Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Unintentional Example

In short, LaBouf is caught on the horns of his own dilemma: was the dismissal because of internal dissension (a valid reason, I believe, for a dismissal in some situations), or was the dismissal because of a change in the church's beliefs regarding women as teachers? The American Baptist church normally does not hold to hierarchy teachings; that is a Southern Baptist distinctive. There seems to be more than a bit of waffling here as to just why all this happened.

At any rate, I for one find it instructive that the Southern Baptists' Mohler would grab hold of LaBouf as a brave, biblical pastor. What I would point to is the unintentional example both men set for us.

LaBouf and his board used gender as a means to get rid of someone they (rightly or wrongly) felt was troublesome and divisive. Using gender that way illustrates just how evil and pernicious hierarchal teachings are, and how they often seem to blind those who hold them to their own true motives.

Mohler and those who preceeded him in the fundamentalist takeover of the Southern Baptists some years back have systematically stripped women in their denomination of preaching, teaching, and even most missionary roles. Could it be that the women often also represented a more moderate, less strident, version of evangelical Christianity to which the fundamentalists were so bent on removing from positions of influence? I strongly suspect so. A post-modern critique of language as power-mongering ("biblical" defined as disempowering women) might be quite applicable in this scenario.
[via Blue Christian~On a Red Background, emphasis mine]


At best, an innovative idealist.
At worst, a convoluted coveter.

Sunday, August 27, 2006


At best, the mediation of mystery.
At worst, the moderation of mistakes.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

[via Broomhilda's Poetry Blog]

The Tender Heart

Pandemonium of emotions
Whirl in the maelstrom,
The heart torn,
Deprived of love it withers.
In consummate loneliness,
The contempt of abject
Despair breeds a darkness of soul.
Tears fall, cleansing in their purity,
Gentle absolution at their core.
Mourning the loss of innocence,
The bastions being erected,
In bravado hiding,
The tender heart.

Beat the System
Words and music by Bob Hartman
Based on Romans 8:37, Mark 10:31, Matthew 10:39

Caught in the undertow being swept downstream
Going against the flow seems like such a dream
Trying to hold your ground when you start to slide
Pressure to compromise comes from every side
Wise up, rise up

You can be more than a conqueror, you will never face defeat
You can dare to win by losing all, you can face the heat - dare to
Beat the System

On the assembly line trying to break the mold
Time to throw the wrench that will stop it cold
Going against the odds being the underdog
Dare to wield the sword that will slice the fog

You can go for it all
You can go for broke
You can turn the tide around
You can aim for the top
And take the lion's share
If you dare to hold your ground

Until the opposite is true, until our identities are lost without peace, then our identities are meaningless.
[via semitism.net]

Tactical and Moral

However, analyzing the significance of the Israel-Hezbollah conflict and its aftermath within the narrow lense of the immediate effects on the combatants themselves misses the broader picture.

The world just watched a subnational group use guerilla and terrorist tactics to resist one of the world’s strongest militaries for nearly a month, and then force a humiliating ceasefire agreement. The world just watched the West sit, impotent, while a democracy came under unprovoked attack by an adversary dedicated to its destruction and unconcerned by the rules of war. The world still watches as the West bickers over which nations will contribute to the token peacekeeping force. The world learned, again, that the way to combat a powerful military is not with frontal attacks, but by targeting civilians and waging relentless information warfare. And the world does not forget such lessons.

The Israel-Hezbollah conflict is the equivalent of the Battle of Bunker Hill during the Revolutionary War. Technically, the colonists lost that battle when they were driven from their position on Breed’s Hill. However, British General William Howe lost 1,054 troops, nearly 40 percent of his command, during three assaults on the patriot’s earthworks that resulted in a total of 30 dead colonists. Following the battle, British General Henry Clinton wrote, “A few more such victories would have surely put an end to British dominion in America.”

The Battle of Bunker Hill was a tactical defeat for the fledgling American army, but it became a moral victory. The battle demonstrated that the world’s most powerful military force was not invincible; that the key to victory was a refusal to fight on its terms.

