Before the Fall: 1976

It was the Fall of 1976 and Christian Bookstores in the Bay Area (like Western Christian in Pleasant Hill) Logos Books on Telegraph in Berkeley and Hal Hougey shop over by the park in downtown Concord are had good solid theology sections. Hal was even a resident expert on Mormonism and could instruct at great length and accuracy on the subject.

It was [pretty much the middle of the “Jesus Movement” both in SoCal and NorCal – each playing out as you might expect – one more sun-drenched and popularist; the other more cerebral and entrenched in Berkeley via Berkeley’s Christian Coalition.

lettersMe? I was just a young convert volunteering with youth groups at Mr. Diablo High and at a local Presbyterian church. My best friend, Scott Mitchell, was at Cal and brought home things like “Right On!” a radical Jesus rag and Letters to Street Christians, a loose translation of the New Testament into hippie jargon (not committing adultery became something like “and don’t be ball’n your neighbor’s wife!” which just sent us into hysterics.

Music of the day? There really was no real Christian music just yet until Randy Stonehill’s Welcome to Paradise cracked that world open like fresh bread and e=invited everyone into fresh new material. Behind him was evil genius Larry Norman and the saintly Mark Heard.

 

 

This was before Churches got into power politics and screwed all up like a 47 car pile-up on an L.A. freeway. Naw…the irrelevant Modernist preachers got up and did their three point imitations of the Irrelevant Niehbur (Richard?) and, there were no Megachurches and some real great preachers still held court in regular pulpits: like Berkeley First Press. 

Earl-PalmerEarl “the Pearl” Palmer was a Lewisian scholar and a great preacher right in the heart of Berkeley. It was a fun time to be a believer. Between Palmer, Radix Magazine, the Spiritual Counterfeits Project (doing work on cults and isms) there was serious intellectual life going on…and New College would be formed in 1977.

I knew that because a waitress at CoCo’s who had shown some interest in me brought me literature about the upcoming college. It was out in her daddy’s Jaguar  and she gave me the keys to fetch it which I promptly broke off in the lock….ooops.

Yeah…I’ve always been smooth.

But the great thing was I got to  see Christendom relatively HEALTHY before it went  into 35 years of madness and decline. So I have never thought “It has to be this way and always will be.” 

Why even now, if we gave up our addiction to power politics like it was drugs and alcohol – that seriously an abstinence – in five years we’d so SO HEALTHY.

And like any abusive drug we WILL one way or the other – by death (of our churches and denominations or by deliberate choice. 

But we are missing ALL THE FUN!!

jesusthrowIt really used to be fun. You could go into a Christian bookstore and find whole sections of theology and reference materials. It was explosive to a young mind like mine. You actually had to SEARCH for “Jesus Junk” – which my friend Rich and I did in order to help “equip each other for the work of evangelism”(straight-faced). This might be a Jesus Frisbee, or a Felipe Alou “witness card” or any kind of branded crap- the cheesier the better to then try and foist upon the other in an attempt to “equip.” 

Now you would not pay me to visit a Christian bookstore. Nothing in there I want – unless I needed a Bible  and then I’d just hit a regular store. 

Christians as a whole weren’t even very obnoxious. At the worst (and this is totally cool) some Campus Crusaders might hit you up in pairs at the local mall with a questionnaire that might lead to a discussion – if you wanted it to. But if you were not into it they would just say good bye.

But see all of this is Pre-Phat-head Falwell and his Moral Majority (which were never such smashing ungraciously into the world and creating a culture war.

Jesus said “you will know them by their fruits.” – so where is the fruit after 35 or so years? Whoa…the fields they are a burnin….

And where is all the fresh new work coming from the seminaries?

Oops.

Now that has started to turn..but it is early. It would seem some are sick of culture wars and want totally OUT of that whole paradigm.

Now we are talk’n!

Oh I wish I could wind back the clock to 1981 and just start from there – but maybe in a way I can?

These two camps have exhausted themselves and are bankrupt. Maybe it is time to mint new currency and let then simply drift off into the past.

