Tuesday, May 5, 2015

State of Grace

The song, State of Grace, by Louisville treasure, Tim Krekel. Played at my church last Sunday by Andy and friends.

"I'm walking in a state of grace
walking in a state of grace
my God has got my hand and I'm singing in the band
I'm walking in a state of grace..."

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Go Home, You're Embarrassing Yourselves


Crazy, in the news...

“The country can be no stronger than its families... I really believe if what the Supreme Court is about to do is carried through with, and it looks like it will be, then we’re going to see a general collapse in the next decade or two. I just am convinced of that. So we need to do everything we can to try to hold it back and to preserve the institution of marriage.”

“Talk about a Civil War, we could have another one over this.”

~James Dobson

An Open Letter to the Desperate and Emotionally Fragile Religious Right:

I trace the roots of my faith tradition to the great defenders of religious liberty, the Anabaptists. I trace my family roots to the French Huguenots. Both of these groups faced actual religious oppression.

Because of their religious beliefs, the Huguenots and Anabaptists were jailed, tortured and killed by the tens of thousands by other Christian groups. Actual oppression for their beliefs.

I contrast that with the religious conservatives of today in light of the recent discussion of marriage equity. These conservatives are sounding emotionally desperate and speaking in the most drastic of terms, as if a simple marriage ceremony were the End of Times and the Devil, himself, was out stealing souls and spreading pestilence.

This is NOT religious oppression, people. You are NOT being oppressed for your religious beliefs. You are still free to believe what you wish.

When the Huguenots were told, "Abandon your faith tradition and embrace Catholicism or we will rip out your tongue and burn you alive!" ...that is oppression and a denial of religious liberty. This is not comparable in any way to "If you're in the flower business, you will be expected to sell flowers, even if you disagree with the event or people."

No, we are simply saying that if you are a business owner, we expect you to not discriminate against one bloc of people. That's all. We are not asking you to endorse certain marriages. We are not demanding that you change your religion. We are not demanding that you marry someone you don't want to marry. We're just expecting that business owners should not discriminate, that's all.

Don't want to endorse a loving marriage between two people? Fine, don't endorse it. But if you're in business in the public marketplace, you can't discriminate. IF your religious beliefs demand that you discriminate against some perceived “sinners,” then THAT part of your belief will not be allowed, just like if your religious beliefs demanded that you kill infidels, THAT part would not be allowed. Otherwise, believe as you wish.

Your religious liberty ends where another's rights begins.

This is not oppression or the end of the age. Lighten up. You just sound ridiculous and you are an embarrassment to your faith and the many people who have actually faced oppression and injustice.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Rock of Ages

A song played by Donna, Christy and Dan at a recent baptism at my church. "Rock of Ages" - not the well-known traditional hymn, but a traditional-sounding song by Gillian Welch.

Friday, April 17, 2015

Hunting Bigfoot with Jesus, 2

As I hiked back down from the mountain
in the center of the forest
in the middle of the night
I crossed paths with Jesus, again 

Long time, no see
I joked
And Jesus smiled like a saint 

So… Jesus,
I said tentatively, nervous as a squirrel

You’re really out here
In Search of Bigfoot
aren’t you? 

And, with a graceful grin upon his face
Jesus shook his head

Wouldn’t it be cool if he really existed?
Like this whole family of beasties that
Have never been discovered before
Were really out here?! 

Jesus was clearly enthused about the subject 

But I don’t understand
I said
You are the Omniscient God
Don’t you already know if Bigfoot exists? 

Jesus nodded 

It is true
Dear Dan
That I am the God who

I nodded, waiting 

Not Everything Can be Known. 

I said.

Sooo… maybe Bigfoot does exist?
I asked 

He said.

I sure hope so.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Hunting Bigfoot with Jesus, 1

While walking through a dark forest tonight
Leaves beneath my feet
Guiding my path
I came across Jesus
Sitting on a stump
In the black woods.
I said, a bit surprised,
What are you doing out here?!

He sat quietly

Do you like night hikes, too?
With the moon casting velvet shadows
And the spring peepers
Providing sweet night music?
Jesus said.
That's it.
The quiet beauty of
Creation at rest, and cetera...
It's certainly not because
I'm out looking for
Or anything like that.
There was another awkward pause and
Then he said
Well, enjoy your hike.
Jesus is a funny guy, sometimes.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

More Than One Way...

Frustration wanted to do a favor
For his cranky neighbor...
He wanted to fix his fence

“The fence is so very long and in such

He thought

“And my neighbor did such a tremendously
flawed job
in building it to begin with”

He thought
“I’ll just help him out”
He thought

“and repair it for him...
as a kindness.”

But when Frustration went to fix the fence
Cranky chased him away
With a broom and a boot.
On the other side
Of the cranky neighbor
Grace had no intention of
Fixing the fence

Even though it was in such
Instead, she planted strawberries all along
The fenceline
And in the summer,
Grace and Cranky ate strawberries
With sticky fingers
And smiles
And leaned together against the crooked fence

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Religious Conservatives Say the Damnedest Things

From Fred over at Hip and Thigh...

