Birth_of_Jesus

The very queer Christmas Story.

queer (kwîr)
adj. queer·er, queer·est
1. Deviating from the expected or normal; strange: a queer situation.
2. Odd or unconventional, as in behavior; eccentric. See Synonyms at strange.
3. Of a questionable nature or character; suspicious.
4. Slang Fake; counterfeit.
5. Feeling slightly ill; queasy.
6. Offensive Slang Homosexual.
7. Usage Problem Of or relating to lesbians, gay men, bisexuals, or transgendered people.
n.
1. Offensive Slang Used as a disparaging term for a homosexual person.
2. Usage Problem A lesbian, gay male, bisexual, or transgendered person.
tr.v. queered, queer·ing, queers Slang
1. To ruin or thwart: “might try to queer the Games with anything from troop movements . . . to a bomb attack” (Newsweek).
2. To put (someone) in a bad position.

Last week, I got caught up in a thread on Facebook regarding the religious liberty supposedly being withheld from Phil Robertson . I was really struck how a few, some even being pastors, had such am odd sense of how inappropriate Robertson’s comments were. They seemed perfectly happy to defend him, when in reality Christian theology and Jesus himself would demand the exact opposite. Funny for me too, thinking of this happening in the week prior to when we celebrate Christmas and the birth of the Christian Savior.

Christmas is truly a queer holiday when you stop and think about it. Everything about it is peculiar, odd and out of the ordinary. These things ought to lead a Christian to be even more humbled, but doesn’t seem to work that way. Some seem so self-assured and even cocky- as if they have all of the answers. For me the holiday and the religious significance comes from the opposite. The queerness of Christmas is that it calls us to take everything we are so sure about and turn it upside down, and consider the possibility that there is something totally outside our realm of understanding to see and grasp. But so often, this Christmas story is taken as if it is so well known. Nothing new in it, nothing unexpected, and to me that is such a shame. The real power of the holiday is lost to these people.

There truly is no historical basis for the Christmas Story. No records of a census, or an inn with no rooms or even the birth of a baby. No record of wise men’s travels, angels or any other aspect of the tale. We know that it could not have happened in December too. And yet, in spite of this lack of supporting material, we as a whole culture treat it as fact. I don’t mean to question that either. No real point. In fact the value of the holiday comes from the fact that believers believe, regardless. But there is so much more to this holiday when we start to grasp how queer it really is.

We can’t easily see the world through the eyes of women and men in the actual days in which Jesus was supposedly born, but what if we tried? In some ways it would share similarities to our own time. Imagine for a brief moment what Mary faced, as others found she was pregnant and unmarried. How alone and isolated she may have been. How misunderstood, how ashamed she may have been. All of those people would have felt so assured of their condemnation of her- they had their own religious texts to prove and judge her with. Imagine Joseph who had spent his whole life believing how things were supposed to go, and here, he finds himself becoming betrothed to a woman already with child. How queer! How out of the ordinary to be sure. Joseph, Mary and baby were perhaps the first non-traditional family. Even without joking that Jesus had two daddies, you have to see this as odd. All of the people around Joseph and Mary would have.

Imagine Mary, whose experience was unlike pretty much every other woman she knew. How might she have felt and what did she do to hold onto what she knew in her heart was real for her? It isn’t hard to sort out what Jewish Law says about pregnancy outside of marriage. Isn’t it conceivable that she would have experienced comments and disdain similar to what Robertson expressed about homosexuals? He used scripture, just as Hebrew scripture would have been used against her, yes? Yet, today we praise her for knowing in her heart was was real for her and her destiny. Even as some criticize gays and lesbians for speaking their truth.

At the heart of the Christmas Story is the essence of how God creates and places God’s Self (AKA Love) into the midst of the human experience. It doesn’t happen based on the status quo, nor by some way recognized by the masses. It happens in the most amazing, and unexplainable ways. It happens in queer ways.

Our failure today, to even pause of contemplate the birth in real time is a symptom of the failure of Christianity, and why most humans are so lost. Indeed why most Christians act in ways that are so utterly unchristian. Stop and think about it for a minute. Consider everything that Jesus’ ministry and journey was all about, and what are the good Christians hyper about? Poverty, inequality, lack of human dignity- none of these even raise an eyebrow, but mention allowing two persons who love each other to get married, and the whole world is now crumbling for some Christians.