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I Feel for Joel Osteen

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How about this church? Is this like the Game of Thrones church or what? I bet they pour pitch down on latecomers (hot coffee) and prolly have little thrones up on stage for the nine pastors. I’d be afraid to attend a Red Wedding there…

I have been in essentially two kinds of churches: Missionary and Fortress churches. One goes out into the world to serve and proclaim with no small amount of mobility (missionary); the other never moves at all, and hopes to attract people to come in where they can be influenced and brought into the fold.

In America, fortress churches are, by and large, dying (from mainline denominations to megachurches); and missionary churches – from house churches to church plants are growing. This seems very healthy to me. That trend doesn’t bother me at all after all I have seen.

Missionary churches have no buildings to protect and are, by nature, more flexible and responsive. For example, the current small church plant I attend in West Oakland has more active weekly community involvement than the last large fortress church I attended in Sacramento even though the numbers and budget are easily 10 to 1. The professional staff is 15 to 2 with the senior pastor making at least three times what my pastor makes and receiving a generous housing allowance and pension.

The difference is one is in a dying denomination with declining numbers; this church plant is growing weekly.

This latest debacle with Joel Osteen’s slow response to open the doors of his massive 16,000 seat Lakeside Church in Houston Texas to victims of Hurricane Harvey highlights business as usual. I already knew what the party line would be (“safety concerns”) and what the real issues were (“It will ruin the carpets, drapes and befoul our seating. Worse…it undermines our message of God blessing people with prosperity and success.”)

I’ve seen it all before …many times. Zzzzzz.

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Bouncer days…

Gotta  Be Strong to carry the Cross

Once, for a sermon, the Rev. Darrell Johnson asked me to haul a huge wooden cross up the center of the Fremont Presbyterian Church’s worship sanctuary during a sermon. I was chosen because I had Jesus-long hair, wore ragged jeans and holy tees. Also, I was big enough to haul the massive thing safely. 

I did so, then carefully laid it down up on the stone alter.

After the service several grateful parishioners sought me out: two in fact. One elderly woman clasped my hand firmly “I am so grateful for the care in which you laid down that cross and did not scratch the stone work – not a scratch – I checked!’

Then an Elder of the church came and gripped  my paw and gleamed into my eye all tough and barked “Ya gotta be strong to carry the cross!”

“Um, no actually,” I said “That’s missing the pojnt entirely I said.” But he was half off by then.

They don’t care about the cross..they care about the stoneware…the fresh flowers…the illusion of strength/religion and virility. It’s pathetic and sad.

They do not see how precious the people of Houston are – that they are immortals for whom Christ died. Osteen just sees people to be fleeced or dirty people who will be-spoil his circus act.

While he was playing Church a bunch of people got ahold of him in social media and insisted he play church for real – just for a little while. he has relented.

Later that year they fired Larry Emery the Youth Pastor because he had befriended a large number of wild youth who were not “church kids” – like 50 of them. Sure – they had to check their weapons at the door (they checked them with me. But nobody was ever out of line – and if they came close they had to deal with me – and this was before I had learned non-violence – and I was still a little shaky..and well…um….just one guy tried something once and he was airlifted out of the room and that was the end of that for all time.

But prior to firing Larry without cause they started to have “meetings” and it was always about “safety.” See? What it was really about was a water fountain once got broke. That’s it. Nothing else ever. It was really the way they  looked – all “made up…spiked hair…piercings…tats and leather jackets…

So they had to go. They figured if Larry went the kids would go too and they were right and now those kids are in their mid-40s and what do they talk about do you think when someone brings up “church?”

People have “safety” concerns when Homeless folk show up at church.

 

HOMELESS

Give me two hours with this guy and he is good as new…smelling like Aramis.

All it really means is you value your comfort over human rights and people. Don;t like the way they smell? take them home and let them shower twice in two hours while you wash their clothes twice.

End of problem.

Seriously. Done…over. Doesn’t cost you anything at all…yer doing other stuff while they are doing that. Done it myself many times. Easy peasy.