Now, if you want to define “forced” in that she doesn’t get to marry the man of her choosing, in which she falls in love, and all that other sappy romantic American sentiment, yeah, I guess she was “forced.” But under the circumstances of an ANE world some 3,000 years ago, a woman who is attractive to a Jewish man so that he would take her as a wife is a pretty good deal.

This came about as part of a conversation on whether or not there is God-approved slavery of the more modern/Civil War type of slavery (as opposed to indentured servitude, to pay off debts.)
I had said that there were a variety of types of slavery, including the indentured servitude (which allows for selling off one's chldren [!!] to pay off these debts, so even this is not a pollyanna sort of slavery), but certainly also including the forced against one's will, owned by another human being kind of slavery similar to the American type.

I also mentioned the case of "God-approved" (if you take the stories literally) kidnapping or "taking" of orphaned virgin girls after Israel had killed off their families, which I called forced marriage.

I pointed out that, of course, if the woman doesn't have the choice to say yes or no, to come or go, of course it is forced, by definition. What else could it be?

Fred insisted there wasn't and, at one point, responded with the funny/sad quote above.

I mean, come on, seriously... doesn't that sound like a "joke quote" that Jon Stewart or Steven Colbert would have made up? The only difference is that they would have included more scare quotes, like this...

Now, if you want to define “forced” in that she "doesn’t get to" marry the man "of her choosing," in which she "falls in love," and all that other sappy romantic American sentiment, yeah, I guess she was “forced.” But under the circumstances of an ANE world some 3,000 years ago, a woman who is attractive to a Jewish man so that he would take her as a wife is a pretty good deal.

That was so ludicrously over-the-top evil-sounding that I asked him about my posting it on my blog and giving him the benefit of the doubt, asking if he wouldn't want to clarify or back down at least a bit... He did not.

In fact, he appears to be at least hinting at defending the notion that "personal choice" is not a good thing for women (or men??) even today. I've asked him to clarify and am waiting. Surely he must agree with the individual's right to self-determination? Surely??

Thursday, March 5, 2015

God talked to me...

God talked to me
and said

I would like to give you a present.
Name it, anything in the world

Material goods

Name it and it is yours!

I thought about it
and said

But Lord,
I have my friends

Anything more would be


And when God talked about me
to others

God said that I was much
than I look.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

More On Biblical "Authority..."

Here is a fair and balanced take on the same topic as last post from our friend, Neil, who also does not allow commentary from "false teachers" like me on his blog. Neil says...

They don’t say the word bad, but that is obviously what they mean.  As John Wesley notes below, that is one of the three options, and the “Christian” Left has clearly dismissed the other two.
This book had to be written by one of three people: good men, bad men or God. It couldn’t have been written by good men because they said it was inspired by the revelation of God. Good men don’t lie and deceive. It couldn’t have been written by bad men because bad men would not write something that would condemn themselves. It leaves only one conclusion. It was given by divine inspiration of God. John Wesley
The Bible claims to speak for God in whole or in part several thousand times.  So either the authors were correct or they were a bunch of blasphemous pathological liars. The text does not leave any middle ground.


Neil is, of course, simply factually mistaken. As are many who have apparently been blinded by too strong an allegiance to tradition (mostly modern tradition, at that).

Point by point:

Neil mocks the "Christian" Left (being sure to demonize and slander them/us with his scare quotes, indicating his rather arrogant stance that he is in a position to decide who is and isn't Christian) by saying that we claim the Bible was written by men.

Of course, when we claim that the Bible was written by men, our source for that is... the Bible. As a point of fact, the books of the Bible all are directly or indirectly attributed to human authors. The Book of Luke begins...

“With this in mind, since I myself have carefully investigated everything from the beginning, I too decided to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, so that you may know the certainty of the things you have been taught.”

Who wrote Luke, according to the Bible? It is attributed to the Human, Luke.

Who wrote Psalm 23? According to the text, "a psalm of David..."

Who wrote 1 Corinthians? According to the text, "Paul, called to be an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, and our brother Sosthenes..."

Now, is it possible, even likely, that some of the texts which attribute some of the epistles or other books to Paul or some other author are misattributed? That some other human author penned it? Sure, that's possible. But the point is, according to the text in the Bible, these books were written by humans.

So, setting aside the arrogance of a quasi-literalist mocking people for taking the Bible literally, it's just a silly and irrational jab to mock people for daring to say that the Bible's various books were written by humans when that's just what the Bible says.

Neil goes on to say, "The Bible claims to speak for God in whole or in part several thousand times."

This, too, is simply, factually wrong. "The Bible" does not make ONE SINGLE CLAIM about "the Bible." Not one. Now, no doubt, what Neil (and this is not to single out Neil, many in his camp do this) are trying to suggest is that various places within the various books of the Bible, claims are made such as "Thus saith the Lord..." or "God spake..."

