Martyr. noun. 1.a person who willingly suffers death rather than renounce his or her religion.

This is what we as Christians have long understood the definition of martyr to be. If you want to read about martyrs, then this is a good book to start with

If instead you want to read about a call to grandstanding and publicity dishonoring all those who have died for the faith, then I suggest this.

This is what we have finally come to…and it saddens me. The blatant misrepresentation of martyrdom is, in a word, sick. Martyrs don’t get to go on talk shows and be interviewed by CNN. Martyrs die, and often die in horrible and brutal ways. Martyrs, I don’t think, set out to be martyred. Most often it was the consequence of them following the call of the Holy Spirit. They did not plan it out, but rather accepted the possibility. There is something unbalanced about planning to be a martyr. If I were to call on a bunch of people to go to ISIS held territory so we could be martyrs, I would (rightly) be accused of mental illness.

That aside, let’s look at the call to action that is listed here.

“How can you be a martyr for God’s kindom* of justice and inclusion for all people?

  1. Officiate at a same gender wedding.
  2. Have someone file a complaint. This can refer to any same gender wedding you’ve officiated in the past six years. Some suggestions for people to file the complaint: Your District Superintendent, a Good News evangelical, or even an ally.
  3. Don’t settle for a just resolution when you meet with the Bishop.
  4. Let your case go to trial.

Encourage media (social and traditional and denominational) coverage of every step of your process.”

Aside from the above mentioned reality that the understanding of Christian martyrdom is that it involves death, the following problems occur. First, it is a terrible hypocrisy from a  group that was calling for an end to church trials not to long ago. Now they want more. I am afraid that this, more than any other action, shows that their primary concern is the goal above all else. Methods don’t matter. Collateral damage doesn’t matter. There is no compromise, there is only the goal and nothing else. Nothing else matters. Singular devotion to anything that is not God is a dangerous dangerous thing. I think that there is a word for devotion to something above God. Have an ally file the complaint to purposely twist the system we have in place to suit your goal. No need to worry about integrity here, just do it. No need to worry about what damage may be done to the denomination by spattering internal matters over external news sources, just do it. The cause is all that matters. This is a sick and twisted distortion of the heros of the faith whose blood has grown it.

*This is the second time in as many days I have come across this “kindom” (made up) word. Really, if the best you have for a rallying cry is made up words that you ascribe to God, perhaps you need to take a breath and reevaluate your tactics.

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16 Replies to “Martyrs”

  1. There is also a second widely held definition of a martyr of which Socrates serves as an excellent example.

      1. Actually, much like Jesus, Socrates is still around. Socrates lived on in the writings of Plato and Xenophon much as Jesus lived on the writings of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. While each principal died clinging steadfastly their their beliefs, both contributed to the field of ethics and philosophy.

    1. Well since I was clear that I was referring to the churches understanding, Socrates really doesn’t have a lot of bearing to it, but even if we add suffering to the equation, what is called for by RMN would not equal martyrdom in any reasonable understanding of the word.

      1. Point One: The same word can and often does have multiple meanings. In this case, martyr serves as an example.

        Point Two: The meaning of words can and does change over time. An example being “gay.”

        Point Three: When literature or oration narrowly focuses of a single definition of a word that has multiple meanings, they typically seek to propagandize rather than inform. Again, as is the case under discussion, selectively defining martyr serves as an adequate example.

        Point Four: One of the ongoing jokes about Christianity is that because the founding philosopher died a martyr’s death, the follower seem strangely compelled to do likewise. Funny thing is, for example, one isn’t seeing born again-types lining up at military recruiting stations ready to die in a holy war with Islam.

        1. I was clear in stating that in the Christian church martyrdom has meant death for the faith. It is not focusing on a narrow definition, it is what the church has recognized as martyrdom for a couple thousand years. But, I will bite, given the piece written, which definition of martyr do you believe is accurate in calling those who marry same sex couples in the UMC and why.

          1. Either side, or both sides, can have martyrs in what amounts to little more than a rehash of the mid-20th century integration/segregation wars. Thus, depending on losses to either side, both definitions of martyr may prove applicable.

            Those wishing to preserve the presumed status quo may have their martyrs according to the first definition. Conversely, those seeking change may likewise have martyrs as delineated by the second definition.

            As in comparisons with the 21st century war on terrorism versus the 20th century war on communism, the social dust up over homosexual rights uses many of the same arguments and strategies heard and seen during the civil rights era.

            It’s fun to watch. Having lived through the civil rights era, I’m quite thoroughly amused by antics on both sides.

