Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Whites Can Now Use the N-Word ...

At a poorly attended t-bag dipping in Beverly Hills masterminded by none other than wannabe celebrity Pat Boone, who seems mostly talented at hanging around the edges of fame without ever making it into the circle (see Steve Lopez in today's LA Times), all the typical shenanigans and usual suspects.

The poor man, who's been writing "love letters in the sand" for years, and is now in close competition to out-tan George Hamilton, brought in some A-list Losers: Saturday Night Live "star," Victoria Jackson who mounted the stage with ukelele in hand to sing, "There's a Communist Living in the White House," only to reveal that she knows nothing about Communism, not to mention the 200 benighted folks, old, white and "patriotic" cheering her on.

But she was upstaged by Boone's pal, "African American reverend and radio show host Jesse Lee Peterson, who said white Americans need to get over the fear of being called racists."

"As a result of your fear, we now have the worst president this country has ever experienced. Barack Obama is a liar; he is a racist," Peterson said to cheers. He also said white people shouldn't have any qualms about using the "N" word.

"Let me just say, to free you up, that word don't mean anything to black people because if it did, they would stop saying it and the word would fade a way. It's just another way of controlling white Americans, but get over your fear," Peterson said.

Every time I read something like this, I'm grateful, not for the junk they represent, but for their boldness in declaring it, revealing the depths of darkness in their twisted message, fueled by half-truths and racial hostility.

This is a movement of has-beens and wannabes pandering to one another, hitching their wagon to the dark star of America's worst instincts, to find a niche for themselves and, lo and behold, even make some coin for themselves. 

Thankfully, the waves of time will quickly wash away these sad "love letters in the sand."

Monday, September 27, 2010

Some Thoughts About Conservative Presbyterians

One thing for sure, reading The Layman (hyper-conservative scream sheet) is akin to watching a hurricane from aloft – it spins and spins and spins some more, round and around a singular eye – the ordination of LGBT persons.
With this agenda, the Presbyterian Coalition comes out now in opposition to three amendments: 
- 10-A, which aims to focus and sharpen our Ordination Standards with wonderfully traditional language.
-10-1, a proposed new Form of Government.
-10-2, the Belhar Confession, a remarkable document coming out of the struggle of South African Christians to find a way through and beyond the horrors of Apartheid.
There’s nothing imaginative about a hurricane, and there’s nothing imaginative in the response of the Coalition to the three amendments – though predictably predicable: in their eyes, all three amendments will be used to promote the ordination of “homosexuals.”
Which is to say, the current G-6.106b was never intended to promote either fidelity within marriage or chastity in singleness, but was a cleverly worded phrase to slam the door on the ordination LGBT persons in a same-gender relationship, or who, for reasons of faith and conscience, will not take a vow of celibacy.
But like all hurricanes, this one, too, is losing its strength.
How often can one say no? How long can one bar the door?
Perhaps that’s the fear behind their rejection of Belhar – a reminder that justice prevails ultimately, and though the road to justice is full of landmines and barbed wire obstacles crafted by the guardians of the old order, the new thing God is doing to further the cause of justice in God’s world gains headway and strength from the opponents standing in its way.
In the same issue, it’s noted that the Colonial Church near Kansas City has voted overwhelmingly to leave the PCUSA and seek affiliation with the EPC.
And to that decision, I can only add my blessing and peace. 
Our history is full of separations for all kinds of reasons – Presbyterians share this in common with the whole of Christendom.
Splits happen in bowling, and they happen in the church, too.
Until such time as the Millennium is upon us, we will struggle with our frailties, doing the best we can to honor the LORD Jesus Christ.
I honor the LORD by working for the ordination of LGBT persons, marriage equality and the right of our clergy to officiate at LGBT weddings.
While some would call me apostate, I think it’s time for us to quit such name-calling and simply get on with our respective visions, in separate churches, if need be, allowing for a gracious separation.
Perhaps we can yet work out some kind of a local option for Presbyteries and/or congregations, and I’d be willing to live with some such arrangement.
But as much as the Coalition fears the ordination of “homosexuals,” I long for the day when we will be able to ordain whomever the LORD calls to ministry, trusting our Presbyteries with the time-honored task of guiding and examining those within its boundaries, determining their suitability for ministry.
Enough, okay?
Let’s work out a peace treaty of some sort where we can all following the dictates of our conscience and faith, interpreting the Scriptures and Confessions as the Spirit leads.
And if we cannot craft a peace treaty, then let’s declare an armistice, a cessation of hostilities, and let’s all go home to our families.
There’s been enough blood shed on both sides! 

