Monday, February 24, 2020

Remove Trump, the Sexual Predator

Introduction: This is not new news, nor is it terribly organized, but it's a list of many of the reasons to recognize that the reality is that Trump is most likely a deviant sexual predator...

According to polls, a majority of US citizens (and a large majority of US women) believe that Trump has likely sexually assaulted women... we believe the women who've made allegations against Trump more than we believe Trump. For those who support Trump generally, they tend to NOT believe the allegations, again, according to polls.

"58% of Likely U.S. Voters believe the allegations of sexual misconduct made by several women against Trump
Women (63%) are more likely than men (53%) to believe the allegations of sexual misconduct made against Trump.
Eighty-three percent (83%) of Democrats and
55% of voters not affiliated with either major party believe the women’s allegations,
compared to just 34% of Republicans."

And let me be clear: We who believe Trump likely has sexually assaulted women (and is likely a sexual predator) are NOT saying that he should be arrested and sent to jail because we believe he's a predator, regardless of any conviction. We still support the criminal process. But, there's a difference between thinking there's not sufficient evidence to bring a conviction versus believing he's trustworthy around women. Sometimes, there may be insufficient evidence to convict, but more than enough to be dubious and think, "I'm going to leave teen-aged girls alone with this man... and I do not trust him to run the country..." We don't have to have a conviction to not trust and find someone unfit.

"If multiple people have accused an elected official of sexual harassment or sexual assault,
66 percent of Americans say that official should resign,
while 24 percent say the official should not resign."

And I should be clear that I don't think that reasonable doubt should just pop up based on very little evidence.

But we don't have "very little" evidence about Trump's sexual predatory nature.

We have ~24 women who have accused him of sexual assault/rape/sexual misconduct.

We have a president who presents as having narcissistic behaviors and the data that shows that narcissistic males are more likely to engage in sexual assault/rape.

We have a president who is ON TAPE laughing about how he "moves on women" without waiting for permission and that he can "grab them by the [crotch]" and get away with it because of his power and position.

We have a president who went on radio and laughed and boasted about how he could use his power, wealth and position to force his way into a beauty pageant and ogle teen-aged girls getting dressed.

We have a president who has a history of speaking abusively towards women in the most vulgar, rape-y, misogynistic and oppressive terms.

We have the data that shows that such a sense of entitlement and privilege and power is a sign of a sexual predator.

Here are "four thinking patterns" of sexual predators...

"Four thinking patterns figure prominently in the commission of sexual offenses in the workplace.

The pursuit of power and control.  A critical part of the perpetrator’s self-image is being able to dominate others.  He proceeds to do this as he pursues whomever he finds attractive.

A sense of uniqueness. Everyone is unique – physically, psychologically, and experientially. But the person who engages in sexual harassment, assault, or rape considers himself one of a kind.  Part of this self-perception is his certainty that he is irresistible to women, the answer to every woman’s desires.  When it comes to right and wrong, he makes his own rules.

Deception. These individuals are often extremely intelligent, charismatic, and talented.  Even people who know them well cannot conceive that they are even capable of exploiting others sexually. Such predators are masters of deceit.

An ability to compartmentalize and shut off fear of consequences. Perpetrators of sexual harassment, assault, and rape know right from wrong.  They are fully aware of the potential consequences of being apprehended.  They have an uncanny ability to ignore them long enough to do what they want, all the while maintaining a sense of invincibility. They eliminate considerations of conscience behaving as they please without regard to emotional, physical, or other damage they might inflict. When they are unmasked, their chief regret is getting caught with little or no remorse for the victim.  Instead, they regard themselves as victims because of the unpalatable consequences they must face."

We can read this and see that these are characteristics of Trump (with the exception of being "extremely intelligent," something he gives no indication of being.)

In short, we have a huge amount of testimony, including the president's own words, which lead us inescapably to the conclusion that Trump is almost certainly a sexual predator, and an unrepentant one.

