We Protestants, giving honor to our name protest against relics, the preservation of statues and statuettes (the statues wives), shrines, or anything that remotely resembles idolatry or the glorification of men. Why then are we so outraged, enraged, fuming furious, about the destruction of… relics statues, statuettes (again, the statues wives) and shrines perpetrated by I.S.I.S in Iraq? This Calvinist believes in preserving history, but how can we preserve relics, and historical monuments without crossing the line of idolatry? Calvin also said this in relation to the same issue: “Everyone of us is, from his mother’s womb, a master craftsman of idols!”
I believe that one can make a fair case that Bush’s war in Iraq brought the dreadful law of unintended consequences with a vengeance if we think in terms of Christians and the History of Christianity. There is a tough question for Christians though:
Should Christians be complacent, with murderous dictators because their demise may ultimately result in the destruction not only of Christianity, but also Christian History and even the survival of Christian people, as it is happening in Iraq?
This is a tough question! It is tough because many Arabs I know, and one in particular who is a Christian, tell me a known fact that when Assad is gone, Christians and Christianity will disappear from Syria! How can you answer to this question?
Are we as Christians called to such self-sacrifice that we support the ousting of these murderous dictators, as Bush did in Iraq, and risk death of everything is dear to us, or do we simply give a blind eye for their atrocities so we can survive as Christians, our brethren in that area of the world can survive as well and the History of Christianity may be preserved?
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?
A flag, with the Shahadah, frequently used by Hamas supporters Proportions: 9:16Citation needed (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
As one who has no problem going controversial, I find that this topic is something I stress about with finding the correct words. I strongly condemn the attacks by Hamas and Israel. I mean, Israel lives with people in their house who have a sworn blood oath to eradicate them. People like to really focus on the current situation with Israel and Hamas without taking into consideration the centuries predating the last 50-60 years. Yet, I’m not sure Israel has the best footing in their attacks on Hamas either. A pinpoint operation should be a pinpoint operation. Further, there should not be a ceasefire until Hamas is gone from Gaza.
Instead of arguing for one side or the other without actually knowing each side, I have stayed out of it. I do not believe an American can rightly suggest to either side the route to take and find it sad when some of my fellow bloggers attempt to craft carefully designed methods for the path to world peace.
I also look around at what is going on in Europe with the increase of anti-Semitic protests and a general feeling that it is now okay to say Jews are the the devil. And I cannot help but to connect it to American sentimentalarians who take the side of Hamas. I have to wonder if there isn’t something ingrained in automatically taking Hamas’s side? Does that tell us anything? But, that would be stepping into something I don’t really know much about.
So, there is tumblr post a Rabbi (who supports Israel) posted this morning. I think it is profound enough to share.
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.
I don’t want to fully comment on the case because:
1.) I believe SCOTUS is actually the “decider-in-chief” of the constitutionality of laws,
2.) From the few summaries I’ve read, the decision is a logical one based on current case law and common law precedents.
However, from what I’ve also read the majority opinion leaves open some pretty windy doors.
I can find no better editorial expressing these concerns than the one in USA Today:
The majority said the ruling doesn’t “necessarily” mean companies can expect exemptions from other medical care barred by various faiths, such as blood transfusions, vaccinations, psychiatric care or even medical care itself. But it did not directly rule out such claims. And while the court warned companies that they shouldn’t expect to be able to assert a religious right to escape taxation or anti-discrimination laws, it left the door open for companies to challenge virtually any other law on religious grounds.
If a privately-owned company decides something is against their religious views, there is a strong possibility that their view and not the law of the land will hold sway.
If this doesn’t bother you, you aren’t reading Rushdooney and other neo-Confederates who espouse some form of Reformed theology hiding their white nationalism. If they are able to take this crack in the door and swing it open according to their beliefs, we will simply end up where they want us to – a theocracy. Not one, but many – grouped around centers of power (such as corporations).
Yes, we should hold up religious freedom but only to the extent it infringes on someone else. I also believe we should uphold religious freedom for private individuals until they become the arbiter of public enterprises. In other words, I find it rather difficult to apply religious freedom to corporations, private or not especially when they are as large as Hobby Lobby.
Dear hearts: Allow me to change the subject here just a bit from the potential schism in the Methodist Church.
I am not an attorney; I’ve been offered a few times an opportunity to go to law school and there was no shortage of people to help me in that endeavor, but I decided to be just the old little me.