The other aspect of the Christmas Story which is so queer is that it is a fully manufactured piece of fiction. Even if there was a Mary, Joseph and virgin birth. It couldn’t have happened in December for example. That the story is manufactured doesn’t make it less real or less meaningful, but it ought to remind us that so many of our judgements about what should and shouldn’t be are also manufactured. They are constructions too, and we as a whole choose which constructs we will accept and which we will not. We can even grasp the need for construction if we stop and consider how impossible it would be to place into simple words the magnificence of God’s injection into humans’ lives. Where we ought to be in such utter awe, we treat it as a simple children’s tale. If we really believe that God can do such things, we would all need to be beside ourselves with fear and trembling.

Almost no one would have believed Mary, Joseph and those who were witness to whatever miracle  happened. But a few would have. A few had enough Faith to recognize what was possible outside of the status quo.

If the power of that miracle is to continue to change the world, then today, we have to be willing to let go of our fears, expectations and judgements and have Faith in what might be possible. We must be willing to grasp and embrace the queerness of the Christmas Story.

Christianity

The basis of Christianity and Scott Lively.

Earlier, I wrote about evangelical pastor, Scott Lively who is in court facing charges of crimes against humanity. The Liberty Counsel, who is defending him claims:

The suit is a direct attempt to silence Rev. Lively and intimidate other pastors against teaching the Biblical position on homosexuality. Mathew Staver, Founder and Chairman of Liberty Counsel, said, “This lawsuit against Rev. Scott Lively is a gross attempt to use a vague international law to silence, and eventually criminalize, speech by U.S. citizens on homosexuality and moral issues. This suit should cause everyone to be concerned, because it a direct threat against freedom of speech.”

However, Scott Lively’s involvement in Uganda is seen as foundational to what has been deemed the Ugandan, “Kill the Gays” bill, where a person suspected of being gay can be punished with the death penalty.

The point I want to draw here is for Christians and non-believers alike. I believe this case encapsulates very clearly  the problem Christianity is facing, and individuals like Scott Lively are destroying Christianity as they distort the very basis of the Faith tradition.  

Consider, where in the New Testament, the foundation of Christianity, do we find anything that would suggest the death penalty (perpetrated by the Government) for gay people? If faith in the Birth, Death, and Resurrection of Jesus Christ is the basis of Christianity, there is no way to see Scott Lively’s missionary work and its result as connected to Christianity.

The battle against homosexuality by so-called Christians is firmly rooted in the Old Testament and not in Jesus Christ in any way. For Gary Bauer of the Family Research Council, the basis for the fight against homosexuality and same-sex marriage is in the Book of Genesis.

Bauer said that the court dismissed the “consent of the governed” and “rejected thousands of years of Judeo-Christian understanding” in their rulings on the Defense of Marriage Act and Proposition 8. “It seems as though America is on the verge of criminalizing the Book of Genesis,”

10 CommandmentsNow, I respect anyone’s right to their own religious perspective, but that is limited to how they choose to live their own life. The desire to force others to live by their beliefs goes far beyond and can not be misconstrued as “Christian” in any way.

As a general whole, Christianity is declining with fewer and fewer self-identifying as Christians except in growing third-world areas like Africa where this misguided and non-Christlike brand of legalist propaganda is being used to manipulate and control people. For real Christians who seek a personal salvation in Christ, it is time to wake up and recognize how hate-mongers are killing Christianity by a hate-filled focus.

Theologians have for centuries discussed to relationship of the Old and New Testaments. Jesus himself is quoted as talking about how the “Law and the Prophets” are affected by his “new” teachings. And the Early Church is documented as struggling with the role of Hebrew Laws for Gentile Christians and believers as a whole. In some regard, this is nothing new. What is new however, is the dramatic decline of Christians. Will Christianity survive abuses of Faith by individuals like Lively and Bauer, or will they lead to the Fall of a Faith doctrine that grew from hope and the belief in eternal life?

Note:

Critics are likely to point out that there is New Testament Scripture that supposedly condemns homosexuals. Id ask those individuals to consider:

  • Read the New Testament in the original language in which it was written.  There is no word for homosexual to be found there. The English term “homosexual” is a mistranslation of several other terms and they describe very specific same-sex sexual practices, not homosexuality in general, and most certainly not Gay people we we understand what Gay means today.
  • It can be argued that Paul cites that arsenokoitai and malakoi will not enter the Kingdom of Heaven. It in no way suggests that individuals have a right to tell others what they can or can not do, or whom they can or can not love.
  • Remember, Paul wasn’t right about everything. He was one man expressing his ideas, nothing more. Really.

