Saturday, December 11, 2010

A New Right Entirely

To the Editor, Boston Globe:
Adrian Walker is entitled to his opinion about Senator Brown, but, in fact, Massachusetts voters didn't “give gay marriage” to anyone. Gay people are free to marry in all 50 states, consistent with their various rules concerning degree of consanguinity, and the number, age & sex of partners. Massachusetts voters were denied a chance to be heard on this issue in 2008. The only votes that mattered were those of four unelected, unaccountable justices who imposed their personal views on us in the name of progress. This includes the Chief Justice, who, according to Mass Lawyers Weekly, neglected oversight of the corrupt probation department—a duty actually within the purview of our judiciary.

"...Chief Justice for Administration and Management Robert A. Mulligan and Supreme Judicial Court Chief Justice Margaret H. Marshall, have neglected their duties by allowing the corruption to continue."

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Jim Wallis v. Religious Right, cont.

I've been asked 3 questions:
Q1. "In what manner were these people [Calif. fertility clinic, whose persecution only Pastor Jeff seems willing to defend]
following the direct commands/example of Christ" (Pastor Jeff asked this one 3 times):

A1.When Jesus was asked "What must I do to inherit eternal life" the first part of his answer was the straightforward part that many of the posters here seem to be ignoring:
That is so basic that it's embarrassing to have to repeat it here. Then, in the more memorable part of the answer, Jesus cut to the heart of the matter: the man's possessions were standing between him and Jesus. (A common problem for Americans of any political stripe.)
"Go, sell your possessions” was NOT a command to supererogation, or a statement that helping the poor, or forcing others to do so via taxation, releases you from the basic obligations of the Ten Commandments.
Q2. “What party believes in forcing people to do things against their consciences?”
A2. The party that supports suing Christians who won't fertilize a gay couple. There are many perfectly good citizens who identify as GLBTG. But I say the clinic made the right call in not fertilizing a couple so filled with hate that they took the clinic to court for following Jesus. (Note that the Republicans, most of whom support Obama's war in Afghanistan, still allow for conscientious objection to military service.)
Q3., this one from BlueDeacon “What difference will just one more voice make?”
A3., Again, Jim should be that “just one more voice” speaking out clearly against abortion—not to make a difference, but because it's the right thing to do. He does seem rather too concerned about his public image; I'm afraid I can't help with that. But supporting the Stupak Amendment was his big chance to stand against the tide of partisan divisiveness. Last March he left Stupak hanging, and joined with Nancy Pelosi, who might not even know who Jim Wallis is.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Jim Wallis v. Glenn Beck and the Ghost of Jim Dobson

from this sojourners link:

Glenn Beck accuses Jim Wallis of standing in the tradition of 1930's German liberals.
Jim fights back
I join the fray and say that Jim proudly stands with “Progressives” today, (as if society is getting, or even could, get better without repentance and a return to God). But the Progressives in the 30's were the “Mankind is evolving upward” folks who eventually were sequestered as "Social Darwinists" and "Nazis"
I'm putting other posters' handles in ALL CAPS

WAVETOSSED said: "I also read about this incident. The [Philadelphia Gay Pride] rally's organizers had a permit for a private rally. Fundamentalists were invading this peaceful private rally, ... they were trespassing. " In other words, a technicality in the permit was used to suppress the free speech rights of those who disagreed with the views of the rally organizers.
"I do believe some of these issues need to be addressed. Free speech and faith based practices in private enterprises need to be protected. " I actually thought WaveTossed would agree with you and me on this. I'm disappointed that she defended the Philadelphia arrests.
PASTOR JEFF said: "Could you please provide an example of someone following Jesus' example being persecuted in the US ? " I'll turn that question around; Jesus PROMISED that we would be persecuted. I wasn't at the Philly event, so perhaps the arrested Christians could have made a better presentation of their views. But they had a right to be there and speak out. The persecution of the California fertility clinic is inexcusable. There are cases where one's fidelity to the biblical witness prohibits certain actions. That is a witness to God's call to follow him regardless of consequences. The suit didn't allege that the clinic wasn't nice about it; it alleged that they HAD to treat the same sex couple.
Getting back to Jim: if he could find a way to call a truce in the fight over redefining marriage, and call Christians from the Left and Right to mount a serious challenge to abortion on demand, that would be an accomplishment. But his backing of Nancy Pelosi over Bart Stupak shows he's willing to be just another voice from the Left as long as it puts him on the winning side. [temporarily!] There is still time for him to repent for this failure, if he wishes he'd acted differently. (Now that the health insurance bill is in serious trouble it's a less courageous stand than it would've been back in March.) Better still, he could call on Democrats in this year's lame duck session to reintroduce the Human Life Amendment. THAT would be a courageous and prophetic act!

