Why Little Will Change At the UMC General Conference

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May 182016

As some of you may know, the United Methodist Church is holding their quadrennial General Conference in Portland, Oregon this week. As has been the case for the past several General Conference’s (GC), a major topic is the  full inclusion of LGBT people (or as the conservatives call us, “the self-avowed practicing homosexuals”) in the life of the church. My prediction is that little will change in regard to those issues.

There are several things at issue. One is some hateful language in the United Methodist Book of Discipline (BoD) which says that homosexuality is incompatible with Christian teaching. The others are the ordination of openly gay clergy, and of course; marriage is a topic, but not at the top of the list.

If anything changes in regard to these issues, it will be for the worse, and we’ve seen some of that already with the election of all conservative members to the Church’s Judicial Council, or the UMC Supreme Court if you will. Continue reading »

Firing God

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Jan 132016

That’s right, I said it. I’m firing God. He’s not doing a good job, and he’s not serving his creation very well. George Carlin said it very well:

I want you to know, when it comes to believing in god- I really tried. I really really tried. I tried to believe that there is a god who created each one of us in his own image and likeness, loves us very much and keeps a close eye on things. I really tried to believe that, but I gotta tell you, the longer you live, the more you look around, the more you realize…something is FUCKED-UP. Something is WRONG here. War, disease, death, destruction, hunger, filth, poverty, torture, crime, corruption and the Ice Capades. Something is definitely wrong. This is NOT good work. If this is the best god can do, I am NOT impressed. Results like these do not belong on the resume of a supreme being. This is the kind of shit you’d expect from an office temp with a bad attitude. And just between you and me, in any decently run universe, this guy would have been out on his all-powerful-ass a long time ago.

GodOf course, a lot of you all will accuse me of blasphemy and apostasy, but before you do, hear me out. I’m not firing THE God, I’m firing the guy that far too many people claim to “worship.” This is the God that Carlin is speaking of. A god we’ve managed to make in our own image (generally speaking, a white male), who conveniently hates all the same people you do.

I’m tired of people using their religious beliefs and their god to justify their bigotry and hate. And yes, there are many “Christians” in America who are bad as some of the Muslim extremists.  I’ve been recently following a number of conservative Methodist Facebook groups, and the number of discussions on homosexuality is astonishing. I have seen commenters there compare homosexuality with pedophilia and bestiality, of course. Then when the commenters are called out, they and their defenders claim they weren’t comparing, just citing an example. (Sure they were.) Continue reading »

Dominionism in Schools-A Warning

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Oct 152014
This entry is part 9 of 31 in the series Daily Douche-Bag
David Whitney

David Whitney of IOTC

Conservative Professor Warren Throckmorton tips us to a back-end method to get dominionist views into the schools. David Whitney, receiving today’s Daily Douche award, is head of the “Institute On The Constitution (IOTC),” and is working to form, in schools across the country, deceptively named “American Clubs.” You should know that Whitney teaches that  only born again Christians should be citizens,  and that civil government should worship God according to their dominionist ideas.

It was only a matter of time until one of the dominionists started saying it out loud. No doubt he’ll be called “brave” for just speaking what so many are thinking. If more conservative Christians don’t start slapping this stuff down as soon as their brethren bring it up, Christianity itself is going to be blamed for these attitudes when Christianity is a minority religion.

This is an ugly theology, and a blight on good Christians across this country. The problem facing Christians is not winning hearts and minds, though. Just as Islam is being lost to terrorism and barbarity, Christianity may be lost to racism and dominionism. The IOTC and groups like it are not just wayward Christians; they are as sinister and treacherous as anything this country has ever produced. They have no intention of living peaceably with anyone else, and if Christians who value the Constitution, religious freedom, and peace don’t stand up to them publicly, you’ll have a much harder time claiming they are not the essence of Christianity after they reach their full destructive potential. Continue reading »

More Burning Stupidity

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Apr 042013

Louie GohmertWe’ll start with the lesser of the today’s stoopids. So long as there is U.S. Representative Louis Gohmert, there will blazing stupid things to report. Louie’s latest convolution of logic explains his oppostion to reasonable gun control. According to Louie, you can’t restrict the size of gun magazines because gay marriage leads to bestiality. Or something like that.

First, let me just say that I’m from Florida. We have a constitutional amendment here, and laws on the books prohibiting gay marriage, so we don’t have gay marriage in Florida. Yet in 2011, our glorious legislature took three tries to finally pass a law making bestiality illegal…and the reason for that was because of a rash of reported cases which couldn’t be prosecuted. So Louie, gay marriage has nothing to do with bestiality or gun control.

