Wednesday, November 6, 2013

The Bible and Politics

As always, these blog posts begin as Facebook Status updates where I get on a roll and rant:

Many have asked me how I can hold my views about social, economic, and political issues and still be "Christian". Ok, it's a fair question. I'm pro-choice, pro-LGBT rights, a low-grade feminist, I believe in equal rights, the social safety net, that justice should be just and fair, that wages should be fair, and that people who try deserve another chance to succeed. But I also believe in working hard, doing your best, and believing that one's effort is rewarded by abundance. 

So what does that mean for my beliefs? It says that I'm capable of having political views that aren't weighed by the views of a few narrow-minded people who read The Bible like stereo instructions. Who interpret the words of a 66-book cannon which was complied by a group of Catholic Monks in 367 A.C.E. That I'm capable of reading The Bible in the context and times and cultures for which it was written, and that I'm scholarly enough to understand the difference between Jesus' spoken words (The Red Letters), and the words spoken by people who were observing events through the lens of their time and culture or people (The Old Testament) or people writing post-Jesus commentary related to the events and circumstances in which life placed them (The Letters and Epistles). It means I understand that Biblical literalism is one of the most heinous lies of this generation ever observed to this date. And, I understand that the only document purported to be written directly by God is the 10 Commandments (See Exodus), and the only thing that is says is Worship God by these rules, and Don't be dicks to each other (excuse the harsh language, but it's to make a sharp and pointy point.) 

And finally what it means is that Christians everywhere need to wake up and cast off these jerks, these false "prophets" who claim to have God's ear. Who claim to speak as though they're the Pope, or Jesus himself. Who steal your money to enrich themselves, and fill your mind with dogmatic falsehoods. Who pit you against the very poor people as lazy or sinful or corrupt or faggots. Guess what fellow “believers”…THOSE ARE WHO YOU SERVE! YOU SERVE THE UNDERPRIVILEGED! The call of The Great Commission is to go unto all the world baptizing those in the name of The Father, The Son, and The Holy Spirit. Not to conquer in Jesus' Name, not to berate, or oppress or judge or condemn or to steal, kill, and destroy. And most definitely not to force compliance of a warped version of Christianity that is fraudulent, cruel, and oppressive.

Christianity is not a club, it's not a mace or a morning star or a broad sword. It's a scroll, it's a vision, it's a purpose, and most greatly, it's a message of hope for all mankind. Your only job is to live that hope, and be there for when someone asks you about it. Nothing more, nothing less. Live and let live, but help others live better too by following Jesus’ example; through his demonstrations of love, compassion, hope, and justice. If you can't do that, then you're not a Christian that I recognize.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Liberal Christianity and Public Benefit Systems

An interesting debate seems to have been brought by those identifying as "Liberal Christians" and "Evangelical Christians."  Does the government have a role to play in caring for the sick, poor, and parentless?

It's an interesting theological question.  The Bible contains no real context exclusivity on this topic.  State-level socialism didn't really exist in Greece or in Rome.  Any hunger that was addressed was done by those who had surplus or by those who ran religious institutions.  It does not exclusively say nor does it explicitly prohibit or dictate the means in which charity must be delivered.  Programs like SNAP, TANF, Medicaid, and other assorted public programs provide massive real-world benefits to those that would otherwise end up on the streets, starving, stealing, and hurting others to survive.  This is my professional quote of this segment:

"When one believes they cannot meet their basic needs within the confinements of their society, and by the rules it establishes regarding the procurement of those resources and needs, then that individual will seek those needs outside the system imposed upon them."

So, we as humans, being hierarchical beings, establish systems of order to work in.  We create mechanisms of efficiency to create a stable flow of order and productivity.  It is the very foundation of human civilization.  We establish food delivery systems to provide for the whole of society.  We create aqueducts to deliver fresh water to plants and animals in a farm setting.  We build dams to generate electricity.  We create systems of social order to create a society where humans can bring grievances and questions of justice against one another without violence, but under the rule of law.  We build corporations to deliver goods and services to a vast consumer public.  We build all these structures and systems of order to create efficiency and establish regularity.

Regularity is the key to creating a stable and sturdy ladder with which one climbs from the bottom to the top.  In areas where there are no profits to be made, government can establish that regularity and stability to ensure that those who are building or rebuilding their lives can work themselves to a state of self-sufficiency and become tax-paying, productive members of society.

Now, in regards to the Biblical case for Food Stamps, TANF, and other similar programs:

Christ, as part of his ministry routinely spoke about individual generosity.  He spoke often about the mandate that if you can give something of yourself, then you are giving to me.  That blessings come to those who give selflessly, anonymously, and privately, and without motive for any return or reward.  Give simply to give, and no other reason.  And I believe that philosophy 100%.  If/when I do give, I give anonymously...just as I do with prayer...anonymously.

But, let is also consider this:  We've established the religious mandate to care for the poor, sick, and parentless.  But what about government?  Why should it have a role?  What justifies it?  How about Romans 13?  Paul spoke in Romans 13 that if you are due to pay taxes, pay taxes, if Tribute, then tribute...if respect, then respect.  That leaders are established by God to do the Lord's work, and deliver justice to all.  That the leaders of government are held to account to be arbiters of justice to all people.  And that, yes, you should even fear your government (in the righteous respect context, not the Area 51 government taking my guns context).

I first want to dismiss a position that is often expressed.  That position is this: that state-imposed charity robs people of the blessings that come from charity.  This myth is often expressed to oppose state-run social services with the belief that there is a material loss caused by "The State" taxing it's citizens and redistributing it to those in need.  I would argue that those who are truly charitable will give as their heart leads them to give.  If you are justifying not giving just because the government taxes you...then I'd say you should re-examine your motives behind it.  Giving shouldn't be something you do only when you have excesses.  It should occur naturally from your relationship with Jesus.  As the spirit works in your life, you will feel the need and desire to give strictly for the reason of wanting to give.  The argument that social programs rob people of that opportunity is totally off the rails and is an excuse to argue against a systematically functional public policy that establishes people in workable and sustainable patterns of survival.  You as an individual are more than empowered and able to give to your local food bank, homeless shelter, or charity.  If you're blaming food stamps for your lack of generosity, then you're just plain not generous period.

Religious liberals, like myself argue that having a solely religious justification for public policy is not enough.  That there must exist in any government policy a real world, measurable, scientific reason for any said policy to exist.  Religious liberals would dismiss the assertion that "God told me to do this or to sign that" in regards any government policy.  When any politician of any faith agrees or disagrees to a policy, that politician must have a rational and material reason that can be argued and debated in order for that position to be viewed as a valid position.  Simply to hedge on faith serves no purpose and is fundamentally poor governance.

It is not wrong is to have religious conviction that reinforces your political views, but with that influence, you must have real, present, physical, provable evidence to demonstrate the issue can be argued with more than just religion.  For example, if conservatives argue that food stamps are state-imposed charity...there's no arguing with that fact.  It's true.   Currently, there are more politicians who say "We believe that those without the means to buy food should be given a grant to buy food at tax payers' expense."  Now, if I were to stand up and say..."Jesus tells me to feed those who don't have food using tax payers money."  That in of itself is not a rational argument to justify a state program.  But if I say "My faith teaches me to feed those who hunger...but here's what this study, and this study, and this study say about what feeding those who can't buy food does to improve society..."  I have introduced real, tangible scientific evidence to support my beliefs, and therein, we've created a rationale that penetrates all lines of division or conflict.  Simply stating, "My faith tells me to do it" while offering no tangible, real-world evidence to support your belief politically is not sufficient reasoning to support the position.

