Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Monica Goodling, Again

That Monica Goodling should have done what she allegedly did is no surprise, given the character of the Christian "right." Endowed with a sense of righteousness that cannot be dissuaded by any amount of reasoning, the theo-cons plow ahead with their program to return this country to their notion of where it should be - to rid the land of gays and lesbians, and all who support freedom. To undo Roe v. Wade and return us to the medical and cultural Dark Ages.

They have done this with consummate skill throughout all levels of government, including our Supreme Court. Thankfully, watchdogs of liberty caught Monica's work in progress and revealed it to the American public.

What bothers me are her "Christian" credentials - look her up at Wikipedia.

Blind, manipulative, conniving, all in the name of Jesus - thank you Pat Robertson and his Regent University (if you can dignify it with the term "university).

This kind of Christianity has always been lurking around the dark edges of history, coming to the front now and then - see Inquisition, see Nazi Germany. For a full review of just how wrong the right is, how dysfunctional and misguided this kind of thinking can be, see Chris Hedges American Fascist.

Monica Goodling, you have done us all a favor. Your "boldness for Jesus" has revealed how crass and uncaring, how unloving and twisted, how unbiblical and unchristian this kind of thinking really is.

It's time for Christians to rise up and identify this kind of "christianity" for what it really is - a defective form that, though naming the Name of Jesus, denies His message and His mercy.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Science in Chains

The effort of Hitler's National Socialism to co-opt the universities and bring them in line with Nazi ideology is a chilling reminder to all of us about the importance of academic freedom.

Bush's effort to silence the voice of research on global warming and stem cell technology and to foist upon the nation's school children abstinence rather than sex education and the pseudo-science of creationism and intelligent design would be lauded by Hitler - this is the way it's done. Truth be damned. Everything in service of the state and it's program.

I've been reading some material on renown Old Testament scholar, Gerhard von Rad, who taught during the war years at the University of Jena in Germany. During that period of time, National Socialism sought to de-Judaize the church.

Denying the Jewish ancestry of Jesus, the Nazi ideologists sought to eliminate such words as "hosanna" and "hallelujah" from church creeds and hymns, launching a full-scale attack on the Old Testament, claiming that Christians only need to know and study the New Testament.

Their purpose: rid the country of everything "Un-German in worship and confession; liberation from the Old Testament with its Jewish morality of profit and its stories of cattle traders and pimps" (Interpretation, July, 2008, p.241, in order to shape the faith in the image of National Socialism.

To read how easily so many theologians and pastors caved in brings to mind the ease with which the Christian right aligned itself with the Bush Administration and its policies, doing much the same thing Hitler did - all in the name of morality, preserving the well-being of the nation and its heritage, protecting families and children. The neo-cons and theo-cons would felt at home in Nazi Germany.

Though we all cherish freedom, history proves how easily frightened people will trade their freedom for security. Eric Fromm, having witnessed first-hand the rise of National Socialism and the "escape from freedom," details the trade-off. In an attempt to "control" life and build security, instincts lead toward:
  1. Authoritarianism: Fromm characterises the authoritarian personality as containing a sadist element and a masochist element. The authoritarian wishes to gain control over other people in a bid to impose some kind of order on the world, they also wish to submit to the control of some superior force which may come in the guise of a person or an abstract idea.
  2. Destructiveness: Although this bears a similarity to sadism, Fromm argues that the sadist wishes to gain control over something. A destructive personality wishes to destroy something it cannot bring under its control.
  3. Conformity: This process is seen when people unconsciously incorporate the normative beliefs and thought processes of their society and experience them as their own. This allows them to avoid genuine free thinking, which is likely to be anxiety provoking.
As I read the above, I couldn't help but think of Fundamentalist leaders like Jerry Falwell, D. James Kennedy, James Dobson and John Hagee ... and political leaders like Rumsfeld, Cheney and Bush and their sycophants, Ann Coulter, Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity.

With only the fewest of students enrolling for his courses, and during the war years, not one doctoral student, Gerhard von Rad nonetheless held forth, building his work on the book of Deuteronomy, and standing firm on the point: we understand Jesus when we understand the Book of Deuteronomy, and when we understand Jesus, the church stands free, a servant of God rather than a minion of the state.

Von Rad, though entirely a man of his times, stood for academic freedom against the heavy hand of the state.