 

 

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Luke 12:51

Last week, the Archdiocese of San Francisco raised a stir when it appropriated the HRC’s effort to turn Facebook red in awareness of the US Supreme Court’s hearing of two Same-sex marriage cases. Any real activist worth his or her weight has to recognize it was a stroke of real genius, although for anyone on the pro-equality side, frustrating and infuriating nonetheless. It is activism 101 to try and appropriate the media tools being used against you, and that is part of what happened here.

But there is another aspect to this that I want to focus on today, and one I hope pro-equality Christians take up and dialogue about as the struggle for Full Equality continues.

Luke 12:51

The Archdiocese graphic

 

HRC_Equals

HRC Equals in Red

Aside from the PR “win” accomplished by the Catholic Church, what does this really mean and is the Church’s exegesis of the scripture right on the money? Here is Luke 12:51 as found in the KJV:

51 Suppose ye that I am come to give peace on earth? I tell you, Nay; but rather division:

52 For from henceforth there shall be five in one house divided, three against two, and two against three.

53 The father shall be divided against the son, and the son against the father; the mother against the daughter, and the daughter against the mother; the mother in law against her daughter in law, and the daughter in law against her mother in law.

Now, I don’t personally believe that theological arguments matter when it comes to Marriage Equality, and I won’t change my mind there until the Church comes out and condemns all who divorce, wear mixed cloths, eat shell fish, and a host of other abominations that can be found within their Holy Bible. Marriage Equality is a Civil issue pertaining to the Government’s ability to issue marriage licenses, and the unfair discrimination that stops same-sex couples from being treated fairly by a secular government.

But since the only opposition to Marriage Equality is based upon the far-fetched notion that the Church owns the definition of Marriage, theological perspectives become applicable. Let’s use the NIV translation as it seems more modern as well as straightforward.

51 Do you think I came to bring peace on earth? No, I tell you, but division.

This seems like such an odd scripture for the Church to raise given what the Holy Bible tells us about the ministry of Jesus. He spoke out in so many ways against the institutionalized “Church” of his time, the Hebrew Temple and Priests. He spoke out and acted out, if we are to believe Matthew 21:12  , against the status quo and what we are led to believe he saw as a hierarchical abuse of Faith and Power. Luke plays an important part in Liberation Theology, as Jesus in Luke seems especially concerned with the poor and underserved. This seems counter to the Church’s stance demanding submission to the status quo  and their control over our bodies and our relationships.

But I think there is another side to this which isn’t really theological at all. Jesus, the Prince of Peace and Lord of Love s now being “framed” by the Church as being about division instead of Peace; Confrontation instead of Love at a time when the notion of Love is swaying public opinion towards Marriage Equality. Why can’t two people who love each other be married everyone is now asking? The Catholic Church looks to separate the idea of Jesus as Lord of Love, and Love as the basis of marriage.

On the other hand, the Church’s action is very telling. This issue- Marriage Equality appears to be the line they are drawing in the sand as one step too far across the line. Odd, really, given that Divorce is so clearly condemned in the Bible, but the Church never fought it so hard. Marriage Equality is the dividing entity, much as Jesus called himself the one of division.

via Luke 12:51-53 KJV – Suppose ye that I am come to give peace – Bible Gateway.

Do Gays Need A Church Of Their Own Anymore?

RACHEL ZOLL writes an interesting piece at HuffPost Religion. I don’t think she really answers the question. Writing about MCC, the article is still a very good read.

MCC now has a presence in dozens of U.S. states as well as overseas, reporting a total membership of more than 240 congregations and ministries. But as acceptance of same-sex relationships grows – gay and lesbian clergy in many Protestant traditions no longer have to hide their partners or lose their careers, and Christians can often worship openly with their same-gender spouses in the mainline Protestant churches where they were raised – the fellowship is at a crossroads. Is a gay-centered Christian church needed anymore?

I’ve personally had a long and varied path including worship at MCC churches. During college, the Columbus MCC was foundational for me, yet after leaving Columbus, I did not find an MCC that “felt like home” as the Columbus congregation did. While the Pittsburgh congregation was a good size, I never seemed to really fit in there.