And if you are still having problems (geez) remember – Jesus said that when you do it to them you are doing it to HIM. So get over it. You get to give Jesus two showers and wash Jesus’ clothes for Him. How cool is that? You could even feed Jesus and let Jesus watch a movie too – wow. You could have a Jesus-Fest.

And you know who would be noticing and taking note? Jesus Himself. yeah…sorta important if ya want sheep-status and not goat-status.

Just say’n. Just try’n to do you a favor.

No what good is $50 million gonna do poor Joel Osteen when he meets Jesus and he had THAT kinda firepower at his disposal to help folk and he let it sit there for three days before bowing to public pressure?

I don’t hate Joel Osteen. I pity Joel Osteen. I genuinely feel sorry for him – right this very minute.

 

 

Contradiction vs Coexistence

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by Christopher MacDonald

In a nation that boasts over 310 million people and 250 million vehicles (that’s right!) it is often the bumper sticker that gets the most daily impressions.
Two bumper stickers below grab two important ideas that have been begging for an audience:

At first blush, the first would seem to be a refutation of the second and very popular notion of the peaceful coexistence of religious, spiritual, and (in later examples) even secular and scientific traditions. In all cases, these are approaches to truth either with a small or capital “T”.

But the reality of inherent contradictions between major worldviews doesn’t have to be at odds with coexistence at all. “Contradiction” and “Coexistence” can “Coexist”. In fact most of us practice in our lives daily.

In the first bumper sticker, Jesus’s comforting words to His disciples about His imminent departure from them is hijacked into making an across the board statement (John 14:6) to a Postmodern world about the competitive “coexistence” of spiritual ideas and views of Truth (with a capital “T”). The above bumper sticker attempts to do the same from the Koran, eh…but probably not produced by a knowledgeable Muslim.

This one reminds me of what some creative person should do with an out-of-context biblical text like 1 Sam 18:27 (on a dowry consisting of “a stack of foreskins” or maybe “PARBAR” followed underneath with “~We have no idea what this bible word means.”)

In either case, the citing of  a spiritual passage is meant to trump (can I still use that word?) and reinterpret it with a graphically-enhanced message above it.

For our purposes, let’s set aside the inflammatory one (the latter) and focus on “Contradiction”. For me, without the scripture it stands just fine. Does anyone still believe that all major religious, spiritual and secular traditions do not inherently present different worldviews?

Really?

Where and when?

I mean all this classing in the streets with fifteen different groups showing up to protest, counter-protest – and some pretending to be of other groups and these are not even – in many cases groups that present some sort of ultimate world view.

So it is all “really just one big happy soup?” You donlt really believe that. Not really.

So what do most of us mean by “coexist”? I think we simply mean “allowed to exist with respect and with safety”. I will return to this with greater attention toward the end.

For now, those would seem to be the two crucial areas: safety and respect. And that opens up whole new ways of exploring what is true and what may be True.

Current Context
In a Postmodern world the rationalistic assumptions of Modernity have been rejected. Despite impressive technological and medical advances, the utopian goals of the Enlightenment failed. The grand experiment where humanity shook off the fetters of Religion and took up the reigns of existence only resulted in advanced bloodshed, world wars, the A bomb and now, global terrorism. What started with such loud promise at storming of the Bastille in 1789, finally died with a whimper almost two centuries to the day later with the fall of the Berlin Wall.

But let’s be clear: Postmodernism is simply a reaction and rejection of Modernity. It really has little to say itself beyond fashion and branding. It’s one tell-tale sign seems to be advanced Relativism.

But didn’t we have Relativism under Modernity? Yes, but our Modernist professors didn’t actually believe it. All the time they took in “deconstructing” religion and just about everything else, they ignored Heisenberg: that they themselves were also in the test tube affecting results. That they also could be deconstructed and that their position of objectivity was foolish and doomed. The fact they could say “There are no absolutes” (that being absolute) was kind of a give away, don’t you think?

Worse, by inflicting their “let’s boil everything down to it’s lowest common denominator” they did violence to each and every spiritual, religious, and yes…even secular worldview.

So now, within Postmodernism, we have a more practical and realistic Relativism. As it stands, it still has a capital “R” because it trumps all else (no different than a Jesus quote or one misplaced text from the Koran do). At present, it can mean that all things are inherently equal and should coexist; or it can mean that all things should coexist but some ideas are better than others, or parts of ideas.