These days, the state is likely to buy a university with money rather than coerce it with guns. The allure of big money - government and corporate funding for research (too often in the service of national security and profit) is leading us down a pathway growing ever-darker. Sadly, our universities are playing into this by catering to a student body intent on fun and gain rather than learning and virtue. Even our private Christian colleges have succumbed to the allure of money by stacking their trustee boards with the wealthy, who are often members of right wing cabals.

This nation needs a terrific housecleaning ... and people of good will and intelligence, people of faith, have to see the attack on our freedom and character and, like von Rad, stand against it, to stem the tide, and bring about a better day.

Obama Overseas

Obama's speech to 200,000 Berliners underscores the hopes of the world for a new American president.

My European friends have scratched their heads in wonderment at Bush's shenanigans, not so much angered by his behavior, but stunned that America could elect such an abysmal failure, an ignorant man made dangerous by his contempt for the world.

Obama's effort to reach out to our Allies is important. Our future can no longer be conceived independently from the rest of the world. We are a mighty nation, but not the only nation that counts, and only through cooperation will we find a better world and a safe future.

Yet America's reaction to Obama's trip, and McCain's carping, reveal a tragic element in our heart - many of us still believe that America has no need for the world, and that the world should be coweringly grateful for how good and great we are. We want allies to sign on for our ventures, but we fail, again and again, to be ally. What did Jesus say, "Do unto to others as you would have them do unto you"? If we want allies, we have to learn how to be an ally, to be a friend among friends, a nation among the nations of the world.

It is difficult for Americans to understand that anyone else could have a better idea, or could do anything better than we do. It's been a long time since we've listened to our Allies.

We went to war in Iraq against the advice of long-standing friends; we ignore their work on global warming; we have continued to produced gas-guzzling behemoths when the rest of the civilized world has been committed to downsizing and recycling for decades, and our medical system is equivalent to the home-lone debacle.

And, from my point of view, Americans grow dumber - yes, I said it. We are a fun-loving, gun-loving, self-loving culture losing touch with the larger realities of our behavior and the issues of the larger world. American isolationism has been growing since Vietnam; and when we've needed to look at the world, we've done so through a gun sight.

Our behavior is akin to the outrageously funny film, Step Brothers - two "men" still living at home with their respective parents, one 39, the other 40, suddenly become step brothers when their parents marry. To watch "grown men" acting like hormonally-driven 13-year olds, scrapping and hating one another, is funny, but when a nation behaves like that, it's tragic, and not for the nation alone, but for the rest of the world as well.

Hats off to Obama for behaving presidentially, for showing us what a president might look like.

Boos and hisses to little Johnny McComplain - who's lost whatever character he once possessed. Though once looked upon as an independent, a man who challenged both Bushes, he's now a vote-chaser, selling his soul to the worst instincts in the American personality, instincts embraced and celebrated in the far right and in fundamentalist Christian covens, and subliminally held by many Americans.

It's true, I believe, that America gets the president it deserves.

But the world deserves something far better, and I'd like believe that we do, too.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Aaron Brown Update

9/11 propelled Aaron Brown, via CNN, to the head of the line.

I loved his work and found his perspectives, his verbal skills, refreshing, intelligent and a cut above.

Oh well, it wouldn't last long. The rising star, Anderson Cooper (whom I like) took his place. Cooper is good, but Brown represented a style of journalism we badly need.

He was dismissed and by contract forced to stay off TV for two years, but it's done and over with now.

By the way, I wrote numerous emails to CNN about this - never received a reply. Does anyone every receive a reply from them, or are they above such things? I'd settle for a form reply!

I find the news behemoths unreachable - well-insulated from the public, determining what we want to hear and see, mindlessly connected to advertisers, more about entertainment than news, fielding a crew of on-screen personalities that primp and preen like peacocks, competing with one another like schoolyard children over a marble game, frequently mispronouncing names and places - what, did they flunk geography, but win Miss Congeniality? Handsome hunks - eye candy - delivering the news? The endless mindless prattle about diet, getting in shape, the latest health-scare, and what's happening in your kitchen - and, of course: Breaking News, with the latest hip hop scandal. Yup, that sure is news, all right!

Here's an announcement about Brown's forthcoming work on PBS.

Hats off to Aaron Brown - may his tribe increase.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Katie Couric

What has happened to news in America would be the stuff of comedy if it weren't so tragic.

The following piece from a Curic interview with Obama reveals the contempt Couric and others have for news while trying to dazzle the audience with their verbal skills and "investigative" abililities.

Nonsense, all of it.

Has the ratings race rendered Couric and Dobbs and others lamebrains? Or are they, in fact, lamebrains?