It is for this reason that over half the nation recognizes that, whatever you may think of his policies, he is fundamentally unfit for office. We've put up with this reality for over three years and it is sickening to people from across the political spectrum and around the world.

If you are someone who has been saying to yourself, "Well, he's never been CONVICTED of sexual assault... therefore, we MUST ASSUME he is innocent..." no, we do not have to force ourselves to ignore all these warning signs. Trump is a narcissistic, damaged human being who is almost certainly a sexual predator. We have no reason to assume that two dozen (plus??) women are making up these claims, made independently across several decades. This should make him unfit for office, period. There doesn't have to be any further discussion, he IS unfit for office. We cannot abide having sexual predators in office, even if they have policies you like.

Read these articles. Listen to expert testimony about sexual predators/rapists/men who sexually assault women. Trump is a stereotypical rapist/sexual predator type of person. Listen to the women who've accused him. Listen to his own vulgar, disgusting, perverted, misogynistic words.
It's time, US. It's time conservatives. Listen to your own preachers (like ultra-conservative Reverend Al Mohler, who has said that white evangelicals are destroying their reputation by supporting this sexual predator). This isn't something I'm making up as a liberal. It's not fake news. It's just the likely reality that Trump is a sexual predator who has managed to abuse women for years and get away with it only because of his wealth and privilege, which only makes it more perverse and disgusting.

Let's end the reign of this predator, decisively, conclusively. Vote him out for this reason, if nothing else.  

Friday, February 21, 2020

Listen to the Sunset

I watched the deer
watching me in the field
we were watching each other
and after a while
the mother deer said to me

"Watch the sky
listen to the sunset"
and they quit watching me

and turned their backs to me
and so I watched the sky and
I listened

Hearing nothing
I climbed up the hillside
to watch the sky a little longer
and I listened a little more closely

Soon, the sky turned 
from blue to yellow
to amber to gold
and then ever-darkening
shades of bronze
which finally gave over
to a deep, soft violet

I'm not sure if I ever heard
and maybe that was the point

Thursday, February 13, 2020

The Disinformation President

The author of this The Atlantic article, McKay Coppins, is talking on NPR right now. Please, if you're conservative or progressive or somewhere in between, read this article. Trump is using strategies of disinformation that undermine the idea of facts and truth and ultimately, a free republic. Please read this article.

"The president’s reelection campaign was then in the midst of a multimillion-dollar ad blitz aimed at shaping Americans’ understanding of the recently launched impeachment proceedings. 

Thousands of micro-targeted ads had flooded the internet, portraying Trump as a heroic reformer cracking down on foreign corruption while Democrats plotted a coup. That this narrative bore little resemblance to reality seemed only to accelerate its spread. 

Right-wing websites amplified every claim. Pro-Trump forums teemed with conspiracy theories. An alternate information ecosystem was taking shape around the biggest news story in the country, and I wanted to see it from the inside."

Don't Be Deceived

Seriously, don't be deceived, don't be an idiot, don't buy a con from an inept con man and don't be part of the problem of giving a single bit of support to this man. He and his followers are, whether on purpose or not, part of the greatest threat our nation has faced since probably the Cold War. What is amazing to so many of us - no doubt, at least half the nation and most of the world - is why so very many people (~30-40% of the nation??) are buying into a con that is so obviously a con.

Make no mistake: Trump is a moron, he is not an intelligent man. This is something that is measurable, observable. He speaks like a very unintelligent person. But he is quite a genius when it comes to conning a certain subset of people... people who buy into ridiculously stupid misinformation when it plays into their fears and prejudices/biases (and here, I don't mean racial prejudices - although that certainly is part of it for some subset of that subset), but their cultural biases and prejudices. But how can SO many people be fooled by such a buffoon who, in addition to being a buffoon, is a generally awful human being?

Read the article. Open your eyes. Don't be deceived.