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Joe Millier and Colonel Quaritch

Just read about Alaska's Joe Miller, a deluded man in quest of America's early 19th Century, trying desperately to live out his rugged rural fantasies on 20 acres with eight children, the youngest of whom attend a "CHRISTIAN" school where his wife teaches.

He seeks to return America to a time when "men were free and life was good." Goodness, he's been reading too many "Man's Life" magazines from the 50s.

Miller himself, a native of Salinas, KS, where his father owned a "CHRISTIAN" book store, has a remarkable educational and military record - further proof that intelligence and knowledge do not necessarily lead to wisdom and maturity, but can, as it did in Nazi Germany, lead to the most bizarre dreams of a time when "every German was free, and life was good."

He'd be right at home in any post-nuclear holocaust story, with a bandoleer strapped around his chest, a cigar stuffed at the side of his mouth, a giant Panga machete in hand, ready to slash his way to victory and freedom.

With his West Point credentials, his record as a tank commander in the first Gulf War, and his Yale Law Schools education, apparently we can take the boy out of a Salinas christian book store, but we can't take that twisted upside down world out of the boy.

It isn't any longer about states' rights, for a nutcase like Miller, it's about dismantling the United States; Balkanizing us - transforming us into 50 little nations, each carving out life for themselves, every man for himself - and, yes, it would be a "man's" world.

Having just seen "Avatar" for the umpteenth time, I'm struke by the similarity of looks and style between Miller and Colonel ("A recon gyrene in an Avatar body ... that's a potent mix! Gives me the goosebumps!") Quaritch.

"Shut your pie hole!"

Miller wants to phase out Social Security and Medicare

Brothers hatched in some secret Utah lab owned by Donald Rumsfeld and Mike Huckabee?

These are not nice people. Quaritch destroys everything around him while sipping a cup of coffee and  offering to cover the first round of drinks if they get home in time. Miller lives in a fantasy world no less than the silver-screen world of Quaritch.

But when the movie ends, so does Quaritch.

But Miller is real, and his vision is a doomsday scenario, fed by neo-con philosophy and whacky christian imagery pulled selectively from the Book of Revelation and fired by fundamentalist preaching.

Miller is still a tank commander, and that's okay for the tank. But it's not okay for the nation, nor for Alaska. Just hope that the good folks in that fair state will be able sort things out and send Miller back to Salinas to run his daddy's "christian" book store.

Or join ranks with the kooks at Dove World Outreach who want to burn a few Qurans. 

As Robin once said:

"Holy atomic pile, Batman!"

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Remembering Little Rock

 Remember Little Rock?

Most Americans are too young to recall those fateful days when a President and the U.S. Army’s 101st Airborne Division made the law of the land a reality for all of its citizens, a 1954 Supreme Court decision declaring that “separate but equal schools” was unconstitutional. 

When federal troops formed a ring around nine African-American students and marched them into Little Rock’s Central High School, guarding them and providing for their safety.

One of those escorted students, Jefferson Thomas, died Sunday, September 5, 2010, in Columbus, Ohio.

Hard to imagine what America was like on October 3, 1957, with the need for soldiers to clear the way in the “land of the free and the home of the brave.”

