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Persecuted? June 11, 2014

Great.
I just watched a trailer for a new film about “christians” being persecuted in America.
It’s imaginatively titled “Persecuted.”
As a person of faith in Jesus, I grow weary of this self-induced paranoia.

These extremist groups keep crying “Religious Freedom,” when that’s the last thing they want!
Most right-wing fundamentalist evangelicals have made it abundantly clear that they only want freedom for THEIR religious views.
They don’t want everyone to be saying Buddhist prayers in our schools.
They don’t want people swearing on the Quran in our courts.
They don’t want homage paid to Shiva during our sporting events.
They don’t even want to acknowledge the millions of Christians who disagree with them.
So let’s call their cry for religious freedom what it is:
Bullshit!
They’re not talking about freedom. They’re talking about privilege.
Privilege for a particular segment of a particular form of a particular religion.
What they actually want is a Dark Ages system of Church/State control and forced religious compliance.
They are as far from the heart of God as were the Pharisees.
There are Christians that suffer real persecution (including torture and death) for their faith, and these prophets-of-doom extremists are an insult to those truly suffering.

Michael Bussee puts things in perspective this way:

“I hear they won’t let Christians get married. And that gay bakers won’t make them cakes. And that they have special programs that can cure them of being Christians. And that there are lots of homeless Christian kids in America because their gay parents reject them when they come out as Christian…”

Movies like this cater to the lowest common denominators of elitism, religious superiority, quasi-faith and simple fear.
They are desperate calls to rally the troops of a dwindling and hopefully soon dead cultist belief system that’s scratching and clawing for it’s final breath.

persecutedThe makers of this celluloid dung should be ashamed of themselves for feeding these fires of self-importance, delusion, and devotion to a false and dangerous view of God. A view that is in direct contradiction to the teachings of Jesus.

Sadly, this ear-tickling movie will probably do well at the box office.  We can only hope and pray that more and more people of faith will speak out against this kind on nonsense, and toss it in the garbage along with the “Left Behind” movies and the propaganda of the Westboro Baptists.
– df



long_war

 

Rush Limbaugh is a Big Fat Idiot July 12, 2011

Anyone offended by the book’s title should remember that Rush made his career out of insults. That is the great irony.
He once told his audience the the Clintons not only had a family cat, they also had a family dog. He then showed a picture of Chelsea.
So no, I have no problem with the title.
As with “Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them,” and “The Truth (With Jokes),” this book is filled with biting sarcasm, laugh-out-loud humor, and lots of verifiable truth that Al’s targets wish you would just ignore.

There is SO VERY much worth reading here.  True stories, insights, and well researched facts delivered in a way that will make you laugh while your stomach turns at the hypocrisy, stupidity, and outright willful deception perpetuated by so many on the masses.

If you only read one Al Franken book, PLEASE read  “Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them.”  That’s the one, thanks to my daughter-in-law, that I started with.  But, if you like that one, and want more “insider information” as to the workings of our political system, and some of our media stars,  Check out “Rush Limbaugh is a Big Fat Idiot.”  Don’t let the name fool you.  Not all the truth in this book is that obvious.
— df

Buy the book.  CLICK HERE.

Amazon.com Review:
Rush Limbaugh claims his talent is on loan. With this book, Franken demonstrates that he owns his. The frankly Democratic author’s shtick reminds us how much of a free ride conservatives have gotten in the mainstream media. For instance, he really drives home the weirdness of the conservatives’ preachiness about “family values” in light of Newt Gingrich’s and Bob Dole’s first marriages, and Rush Limbaugh’s first, second and third marriages.
Buy the book.  CLICK HERE

Other Reviews:

I like this book because it is hysterically funny and quite entertaining. Al’s wit is dry and sometimes vicious. I laughed to tears when I read the chapter about Phil Gramm (“I own more guns than I need, but not as many as I want.”)

He lampoons the right wing, and I think he does it well. If you are a conservative with no sense of humor, you will not like this book.

Buy the book.  CLICK HERE

 

Comments On A Comment August 29, 2010

[A friend posted a comment on my “Tribbles” article to which I started responding.  I saw my writing becoming rather lengthy, and decided to just make it another post.  You should read her comments and insights before reading the following post.  Her comments are at:
https://lifewalkblog.wordpress.com/2010/08/23/tribbles-arent-the-trouble-labels-are/#comment-322
There are a number of other comments on that post as well.]


I too, am hesitant to attribute events to the direct hand of God.  McLaren spoke of  how “in the ancient world, there is little consciousness of intermediate causality. If lightning strikes, God (or the gods) did it – because there’s little understanding of intermediate causes like atmospheric convection, heat transfer, cold fronts, static electricity, and the like.”