I get the uneasy feeling that if Obama said Yes, Couric and Dobbs and others would say No, just for the heck of it. But something more insidious, I think - they have fallen in love with their own virtuosity, their influence on the American mind, believing themselves to be in control, watching their influence via the polls, playing a cat-and-mouse game with all of us.

Give me the news ... not the latest Brittiny disaster, or the latest LA car chase - this isn't breaking news, and it hardly qualifies as news at all. As for Dobbs and his increasingly lame, "Don't Americans deserve a government that works?" I think the real motive was revealed in his flirtation with a presidential candidacy. Yup, that's what it's all about - an overwhelming ego.

Real news is expensive. Reporters need to be at city hall, police stations, state capitals, and the capitals of the world; they need time to dig, and staff for research - it takes effort and money to find what's newsworthy, elements that neither the networks nor cable stations want to invest. Rather, as a substitute for the news, talking heads - endless displays of vacuity and mindless opinion. Yes, there are some folks worth listening to, but they're few and far between, what with the retired generals who kiss butt, the partisans who defend their candidate without thought, and a host of others who vilify and/or mock those who raise serious questions.

There was a time when CNN was a vital force for news, but they've deteriorated to the level of Nancy Grace, and, frankly, what has happened to Larry King - now just a notch or two above Jerry Springer much of the time?

Is that what the American public deserves?
Are we this mindless?
Is Couric the best we've got?
Or is Couric only aping the patterns around her, heeding network heads who demand a pit-bull approach rather than reasoned and skilled questioning to bring out the thoughts of a candidate? I can hardly believe that Couric could be proud of herself and her work in its present state?

No wonder a whole generation is turning to Jon Stewart and the Colbert Report, both of whom demonstrate a grasp of the news and a verbal skill no longer found elsewhere. Maybe Aaron Brown - who, for awhile, brought a breadth of analysis and articulateness quite distinctive, but, then, we know how long he lasted.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Iranian Missiles

Sure, I'm concerned ... as I've always been about the proliferation of WMD.

But is this not a case of the chickens coming home to roost?

Has America not been the world's largest developer and purveyor of such weapons and every other assorted means of destruction, while raking in tons of blood money?

To decry Iran's effort to arm itself against the rogue state called Israel (nuclear) is the height of hypocrisy. It's the equivalent of arming myself to the teeth, and then arming my neighbor down the block, and when my neighbor down the block threatens another neighbor who buys some arms, does it make sense for me to raise hell and threaten them?

Who wants Iran with WMD?
But then, who wants Israel with WMD?
Oops, that's right, I forget - they're our ally.

Or are they?
They've spied on us.
They've made plans without reference to us.
Is not Israel in this thing for itself?
Are they not utterly desperate?

Have we failed them?
Of course, we have, and we've allowed them, encouraged them, to become an armed state - our so-called anchor of democracy in the ME.

And now McCain and his bluster. Yup, just what we need.

When what we need are cool heads and thoughtful discourse - Obama promises to meet with anyone anywhere. Yes! This costs us nothing, and it might gain us a bit of peace of in a war-torn region.

I don't want to see Iran with WMD, but they're a nation - well-defined and large. Nations do what nations do and have always done. They're only doing what we've done; what Europe has done (although with much more restraint and intelligence) and what Israel has done (a cruel little land bent on destroying the Palestinian - both Muslim and Christian - and anyone else who offers a voice of reason or protest in their paranoid mind-storm).

Hats off to Obama for willing to say it: "Let's talk!"
Before we start pulling triggers.

I don't doubt that Israel is planning a strike on Iran - and what could we do? We have created a monster there, and now it's about to bite us.

Now is the time to apply sanctions on Israel, and let the Israel lobby in this country cool its jets. If folks here are really concerned about Israel's survival, it will be secured at the conference table not in an F-14 delivering a bomb.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Hagee, Again

This right-wing preacher, flush with money - much of it innocent, sent in by the easily-swayed, some it politically tainted by the worst kinds of ideology, has gotten YouTube to remove every video showing Hagee for what he is - a total crackpot, far removed from the Biblical realities he purports to know and defeind better than anyone else.

Hagee is a fear-mongering, power-loving, war-lusting character who's a wonderful speaker, with a marvelous voice and a charming southern accent that drips with sincerity.

Why YouTube would cave in like this is beyond me ... but then, the media giants have been caving in all over the place to the Bush Administration and the like. We no longer have news organizations; we have news/show biz - it's all about profits and ratings, posturing and pandering.