The enemies of Western Civilization just fought their Bunker Hill.
[via RedBlueChristian]

Traditional Comfort

Sometimes the simplest conversations can turn out to be the most complicated. Take for example, the insistence of a relative of mine that a woman should accept her husband’s last name in deference to his headship. Even though I pointed out that the idea of a surname is a relatively recent invention in human history—not even addressed by Scripture—the conversation meandered into several uncomfortable moments leaving him to resolve it by admitting he just preferred it. There was a certain quaintness and comfort in the tradition from which he wasn’t yet ready to part. Admittedly, I understood, even if I disagreed....

There is a serious danger when one invests virtue in mere appearance. Whether it is long hair and dresses or power suits, virtue is not in the packaging. That is why I cringe when a perfume labeled “Virtuous Woman” is being sold at the Christian Retail Show. How can virtue be captured in a scent?

....We aren’t always able to separate what we believe culturally from the actual truth. And at times, people intentionally use cultural identifiers to make a statement. But don’t be fooled, while the devil may have the blue dress on, there are both floral dresses and power suits in his closet as well.
[via The CBE Scroll]

Hypocrisy is the miracle of mediocrity, and confuses the crippling with the cosmic.

Thursday, August 24, 2006


Transient Transcendence


Transformative Transcendence

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Plugging In

I had an Ecclesiastes moment as I was flossing my teeth last night. I was thinking about work and how ultimately meaningless it is. I looked around the bathroom — at the decor, the brushes, the pumice stones, the shampoo — and then my mind moved into the rest of the house and all the stuff we have and how all of it is meaningless.

Surprisingly, it wasn’t a depressing moment. If everything is meaningless, we’re all on level ground and one position is no better than the next. It makes no difference if I’m a secretary or a doctor, if I have a bigger house and a better car. I’m no better off, ultimately, than the unemployed person down the street or the homeless man downtown. Meaninglessness puts everything into perspective.

It wasn’t a wholly positive experience, because if everything is meaningless and we are all on the same level, I wonder what the point of it all is. There isn’t, really. Which is precisely, I think, why the writer of Ecclesiastes urges us to eat, drink and be merry — pleasure may be as meaningless as everything else, but it’s still pleasure....

At that moment it hit me: relationships have meaning. And love, which exists only within relationship, has meaning. And if God is love and is, therefore, relational, then the most meaningful thing is relationship with God.
[via The Eagle and Child]

Reality with the Imaginary

...the pop ideals of men, women and beauty are illusory. This ideals also destroy marriages, relationships and individuals as they force us to compare reality with the imaginary. Disappointment with all parties is guaranteed and destroy the souls of those who buy this ideal....

What makes relationships work is trust, hope, patience and a great ability to forgive. This is the inner beauty that most of us fail to cultivate and fail to look for.
[via Mark316]


As we grow up, we learn that the one person who wasn't supposed to ever let you down, probably will.
You'll have your heart broken more than once, and it's harder every time.
You'll break hearts too, so remember how it felt when yours was broken.
You'll fight with your best friend. You'll blame a new love for things an old one did.
You'll cry because time is passing too fast, and you'll eventually lose someone you love.
So take too many pictures, laugh too much, and love like you've never been hurt because every sixty seconds you spend upset is a minute of happiness you'll never get back.
[via kat scratchings]

Monday, August 14, 2006

Like coffee? Check out Coffee With God, who just recently linked to me. I meet this guy when I went with these guys to a cabin a week or so ago.

Peace is the best resistance, just as wellness is the best revenge.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

A Peditation

Not my will, but Thine be done,
In earth, as it is in heaven.
Not my will, but Thine be done,
In earth, as it is in heaven.
Not my will, but Thine be done,
In earth, as it is in heaven.

We walk by faith, and not by sight.
From whence cometh my help?
We walk by faith, and not by sight.
From whence cometh my help?
We walk by faith, and not by sight.
From whence cometh my help?

With groans that cannot be uttered,
The greatest of these is charity.
With groans that cannot be uttered,
The greatest of these is charity.
With groans that cannot be uttered,
The greatest of these is charity.