However, I work for a company where I have to attend a few legal proceedings whenever employees justly or not sue this company. I am the one who is the liaison between those who issue my paycheck and the courts in legal cases brought up by employees. Because of that I have talked with many like me, in the same position, and often in our conversations relate to me the very same things I experience when participating in these legal cases.
The term “poor” as in a “poor person” has become a badge of entitlements not in all cases, but in many, if not most cases. It is enough today for someone to mask themselves with victim-hood, and claim to be poor and all of a sudden the whole world ignores all sorts of principles an values and immediately turn to that person’s favor. Without even the minimal consideration to the facts, that “poor” person gains the sympathy of court officers, legal experts, politicians, the clergy and everyone else and if the other party is viewed as rich, opulent, or even a successful high middle class person that person, or group, this party is immediately vilified, that is, made into a villain, and no matter how right they are they will be wrong simply for the fact that they are wealthy.
If you want any proof just think of the terms that are used to identify the wealthy from almost every single group: “evil rich, obscene profit, profiteering, exploitative, oppressor,” etc. No one things, extols or even considers the sacrifices that were made for that wealthy person to achieve what they achieved, to earn what they earned. No one considers that the payments that person made for the group who helped them to get where they are, namely, employees, were being done in a fair contract between to rational parties: you work for me and I pay you this amount and you use this amount to support your own life.
As a former business consultant I was often invited by my company’s clients to visit the room where the pictures and mementos of the family business were kept as a sacred shrine. One of them in particular that I keep in my mind was a iron shoe, those things that shoemakers used to nail shoe soles back on the shoe bottom and the owner of that company told me that his grandfather, his father and him as a child used to share that piece in three shifts per day making shoes and selling into the market and now they became one of the most important shoe exporters in the world. Examples as these were many! It is not easy to be rich! Not everyone found a treasure in their backyard, not every rich person was “shootin’ at some food, and out of the ground came a bubblin’ crude” – oil that is, black gold, Texas tea! No! Sacrifices were made, TV shows were not watched, naps were not taken, siestas were not even considered, and many other sacrifices that have not slacked away because they are now successful, but rather sacrifices continue because now they have employees, clients, customers, government, regulators and many other issues to keep them ever busy!
If I were a lawyer, seeing what I have seen, in both ends, even as a poor person, and how often I have seen these things, I would never work for a “poor” person only because of the fact that they are economically disadvantaged. Among the issues that I have seen, of which I cannot give too many details, but I have seen and shown to be deceitful, are employees with overtime reports that were never worked, others, among those poor people that lawyers, judges, court officials, politicians and the clergy love so much; I seen too often, more often than not, people, the “poor” lying to their teeth in court telling things that the person who helped them even with their bad performance, poor work ethics (that’s poverty), shoddy work, using company money and company time to do their own things, such as “work” unrelated to work, customer theft, as the guy who used to charge less to do the work himself on weekends, robbing the customers from the same boss who paid him every week, false accusations of mistreatment, even in occasions when the boss paid this terrible person the time he spent in the hospital, that is, paid his regular salary, for crashing his motorcycle while riding outside of the working hours, and I have seen too many of these things and I am not to develop a sympathy for these guys rendered as “poor and powerless”.
It would be nothing if the courts, magistrates, officers of the legal system, would give heed to the body of evidence presented by the boss, or the wealthy party; but no, after all the other guy is poor so his poverty is a testament that what he is testifying about is truthful and no other piece of evidence can destroy such a truth! It would be nice and really a form of discipline if the system would at least consider these evidences before pushing the “wealthy” party into absurd settlements just because they happen to have hired a deceitful lying two legged animal who happens to be also poor! It would be wonderful if the loser pay, but in order for a loser to exist, the system has to consider evidence, which often, because the other party is poor, they do not! I have no compassion or sympathy for people I describe above even if they have the label of “poor” written all over their victim’s face! They may win a settlement and a sum of money for which they have no right, but guess what? Tomorrow they will get up the same way, be the same losers and soon they will be doing the same for another “wealthy person”. The cycle continues!
If I were an attorney I would defend those against whom lies are being told, evidences are being ignored, and whose voices are not being heard. Oh, the wealthy will continue to do fine! But is that justification enough for courts, judges, lawyers, politicians and particularly the clergy, to be so blindly against the wealthy? I don’t think so! There is no justice for the wealthy!