About a dozen years ago, a number of folks who were unhappy with MCC joined with a minster couple, and formed a “new” congregation that meant to be non-denominational, and Open Arms Church was born in Pittsburgh. This space was home for a while, until the politics of a church overwhelmed the value of community for me. I think a few things were happening. One, was that while a number of folks who started this group said they didn’t want it to be like MCC, in reality, they did. Did you ever hear that old AA joke? All you need to start a new meeting is a coffee pot and a resentment.

Yet another reality was at work, and one that is most amazing and wonderful. And this is much like any MCC congregation, and how I think MCC was very much like the early house churches of Christianity after the resurrection. The “big deal” is all about growing community, and as a group creating the commonwealth of God. Growing community isn’t clean and neat work. It is exciting and sometimes drama-filled, and inspired, and frustrating and gratitude-producing and wonderful.

If MCC didn’t exist, it is possible that people wouldn’t be willing to try and do this congregation/community growing in such an organic way, and it is questionable how the commonwealth of God would be coming into being. It is also important that many mainline churches are far more accepting of gay, lesbian, bisexual, and trans persons. Individuals find in these spaces a community too, although it isn’t for everyone.

As far back as I remember, my MCC experiences didn’t include gay-only congregations. There were non-gay folks present from the beginning. Yet, in these places, there was an unconditional acceptance and welcome that isn’t found everywhere. Indeed, at one point, I was a lay preacher within the United Methodist Church, and my home congregation was extremely welcoming and accepting. One day, I commented to another member, that I had always had a crush on someone, and that through them for a loop. Even they were surprised by the way a casual comment on my pat impacted them. It was the first time any gay person had shared a personal feeling like that. On the one hand, my acceptance was moderated by the degree to which I fit in. I don’t relay that to be critical. That UMC is today one of the most welcoming places for LGBT persons. For me however, it was a lesson in how acceptance happens.

Today, I identify as a Post-Christian Buddhist. Post-Christian, meaning that I don’t buy into the resurrection, but Jesus remains important to me. I don’t really buy into the Holy Trinity either, although I’m not ready to abandon God entirely. I identify as Buddhist as I find it offers a spiritual practice far more consistent with what I think Faith and Religion are all about.

I think there will remain a need for groups like MCC as long as individuals feel a need to find community outside of the status quo. In these efforts, Faith springs forth and grows anew, and that is a good thing.

Metropolitan Community Churches: Do Gays Need A Church Of Their Own Anymore?.

6

Biblical Connellsville

2 Political Junkies is one of my favorite blogs, and today, there is a fine post there about the Ten Commandments Monument in Connellsville, and the court case about it. In a nut shell- there is this big monument outside of a school which is a monument to the Ten Commandments. Now, in court, the lawyer for the school distyrict is arguing that it isn’t at all an endorsement of religion or even about religion. Dave, begs to differ:

I am not sure, however, how a monument that begins with the text:the Ten CommandmentsI AM the LORD thy God.I Thou shalt have no other gods before me.II Thou shalt not take the Name of the Lord thy God in vain.III Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy.Is anything but an endorsement of religion and a promotion of religious faith.

While I agree basically, and totally get Dave’s point, I think he is really missing the point. The fight isn’t really over religion, but rather it is about maintaining the status quo and the deeply embedded yet undiscussed place of religion within our so-called secular culture. The school district isn’t fighting this because they believe in the supremecy of a judeo-christian belief system. Nope. They are fighting this because they don’t want to hve to confront the place of religious control in what we generally call secular or civil society.  This may be a nuanced point, but I think it is an important one.

It isn’t religion and religious ides per se, but rather, it is the unspoken, accepted control Religion exerts in areas of our life we think of as not-church-related.

The idea of an American Theocracy isn’t new, even if the Far Right Religious Conservatives seem to be at it with a new found vigor in their war on woman and gays. The foundation of an American Theocracy have been around for quite a while, and as this case shows, not everyone wants to come to terms with it.

I often think those who wish to promote religion in this way, really aren’t big on promoting the specifics of the religion. Like, really- how is it they can support the death penalty at the same time as following the commandment that one shall not kill? Or the most abused commandment is that one about false witness….

What these folks are big on, is promoting a hierarchical power structure where a few hold judgement over the rest. This notion, what the ten commandments represent as a portratyal of a power structure is their goal, not the specifics of the religious text itself.

What’s interesting, is looking at what the attorney is saying, and then comparing that to what the residents of Connellsville are saying. The attorney knows this is a problem, and the school will loose the lawsuit unless he can reframe the issue. The residents‘ comments are uniquivocal- the Ten Commandments are something that they should live by. (See note above.)