No comments are necessary, I'm not looking for conversation, just pointing to something that should be obvious.

Sunday, January 26, 2020

No Time for Nonsense

She came ashore
from the wild ocean
glistening with sea salt

"She looks so pretty,"
they all said
"her outfit is just so cute!"

And they missed the point entirely

Cute? Pretty?

She is an ocean warrior
a fierce guardian of life and the briny deep
she is half-wild and fearless
scarred and indomitable

she has written books in blood
and taught classes in caves
she has mentored students
and saved lives
she has plunged her feet
thigh deep into muck and mire
and dug into the bottom of the ocean
with a shovel and her bare hands

She is a sweat-stained stone bearer 
and a work-hardened master of her own destiny
she has wrestled with tentacles and grabbers
and not all of them in the wildern waters

She is strong and storied
undaunted and shark-dangerous
heavy with rage and rebellion
and dangerous as a rip tide
and so
when she swims to shore
from months of world-changing work
don't you dare 
don't you DARE
lead with
"she looks pretty"
"what a cute outfit"

She is a spear bearer 
with no time for nonsense

Wednesday, January 1, 2020

New Paths

As the sun set gold on the first day
of the new year
he climbed to the mountaintop
seeking a place
as thin as the shell of a bird's egg
where he could pray to the
small hobgoblins and great minds
of the heroes of inconsistency -
those trail-less wanderers blazing
New Paths
that great cloud of witnesses

and he waited and
held court in hushed reverence and
prayed in tongues of wood and spirit

The wild birds were the first to show
singing the most ancient psalms

Then, Uncle Ralph rose from the grave
and began drumming
thum thum thum
on the side of a hollow log
a song of unsettled hope

Sister Rachel joined in song
an untiring song of beauty
and mystery

The Healer, King
rose up, too,
and preached a sermon,
saying that darkness can't drive out darkness

and then the sun set
and we all held hands
and prayed onward into the night,
confident that the next day would come
and that
in the meantime
we had each other.

Thursday, December 19, 2019

Keeping God in a Box... As If!

Stan, from the Winging It blog, recently offered opinions about the great Leonard Cohen hymn, "Hallelujah." Stan says...

...Hallelujah, as it turns out, is not a Christmas song. It's not even Christian. The song starts out talking about some "secret chord" that David could play to please the Lord. He didn't. The song says David was baffled. He wasn't. The song focuses on the adultery including when Bathsheba apparently tied him to a kitchen chair and cut his hair. She didn't. The song rambles on about love. it looks good, but

           Love is not a victory march
           it's a cold and it's a broken Hallelujah

In the end, what do we learn about Leonard Cohen's religious views?
Well, maybe there's a God above
But all I've ever learned from love
Was how to shoot somebody who outdrew ya
It's not a cry that you hear at night
It's not somebody who's seen the light
It's a cold and it's a broken Hallelujah
This is what passes, even among Christians, as a sweet Christmas song. Clearly it's not.

As always, this post is not about Stan or what he wrote specifically. He just offers a glimpse into the evangelical conservative trend of them deciding what is and isn't Christian, as if they are the guardians of and final arbiters on Christianity.

Now, to be clear, Cohen was a Jewish man who embraced aspects of Buddhism. So, I would imagine that Cohen himself didn't write it with the intention of the song being a "christian song." But here's my point: Poetry and songs and art in general, when it's put out there, means what it means to the one who is appreciating it.

Cohen's beautiful and wonderful song is a journey of self exploration and struggle and failure, of love and loss and perhaps some redemption. It's gritty and tough and real-world. It's hard and it's glorious. It's humanity and spirituality, both, seems to me.

And so, my point is, why would anyone consider this definitively NOT a "Christian song..."? What is it in some folks who think they need to make a ruling and put a label on aspects of religion and the world, to try to box up their religion and their god away from "the secular..."? Do they feel they need to protect their god? I tend to think God can take care of God's Self and if a song is meaningful to you in some way, then it is meaningful to you in some way, and no one can take that away from you.

