Sunday, December 9, 2018

"Merry Christmas" Ain't Everything... (or, Really, Anything...)

Trump: "When people wrong you, go after those people, because it's a good feeling... I always get even..."

Jesus: "Love your enemies. Do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you."

Trump: "I'm putting people on notice who are coming here from Syria as part of that mass migration, that if I win, they're going back!"

Jesus: "I was hungry and you gave me something to eat. I was thirsty and you gave me drink. I was a stranger and you welcomed me in."

Trump: "Why do I have to repent? Why do I have to ask for forgiveness if I'm not making mistakes?"

Jesus: "Unless you repent, you will all likewise perish..."

Trump: "Part of the beauty of me is that I'm very rich."
"I'm very greedy."

Jesus: "Do not store up treasures for yourself on earth, for where your treasure is, there your heart is, as well..."

James: "Is it not the rich who oppress you?"

"Come now, you rich, weep and howl for the miseries that are coming upon you. Your riches have rotted and your garments are moth-eaten. Your gold and silver have corroded, and their corrosion will be evidence against you and will eat your flesh like fire. You have laid up treasure in the last days. Behold, the wages of the laborers who mowed your fields, which you kept back by fraud, are crying out against you..."

Trump: "Grab ’em by the pussy. You can do anything."

Jesus: "Oh, come on, people! This man is a charlatan and an oppressive pervert of the worst sort!"
(Okay, I made that last one up, but you get the point... And I could go on and on, but that will suffice)
For my fellow Christians who think that Trump is a great Christian because his Christmas cards say "merry christmas...," there's more to it than that.

Just sayin'...

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Happy Welcome the Stranger Holy Days

This is a group art project from my church several years ago... the Star of Christmas, created using a collage of Christmas season/Black Friday advertisements encouraging people to buy more junk they don't need.

Subverting commercialism for a remembrance of the story of poor immigrants being guided to a safe sanctuary in the midst of dodging a government out to harass and kill them.

Happy Subversive Holy Days, all you subverts!

Monday, November 12, 2018

Wise Spirits

They were wise spirits
and strong
waiting for a change
that they would make come

Monday, November 5, 2018

Yes, We Can

Lead the way, dear women. Lead the way, you children of conservatives. Lead the way, dear Latino friends. Lead the way, our fearless LBGTQ folk. Lead the way, young adults! Lead the way, our black friends. Lead the way, you wise elders!

Hell, lead the way, you trees and rivers and skies and oceans! Make way for the awful and glorious wisdom of a Just and Stern Earth.

Lead the way past the racists and those who embrace violence... those who fear what ought not be feared.

Lead the way for wealthy, powerful white men, who will only have Life to gain by releasing the power and wealth that they so often drown in.

Lead the way to a better - if imperfect - tomorrow.

Lead the way, and let wisdom follow!

"In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams."

~The Prophet, Joel

Monday, October 29, 2018

Into a Wild Night Wood

She rolled into a wild night wood
fearing nothing
knowing there was nothing to fear

Friday, October 5, 2018

"A Very Scary Time for Men!"

The days had darkened
warnings were hearkened
and terrors lurked not so faint
Horrors haunted
and dangers vaunted
and evil spirits did haint

an accursed and eldritch madness
had removed the men's gladness
what hope they had was dimmin'
For a fear had fallen
false charges would come callin'
Oh, to be safe, like all those fair women!

Be the Light

In the midst of a dark night
count the stars and rely upon them
call upon the moon and her
certain return
hold hands
stand tall
walk carefully
but surely.

The Ground is beneath you.
Count on it.

Don't be afraid.
be afraid
and trust your friends,
that you have each other

In the midst of a dark night
let your eyes adjust
and listen

In the midst of a dark night
Be the Light
Even if you have to bring the sun

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Defining "The Gospel"

Stan, over at the Winging It blog posted today about the "gospel," and he takes issue with people who believe in the so-called "social gospel" (what WE would call simply, the Gospel) and who Stan tries to mock as "social justice warriors." According to Stan (and I've heard this from others, I'm just using Stan's words as a starting point, but this is directed to the concern raised, NOT Stan, so please, no negative comments about Stan...), the problem with including concern for justice for the poor and oppressed in with the Gospel of Jesus is that those things are flat out NOT part of the Gospel.