Thus endeth the posting war for the time being;-)
I'll continue here, by admitting that....
I actually stole that idea (to shift from marriage to abortion) from WaveTossed. I didn't credit her since her suggestions weren't as specific as mine, above
Anticipating a question about why Jim's column was about Glenn Beck but I'm talking about marriage:

Another fair question: I brought up the redefinition of marriage because of my concern for religious and political freedoms. Sexual sins are not necessarily the worst sins, and among sexual sins, the worst are adultery and divorce. (Not to leave out rape and child abuse, but those are more about violence than sex. And divorce is often about money...but we weren't discussing the definition of “sexual sin” anyway...)

As I see Jim's column, it's about his denial of any link between liberalism and social decline, falsely called progress. No matter how poorly Beck makes the point, based on what Jim says in his column, it's a fair question.

And if I seem to be hard on Jim, read this from James. 3: 1Not many of you should presume to be teachers, my brothers, and sisters, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly. 2We all stumble in many ways...
Jesus said that not even the smallest stroke of the Law would pass away. If the California fertility clinic was humbly following God's law, they were following Jesus. (...which consists in FAR more than legalism. “The Law of the LORD is perfect” because the Lord who gave the Law is perfect. We can only fulfill it by admitting we can't; it is beyond human effort. Much harm's been done, and is being done, by those on the Left and the Right who strain mightily to be seen as Law-followers. There are as many, if not more, strict legalists on the Left as anywhere else. If there is no sin—and humanists and liberal Protestants don't believe in sin as defined by anyone other than themselves—then there is no divine grace. Without grace, you're left with legalism. Not all Unitarians are like Neville Chamberlain. They can be wonderful people in their legalism, from abolitionists like Rev. Theodore Parker, to the friend of a friend who's leading me on a nature walk in a couple of weeks. It's not that I dislike Unitarians, and their co-religionists, liberal Protestants, it's just that their theology is false. Plenty of conservative Christians act as if they don't believe the Bible; that is a huge problem, and arguably more serious than one who rebels against something they don't even believe in!)