And if a song brings you closer to God or Jesus in some way, then that's what it does and no one needs to tell you that the song doesn't belong to "Christianity," as if they are the arbiters of Christianity. Contrariwise, if a song doesn't appeal to you and your religion, you don't need to incorporate it into your religion or practices. Just don't try to decide for others what box their god should be kept in.

Any God worth their salt would likely refuse to be boxed in.

Seems to me.

Now, enjoy the beautiful Jewish, Buddhist, Christian, secular, spiritual words of St Leonard...

I did my best, it wasn’t much
I couldn’t feel, so I tried to touch
I’ve told the truth, I didn’t come to fool you
And even though it all went wrong
I’ll stand before the lord of song
With nothing on my tongue but hallelujah


Even though it all went wrong, I'll stand before the lord of song with nothing on my tongue but Hallelujah.

Merry Christmas. Happy Hanukkah. Blessed Holiday Season, all.

Monday, November 11, 2019

I See Good People

Good: (MW) of a favorable character or tendency: virtuous, right, commendable: Kind, benevolent

(Free Dictionary): that which is morally right; righteousness.

Good person(MW) an honest, helpful, or morally good person
(Free Dictionary): a person who is good to other people

Craig, at another blog, has repeatedly taken issue with my posts on Good People. He also  refuses to define how he's using the word Good and finds my answers about good people to "mean both everything and nothing..." but clearly, my definition/descriptions don't do that.

Someone who kills, lies and cheats is not a good person.

Someone who is kind, helpful, patient, loving, gracious IS a good person.

We can't say objectively "this person is good and that person is bad" because Good is subjective. 

Nonetheless, it's just not that difficult to recognize good behavior or to say, "That is a good person." 

It's not that difficult for most of us to be able to say that. Even Marshal and Craig (both of whom are objecting to me saying that there are good people) appear to concede that there are good people. (Craig: "I know people who, by my subjective standards, I would consider to be good.")

Yes, it's just not that difficult to recognize good behavior or to say, "That is a good person." 

I know a person (actually, I know several people for whom the following description fits...) who...
works every day helping homeless people on their job (or teaching children, or nursing...);
raised and loved wonderful children;
taught and cared for and mentored other people's children; 
live in small circles so that they're limiting the amount of pollution they produce; 
are honest and patient with people, even stubborn or obnoxious people; 
pick up litter when they spot it on the sidewalk;
don't litter themselves;
do kind things for and with poor people, for immigrants, for oppressed Muslims;

On the other hand,
Perhaps their worst habit is watching too much TV (no small thing, that!); 
Their diet could be better;
They DO lose patience with obnoxious people some times;
They do fail to help some people some times (when they're tired from helping people all day, for instance);
They have gossiped;
They stole a pencil when they were a child (I don't really know this, just acknowledging that they probably have done things of that nature);

Of course, they have never killed, beaten, stolen from people, sexually harassed anyone, etc. No "big" crimes/wrong-doing.

In short, they are generally genuinely good people. NOT perfect people, but no one has ever said one must be perfect to be good and that's just not a rational description.

Indeed, those who would insist that you must be perfect to be counted Good would be a rather grace-less person. A pharisee, perhaps.

Yes, I DO know good people. Genuinely good people. Beyond that, I am close enough to them to know that they have no hidden secret murders or assaults they've taken part in.

They are not perfect, but by any reasonable measure, they are good.

Just because there is no objective measure to definitively say, "THEY ARE OBJECTIVELY GOOD PEOPLE," we can easily note and say, "They are, by reasonable measures, very good people."

I know such people. I go to church and work with a large number of them.

Calvinists and skeptics who say otherwise are just not dealing with reality and, most likely, they are choosing to define Good in some non-standard and irrational manner.