            In the end, thought, as they always do, the more liberal forces will ultimately prevail. Meanwhile, those of a more conservative persuasion will the dragged kicking and screaming into a new era.

            As was the case with civil rights, once the older generation dies off, the new status quo will be more widely accepted by the younger generation. It’s just one of the things that makes the world go ’round and around in circles.

  2. I highly recommend that members of the UMC read George Orwell’s classic novel “1984”, to get a clear picture of the rhetoric of RMN. Good is bad, and bad is good. There is NO sin, only “grace”. Being one’s “authentic self” is the highest priority in order to live a joyous, full, “Christian” life.

    Thank you Joel, for pointing out one more example of RMN’s deceptive, heretical “theology”.

    1. Hey now, it was me this time 🙂 But I am right with you. They engage in a large amount of doublespeak to confuse and obfuscate their actual end game.

  3. About 1984, I’d say:
    “”A totalitarian state is in effect a theocracy, and its ruling caste, in order to keep its position, has to be thought of as infallible. But since, in practice, no one is infallible, it is frequently necessary to rearrange past events in order to show that this or that mistake was not made, or that this or that imaginary triumph actually happened.” ~ Orwell”

    About George Orwell and religion, I would quote Animal Farm, a much better book than 1984, I think:

    “The pigs had an even harder struggle to counteract the lies put about by Moses, the tame raven. Moses, who was Mr. Jones’s especial pet, was a spy and a tale-bearer, but he was also a clever talker. He claimed to know of the existence of a mysterious country called Sugarcandy Mountain, to which all animals went when they died. It was situated somewhere up in the sky, a little distance beyond the clouds, Moses said. In Sugarcandy Mountain it was Sunday seven days a week, clover was in season all the year round, and lump sugar and linseed cake grew on the hedges. The animals hated Moses because he told tales and did no work, but some of them believed in Sugarcandy Mountain, and the pigs had to argue very hard to persuade them that there was no such place.”

    1. So Scott doesn’t get upset, and thinks this has nothing to do with the topic, I will quote

      Revelation 6:9 “And when he opened the fifth seal, I saw underneath the altar the souls of them that had been slain for the word of God, and for the testimony which they held: 10and they cried with a great voice, saying, How long, O Master, the holy and true, dost thou not judge and avenge our blood on them that dwell on the earth? 11And there was given them to each one a white robe; and it was said unto them, that they should rest yet for a little time, until their fellow-servants also and their brethren, who should be killed even as they were, should have fulfilled their course.”

      Then there is Moses, the Raven, and his SugarCandy Mountain in Animal Farm.

      So everyone/even animals, have their idea of heaven and martyrs.

      I suppose LBGT people have their idea of heaven, as a place they can get married in a church.

      I personally have my idea of heaven. However, I would be considered a bad Methodist, because it includes cigarette trees (although I don’t smoke), and streams of whiskey, and bulldogs with rubber teeth. I reject Revelation’s view of a select few in heaven as martyr’s, and the rest (mostly), burning in eternal fires. The author of Revelation was just totally ticked-off that Jerusalem got destroyed by the Romans in 70 AD, and was venting. Even Luther said Revelation was a “vision”, not a prophecy, so he questioned it as canon.

      My view of heaven (which is different for everyone):

    1. I don’t want to be labor the point, and I don’t agree with Orwell, but I see a connection between the Party, and religious Fundamentalists, and their doublespeak in 1984. (I am spending why too much time on this stuff…I’m done)! Orwell also talks about Catholic Martyrs, but I don’t consider Martyr a word used exclusively for the Holy Roman Empire. It certainly does not offend me if someone uses it for my chicken dinner that I plan to BBQ this afternoon. Maybe it’s a wave offering per Leviticus.

      1984, Chapter 20:

      ’We are the priests of power,’ he said. ’God is power. But at present power is only a word so far as you are concerned. It is time for you to gather some idea of what power means. The first thing you must realize is that power is collective. The individual only has power in so far as he ceases to be an individual. You know the Party slogan: ”Freedom is Slavery”. Has it ever occurred to you that it is reversible? Slavery is freedom. Alone — free — the human being is always defeated. It must be so, because every human being is doomed to die, which is the greatest of all failures. But if he can make complete, utter submission, if he can escape from his identity, if he can merge himself in the Party so that he is the Party, then he is all-powerful and immortal. The second thing for you to realize is that power is power over human beings. Over the body but, above all, over the mind. Power over matter — external reality, as you would call it — is not important. Already our control over matter is absolute.’