It is not Leftist-Christian theocracy to feed those who cannot be fed.  Such a viewpoint is shared among multiple faiths and belief systems across the globe.  Islam (who actually did institutionalize this view), Judaism, Hinduism, many numerous Native American belief systems and cultural systems, as well as regional and tribal faiths teach the same thing.  If you feel compelled to give, then give.  Do as Christ commanded and give anonymously, give in secret, and give simply to give.  But what you cannot avoid as a citizen of a state-level society is copping out of your obligations to your society.

The Biblical rationale for public assistance isn't really present either direction.  Such systems of subsistence didn't exist in the single-digits A.C.E. of the Roman Empire.  But what is justifiable scripturely is what Paul teaches in Romans 13.  To obey the laws imposed upon you, to respect your leaders, pay your taxes, and give respect when due.  He's talking about being a rational member of society, and that through your obedience, that your example of Christ-like love and life may spread to others.  Now let's be clear, governance and public policy depend on one being able to argue facts.  If you can argue with evidence taht Food Stamps is more harmful than good, then do what you feel is right.  However, to simply rip it away after people have been dependent on a system for years, crafting their finances and living circumstances around that system...then you as a legislator have a responsibility to ensure that you don't hurt anyone as you pull the rug out from under them.  If you're going to remove a system of provision, then you have to replace it with something else to keep them from being harmed.

While you may not agree with your tax dollars feeding the hungry, it is not leftist theocracy that dictates the view.  It's the view that solving hunger solves crime, solves drug abuse, solves childhood chronic illness, and systematically and measurably benefits the lives of millions of Americans across the country, and the world even.  Solving hunger in a systematic, regular, consistent manner, such as through the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP), you are assisting in solving the problems that cause larger more systematic problems if left unsolved or unsatisfied.  There is the measurable, rational, systematic reason that we provide SNAP to the public.  You never know if you will be in that position, and you as a person who doesn't need it rests assured that a hungry and poor person won't try to rob you for your money so he can feed himself.  And while that does happen occasionally...just imagine if 50 million people were thrust into that position.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Secularism is not Anti-Religious

Secularists do not desire to drive religion from the public sphere. A society's expression of faith is one that defines the fabric of that society. How our society treats those who are spiritual in any form defines the people of that society. 

But also consider this: it is important that while individuals are free to express their faith, it's also important that your faith no dictate your decisions in public policy. Using faith to justify public policy exclusively is harmful to society, and blurs the veil that separates church and state. The church and state argument derives from Thomas Jefferson's belief that there should be a wall between the government and the churches. He saw the corruption that existed in the UK where the Church of England is a public church, funded by tax payers. The government and church both engaged in highly questionable political and religious interactions, trading power and money for offices of worship and spiritual guidance. 

Consider also the 500s through the 1700s, where for 1200 years, the Catholic Church actively interfered or in some cases even outright ruled nations using faith to instill fear, suppress the spread of education, and demanding full and unquestioned fealty, or face persecution by the Church. It was a dark age in Europe where science was dismissed and condemned, and questions glared at with disgust. The only people who benefited from that system was the Church, and it was the state that suffered at the hand of the Church. 

So when I say I favor the separation of Church and State, I base that view on the history of interactions between church and politics. It's important that we understand that the separation of Church means keeping the judgments of churches out of governance, but not your expression of faith from guiding you as an individual. Christianity extols the values of ethical conduct, righteous administration, and servant-based leadership. It begs people to fight injustice, to expose the dark areas, and to bring judgment to those who commit wrongs.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Coming Out on Many Fronts - The Mini-Memoir of Me

I don't know if you'll share this but, I thought I'd make a stab at it anyway.  When I was very young, I was not sure why I was drawn to men.  I didn't understand it, I was confused about it, and honestly, women never did anything for me in any form.  When I was a teenager I tried to pretend I was attracted to women, had a girlfriend in High School and in College.

I came from a rather conservative and fundamentalist background, accepting the words they taught up to a point.  I was anti-gay, anti-gay marriage, anti-gay anything for a long time because I was told that’s how things were supposed to be if you wanted to be a “good Christian man”, even though I myself knew to some degree what I was.  I even got to chatting with a few guys online, deluding myself that I was just looking for friends, when, in fact, I was looking for a boyfriend, but didn't quite realize it.  I kept this facade up for a long time.

But alas, it was so not meant to be.  What did it for me was me and her were at a restaurant eating a late dinner.  One of the cooks came up to me and we chatted it up for about 45 minutes.  I felt real bad afterword cause she was left there in a dumbfounded silence as I engaged this guy (who was very attractive) in a rather intense conversation about theater and food.  Sadly he wasn't gay, but the experience opened my eyes quite a lot.  I had felt infinitely more comfortable talking to him and engaging him in discussions than I did with her.  And it wasn't because I didn't
care about her, but because the connection wasn’t there.

Also during my 2nd year at LCSC in Lewiston, ID…I had resided in a house where about 30 people lived.  It was an old convent turned into a dormitory with kitchen and common area.  Most the people were nice and quite reasonable to be around.  I had a roommate who was a unique character to say the least but, he was good at brightening my spirits with invitations to come drink and the occasional driving him for his weekend imprisonment for a few slaps on the hand things he did.  A few other friends lived there as well.  But one day when I was walking back from class, it was about October or November, and I had left my window cracked to let air in.  I had noticed something that wasn’t on my seat last time I drove.  I remember it quite vividly.  Something designed to embarrass you or expose you before you’re ready or intimidate you never really goes away.  Someone had decided it would be funny to drop gay porn into my car.  And brightly as in front of God and everyone, had been a gay porn DVD.  Never in my life had I felt more dread and intimidation than that moment, knowing someone had decided to behave so insensitively.  Now I know this doesn’t compare to others’ experiences, but, this was truly something I could never forget.  I grabbed the DVD and quickly deposited it into the dumpster outside the dorm, and brushed it off like it was nothing.  I continued on my way as I normally do, but now with a twinge of dread in the back of my mind.  I asked myself questions like “Is this the start of something?  Is it going to get worse?”  Thankfully it didn’t…but it easily could have.
Courage: 90% of resistance is cautionary.
~Shigeo Shingo

After that, I slowly worked up the courage to start coming out to people.  My friend, Barbara was the first
one I came out to, telling her I was Bi, partially cause I was still confused, but knew enough that I liked men, but still wasn't sure if women were off the table.  Then finally about a year after that, I and a guy met onlin
e.  We decided to drive 8 hours to meet each other.  Oh we felt such a chemistry with each other, our chats were passionate, we loved each other’s pictures, and so, we decided to meet in the middle.  After finally meeting in our Motel, it literally was love at first sight.  We spent two amazing days together talking and cuddling and truly expressing our feelings to each other.  When we parted, I felt like he took a part of me with him, and him with me.  For a few days after that, every time I touched my arm, it felt like he was touching me, like the way we caressed in bed together.  We carried on with each other from a distance for eight months until we finally broke it off.  Neither of us could get away to see each other, and he was still closeted.  It broke my heart for a while…but I gathered my strength and moved on.  We still talk on occasion, but, I’m not expecting us to try again anytime soon.