Sometimes, we still seem to have that mindset.  Yet I believe there is some kind of strange mix of destiny and free will.  I don’t know where or how they intersect, but I believe in both.  Christians, especially evangelicals, are all about having, as you said, to know exactly what they believe on every subject.  I, like you, hold to some personal “basics.”  But outside of that, I’m all for a lot of leeway.


We may not actually say it this way, but evangelical Christianity really is a “knowing all the ‘right’ facts about God,” more than knowing God.  It doesn’t take much to prove that.  Just tell an evangelical that you may believe in evolution; or that you not sure the creation story is a literal one-week period.  You may wish to stand back.
I’ve known it to be said that “If you don’t believe the creation story exactly as written, then you don’t believe in the Cross of Christ.”
What?!?!?
Of course, as I’ve said before, that’s why there are hundreds, if not thousands of denominations who disagree and fight, but yet somehow feel justified in saying “Well, we just believe the Bible.”  But that’s been covered in previous posts.

There’s a great follow-up to “The Shack,” called “The Beauty of Ambiguity.”
It talks, as you said, of finding peace in not having to know what you believe about every little thing.  I’m convinced that if we could get God all figured out, He wouldn’t be God.


You talked of people who “feel they have to hide their brokenness, or their doubts, or the fact that they smoke or vote Democrat or whatever, out of fear of being misunderstood or rejected by the body of Christ. And that’s a terrible shame.”

A terrible shame it is.  And it’s due in large part the self-righteous religion that now calls itself Christianity.  Some seem to think that how you vote might determine your final destination.  No wonder people feel the need to hide their true selves.  But legalism always breeds hypocrisy.


I like your reference to us as “characters in this beautiful story of redemption.”
I can’t say exactly when or how my story took the dramatic turn that it did..  Naysayers would say I started going down that “slippery slope.”  Really, I just started to think, as they say, “outside the box” of Westernized, fundamental, evangelical Christianity.

It’s like a thought, or seed, would be planted in my spirit.  Then I would read something and find it spoke to that very thing.  This happened again and again.  It was truly a growth process.  It’s still happening.  Sometimes I  get frustrated with the lack of understanding I get from many friends who still believe as I used to, but I have to remember that my reaction then to someone who was where I am now would have been much the same.


One of the early books on my journey was Philip Yancey’s “What’s So Amazing About Grace.”  A dangerous book indeed!  He said that after interviewing the Clintons (Bill and Hillary), he found that they could not be understood apart from their Christian faith.  The realization that someone could be pro-choice because of their Christianity was like, can I say this, being born again.
It was this sudden revelation that evangelicals represent only a portion of Christianity.  That right-wing Republicans don’t own God.  That if you are pro-war, pro-torture, pro-death penalty, calling yourself pro-life is a sick joke.  That the left, may actually have the higher moral ground on some issues.
The thing is, as Boyd points out in “The Myth Of A Christian Nation,” we should not label (here we are, back to labels) either side as “Christian.”  Our choices will, and should be influenced by our faith, but to call either side or stance “Christian” is a grave mistake.
Here’s another related McLaren quote:
“This sensitivity to vested interests in the Bible helps us, I think, when looking at political issues today. There are upsides and downsides to this or that immigration bill, tax bill, energy bill, whatever. People usually simply take sides – fer it or agin it. But the Biblical library teaches us that there’s a higher perspective, where we can learn to see both the upsides and downsides of all sides … That way, even if we are for something, we won’t be naive about its downsides, and vice versa.”

Soon after Yancey came Frank Viola with “Pagan Christianity.”  Then Wayne Jacobsen with “So, You Don’t Want To Go To Church Anymore.”  William P. Young’s “The Shack.”  The  a-m-a-z-i-n-g  Rob Bell’s “Velvet Elvis.”  The memoirs of  Donald Miller and Anne Lamott.  And yes, even Al Franken.
Books are a wonderful thing.  Someone should have invented them years ago.


So brick by brick…I’m sorry, I mean “spring by spring,” I’ve become less and less sure of what I know.  Which, contrary to the evangelical mindset has actually made me more and more sure of Who I know.
I’ve become much more willing to “agree to disagree,” which I’ve found actually angers and alienates those who feel they have to know everything.  I’ve been called names and “un-friended” because of choosing to opt-out of discussions that were going nowhere.  I love conversation.  I’m not at all fond of debate.


As I think back now, I can actually see seeds of this journey taking place during my separation and subsequent divorce.  It’s strange where and how God can get through to us.