Good: of a favorable character or tendency: virtuous, right, commendable: Kind, benevolent

When I say Good people, I just mean "people of a favorable character or tendency: virtuous, right, commendable: Kind, benevolent." And yes, they exist. No matter what the Pharisees may say.

Tuesday, November 5, 2019


I was captured today
in a gentle storm of leaping leaves
falling, showering, drizzling
around and upon and throughout me

Enveloping me like grace
like love
like dirt,
like sky
like I don't know who and
I don't know why
like a great symphony
swelling, flowing, growing
in deep crimson harmony

and with each spin
each rotation of autumnal bliss
I was delivered,
washed clean
baptised with a hickory kiss

spun gold salvation in a
sweet soaring swirl
landing on my head
on my shoulder and legs,
It made me twist, it made me twirl

right along with that
riotous laugh of leaves
and I danced holy ghost joy
on the sidewalk and all down the
wide-eyed street

"Glory Hallelujah!"
I raised my voice on high
I raised my hands
I raised my song
I raised my Self to fly

I was captured, today,
brainwashed and then set free
free to let go and live and leap
and die like those
soaring, spinning, gracious, grinning

Hallelujah. Amen.

Sunday, November 3, 2019

Does Our Nature Determine Our Actions?

Craig over at another blog recently posted some questions in my general direction and I've answered them. I thought it might be instructive to the previous posts to re-post those answers here. He asked questions about the idea of what our human nature is like.

Does our nature determine our actions, or do our actions determine our nature?

Both. We are who we are. I may be, by nature, a naturally lazy or ungrateful or ungenerous person... or at least tend towards those attitudes. However, if I - in spite of what I may think my nature is - start being a harder worker, or more grateful towards others or more generous... then I become a hard working, grateful and generous person. IF I am working hard, then whatEVER my "nature" might be, I AM a hard worker and not lazy. If I decide that it's important to give and start giving to good causes (in time and money), then i AM a generous person. So, ultimately, our actions determine our nature, but I'd say it's some of both.

And I'd state that based on all the evidence we see. Further, there is research that says that, even if we don't think of ourselves as generous (for instance), if we start giving, we develop more of a giving nature.

It's like that old parable: There are two wolves within us. One is evil and one is good. Those wolves are fighting. And which wolf wins the fight? The one we feed.

2. Can you really, accurately, objectively determine a person’s nature based on subjective observations of part of a person’s public actions?

I don't know that we can objectively determine a "person's nature" but I think we can REASONABLY and generally ACCURATELY determine a person's nature based on observation.

It's POSSIBLE that a truly evil person can keep evil intentions hidden from friends and observers all around over time, but the odds of it truly being hidden, in spite of evidence of a good life, are ridiculously small. I'd say, along with Jesus, that one can recognize them by their fruit/by their actions. A good tree, Jesus said, will bear good fruit and that is observable.

Is a “good” deed done for a “bad” motive really qualify as “good”?

My short answer: No.

My slightly longer answer: I would say that it would truly depend. The question is too vague and not enough data is available. Generally speaking, I'd be suspicious of good deeds done for a bad motive.

Can the same action be good or bad depending on the circumstances or motivation?

Yes, I think so.

If we’re defined only by our actions, then what’s the magic number to be considered “good”?

There is no magic number.

No one is arguing that a person that we observe who is "reasonably good..." i.e., the saints we all have in our lives... people who are consistently patient and kind and helpful and loving to people - especially the down and out and marginalized, and with no obvious immoral actions - No one is arguing that such a person is PERFECTLY good. I'm just saying that, given the fruit of one's life and especially over time, you can recognize good people by their fruit.

Perfectly good? No, of course not. REASONABLY good. Yes, of course.


Those were my answers to his questions. My questions to him went unanswered.

What I've asked are questions like...