According to this mindset, the "gospel" is "defined" by Paul in 1 Corinthians. Stan cites those verses where Paul reminds the Corinthians of "the gospel I preached to you," and, in that passage, Paul cites things like the death and resurrection of Jesus... the sorts of things that some Christians have come to recognize as the Penal Substitutionary Theory of Atonement.

Stan then responds...

"Eleven verses in which Paul lays out the entire" gospel I preached to you." I'm looking ... I'm looking. Nope. Not one reference to poverty, nutrition, crime, or war. 

I can only conclude it is not the Gospel.

Damn. STAN can only conclude that, according to STAN's interpretation of ONE passage from Paul, that concern for the poor and justice for the oppressed is NOT "the Gospel."

I responded to Stan but of course, he doesn't generally read or respond to my concerns I raise to him. So, here's my concern...

Beginning first, with the words of Jesus in the story where John the Baptist (who is in prison) has his followers come to Jesus to try to ascertain if Jesus is "the one," the Messiah...

When the men came to Jesus, they said, “John the Baptist sent us to you to ask, ‘Are you the one who is to come, or should we expect someone else?’”

At that very time Jesus cured many who had diseases, sicknesses and evil spirits, and gave sight to many who were blind.  So he replied to the messengers, 

“Go back and report to John what you have seen and heard: 
The blind receive sight, 
the lame walk, 
those who have leprosy are cleansed, 
the deaf hear, 
the dead are raised, 
and the good news is proclaimed to the poor. 

Blessed is anyone who does not stumble on account of me.”

~Luke 7

What Stan has done is not a problem with just Stan, it's a common problem for many folks. He lifted ONE passage from Paul and decided that those single words of Paul, there, constitute the "entire definition" of the gospel. Or at least that was my question to him (which, of course, he doesn't generally answer)... Really? Are you saying that Paul's words here constitute the entire definition of the Gospel and nothing else IS or CAN BE part of the Gospel?

Because, why?

Jesus NEVER ONE TIME gave Paul's "definition" of the gospel as being the gospel. Jesus regularly uses the term "The Gospel," (meaning literally, "good news" in translation). He sent his disciples out to preach "the gospel," he himself references preaching "the gospel..." but he never suggests the gospel he is preaching is that he will die "for our sins," and his "blood" will "pay for our sins" so an "angry God" will be "appeased." None of that ever appears in the four books ironically called The Gospels.

On the other hand, it appears clear, from Jesus words, that the gospel has a whole helluva LOT to do with how we treat the poor, marginalized and oppressed (i.e., it looks like according to Jesus the "social gospel" IS the Gospel, the good news to the poor of God).

I'm relatively sure that Stan is aware of Jesus' words here, but maybe not.

I wondered to Stan, if he would maybe care to back down a bit from the suggestion that HIS random choice  of Paul's cherry picked words in this one passage equate the definition of the gospel and anything else beyond what Paul says in this one place is NOT the gospel? Maybe he'll respond, we'll see.

My point, again, is not about Stan. It's about those who would ignore what Jesus himself has to say about the Good News he brings, the Gospel according to Jesus, and instead try to force a definition pulled from Paul's words that ignore Jesus' own words and teachings.

Seems followers of Jesus should be wary of such an approach.

Friday, September 7, 2018

Walking With the Devil

So, for many, many people, it was clear from the beginning that this current president simply was not fit for office.

It was clear to many (across the political spectrum) that this man was a conman and a liar, that he was amoral and undisciplined, that he was abusive and a cheater, that he was woefully ignorant of how government worked and opposed to science, data, norms and reason.

This was apparent to many, across the political spectrum, from the beginning.

