidity this represents, let me offer you some correct approaches.

  • The end of the world as pictured in the New Testament seems to be more in line with Stoic conflagration. Regardless, it is not a physical destruction but a symbolic change of order. We find this idea in Genesis but especially in Isaiah with its talk of “new creation.” We need to learn biblical cosmology and how to apply it to soteriology and eschatology. We need to understand words like creation and universe before we make sweeping proclamations about the state of the universe beyond our blue jewel.
  • If Jesus repairs the sin of Adam, and if Jesus’s death is only for humanity, then only humanity under the curse. Then, by necessity, the xenozoic would not fall under the Fall and would not need the death of Christ. This does not mean they “go to hell.” This simply means our religious expectations as Christians do not apply to them. On the other hand, if all of “creation” is under the “curse,” then likewise all of creation is under the death of Christ.
  • If alien life is discovered, we are going to be a world of hurt theologically. I am not sure Christianity, or rather, Protestant Christianity, can survive. Judaism will. Islam may. Some of the eastern religions as well. Catholic Christianity may find it difficult, but we will see. Fundamentalism will retreat even further into intellectual darkness.

What happens if when we discover alien life? Our theology either gets really small, really big, or dies.

Also, I have a real issue in how Ken Ham describes the atonement.

No.

United Methodist Church, in

United Methodist Church, in (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I consider Dr. David F. Watson one of the brightest minds, sincerest hearts, and better Christian scholar-theologians I know. Nothing here is to suggest any deficit in his person, character, or otherwise.

I am dismayed.

I am greatly disheartened.

I am saddened that the first three items were even suggested.

(1) Suspension of the Trust Clause (BOD ¶2501) for one quadrennium specifically and only for the purpose of allowing local churches who cannot in good conscience live within the parameters of our Social Principle on human sexuality to leave the denomination with full ownership of their properties.

(2) Addition of new paragraph to BOD ¶248 allowing local churches to use the Church Conference as a venue for voting to leave the denomination. New paragraph at the end of existing ¶248: “The church conference may be convened for purposes of withdrawing the local church from The United Methodist Church for reasons of conscience related specifically and exclusively to the Social Principle on human sexuality (¶161F) and the Qualifications for Ordination (¶304.3). Ordained clergy of said church conference may withdraw to unite with another denomination under the provisions of ¶361.1. The local church of said church conference shall be released from the requirement of the trust clause of ¶2501. The local church shall retain full rights to its properties. Debts upon such properties and any other debts payable by that local church are assumed by the local church.”

(3) Empowerment of the General Board of Pension & Health Benefits to allow clergy who cannot in good conscience abide by our Social Principle on human sexuality to leave with full benefits.

via Some Suggestions for a Unified UMC (or, The A&W Plan) | David F. Watson.

The other suggestions have been bandied about for a while. They are good and I believe should be passed.

However, these first three suggestions regulate the total of United Methodist Church and the whole of our vows and obligations in the Book of Discipline to the issue of homosexuality. There are many other ways to break the BoD and yet, the only reason you can leave (or, rather, go) is because of the sexuality issue. This brings the sole focus of the United Methodist Church and the Book of Discipline unto sex.

Further, for two who have rightly critiqued A Way Forward for the congregationalism backdoor that it is, I am surprised at a proposal ridding ourselves of that which administratively prevents congregationalism. In other words, their suggestion is congregationalism, if only for a quad. The local church exists as a community a part of the universal church. To suggest it can suddenly be independent is not our connexional system.

And, I suspect — and I do not want to believe this was intentional — but if the UMC ever did “go liberal,” then it would not be the conservatives staying, but leaving. I can see a scenario like this: This passes, but so does the end to exclusion. Guess who leaves then… This is, simply, a backdoor to congregationalism.

Specifically, let me address the points.