Here’s what, always good for some stupid, Louie Gohmert had to say:

In fact, I had this discussion with some wonderful, caring Democrats earlier this week on the issue of, well, they said “surely you could agree to limit the number of rounds in a magazine, couldn’t you? How would that be problematic?”

And I pointed out, well, once you make it ten, then why would you draw the line at ten? What’s wrong with nine? Or eleven? And the problem is once you draw that limit ; it’s kind of like marriage when you say it’s not a man and a woman any more, then why not have three men and one woman, or four women and one man, or why not somebody has a love for an animal?

There is no clear place to draw the line once you eliminate the traditional marriage and it’s the same once you start putting limits on what guns can be used, then it’s just really easy to have laws that make them all illegal.

But maybe the greatest of show of stupid to come ’round the bend in recent YEARS comes unfortunately from my home state of North Carolina, and the Republican led state legislature.  I suspect they made Thomas Jefferson cry today when two legislators from Rowan County Harry Warren and Carl Ford, and 11 other idiots, sponsored legislation to make Christianity the official state religion. No word on which version of Christianity the intended to force on everyone, but the two Rowan legislators were Baptist, so I’m guessing everyone would have to switch to Southern Baptist. Continue reading »

Scaring People to Christianity

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Apr 072010

Easter Sunday afternoon me and Lay went to his parent’s farm down in Ruskin to hide Easter eggs and eat. At one point, I was running to a nearby Walgreens to pickup a couple of items. I was stopped at the traffic waiting to turn in and noticed a young man on the corner holding a large sign and his Bible.

He had a nice PVC frame and the sign must have been about five feet wide by four feet high. On it was a gruesome picture of a person in tattered and burned clothing standing in a pool of blood dripping from all over him. Sitting in the foreground of the picture on a raised seat was an image of Jesus, a stern look on his face with an outstretched finger pointed accusingly at the other figure.

There were, as you can imagine, some words about hell and damnation, but I can’t remember them specifically. Having grown up in the funeral business (and having been a funeral director in the past), I spent my fair share of time in churches of every description, and I’ve certainly heard hell-fire and brimstone sermons. I even remember some “revivals” in my day with some pretty strong and damning language.

For some reason I was really struck on this day by this man’s sign. I realized I felt sorry for him. Sorry that his experience was one where one becomes a Christian (is saved) out of fear…where Jesus is the Grand Inquisitor. Unfortunately, that is the experience of so many people, especially those on the extreme Christian right. If you listen to their theology and their sermons, and get them to admit their real reasons for professing Christianity, it’s not because they want to live a better life. It’s not because they believe it’s a way to help them be better more caring people. It’s because they have been scared into believing that not believing sends one to a hellish afterlife, sentenced by an angry God.

The Prophet MicahThey have this apocalyptic theology based primarily in the book of Revelation, but it is also in that book we find in Chapter 3 Verse 20 these words, “Look! I stand at the door and knock. If you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in, and we will share a meal together as friends.” (New Living Translation) My personal favorite verse is Micah 6:8, “He hath showed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the LORD require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?” And this from a book in which the prophet warms of the wrath of God on the Jewish people.

Where was God’s anger directed in Micah? The prophet sums it up for us in chapter 3, verse 11: “Its heads [its rulers] give judgment for a bribe, its priests teach for hire, its prophets divine for money; {Mic 3:11a RSV}..” Throughout the Bible, God’s anger was directed at leaders who fail to care for their people, and see to their well-being. And his condemnation for the rest of us is directed at those of us who turn a blind eye to “the least of us.”

Read the two verses above. The angry God of the Old Testament invites us to walk with him, and the Jesus of the New Testament gently knocks, and asks to share a meal as a friend. This is not the God of the ultra-conservative right-wing Christians. They live in fear of God and possible condemnation, and soothe themselves not by caring and sharing, but by trying to make everyone else appear even less worthy than they.

What a sad state of affairs for those people, and what a sad state they create in our world with that view. Me, I prefer the idea of a Jesus who is a friend. Someone who cares about others, and calls us, as he did, to take care of one another. It is the piousness that usually brought about the wrath of God.

Jun 072008

Box Turtle Bulletin always has interesting articles, and this one, about Tivo doing a promotion with Focus on The Family was no different. This bothered me a bit, so I went to the Tivo website, got a number for their corporate headquarters and called. A very nice person named Alyson called me back, and we had a good discussion about the situation. I followed up my conversation with the following letter:

I’d like to thank you for calling me back today regarding my concerns about Tivo’s involvement in a promotion sponsored by Focus on The Family, an organization run by James Dobson.

I appreciate talking with you directly, but wanted to ensure that my position was clearly stated and understood by you and others at Tivo.