Check out the blog. Dave (and Maria) are always brilliant.

via 2 Political Junkies.

Here’s a video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q42nGp-FEqU

 

Some thoughts on some thoughts on gay marriage

Tom Holmes, a pastor writes some great commentary in the linked post below, and I encourage everyone to read it. But there are a few points I want to draw attention to. As I read his thoughts, I am struck by what seems like a path be respectful and fair to various viewpoints on the issue of homosexuality. I applaud the effort, but in doing so, a few things get missed that deserve mention.

Now many people relieve the tension between the two by dismissing one side or the other. That is to say, the Bible has this one wrong or they affirm their belief that the authority of the Bible always trumps our limited experience.What I want to encourage you to do is to find some way to tolerate living in the tension. For those who condemn homosexual behavior on the basis of Scripture, talk to - no, better yet listen to - the stories of at least five LGBTs. Hear how they struggled to come to terms with a sexual orientation they never wanted. Better yet, find a healthy same-sex couple which is raising kids and see if you can observe anything except mainstream child-raising behavior.

The Bible vs Homosexuality

Holme’s comments suggests that there are two options when it comes to Biblical teachings about homosexuality: either one accepts the “authority of the Bible,” or one believes “experience trumps Scripture and the church.” I would contend that there is another option that Holmes misses. Too often Scripture is treated as if it is words and meaning that have been set in stone and the meaning is crystal clear, and this just isn’t so, especially when it comes to relating to gay people today. He believes that “what little the bible does say… is all negative.” I personally don’t agree with that at all. Just look at the story of Jonathan and David or that of Ruth and Naomi. In neither case are the story characters identified as “gay” but that doesn’t negate how these are powerful stories of same-sex love, commitment, and devotion. And these qualities are exactly what make the gay people and the gay couples Holmes speaks about what they are. In my opinion, the Bible is as pro same-sex love as it is pro opposite-sex love. In fact, some scholars believe that Jesus himself blessed a gay couple.

Given that we are talking about Christianity, I’ll limit my review of the negative stuff to the New Testament where we find one passage in Romans that appears to be highly condemning of gay people or homosexuality. But the reality is that what we read as “homosexual” in modern English texts is not a direct translation from the original Greek. There is no one single word for homosexual in Greek, and the translation of two distinct Greek terms into one English term is inaccurate and not applicable to what today, we mean when we talk about gay and lesbian people. Yet Holmes like many, treat the modern English as if it is exactly what was written thousands of years ago in now-dead languages.

We know so much about the historical path that has led to what today we call the Bible. We know that there are stories in it that could not have happened as written, and there is text that today we totally ignore, such as Paul’s commentary on women speaking in church. Yet, when it comes to homosexuality, for some reason there seems to be no room for interpretation or correction. Here, Holmes fails the very same-sex couples that he encourages other pastors to meet and get to know.

(no such thing as) Gay Marriage

I am really disappointed that Holmes titles his post, and places the perspective on gay marriage and on homosexuality. First, there is no such thing as gay marriage as if it were different than other marriage. Same-sex couples seek the civil rights that a civil marriage license provides to opposite sex couples. Thats all, and why most times the more appropriate way to talk about it is to call it Marriage Equality. With marriage equality, same-sex couples simply wish to be treated equal by the civil government, which issues marriage licenses. In this regard, it really doesn’t matter what religious leaders or lay persons think, nor does marriage equality mean that churches must accept same-sex couples. It is nice when they do, and there are denominations and congregations very open and welcoming to gay, lesbian, bi, and trans persons.

Second, Holmes post teats homosexuality as if it is a thing. Much like some pastors talk about “the homosexual lifestyle.” This is fallacious.

Many years ago, Copernicus discovered and have the courage to say that the Sun doesn’t revolve around the Earth- an idea thought at the time to be anti-Biblical. Indeed, the Church forced Galileo to retract his truth and he lived under house arrest until hits death. Today’s dispute over sexual orientation may someday appear quite similar, as we learn more about complex biology and the true nature of orientation, attraction, and behavior. It took the Church 350 years to realize that Galileo had it right. Let’s hope that it doesn’t take the Religious that long to come to terms with accepting that sexual orientation is fluid and ranges from exclusively heterosexual, to exclusively homosexual, and the entire spectrum is normal and natural and a part of Creation.