      For a moment Winston ignored the dial. He made a violent effort to raise himself into a sitting position, and merely succeeded in wrenching his body painfully.

      ’But how can you control matter?’ he burst out. ’You don’t even control the climate or the law of gravity. And there are disease, pain, death-’

      O’Brien silenced him by a movement of his hand. ’We control matter because we control the mind. Reality is inside the skull. You will learn by degrees, Winston. There is nothing that we could not do. Invisibility, levitation — anything. I could float off this floor like a soap bubble if I wish to. I do not wish to, because the Party does not wish it. You must get rid of those nineteenth- century ideas about the laws of Nature. We make the laws of Nature.’

      ’But you do not! You are not even masters of this planet. What about Eurasia and Eastasia? You have not conquered them yet.’

      ’Unimportant. We shall conquer them when it suits us. And if we did not, what difference would it make? We can shut them out of existence. Oceania is the world.’

      ’But the world itself is only a speck of dust. And man is tiny helpless! How long has he been in existence? For millions of years the earth was uninhabited.’ ’Nonsense. The earth is as old as we are, no older. How could it be older?

      Nothing exists except through human consciousness.’
      ’But the rocks are full of the bones of extinct animals — mammoths and mastodons and enormous reptiles which lived here long before man was ever heard of.’

      ’Have you ever seen those bones, Winston? Of course not. Nineteenth- century biologists invented them. Before man there was nothing. After man, if he could come to an end, there would be nothing. Outside man there is nothing.’

      ’But the whole universe is outside us. Look at the stars! Some of them are a million light-years away. They are out of our reach for ever.’

      ’What are the stars?’ said O’Brien indifferently. ’They are bits of fire a few kilometres away. We could reach them if we wanted to. Or we could blot them out. The earth is the centre of the universe. The sun and the stars go round it.’ Winston made another convulsive movement. This time he did not say anything. O’Brien continued as though answering a spoken objection:

      ’For certain purposes, of course, that is not true. When we navigate the ocean, or when we predict an eclipse, we often find it convenient to assume that the earth goes round the sun and that the stars are millions upon millions of kilometres away. But what of it? Do you suppose it is beyond us to produce a dual system of astronomy? The stars can be near or distant, according as we need them. Do you suppose our mathematicians are unequal to that? Have you forgotten doublethink?’

  4. Ok, one more item, only because I like good literature. Re-reading 1984 confirmed one thing. The Totalitarian state in 1984 is indeed the ultimate fantasy for Fundamentalists. This is from the appendix of 1984:

    As we have already seen in the case of the word free, words which had once borne a heretical meaning were sometimes retained for the sake of convenience, but only with the undesirable meanings purged out of them. Countless other words such as honour, justice, morality, internationalism, democracy, science, and religion had simply ceased to exist. A few blanket words covered them, and, in covering them, abolished them. All words grouping themselves round the concepts of liberty and equality, for instance, were contained in the single word crimethink, while all words grouping themselves round the concepts of objectivity and rationalism were contained in the single word oldthink. Greater precision would have been dangerous. What was required in a Party member was an outlook similar to that of the ancient Hebrew who knew, without knowing much else, that all nations other than his own worshipped ’false gods’. He did not need to know that these gods were called Baal, Osiris, Moloch, Ashtaroth, and the like: probably the less he knew about them the better for his orthodoxy. He knew Jehovah and the commandments of Jehovah: he knew, therefore, that all gods with other names or other attributes were false gods. In some- what the same way, the party member knew what constituted right conduct, and in exceedingly vague, generalized terms he knew what kinds of departure from it were possible. His sexual life, for example, was entirely regulated by the two Newspeak words sexcrime (sexual immorality) and goodsex (chastity).

    Sexcrime covered all sexual misdeeds whatever. It covered fornication, adultery, homosexuality, and other perversions, and, in addition, normal intercourse practised for its own sake. There was no need to enumerate them separately, since they were all equally culpable, and, in principle, all punishable by death. In the C vocabulary, which consisted of scientific and technical words, it might be necessary to give specialized names to certain sexual aberrations, but the ordinary citizen had no need of them. He knew what was meant by goodsex — that is to say, normal intercourse between man and wife, for the sole purpose of begetting children, and without physical pleasure on the part of the woman: all else was sexcrime. In Newspeak it was seldom possible to follow a heretical thought further than the perception that it was heretical: beyond that point the necessary words were nonexistent.

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