You said you’re not sure where you’re at with the “gay thing,”  but that you are OK with that.  Being OK with uncertainty is, I think, one of the greatest forms of maturity in the life of a believer.
From what I can tell from your comments, you are in a wonderful, scary, beautiful place right now.  I’m actually excited to see where the river takes you.  Just be aware, many who are not where you are, even some friends and loved-ones, will see you and your beliefs as a threat to everything they hold dear.  Sometimes, that can hurt.  Sometimes, it hurts a lot.  But as a wise man once said, “Love Hurts.”  That is so true.  The love of Jesus got Him nailed to a cross.


Well, maybe this post addresses some of your comments.  Hopefully, it will create some new ones.
I truly looked forward to continued conversation.  Sure, I look forward to the later part of eternity.  But truly, there is joy in the journey.


May your journey be filled with wonder, awe, revelation, and all the blessings you can hold.
— df


[Note:  I’m reading a book right now I think you would love, since you’re such a fan of Lamott.  It’s “Evolving In Monkeytown:  How a Girl Who Knew All The Answers Learned to ask the questions,” by Rachel Held Evans.]

 

Tribbles Aren’t The Trouble. Labels Are. August 23, 2010


This article has made it’s way around the web. It’s been included in whole or in part, on many other sites & blogs like “Christians Tired of Being Misrepresented,” and “The Gay Christian Network” sub-site “Syncroblog For Sanity.” Since first posting it it 2010 (Really? Has it been that long?!?), it has went through various edits and updates. SO, if you’ve read it somewhere else, or if you haven’t read it for a long time, you may wish to re-read it.
– df
———————————–

Personality tests. You know the ones. Those like the “Myers-Briggs Type Indicator.” Some people I know fall neatly into one category or the other. Me, not so much. In all those kinds of tests I took, I was usually all over the map. They’ve never really been able to classify me. These tests seem to be designed to “pigeon-hole” people, and try to put them in neat little boxes. I’ve found that boxes, labels and “catch-phrases” oversimplify the vast complexity of our humanity. They also, to be sure, oversimplify the vast complexity of our sexuality. Labels may be fine for canned goods, but not always for people.

I’m writing here what is the most open, public, and personal statement about my sexuality; not to just talk about myself, but more to add my voice to a current discussion that all too often is a divisive “issue.” So, here goes…

I pretty much always knew that I was gay. Later in life, due to my religious views at the time, I considered myself ex-gay.
Now, I’m an “Ex” ex-gay.
I could be considered a gay man in a mixed-orientation marriage.
Since there are varying degrees of bisexuality, “bisexual” is probably my self-identifying term of choice.
Whatever my sexuality, here’s what I do know:
I am a man who has chosen to live in a monogamous, heterosexual relationship with the woman I love, and to whom I am genuinely sexually attracted. That doesn’t mean I’m not still attracted to men.
I am.
Contrary to accusations I’ve received, I am not being hypocritical or “denying my true self.” Many straight men are still attracted to women other than their spouse. To be faithful to the one you love, while recognizing that others are attractive, is NOT hypocritical. It is, in my opinion, just part of existing as sexual beings.

In “Thou Shalt Not Love: What Evangelicals Really Say to Gays,” Patrick M Chapman suggests that sexuality exists on a continuum. This can help explain why not everyone can so easily be crammed into pre-determined categories. Mr. Chapman’s book, by the way, is the single most complete and thorough treatment of the subject I’ve ever seen. He writes from the viewpoint of a gay Christian anthropologist. [Update: I’ve since found another simply wonderful book called “A Time To Embrace.” Together, these two books are pretty much a complete library on the subject.]

So, anyway, I went through so-called “reparative therapy.” I used to be part of an “ex-gay” support group. I no longer promote “ex-gay” ministries. I did receive some positive input throughout my therapy, but it wasn’t because of the “ex-gay” aspects. It was the simple, general psychology and self-worth portions which helped. The promises of a changed orientation are simply not true. Actually, they are downright harmful. [The practice is being banned is some places for minors, as well it should be!] I must say that of all the people I have personally known who say they “came out” of homosexuality, none of them ever quit being attracted to those of the same sex. I can say that in all my years of involvement with those groups, I’ve never seen it happen. I have seen many who have said it happened, end up proving it didn’t. Many people in the movement now admit that the only change is in behavior, and not in orientation. And as one man from the documentary “Through My Eyes” has said, “Well, that’s just not good enough.”