The next chapter of my adult life started in 2009, when I entered Evergreen to finish my Bachelor’s degree.  The Evergreen State College is renowned with having one of the most active and vibrant college gay and lesbian groups in the nation.  As a centerpiece of social justice, I was drawn to the discussions about social justice.  Even bombarded with messages about full equal rights for LGBT Couples, I still sharply questioned the position, trying to be one of those (in my mind) people who take the road of least resistance and wanted to build a bridge between the two opposing viewpoints.   Looking back on the position, I can see now why I was so wrong in its viewpoint.  Though I don’t feel I was wrong for trying to find common ground.

Evergreen actually took this picture and made it a postcard
After I graduated in 2011, I
was politically active for the Republican Party, believing 100% in the views that given the freedom, the market will provide and everyone will have everything.  I voted fervently for most of the Republican candidates on the ticket in 2010 (trust me, I STRONGLY regret it to this day), and continued to try to build bridges of common view.  I argued fervently that government isn’t evil, but it should back off, and just let things work that can work, and control things it should control.  With the recent tea-publican menace worming its way into the party, such views were not accepted easily.

So finally, 2012 comes around, and I’m proudly wearing my Romney sticker on my car, and hanging on the words of both candidates passionately, absorbing their talking points, each of them…and what finally was the straw that broke the Camel’s back…”You didn’t build that….” Taken out of context over and over and over again, into utter absurdity.  At this point, I am totally disillusioned as to why I’m even supporting this party any more.  I took a hard long look at myself in the mirror and started inventorying my views.  I compared them aggressively against the party platforms of both parties.  Now I know my history.  I know what kind of damage church and state together can cause.  I know what kind of damage unregulated greed can cause, and I know from my Bible, that government is NOT evil but an arm of justice (See Romans 13 for a detailed scripture reference).  I was also pro-choice even before this as a Republican, because I believed that each circumstance bears a different level of morality…and it is not the place of the state to hold women prisoners in their own bodies by legislatively stripping women of this right to choose to reproduce…despite my personal views on abortion.  So finally, I started reading more.  End This Depression NOW! – By Paul Krugman, as well as his other books: The Conscience of a Liberal and A Return to Depression Economics.  I tore through all three books hanging on his every word…and it suddenly occurred to me, that I am a 100% Democrat.  If this was so on economics, and mostly on social issues, then, it would make sense.

In addition to coming out to my parents as gay, I also came out
to them as a 100% Dark Blue Liberal...which I think actually was harder for them to understand than me coming out as gay.  Looking back on my life, my experiences, my interactions with others, and finally, my faith…I understand more than ever why equality is important to me.  To me, coming out was the way that I could be truly an individual.  An individual with pride about who and what I am.  Throughout the last few years, I have continuously buried myself in history, in culture, and in science as best as I can understand it, to better understand what it means to be Gay.  To break it down to the simplest of explanations: Being Gay is nature’s way of creating uniqueness in an otherwise homogeneous world.  Instead of women, I love men.  And by love men, I mean I desire their companionship, their presence, their passion, their touch, their shoulder, their voice, their eyes, and finally, their unconditional Love.  Not “Love Because” or “Love IF”, but “Love PERIOD.”  Love without limit, reason, purpose, or condition.  The kind of love that would thrust me into a gunshot or throw myself on top of him.  The kind of love that Jesus gives us every day:  “Love Period.”

Thursday, October 3, 2013

The Speaker of the House Philosophy

The Right-Honorable John Bercow
Speaker of the British Parliament, Elected 2009
No Party Affiliation
Speaker Boehner has worked himself into quite a pickle.  On one side, he has right-wing extremists who threaten his speakership if he concedes to Democratic demands to pass a clean Continuing Resolution…while on the other hand he’s facing a very angry electorate who will ultimately dump him like a bad habit if he doesn't pass a clean C.R..  So what ever should he do?

The Right-Honorable Sir Arthur Guinness
Speaker of the House, New Zealand, 1911

Well, before I answer that question, let’s look at what a speaker SHOULD be as compared to the speaker we have now.  The Speaker of the House is the 3rd most powerful man in the US Government.  He’s 3rd in line for the presidency, he’s autocratic leader of the entire Lower House of Congress, and he pretty much has the power to do whatever he wants in regards to the House business.  When looking at other types of speakers of the house in other systems of government, the speaker often elected by the entire body of legislators.  The Speaker of the United Kingdom Parliament is often one who is regarded as fair and entirely equitable, having no party affiliation or loyalty during his time in as the speaker.  He mediates disputes and maintains the house rules and delegates which members can speak at which time.  He’s also a non-voting member of parliament and does not vote except in cases of a tie.  And in even in that circumstance, the rules of voting while the speaker are very strict as to maintain a non-partisan status. 

John Boehner, 

Speaker of the House
Republican, Elected Jan 2011
The role of the speaker, in my view, is to serve as a servant of the houses factions.  He should be one who organizes the agenda proportionally, allowing all members to vote on whatever piece of legislation either side wishes to present.  Now, I’m not saying that there should not be any order to it…but I do believe that the issues discussed in the House should be representative of the house’s membership.  So if Democrats control 55% of the membership and Republicans 45%...then 55% of the issues discussed in the House should be from Democrats, and 45% from Republicans.  A fair, proportional, equitable division of the issues presented.  The speaker’s role in this regard is to make sure that the rules of order are followed, that the time to speak be divided evenly and fairly, and that the parties behave themselves in a civil manner.  Further, the speaker should never be a partisan in any way when an issue affecting national issues occur.  The Speaker’s role is to ensure that the rules of the House are enforced and not to selectively enforce them or give special preference to his or her own party. 
Nancy Pelosi, 

Former Speaker of the House, Democrat
Elected 2009

Some changes that I would like to see in the House in regards to a speaker is a 2/3rds majority vote for the job.  That a simple majority is insufficient to elect a speaker that is truly viewed as non-partisan.  A non-partisan speaker is essential to the functioning of the chamber and ensures a fair and equitable exchange of dialogue between the parties.  It also would ensure that the speaker maintains a good relationship with all parties and divides the work proportionally.  Finally, a vote of no-confidence which can be initiated by a petition signed by 1/3 of the chamber’s members.  This would also keep the speaker’s non-partisan status enforced and would ensure that the speaker appeals to ALL members of the chamber to maintain fairness and equality to all parties and members.

Thanks for your time, and please follow me: 

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Sunday, September 22, 2013

God: Sometimes a Flood is Just a Flood

Colorado had one of the worst periods of flooding in over 1000 years according to climatologists and the oral histories of various native peoples who lived in that area before we "moved" in. Immediately after that event had concluded, but before the water even had time to recede, neo-conservatives jumped to the air waves blaming gays and abortion and "The Liberal Agenda" for provoking "God's Wrath".  This has the intent of inciting anger against liberals.  Furthermore, it's designed to deceive others into thinking and voting a particular way.

One of the biggest lies going around right now in Christian Circles is that God punishes the whole for the actions of a few. If we are to reason that God is a just god, and that God is the greatest of judges, and that we reasonably can say that judges' roles are to be arbiters of justice...then explain to me the logic of this: I'm going to smite the whole nation because a few people do this, or a few people do that. How is that justice? How is that judgment? How is that fair? God is the god of fair, the god of just, the god of equality and reason, God is the god of rational thinking. 

The 1720s, 1820s, and 1920s taught us one thing: That Christianity is about that personal relationship with Jesus, that that relationship is the centerfold of the Christian Faith, and that you literally make your own bed with whatever behaviors you engage in or do or whatever. The hell you live in is the one you create for yourself through your choices. So again, I believe 100% that God does not punish the nation because of the actions of a few. I believe it to be greatly contrary to the spirit and purpose of Christianity, as well as a viscous lie to instill fear in others. And as we know, God does not instill in us a spirit of fear. 