 

 

 

via Some thoughts on gay marriage.

Lucas_Cranach Garden of Eden

Sex problem in the Garden of Eden?

Evan Hurst, at Truth Wins Out saw this, and wonders if it is satire, or a serious opinion. The snip comes from the Findlay Ohio paper. It may be that the opinion’s author is a regular “contributer” to the paper’s opinion section, and he is a witty guym but not being from there, who knows for sure.

Something in the “Just Ask” column (Page A3, May 29) disturbed me. According to the column, “the Ohio buckeye, Aesculus glabra, bears flowers with both male and female organs on the same tree. It is a monoecious species.”

I couldn’t believe this, so I did some research and, sure enough, a science website (forestry.about.com) states that “the Ohio buckeye is polygamo-monoecious, bearing both bisexual and male flowers.”

The buckeye is our state tree and most of us gladly wear the nickname, “buckeyes.” But it is shameful and unacceptable that a bisexual tree should represent us! We are flaunting the Holy Bible!

I urge everyone to contact their state representative and demand legislation removing the buckeye as our state tree and condemning the use of the term “buckeye” as a nickname for residents of Ohio.

Does anyone know if carnations are bisexual?

Jim Flechtner Findlay

 

This caught my eye as a proud OSU graduate (in horticulture no less), and had never once thought ill of the grand Buckeye tree. No matter how this was meant (and I’m going with the assumption that Jim is a very witty social commentarian) it illustrates so clearly the problem of trying to take “The Holy Bible” and pretend what it says easily applies to everything: a tactic used so often by far-right fundamentalists. The world of plants, insects, and even animals, is full of examples where there are not two discreet and separate “beings” where one is of one sex, and the other… well you get what I mean.

And God said, “Let the water under the sky be gathered to one place, and let dry ground appear.” And it was so. 10 God called the dry ground “land,” and the gathered waters he called “seas.” And God saw that it was good.

11 Then God said, “Let the land produce vegetation: seed-bearing plants and trees on the land that bear fruit with seed in it, according to their various kinds. ” And it was so. 12 The land produced vegetation: plants bearing seed according to their kinds and trees bearing fruit with seed in it according to their kinds. And God saw that it was good. 13 And there was evening, and there was morning —the third day.

14 And God said, “Let there be lights in the vault of the sky to separate the day from the night, and let them serve as signs to mark sacred times, and days and years, 15 and let them be lights in the vault of the sky to give light on the earth.” And it was so. 16 God made two great lights—the greater light to govern the day and the lesser light to govern the night. He also made the stars. 17 God set them in the vault of the sky to give light on the earth, 18 to govern the day and the night, and to separate light from darkness. And God saw that it was good. 19 And there was evening, and there was morning —the fourth day.

20 And God said, “Let the water teem with living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth across the vault of the sky.” 21 So God created the great creatures of the sea and every living thing with which the water teems and that moves about in it, according to their kinds, and every winged bird according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. 22 God blessed them and said, “Be fruitful and increase in number and fill the water in the seas, and let the birds increase on the earth.” 23 And there was evening, and there was morning —the fifth day.

24 And God said, “Let the land produce living creatures according to their kinds: the livestock, the creatures that move along the ground, and the wild animals, each according to its kind.” And it was so. 25 God made the wild animals according to their kinds, the livestock according to their kinds, and all the creatures that move along the ground according to their kinds. And God saw that it was good.

26 Then God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals,[a] and over all the creatures that move along the ground.”

27 So God created mankind in his own image,
in the image of God he created them;
male and female he created them.

Even God didn’t create separate “beings” until all the way to humans! And so, a tree couldn’t be bisexual, nor could the state be flaunting the Bible. Right?

The Bible is not a great source of teachings about Sexuality, and yet that last little verse gets used like an atomic bomb- as if it obliterates any possibility that sexuality, and human sexuality may be a bit more variable. For me the fun part is seeing the rest of the fallacy of the Genesis story. Plants were placed on the Earth before there was a sun in the sky, and the plants need the sun to grow. They produce energy via photosynthesis, and so the sun would have had to be present before the plants or the plants could not have survived! Sure, it was just a day in between, so maybe the plants would have been OK without sunlight for one day, right? I mean, I brought some tomatoe plants home from the garden center and left them in the trunk the other day, and they made it just fine.

