Satan’s demons of hell have destroyed…God’s Gentle Loving People

 Crack Pots, Religion, Right Wingnuts, Society  Comments Off on Satan’s demons of hell have destroyed…God’s Gentle Loving People
Feb 112016
 
This entry is part of 1 in the series God's Gentle Loving People

do_justiceI’m starting a new series of short posts just to call out of the xtian craziness that I see. I’ll try to avoid stupid stuff from ill-informed and people poorly taught by their religious leaders, but I will make it a special point to call out those who are religious leaders. And probably happy to have the distinction of being the first post in the series is Pastor Dave. I’ll leave his name in, since he actually put in his post on a Facebook page I follow in the Opening Post (which he authored), so I suspect he was rather proud of his statement.

“Satan’s demons of hell have destroyed the UCC, the Disciples of Christ, the Lutheran Church in America, the Episcopal Church USA, one branch at least of the Moravian Church, and the Presbyterian Church in the USA through these evil people in the LGBTQI Movement. We MUST NOT LET THEM do so to the United Methodist denomination. When the UM denomination liberalizes our standard principle that the homosexual life style is a sin and sanctions LGBTQI ordination, that is the day I WILL LEAVE THE DENOMINATION in which I found JESUS and in which I faithfully served as a Biblical, orthodox, evangelical pastor in active ministry for 41 years. MAY GOD HELP AND REDEEM US FROM THIS EVIL. —David Reynolds (“Pastor Dave”)”

Continue reading »

Why the Christian Church May Never Crawl Out of Its Hole

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Jan 182016
 

In the western world, churches, in particular Christian churches, are showing a general decline in attendance and membership. There’s much hand wringing within those denominations most affected; reports are being prepared, and great plans are being made to try to stem the tide, but I am not yet convinced the people in these organizations have the self-awareness to overcome the trend.

The Facebook response to a recent article I posted in a conservative United Methodist discussion group really brought this home for me, and helped me congeal my thoughts on this subject.

Background Statistics

Stats aren’t all that fun, but I think it is necessary to give some background on what is happening that’s causing this concern. The overall number of people who are religiously affiliated has, according to Pew Research, not changed all that much between 2007 and 2015.1 However, according to their most recent “Religious Landscape Study, “A growing share of Americans are religiously unaffiliated, including some who self-identify as atheists or agnostics as well as many who describe their religion as “nothing in particular.” Altogether, the religiously unaffiliated (also called the “nones”) now account for 23% of the adult population, up from 16% in 2007.”2

Continue reading »


  1. U.S. Public Becoming Less Religious,” Pew Research Center, Nov. 3, 2015 

  2. Ibid 

As Usual Methodist Episcopacy Missing in Action

 Featured, Gay Issues, Legislature, Methodism, Politics, Religion, Right Wingnuts, Society  Comments Off on As Usual Methodist Episcopacy Missing in Action
Jan 182015
 
Bishop B. Michael Watson, North Georgia Conference

Bishop B. Michael Watson, North Georgia Conference

It will come no surprise that members of the Georgia legislature have introduced model legislation like that introduced in other legislature where marriage equality has either passed or been instituted by judicial action. This one of those “Religious Freedoms” bills designed to allow “christians” to discriminate against anyone they don’t like…because, you know…who would Jesus hate.

In this instance, a group of religious leaders in Georgia have banded together and issued a letter denouncing the bill, and explaining that no one, besides certain Republican members of the legislature has actually asked for the bill. I was heartened to see that a number of United Methodist pastors from Georgia had signed the letter. But as usual, the Methodist Episcopacy was missing in action. Continue reading »

The Will of God?

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Aug 132008
 

Recently, my Sunday School class has been involved in a study of the “The Will of God.” We’re using a book by Leslie Weatherhead. I don’t find I’m in complete agreement with his definitions, but he does offer a comprehensive interpretation of The Will of God. It has led me to do some deeper thinking about words I’ve heard often. The concept has mostly dumbfounded theologians, and I believe is primarily a construct of people looking for some kind of logic in illogical situations.

Weatherhead was a minister in the Methodist tradition at the City Temple in London. Weatherhead died in 1976. He was minister of the church in London during World War II. During the war, the Church was burned out after being hit by incendiary bombs. Certainly I think the circumstances of his time informed his preaching, and the book comes from a series of sermons. The British, Londoners especially, were under constant torment by the Nazi bombers. Thousands of British were dying in the war and right in London. These were people clearly trying to find some explanation for what was happening to them.