So is it reasonable to say that the premise of God punishing our nation for whatever is a lie of the enemy to deceive and to instill fear in others? Could it be that it is used as a manipulation tactic to get neo-conservatives elected? And is it reasonable to say that such inflammatory rhetoric accomplishes nothing except to manipulate those that are less informed, less grounded, and less secure about life into voting and thinking a certain way? Yes, it is. God does not punish us.   We do a pretty good job of that on our own. He (Jesus) waits there patiently for us to return TO him ready to start over. He doesn't pound us into the pavement til we say "Mercy, you win, I give up."

Friday, September 20, 2013

The Sabbath: A Different Perspective

I remember the first time I visited a Seventh-day Adventist Church.  I strongly recommend one if you ever feel the desire to understand what Seventh-day Adventists believe.  Though in the most basic of senses, Seventh-day Adventists believe in the same core values as any other Christian denomination.  That Christ is the Savior, and that by his blood, the sacrifice of the Old Law as required in the Covenant with God as detailed in the Old Testament, was fulfilled permanently.  And that Christ, on the third day of his death, rose and ascended to Heaven as the Son of God, but also God as described by the concept of the Holy Trinity.

One of the most significant beliefs of the Seventh-Day Adventist Church is that of "The Sabbath."  For those who are unaware, the Sabbath is the 7th day of the week, usually accepted as Saturday, where it is believed that God has commanded us to rest and take a day off.  On such a day, it is argued that man should do no work and that nobody with the Israelites should do any work either.  No the livestock or the animals or immigrants or guests or anybody.  Take a day off to remember God and his wonders, provision, and gifts that He has given us.  For a more detailed description of The Sabbath from a Biblical perspective, see Genesis 2:2-3, and Exodus 20:8-11.

But let me throw a little reason into the mix.  From a practical, real-world perspective, having a day off is a healthy and necessary thing to maintain a healthy body.  Most work cycles in our society are built around the two-day rest, five-day work cycle.  To maintain a good healthy body, the body must rest from strenuous labor from time to time to heal from the strain undertaken from any kind of work, whether physical or mental.  It gives the mind and body time to relax, to refresh, and for the mind, time to enjoy the pleasures of life, whatever those may be.  So, when we look at scripture, and we see a great deal of emphasis being put on observing the Sabbath...what that tells me is that having a day off was very important.  It also stands to reason that the Sabbath important enough to be codified with a death penalty for anyone violating it during the times of The Exodus.  It was also important enough for Jesus to speak about during his ministry as accounted and detailed in the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.

In the times of "The Exodus" as well as later up through even the 1800s I'd argue, the standard of living was low for many people.  Some civilizations had attained a level of advancement where there was a great deal of leisure time, and others required massive amounts of labor hours to keep things even at a subsistence level.  Would it stand to reason that in the times of the Old Testament, as well as the New Testament, that God, and Jesus both would set aside a day for people to take a break?  And not just people, but land, animals, labor, and of course anyone.  Did you know, that Exodus commanded the Israelites to leave their land fallow once every 7 years.  On the 7th year of a planting season, they were demanded to keep the land free from planting, and let it lie fallow.  The scientific reason for this is so that the land could replenish it's natural nourishment.  A real world and relatively recent example of this going wrong is the Dust Bowl of the early 1900s, where the farm lands of the Midwest were depleted of any usable value due to over use and over-planting.  It resulted in a period of history where many farmers lost their farms and many people starved due to food shortages.

I personally believe that all people should have a day off.  There is no question in my mind that that is a necessary and proper part of being a healthy human being.  But also, do I believe the Sabbath is required as part of a Christian Walk?  I am of the viewpoint that, in the Character of Christs' teachings, and in line with the consistency of walking by faith simply to walk by faith and no other reason, no.  I do not believe that "The Sabbath" as defined by Judaism or by Seventh-day Adventists or any other denomination of Abrahamic Faiths is a necessary mechanism to reap the rewards of walking the path of Christianity.  I do believe that its a couple of things though:

1) I believe it is a necessary biological need to have a day off.  I believe that the emphasis was placed so heavily on the Sabbath was to instill with urgency that human beings cannot sustain in the long term, they're physical health, if they work continuously.  A day off functions as both biological rest and as personal self-reflection or spiritual renewal.  There's a reason why such Sabbath regulations in Exodus also included animals, aliens, strangers, travelers and/or other guests/non-believers.  It was to ensure that you didn't make others who were traveling among the Hebrews weren't forced to work when everyone else had the day off.  It was strict, and it was reasonable given the time.  "Honor the Sabbath and Keep it Holy" is a very a-typical demand as opposed to the rest of the 10 commandments.  Was it truly a mandated day off for all time in all generations?  Or was it a command that could be more loosely observed given the way life treats you.  Or is it purely pragmatic to ensure people get a day off from everything?  That's the mystery.

2) I believe that as a believer in Christ or any other variation of Judeo-Christian beliefs, Judaism, Islam, and the like, that having a day of worship is a VERY good idea.  That such a day should be observed for the purposes of refreshing yourself spiritually and mentally, as well as interacting with those in your faith community collectively.  It also is a launching ground for civic action and services for the poor and needy.  And I believe that worship, whether on a Saturday, Sunday, Wednesday, or Monday or whatever day you choose to congregate with other believers are equally important.  I don't see Jesus judging one because they chose to worship on Sunday rather than Saturday, or Wednesday, or whatever day.  Because, I argue in Christianity, it's the motives of the heart that matter most, not the dogmatic ritual of a thing.

Overall though, you must follow your heart on this issue.  If you believe the Sabbath is the literal Sabbath, then by all means, honor your conscience and observe the Sabbath as your faith and personal convictions require you to do so.  I personally don't think I give a lot of credit to the strict observance to the Saturday-Sabbath.  But I do believe in taking a day to rest, and taking a day to reflect on creation, on God, on the nature of the universe and to just flex those existential intelligence muscles.

Tell me what you think.  I encourage good dialogue.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Fundamentalists Live In Fear

So, here's a revelation that I want to share:

Conservative and fundamentalist Christians live in fear. And here's why.

1. They believe that the actions of a few bring punishment on the whole.

2. They believe that the force of law must be used to purify and unify the population to avoid God's wrath.

3. They believe in using Christianity as a Criminal code, using the verse of Paul and Simon and Peter and even Jesus to write criminal statutes because of their fear.

4. They believe that religion is sufficient to explain the natural workings of the world, and that all other perspectives are invalid because Man's understanding of nature isn't perfect...yet some how their understanding of the divine will of God is perfect for some reason.

5. They believe in the ultimate supremacy of Christianity and that all other cultures, viewpoints, and religions are apostasies and must be trampled out to protect the "moral integrity" of society.

It's true that the Bible has stories in it, particularly in the Old Testament where actions of the one or the few has caused God to turn his back on his people. However, we do not live in the Old Testament under the law of the Old Testament God. He formed a new Covenant with us, that we listen to his teachings, walk in faith, and serve man as Christ served man during his ministry.

Christ never called for nor did he ever hint at Christianity being institutionalized. Christianity was to be a private walk between you and your savior, acting on the convictions of your heart, and displaying his love and glory in your every day life and your normal, regular interactions.