We see these last few weeks that it has become even more clear that, even amongst his supporters and colleagues working closest to him, that he is amoral, dishonest, disreputable, ignorant and a threat to basic decency and liberty.

He is unfit for office, it's just increasingly obvious.

The question is, what do we do with that?

Do his supporters continue to support a man who is woefully inept, dishonest, immoral, a threat to liberty and democracy (and this, according to HIS FRIENDS), so long as they "get" a SCOTUS Justice to their liking and a tax cut for the wealthy?

"For what profits a man if he gains the whole world but loses his own soul?"


Sunday, August 26, 2018

What Good Conservatives SHOULD Be Doing...

I recently read, in more than one place, a nominally anti-Trump conservative saying in exasperation, "What SHOULD we be doing that we're not doing? Assassinating Trump or his supporters!? Cussing out Trump supporters?!"

Now, of course, they're generally doing this not because they were looking for ideas (at least by all appearances) but to justify their lukewarm, milquetoast non-response to the Trump disaster. But setting that aside for a minute, it's not an unreasonable question. I'm entirely sure there are some genuine Never-Trumpers who need ideas on what they can be doing.

So, I'm just going to brainstorm some ideas about what they should be doing has conservatives who say they are opposed to this Administration. And I say, "THEY" specifically on purpose. Because of the anti-media mania that has been enflamed by Trump, but existed before him, the MAGA-types simply aren't listening to rational voices on the left or in the mainstream/moderate world. They NEED to hear from fellow conservatives for us to even have a chance to reach out to them. "Liberals" are just part of the vast left wing media conspiracy out to ruin the country, so we can't be the ones who stop the Trumpians.

So, given that, consider what George Will has done by way of an example of responsible conservatism.

1. He left the Republican party and registered as an Independent.

Boom. Just left. Good on him! That's a significant step.

If Trump or someone like him had been the Democrat candidate to receive nomination in a presidential race, I would certainly step away from that party. I get that there is something to be said for staying within a Party or a group to try to effect change from within, but by the time you have a Trump-like aberration overtaking your party, that time to work from within has passed.

2. He actively encouraged conservatives to vote against Trump. And this coming election, he has said conservatives should vote against the Republican candidates. He saying publicly and loudly and often that conservatives need to own the responsibility in this and do their part to actively make the GOP lose races, to make it abundantly clear that the trunk wing of the party is being repudiated and rejected by conservatism.

Of course, it goes without saying that conservatives should quit funding GOP causes. The GOP has to KNOW that they can't go down the Trump-type path, that it will only result in the complete destruction of the party. The only significant way of doing this is for them to lose and lose big, now.

I'm not saying you have to support the Democrat candidate. Send support to third party candidates if you want. Do write in votes. The thing is, the GOP needs to suffer losses to know that the time for the MAGA-types is long gone. They MUST be thrown on the trash bin of history.

Those were two steps taken by Will. But I can think of at least one other...

3. Repudiate every hint of racism every single time it raises its head in the party or out of this Administration. Any slight hint that Latinos are rapists and murderers... Any hint that an immigrant being involved in a crime is a sign of an immigration crisis because Mexicans are criminals and M13 members... Any hint of Nazis and KKK and racist groups representing conservatism. Letters to the paper, to elected representatives, to your church, religious or community groups... speak out, loud and often.

The MAGA-types (which does include at least some portion of overt racists and actual Nazis) need to know that they are NOT welcome in the party or in conservative circles. They are not feeling that heat/peer pressure now.

Again, hearing it from liberals/progressives is not going to win them over. They need to hear it from good conservatives. Now, I get that you may be reluctant to go down that path... you might be willing to cut them some slack and give them the benefit of the doubt ("maybe they meant that Mexicans are rapists in a positive sense...??")

That time has past.

Y'all have a credibility problem on racial issues. Stop being defensive about it, recognize it, own it, and take steps to fix it.

Stop saying things like "but I have black friends, I'm not racist!" and just own that y'all have a problem. And reject it at every turn strongly clearly unequivocally. You have to go overboard on this one.