Monday, September 6, 2010

Don't make the same mistake I made

I'm what's commonly called a packrat. So if you don't hoard yourself, you can't make my mistake, right? Wrong wrong wrong. Hoarding wasn't my mistake. Complacency was. (If you think the most important thing in life is “Don't be a packrat” or “Don't be weird” you are rather sadly mistaken.) Guard your heart! Don't think that there is only one wrong attitude towards possessions. I thought that since I had guarded against the “acquisition” problem by spending money carefully and, I thought, wisely, I wouldn't end up with a “stuff” problems. Wrong. I avoided the acquisition problem and ended up with a volume problem. How do you measure “stuff” anyway? Volume? Weight? Value at time of purchase? Resale value? What “most people” do?
So, I filled one side of a 2 car garage with my stuff. It may not sound so bad to some, but at 3:30 in the morning it looked, and felt, awful. What else could I have put there? Crates of antiques? Hmm, could've sold those and done a lot of good with the auction proceeds. But what if I HADN'T sold them? What if I'd bought a 16 room mansion to hold them and made my stuff problem worse? What about a Porsche? Tony Campolo asserted that a Christian can't own a status symbol like a BMW. I shudder to think how he'd condemn a Porsche. But wait, what if I do fill that side of the garage with a Porsche, while giving away 90% of my income for deeds of charity and truth? That doesn't sound like a problem at all. What if that half of the garage is simply filled with a 2nd auto that I don't need? What if I can, and desperately need to, walk or bike to work? Should I sell the car and compel myself to exercise?
There are a LOT of stuff problems. I was going to say “only you can judge your stuff problem” but even that is misleading, since it's easy for anyone to assert “I have a good attitude towards my stuff.” I hope you do, really, but as I know, there is a lot of room for self-justification and self-delusion. Better to leave the judging to “the One who judges justly”, the One who both knows our greatest need, our greatest sin, and yet loves us unconditionally.
[Perhaps I should say “mass” instead of weight, since launching it into space makes my stuff weightless but doesn't affect its mass. And it would cost a LOT of $$$]

Friday, August 6, 2010

Looney Ideas for a "top kill"

Please take this as tongue-in-cheek commentary. Don't expect to hear much about this now that the bottom kill as stopped the leak.
I recently heard a blogger denounce BP for purposely prolonging the leak by avoiding these two "obvious" ways to stop it:
1. a huge pile of debris and rubber over the leak, or
2. a very large explosion
I'll track down the link if you are interested, but this loony didn't consider that BP had rejected the first since the high pressure of the crude oil would seep through the debris at almost exactly the same rate once it saturated the debris, and the second since it would likely make the leak permanent, and a lot larger.
So, what don't left-wing loonies get more air time?
Three theories, in order of increasing likelihood:
1. There are fewer of them; it's only conservatives that are crazy. (Hmmmmm)
2. The press is biased and wants to hush up embarrassing things said by their favorites, like notorious anti-Semite Oliver Stone. Getting close:

3. The lunatics are in charge of the asylum. Once-marginal ideas of folks like Bill Ayers, Saul Alinsky and Jesse Jackson are now mainstream!
What do you think?

Friday, July 30, 2010

The ordinary life of a matchbook

This is about freewill, resting on this analogy:
Man is to matchbook as
God is to His Creation.

Imperfect, to be sure, but helpful I hope for a Facebook discussion of free will.

There is a matchbook on my stove. It’s there because the electronic igniter has malfunctioned. It’s a bit less than one quarter used. I know that the matches have been used to light burners (THE PAST.) I know, with a pretty high degree of certainty, that most of the rest of the matches will also be used for lighting burners (THE FUTURE). Suppose I’m standing with a recently extinguished match smoking in my fingers—that’s THE PRESENT. Even allowing for my finitude, I know a lot about the matchbook.
God, infinitely greater than his creation, knows everything that has ever happened (“Nothing is hidden from his sight"), all that is now happening (“I know your rising up and your sitting down”) and all that will (“Where can I go from your presence? If I go to the highest Heaven, You are there. If I hide myself in the depths of the sea, You are there.”) The psalmist is speaking of spatial infinity, but an infinite God also extends unbroken into the Past and the Future. Nothing changes with him. The future is now. A long time ago someone told me about the eternal present, which doubtless got me thinking on this. It certainly wasn’t a Philosophy Professor—I’m not sure I’ve even met one, much less studied with one.

Now, I haven’t touched on free will, but it doesn’t limit God’s infinity. He knows all that has ever happened and ever will. Yet there is clear language describing our choices and our responsibilities. I’d much rather live with that paradox than to impinge in any way on God’s infinity or sovereignty.

Friday, June 18, 2010

A Fathers Day Poem

“Always Looking Back”
by Kirsten, 9th Grade (see note)

“Can we go to the park” the little girl asked.
Not today, today daddy has to work.

Daddy, tomorrow can we go to the park?”
Maybe tomorrow, but today daddy has to work.