Christ never called for "eye for an eye" manner of thinking. He sought fair and equitable justice for people who did wrong, and he called for mercy, compassion, and mitigation. God being a just judge, I believe, will truly be the "one-on-one" judge taking every single thought, motive, and reason into account in the end just as an earthly judge would.

Christ's whole centerpiece of ministry was to serve. To go into the masses with your gifts and be a quiet, responsible, just, kind, giving servant to man. Such acts express Christ's love to everyone.

You more fundamentalist Christians out there, you live in fear, you walk in fear, and you work in fear because you fear that if you're not perfect, God will smite you, smite the nation, and smite the people. And I tell you that it is a lie. God is not an authoritarian, Christ is not his henchman here to club you for being you.

Your walk of fear has caused you to delude yourselves into subjugating millions of people across the world, making gays, lesbians, bisexual, and transgendered persons live in fear for their lives, believing that your only desire in life is to persecute them, rob them of their civil liberties, and suppress who they are as people, who they were naturally crafted to be.

You seek to suppress women by some outdated notion that women are less than men, due to an obscure event in GENESIS which you believe God said women are subservient to men. Christ broke that norm when he told men to cherish, love, and protect their women just as Christ loves, and cherishes the Church. Women are not to serve you, you and women are to serve each other as equals, partners, companions in all ventures, journeys, pains, and hurts.

1st Peter 3:1-7

1 Wives, in the same way submit yourselves to your own husbands so that, if any of them do not believe the word, they may be won over without words by the behavior of their wives, 2 when they see the purity and reverence of your lives. 3 Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes. 4 Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight. 5 For this is the way the holy women of the past who put their hope in God used to adorn themselves. They submitted themselves to their own husbands, 6 like Sarah, who obeyed Abraham and called him her lord. You are her daughters if you do what is right and do not give way to fear.

7 Husbands, in the same way be considerate as you live with your wives, and treat them with respect as the weaker partner and as heirs with you of the gracious gift of life, so that nothing will hinder your prayers.

So, yes I write to criticize and oppose fundamentalism, because in of itself it is wrong in all ways. It takes 1/2 a passage, message, and purpose, and writes its own 2nd half. Tolerance, respect, love, compassion, empathy, and mercy are qualities that NO Christian should ever be without if they expect to truly serve the will of Christ, which is to serve.

1st Timothy 1:1-18

1 Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, in keeping with the promise of life that is in Christ Jesus,

2 To Timothy, my dear son:

Grace, mercy and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord.

3 I thank God, whom I serve, as my ancestors did, with a clear conscience, as night and day I constantly remember you in my prayers. 4 Recalling your tears, I long to see you, so that I may be filled with joy. 5 I am reminded of your sincere faith, which first lived in your grandmother Lois and in your mother Eunice and, I am persuaded, now lives in you also.

6 For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands. 7 For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline. 8 So do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord or of me his prisoner. Rather, join with me in suffering for the gospel, by the power of God. 9 He has saved us and called us to a holy life—not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace. This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time, 10 but it has now been revealed through the appearing of our Savior, Christ Jesus, who has destroyed death and has brought life and immortality to light through the gospel. 11 And of this gospel I was appointed a herald and an apostle and a teacher. 12 That is why I am suffering as I am. Yet this is no cause for shame, because I know whom I have believed, and am convinced that he is able to guard what I have entrusted to him until that day.

13 What you heard from me, keep as the pattern of sound teaching, with faith and love in Christ Jesus. 14 Guard the good deposit that was entrusted to you—guard it with the help of the Holy Spirit who lives in us.

15 You know that everyone in the province of Asia has deserted me, including Phygelus and Hermogenes.

16 May the Lord show mercy to the household of Onesiphorus, because he often refreshed me and was not ashamed of my chains. 17 On the contrary, when he was in Rome, he searched hard for me until he found me. 18 May the Lord grant that he will find mercy from the Lord on that day! You know very well in how many ways he helped me in Ephesus.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Republicans Going the Way of the Dinosaur

If Republicans hope to salvage what's left of their credibility and legitimacy, then the members of the party are going to have to take bold steps.  Often times Republicans these days are characterized by their very loud red-neck cousins who have about as much good sense as a long-tailed cat who lives in a store full of rocking chairs.  However, I know for a fact that there are well-meaining truly educated Republicans out there who see their party crashing and burning around them.  These middle-of-the-road Republicans, or also called moderates, are the only hope for restoring the Republicans to a state where they can effectively govern and debate with Democrats.

Right now, we see a party that is literally embroiled in their own mini-culture war.  There are wings of the party who teeter on economic Libertarian Fascists who value their idealism more than governing.  Rand Paul, self-proclaimed Libertarian who labels himself a Republican repeatedly pushes and advocates for policy that would eliminate taxation, regulation, and public support of vital industries and ventures such as education and unemployment.  Then there's This wing of the party would dismantle every single arm of the government, leaving us at the mercy of huge corporations to have their way with the public like a dog having it's way with it's stuffed animal chew toy.

There are a couple of far-fetched solutions that might bring some sanity back to the House.  If the Democratic House Caucus could court 18 Moderate Republicans who are thoroughly disgusted with the Tea Party Caucus, provide them some incentives to caucus with Democrats, then Democrats could shift the balance of power into the hands of Democrats.  This would allow a majority of the desperately needed legislation to pass with some bipartisan support.  The speakership would be reopened to election in the House, and house committees would be reshuffled to reflect the new coalition majority with some Republicans being given chairmanships, as well as some moderate legislation being pushed to the floor for a vote.  This House could salvage the extremely frayed and destroyed image of the House and restore it to the institution it should be.  One that passes laws, pays the bills, and moves the legislative process forward.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Natural Marriage is a Facade and Doesn't Exist!

Matt Barber, a "Christian" talk show radio host went on record to say: “Make no question about it: the institution of natural marriage was designed by, and is owned by, the creator of the universe, God,” Barber said. “And we will not render unto Caesar what does not belong to Caesar.”

There are so many points wrong with this statement that it's not even funny:

1) There is no such thing as "natural" marriage.  Marriage has always been a legal/political institution, even in tribal cultures where couplings are generally recognized to gain access to resources, for families to join together to collectively gain from each other.  Marriage is an institution which has vastly varying degrees of interpretation depending on culture, nationality, and law in each nation.  There is no universal "Natural" marriage.  It's a legal contract which endows two people with legal obligations to each other, and to the state as a unified social unit.

2) Christ said "Render unto Caesar that which is Caesar's, render unto God, that which is God's" was in response to a question about paying taxes. Taxes are a matter of the state, not of God, and in the broader context, Christ was even taking it a step further and saying don't mix faith and politics.  The two are inherently incompatible.  Furthermore than that, what you BELIEVE is in the realm of "God" is not shared by the larger society and while marriage may carry some significant spiritual meaning, that meaning cannot be imposed on everybody on the basis that it's faith-based.  If marriage has a significant spiritual meaning to you, then exercise that tenant of your faith, but let everyone else do as they please.  You do not have the right to impose your religious view of marriage on the larger public.  Such an action is highly unethical and defeats the purpose of faith all together.  Forced faith is not faith, but oppression, and subjugation, and is anti-Christ to the extreme.