Where is Edward R. Murrow or John Cameron Swayze when we need them? When news was news, and the world was important.

Thank goodness for the Huffington Post and others who are raising their voices and putting the right questions to the Neo-Theo Cons promoting a disastrous world view that seeks war as a prelude to the Second Coming of Jesus.

That people should believe this is beyond the grasp of my poor mind, but such fervor has always been hanging around on the edges of Christianity - actually, most any religion - for wherever power is to be found, distortions of power are close at hand.

Anyway, stakes are high, that's for sure, and it's always time for thoughtful folks to be alert to the enormous pressures of extremism, which is never good and never right.


Just finished the Sunday NY Times Magazine piece on Limbaugh - argh!

His portrait graces (misplaced word) the cover - glaring, cigar plugged into his face, hand ready to remove plug so invective can flow onto our airwaves.

A millionaire many times over - thrice married and now alone in a 24,000 square foot home in Palm Beach, he's still the toast of the town for many, the darling of right-wing talk radio, and legend in his own mind.

The article by Zev Chafets is well-written and balanced - quoting folks from the other side who nonetheless admire Limbaugh's intellect and creativity, his amiability, as well as his business acumen. Chafets offers a reasoned assessment of an American icon - whether we agree with Limbaugh, disagree, or are somewhere in the middle (although that option seems hardly tenable for an intentionally polarizing personage like Limbaugh), he has shaped the American political landscape and is likely to continue doing so.

But I must confess, when I saw the cover, my first thought was simple: the face of evil!

Limbaugh might even agree - because he hopes to bedevil the liberal establishment, and I guess that includes folks like me, because I read his words - it all makes sense to me - but as far as I'm concerned, he's flat-out wrong, along with Reagan (Limbaugh's hero) and all the fat-cat Repubs who've made a killing off the decimated middle class and the pillaging of the national treasury.

No doubt this self-educated Missouri boy is brilliant, providing on-air commentary with only a few notes, no script writers, overcoming medication addictions, a total hearing loss seven years ago (now aided with cochlear implants) and maintaining a steady aim at his "enemies."

As a friend of mine who owned an auto dealership in Tulsa once said, "The car dealer down the road is my best friend. His effort to sell cars redoubles my effort to sell more."

I guess a guy like Limbaugh keeps us all honest, but I can't help but think: this kind of political hash, so close to hatred (yes, that's a value judgment), can only spawn distortion. Where's the compassion? Or is that a liberal word?

America's a fascinating land - we toy with conservatism time and again, only to have it fail. Grudgingly, we realize that a liberal vision is what has made this land truly great. The conservative Reagan pattern has spent this nation into hideous debt, depleted our efforts to mitigate poverty, playing into the wannabe mindset of the hope-to-be-rich-someday crowd who will vote for this nonsense even as their home is being foreclosed and their SUV now costs a hundred bucks to fill up.

Hats of the NY Times for this piece.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

I Am a Christian

I am a Christian. I believe in Jesus as Lord and Savior. I believe in the virgin conception - though I don't expect anyone else to. I believe in the bodily resurrection of Jesus, because God takes the material world seriously, though I don't expect every Christian to come to the same conclusion.

I believe in the inspiration of the Bible, but let's not argue about it; I believe in the second coming of Jesus - somewhere, somehow, all of this will reach an unexpected good end.

I believe that all are saved, but not everyone knows it, and it's a delight and a joy to help folks see it; I also believe that salvation is experienced in all the religions of the world - wherever women and men pray and seek wisdom, wherever love is given and love received, wherever justice is sought, because there's a wideness in God's mercy.

I believe that human beings, fragmented by sin (whatever that may be) can be ugly and horrible, but also grand and noble. I believe that God is involved in all of it for good, though God cannot be the "all powerful" being envisioned by the Middle Ages and speculative philosophy. God is limited by the nature of love, much like a parent with regard to a child.

I believe that Jesus dying on the cross and rising from the dead added something of infinite worth to the universe. To stand by that cross, if that should be how the pathway of life takes us, is to stand before Truth. I also believe that not everything posing as religion, and offering this and that hope, can really work. There is, sadly, false paths and delusional programs. But ultimately, they're a small part of the whole picture, and grace, even then, remains operative and powerful.

Which is to say, I'm a Christian. Jesus is my Lord and Savior.