So the little girl grew up and parks were the thing of the past.
She no longer went to the movies with her kin,
and holding hands was practically a sin.
Spending time with her parents was now put last.

As she grew, she always wondered whether she would
ever have just one more day in that park.
Just one more chance to share an ice cream in a dish
or be carried because she was just too tired.
To look up at a shooting star and make just one more innocent wish.
Just one more chance to say “I'm It!”
or dance and sing as if no one was watching.
She just wanted one more chance to go back to that time
when the most important thing
was the newest crayons and dimes.
And now she knows she has to let go of the past
because she knows it will never last.

I just re-discovered this while cleaning out a closet! I'm so blessed: I worked from home for all but two years when this adorable little girl wanted to go to the park. We did so, many times, but never enough...

So today,

if your son or daughter wants to go to the park

GO! You'll look back,

and never regret it!

Monday, June 14, 2010

Since I didn't throw away the fundraising letter...

...I thought I would read it. It was interesting, and I think it was from a good group (a member of the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability.) The premise was that God did NOT promise prosperity to believers in the New Testament, and it used wars and persecution throughout history as detailed examples

Your latest fund-raising letter seems to assume that the majority of Christians in Hitler's Germany were evangelicals. While hard to measure, this is very unlikely, given the weak response of most of the church to Hitler's takeover of the state church as part of the Nazi movement. A vigorous, but unsuccessful, response was the Theological Declaration of Barmen and the Confessing Church movement. Even among those who did align themselves with the Confessing Church, some were theological liberals like Rudolf Bultmann. He was a legitimate scholar, to be sure, and some of his articles still appear in reference works used by evangelicals and others. But he had no belief in the divine inspiration of Scripture, and treated the New Testament as a human document that he could reshape according to his highly dubious theories of “authenticity.”
Perhaps your letter should've clearly stated that the persecution of Christians in WWII was at the hand of the German government, not allied bombers. I am concerned that some might read it and confuse those persecuted for their faith and those who died indiscriminately in wars. The WWII bombing raids, tragic as they were, constituted just punishment for a nation, including relatives of my mother, that started a war of conquest, enslavement, and outright murder. Hitler's party never won a majority in a free election, and yet the majority didn't do enough to stop him.
May God bless you in your efforts to spread the Gospel

Monday, June 7, 2010

In response to the Presbytery of Boston's trivializing of the words to "The Church's One Foundation"

This church's new foundation:
the Spirit of Today
A newer "New Creation"
the old one's tired and gray.
Of Heav'n we now are thought-less
the world is our concern
Good deeds and nice behavior
are all we need to learn.
Elect from every nation,
yet of the Truth bereft
The symbols of religion
are all that we've got left.
One rule is all important
the other nine are wrong:
The worship of good feelings
this "freedom" is our song!
We're "free" from that old Bible
we're "free" from all the Law
We're "free" in sexual matters
we're "free" from "Ma and Pa"
Free from our basest passions
our errors and our sin?
We'll hide our disappointment
we've just been "taken in."

You will know the Truth, and the Truth will set you free.
I am the Way the Truth and the Life. No one comes to the Father except through me.
...but if we gaze intently into the PERFECT LAW that gives FREEDOM...

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Jim Wallis of Sojourners and G.K.Chesterton

Jim Wallis quoted G.K.Chesterton in his thought-provoking column on the BP oil spill.
When asked by a newspaper to describe “what's wrong with the world” Chesterton simply replied: “I am”
We have all fallen short. Have any of us voluntarily minimized our oil consumption and carbon footprint? For the few that may have, you've not done it in a way that significant numbers have emulated. This reminds me of another Chesterton quote:

“The Christian ideal has not been tried and found wanting; it has been found difficult and left untried”

“Modern” Christians are not re-examining the Ten Commandments to understand them more deeply. Instead, they know exactly what they say about idolatry and sexuality, and are trying to change them in the name of “Progress.” From the “German Christian” movement during the 1930's, to the ecumenical movement, to “Open and Affirming” churches, we are trying to alter our allegiances to fit in with the spirit of the age. This is wrong, and far from bringing in the Kingdom of God by our own (idolatrous) efforts, we are actually working for the Enemy of Our Souls.