But those claims, set in the context of a story, are not factually equivalent to "This is a claim that the Bible is making about itself..." They just aren't.

For one thing, as any of our conservative friends will agree with, before one interprets a text, one has to determine the literary genre and devices being used. IS this a text that is intended to make a fact claim? IS it written in a style that must be taken literally? Is it using figurative language? These are questions that must be answered first.

In order to answer those questions, we humans have to use our human reasoning to think these things through. The Bible comes with no "key" to insist upon interpretation points, it is up to our own human reasoning to sort that out and, for good and for bad, our human reasoning is not perfect.

The point remains: Neil is wrongly belittling "liberal" "non-literalists" for taking the Bible more literally than he is when it comes to the authors and making non-literal and extra-biblical demands on how we "must" interpret Scripture if we want to be "good" (read "conservative) Christians.

Unfortunately for Neil, et al, a literal reading of the Bible does not support his claims, nor does simple reason or reality.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

All Opinion is Opinion

I don't think that it is a radical idea to say that "All opinion IS opinion..." That isn't saying that all opinions are equally valid. It's not saying that some opinions can't be mistaken. It's just noting a reality, a tautology: All opinion is, as it turns out, Opinion. As a matter of fact.

It doesn't seem that complicated to me, but I think that in some worldviews, the notion that all opinions are opinions appears to be threatening. I reference Stan Smith's latest blog post...

There is, I believe, a current, ongoing assault on the Bible in our world today...

What most people don't see is that this isn't an attempt to uphold the sanctity of the Bible. It is simply an end of anything usable in Scripture. If plain readings of explicit texts and historic orthodoxy are unreliable, then what do we have? If you want to call it "the Word of God", it doesn't help if your "Word of God" is unknowable and uncertain. If all understanding of Scripture must be viewed as opinion, there is no authority in Scripture.

It sounds intelligent and holy. "Don't conflate your opinion into God's Word." But when it is used to say, "All understanding of Scripture is opinion"--and, make no mistake, when you boil it down that is the intent--then it is nothing less than an assault on the integrity and authority of Scripture. Just like the skeptics or the liberals. Perhaps worse because it almost sounds like a call for a greater respect for the Bible. Which it isn't. Deflating God's Word to mere opinion is not a defense of the Bible.


I want to be clear that I'm not picking on Stan... this line of thinking is oft-repeated in our more fundamentalist camps and I just don't think it bears up to rational scrutiny. I'm not saying "God's Word" (ie, what God actually thinks, wants, wishes, desires) is unreliable. But we're not speaking of what God's literal Word - from God's lips to our ears. We are speaking of our personal, human understanding of various passages and holy texts.

When I look at the Genesis Creation stories and say, "I think this passage is told in a mythic style..." or "I think this passage represents a literal scientific explanation of how the world began about 6,000 years ago..." we are quite literally offering our opinions, our interpretations of that text. Or for ANY text, when we offer our understanding of what the text means to us, what it meant at the time of its first appearance, what it should mean to others, etc, we are offering our opinions about that.

This is especially true on more ancient texts and on less provable interpretations. There is no evidence that the original author certainly intended passage A to be understood to be a certain way in an ancient text like this. There just isn't. Some people of good faith may think that passage A means one thing and was told in one particular literary genre, while another may think it means something else and was told in a different literary genre. And for both people, it is simply factually an opinion.

What else can our opinions possibly be but OUR opinions? Can anyone answer that?

And how is the simple pointing out of the fact that our opinions are our opinions an "assault" on Scripture? How is that rational?

I just don't understand it and I think if I were ever to sit down, face to face with one of these type of believers, perhaps we could make some headway in coming to an understanding.

If I had to guess as to why some kick back so hard at calling our opinions "opinions," it would be summed up as Stan put it when he said, "If all understanding of Scripture must be viewed as opinion, there is no authority in Scripture."

Yes, if we admit that our opinions on unprovable matters are, as a matter of fact, our opinions, we do lose some bit of power, of "authority," but it is a loss of our personal power or authority, not the power of God's Actual Word. Yes, it would be nice to say, "I am the one who perfectly understands God's Will on this topic and what God believes is X. You're welcome!" but we don't have any biblical assurance that we can speak perfectly for God. We have just the opposite, in the Bible and in just observable reality. We are not perfect human beings, we don't understand things perfectly. We "see as through a glass, darkly..." and that's okay.

There is nothing to fear in giving up the delusion that we can understand things perfectly. There is no "assault" in the simple recognition of our opinion as opinion. There is humility in that, there is grace in that and there is good solid reason in that, naught else.

Monday, February 9, 2015

I was a boy, once

I was a boy, once
wild, and in the woods
and roots that were planted
deeply in my chest
have kept me
and in the woods

Friday, January 30, 2015

Hope is a Blackbird

Hope is a blackbird
singing stars down from the sky
Crow says, Oh, I know
But it's all right, it's all right

Crow says, yes I know
but child, it's gonna be all right.