But again, it translates into respect and safety with simple goal of coexistence.

This fits in nicely with two ideas that would seem to have come to maturation: “Depth Pluralism” and “Relationalism”.

Understanding that the most basic of ground rules for both are respect and safety, I will explain both plainly then return to our original bumper sticker named “Contradiction: and see how it fares.

In reality we were just a bumper sticker away from dealing with intolerance on a philosophical level

Depth Pluralism
It is common knowledge that we live in a “pluralistic society”. As such, the greatest enemies are intolerance (which does not allow different or divergent points of view) and violence of any kind.  It is this which the “Coexist” bumper sticker addresses.

What it does not address are the inherent (please note that) contrasts, connections, correlations and even contradictions between major worldviews.

Under Modernity this was mindlessly (or arrogantly) swept under the rug quickly as necessary for the greater good.

Whose? (Probably theirs).

In reality we were just a bumper sticker away from dealing with intolerance on a philosophical level: “Coexist.”

But can such a Reductionist Pluralism be of any use once we have silenced the guns and we wish to come out and live, explore and seek Truth?

No, it cannot because it fears the very thing it supposedly wanted to protect: divergence of viewpoint.

In direct contrast to a Reductionist Pluralism where all is really nothing; Depth Pluralism creates a safe and respectful forum for all worldviews and ideas to be seen in their own context, in their own fullness, and without being reduced at all.


Relationalism
I mention this in passing in answer to the question: “what is beyond Postmodernism”?
I think if we are smart it would be “Relationalism.” It fits our growing understanding of the relational nature of ecological systems; it fits the way/core of who we continue to show ourselves to be as human beings; it can show the way for dismantling a competitive University/Science system which is inherently broken and ever-more disintegrated, in favor of a Science of Humanity that draws from the best lenses of each and every traditions, spiritual practice, hard science, social science, etc…looking for the same things we have been talking about: connection, correlations, contrast and contradiction. And we can do this “come-what-may”.

Who is talking about this? I am talking about this,.

Relationalism is to mere Coexistence what Depth Pluralism is to Pluralism.

Obviously there is more to this than my brief overview, but I felt it should be mentioned in harmony with Depth Pluralism. As important as our points of view are in approaching any question with depth, so our points of intention are just as crucial. Just taking an exploration of a subject from the adversarial need to utterly disprove a contrary view to working alongside each other to find what is true and relevant in an exploratory way is a huge step.

Our Jesus Bumper Sticker

If you allow every one of the world’s major religions and spiritual traditions to be what they are in their own context you will find some direct contradictions between them. So?

In fact some of the best teachers are the ones who freely admit this. I am a big Thich Nyat Hanh and Dalai Lama fan. Both of them wrote books on Jesus. I found Hanh’s book wanting because he too readily subsumed the clear Middle Eastern teaching of Jesus within his own Far Eastern Buddhism. Sure, he made some good points and he obviously had the best of intentions. Still, adding anything to any tradition after the fact is a subtraction, certainly if it is subsuming.

The Dalai Lama’s book did not make this obvious mistake. Where there was a clear divergence he stated it plainly with hands wide open.

So “coexistence” can happen on an even deeper level if tolerance moves beyond everyone having to be far less than what they truly are and simply agree to be mature and show respect and create a safe environment for exploration.

You will find contradictions, challenges and contrasts to be sure. You will you also find connections and correlations.

You may also find that these spiritual traditions and religions address different aspect of the human condition in significant ways. And this is something we are already use to processing. Each of us functions not with one solitary worldview but a mixture of them. When I get sick I approach it from a variety of different angles. I come at the illness from everything from a homeopathic, psychological, dietary, medical and spiritual point of view. These are not often in competition at all.

