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______________________ LIFE, FAITH, ETCETERA

Abortion, God, and the Breath of Life June 29, 2020

Today, June 29th, 2020, The Supreme Court handed a victory to Pro Choice advocates.
So again, we’re hearing about how godless our Country has become.
“Abortion is wrong because God says so!”
Except, of course, God doesn’t say so.

“But the bible says, ‘You knitted me together in my mother’s womb.’ (Psalm 139)”
Um, OK. But where does it say God says abortion is wrong?
“Well, the bible also says that John lept in his mother’s womb (Luke 1:41).”
Um, OK. But where does it say God says abortion is wrong?

Now, you can go back and forth like this for a long time. But here’s the thing: They’ll NEVER show you where God says abortion is wrong, because, well, IT’S NOT THERE!

Some dude named Jared Moore stated “John the Baptist did not leap over what Mary’s fetus would become; he jumped for joy over what her embryo already was.” Again, that is clearly not in the bible. It’s conjecture.
And that is the only way anti-abortion people can even begin to make a case. Find some scripture to quote, read additional meaning into it, engage in conjecture, create a doctrine and declare “God Said So!”

One of the the big, and necessary, manipulations is to change the word “abortion,” to “murder” and go from there. But again, these “I just believe the bible” folk prove once more that they don’t. That is a simple, repeatedly verifiable fact.

There is a place, actually, that the bible gives the reader instructions on how to cause an abortion!
Numbers 5:11-31. It says to make a woman believed to have committed adultery consume “bitter water” which would cause a miscarriage. 

There are other voices within the broad spectrum that is Christianity. Millions hold that life (or the “soul,” if you will) begins at 1st breath, rather than at conception. And, like their counterparts, they have plenty of scripture to back up that belief. Probably even more.
A couple of examples are:
The bible says that God breathed life into man. (Genesis 2:7)
The breath of the Almighty gives me life. (Job 33:4)
Clearly, they contend, the bible teaches that Life Is In The Breath!

While I’m firmly in the 2nd camp of believers, the bottom line is this:
America is a Democracy, NOT a Theocracy. We don’t have folks put their hands on the constitution and swear to uphold the bible!
So, even if these right-wing fundamentalist evangelicals could show us their “God said so,” which they can’t because it’s not there, it wouldn’t matter. They do not own America!

But the fact remains, at least going by the Christian bible, God didn’t say so.
So for anyone to say “God said abortion is wrong,” one of 2 truths must be in place. Either they are deceived, or they are liars.
That’s it. Those are the choices, because it’s provably untrue.

Now, I’m not saying you don’t have the right to believe abortion is wrong.
Of course you do! Believe what you want. But if those beliefs translate into laws, especially laws not based in fact, then we need to put a stop to that.

So go ahead. Believe as you will. But PLEASE stop lying by saying “God said so.” I mean, “All liars have their place in the lake of fire,” right?

– Dave Foreman

——————————-

[A little extra.]
Will McLeod points out that Jesus basically stated you can’t take all the Bible literally:
“Therefore I speak to them in parables; because while seeing they do not see, and while hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand.” (Matt. 13:13)
He also states “The bible is a very difficult book to understand and to use because it is not internally consistent, it does not claim to be perfect, and it is mistranslated. So we Methodists have a Method (that’s how we got our name) for understanding the world:
1. Scripture
2. Tradition
3. Reason
4. Experience

[THAT sounds like a good place to start.]

 

If My People April 29, 2020

 

“If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.”
– 2 Chronicles 7:14 (NIV)

Back when I was still in institutionalized religion this verse got quoted a lot. It didn’t get practiced a lot, but it got quoted a lot.  Sadly, what’s practiced today, and has been for some time now, is an alternate translation that goes something like this:
“If my people, who are called by my name, will exult themselves and scream, seek to control other peoples bodies and sex organs, and turn to the NRA, then from the White House will I hear, ignore all of MY sin, and take this land.”

For all the talk of a so-called “personal savior” (not in the Bible, FYI) this particular religious sect is often more interested in controlling “persons” other than themselves. More often it’s “YOU can’t do that,” than “I can’t do that.”
In my somewhat promiscuous life, I’ve rarely been with people more sex-obsessed than some of the right-wing fundamentalist evangelicals I know.
Moving on.

With COVID-19, as with almost every bad thing that happens, the psychos like Pat Robertson are blaming it on gays and abortion1.  But if the previously quoted verse is at all relevant, and if these folks will ever practice what they preach, it’s way past time for them to re-focus.
Chronicles is the final book in the Hebrew Bible2. But, the basic message of this passage is stated by Jesus in the New Testament.
He’s approached by a disciple who, in a nutshell is saying, “HEY! What about THAT guy?!?!”  To which Jesus replies, “What concern is that of yours? You follow me!” – John 21:22 (NET)

Oh what a better place the world would be if these folks could just get that one principle right! You don’t like abortion, DON’T GET ONE! You’re against gay marriage? DON’T GET GAY MARRIED!