Reason has more than one side. That which is reasonable and fair has to have other considerations than simply an “imposition” which is what “reasonable” is when it is one sided. A very poor constructed sentence, but it depicts exactly the mistake many are making today when they claim that “modern changes in societal rules and even laws” cannot be challenged by those who have benefited for centuries by the old ways even if it has been proven for centuries that the old ways have worked well and may not require changes.
Christians, and all kinds of conservatives, or other derogatory names one wants to use for this group not only have the right, but the duty to, and in fact, are doing society a favor, when they contest, protest and manifest against the rapid changes in society today because some of these changes have no track record of benefiting humanity. It seems that scholars and scientists will always appeal to history, evidence and a track record of fact to ascertain that whatever issue they are attempting to establish is feasible and that its implementation will be of a benefit to all. Except when it comes to issues where religion and/or tradition is involved. Then, who needs evidence, who needs history, who needs facts? It is almost as if they have made up their minds: “If it is religiously or traditionally prescribed, then it is wrong; let us change it”, even when in fact, there is history, a time span as old as history itself, that the old ways have worked so far.
No, this is not to say that we should not change and modernize society and make if fairer and comfortable to all! This is simply to say that it is fair for Christians and all kinds of conservatives to struggle with the idea of change for “change’s sake” in that which they perceive to be a threat to what they have known as the best for humanity in general. Not always stating that something is wrong is purely a religious exercise. Although I acknowledge that more frequent than not it is a religious exercise, some are sincerely concerned whether the recent changes in society, such as marriages, rules about “respecting other cultures to the point of surrendering to them” may not be solely basing their concerns on religion. People can protest for other reasons and it is fair and good that they do so when changes are in the process of proving itself as useful to society as it is for a group within that society, who, because of factors beyond our understanding, decided to impose their view of society upon all others.
I am a firm believer that one cannot legislate religious beliefs, no matter how well intended they are. Equally, I am a firm believe that one, or a group, cannot legislate their religious unbelief on others. In both counts protest is fair and acceptable. A great scholar is all over social media spreading the notion that Christians are attempting to legislate their beliefs upon society. Well, the facts belie such a scholar, who is not and cannot be a scholar in predicting the future consequences of changing society on society itself! Non-Christians are indeed imposing their beliefs, rather, their unbelief upon Christians with the aggravating circumstance that they practice such imposition against the will of the people of the community they choose to impose their unbelief. I am fully aware that we have to check if an acceptable degree of legal fairness is being afforded to all citizens and not only those who would prefer that tradition would remain as it has been for ages. However it is not by winning in courts that the imposition occurs; the imposition occurs when business, people who exercise their individual conscience, religious or not, have to comply with the peripherals of their victory and now have to act totally contrary to what they have held as truth functioning and comfortable to their own life styles all these years. So, by imposing, forcing, people to comply with their wins, those who win by the act of a single often non-elected office of the court, with his own biases and prejudices, reverse the issue of unfairness and begin themselves to act unfairly. Again, the facts have proven that Christians and other conservatives are adapting to the world that now surround them, but they should not have to live as a blind man by the road side taking whatever others dish out to them; they can rightfully establish limits. Certain services and profession when exercised to a person or group imply endorsement of that group or person. If you do not understand that you have never been in business, and your position is fully understandable. The refusal, however, of a businessman to provide services that automatically imply his endorsement and participation in that which he does not agree should be expected and understood and such understanding would be reasonable!
By now most presume to know that about which I am talking. No, for your surprise it is not only the issue of gays; it is also the celebration of America, American values, supposedly Christian symbols (that are not really Christian), and those that are indeed genuine Christian symbols, the liberation of drugs, and now some ridiculous rulings, which are too ridiculous to mention. People of faith and out of faith who want to preserve a certain heritage without waiving, who love to wear shirts that extol the quality of their military relatives, American Flags, etc. who feel threatened by lawsuits and other artifices of the “indignation industry”, and yes, those who do not agree with abortions and the gay issue, should not now, all of a sudden, be forced to comply or else. What is reasonable? If we want a fair society, then lets offer fairness rather than demanding it and in the process progress in an environment without hostility and division, and such environment is not a fertile ground for corrupt politicians, but not having corrupt politicians coming out of every sewerage is a fringe benefit of this new world of fairness! That is expected and reasonable!