3) Christians have an obligation to follow the laws as they're written in the land to the best of their ability.  Please share with my how letting my LGBT brothers and sisters enter into a legally binding civil marriage upsets your world?  You are not responsible for the belief of others, you have no right to impose your views on others, and you have no right to judge others.  If you insist on doing so, the you have lost the entire point of Christianity in it's entirety and you're in a cult of political personality.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

A Storm is Comming....Fast

Patriotism is a funny thing these days.  We have Tea-Party Patriots, we have Civil Patriots, we have Democratic Patriots, we even have high-crime patriots (Edward Snowden being one example).  Each of us is a patriot in our own way.  This is a shout-out to my good friend Kyle Wolfe, who, today, in solidarity with his other organizers was among one of the 120 people arrested in the North Carolina State Assembly for failing to disperse when ordered.  Today the North Carolina Legislature is considering several very controversial bills. A few of the most serious ones are SB 666 which would prohibit parents of dependent students from claiming said student if he votes in a jurisdiction outside the state where he or she is attending college or university.  Then there's the legislation that threatens to cut off unemployment benefits to over 71,000 families across the state, as well as laws about hydraulic fracturing, and a few other bills.  Today, the participants in these "Moral Monday" demonstrations have drawn over 3,000-5,000 protesters to the state capital and has put North Carolina in the national spotlight.  In speaking with Kyle, he told me "its weird I'm PROUD of being arrested."  

Like many other states in this legislative session, almost all the legislatures being picketed, demonstrated, and canvassed for their radical views and policies, most are from heavily Republican-controlled states.  Recently, Wisconsin saw it's own drama when the President of the State Senate shouted obscenely at Democratic Senators because they attempted to call attention back to the debate they desired on a highly controversial abortion bill requiring a vaginal ultrasound.  The speaker shouted at opponents of the bill whom, they believe rushed the bill to a vote shutting down all debate on the legislation abruptly.  In that instance, he broke his gavel while trying to maintain order in the chamber.

The Texas Legislature attempted to pull a fast one on the public by calling a special session of the Legislature to attempt to steamroll sweeping anti-abortion legislation through the House and Senate before anyone could blink.  But currently, at this time, Senator Wendy Davis is mounting a good old-fashioned, 13 hour filibuster of the original kind, standing without the right to a break or to lean on anything and speak until the time to vote on the bill expires as 12-Midnight, local time.  The move was spawned from a public-organized citizens' filibuster where hundreds of people piled into committee meetings to speak publically about the anti-abortion legislation that would essentially close 37 of the 40 abortion clinics in the state, leaving millions of women without access to women's health care services and abortion services, as well as cutting off all of Western Texas entirely.  We'll have to see of Ms. Davis is successful in her efforts at the end of the day.

Washington State has drawn it's own Republican backlash as Republicans, who make up 95% of the Majority Coalition Caucus, a bipartisan (used loosely) collaborative body of 24 Republicans and 2 renegade Democrats who have chosen to caucus together forming a majority even though Democrats technically have the most members present, are threatening a state-shutdown of government due to severe differences in taxation and spending...most of which revolves around the Estate Tax and education funding provisions.  Republicans are demanding that the money being invested in Education not go to teacher salaries, while Democrats are objecting fervently at the attempt to squelch teacher pay increases.  And recently, a member of the The People's House, Republican Liz Pike from the 18th Legislative District, came under harsh criticism for sounding off on her views regarding teachers on her Facebook page, by posting this Open Letter:

A life in the day of a WA State Representative...
I spent the morning answering emails from constituents. I receive a lot of emails from teachers complaining about their cost of living increases being suspended. 
Here's an open letter to public educators!
Congratulations on enjoying your last day of the school year. If I had the opportunity to choose my career all over, I would have opted to get the necessary degree and teaching certificate so that I too could enjoy summertime off with my children, spring break vacations, christmas break vacations, paid holidays, a generous pension and health insurance benefits.
Instead, I chose to work a career in private sector business so that I could be one of those tax payers who funds your salaries and benefits as a state employee in a local school district.
First, let me be clear, thank you for your service to our schools. I hope you are one of the excellent instructors who is inspiring our children to reach their full intellectual potential and learn the value of true leadership in our community. I hope you are one of the brightest and best in your teaching profession who is willing to raise the bar in our public education system that unfortunately continues to plummet when compared to worldwide education standards. The big difference between the U.S. public education system and others in the world is that we have unions that only care about the adults in the system. Since the rise of teachers' unions in this nation, our public education system has deteriorated. 
I always encourage folks to choose a job they love! If you are uninspired because of the lack of a cost of living increase, I encourage you to speak with your neighbors who work in the private sector. Ask them when was the last time they were guaranteed pay increases that were not based on performance standards. Furthermore, teachers who are dissatisfied with their pay and benefits should look for work elsewhere so that someone who is inspired to greatness can take their place in the classroom. Our children deserve an exceptional and inspired teacher in every classroom. Don't you agree?
If you look at all the possible things the state can do for its citizens, you will quickly realize there will never be enough money for all of the programs that some legislators want. Just like you and I do in our own household budgets, so must the legislature. For me, it's all about priorities and spending less money that the state takes in. If we do this, we will have a reserve for emergencies and economic downturns so that we can avoid raising yet more taxes.
I am a State Representative with core values in smaller, more efficient government, more personal responsibility and less reliance on government in our everyday lives. My positions were clearly stated in my year long campaign before I was elected and they should come as no surprise.
To every excellent teacher in Clark County. Thank you for the great work you are doing in our classrooms. Enjoy your summer!
Liz PikeWashington State House of Representatives18th Legislative District"Protecting life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness"
This unleashed a firestorm of responses from across the state about her indignation towards educators and the Education and Teaching unions who are constantly fighting with the legislature for more funding for the state's already impaired Education system.  This also following a Supreme Court Ordered increase in funding to meet the state's constitutional obligation to provide public education to it's citizens.

Across the nation, citizens and Republican-Controlled legislatures are either gridlocked or clashing horribly as unpopular, pro-business, anti-gay, anti-woman, anti-human measures are passed through these houses.  Only time will tell if this backlash will allow Republicans to survive the 2014 elections.

Monday, June 24, 2013

The Free Market and Libertarians

There was one thing that John Maynard Keynes understood about people is their nature.  Keynes was a keen observer of humans and often made remarks about them in his discourses with other people.  In particular, he had an affinity for hands.  It's weird, but, we all have our quirks that help to define us in some mild way.  But in the realm of understanding human nature, Keynes understood the instability of the human condition which, I believe, helped shape his views about government interventionism.  Keynes argued often that Capitalism was necessary but unstable, and required a hedge against severe shocks to the system.  This is where the ideal of government interventionism comes into play.  The government is the only entity large enough in the economy to affect any form of influential change to the market and the only investor large enough to stabilize supply shocks or credit shortages.

Libertarians would have you believe that we should turn over all our policing force to the private sector.  They argue that supply and demand can solve all problems and that markets will adjust themselves in time.  And on a micro-level I believe this to be true as well, however, on the macro-stage, the rules are different.  When a shock occurs to a region vs. a nation, the regional economy can seek resources out of state or out of region to help stabilize the markets that have been shocked.  A sudden drop in the supply of coffee in the area can cause a price increase, but, with the interstate markets like they are, obtaining a new supply of coffee is relatively easy.  However, when the entire national market is affected by a supply shock...say the price of oil spiking to unabsorbable levels like what happened in the 70s, the sudden shock on a macro-scale can be too much for the market to absorb and the government would need to take steps to stabilize the supply shock.  Government interventionism isn't about seizing control of the market, but taking steps to ensure that it doesn't collapse in on itself.  As Europe is finding out that the lack of public investment and stimulus spending, which is designed to give demand a crutch until the private sector can take over, is harming their economic growth substantially.  Many Euro-zone states are in recession because the ECB (European Central Bank) has been very tight-lipped with the money supply.  Partially responsible are the Germans because they're currently the nation who is in charge of the bloc's money supply.  Normally these nations in Europe would take their own currency, spend on public investment, run some short-term deficits, cause a smidge of inflation, and everybody would be back to full employment only after a few years.