Not my will, but Thine be done,
The greatest of these is charity.
We walk by faith, and not by sight,
With groans that cannot be uttered.
From whence cometh my help?
In earth, as it is in heaven.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Gestational Grimness

No matter how hard we might try — and I know I often do the same kind of over-simplifying — the conflict with the Palestinians, and now as the conflict has gone on in Lebanon, is not so easy, not so morally clear, for either side. And the longer we spend trying to make it so, then the longer it will continue, because we will have no idea how to make the difficult and real decisions involving the real people on both sides that need to be made in order to solve it for the long term.

As I said above, the only thing in our vision in this cartoon should be that babies are growing up in a warzone, and our only moral response, our only ideology, should be to make it stop.

The more time we focus on the current soldiers and the terrorists, on why they exist, on defending or decrying them, on analyzing every move they do, and not on the babies in those carriages — in both of the carriages — and on building them a real future, then the surer we can be that the babies in those carriages will just grow up to take the places of the soldier and the terrorist.
[via semitism.net]

Why Not Kill Them All?

Book Description

Genocide, mass murder, massacres. The words themselves are chilling, evoking images of the slaughter of countless innocents. What dark impulses lurk in our minds that even today can justify the eradication of thousands and even millions of unarmed human beings caught in the crossfire of political, cultural, or ethnic hostilities? This question lies at the heart of Why Not Kill Them All? Cowritten by historical sociologist Daniel Chirot and psychologist Clark McCauley, the book goes beyond exploring the motives that have provided the psychological underpinnings for genocidal killings. It offers a historical and comparative context that adds up to a causal taxonomy of genocidal events.

Rather than suggesting that such horrors are the product of abnormal or criminal minds, the authors emphasize the normality of these horrors: killing by category has occurred on every continent and in every century. But genocide is much less common than the imbalance of power that makes it possible. Throughout history human societies have developed techniques aimed at limiting intergroup violence. Incorporating ethnographic, historical, and current political evidence, this book examines the mechanisms of constraint that human societies have employed to temper partisan passions and reduce carnage.

Might an understanding of these mechanisms lead the world of the twenty-first century away from mass murder? Why Not Kill Them All? makes clear that there are no simple solutions, but that progress is most likely to be made through a combination of international pressures, new institutions and laws, and education. If genocide is to become a grisly relic of the past, we must fully comprehend the complex history of violent conflict and the struggle between hatred and tolerance that is waged in the human heart.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Doom and Gloom?

Even if Westerners manage to drastically cut back their energy use, there are huge emerging economies like China and India that would probably be happy to use the oil that we don’t. John remarked that there’s a huge political problem with telling these countries that, after we’ve enjoyed the fruits of industrial prosperity for 150 years, we’ve now discovered that if they do they same they’ll wreck the planet. If I were an Indian, my reaction would probably echo the Church Lady: “How convenient.”

We are not just talking about fruits like TVs and cell phones, either. Modern medicine requires a lot of energy, too — the running of hospitals and their equipment, the research involved in creating drugs and in mass-producing them, all take lots of juice. Furthermore, it is well known that one of the big problems with medicine in the poorer parts of the world is physically getting it to people living out in trackless villages; building and running such an infrastructure would also take lots of energy.

The fact is, Christian fundamentalists and Republican congressmen aren’t the only people in the world who fail to place their trust in Western scientists. From what I’ve seen many Africans aren’t even sold on the accepted scientific understanding of HIV, and that’s certainly had a bigger impact on them so far than global warming. It’s painful to watch, but I also don’t see it as an unmitigated character flaw. The Western world has earned its mistrust.

Another phenomenon I have seen is what happens if something is successfully prevented. Often as not, the non-event causes a lot of people to wonder if the whole thing was worth the cost, or maybe even a big con, because, you know, nothing happened. I’ve seen it with the Y2K bug, with some averted African droughts, with recent terrorists plots that the feds said they foiled. This quality of the human character is not uniformly positive, but on the other hand, prevention always looks better in hindsight. In the present, it involves a weird state where nothing is actually going wrong, but everyone is maximally afraid of what could go wrong. In the English language, that state is generally called paranoia....