Weatherhead has three ways to look at the will of God: Intentional, Circumstantial and Ultimate. While a small book, Weatherhead still requires a book to explain all these, so forgive my very abbreviated explanation of Weatherhead’s three perspectives. I’ll try to use an example to explain. Let’s say a person goes out for a drive. God intends for all to be well, and for that person to have a safe and enjoyable drive. However, if there is an auto accident, it is God’s circumstantial will that no one be hurt, and if they are, that they be healed. If the person dies anyway, the ultimate will of God would be for God’s purpose to be achieved..that something good could come from the death. Perhaps a person might receive an organ transplant from the driver.

Other’s distinguish the will of God in two ways. That of the decretive and preceptive will. The former means that which God wills to do, or permits himself; the latter what he wills that we should do…theologians say the former cannot be resisted and is always fulfilled…the latter is often violated by men.

We simple Lay people often use “the will of God” as excuse for the things (usually bad things) that happen to us. I grew up in the funeral business, got licensed, and practiced in the field for some years, and so often heard death and ailments blamed on “the will of God.” I think this is a disservice. Let’s be honest about it, how can a loving benevolent God cause the death of a child, the lasting agony of cancer or Alzheimer’s. Some have laid blame for 9/11 and the devastation of hurricane Katrina at the feet of God, calling it his will to punish America (usually based on America failing to stone homosexuals to death).

On Box Turtle Bulletin there was a recent story about Darlene Bogle. Darlene had been part of Exodus affiliated ex-gay ministry, and later denounced that affiliation and was one of three leaders of the ex-gay to apologize last year for their involvement in the movement. In 2005 Darlene had lost her long-time significant other to breast cancer. Recently, Anthony Falzarano, founder of PFOX and a person very active in the ex-gay movement, came across a blog by Darlene, and sent her an email with this message:

I am sorry to hear that your lover died of breast-cancer. Darlene is God sending you a message? Please consider coming back to Exodus. You are loved and missed. Why would God call you back to lesbianism, give you a lover and then take her away. I’m sorry that you are going through this. My heart is breaking right now but I believe that you belong to the Lord and “He chastizes the one’s that he loves”.

This is, of course, hateful on an individual level, but I’ve heard similar things come from the mouths of preachers at funerals. “Is God sending the rest of us a message by taking this person from us.” In this line of thinking, it is the will of God that one person will suffer and die to make a point to someone else. Setting aside the absurdity of these statements on their face, this is in complete contradiction to the very basis of the Christian faith, that God sent his son to die for our sins…to pay the price so we don’t have to. One has to ask the people who use these statements, “so which is it?”

I believe this thinking finds it’s foundation in the oft quoted parts of the Bible like Matthew 10:29-31 where Jesus tells his Disciples, “Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from the will of your Father. And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.” This gives us the message that God is deeply involved in even the most minute details of our lives.  Continue reading »

Upcoming Administrative Council Meeting at Church

 Places, Religion, Tampa  Comments Off on Upcoming Administrative Council Meeting at Church
Aug 072008
 

I have previously published a resolution I intend to introduce at the next Administrative Council meeting at my church here in Tampa (Palma Ceia United Methodist). I was going to introduce it in June, but the meeting was canceled. It’s now been rescheduled for August 18, so I should be able to attend.

One note of interest. I called the church office a week or so after the cancelled meeting to ask if it had been rescheduled. After telling me it had not yet been rescheduled, the Receptionist offered to put me on the email list for the Admin Council. I explained I didn’t need her to do that, but she said that way I’d just know when it was scheduled.

Well, lo and behold, a couple of weeks later I was on the email distribution for a message from the Chair asking about available dates. Then, I got nothing else. Suddenly I was no longer on the distribution. I haven’t taken time to stop by the church and ask about what happened, but I just might. Could be an interesting story there, as the Chairperson knows about the resolution, and has seen a draft.

UPDATE: I did finally receive an email notice of the scheduled meeting, and it was part of the general distribution.

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 »

James Holsinger Preparing for Recess Appointment?

 Gay Issues, Politics, Presidency, Religion, Right Wingnuts, Society  Comments Off on James Holsinger Preparing for Recess Appointment?
Nov 142007
 

Box Turtle Bulletin and other blogs are reporting that James Holsinger has resigned from the Board of Directors at Asbury Seminary, and is telling his pals that Bush will give him a recess appointment as United State Surgeon General.

The nomination had stalled in the Senate when Senators learned of Holsinger’s abject homophobia, and his acts of aggressive discrimination through his various positions within the Methodist Church.