“If MY people will humble themselves, and turn from their wicked ways…”
Now, to be clear, not right-wing fundamentalist evangelicals, not the Christian Left, not any religion has the corner on the god-market. But for those who believe they are “God’s people,” (and for those who believe in no god at all) this “YOU do the right thing” is, I believe, a good start. A kind of “do no harm” mentality where we can let others make decisions about their bodies and their love-life, while holding them accountable if their actions (like NOT wearing a mask during a friggin’ pandemic) are harmful to others.

The religious right is big on saying this Country needs repentance.
They are correct!
“If MY people will turn from their wicked ways.”
If those who are hell-bent on telling the rest of us how to live would…
Turn from the wickedness of trying to take away a woman’s right to choose…
Turn from the “sin” of keeping two consenting adults who love each other from getting married…
Forsake the anti-Christ practice of enabling a known lying, misogynistic, homophobic, frankly stupid narcissist,  simply so they can gain political power and marry church and state…
If they would value truth, facts and science. If they’d fight against putting kids in cages. If they’d stand for the poor and the outcast. If they would side with victims of gun violence instead of against them.  If they could possibly get it through their heads that “YOU follow me,” means Them, and if they would be more interested in actually following the example of Jesus than following their power-hungry quasi-Christian leaders (Graham, Falwell, Robertson, et al),
Then maybe our land could actually begin to heal.
It couldn’t hurt.

Now, let me acknowledge there are those who hold many right-wing fundamentalist attitudes who are otherwise good people. (I know. The whole “otherwise” good people can be used to defend a lot of ugliness, but…) And I don’t for one single second believe that COVID-19, or any other natural disaster, plague etc. is God’s punishment for anything, EVER! (And if this WAS God’s doing, and part of some end-time plan, why the hell would they be fighting against what they say they believe must happen, and what they’re praying for. Sheesh!)

Still. I keep hoping and praying for their repentance. That or their eventual complete insignificance.
I really do.
And, I know a lot of Christians around the world who are not a part of this very vocal group I’m talking about, are also hoping and praying for that kind of “revival”.  I so want to see some of these folks awaken from delusion, acknowledge the wicked ways I’ve talked about, and repent of trusting religious doctrine and “correct” beliefs over valuing this world and its inhabitants.
You know, like Jesus did.
I really believe, as the title of a Rob Bell book states, “Jesus Wants To Save Christians.”
If only they’d let him.

  1. This political association was a very intentional way to control evangelical voters. You can read a lot about the creation of the religious right in the Frank Schaeffer book, “Crazy For God.
  2. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Books_of_Chronicles


    And now, here’s Derek Webb (formerly of Caedmon’s Call) with “What Matters More” (Lyrics below video)


    You say you always treat people like you’d like to be
    I guess you love being hated for your sexuality
    You love when people put words in your mouth
    About what you believe, make you sound like a freak

    ‘Cause if you really believe what you say you believe
    You wouldn’t be so damn reckless with the words you speak
    Wouldn’t silence your concern when the liars speak
    Denying all the dying of the remedy

    Tell me, brother, what matters more to you?
    Tell me, sister, what matters more to you?

    If I can tell what’s in your heart by what comes out of your mouth
    Then it sure looks to me like being straights is all it’s all about
    Yeah, it looks like being hated for all the wrong things
    And chasing the wind while the pendulum swings

    We can talk and debate it till we’re blue in the face
    About the language and tradition that He’s coming to save
    Meanwhile we sit just like we don’t give a shit
    About fifty-thousand people who are dying today

    Tell me, brother, what matters more to you?
    Tell me, sister, what matters more to you?

    Brother, what matters more to you?
    Tell me, sister, what matters more to you?

    Tell me, what matters more to you?
    Tell me, brother, what matters more to you?

 

Straight Pride? June 7, 2019

Well of course.
Of course white people can be proud. Of course straight people can be proud. Of course men can be proud. But straight pride, white pride and male pride are this: Extreme exercises in Missing The Point.

Each of these groups have been the oppressors against each of the counter-groups.

“But I shouldn’t be held accountable for what others in my group have done!”
As an old white male, I enjoy inherent privilege for being so. I don’t have to do a thing to enjoy those privileges.  They are just there automatically. If someone sees me in a dark alley, their assumptions are much different than if they see a young black male in a dark alley.
If someone sees “David” on a job application, they may be more inclined to hire me than if they saw the name “Susie” on the same application.
As far as I know, no one has ever been fired just for being straight.  No man has been beaten just for holding his wife’s hand in public.

Is it MY fault I have this privilege?
No. It’s not.
And I shouldn’t be held accountable for what I have no control over. BUT…
If I deny those privileges exist, I AM accountable for that.
If I deny the oppression, hate and control exerted or legislated over “the other,”
I AM accountable for that.

Silence and/or inaction to combat the negatives others experience at the hands of that privilege make me complicit.
And for all their false claims of oppression, fundamentalist “Christians” have long, long enjoyed the highest of the high of elite status in the USA. So much so, that the slightest hint of others having a major say in this Country truly feels like oppression to them.
It is not!