Libertarians have another story.  It has been my observation that Libertarians tend to sharply moralize the market believing that any government involvement in their lives is immoral, and that the assertion that anyone should pay for anyone else is objectionable.  Now if I were to come up to you in the street, say to you "Give $10 to that guy in front of you and pay for his groceries or be jailed."  You'd look at me and say "get bent" or some variation of that.  I think most rational people would.  However, if I were to come up to you and everyone else in society and say "Please provide $10 so we can build a bridge for everybody to use."  You'd perhaps be a bit more sympathetic to that because the money is being used to build a good that everybody can use.  Or, sticking with the example of groceries, "Please provide $10 so that we can provide food to a family that's impoverished so they don't starve and end up on the streets."  Most people would find that to be at least reasonable on the premise that nobody believes anybody should starve.  Libertarians place an unreasonable amount of optimism and faith in people in business to provide for all our needs.  And while the sentiment may be noble or even somewhat rational to a limited degree, it's not logical.

By placing our faith in business and the private sector to provide our needs exclusively, including poverty services and charity, we are depending on a system that can change at a moment's notice.  The benevolence of an individual is dependent on that individual choosing to engage in an activity that is directly against his interest and being happy to do so.  And while we do have examples of individuals rising above their own wants and giving away vast amounts of money, it wouldn't provide the necessary stability to sustain and assist in rebuilding a person's life.  In the world today, there are dozens of individuals who have demonstrated great generosity.  But I fail to see examples of full-blown social poverty programs that are privately run that have been notable in helping people from rags to self-sufficiency.

Most Left-Liberals (which I identify as), argue that problems such as hunger, homelessness, and poverty affect society to a greater degree than asking for a little money to help those who have nothing.  The argument is that a starving person will follow their most basest survive.  And to survive, most human beings will do whatever is necessary to preserve their corporeal existence.  Starvation, severe inequality, classist social mechanisms and severe injustice are the root causes of political uprisings, and, while I believe we're definitely not to that point, I do believe that if we continue on the course we're on now, specifically in regards to business and economics, we may reach that boiling point.

Wealth inequality will continue to have a toxic effect on our society as long as it remains an unsolved problem.  The fear that many progressives had during the 1890s is that the corporate machine would exceed government power, and impose itself on the citizenry as the defacto true government.  The Mr. Monopoly Cartoon is a perfect example, shown above.  This sparked the Sherman and Anti-Trust acts of the early 1900s, and has been the basis for government regulating wealth distribution and concentrations of political, economic and monetary power.  The Sherman and Anti-Trust acts were responsible for the breakup of Standard Oil, Ma Bell, and several other super-large firms which threatened to unseat the duly elected government of the people.  Maybe not through revolutionary means, but by way of becoming so large that their departure from the economic stage would cause a severe disruption to society, therefore making their presence more important and their needs more important than that of the people.

There is no evidence historically or even anecdotally that the Free Market as Libertarians contend it to be have any interest in furthering the interests of anyone except those that consume their products, buy their stock, and seek their company for employment.  There has been no notable private interest that has taken the initiative to care for the poor in any great capacity that would be necessary to abolish the social safety net.  And what few private interests are present are too small to carry the entire burden by themselves.  Government-assistance programs are necessary to help move people out of the cycle of poverty and into a position where they can meet their basic needs then move to greater levels of need hierarchies.  The Libertarian view of society is an idealism, unrealistic, and naive.  The only real solution is a blending of private market forces with government oversight managing and responsibly regulating the activities of business to protect the interests of the people, and to ensure that government of the people is the only government present.


Wednesday, June 12, 2013

State Senator Mary Lazich Is Using “Lack of Education” excuse to restrict abortion while voting for those measures which cut those requirements from WI's Sex-ed laws.

Today the Wisconsin State Senate passed SB206 requiring women to obtain an ultrasound when seeking a pregnancy termination procedure.  State Senator Mary Lazich argued fervently on the senate floor that such procedures are necessary and proper because they fully educate the woman about her body, her pregnancy, and her developing fetus…giving the mother a “last chance” moment before she proceeds with her termination.  She remarked often that patients are told “you're doing the right thing” and “it’s just a cluster of cells.” 

However, there is some severe hypocrisy regarding Ms. Lazich statements and her voting record.  While Ms. Lazich is pushing for more education about human development so that mothers can make informed decisions about their bodies, she actively opposed such education by voting for SB 237 which did the following things to Wisconsin’s Sex education framework, including removing provisions which required medically accurate information regarding topics such as pregnancy, puberty, parenting, body image, sexuality, and sexual behavior. 

Ms. Lazich has repeatedly sought to take money from public education and divert it to vouchers which further the cycle of sex education ignorance as most private religious schools teach abstinence-only education and do not properly educate women about how their bodies function.  In the 2011-2013 budget passed by the Republican-dominated House and Senate, and signed by the Administration, the Administration took $1.6 Billion dollars from public and charter school education and diverted it to vouchers for kids to attend private religious schools.  Her voting yes for AB 40, the 2011-2013 budget, we again see Ms. Lazich is using the “ignorance of women about pregnancy” excuse while at the same time gutting public education and passing archaic provisions regarding the sex education requirements and mandates which include pregnancy education; requirements that Ms. Lazich is so profoundly concerned about suddenly now that she has a chance to trample on other women’s abortion rights.

Ms. Lazich is a political opportunist who’ll take advantage of every option she has to push her regressive and oppressive agenda regarding women’s health and medicine.  Her actions today speak profoundly to her character and cold-heartedness.  In her attempt to limit women’s healthcare access, she has turned herself into a flip-flopper and has blamed, what she perceives to be, the problem on an issue that she herself has caused and further perpetuated.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Bigoted Prayers are not Prayers

I am an LGBT Christian, and while I appreciate prayers as much as the next person. I like encouragement and positive reinforcement as well as sympathy and empathy. However, what I do not want is your prayers that I "get fixed" or that I "find the right girl." I do not want prayers about ridding the "evil" within me or "cleansing me of my unrighteous perversion." If you pray for me for those things...just stop...seriously. I don't want those kinds of prayers on my behalf, I don't want your prayers rooted in fear and bigotry, and I don't want your prayers about my alleged, what you view as, perversion. I am perfectly content with who I am. Nothing in this world, The Bible, or my thoroughly well-grounded understandings of scripture will convince me that I am "living in sin" because I want to spend the rest of my corporeal existence with a man. Please take your bigoted, hateful, ignorant, and thoroughly unChristian prayers, and shove them somewhere dark, dank and dreary so they rot into nothingness. Whatever happens in my life is mine to deal with. All I want is your love unconditionally...and nothing more. PERIOD. I'm growing VERY tired of walking on eggshells around people because they get upset by me talking about what is my very genuine and personal feelings about MY life. And I hate being made to feel that my feelings and desires are this facade that is influenced by Evil. I will not have my life, feelings, and experiences judged by you, or anybody else. YOU ARE NOT QUALIFIED! IT IS ABOVE YOUR PAYGRADE! Christians
I've never personally been to "anti-gay" therapy, and I never will go.
who judge are like hourly supervisors flexing their pitiful excuse of an existence to make themselves feel superior. I'd rather hold out for word from a higher-level if you seek to judge me...take a long walk of a short pier, cau
se I'm done with you.