Stop the anti-immigrant rhetoric. Reject it when your conservative friends engage in it. Correct them. Strongly.

Stop the anti-Muslim rhetoric. Reject it when your conservative friends engage in it.

Stop the anti-black rhetoric. Quit complaining about football players respectfully and peacefully taking a knee in protest. Quit complaining about BLM. Just stop it. There may be a time, down the road, to critique these approaches, but that time is not now, and the people to do that critique are not old white conservative men.

You're only making the perception of racism worse with your criticism of these groups.

There's three great steps to start.

Saturday, August 25, 2018

Responsibility for the Oppressors, not Blame for the Victims

I've read it again (this time at Stan's blog)... another person who doesn't understand that it's not acceptable to blame the victim and to not set all responsibility for a person's bad behavior on the one that's behaving badly.

Stan appeared genuinely puzzled about the school that got into trouble for posting a sign up to greet the students that read...

"The more you act like a lady, the more he'll act like a gentleman."

Stan's questions are the typical ones...

"I guess her message is that no one (male or female) has any impact on how people treat them and shouldn't concern themselves with that? I hear her complaining that girls should not act like a lady? I am assuming she did not read the implied, "And you guys -- the more you act like gentlemen, the more she'll act like a lady"? I'm missing it ... entirely."

The ONE thing he's getting right is that he's missing it. Entirely.

Imagine a sign on the school walls as the kids walk in the first day of school...

"The less you act like a fundamentalist Christian, the less likely that you'll be beat up."


"The more you act like a straight guy, the better the homophobes will treat you."

or, what if the sign had read,

"The more you wear clothes that show your ankles or (Allah forbid!), your calves, the more you'll be treated like a slut."

The problems with the sign are...

1. It promotes rape and rape culture. You may not understand that it does (apparently Stan doesn't, given his befuddlement) but it does. Stop promoting rape culture. Stop defending rapists. This is what people like Stan are doing, by their admitted lack of understanding. Again, I GET that maybe he truly doesn't understand that it does that, but I'm helping him and his tribe out by letting you all know that it does.

2. It blames the victim instead of holding assailants responsible for their own bad actions. (You'll note that there were no signs up in school that said, "Guys, you can't grab a girl's breast just because you find the clothes she's wearing too sexy..." The blame/responsibility was solely on women.)

3. It's an arbitrary standard created by the guys who rape and harass

. Who says what "acting like a lady" means? Is wearing a skirt that shows your calves too "slutty..."? How about if only your ankles are showing... does THAT mean you're a "slut" and not a "lady..."? Is dating too many guys in one year not "lady-like..."? What IS the right number? WHO gets to make that call? Why is it the rapists and the men who are telling women what's "too sexy..." or "too unlady-like..."?

4. If you turn that around to any other group, or at least, a group that you're part of - "Don't act too much like an evangelical or you might get beaten up...!" - it probably becomes more obvious that it's blaming the victim for the bad behavior of aggressive Others for acting in a way that The Others find disagreeable or that invites the Others too abuse, molest or otherwise harm the victim.

Try that out. Maybe you can see how it's so wrong-headed.

The message we should be sending out to any potential abusers is not, "If those people act a certain way... it's kinda understandable when you molest, abuse, harass them..."

Rather the message should be...

"It doesn't matter if a young lady wears a BIKINI to school,
It doesn't matter if she shows up only wearing a thin layer of wet toilet paper clinging to her breasts and covering her pelvis...
that does not give you the right to leer, harass or molest her.
It is not a sign that she's any less a lady
or inviting abuse of any sort!
Don't be a moron, dudes, get your crap together!
You are responsible for YOU."

So, there's the problem, Stan, and folk like Stan. YOU are responsible for YOU. If I get up today and feel like wearing pink flip flops and a tiara, that does NOT give homophobes the right to harass me because they think I'm gay or transgender. If YOU get up today and decide to put a big cross pin on your leisure suit and carry a large King James Bible around with you, that does NOT give atheists the right to belittle you. If a woman or teen-aged girl is wearing clothes that she finds fits her mood and comfort level, it is NOT A SIGN THAT SHE IS LESS A LADY because some abusers might find it "too sexy."