1. We all have those saintly people in our lives - people we recognize as good, who are, over time, consistently helpful, patient, kind, loving, grace-full, welcoming and who have no huge obvious misbehaviors in their actions - or at least, I do. Do you have people in your life who you recognize as obviously good people?

2. Given the evidence of Good People in the world, do we have any reason to suspect that they're NOT good, for some reason?

3. I recognize that some Calvinist types may say that by Good, they mean Perfect, i.e., without sin, like God. But that is not the standard definition of Good. Using the commonly understood, standard definition of Good, do we have any reason to suspect that no Good people exist?

4. What would be your argument for that? Do you recognize that this sounds crazy on the face of it to many - perhaps most people?

Friday, October 25, 2019

Humanity is "Bad..."? Prove It.

Stan at the Winging It blog recently posted the common evangelical trope about humanity being inherently evil/bad/not good. He was attacking the notion that humans could rightly be considered "good," and said, among other things...

The most common perspective today is that people are basically good. Sure, there's some bad ones, but, in general, we start out good.

There is a problem with that position. If humans are born good, why does no one end up good? Okay, that's one problem. The fact is that the Bible contradicts it.

From there, he did the standard conservative evangelical thing of cherry picking some verses from the Bible and offering that as "proof" of his position. As always, I'm not speaking about Stan himself in this post, just addressing this common conservative trope.

Here's a challenge for people like Stan: support your premise/claim. Prove that people are basically bad/evil/corrupt. Prove not only that people, in general, are not good... but that they are SO evil that the only proper response is to torture them for an eternity to punish them for their evil.
Prove it in some reasonable way. Don't merely saying, "Hey, there is a line in the bible that I personally think we should take literally - even though other lines in the Bible, I don't take them literally and I fully recognize that the various biblical authors use metaphors and hyperbole and imagery all the time... but THESE verses in the Bible should be taken literally..." 

Don't merely say that, but offer some rational, reasoned support for it.

For instance, merely citing some verses in the Bible with the suggestion that they represent literal facts is not enough... not when you, yourself, recognize that at least some verses in the Bible are metaphors, some are hyperbole and some are otherwise figurative. So, the presence of one line that says something about the four corners of the earth is not "proof" of a square, flat earth any more than one line saying something about "babies are evil from birth and they speak lies" is sufficient proof of evil, lying babies.

In the real world, for such a claim as "humans are inherently evil... and not only that, but they are ALL (everyone of them) SO evil that, apart from some action, they deserve to be tortured for eternity to pay for their crimes (which, of course, can never be paid, since they'll be tortured for eternity). If you don't like the "tortured for eternity" language, we can substitute it for the more "biblical" (ish) language of "burn in hell forever, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth..."

The Bible, taken literally, COULD be said to "contradict" the notion of "no one ending up doing good..." BUT, the Bible, taken literally, could also contradict the notion of the earth as a globe. That there is a line in the Bible that says something like that is not, in and of itself, sufficient proof of anything.

Contrast that with this claim: I see good people every day. I see good people being kind, working for justice, helping people find homes or jobs or respect. People DO in fact do good things and I know this because I see it.

So, we can accept the notion that all people are utterly wicked and deserving of eternal torture because there are lines in the Bible that some people think indicate that OR we can accept the notion of "I see good people in the world and I know they're good because I see them doing reasonably good actions..."

Which is more reasonable? 

So, aside from some lines in an ancient text that SOME people say means that there are no good people, anywhere, what is the proof for such a hard to believe claim?

And note: Saying that I believe that clearly there ARE good people around because I see them is NOT the same as saying that there are no bad people nor is it the same as saying that there are perfect people. Just Good, as good is commonly understood.

I'll wait for some kind of proof more than "I got a hunch..."

Sunday, October 6, 2019

Gods in the Hands of an Angry Sinner

Jesus speaking...

“No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.”

The Pharisees, who loved money, heard all this and were sneering at Jesus.