Yes, my thoughts are rather harsh, and direct, and blunt...but you know what else...I want to feel like a human being. And I do not feel like one because I fear every day that something will happen that will severely disrupt my current life

Monday, May 27, 2013

Jesus Mandates That We Coexist

            I’m sure many of you have seen some version of this bumper sticker.  Many people recoil at seeing it because it contains symbols of various faiths, religions, and philosophies.  I especially see objections to it from Christians.  But to be fair, I live in the US where Christianity is prevalent and widespread.  But often when I see people object to “COEXIST”, I question…why do you object to that?

            To answer that question, first let is look at the ideology that fuels that particular point of view from the Christian point of view. 

1) John 14:5-7 – Thomas said to him, “Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?” Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you really know me, you will know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him.”

            This verse has often been used mistakenly to infer that Jesus is the absolute authority on everything in the world and that followers must be hostile to other philosophies.  Now in the context of the Christian Walk, this verse says that to follow Christianity, you must follow me.  And to follow me, you follow The Father who resides in me.  It’s a confusing verse and definitely warrants additional study to really get into the meat and potatoes of what Christ is trying to say.  But, it’s definitely clear that this verse is not calling for Christians to be hostile to other faiths, religions and philosophies.  Christianity has had its share of cross-cultural pollination.

            I'm sure this may get me in trouble for inferring that Christianity isn't the only way to "salvation", but, here's my honest opinion.  If your only concern is what's happening after you die, then you are not serving for the right reasons, and your works are useless.  Your works express your faith and the Love of Christ.  To do good because you want to avoid pain means that you serve out of coercion and fear, not out of a genuine heart of service.  Who cares about the end, when the Message of Christ is always concerned wit the here and now.

Matt 6: 25-34 (Heavily paraphrased)
            Worry not about tomorrow, for today has enough worries of it's own.  For if the Lord provides for the beasts of the field and the birds of the air and every little thing that crawls upon the Earth, how much more shall he provide for you?

2) 1st Corinthians 15:33 – Do not be misled: “Bad company corrupts good character.” 

            Again, this verse is often used to justify hatred or loathing or distrust of those following other religions.  Paul was speaking to the Corinthians who were quite the party-goers and really didn't have or care to have any self-control or restraint when enjoying the pleasures of the world.  Often times, those who may try to walk the path and associate with those who do not may get pulled into their less-than-noble behaviors.  However, this does not apply to those of other faiths or religions.  Paul’s statements are directed at those who hear, believe then go party and forget everything they just learned about the ministry and life of Jesus Christ.  It follows the same reasoning as “If your hand would cause you to sin, cut it off…” and that line of thinking.  Say for example, you’re a recovering drug addict, and you recovered because you no longer associated with people who were able to persuade you to partake.  The prudent and practical thing to do would be to no longer associate with that person.  Perhaps the temptation would be more than you could handle, and you’d fall back into habits that you fought out of.  Paul was addressing this kind of falling back into habits you kicked off.  But he was not referring to those of other faiths who wish to engage you in discussion, dialogue, and intercultural/inter-religious exchanges which may enrich you both as human beings. 

3) Ephesians 6:10-18 – Finally, let the mighty strength of the Lord make you strong. Put on all the armor that God gives, so you can defend yourself against the devil's tricks. We are not fighting against humans. We are fighting against forces and authorities and against rulers of darkness and powers in the spiritual world. So put on all the armor that God gives. Then when that evil day comes, you will be able to defend yourself. And when the battle is over, you will still be standing firm. Be ready! Let the truth be like a belt around your waist, and let God's justice protect you like armor. Your desire to tell the good news about peace should be like shoes on your feet. Let your faith be like a shield, and you will be able to stop all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Let God's saving power be like a helmet, and for a sword use God's message that comes from the Spirit. Never stop praying, especially for others. Always pray by the power of the Spirit. Stay alert and keep praying for God's people.

            This passage by far has been so horribly warped and misused.  The current challenge facing contemporary Christianity is the militarization of Christians.  Often social conservatives will misuse this and
Jesus Feeds the 5000
other verses to convince Christians that we must “fight” the heathens to change the nation to a “Christian” nation.  I believe, however that this verse details a frame of mind that a believer must have when engaging in discussion with those of other faiths and philosophies.  It is easy to forget that Christ called us to be servants, not warriors.  We serve all mankind, but we never discard why we serve in the first place.  Putting on the Armor of God is similar to emboldening yourself when you go into unknown or new circumstances.  The Armor of God analogy is designed to keep the believer rooted in what he or she believes and, to challenge believers to reinforce their faith with prayer, study, and worship.  The image created about the Sword of the Spirit is especially powerful.  I believe that Paul uses “The Sword” because he believes truth is sharper than any deceit.  And in this he is most definitely correct.  But “The Sword” is not a weapon to be used offensively, but to be used defensively.  It’s used to cut through the evil and wickedness that spews from the mouths of those who’d undermine in deceitful ways.  Jesus has never called us to be warriors, but peacemakers, diplomats, and servants of the highest caliber.  When I hear “Men of God or Women of God” calling us to go into the nations waving our Bibles like broadswords at the heathens, I cringe and wince inside.  We are not military infantry, but a collective of servants, teachers, philosophers, and caretakers. 

To wrap it up, the Christ-like Believer has been called to serve, not fight.  But he has been called to defend those who cannot defend themselves as well.  Offense and defense are two very different things.  To defend one from another means that you are putting yourself in the way to protect another, whereas with offense, you seek to impose yourself on those who do not wish to be imposed upon.  The Message of Christ has never been about imposing on others, but defending those who need defending. 

James said it best:

If you think you are being religious, but can't control your tongue, you are fooling yourself, and everything you do is useless. Religion that pleases God the Father must be pure and spotless. You must help needy orphans and widows and not let this world make you evil.
(Jas 1:26-27)

Blessings to you all!

Thursday, May 9, 2013

A Gay Young Man's Mind

So looking back on my life, I first realized there was something very different about me around 7 or 8 years old. Being that age, I had no idea what it was exactly, but, looking back on it, I can tell you that from a very early age I knew I was gay. Just as much as you straight folks know your straight and you like girls or girls that like guys...I knew I liked guys. So don't go telling me it's a choice or that I can change my genetically disposed attractions, because it is not true. I do not subscribe to "pray away the gay" or reparative therapy, or having prayers offered up to cleanse me of this "corruption". It is not corruption, it is not possession, it is not a disorder. It is ME. Me, myself, and I...ME. This is who I am, and I'm happy with who I am. Granted there are days that I feel less-inclined to say that, but those are days when I feel disgruntled about being alone the rest of my life, single..etc. If you want to support me, help me, and encourage me to move forward...please, I welcome any help from anyone I can get. but you're going to disparage my relationship hardwiring, then, keep moving along and we'll talk about other things instead. 

God made me this way ladies and gentlemen, and I'm proudly going to be true to who I am. God loves all his children, Red, Yellow, Black, White, Gay, Straight, Bisexual, and Transgendered.

My goal with this particular piece is the hopes that someone who's maybe a bit more confused will read it, and understand that they are not "evil" or "corrupt" or "demonic" or other absurdities.  You're perfect exactly as you are made.  And you should be you, and don't let anyone else tell you what you should be!