I’d like to point out that I have talked with Holsinger directly, and based on all I can learn from and about him, the charges that he is a bigot are completely true. I also found him to be arrogant and deceitful (an excellent fit for the Bush administration).

A Time For Anger, A Call To Action

 Constitution, Culture, Politics, Religion, Right Wingnuts, Society  Comments Off on A Time For Anger, A Call To Action
Mar 232007
 

by Bill Moyers

The following is a transcript of a speech given on February 7, 2007 at Occidental College in Los Angeles.

I am grateful to you for this opportunity and to President Prager for the hospitality of this evening, to Diana Akiyama, Director of the Office for Religious and Spiritual Life, whose idea it was to invite me and with whom you can have an accounting after I’ve left. And to the Lilly Endowment for funding the Values and Vocations project to encourage students at Occidental to explore how their beliefs and values shape their choices in life, how to make choices for meaningful work and how to make a contribution to the common good. It’s a recognition of a unique venture: to demonstrate that the life of the mind and the longing of the spirit are mirror images of the human organism. I’m grateful to be here under their auspices.

I have come across the continent to talk to you about two subjects close to my heart. I care about them as a journalist, a citizen and a grandfather who looks at the pictures next to my computer of my five young grandchildren who do not have a vote, a lobbyist in Washington, or the means to contribute to a presidential candidate. If I don’t act in their behalf, who will?

One of my obsessions is democracy, and there is no campus in the country more attuned than Occidental to what it will take to save democracy. Because of your record of activism for social justice, I know we agree that democracy is more than what we were taught in high school civics – more than the two-party system, the checks-and-balances, the debate over whether the Electoral College is a good idea. Those are important matters that warrant our attention, but democracy involves something more fundamental. I want to talk about what democracy bestows on us?the revolutionary idea that democracy is not just about the means of governance but the means of dignifying people so they become fully free to claim their moral and political agency. “I believe in democracy because it releases the energies of every human being” – those are the words of our 28th president, Woodrow Wilson.

I’ve been spending time with Woodrow Wilson and others of his era because my colleagues and I are producing a documentary series on the momentous struggles that gripped America a century or so years ago at the birth of modern politics. Woodrow Wilson clearly understood the nature of power. In his now-forgotten political testament called The New Freedom, Wilson described his reformism in plain English no one could fail to understand: “The laws of this country do not prevent the strong from crushing the week.” He wrote: “Don’t deceive yourselves for a moment as to the power of great interests which now dominate our development… There are men in this country big enough to own the government of the United States. They are going to own it if they can.” And he warned: “There is no salvation in the pitiful condescensions of industrial masters… prosperity guaranteed by trustees has no prospect of endurance.”

Now Wilson took his stand at the center of power – the presidency itself – and from his stand came progressive income taxation, the federal estate tax, tariff reform, the challenge to great monopolies and trusts, and, most important, a resolute spirit “to deal with the new and subtle tyrannies according to their deserts.”

How we need that spirit today! When Woodrow Wilson spoke of democracy releasing the energies of every human being, he was declaring that we cannot leave our destiny to politicians, elites, and experts; either we take democracy into our own hands, or others will take democracy from us.

We do not have much time. Our political system is melting down, right here where you live.

A recent poll by the Public Policy Institute of California found that only 20% of voters last November believe your state will be a better place to live in the year 2025; 51% say it will be worse. Another poll by the New American Foundation – summed up in an article by Steven Hill in the January 28th San Francisco Chronicle – found that for the first time in modern California history, a majority of adults are not registered with either of the two major parties. Furthermore, writes Hill, “There is a widening breach between most of the 39 million people residing in California and the fewer than 9 million who actually vote.” Here we are getting to the heart of the crisis today – the great divide that has opened in American life.

According to that New American Foundation study, frequent voters [in California] tend to be 45 and older, have household incomes of $60,000 or more, are homeowners, and have college degrees. In contrast, the 12 million nonvoters (7 million of whom are eligible to vote but are not registered) tend to be younger than 45, rent instead of own, have not been to College, and have incomes less than $60,000.

In other words, “Considering that California often has one of the lowest voter participation rates in the nation – in some elections only a little more that 1/3 of eligible voters participate – a small group of frequent voters, who are richer, whiter, and older than their nonvoting neighbors, form the majority that decides which candidates win and which ballot measures pass.” The author of that report (Mark Baldassare) concludes: “Only about 15% of adult people make the decisions and that 15% doesn’t look much life California overall.”