Certainly Christian mores like supporting local communities and rejecting materialism can help fight global warming; but on the other hand, anointing scientists as prophets, making utilitarian calculations about what solution will kill the fewest people, and justifyng the power of government as a means to an end are actions that might combat global warming but aren’t exactly Christian. As with premillennialism, a little less grand theorizing and a little more trust in God might be in order.
[via The Musings and Teachings of Camassia]

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Personal Satisfaction...

There are so many times I’ve wanted a “cease-fire” between others, yet when asked of me with my current opponent(s), I’ve refused. When I’m fighting with someone, I often feel the NEED to express a response (be it verbal and/or non-verbal) to the perceived injustice against me or my loved ones.

What is it about this NEED? It’s never just a rational need. There are strong feelings that ride along with the rational need. Where do those feelings come from? We’ve all felt them, haven’t we?

....I want absolute justice. The kind of justice that not only brings external peace to a community, but internal peace as well.

But can we inforce this outcome? I don’t think so. Like I said, there are times when I’ve so badly wanted people to understand what they’ve done to me. I wanted them to feel genuine guilt. But no matter what I do, I can harass them until no end, and it would only result in their feelings being hurt by my harassment! But self-awareness subsequently leads one to personal convictions. The good and bad in the wrongdoer would be recognized for what they are.

I should point out an assumption here, if you haven’t seen it already. For the wronged community to be satisfied, they would have to be just themselves. They would need to be self-aware too. For instance, say the wrongdoer becomes self-aware, feeling genuine guilt. This wrongdoer would plead to the community for forgiveness, and the community would eventually recognize the internal peace the wrongdoer has found through the humility self-awareness creates. Could an unjust community appreciate this internal peace, in one who has caused them so much hurt?
[via daydreamer]

More Lost Souls

When I read stories like these all I can think is that Jesus has a special concern for the poor, the orphaned, and the widowed, and I fear that Americans are part of the reason why so many exist. As Christians, we should be caring for the marginalized, the frightened, the maimed - not creating more of them. All this information, and particularly the escalating violence in the Middle East, leads me to believe our uncritical support of Israel needs to be re-examined.

As I said before, I think Israel has a right to a nation-state (as does Palestine), but it does not have a right to perpetrate state-sponsored terrorism, especially not with my tax dollars. I can’t help but think that the more women and children they kill, the more boys and men (and even girls) will take up the call to blow themselves up for the sake of a different future. I hardly think this is what so many evangelical Christians are hoping for. If this does indeed portend the Armageddon, at what cost does it come? And more importantly, are we really the ones who decide when or how it should come?
[via Burnside Writers Collective, emphasis mine, HT: A short step down from thought provoking]

By Way of Comparison

...the question I'm stumbling toward here is what does it mean for me, and for the millions of Americans like me, to be a part of the top 10 percent, to be among the 400 million or so wealthiest people on earth, when it's also true that missing our next paycheck could be financially disastrous?

That globalrichlist calculator also got me to thinking of Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie and of their apparent decision to live as expatriate royalty of a sort in Namibia.

Namibia is not one of the poorest nation's in the world. Plug their per capita income of $7,000 (US) into that grl calculator and it would appear that the average Namibian is still far better off than the average earthling (the top 13.96 percent, it says). Then again, since Namibia ranks 124th in income equality, per capita income probably isn't a very useful measurement of the average Namibian.

Suffice it to say that, compared to me and to people like me, the people of Namibia are very, very poor. And compared to me and to people like me, Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie are very, very rich. If I got fired tomorrow and were unable to collect unemployment, then I might not feel like it, but the truth is, big-picture-wise, I have more in common with Pitt and Jolie than I do with most people in Namibia....

Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie are rich people. And, provided the paychecks keep coming in, so am I (just ask the 5.6 billion or so people I'm wealthier than). One question, then, given the current shape of the world, is what does it mean to be, in Dickens' terms, good rich people?

Most of the world is more like Namibia than it is like Los Angeles, and Namibia will still be there whether or not we go over in person to stare it in the face. Pitt and Jolie provide a case study, of sorts.
[via slacktivist]

Thursday, August 03, 2006

A False Hope?

What makes generally good people, and I feel most of them believe their itch for the end is a "hopeful" belief, want all of this to disappear?

