Monday, July 30, 2012

Difference Between Tolerance and Inquisition

I take issue with the claim "christian beliefs" - Dan Cathy may be a Christian, but what a christian happens to believe doesn't automatically make the belief "christian." 

It's his take on things; the way he reads the Bible, or what his church has taught him, but not automatically what all christians should believe. 

Folks like Dan Cathy forget just how diverse christianity is; he's entitled to his views, but it sure would be nice for him to say, "This is how I read the Bible" rather than saying, "This is what the Bible says" - huge difference, and has often been the difference between tolerance and inquisition.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Charter Schools are Terrible

Charter schools are a huge mistake. The truth be told, conservatives have long fought against public education by slashing tax-support, forcing staff reductions, imposing impossible standards, and then claiming that our schools are failing. 

Conservatives across the nation were unable to get vouchers, so they went for charter schools instead- as the third leg of their educational reform: private schools, home-schooling and charter schools.
Denying millions of dollars to our public schools, they turn around and give millions of dollars to corporations to run the schools, and their track record is abysmal.

Time to dump charter schools and tell the conservatives to take a hike. Fund public education and support our teachers, and we will have fine schools all across the nation.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

What If ... no Iraq Invasion

What-ifs are hardly worth the time, but sometimes, after a bad decision, or at least a decision that seems fraught with ill, it's worth while to indulge, if for no other reason than learning.

What if Bush hadn't pulled the trigger on Iraq, and instead, focused everything on the capture of Ben Laden?

Here are some of my thoughts.

Al Qaida would not be as potent as it is today, and Afghanistan and Pakistan might be more stable.

Israel and the Palestinian question would remain, but I wonder: would it be less volatile?

Iran might have taken care of Iraq, with another war, or something more clandestine to eliminate Saddam.

If not Iran, perhaps Saudi Arabia.

Or a stealth raid by Israeli commandos might have taken Saddam out.

Our debt-crisis would be far less.

The thousands of American soldiers returning home with severe emotional and physical injuries would be minimal.

And the nearly 6000 American deaths (Iraq and Afghanistan) would be considerable less.

Bush would have been able to claim credit for Ben Laden's capture or death.

Al Gore might have won.

Monday, July 23, 2012

More Religious Hooey from Glenn Beck

It seems that Glenn Beck and a Messianic "Rabbi," Jonathan Cahn from Wayne, New Jersey are now into reading Isaiah as a "harbinger" of things to come.

Here's my response:

Bad Bible reading ... but, then, from the far right, there's plenty of it. Isaiah would be the first to protest the use of his material in this way. 

What makes anyone think that all of the Bible is devoted to the United States? The Puritans and many others since then, and now David Barton and his "history" hooey, have tried to prove a divine status for the US, what with this being the Promised Land, "a new Israel" with a "manifest destiny." If an individual thought like this, they'd be labeled a hopeless narcissist. 

Folks on the religious right have often the read the Bible as a "road map" for the future. They're in good company, so to speak. At the turn of the Millenium, (no silly, not the recent one, but the first - 1000), all kinds of foolish predictions about this and that and the end of the world, as well. 

Throughout the 19th Century, English Millenarianism reached new highs, or lows, with predictions, all of which failed. The most recent and embarrassing example of this cockeyed thinking is Harold Camping. 

Within all of this, bits and pieces worth considering: US arrogance, for sure, with our constant military adventures (we are the Empire), our mistreatment of Native Americans, our reliance upon slavery, the Jim Crow laws, our abuse of women and their rights, environmental abuse, our violence and our love of guns, our love and worship of wealth and the wealthy, our mistreat of the American Worker, our vast economic inequity, continuing racism and a host of other social ills. These are the sorts of things Isaiah highlights for Israel; these are the sorts of things highlighted by The Prophets in general, and by Jesus in the Gospels. 

While all of this has some bearing on the US, none of it is intended for the US alone, as if we were special. "For God so loved the world" and the destruction of the Temple in 70 CE brought that chapter to a close. 

God is no longer in the land business, either in Palestine or in the Northern Hemisphere. God is judging America, not because we're special, just because we are, as God judges the nations of the world, all of them, large or small. For the world belongs to God, and there is no Promised Land, there is no "new Israel," there is no "manifest destiny," except, "love one another as I have loved you."