We should not be surprised by the consequences: “Two Californias have emerged. One that votes and one that does not. Both sides inhabit the same state and must share the same resources, but only one side is electing the political leaders who divide up the pie.”

You’ve got a big problem here. But don’t feel alone. Across the country our 18th political system is failing to deal with basic realities. Despite Thomas Jefferson’s counsel that we would need a revolution every 25 years to enable our governance to serve new generations, our structure – practically deified for 225 years – has essentially stayed the same while science and technology have raced ahead. A young writer I know, named Jan Frel, one of the most thoughtful practitioners of the emerging world of Web journalism, wrote me the other day to say: “We’ve gone way past ourselves. I see the unfathomable numbers in the national debt and deficit, and the way that the Federal government was physically unable to respond to Hurricane Katrina. I look at Iraq; where 50% of the question is how to get out, and the other 50% is how did so few people have the power to start the invasion in the first place. If the Republic were functioning, they would have never had that power.”

Yet the inertia of the political process seems virtually unstoppable. Frel reminds me that the chairman of the Senate Budget Committee can shepherd a $2.8 trillion dollar budget through the Senate and then admit: “It’s hard to understand what a trillion is. I don’t know what it is.” Is it fair to expect anyone to understand what a trillion is, my young friend asks, or how to behave with it in any democratic fashion?” He goes on: “But the political system and culture are forcing 535 members of Congress and a President who are often thousands of miles away from their 300 million constituents to do so. It is frightening to watch the American media culture from progressive to hard right being totally sold on the idea of one President for 300 million people, as though the Presidency is still fit to human scale. I’m at a point where the idea of a political savior in the guise of a Presidential candidate or congressional majority sounds downright scary, and at the same time, with very few exceptions, the writers and journalists across the slate are completely sold on it.” Continue reading »

Peace Takes Courage

 Politics, Religion, Society, War  Comments Off on Peace Takes Courage
Apr 302006
 

For the past several weeks, I’ve been leading a Sunday School class at my church discussing the Social Principles of the Methodist Church. Today we discussed the last two sections of the Social Principles, “The Political Community” and “The World Community.”

In section I of the Political Community section, Military Service, the Methodist Social Principles state, “We deplore war and urge the peaceful settlement of all disputes among nations. From the beginning, the Christian conscience has struggled with the harsh realities of violence and war, for these evils clearly frustrate God’s loving purposes for humankind.”

In the section on “The World Community” paragraph B says in part, “We affirm the right and duty of people of all nations to determine their own destiny. We urge the major political powers to use their nonviolent power to maximize the political, social , and economic self-determination of other nations rather than to further their own special interests.”

We go on, in paragraph C of the section to say, “We therefore reject war as an instrument of national foreign policy, to be employed only as a last resort in the prevention of such evils as genocide, brutal suppression of human rights, and unprovoked international aggression. We insist that the first moral duty of all nations is to resolve by peaceful means every dispute that arises between or among them, that human values must outweigh military claims as governments determine their priorities; that the militarization of society must be challenged and stopped….”

But it really all comes down to the 22nd Chapter of the Book of Matthew. Jesus was challenged by the Pharisee?s to define the Greatest Commandment. In verse 34 he responded, ?Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.? 38?This is the first and greatest commandment.? Jesus didn?t stop there. Without missing a beat he went on to say in verse 39, ?And the second is like it: ?Love your neighbor as yourself.??

In verse 40, just to be sure the dense Pharisees of that time (and maybe for some people of today) got the message, Jesus goes on to say, ?All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.?

A 15 year old girl is receiving death threats for an anti-war video she made. It is available at Peace Takes Courage. I caution you in advance…the images are disturbing, but you should watch it.

Apr 032006
 

I wish I had something of real interest to write about after the weekend, but alas,nothing significant happened.

Sunday, I started leading a four week series in one of the Sunday school classes at PCUMC. We’re discussing the Social Principles of the Methodist Church. I got involved in the class when I read that one of the retired ministers who attends our church was going to do a series on the history of Methodism. It was something that interested me, so I started attending.

Because I usually had an opinion, and spoke up, I got asked to lead a series. This was the topic I chose. The group is an older group, but not the really old folks. They tend to be fairly mature in their faith, and the discussions have usually been fairly intelligent, but there is a wide range of views. I think the class is trending toward conservative, so we’ll see how the discussion goes when we get to the really controversial topics like homosexuality and abortion.