So that I can express dismay with my fellow Christians who purport to know all the truth, to have the inside edge on all matters from abortion to homosexuality, and who would see me as a defective Christian, or maybe not even a Christian.

My college, Calvin, recently made it impossible for a professor to continue because she wanted to worship at a predominantly black congregation. The college requires its professors to be members of the Christian Reformed Church, and though willing to work out some sort of oversight program, Denise Isom rightly saw this as decidedly unworkable and unreasonable.

At Wheaton College, an English professor who taught there for 20 years has resigned upon filing for a divorce after 30 years of marriage. The college's policy requires a divorcing faculty member to submit the case to the school for review. Kent Gramm said, however, "I would rather not deal with a policy such as Wheaton's."

I'm am profoundly tired of triumphalist Christianity, a creation of the medieval church, a mantle now worn by much of the so-called "evangelical" wing of the church. I'm tired of folks parading around their title, "evangelical," and attaching to it a political agenda - anti-gay and anti-choice, to mention only a few of the anti- positions associated with their interests - and telling the world "this is what a Christian believes," because they allege themselves to have a better knowledge of the Bible and what it means, a better relationship with Jesus, and are just all around better in their own eyes.

That's like saying, "I am right in what I think and believe, and those who agree with me are also right." Nice, if you can get away with it, but in the end, destructive of life's fabric, because they have to keep proving others wrong in order for them to be right.

I have been a Christian all of my life - and I just turned 64, but I am weary, weary, weary of the posturing and parading of the right wing. I guess that makes me left wing. Though the left wing of the church can't claim the high moral ground either, it's the lack of claim that makes for a healthier Christianity - a Christianity, not of power, but of kindness and humility, fairness and tolerance, while speaking out on the real moral issues of the day: poverty, hunger, global climate, health care, sex trafficking, war-mongering and militarism, capitalism without restraint, totalitarianism, corporate greed and the winner-take-all mentality.

I stand with Jesus, and that, with 4 bucks gets me a caramel latte at Starbucks. My faith in Jesus doesn't give a higher moral ground, doesn't give my some special insight into truth, love or whatever.

But I wouldn't stand anywhere else. And standing with Him, I see some light in His light - something of a great love and compassion, taking a chance to confront the bigwigs and face down the religious know-it-alls.

Like John the Baptist said, "A whole lot more of Him and whole lot less of me."

Monday, July 7, 2008

Impeach Bush?

Swirling around the edges of Bush and Gang, the persistent question of impeachment.

I'm not sure, but it seems that as the curtain closes on Bush's presidency, more and more revelations about the hoodwinking of America.

If Clinton could be impeached for obstruction of justice on a matter of bedroom politics, do the lies and manipulations of the Bush Administration with regard to WMDs and Iraq constitute an impeachable offense? Is Bush a war criminal?

I'm confident that history will reveal the Bush administration to be the worst, rife with self-righteousness and worse. I have no doubt that the Neo-Cons and Theo-Cons knew full-well what they were doing - a rabid effort to take over Middle Eastern oil for American imperial interests.

Did Bush know this?

Some of the time, I'm convinced that was a pawn in their hands, a not-to-bright Texas weed wacker with an Ivy League pedigree bought by Daddy.

Then, I wonder - is he the proverbial country lawyer?

But, then, every country lawyer I've known (and I lived in Oklahoma for 12 years) were utterly bright, and it wasn't long before their skill emerged ... I've yet to see a shred of skill in Bush and have never heard him speak with any down-home eloquence, but only a stumbling rhetoric filled with schoolyard posturing, phrases memorized - seemingly without comprehension.

McCain offers nothing more - though a man of intelligence, his positions are obscurely imperialist, and stung by Vietnam, he's going to fight that war all over again, this time in Iraq, fulfilling a mythical complaint: if only the politicos had left the military alone, Vietnam could have been won (whatever that means).

Which reminds me, having just celebrated the Fourth of July and reading the Gettysburg Address - oh, to have a patriot like Lincoln, a man of breadth and profound sympathies.

To know that patriotism without international regard is no patriotism, but a betrayal of one's nation. Real patriotism always had large boundaries.

We would do well to study Reinhold Niebuhr's work on nationalism - what he described as a "sublimated egoism - the narrow-minded substitute for true patriotism, a substitute that always makes the wrong decision and leads a nation down a destructive pathway.

Niebuhr writes: The truth is that every immediate loyalty is a potential danger to higher and more inclusive loyalties, and an opportunity for the expression of a sublimated egoism (Moral Man and Immoral Society).