Another label I used to wear was “right-wing, Republican, evangelical Christian.”
The journey “out” of that sociopolitical mindset that masquerades as following God, is a journey many have taken, and more and more people who follow Christ are beginning to take. That journey became “big news” through the statements of author Anne Rice who, while remaining a “Christ follower” decided she had to “quit Christianity”. (God bless you, Anne).
As part of my journey out, (including much investigation, Bible study, research, prayer, and just plain living) many of my beliefs have changed. I am now convinced that when the Bible is properly approached, interpreted, and understood – not as a constitution, but as a divinely inspired community library – there is no reason to believe that God condemns same-sex relationships . Like many, it is because of my commitment to Christ (not in spite of it) that I have become gay-affirming, and take a stand for marriage equality. I won’t go into all the Biblical and extra-Biblical discussions, interpretation, analysis, and arguments here. Many have already done that, and have done a much better job than I could ever do. (Check out the additional resources at the end of the article.)

One thing I’ve found is that attitudes often change when things are moved from “issues” to “people.” Everything is simple when it’s all “in theory.” I can’t tell you how many Christian friends of mine have taken stands on various issues, only to do a 180 when the situation “hit home.” When it’s no longer about abstracts, and it’s about the people you know and love; when it’s about YOUR life, things look a lot different. No, that doesn’t change “truth,” but it can certainly make us realize we may not have had the grasp on truth that we thought we had.

OK. I know I’m an exception, and not the rule. I’m not one-of-a-kind, but I may quite likely be “one-of-a-few.” Even with marriage: My wife and I were divorced and remarried.  That almost never works.  I left the marriage thinking that it was the best thing for both of us.  (Alright.  Mostly best for me.)   After a couple years of “playing the field,” I came to the realization there was no one, of any sex, I wanted to spend my life with more than my wife.  My orientation did NOT change, but I realized that we love who we love.  That’s just the way it is.
Again, we are the exception. BUT, that is a large part of my point. All these labels, boxes, and definitions are sometimes a little too “neat” for real life. I know we can’t avoid them (and they can be very useful), but we need to be aware of their limitations.
Whatever labels you place on yourself, and whatever your religious persuasion or lack thereof, one label we all wear is “human.”
We’re all people.
And there are a couple of things the Jesus I believe in made very clear:
“Love God. Love people.”
I think that’s a pretty good place to start.

More “personal” posts:
Here I Am        The Vega, The Ghost, And The Rambling Old Man        CLICK        More About My Journey        Comments On A Comment        Baby Smashing: 101

SPECIAL NOTE:
In connection with the new book “TORN” by Justin Lee, check out his “SYNCROBLOG FOR SANITY Click this link: http://gcnjustin.tumblr.com/sanity

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES
Through My Eyes        Holy Terror        Thou Shalt Not Love        A Time To Embrace: Same-Gender Relationships in Religion, Law, and Politics        Bible teachings at Gay Christian Network        Box Turtle Bulletin        A New Kind Of Christianity        For The Bible Tells Me So         [Photo from Star Trek, the original series, episode “The Trouble With Tribbles.” Original airdate December 29, 1967 ]

FOOTNOTE: I will say, even if you do believe the Bible is anti-gay (which I do not), that is no reason to oppose marriage equality. In the USA, you don’t have to be a Christian to get married. You don’t have to go to a church to get married. You don’t have to believe in God to get married. In this country, marriage is an act of the state. It is a legal contract. In the United States, marriage is not a religious right. It is a social institution. Just from a legal perspective, there is no reason to deny gay couples that legal avenue. Plus, since the divorce rate among evangelicals is as high or higher than the rest of the country, any talk from them about the sanctity of marriage is empty rhetoric, and laughably hypocritical.

THANKS: Prior to publication, this post was sent to a select few for feedback and input. This included those who self-identify as gay, ex-gay, and straight. I give sincere thanks to all who responded. Agree or disagree, those who chose to respond did so with respect. Of course the biggest thanks goes out to my wife, who has walked this journey with me for over three decades. What a true woman of God. She also gave input into this article, as well as the MUCH needed proof-reading. And she helped me choose from about 10 possible titles.

ADDENDUM: I don’t really like the argument from either side about whether or not homosexuals CAN change. To me, that misses the point. The bigger question is WHY change. Is it necessary or beneficial? Is is what God wants? I think not. At least no kind of “self-created” change. If, as in my case, one actually falls in love with someone of the opposite sex, and develops sexual attraction to that one person of the opposite sex, then that change (or maybe “expansion” is a better word) is “organic” and far different than some kind of forced or unwanted change. In the end, we love who we love.

 

 
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