I have said it before, and will say it again. We have such a small and limited knowledge of biology! We teach it to our kids in school as if, of all the Sciences, we have all of the answers, and it is a less “unknown” Science. Indeed, we suggest that simple fruit fly experiments tell us all we need to understand about genetics. But the reality is that we as a collective mind, have barely scrtatched the surface of understanding biology, and just as we know today, that the Sun doesn’t orbit the Earth, we will one day know that our current limited understanding of sexuality, genetics and reproduction is missing so much. And this will be the downfall of organized Religion, if they continue to hold on to this one little passage in Genesis as if it is the ultimate truth. Science won’t destroy Religion however. It will be the failings of a few close-minded idiots who can not grasp a bigger creation.

If anyone out there knows Jim, can you ask him if his opinion was meant as a serious kind of thing or not?

 

Stop worrying about my salvation, and mind your own business.

The issue of Homosexuality and the Bible will remain front and center for a while, as we move through a new phase of the growth of human thought. Christianity may be on its last breath or it may evolve. Only time will tell, but it is changing, or must change, just as it did when the world was believed to be flat, or when the industrial revolution changed things, or any number of other points throughout History.

That said, until any transformation is complete, can I just ask that you crazy Christians to stop worrying about my salvation? I am quite capable as an adult to make my own moral choices, and I don’t need you trying to control me, my life, or my relationships. If you think I’m going to hell because, I’m gay, that’s fine. Believe what you want. But past that, leave me alone! You aren’t going to be there, burning with me, so what is it to you?

I remember as far back as Grade School, being given a book by my Father’s father, about the Pilgrims and their trip to the new world. It detailed, in a youth book way, their flight from England to flee Religious persecution, and their trip to the New World. This notion of Religious Freedom has stuck with me ever since, and I am committed to it as a guiding principle, just as our Constitution is committed to it. But I am also a thinking person, who has studied much when it comes to Religion, History, Christianity, and Theology. I was raised within a Methodist household where rational thought informs all else in theological ideas.

The reality is that Christian theology isn’t that cookie-cutter clear, and if the topic is Hell, it is even a bit muddier. That said, if you want to be hung up on going to Heaven or Hell, that is your business, but I’ll appreciate you stepping out of my business. I’m not so worried about Hell, because theologically, it just doesn’t add up, so whenever I end up standing before the Creator, I’m just not worried, and you don’t need to be worried for me. Really. And if I’m wrong, well, I’ll take responsibility for that.

Imagine how much good in the world you could do, if you just stopped trying to control the lives of other people and really started to be Christ-like. If you brought people to your Faith by attraction rather than coercion. I am a huge fan of Faith! I am however, with the theologian, Søren Kierkegaard, and doubt that you really know much about what Faith is, or just how hard it is to walk a path of Faith. It is easier, I’m sure to think you have all of the answers and need to force them onto others.

I know part of your reply. It is all about the kids, right? You have to squash my freedoms because what if the kids see, and what if they are led astray? This too is theologically unsound thinking. If the God of Love that you praise so loudly is all that, the kids have nothing to worry about. The power of love will always be greater than anything that falls outside of natural for a person. If a young person is gay, or lesbian, or bisexual, or trans, none of your efforts will really stop them. Not really. They will either just hate themselves or they will come to recognize your control and rhetoric as hateful. If you honestly think that God’s love isn’t strong enough then you don’t have much Faith, and you need to stop worrying about my Salvation, and worry about your own.

Just as when people of Faith had to come to grips with the fact that the world was not flat, and the sun didn’t move around the Earth, today, you must come to grips with the fact that Biology is far more complex than you once thought. People are truly created and have different sexual orientations. There have always been non-straight people, throughout History, and our social and cultural constructions today allow gay people to be exactly as they are. This is, I believe, seeing the whole of Creation through new eyes, and in ways that good for humanity.

So, please just stop and ask yourself what you really want. Do you want to be people of Faith or do you want to try to control everyone else? You will have some power to control, but the consequence of that is also pushing many people away from Faith. Your call: be a loving community of Faith or push people away. Either way, stop worrying about my Salvation. I’m OK, and I know what I can expect come judgement day, and I have nothing to worry about. And if we are both standing there, I’m going t turn to you and say, “I told you do.”

Angry_God

Women and Evil.

The linked post is from ThinkProgress, and they reference The Raw Story, as they discuss this quote from a Fox News guest, and pastor, Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson. It may appear on the surface as if it were just another joke about yet another whack job on Fox News, but it is far more than that. This story encapsulates the whole current culture war that we are currently living in, and should stand out as a warning of where we will be if we fail to recognize the severity of the issue.