A great irony in all of this is that those who are so for “Coexist” in a Postmodern context often disavow the possibility of coexisting with a worldview that deals straight on with major issues like sin, death, and alienation, while also exhibiting judgment of others, hatred and scapegoating. But even more ironic is those who would so readily rush to embrace “Contradiction” in the name of God don’t seem to have the faith that in an open and free discussion about Truth that same God can and will show up in love and grace. Some even love “mystery” for Mmystery’s sake or celebrate doubt as a sort of badge of real faith when it may or may not be. I would say the determining factor is often how much whining is involved.

Lastly, rushing to “coexisting” or a Joseph Campbell reductionist “soup” can often be a simple case of laziness in not wanting to do serious investigation into many traditions and allow them to truly shine in all their brightness. My own investigations have only led to better and deeper dialogs with people of other faiths, but we have not had to pretend that that we are always talking about exactly the same things. We are more grown up than that.

As for John 14:6. Contextually Jesus is not addressing other world views or faith claims at all. The disciples are worried that when He leaves them they will be abandoned and they won’t “know the way.” Jesus reassures them that He is “the way, the truth and the life and their sole way to the Father.” who Jesus says they have seen by seeing Him. Almost as if he has said nothing, they reply “well show us the father and it will be enough.”

We wouldn’t do any better.

We are all idiots.

But that is our answer  – or mine. “I don’t know about you, but when it comes to being rescued out of this mess of lostness which ends in inevitable death? I am going with Jesus the God who became man, died the death I should have died and whose father raised Him from the dead so I will rise too.

“You might wanna consider it too.”

Christian Drugs

I was remarking to Laura yesterday (she was telling me about this BIG conference she is going to in August) that at these conferences they are always “so EXCITED!

“Have you ever noticed how excited everyone is? Everybody is EXCITED!! And they are always EXCITED! I mean not a one of them is not ever not Excited! What, are they on drugs? Is this like ‘Christian drugs?'”

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This got a look from the Sweet One as if “Oh boy…here we go…” for can you imagine what fortitude it takes to share this stuff with a guy like ME? It takes fortitude like…well like that show FORTITUDE…that kind of fortitude…yikes)

“I mean maybe they can give them something to CALM THEM DOWN a bit – or Detox – I mean how excited can you get? It’s like they go on these Christian drug runs – is everything worth getting excited about? How will we know what the crucial stuff is if they don’t get excited about THAT, and instead, have been excited about absolutely everything – including the truly dumb stuff!?”

She ignored all of this entirely —not in a disrespectful way — but in the way you might when a friend looks in the mirror too long and asks too many times “Do I look alright?” She knows how to just “run out the clock” (which is sweet).

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I mean, on one level she knows I am right. Bit also, what are you going to do? She laughs. She likes that I am passionate. She would be bored with a conventional guy.

I, for my part, say nothing negative about the upcoming conference. Okay…It’s called a “Leadership Summit” and I may have let slip that they never once use the word “Ravine” for these type of events — always “Summit” — but that’s not so terrible. I didn’t name names and I think she will have a wonderful time and I kinda dig that she is so, well… hopeful all the time.

I mean if it is bogus? She will be on that; but if “anything is good, pure, lovely…?” Well that’s my girl. And she taks all that and puts it into action. I trespect the H-E double toothpicks outta that.

As for me, I am not excited all the time. I doubt if I were asked to speak anywhere (haha..no on is asking) I would likely start “I am excited to be here.” It’s not about me. If the passages we cover are inherently inspiring then let us get to them.  Biut there is no need for hype for we have the substance Himself.

Which is what, I think, Christian “Leaders” seeking summits forget. When you have the substance you have in Christ you never need the hype. You do not need to “pump people up for Jesus” In fact, the think the reason for the longevity of my own faith in so many wildly differing circumstances is that there has been no hype.  You can come at me from most any direction and my fet are firmly planeted.

I don’t do Christian drugs.

While the World Reaps the Whirlwind…well?

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It would seem the country – this vast land which is like several countries really – woke up from its massive two year bender and either threw-up in a bucket by the nightstand and headed to the bathroom for more; or it patted itself on the back and said “all is well, all is well.”

It’s over, with the exception Trump attempting to play out all his quick promised “fixes.”