I am in the technology business, and happen to especially love gadgets. As I explained to you, I’ve found my Tivo to be one of the best pieces of technology I have ever owned. It does exactly what I expect it to do, and it does it well and simply. I applaud your efforts, and as I noted, I’ve recommended it to numerous friends…often unprompted. I have been considering one for my mother.

I am not so naïve as to believe I can not do business with every company that associates in some way with organizations that have political views different than my own. I doubt I’d be able to buy much of anything I use on a daily basis. Also, I’m not so presumptuous as to believe I have a right to demand that you not do business with a particular organization.

At the same time, your involvement with Focus On The Family and James Dobson creates an especially troubling situation for me. I am a gay man. I am also a Christian (Methodist if it matters), and teach an adult Sunday School class. Because of this, I frankly find James Dobson’s vitriolic rhetoric unacceptable. Dobson frequently makes statements that go far beyond mere political extremism. He often crosses the line to literal hate speech, especially in regards to gay and lesbian people. This organization particularly targets LGBT people by spreading information known to be scientifically inaccurate; he creates threats where there are none in order to appeal for financial support; and makes statements that provide some people all the license they need to direct violence at people perceived to be gay and lesbian. Continue reading »

Seek help first for a friend.

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Jun 162006

A person who seeks help for a friend, while needy himself, will be answered first. –The Talmud

Can a call to selflessness be any more clear than this? How often do we seek help for ourselves, or pray to God to meet our needs, knowing we’ll get around to everyone else’s concerns as soon as we’re taken care of?

Maslow posits that this is an attitude ingrained in our very nature, and is part of our survival instincts. That’s what makes us part of the animal kingdom. What should set us aside as human’s is an unselfish heart ready to be concerned about others. I’m convinced that helping others find their blessings can only cause greater blessing to rain down on us.

This is also part of what I talk about all the time…about how no matter our situation in life, there are always people in worse circumstances, and if each of us just reached down life’s ladder to a few others, and helped them gain a rung or two…often in small ways, we are all made better. It’s really the basic message of Christianity, (while it seems to have been lost in dogma of religion) the compassionate spirit.

The Da Vinci Code

 Movies, Religion  Comments Off on The Da Vinci Code
May 302006

The Da Vinci Code (2006)A murder inside the Louvre and clues in Da Vinci paintings lead to the discovery of a religious mystery protected by a secret society for two thousand years — which could shake the foundations of Christianity.

Directed by
Ron Howard

Drama, Mystery, Thriller

Tom Hanks, Audrey Tautou, Ian McKellen, Jean Reno, Paul Bettany, Alfred Molina, J?rgen Prochnow, Jean-Yves Berteloot, Etienne Chicot, Jean-Pierre Marielle, Marie-Fran?oise Audollent, Rita Davies, Francesco Carnelutti, Seth Gabel, Shane Zaza

We saw this movie Monday night,

I can’t say I was blown away by The Da Vinci Code – as is often the case, the book was far superior. I generally like Tom Hanks in almost all his roles. it was a thoroughly enjoyable, occasionally slow moving thriller. Having read the book, I did have a knowledge of the various groups and factions involved – Lay had not read the book, yet he was able to follow the story pretty well. The casting of the movie is surely one of it’s stronger points – Paul Bettany is almost unrecognizable and plays the menacing single minded Silas to utter perfection. Sir Ian McKellan too, is totally fantastic, and really steals most scene’s he appears in. He delivers some great one liners too – a real character actor playing a real character. Audrey Tautou is as we have come to expect, just lovely, and who else could have played Bezu Fache – Jean Reno was made for the role. As you’d expect from a Ron Howard Production, there is a good amount of cheese, especially towards the end. Langdon’s “Godspeed” caused me to awake in the night sweating!

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I'm Not Sure I Was Meant To Be Here

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Mar 062006

If the misery of the poor be caused not by the laws of nature, but by our institutions, great is our sin. ~Charles Darwin

I’ve been pondering this post for sometime. I do not want this post to be seen as self-serving, but to point out how poorly we are doing as a society at caring for the least of these.

Some weeks ago it was getting pretty cool here at night. I have lived in the mountains of North Carolina and in Ohio. I know how cold it can get, and I realize the 38 degree lows we were experiencing here at not as cold as some places, but if you’re not used to it, and don’t have a warm place and warm clothes, it would be cold enough to be quite uncomfortable.

I was leaving the grocery store nearest the house. Sitting on a bench just inside the door were a man and a woman. I don’t know if they were married, lovers…I don’t know. They were in their late 40s or early 50s I would guess. I tuned in to part of their conversation when I realized the woman seemed to be close to tears.

They apparently had enough money to either get something to eat, or rent a cheap motel room for the night. The lady was imploring her companion to get the room because she knew it was going to be cold that night. He was bravely trying to figure out a way to get the room and still get “something” to eat.

Continue reading »