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Open-handed - a posture personally, theologically, and politically

Last night a friend from church asked me what side I fall on politically. Old labels carry too much baggage though. I know who I have been and I know who I want to be. I want to be someone who loves God and loves my neighbors. In the parable of the Good Samaritan, when Jesus explains through a story who
The Parable of the Good Samaritan by Jan Wijnants (1670) shows the Good Samaritan tending the injured man. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)  qualifies as a "neighbor" (anyone in need) and what it looks like to love them (generosity of time, space and money), I see an all encompassing philosophy of life. It's a philosophy that is unhindered by artificial social barriers. It sees unity with all who bleed. No one in need is excluded. All are included. The examples of villains in Jesus' story are those who cannot be bothered with the inconvenience of aid, who cannot forget past grievances, who transfer the faults of a group onto the individual, who delight in justice instead of m…

book report: The Cross and the Lynching Tree, Cone, 2011

I've known about this book for a few years, but I have not been emotionally healthy enough to read it until now. I don't think I ever really began to understand the depths of white supremacy in the evangelical church until the Black Lives Matter movement started. When I used that hashtag and advocated against police lynchings and found myself not only removed from my church's opinion in general, but actively pushed back against. Michael Brown's lynching by a policeman in 2014 was the beginning of my steep slide into depression and out of the evangelical church. Somehow, I was still surprised when 80% of white evangelicals voted for an fascist racist. I was surprised by African-Americans were not. African-Americans like James Cone, who grew up in Jim Crow Arkansas, were all too familiar with white christians who did not see the paradox of going to a lynching Saturday night and a worship service Sunday morning.  The white supremacist christians did not make the connecti…

policy proposal: pay pregnant women and at home parents

This proposal comes from the intersection of Tish Harrison Warren's article, Pro-Lifers Aren’t Hypocrites, at Christianity Today and Tori William Douglas's article, How I became radically pro-choice, on her blog, with some assistance from Andrew Yang's policy proposal of universal basic income.

Here is an important quote from William Douglas's piece.
The second was a quote, shared by my friend Jon, by Sister Joan Chittister, which you’ve likely read all over the internet by now. "I do not believe that just because you are opposed to abortion, that that makes you pro-life. In fact, I think in many cases, your morality is deeply lacking if all you want is a child born but not a child fed, a child educated, a child housed. And why would I think that you don't? Because you don't want any tax money to go there. That's not pro-life. That's pro-birth. We need a much broader conversation on what the morality of pro-life is."
Harrison Warren's ar…

Climate change is a pro-life issue

My blog has plenty of evidence to demonstrate I am a pro-life person. My twitter account will also show I am not anti-choice, acknowledging that the mother's circumstances and decision does not need to be explained or justified to me or any other man. I'm also pro-life in that I am against the death penalty. I'm also pro-life in that I think government should offer enough aid for the flourishing of children long after they are born medically, educationally, food security, and healthy living conditions...sort of like "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness."

Certainly getting rid of lead paint had a tremendous positive impact in the lives of a generation and likely led to the dramatic drop in crime in the 90's instead of the racially biased stop and frisk. But now we have a greater risk, climate change. The build up of CO2 in our atmosphere is directly correlated to the burning of hydrocarbons, basically compressed forests from ages past, and slash and bu…

book report: She's my Dad by Jonathan Williams 2018

One reaction to a transgender person in my former fundagelical approach to the world is to believe such a person is deceived by the devil if not fully cooperating with Satan. In fact, it is such a demonic act that one should not even participate in using the person's new name. The observational, scientific understanding of sex, gender, genitalia, and brain structure are not yet allowed to disagree with Moses's binary assertion that in the beginning God created them male and female. Compassion is not allowed to overrule bronze age judgments, the very issue Jesus fought against in his interactions with his contemporary Bible-thumpers.

Experience forces us to reconsider the primacy of scripture. For Jesus, it was an encounter with a Gentile woman. For Peter it was a dream about eating non-kosher food. For me it was the coming out of a family member. For Jonathan Williams, it was his dad, a successful leader of a large fundagelical church planting organization, admitting he's…

Not everything biblical is Christian part 24: great, greater, greatest

Today's gospel reading in the lectionary got me thinking about this problem I used to have with the Bible.
Mark 12:28 One of the religion scholars came up. Hearing the lively exchanges of question and answer and seeing how sharp Jesus was in his answers, he put in his question: “Which is most important of all the commandments?”
 29-31 Jesus said, “The first in importance is, ‘Listen, Israel: The Lord your God is one; so love the Lord God with all your passion and prayer and intelligence and energy.’ And here is the second: ‘Love others as well as you love yourself.’ There is no other commandment that ranks with these.”
 32-33 The religion scholar said, “A wonderful answer, Teacher! So lucid and accurate—that God is one and there is no other. And loving him with all passion and intelligence and energy, and loving others as well as you love yourself. Why, that’s better than all offerings and sacrifices put together!”
34 When Jesus realized how insightful he was, he said, “You’re alm…

me the Pharisee and Trump the publican

This story is the context for my thoughts on President Trump.

Luke 18:9-14  (NIV) The Parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector 9 To some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everyone else, Jesus told this parable: 10 “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. 11 The Pharisee stood by himself and prayed: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other people—robbers, evildoers, adulterers—or even like this tax collector. 12 I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.’ 13 “But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner.’ 14 “I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”
In the King James English, a "publican" is a tax collector. In Jesus' times, the Romans recruite…

a true parable about christian art and iconoclasm set in summer camp

I went to Christian summer camp quite a bit as a kid. We sang a lot of choruses with catchy melodies. They were fun and theological. One of my favorites when I was 12 started out with the line "Somewhere in outer space, God has prepared a place, for those who trust him and obey." Here is a cute video of some kids singing it.

I was a very enthusiastic singer of this song back in the day, though I'm not keen on its theology anymore. The song moved me so much I was inspired to draw a picture about it. I drew my cabin flying through space, including comets and moons and spiral galaxies in the background. I had my multi-color pen with me at camp so it was also a polychromatic picture and the cabin was drawn in perspective! I spent a lot of time on that picture, probably an entire free period. I was quite proud of it when I finished and showed it to my cabin counselor, who was nice about it.

I left it on my bunk and went to dinner and evening chapel. When I got back that night…