What we have seen with Bush and Gang is an unrestrained limited loyalty, and the usual counter-voices of church and philosophy have been silent far too long.

The weapon used by the Neo-Cons to silence criticism has been the patriotic label. To raise a question or voice a doubt, immediately the "unpatriotic" label was hurled with forceful effectiveness. Anyone who saw the king to be naked chose silence for fear of being labeled unpatriotic in a time when Americans were demonstrating their all too common lack of intelligence. After 9/11, fearfulness ruled the day, wiretapping and Orwellian newspeak ruled the night - and this great Republic teetered on the edge of madness.

But God's mercy is real, and I believe that God's mercy is enabling our nation to recover its balance, to regain an honest appraisal of our place in history and our need for allies. We cannot go it alone; it's foolishness to ever think so.

And the king has been naked for a long time.

May those with a voice, and good eyes, call it for what it is. The king is naked, and we have been seriously misled. But let's tell the whole truth: we've been misled because too many of us wanted to be misled. We American's love the smell of napalm in the morning.

When we needed a real leader, we got a charade, and a parade of looney tunes.

Is Bush impeachable?

Only time will tell ... proceedings against Bush and Gang may be needed to exorcise the demons that have long held sway in our national psyche.

Yet goodness has its own powers, too, and power enough to heal the wounds and put this nation back on track.

Perhaps time and history will provide their own history, relegating Bush, Rice, Rumsfeld and Cheney to the dust bin of irrelevance - and for them, that may be punishment enough. But whatever happens, don't buy their books, unless they dedicate their earnings to the care of American veterans.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Bush's Legacy

Jobs = gone!

Oil prices = up!

Middle Class = disappearing!

Economy = tanked!

Iraq = disaster!

Afghanistan = failure!

McCain = same!

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Can Religion Ever Lead the Way?

Congress is holding hearings on discrimination in the government against transgenders, who are finally being given a chance to tell their story. Hats off to Representatives Barney Frank of Massachusetts and Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin for these hearings.

The Bush admin has been a hostile environment, but the simple truth is sadder: the TG community has long been on the thin margin, and only the recent efforts of the gay and lesbian community has brought the light of compassion and common sense to bear.

But once again, "religious" folk reveal a narrow, if not malicious mindset - hiding behind religion, convoluting and twisting it, rather than using religion to open doors and "make straight the way of the Lord."

Opposing the legislation, Glen Lavy, an attorney with the Alliance Defense Fund, said it would be a mistake to define gender identity or gender expression as a protected class. He said that objections to "the concept of transgender" are based on religious beliefs and that forcing the idea as a valid concept "is like forcing an Orthodox Jew to eat pork." And he said that employers would have difficulty enforcing dress codes and assuring privacy.

Exclusion arguments all have the same ring.

Read what folks said about integration 60 years ago. Dire predictions of social decay and disruption, not to mention "religious beliefs" supporting segregation.

Religion always has a narrowing impulse (see Leviticus), yet this is the very book Jesus quoted when adding a second component to His summary of the Law: "You shall love your neighbor as yourself" (Leviticus 19:18).

When Peter (a Jew) is engaged by God to reach outward to the Gentiles (Acts 10), Peter has scruples, but in a vision/dream, Peter sees a sheet (picnic blanket) coming down from heaven with all kinds of unclean animals on it - the Lord says, "Eat!"

It seems that Peter was hungry!

Peter objects: "I've never eaten anything unclean."

The Lord says, "Don't call unclean when I've made clean."

Did the Lord have a change of mind?


Lots of things necessary at one point give way to a new scheme - that's pretty much the heart and soul of the Bible - God really changes - not in love or purpose, but in the details, as God moves religion along a pathway from exclusion to inclusion, from narrowness to expansiveness, from hatred to love of neighbor, reminding all of us to not call "unclean" what God calls clean.

In these days of transition, God is clearly shaking the pillars of religion all around the world. Giving us a good shake, we're nervous, clinging to outmoded models and shouting our little laws and traditions all the louder, in the hope of proving their validity by our volume.

Like Peter, are we not hungry?
For Justice and Peace?
For a better world?

Like Peter, are we not tempted to stand by the old laws and regulations, the old patterns of thought and prejudice?

Yet in our hunger, God shows us a better way. At first, "Oh no, Lord; I'd never do that."

But God is doing a new thing (see Isaiah 43:19).

I thank God for the windows of understanding and tolerance being opened. I just wish "religious" folk could be at the vanguard.