Seal of Cobb County, Georgia (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Yesterday, the choir my children are a part of participated in a service in another denomination’s church. I was expecting something of a similar sermon to our own – although it wouldn’t be nearly as good, of course. The preacher, a part-time supply, began rightly by turning to the New Testament lesson from the Revised Common Lectionary. It was John 14.1-14, a favorite portion of Scripture.
Let me first draw a sense of the surroundings. This particular church is rather old in the city, neatly situated across from the state capitol. It once, as we were told, housed over 800 congregants but today has a membership of 48, and an attendance of 25 or so. This morning, they had another local congregation, same denomination, join them. Still yet, our portion as visitors far exceeded the members in attendance.
“I’ve had two counts where the scoutmaster molested a Boy Scout and the trauma that kid goes through is deplorable. I’m not saying that all homosexuals would do that, but at the same time, they were homosexuals,” Mickler said.
He is adamantly opposed to “the gay-lifestyle” even to the point of breaking the Book of Discipline and has no issue breaking U.S. tax laws either (note, this is an opinion of mine. The IRS has yet to prosecute churches for such. They should, but they do not). This was not the story we were told.
Indeed, we were told of the gallant minister, a “Methodist — you’ve might of heard of ‘em,” who defended the Church from irrelevancy. What happened? In the small town, a baccalaureate service was to be held. As this pastor said, everyone was invited to give an opening prayer — the Jew, the Buddhist, the Muslim, even the Wiccan. But, they refused to allow a Christian to speak. They wanted the crosses covered up. They wanted, by God!, the name of Jesus Christ stripped away and buried in the mud as ALL Liberals really desire! But, he stood firm, we are assured. Yes, this man suggested the graduation service move and move it did! “And, as you might expect, it became another circus.”
Except, that’s not really what happened. What really happened is that in Cobb County, Georgia, home of previous anti-semitic outbursts, a Rabbi was asked to give a talk at the graduation service that was to be held at Mt. Bethel United Methodist Church. Mickler was incensed. He said, “To have a person who is a non-believer of Christ is, in a sense, dishonoring Christ.” Thus, he refused. He had the final word as all acknowledge. The parental committee organizing the graduation relents and disinvited the Rabbi. Mickler himself grew the myth of the persecuted Methodist pastor and the hidden name of Jesus. There were and are students today disputing Mickler’s “Buddist, Jew,…etc” claim, the very line the pastor before me used.
Mickler and the pastor before me wants to make the church relevant by any means necessary. The pastor before me suggest that the reason for the great decline of his congregation is because they refused to preach Christ. He ignores the changing demographics of Charleston, the lack of parking, the visual structure, and his own style. He ignores a great many things. What he doesn’t ignore, he either makes up or doesn’t fact check. In the search for relevancy, he has become irrelevant.
I believe in the message of John 14.1–14. I believe that Jesus is the only way, the only truth, and the only life. Likewise, I have no issue if others belief differently. I want people to believe in something (even if it is non-belief, philosophy, science, or spaghetti monsters). It is demanded. Otherwise, we grow apathetic as a society and will waste away, or be conquered. Nevertheless, I have no need to make up persecutions and oppressions. I have no need to be offended if someone disagrees with me. Rather, I enjoy it. We live in an increasingly pluralistic society. If the Church desires to remain relevant, it must not force its way in by creating monsters.
It was not my “liberalness” that was offended with yesterdays rant-disguised-as-sermon, it was my Christianity.
Suicide of Cato the Younger (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
I marvel at those who, believing themselves Republican, claim Cato as one of theirs. Like other figures of hallowed antiquity, Cato his is own. Yet, there is something modern in his telling of the downfall of society – or perhaps history doth repeat itself.
Do not suppose that our ancestors, from so small a commencement, raised the republic to greatness merely by force of arms. If such had been the case, we should enjoy it in a most excellent condition; for of allies and citizens, as well as arms and horses, we have a much greater abundance that they had. But there were other things which made them great, but which among us have no existence—such as industry at home, equitable government abroad, and minds impartial in council, uninfluenced by any immoral or improper feeling. Instead of such virtues, we have luxury and avarice, public distress and private superfluity: we extol wealth, and yield to indolence; no distinction is made between good men and bad; and ambition usurps the honors due to virtue. Nor is this wonderful; since you study each his individual interest, and since at home you are slaves to pleasure, and here to money or favor; and hence it happens that an attack is made on the defenseless State.