Of course, none of those are actually doable in time and space. So get ready to watch that. And that will be blamed on Washington insiders, media..blah, blah blah. More whining.  The Whiner-in-Chief where the buck flow into his pocket but he bears no personal responsibility for anything.

This morning women, minorities, and children are confused, sick or angry. Parents don;t know what to tell their kids – this is what I am hearing. How do they tell their kids – how do they explain how the country wanted to elect a candidate supported vigorously by the KKK? How do they explain to young children about the sexual abuse of women and the overt pathological lying?

Andin the days to come, whn he cannot get Mexico to built the wal and other policies fail who will the scapegoats be? You know who. Anyone who is poor, who is handicapped, elderly or weak.

In exit polls, it was shown that despite many Evangelical leaders coming out and openly distancing themselves from Trump for overt and deeply biblical reasons, 80% of white male evangelicals voted for him – even more than voted for Romney four years earlier.

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That tells me two things: One, morality has nothing to do with their vote for Trump is a ritual and unrepentant Commandment-breaker (so forget the original moorings with the “Moral Majority” as folish as that as – at least it was well-intentioned on some level); and 2, this was about power – white power – and how, in the absence of any real biblical understanding or mandates American religion and White power have been fused into a power base.

But it’s all okay..because the whirlwind is coming folks.

Working off Hosea 8:7, Frederick Douglass was right. It is inevitable, All of Hosea’s prophecy fro Israel is instructive (and NO we are NOT Israel you narcisists- take a quallude dudes – that is half your problem):

Put the trumpet to your lips!
Like an eagle the enemy comes against the house of the Lord,
Because they have transgressed My covenant
And rebelled against My law.
They cry out to Me,
“My God, we of Israel know You!”
Israel has rejected the good;
The enemy will pursue him.
They have set up kings, but not by Me;
They have appointed princes, but I did not know it.
With their silver and gold they have made idols for themselves,
That they might be cut off.
[c]He has rejected your calf, O Samaria, saying,
“My anger burns against them!”
How long will they be incapable of innocence?
For from Israel is even this!
A craftsman made it, so it is not God;
Surely the calf of Samaria will be broken to pieces.
For they sow the wind
And they reap the whirlwind.
The standing grain has no heads;
It yields no [f]grain.
Should it yield, strangers would swallow it up.

Israel is swallowed up;
They are now among the nations
Like a vessel in which no one delights.
For they have gone up to Assyria,
Like a wild donkey all alone;
Ephraim has hired lovers.

We are a nation of idolaters – which sounds like a real FUNDIE thing to say for sure – funniest (though it is really not so very funny). We want a President like Israel wanted (begged for) a King. And while we may not be Israel – we are a lot like Samaria – oh yeah.

An idol can be anything. It is always visual to some respect. In biblical times it might be fashioned out of wood and the scarps used to make a fire. God, through the Prophets would often make fun of this…like “did you notice you cooked dinner over the scraps og your new god?”

Idols are great at image but short on delivery: kinda like all that really great stuff you bought at Christmas last year. It looked so great…oh not so very much now...

Well United States of Samaria – Oh Ye White Evangelicals – You have your Golden (albeit Orangeth) Calf to worship. In him is your security and from him cometh (and this is so true) a Mighty WIND – for is he not far-reaching (even to the ends of the Earth today) in his blow-hardiness? Does not the Earth tremble? (It does).

I don’t have to prove anything – which is the beauty of it. It is inevitable. “You reap what you sow,” says Jesus. If you sow with wind, you will reap the whirlwind, says Yahweh through Hosea.

You just remember I said this and then just attach the next two years as the “harvest” starts to come in. That will just be the beginning.

And in all my days (near 60 now) and countable Presidential contests (13) never have a heard a candidate boast more (never more wind), say less (never a detail or an actual plan) than the platform of President-elect Donald Trump.

So what comes with the enduring whirlwind? HAVOC. Not the End Times. Oh no you Soft White Funda-gelical-through-Evangelical believers – you do not get off that easy via your Kirk Cameron movies and your rapture meet Jesus-in-the-sky Luxury Box Seats!