  1. This is a moral issue. If you are a conservative, then you are more than likely guided by the belief that homosexuality is a sin. Further, you may believe the Church is God’s, that souls are at stake, and to not address such matters lays the problem at your doorstep. For the left, LGBT inclusion is a justice issue. If you withdraw from injustice, then the problem is laid upon you. Further, the allowance to leave only for the left will likely be met with suggestions of discrimination and please from the increasingly evangelical right to leave as well. Suspending the Trust Clause to allow those who do not agree with the official stance (whatever it is at the time this may pass) would dissolve the union with congregations leaving left and right.
  2. While I am sure this would change, local churches are allowed to leave only to join another denomination. This is a schism. Left and right will leave, with only a few remaining in the middle. Not only this, but this does nothing for the congregational members who do not want to leave. I cannot believe I am about to do this, but as Mark Tooley pointed out today, hardly any congregation will swing completely one way. What happens to those who are left behind? What happens to them if their family has deep roots or perhaps wanted to lay down roots? What if the pastor wants to go one way and the congregation another? This will, as others would do, split congregations and communities. It will split them upon the issue of sex.
  3. While I am not as dead-set against this clause as I am the others, and indeed, it may actually help — my concern is awarding bad behavior. They want to leave, let them. I would rather none leave, all stayed, and all obeyed the Discipline.

In the end, this is a modest attempt at schism with a door open for future problems. It allows congregations to be identified by one issue alone — sex. Not scripture, not orthodoxy, not even polity, but that which occurs (or should) in the privacy of a closed room.

Kevin Carnahan has a response as well.

Mark Tooley of @theird has joined the middle #umcschism

: United Methodist Church

: United Methodist Church (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Not because he wants too, of course,and maybe not officially — shoot, he may just be doing this to lull us into sleep and then pop one or two caps (schism resolutions) into the hind-end of the UMC… But, for now, he has something of a common sense approach, even if it seems awfully familiar to what others are saying.

Behind the full throttle of his hyperbole are several key factors many of us in the middle have already known and acknowledged. They are,

  • GC cannot pass the necessary changes to create a formal schism. This is what I’ve said to Ritter about his plan (and others who are pushing an internal schism that would have a mini-denomination identified only by their stance on LGBT). When you need not only 2/3 of the GC and then annual conferences to pass something like this — not to mention then requiring congregations to pit themselves against each other, while members pit themselves against each other in these congregations…it will not happen.
  • An actual schism, internal and/or external, would destroy local congregations and the whole of the largest arm of the Methodist movement. As Tooley accurately notes, “Few congregations are purely liberal or conservative.” Well, yeah. I’ve said this before. So have others. Glad Mark is finally listening. 
  • Any split would cause the extremes to develop anti-Wesleyan orthodoxy. Granted, Tooley focuses on his vision of a liberal-led wing of the UMC, that with heterodoxy and little in regards to doctrinal standards. But, his silence for the conservative side should be addressed because I think I can sense some fear of a conservative heterodoxy — congregationalism, neo-Calvinism, and militant fundamentalism.

He goes on to warn against compromise because it would force evangelicals to abandon the United Methodist Church. But, that really falls into the final category above. Evangelicals who abandon the denomination will more than like look like a normal baptist-sect denomination in a few short years. They will simply become the pre-Mohler Southern Baptists (4-point Calvinists) with a polity structure in flux.

I am no fan of Tooley because I view the IRD much like I do Love Prevails and other outside groups — they are lobbyists with their own agendas; however, this is a nice breath of fresh air. Now, I just have to wait for the other shoe to drop.

My 3rd painting on #canvas

I’d like to say that the room is dark so the painting doesn’t come out well on pictures, but to be honest, I wanted to quit halfway through. I had an image in my head of a very lonely, dark room with a very absent chair. Out the window is a nice scene. Across the table someone is sitting. I added a book later on.

20140714-093930-34770401.jpg

I started with the window because it was the easiest thing to do.

20140714-093932-34772030.jpg

There is too much brown.

20140714-093933-34773558.jpg

I really like this color blue.

20140714-093935-34775138.jpg

I start with the book. I mixed white with tan to give a yellowed looked to the pages.

20140714-093936-34776520.jpg

book is done. And I added twine to the window – perhaps it is a painting now. Which makes the room all that more depressing.

20140714-094545-35145501.jpg

and a very boring chair.

A few lessons from this. I don’t like brown. I don’t like visualizing something and painting it, although everything is visualized. But you know what I mean. I want to paint in oil, but I’m not good enough to waste that much money on something I won’t be good enough for.

In the end, I wonder if I should have just left it as the window frame….