[Then, in the DIRECT and IMMEDIATE context of Jesus warning about the dangers of literal money and the commentary about the money-loving Pharisees sneering at Jesus and his words about wealth and poverty... Dan]

Jesus said to them...

“You are the ones who justify yourselves in the eyes of others, but God knows your hearts. What people value highly is detestable in God’s sight. [Again, in the immediate, direct context of Jesus warning about the dangers of literal wealth... and there's no context here that says he's talking about a mere abuse of wealth, he's just speaking of wealth, in general... DT]

“The Law and the Prophets were proclaimed until John. Since that time, the good news of the realm of God [which Jesus began his ministry as identifying it specifically as good news to the poor and marginalized... DT] is being preached, and everyone is forcing their way into it. It is easier for heaven and earth to disappear than for the least stroke of a pen to drop out of the Law.

“Anyone who divorces his wife and marries another woman commits adultery, and the man who marries a divorced woman commits adultery.

The Rich man (nameless) and the Poor man (Lazarus)...

“There was a rich man who was dressed in purple and fine linen and lived in luxury every day. At his gate was laid a beggar named Lazarus, covered with sores and longing to eat what fell from the rich man’s table. Even the dogs came and licked his sores.

“The time came when the beggar died and the angels carried him to Abraham’s side. The rich man also died and was buried. In Hades, where he was in torment, he looked up and saw Abraham far away, with Lazarus by his side. So he called to him, ‘Father Abraham, have pity on me and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, because I am in agony in this fire.’

“But Abraham replied, 
‘Son, remember that in your lifetime you received your good things, 
while Lazarus received bad things, 
but now 
he is comforted here and you are in agony. 
And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been set in place, so that those who want to go from here to you cannot, nor can anyone cross over from there to us.’

“He answered, ‘Then I beg you, father, send Lazarus to my family, for I have five brothers. Let him warn them, so that they will not also come to this place of torment.’

“Abraham replied, ‘They have Moses and the Prophets; let them listen to them.’

“‘No, father Abraham,’ he said, ‘but if someone from the dead goes to them, they will repent.’

“He said to him, ‘If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.’”
Some thoughts from my pastor's sermon today...

* The rich man has no name and Lazarus is named. Then, as now, the rich were honored and had their literal big names. The poor were/are often nameless and forgotten. Jesus overturns the worldly tradition of honoring the wealthy and instead, throughout his ministry (which again, he identified as bringing good news to the poor as he began his ministry), honors the poor and marginalized, lifting them up as beloved by God and welcome at God's table of plenty.

* Even in torment, the rich man presumes to try to request favors (as befitting someone of his status...) and to try to order the poor man, Lazarus, to do his bidding ("Send LAZARUS to..." do my bidding...) Jesus' listeners would recognize this parody of the power of the wealthy for what it was.

* Would listeners of that time have heard the message...

"The good news for the poor is that, ONE DAY, maybe - if  you repent in just the right way and heed just the right message and you are one of the one's God has called - one day you MAY be saved and have a good life THEN... pie in the sky by and by, y'all... Not for most of you, poor slobs, but for the Few who are called..."?

OR, would the message being sent and received have been...

"The good news for the poor is that, here, now, God loves you and welcomes you to the realm of God. Share with one another, take one another in - especially the poor and marginalized - THIS is the realm of God, the realm of Grace for all, where all are welcome..."...? As was what happened with Jesus' followers and the early church.

If you read this story and think that the good news is NOT specifically for the poor, and it's really only for the very few who are called, then saying that the "good news" is not for all and not for the poor, but for the few who are called and then, only eventually, when we all (well some) get to heaven... It seems hard to reconcile that view with this story and what was likely being heard by the people then and there, especially given Jesus other repeated teachings about wealth and poverty.

I just don't know how you read "good news for the poor" that Jesus defined his ministry as it began and then just ignore "the poor" part of those words. I think they're there for a reason. I think this story points to that reason.