No. You get to sit your little butts down in the middle of the HAVOC you wanted and earned and OWN IT. And if you do not own it now, you sure as heck are gonna own it when the Son of Man asks you to give account for how you treated Him via “the least of these my Brethren” (His last parable before his arrest in Matthew 25:31–46 which talks about His return). You might find yourself a “goat.” (hey…I disn;t say it – Jesus did. You  got a beef? Take it up with Him.)

I could name the HAVOC to come – but you would not believe me – and I don’t need to. It will just come.

The Good

Here are the good things that will come from it.

  1. Possible Deconstruction of Evagelicalism. You might as well say five “Hail Caesers” in the morning for this lot. They lost it in the 70s, defunded all biblical education in favor of Nationalism- they not only dropped the ball for three generations – they help the other team SCORE. They have made the name “Christian” synonymous with “bigoted, mysognous, ignorant racist brain-dead white guys in a wife-beater t-shirts.” Could the term be “redeemed?” I imagine – but why do it? Seriously, is it just the warehouses of Jesus junk and stationary that would have to be thrown out? It’s got more negative baggage attached to it now than a “grassy knoll” (those used to be nice places to just picnic by…not anymore..it’s ruined, face it).
  2. The Call to Maturation. Churches are now centers of Entertainment that challenge no one to transformation (just “betterment”). Instead,  the Church could become what it is called to be – a mature agent of change in the world. Like a vast sea of Field Hospitals, ER rooms and Schools, churches could lose the diapers and pablum and put on their Big Girl and Big Boy pants and eat solid food.  They could be READY to help the real casualties who will be coming in when thje whirlwind starts delivering – instead of standing flatfooted and unprepared going “is the government gonna handle this?” (when they themselves voted to have people have to fend for themselves).
  3. Utter Disillusionment with Politics. “Disillusionment” means to have your illusions ripped away. America has taken the “blue pill.” It is about to be force-fed the “red pill.”

In closing, I am an empathetic guy. I care about people – individuals.  But the institutions they hide behind and use to justify?I care nothing about those at all.

In the 1990s I warned in several published papers that the major Liberal denominations were headed towards utter bankruptcy simply because they had divorced themselves from the vibrancy of the Living Jesus. I was scoffed at as irrelevant – but they are closing their doors now. You reap what you sow.

And the Fundamentalists and Megachurches I wrote of in 2013? Already on their way out too. I don’t play favorites. They were dead the moment they let Jerry Falwell drag them into Politics/power and away from faith, hope and love.

Lesser of All Evils

innumerableThis Election Cycle (which is decidedly on SPIN) people keep talking about the “fallacy of the lesser of two evils.” 

Talk about a fallacy. 

As if all the other choices (beyond the overt two) were not in the same intractable situation? Inherently pure and untouched by evil or highly agendized in such a way that will inevitably lead to human suffering?

C’mon. Get real.

I did the math and your real choice is between the lesser of ALL evils or withdrawing entirely and not participating.

“Oh! But we cannot withdraw and not VOTE!! What would God think if we did not do our civic duty!?” I am sure they said the same thing in Germany… 

Oh, you like McMullin? Well how about his continued military expansionism mixed with his Goldman Sachs/CIA background? Oops. Sure, I like his compassionate conservatism, Pro-Life and novel solution to the minimum wage situation that addresses it in real-time. 

But you are still talking – overall – the lesser of evils.

You are still rationalizing…still making excuses. Still “lesser-ing.” 

Don’t you “get it?” The whole FIELD – the whole system is a vast array of “Lessers of Evils” What are you doing – a taste test?

“Well this poo isn’t as disgusting as that doo-doo…”

“Dear, this isn’t quite as Evil..on fact..on the surface it looks shiny good!

Mae me a candidate and I will show you where and why their positions are contrary to the Word of God, the good of people and to common sense. It is not difficult. It is a walk in the park; and easy stroll. All you have to do is ask “How are we trampling other people to get what we want?

The math is so easy. God is not amused and we will be held accountable – not here perhaps – but that is worse let me assure you.

Just sayin.

I never fel the need for revenge. Why? Well first because I know myself well enough to know that it would start with me (Yikes). I frgive as I wish to be forgiven.