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Greed, Presbyterians and General Assembly

Good Grief!

That's all I can say.

While GA was considering a motion regarding corporate greed, some misguided soul stood up and proclaimed, "Greed is necessary to our system. Without greed, it wouldn't work."

And then added, or perhaps was it someone else, "American Business is based upon two principles: greed and charity. Because I'm greedy, I'll start my business; and because I'm charitable, I'll give you a job."

At the local gathering of the Red Neck Twine Convention, I'd expect to hear this.

But on the floor of General Assembly, out of the mouths of presbyterians (please note the lack of capitalization), those who stand in the tradition of John Calvin and his profound and still applicable understanding of sin?

And if Calvin is a stretch.

Read the Book of James.

Listen to Jesus.

Check out the prophets.

Now, some thoughts about greed.

To suggest that the entrepreneurial spirit is driven by greed is an insult to millions of Americans who have started up companies, in order to build the better mousetrap, to be their own boss, to bring to fruition an idea, or just to do it.

All of these folks would be insulted to hear anyone suggest their motive is greed.

The motive is higher and better than that, and may even include the profit-motive, but most start-ups are done by folks with a good idea, and they'd be happy just to make a living and support their family.

So, what about greed?

As I have known it, greed flourishes in corporate offices on the 34th floor of anonymous office buildings in anonymous cities around the world. Greed flourishes when the bottom line and Wall Street demand stock performance and nothing else counts. Greed flourishes in such places where corporate heads have long lost touch with the gals and guys on Main Street, including the small business owner and small manufacturer. Greed is evident when decisions are made that cost millions of jobs, and millions in salaries and benefits, while protecting the wealthy, enhancing their profit-flow, and providing corporate jets and limos.

Yes, I have greed in my heart. We all do. But greed needs the 34th floor to truly flourish. All dressed up in Armani Suits and fine Italian Shoes, when a $1000 dinner is nothing but chump-change, and a quick trip to some exotic resort in South America is just another weekend away.

Greed is ripping to shreds the American Dream, because corporate structures have virtually consumed all the nation.

In days past, when even large companies were still owned by families, there were levels of accountability and kindness. But with ownership passing into the hands of stockholders around the world, with stocks being manipulated by Wall Street Jockeys who have never dirtied their hands on an assembly line or worked up a sweat other than in an expensive health spa, greed has finally found an environment where it can grow without competition, and grow it does.

How sad that a GA Commissioner would mouth such nonsense.

GA did the right thing on the motion, but my heart is grieved by the man who stood on the floor of GA and trumpeted the wonders of greed.

Tara Spuhler McCabe & and the PCUSA

Our duly-elected vice moderator, the Rev. Tara Spuhler McCabe, resigned yesterday, July 4, under a hail of gunfire - opps, I mean vitriolic criticism, bitter and mean-spirited attacks.

It's a sad day for the Presbyterian Church.

It seems that Tara presided at a same-gender wedding - oh dear, what is this world coming to?

And it was likely that charges would be brought against her, because law-abidin' pastors ain't supposed to deal with such things. No sirree bob!

I'm sad today for Tara, and for our church.

But I'm not surprised.

Christianity is a war-torn world. From theology to territory, to the two World Wars fought primarily by Christians against Christians, Christianity is more like Syria today than anything else. The peace of Christ is mostly an illusion, a tool used to clobber one another - "my peace is better and bigger than your peace."

And so it goes.

Did the liberals expected the conservatives to go along with this.

But the conservatives are in no mood for cooperation or tolerance.

And who can blame them?

In their world, everything is going to hell in a handbasket, and they stand fore-square on the truth, as they see it, and they're willing to go into any back alley anywhere and fight for what they believe to be true.

I would rather we sit down and reason with one another, but our world-views are totally different. Old School, New School, Luther and the Bishops, whatever - sure wish it could be another way, but not this side of the Parousia.

I wish Tara well, and well she will do.

Though the memories of these days, the strident attacks on her character and faith, the language and the bitterness, will all linger for a long time to come.

She's wounded, as anyone would be.

And from such wounds, grace ... even as into such wounds grace is poured.

Blessings Tara.