What's wrong? I am. I need to repent, and in such a way that others will follow Jesus, not the Spirit of the Age.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Rand Paul

No, he's not named after Ayn Rand, but I wondered myself. What about his comments on the Federal Government intervening in the matter of service at lunch counters?

Thursday, April 29, 2010

The Boston Globe gets it right, almost

Thank you for your comments, AtheistHindu, explaining your faith regarding what must be "EARNED!"
One thing most, if not all, religions share is good works: earning something (by your own efforts, as you clearly explained in your post.) Indeed, the definition of religion I use most often is “a human effort to find god, as you define god”
(Granted, Christianity is often practiced as such, especially as perceived by non-Christians and sometimes even in the minds of Christian believers.) But Christianity is NOT a religion; it's not what humans do, it's what God has already done, in Christ. It makes no sense to beg for a gift (salvation) that has already been earned by Jesus, and only has to be accepted, humbly. It is perhaps this humility, and sorrow for sins committed, that seems like begging to you. I certainly don't know your experience of Christianity and have no desire to judge those experiences, or you. But I wanted to correct this common misconception.
Other readers have mentioned Harvey Cox; what he's describing is not Christianity, and it's nothing new, it's merely syncretistic religion: offering sacrifices to all the gods in the hope of offending none of them.
Thank you, Professor Prothero, for an excellent and thought provoking column. I do hope none of your readers came to the conclusion that the Holocaust had anything to do with orthodox Christian practice: Jesus' last words were “Father, forgive them...” not “Followers of mine, avenge me.” The Holocaust was a hideously unchristian act, and it is no coincidence that it occurred in a country (and a continent) that had largely abandoned the historic Christian faith in favor of an intellectual, modernistic distortion. For the self-styled “German Christians” human reason had supplanted God's revelation through the Hebrew and Christian Scriptures, and through Christ himself, a Jewish man who spoke words of forgiveness from the Cross. I deeply regret that these words were not followed by too many that used, and dishonored, the name of Christ.

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Quote suggested by my 11yo daughter

"God doesn't choose the equipped- - - -
- - - -God equips the chosen."

Monday, January 25, 2010

"Having Nothing yet Posessing Everything"

Who says theology has no devotional value? You don't have to know German, or German theology, to understand this:

This passage is about [true] faith as opposed to unbelief or erroneous faith. I've substituted "faith"€ for "it"€ in a couple places.
True faith does NOT arbitrarily choose objects to set up signs, in that way inventing knowledge of God at its own good pleasure. Faith knows God by means of the objects chosen by God Himself. It recognizes and acknowledges God's choice..and uses these special works of God as they ought to be used.

This is by the author of the work that "fell like a bombshell on the playground of the theologians." A scholar steeped in 19th century German liberalism who STILL believed in the simple things of faith. "Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so!"€ Karl Barth really summarized his life's work with a child's song, in answer to a perhaps impertinent question from an American audience. Coincidentally, Carl Barth was my great grandfather! Barth”the American farmer, not the Swiss/German theologian ;-)
Barth also has some great thoughts about how Jesus placed Himself and His coming above marriage and possessions. Without condemning either, Jesus shattered our faith in even the most godly of institutions, either of which can easily become an idol. And Barth wasted little time in speculating about the "authenticity" of particular sayings of Jesus. How Rudolf Bultmann wasted his genius on such foolishness will be, perhaps, forever beyond my comprehension. If I, like Bultmann, had stood by in relative safety during the Holocaust, I might have spent the rest of my life atoning for my inaction, instead of undermining the very foundation of Christian theology, the inspired, Holy Scriptures. Oddly, there is still some devotional value in Bultmann, if you skip over the speculative parts of his writings