Gay pride. Black power. Women’s rights. They all came about, and are necessary, because of the excessive privilege of a dominant straight white “Christian” male omnipotence. I am confident that if Jesus were here, physically present today, he would be marching right beside his LGBT, Black and Female friends. Their marches and parades are a part of their freedom from their oppressors. That’s something participants in a “Straight Pride” parade can never ever claim.  And although they can never even fully understand, they really need to try.
y

 

Apology Accepted, But… April 24, 2019

“I’m sorry.  I shouldn’t have said that.  I shouldn’t have treated you that way.
I really thought I was doing the “Christian” thing.
Truth is, you acted more Christ-like than I did.
I was sure I was right. I thought that’s what the Bible taught.
Again, I was wrong. I’m sorry.”

I’ve said those, or similar, words in the past. More than once. I’ve also had them said to me. Apologies are a part of life.  If they’re not a part of your life, then you’re not being genuine. No one is so perfect as to never need to apologize. You were wrong, Erich. Love almost always means having to say you’re sorry.
Still, an apology is not always enough.

Apologies usually focus on an act.  A behavior. A specific event. But if we don’t look deeper, we will sooner than later be right back in the same situation, offering a similar apology.
“I’m sorry I owned you as a slave.  I know now that was wrong, even though I thought God was OK with it. Of course, you’ll still need to drink from your own fountain.”
Time passes.
“I’m sorry I made you drink from your own fountain. I know now that was wrong, even though I thought God was OK with it. Of course, you’d still better not marry a white woman.”
Time passes.
“I’m sorry I said you couldn’t marry a white woman. I know now that was wrong, even though I thought God was OK with it. Of course…”

So, I finally realize a specific act was wrong.  I even acknowledge that the reason for my act was a false belief. It was a sincerely held belief. It was a belief I defended with holy writ. But like false beliefs defended by holy writ for centuries past, it was wrong.
Thankfully, I now know I was wrong, and I truly, humbly apologize.

And then it happens again.

It totally amazes me how many times someone can realize a sincerely held belief was wrong, and still be so very blind to the fact that there’s every likelihood they are right now doing the same thing with one or more of their current beliefs! How can a person repeatedly admittedly be wrong, and not acknowledge the possibility of still being wrong?!?!?

I’ll tell you how.  In a word: Certainty.

When I was a part of institutional religion, we were very fond of saying we had “a relationship, not a religion.” We would then allow almost every word of our mouths to prove us liars. What we really had was a very dogmatic system of beliefs. Our true faith was not so much in Christ, but in whether or not we believed the “right” things.  We had to be right, and we had to be Certain! More than once when I strayed outside the accepted parameters of belief, I was made to feel lesser.  And I’m 100% sure I did the same to many others.
“You can’t have that picture.  You can’t wear that shirt.  You can’t listen to that music. You can’t believe this. You can’t believe that.”
“Don’t. Don’t! DON’T!!”
“Here’s what you need to know. And then, you need to know that you know that you know. Yes, I believe in science.  But if science contradicts the Bible, then science is wrong.”
Translation: If science contradicts my very limited understanding and application of some ancient text, then science is wrong.
Deeper Translation: If facts interfere with my beliefs, I’ll ignore (and even fight against) the facts.

Now, back to the apology thing.
I’ve apologized for my act, based on a false belief.  Hell, I’ve even apologized for the belief itself.
And, GOOD NEWS, in this case, I’ve Even Changed My Belief!
The problem is:  I Haven’t Changed The WAY I Believe!
All those many, many times I’ve been sincerely wrong have never been allowed to teach me the root of the problem!
WHY?!?!?

In a word, Fear.

Fear that if I acknowledge some particular truth, my entire belief system may come crashing down. All my beliefs are part and parcel of the fabric of my religion. If so much as one thread unravels, I could lose it all!
Fear that if I let go of certainty, I’ll wander aimlessly with nothing of value to hold on to.  And for fundie Christians, the very unhealthy kind of “the fear of God.”

Look, if facts destroy your belief system, I’ve got news for you: It needed destroyed!  If having a wrong belief about God, about eternity, about Jesus; if any of that pisses off God that much, you need a better, bigger God!
Also the fear of your peers. I know people who are so afraid of what their peers will think, they avoid acknowledging truth if it comes from the “wrong” source. God forbid someone should think I agree with “that” person.  I don’t want anyone to think I’d lead them astray!

Certainty is the enemy of faith. And changing what you believe, without changing how you hold those beliefs, is of very limited benefit. And by the way, the basics of what I’m saying here doesn’t just apply to right-wingers, or just to Christians. It goes for Muslims, Atheists, Jews… EVERYONE.

I know, I know; I use this quote a lot.
But it’s just so damn good! And honestly, learning this important lesson can, I believe, even transform many strained relationships.  It’s from “What We Talk About When We Talk About God.”  And I’ll end this post with it now.

“You can believe something with so much conviction that you’d die for that belief,
and yet in the same moment
you can also say, ‘I could be wrong…’
This is because conviction and humility, like faith and doubt, are not opposites; they’re dance partners. It’s possible to hold your faith with open hands, living with great conviction and yet at the same time humbly admitting that your knowledge and perspective will always be limited.” – Rob Bell

 

 
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