It is nearly impossible for an atheist to exist… or science writers for that matter. #science

Atheism

Atheism (Photo credit: boynumber1)

So sayeth science. Well, actually, a “science writer.” I’ve scanned the article and could not find much in collaborative evidence. Don’t get me wrong. I want to believe that science says our metaphysical urges are hardwired and part of our evolutionary tract and thus suggest atheism is not tenable, or even human; however, to write as the author did with only bit quotes — no footnotes or the internet equivalent, links — is to seriously undermine his thesis:

Cognitive scientists are becoming increasingly aware that a metaphysical outlook may be so deeply ingrained in human thought processes that it cannot be expunged.

Scientists discover that atheists might not exist, and that’s not a joke.

For instance, when I google the quotes here,

This line of thought has led to some scientists claiming that “atheism is psychologically impossible because of the way humans think,” says Graham Lawton, an avowed atheist himself, writing in the New Scientist. “They point to studies showing, for example, that even people who claim to be committed atheists tacitly hold religious beliefs, such as the existence of an immortal soul.”

I get articles quoting the original piece. However, I suspect that the quote comes from this article. If it does, and it does, the “science writer” misquotes Lawton who is paraphrasing Boyer. The context is this:

Some scientists – notably Pascal Boyer at Washington University in St Louis – have even claimed that atheism is psychologically impossible because of the way humans think. They point to studies showing, for example, that even people who claim to be committed atheists tacitly hold religious beliefs, such as the existence of an immortal soul.

Atheism

Atheism (Photo credit: atheism) – because that is what you think, don’t you?

Indeed, the conclusions in Lawton’s original piece may in fact surprise the “science writer.” Basically, his assumptions go like this. Atheists can’t exist because humans are hardwired to express/desire the common elements found in religion. You should be able to see through that pretty easily.

But, I want to add another wrinkle, if I may. What if there are no believers or atheists? If free will is an illusion, then we are but what we are meant to be in some fashion. This doesn’t mean I am in favor of determinism, but if our “choices’” are shaped by external influences, then our choices are chained to that which surrounds us. Thus, if one is an atheist or a believer, then it has something to do with an outside influence and cannot be the individual’s choice. Thus, there is no conscious effort to believe in God (thus, no believers) and there is no free will analysis capable of producing an unbelief in God (thus, no atheists) because we follow the path laid out before us and can only work within those influences.

Whew.

Anyway, the article is slightly better than what Jim West writes regarding evolution.

 

Quote of the Day: Russell Brand on (Dawkin’s) atheism and religion

Thom Stark transcribed this and it is awesome.

English: English comedian Russell Brand. Españ...

English: English comedian Russell Brand. Español: El comediante inglés Russell Brand. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Josh Green: Russell, quit hating on Dawkins. You know religion has done more harm than good!

Russell Brand: How can we measure that? What you call religion, I call territorialism, and sort of an ideological imperialism. I don’t think it’s good to go around on crusades or do jihads or lie at people or have a go at people. But I do think it’s good to have a system that connects the known and the unknown and for us to have a ritualized way of understanding the limitations of our own perspective and embracing ideas that are beyond our consciousness. And that’s what religion’s meant to be for me. And ol’ Dicky Dawkins, with his way of judging the world, prevents the positive things about religion. And I think if we eschew those positive things, then we ain’t got any chance of countenancing [sic] the materialistic ideologues that currently govern us. You know like governments, big corporations and that. So I think religion might be a way of circumnavigating them. I don’t think we can do it with old leftist ideas or old revolutionary notions. I don’t think they work anymore. Obviously there’d have to be loads of administration, collectivisation, all that. But what I’m saying is part of it is a sense of spiritual connection. So, Josh Green. I don’t hate Dawkins, anyway. I’m just pointing out that that sort of scientific dogmatism and materialism actually shares quite a lot with the aspects of religion that they claim to dislike, like being sort of quite judgmental and limiting and all that kind of stuff. And anti-mystical. I don’t like it.

2nd #painting, including the actual model… so, be gentle #art

I wanted to do something different with my second painting. Remember, I am not claiming to be a professional, or to know what I am doing – shoot, I don’t even claim to have actual talent. But, it is relaxing and the helps with the writing process (thus far, I mean. I don’t know what’ll it take next week).

This is an attempt at painting Elkins, West Virginia as seen between two mountains (I don’t care what Colorado has, we have real mountains) offer of Hwy 33.