We must not give the rapists and their abusive brethren the power to make that call.
We must not blame the victims and lend support to the rapists.

Because, truly, that is what this sort of message does, and surely Stan and his brethren don't want to do that.

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

This Is Not Normal. Nor Is It Acceptable

To the good conservative people out there...

Just the facts that we know:

1. Trump makes false claims regularly (and at an ever increasing rate), at a rate unheard of ever in the office of the presidency. This is not disputable, it's demonstrable. Look it up if you doubt it.

2. This president has cheated on all of his wives. All of them. He's boasted about it. He's unrepentant about it. The man has no honor as it relates to any of his wives.

3. This president has boasted about sexually assaulting women and ogling half naked teenaged girls. He's laughed about it.

4. This president's defenders say that this is "normal locker room talk" and just how guys talk when they're alone. This is just not the case (neither I nor my friends have ever engaged in such behavior... not my progressive friends now, not my conservative friends when I was a younger man). To the degree that it IS the case, that SOME men (boys, really, whatever their age) engage in such oppressive and damaging talk does not make it acceptable.

5. What this president has said about making false claims and playing to people's worst nature by telling lies...

"The final key to the way I promote is bravado. I play to people's fantasies. People may not always think big themselves, but they can still get very excited by those who do. That's why a little hyperbole never hurts. People want to believe that something is the biggest and the greatest and the most spectacular. I call it truthful hyperbole."


"I'm the first to admit that I am very competitive and that I'll do nearly anything within legal bounds to win. Sometimes, part of making a deal is denigrating your competition."

He plays people like a conman, preying on their ignorances and thinks of this as a benefit.

6. What this president has said about greed...

"Now, I’ll tell you, I’m good at that – so, you know, I’ve always taken in money, I like money. I’m very greedy. I’m a greedy person. I shouldn’t tell you that, I’m a greedy – I’ve always been greedy. I love money, right?"

7. Along these lines, we know that this president and people he surrounds himself with, like Paul Manafort, are greedy hedonists. They are ostentatious in their hyper-consumption. They, no doubt, think of this as a moral or practical good. But the words that traditionally have been used to describe golden toilets and million dollar wardrobes (millions of dollars on their clothes... let that sink in! MILLIONS of dollars on their clothes!) is Greed, Hedonism, Debauchery.

Traditionally, these have been considered great grievous sins, NOT morally good.

8. The people around this man have secretly recorded him and each other. They are fundamentally suspicious of one another, and for good reason, it would appear. They are simply not trustworthy people and each of them appears to recognize it.

This recording of your co-workers and "friends" is not normal and must be happening for some reason.

...I could go on, but I think the point is clear: This administration, from its pathetic, lying leader to many of its top players are peopled with hedonistic, greedy, self-centered people who are willing to lie on a regular basis.

This is not normal. This is not good.

The only term I can think to describe what we are seeing and have seen is depraved, debauched. Sick.

Come on, conservative friends: You KNOW that people can make mistakes and get sucked into believing wrong things... that you can surround yourself with bad people who are thinking poorly and you, yourself, be influenced by such bad company. It is a well-worn conservative truism: You are known by the company you keep.

You KNOW this.

Set aside the politics for just a minute and look at what we know. Facts like what I've listed and so many more... isn't it possible that you've made a mistake? That you find yourself defending the wrong man, the wrong people... people who are genuinely hedonistic and debauched... and that you've simply got swept away in the heat of things (and no doubt, with good intentions on your part) and got behind a cadre of thugs and liars who simply aren't worth defending?

I know conservative religious folk believe in the notion of repenting... of admitting a mistake and turning away from that mistake.

Brother and sister conservatives who are defenders of this administration... isn't it time to turn away from that mistake?