...So what if people think the end of the world is coming sooner than later? They can believe what they want, right? Let them sell their books and have their movies, let them make money off fear and hopelessness, we don't believe this anyway, right?

The problems arise when the fantasies of real people are cynically manipulated by their leaders and those politicians who see it as beneficial for real political ends....

But how much does this actually hurt Israel and Jewish people around the world? How much does it hurt the U.S. and the West and moderate Arab states in trying to battle Islamic fundamentalisms when Christian fundamentalists are seen as the most staunch backers of the of Israel? It certainly gives more credence to the exclamations of the Bin Laden's of the world that "Crusaders and Zionists" are holding back countries in the Islamic world. I don't believe that, but more and more people do every day in the Islamic world. That's not something the U.S. or Israel should want. It only fuels those fires of fundamentalism, both Christian and Islamic, the more. That's not in anyone's interest other than the purveyors of hate, hopelessness and destruction.
[via Michael Standaert at The Huffington Post]

More About Gibson's Rant and Apology

I usually couldn’t give a rat's behind about celebrity lives. But I was amazed by how many Christians saw him as a saviour of the church through the Passion movie (a movie which, btw, I found deeply moving and profoundly devotional, so it’s not as if I’m a knee-jerk liberal bent on destroying anything conservative).

It’s like some Christians are always looking for the new hero, the next big thing. And many of those folks see the world in black and white, good and bad, evil and virtuous. They either praise or condemn. And when someone like Mel falls, they remain silent, not knowing how to respond.

I don’t relish seeing folks get humiliated. I’ve said some pretty dumb stuff after indulging a touch too much of that glorious hop and barley creation. If I were Mel, I wouldn’t just apologize, I’d publicly repent....

We all do stupid things and we all hurt each other. We all have our prejudices. That’s why it’s important to pray for folk like Gibson as well as ourselves, that our hearts may be transformed to see the world as God sees it, a world both sinful and beautiful - a world worth dying for.
[via Kevin G Powell]

About Mel Gibson's Rage and Apology

From a comment by Judy Harrow about this post at GetReligion:

I feel like I need to point out a few inconvenient truths in this discussion, before Gibson’s image gets completely whitewashed.

1. The Gospel quote “his blood be upon us and our children” has provided the rationale for centuries of anti-semitic violence. Yes, it’s right there in the Book. It’s also an evil, murderous lie. Gibson claimed to have edited this statement out of the film, but actually only removed it from the English subtitle, not from the Aramaic soundtrack.

2. In medieval Germany, anti-semitism was so prevalent that they even actually had a name (schone Maria) for a Catholic chapel built over the ruins of a desecrated synagogue! From that cultural matrix came (just for a few examples) the Oberammergau passion plays (and the pogroms they generated), the writings of the “blessed” Anne Catherine Emmerich, and the writings and actions of Hitler. It’s a long tradition. Gibson claims Emmerich as an inspiration, and his work shows it!

3. Gibson’s father is a notorious holocaust denier. Whoever raises us deeply influences our thinking, before we begin to have the tools to research or reason for ourselves. Y’know, “give me a child before he is seven . . .” Gibson has never, not even now, publically disagreed with or distanced himself from his father.

4. Drinking loosens the tongue. It weakens all sorts of social restraint and discretion. But the words that come out of a drunkard’s mouth can only express ideas that were already there in his or her mind.

Repentance means “re-thinking.” So I agree with the previous poster that the right place for it to begin (after whatever religious rituals he may be engaging in privately) is with a trip to Auschwitz.

Another thing: Pope John 23 repudiated the blood libel two generations ago during Vatican II, but Gibson’s father is a leader of the faction that repudiated the Vatican in reaction to that council. And Gibson himself has been a major funder of their institutions.

So another indication of real metanoia might be a reconciliation with post-conciliar Catholicism. (Indeed, although Confession is, and should be, private, I admit that I wonder whether he is confessing with a mainstream priest or with one of his father’s regressive faction.)

I certainly wish Gibson well in his recovery from alcoholism. He has a much better chance of success with that than he does in outgrowing his deep-rooted anti-semitism — and it is a good think even if that’s as far as it goes.