I couldn’t do the buildings because I am, as I stated above, not that talented.

Elkins, WV

I love the scenery traveling throughout WV. This is one of my favorite shots

Elkins painting, 1

I knew what I wanted to do so I started with the sky. No, no Lucy. Or diamonds.

elkins painting 2

the mountains were a fortunate accident. heck, everything I like about this is an accident.

elkins painting 3

sorry for the filter, but the room I have it is is dark with yellow walls. I wanted to highlight the brush strokes – something I rather like. and hate. but like, mostly.

elkins painting 4

here it is.

Laity and voting in the #UMC General Conference. Stop it.

Icon depicting the First Council of Nicaea.

Icon depicting the First Council of Nicaea. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Jeremy at Hacking Christianity as a post up about the perception of how public opinion moves the United Methodist Church. It is the catalyst of this post, but not the progenitor. Rather, I’ve pondered this for a bit now, wondering if it is not time to #rethink laity voting in the General Conference.

Laity have not always voted in the Methodist movement. Indeed, it wasn’t until the (re)union with the Methodist Protestant Church that it occurred across all branches of (white) Methodistism:

First, should laity be given a voice in the General Conference and the annual conference? The Methodist Protestants had granted the laity representation from the time they organized in 1830. The clergy in The Methodist Episcopal Church, The Methodist Episcopal Church, South, The Evangelical Association, and the Church of the United Brethren in Christ were much slower in permitting the laity an official voice in their affairs. All finally granted lay people voting privileges in their General and annual conferences with the exception of The Methodist Episcopal Church, which did not grant this right in annual conference decisions before the 1939 union.

Indeed, the first huge split in American (white) Methodism occurred because the laity were denied a voting voice. Because, why not, right? If you could vote for President, why not vote for doctrine? You will note that today, the MPC still exists, but only in the Deep South. Further, it has as its mission the defense of the “infallible word of God.” There are no bishops and remain a purely congregational outing. In other words, congregational Methodism is all but dead.

Perhaps this is something that should cause us to examine some of the issues in our present United Methodist Church. If congregational Methodism doesn’t work…

Part of the thing that catalyzed this post is the phrase in Jeremy’s post, “doctrine created.” I have a real sense that this is what people actually think they are doing at General Conference, creating doctrine. The extremes believe that somehow they are shaping, reforming, or creating “Christian teaching” when they vote one way or another. As I have stated previously, this is nonsense. We hold not the power to do so because if we deviate too much from orthodoxy, then where will we end up? On the Left, we will end up in the PCUSA (Conservative Hell) and on the right, Hobby Lobby (i.e., Progressive Hell) or rather, as baptists.  I do believe we have the duty to gently guide the UMC in connexion with Wesley and Historic Methodism, which is vitally based on Classical Christianity.

Regardless of my stance on that, my stance on laity voting — and I speaketh as a member of the laity — is shifting. Maybe we should limit laity voting to only matters of business, such as finances or other rudimentary articles like boundary changes. I would refrain the laity from voting on matters of doctrine and in many ways, polity. Perhaps this is nothing more than a way to force episcopal responsibility and authority, something I am keen on. I do not believe in the rugged individualism underpinning the congregational style or worship or governance. Rather, I am believe in Apostolic Succession.

Since I first started writing this post (2 July), I have been introduced to the Chicago-Lambeth Quadrilateral. I would find in myself full support for this, especially in their insistence upon

The Historic Episcopate, locally adapted in the methods of its administration to the varying needs of the nations and peoples called of God into the unity of His Church. 

The historic episcopate depends upon the episcopal system, founding upon the doctrine of Apostolic Succession. I am prepared at this time — and honestly, I’ve said it before and will say it again — to state that if you are not part of the Apostolic Succession, then where did you get your Christianity?

Anyway, I wanted to throw this out there — since we are talking about redoing the structure of the UMC nowadays. Perhaps we limit the voting rights of the laity, depend more upon the ordained, and allow/demand the Bishops to become better at their duty “to guard the faith, order, liturgy, doctrine, and discipline of the Church.” 

Let the ordained lead, let the laity follow, let us all work.

don’t shoot me; i’m only trying to start discussions about how senses of power and entitlement lead us down dark paths