Second, the wrath of me is nothing really to be excited about. I’d prolly crack-up half way through. God? Not so much. You folk think God is slow? Maybe by your timepieces but by God’s He will be right on time and justice will be fair and complete.

Can you imagine that?

No – me either – but I can imagine a lot of surprise. Yes, I think that will be the operative word – suprise – for God is no respecter of persons, nations or well – just try winning an argument. I’ve tried. 

Always a caveat. “ahhh yeah…um..I didn’t think of that…dang.” He’s gentle – now.

God is always right.

The Church right? Naw….

But God?  Yeah.

So if you want the “lesser of evils” you cannot vote at all.” Forget it.

The fallacy is not “lesser of.” the fallacy is “Two.”

 

How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the GTU

I can;t wait to grow my hair out and get a boob job.

I can’t wait to grow my hair out and get a boob job.

We were at loggerheads – the seminary official and myself and she made it clear she meant business.

“Unless you adopt a Womanist/Feminist/Postmodern agenda and see everything through that lens first and foremost you will excluded and become a dinosaur speaking only to yourself in hushed fearful tones,” she had said.

Well I didn’t want that! I mean who wants to become oil as an ambition?

So I quickly surrendered all my critical thinking skills and went along with the herd (I mean they say the safest place to be is in the middle of the herd, right?)

After a few months of keeping my mouth shut and trying as hard as I could to give them the answers I thought they wanted I scheduled a meeting with her to that I was in compliance.

She greeted me cooly at first but warmed up when she saw I was cowed.

“Say hey you are looking spiffy,” I commented. “What’s that cool bracelet all about?”

“Oh this? We had a bunch of these cool bracelets made up for the seminary. It says “WIJATDTWD”

“That’s kinda long, er what does it mean?”

“What is Jesus Allowed to Do That We Do?”

“Oh I see, I guess that is fair enough in a Jacques Derrida or Joe DeRita kinda way. So like can you give me an example?”

“Sure,” she said, “like Mark 14:22-25 about the Lord’s Supper when Jesus goes and breaks the bread and they drink the wine yadda-yadda they then sing a hymn. Well we would never do that so we are throwing the whole thing out because we figure if we wouldn’t do it Jesus couldn’t possibly have done it. I mean really…Isn’t it just the silliest thing? I mean can you imagine singing hymn after a meal – I mean anywhere but church? C’mon.”

“Well I see your point,” I said grimacing but quickly recovering.

“Well I appreciate all you have done for me I really do,” I said. “The Church history class was great meditation time and the Zen meditation class was great study time and my exegesis class really helped me get out the ole black marker and play CIA redactor – I mean my New Testament is SO much simpler now that it is a third the size it used to be. And as for the Old Testament – well heck – I’ve already read enough poetry and myth – so really – I feel so much lighter now.”

She looked at me so proudly.

“As for the whole Feminist/Womanist/Postmodern agenda I embrace it all. Just between you and me – off the record – I am using next semester’s loan money to go Caitlyn Jenner on myself– I mean really – THAT to me is incarnational theology. If you really want to understand the view you have to make some sacrifices and I am really there. So goodbye Christopher MacDonald and hello Christina Barcelona MacDonald!”

“By the way, do I have to sign a bunch of new forms for that? I mean I’ll be returning in the Spring a true womanist  and I figure that is gonna change some of my focus too. I mean – that’s the point right?”

“Yes. I think this a wise move on your part,” she said. “The whole patriarchal thing wasn’t working for you – I mean you are so big – it’s sort of off-putting in a male sort of way.”

“Ahh…I couldn’t agree more,” I said. “Well thanks for your time and I’ll see you in the Spring. Um…can I get one of those bracelets? It would really help me in knowing what Jesus was capable of and not…you know ‘wheat from the chaff’ and all that.”

Thus the new theologically lighter (oh so much lighter) transgender Mac..oh…er…..hmnnnn…oh dear…is deconstructed into existence.

And it can all happen relatively fast and pain free if you just relax,  let go,  and as one friend puts it “submit to your faithful church seminary leaders.”