Sunday afternoon, Lay and I went over to St. Pete to visit some of his family. We ate lunch at a little seafood place called the Casual Clam. We’ve seen it before, and talked about eating there. It was very good, and while not the cheapest, it was reasonably priced. Lay tried some jerk spiced chicken wings. They didn’t taste but he didn’t like them. He only ate about two, and asked for a box. The waitress was very nice and asked him about them. When he told they just weren’t what he expected, she took them back, didn’t charge us for them, and he ordered some shrimp…that were great. So, it was not only good food, but a good experience as well.

I went to Mike and Jeff’s for dinner, and watched Duce Bigelow, European Gigolo with them.

Lay was not in a great mood Saturday. We had planned dinner and a movie, but he decided he wanted to go play poker at Derby Lane. I went to dinner with Mike and Jeff. We tried a new place not far from the house. It was about $80 for the three of us, but the food was pretty good.

Once Again A Call To Methodist Bishops to Denouce Torture

 Politics, Religion, Society, War  Comments Off on Once Again A Call To Methodist Bishops to Denouce Torture
Sep 282005
 

I have, several times in the past, called on the U.S. Bishops of the United Methodist Church, to write George Bush and denounce the practice of government sponsored torture. To the best of my knowledge, only five have done so. In light of the recent revelations, I am, again, calling on these Christian leaders to denounce toture. I will be much aggressive this time in that I plan to make a phone call to each.

I have previously posted the contact information for the fifty U.S. Bishops in PDF and Excel format. I ask you to join me in calling on them to write the White House, and take a stand against torture.

Dear Bishop:

Most Americans agree that torture should not be permitted. Few seem aware, though, that although President George W. Bush says he is against torture, he has openly declared that our military and other interrogators may engage in torture “consistent with military necessity.”

Are we, as Methodist charged by our founding principles to be socially responsible, going to continue to close our eyes – even as this behavior continues to be exposed?

We have come a long way since Virginia patriot Patrick Henry loudly insisted that the rack and the screw were barbaric practices that must be left behind in the Old World, “or we are lost and undone.” Can the leaders of Methodism consult their own consciences with respect to what Justice may require of them in denouncing torture as passionately as the patriots who founded our nation?

On September 24, The New York Times ran a detailed report regarding the kinds of “routine” torture that US servicemen and women have been ordered to carry out (http://www.nytimes.com/2005/09/24/politics/24abuse.html). This week’s Time also has an article on the use of torture by US forces in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Guantanamo. Those two articles are based on a new report from Human Rights Watch, a report that relies heavily on the testimony of a West Point graduate, an Army Captain who has had the courage to speak out. A Pentagon spokesman has dismissed the report as “another predictable report by an organization trying to advance an agenda through the use of distortion and errors of fact.” Judge for yourselves; the report can be found at (http://hrw.org/reports/2005/us0905/). Grim but required reading.

See if you can guess the author of the following:

“In this land that has inherited through our forebears the noblest understandings of the rule of law, our government has deliberately chosen the way of barbarism…

There is a price to be paid for the right to be called a civilized nation. That price can be paid in only one currency – the currency of human rights…When this currency is devalued a nation chooses the company of the world’s dictatorships and banana republics. I indict this government for the crime of taking us into that shady fellowship.

The rule of law says that cruel and inhuman punishment is beneath the dignity of a civilized state. But to prisoners we say, ‘We will hold you where no one can hear your screams.’ When I used the word ‘barbarism,’ this is what I meant. The entire policy stands condemned by the methods used to pursue it.

We send a message to the jailers, interrogators, and those who make such practices possible and permissible: ‘Power is a fleeting thing. One day your souls will be required of you.”

— Bishop Peter Storey, Central Methodist Mission, Johannesburg, June 1981

The various rationalizations for torture do not bear close scrutiny. Intelligence specialists concede that the information acquired by torture cannot be considered reliable. Our own troops are brutalized when they follow orders to brutalize. And they are exposed to much greater risk when captured. Our country becomes a pariah among nations. Above all, torture is simply wrong. It falls into the same category of evil as slavery and rape. Torture is inhuman and immoral, whether or not our bishops and rabbis can summon the courage to name it so.

You forfeit your moral authority when you keep your heads down and eyes averted to this behavior. The question is this: Are we up to the challenge of confronting the evil of torture, or shall we prove Patrick Henry right? Is our country about to be “lost and undone?”

I once again call on each of you to decry the government sponsored torture that is clearly taking place. We, as Christians and Methodists can do no less. It is, as a leader of the Church, your obligation to speak up loudly and denounce these activities. As Bishop Story noted, one day too, our souls will be required of us.

Yours in Peace,
John Masters

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