As one friend of Mr. Thomas said, with whom he often played basketball on a neighborhood court, “You’re okay to play basketball with, but you’re not smart enough to sit in the same classroom with me.”

Blessings to Jefferson Thomas’ family and friends as they grieve his passing. He lived a positive life, contributing to the well-being of his nation. Let us give thanks for men and women like him, and millions more, of all races and creeds, who carry on, just wanting a chance at life.

We are a great nation, and greater still when every citizen is given opportunity.

That fateful day in Little Rock, we learned something about freedom, and we learn still, for the road to freedom never quite ends, and at every twist and turn of time, we learn again the great lessons of our Constitution and what it means to be a real American.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

The Koch Brothers and Prop 23

Have given a million bucks to support Prop 23 ... the dismantling of California's effort on greenhouse gases, telling us that we have to do this to create jobs. Yeah sure ... what an unmitigated lie.

I wrote this for Digg earlier today:

Read and weep in the LA Times ... and then vote No on Prop 23 ... what makes anyone think that, either in the short-haul, or the the long-run, pillaging the environment to suit the interests of big biz will solve anything? When will Americans realize that big biz, driven by Wall Street and its lusts for insane profits and further entitlement, cares not a whit about the people. That you and I are only pawns in their game for self-aggrandizement. Big biz is a legion of false gods demanding our allegiance and promising rewards, which, of course, are never fulfilled. Giant corporations are hideous places in which to work, stripping the soul of consciousness, demanding the surrender of the conscience to corporate goals, holding all employees captive through a contrived system of medical insurance. These international giants are a law unto themselves, devouring the world as quickly as they can. And after years of GOP foolishness, that Americans would even give a moment's thought to the GOP agenda is mind-boggling. But never underestimate the power of the idol; the power of falsehood. Go ahead and read Revelation 13 for an insight into how this all works. 

By the way, just who are these Koch Boys ...?

Check out this note from the New Yorker - enough to chill your blood.

These are the kind of people who glad and quickly raised their hands in salute and shouted Heil Hitler because they knew that Hitler would play into their hands and plans for the domination of Germany's economy and Germany's dreams of world-domination (read Neo-cons).

But in time, their vanity and their lust filled the cup of wrath that was soon to be poured out upon Germany and the entire world.

Perhaps I exaggerate ... but, then, folks thought Barth and Bonhoeffer were exaggerating, too, when they decried Germany's drift into hyper-nationalism, the hatred of aliens, and the the steady manipulation of the church into a more accommodating mode, by blessing the church with power in exchange for its loyalty.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Presbyterians Today and the "Confessing Church"

Reading a bit about Karl Barth and the situation in Germany, 1933, the term, "Confessing Church" tells a remarkable story of how some refused to erase the boundaries between church and state.

To read about the Confessing Church stirs my heart, and I wonder, "Would I have had the courage to stand, as Barth did, or would I have found ways to quietly compromise my status while telling myself that I was yet a man of integrity?"
The term, "Confessing Church" ought not to be ripped from its historical context in Germany, 1933, and co-opted to serve some smaller purpose.

Every time I read of the "Confessing Church" organization in the Presbyterian Church, my soul is shaken - that some would take virtually a holy-ground moment in time and claim it for their own to describe an in-house theological debate. Yes, a debate of genuine importance with long-lasting implications about the church and its life. But to call this group the "Confessing Church" is to misconstrue history.

The real Confessing Church stood its ground against the false gods of National Socialism. 

If there are any comparisons possible to the Confessing Church, it would be those who today protest the casual and careless mingling of church aims and national interests - the most current example of which is Glenn Beck and other lesser lights, who appeal to some of the very worst instincts in our national character.
Instincts found in every nation, and when times are troubled, such instincts rise to the surface, as they did in Germany after WW1, and by the time Hitler came along, he masterfully tapped into them and filled the cup of wrath that was poured out on Germany and the world. 

I respect my sisters and brothers on the issues, but I continue to regret their co-opting the title, "Confessing Church."