“Look at every place where a women is in control,” said Peterson. “You see nothing but confusion. There’s no good in it at all, none.”Peterson’s sermon began with comments about Sandra Fluke, doubling down on Rush Limbaugh’s slut remarks. But halfway through his speech, he kicked the hate into another gear:PETERSON: “I think that one of the greatest mistakes that America made was to allow women the opportunity to vote. We should have never turned that over to women.”“It was a big mistake…these women are voting in the wrong people. They’re voting in people who are evil, who agree with them…Men in the good old days understood the nature of the women, they were not afraid to deal with them.”“Wherever women are taking over, evil reigns.”

I have been working on a post on thomascwaters.com, dealing with the current state of the Marriage Equality battle and then I read this post. There are a few things we must accept as a starting point now. The GOP is been hijacked by the far right elements of that party, and this once-fring-now-mainstream position is all about a radical far right conservative religious position. Their goal everywhere is to push a social agenda where moderate and liberal voices have no place, and we experience a return to some mythical yet perceived real social hierarchy where men rule and the Bible is the basis for everything. This is the current day’s version of the Dark Ages being born again.

The solution isn’t really so simple, even if it appears as if it should be. Down with Religion, right?  But Religion itself isn’t really the problem, simply the weapon being employed by these folks. Sure you can try and take away their weapon, but that doesn’t stop them from fighting. You can’t, no matter how hard you try, take Religion away. No amount of trivializing it or fighting it will work. THe only solution is to push back with real and constant effort and fight poor theology with good, sane, meaningful theology. And to point out what is really going on. That the men in power want to return to a space in time when they had even more power than they do today. This is not a battle against Women alone, but a battle against modernity in total.

I was listening to an interview with Erik Larson the other day about his book, Beasts in the Garden. In it he tells the story of the American Ambassador to Germany as Hitler grew in power and devastated Germany, Europe and the Jewish population. He explained that in the early days, no one really believed that anyone could conceivably do the horrific things that the rhetoric of the times seems to imply. For me the similarity is that it can seem inconceivable that our entire social structure and sense of empowerment and freedom could be in danger. But it is and can be if we do not stop and counter such horrific ideas as Peterson espouses.

via Fox News Contributor: Allowing Women To Vote A Mistake.

Photo credit: Some rights reserved by satanoid

God’s Wrath? Tornadoes Damage Midwest Towns

Saw a tweet  that llinked to the attached post, and the tweet was titled, God’s Wrath.

God and God’s wrath are commonly used as either warning or proof that [fill in the blank] whiuch is happening culturally, is opposed by God. Often these same Bible thumpers point to stories like Sodom and Gomorrah as an example of God using His wrath. Here’s the thing. This is a win/win for the Bible thumpers. They can point to anythibng and say it is proopf of whatever, because there is no real way to refute it. God doesn’t speak from the sky and say, “No, that is just the Weather.” So, fior the thumpers, it is a perfect waepon to use and fear mongering technique. If the devastation happens to them, it tells them that they aren’t fighting hard enough for God’s Will. If the devastation happens to others, it is proof that God hates whoever was devastated.

The problem is it paints a picture of a God, no sane person wants rto worship or trust. That God who can devastate anyone, no matter how hard you are trying to be a good Christian, is a pretty mean and unjust God. Additionally, it is a picture of God that can not be reconciled with  New Testament theology. Either Christians believe in the God of the New Testament, or they really aren’t Christians at all. That N.T. God sacrificed His Son so that all human beings have eternal life. The N.T. God is one who places self-sacrifice and forgiveness above all else. The N.T. God is one of unconditional love, and a God that does unbelievable things like virgin births and resurrections. It is a God that displays power through surrender and compassion.

This is why Christianity is fighting so hard to survive, and thinking people are leaving Religion inb droves, because the God these folks claim to believe in is not the same God of their Faith heritage.

The storm killed five people and injured more than two dozen in and around Woodward, a town about 140 miles northwest of Oklahoma City, but it was the only tornado that caused fatalities. Many of the touchdowns raked harmlessly across isolated stretches of rural Kansas, and though communities in Iowa and Kansas were hit, residents and officials credited days of urgent warnings from forecasters for saving lives.

via Tornadoes Damage Midwest Towns, Residents Struggling To Recover.