LifeWalk

______________________ LIFE, FAITH, ETCETERA

Tired Of All The Negativity February 20, 2017

So, I keep seeing social media posts from people talking about how tired they are of hearing all the political rhetoric and negativity concerning our current administration.  Here’s the thing: Most of these posts, not all but most, are from older white Protestant males.  I, too, am an older white Protestant male. So I have no problem talking about this group. [Most of the younger ones are white males, as well.  And many of the ones from females are still also white Protestant.]

Now, there’s nothing inherently wrong with being white, or Protestant, or male.  BUT, this is the group of people that are the least negatively affected by our “Nightmare  on Pennsylvania Avenue.”  It’s like when I hear white folks say “Yes, racism is an issue, but now we’ve gone too far the other way.”
Really?  After years, decades, centuries of being the oppressor; of being the privileged class, we’ve gone too far the other way because other people are finally standing up for themselves?  They’ve endured all these many many years, and you can stand the heat for barely a second.  Even when “the heat” is not being able to discriminate against others.

It’s so damn easy to say “move on” when you’re not the one whose marriage is being threatened. When you’re not the one who’s being told what to do with their body. When you’re not the one whose families are being torn apart because of deportation!

Instead of being tired of the political posts and so-called negativity, you should be a part of it!  Because, it’s not negativity.  It’s social justice activism!
If you have a decent bone in your body, you should be standing with total outrage against all the insanity that is currently going on in the White House. Vocally, actively  standing!

By now you’ve probably seen the post that goes something like this:
“People  say, ‘If I was alive back then I would have…’
Well, you’re alive now. And what you’re doing is what you would have done!”

I’m especially tired of the group that most vocally claims to speak for God also being the group that is the least like Jesus. They’ve pretty much lost all claim to credibility or godliness.

So, yeah, you’re tired of this. You’d like us all to just get over it.
It’s nice to have that luxury, isn’t it?

 

Cult Of Ignorance: Take 2 June 20, 2016

 

kierkegaard

 

I recently read a really great, and very important article by Ray Williams titled,
The cult of ignorance in the United States: Anti-intellectualism and the ‘dumbing down’ of America.”
You really should make it required reading for yourself, and then spread it around as much as possible.

One statement the author makes is
“There has been a long tradition of anti-intellectualism in America.”
He gives various reasons, statistics and (sadly) continuing trends that contribute to this “dumbing down.”
There are a couple of items (prompted by a friend’s response)  I’d like to briefly expound on here.

 

1st, there’s the Hate and Fear Factor.
Misogyny, homophobia, xenophobia, etc. rely on willful ignorance.  They insist on broad stereotypes, and a very strong “us vs. them” mentality.  This mentality must remain immune to facts, understanding or any friendly, intentional interaction with the “other.”  You
can’t get to know “them” as people.  They must remain a concept. An evil, “they will destroy me” idea, rather than human beings.
Hate and fear are powerful motivators that must suppress reasonable thought.
They are great tools of manipulation, frequently employed by politicians and religious leaders.

Which brings me to my second point: Religion.
Let me start with something positive.  There have been many, many people who, because of their “faith,” have stood on the right side of history.  They have stood for social justice, equality and freedom.  But, these voices have almost always been opposed by the power structures of their very own religion.
Heretics, tortured for believing that the earth revolves around the sun.  Innocents, burned as witches.  Slaves, deemed to be animals, rather than people.  Women, considered “lesser” than men.  LGBT people, labeled as “hated by God.”  Each and every case, backed up by the Bible and the bold declaration, “It’s not me.  It’s God!”
That, of course, continues to be the case today.
I, myself, used to promote willful ignorance.  I remember I used to be taught (and taught others) “If science disagrees with the Bible, then the science is wrong.”  Which, of course, is why people were killed for saying the earth revolves around the sun.
In essence, we were saying,
“Look.  I don’t care what facts you put in my face.  If it doesn’t match my limited understanding and interpretation of some cherished ancient text, then I’m going to willfully ignore those facts in favor of maintaining my “belief system.”

And, in case you’re thinking I’m just picking on Christianity, I’m not.  The same goes for most religions and “sacred” texts.


Some turn to Atheism in order to maintain intellectual integrity.  That’s a valid choice, but it is not mine.  I wish to be a part of the long, but often suppressed, tradition of voices that state, “I believe in God, and I believe in reason.”  I know some who do not believe that is possible, but I do.
But here’s the thing; I must never allow my belief in God to justify any of the ills previously mentioned.  I must never allow my belief to suppress other beliefs, unless those  beliefs cause harm to others, or seek to keep them from the same rights I enjoy.  
You can certainly believe as you wish.  Ultimately, it’s your actions that matter to me.  
If following your God requires you to keep women from voting, African Americans from freedom, gay people from getting married, or foreigners from entering our Country, then your god isn’t worth following.  And to repeat my intentionally controversial statement, “That god can go to hell!”
If your first response to scientific facts or basic human rights is “No, because my Bible says…” you are choosing willful ignorance.   Please stop thinking that could somehow be pleasing to any Creator.

NOW, mix the political “hate and fear” with the “religion” element. Well, history has repeatedly shown us how that plays out. Unless, of course, we choose willful ignorance.

 

 

Love Is The Cure June 20, 2013

loveisthecure
Love Is the Cure: On Life, Loss, and the End of AIDS
– By Elton John

While there is certainly some very interesting autobiographical material here, this is not primarily an autobiography.  It is a book about AIDS.

Elton looks at the beginning of the AIDS crisis, and then brings us up to date.  From the science to societal reaction we’re given the facts, as well as many stories of lives directly impacted by AIDS.  Of course, all our lives are impacted by AIDS.

We start with a story of a small town in Indiana called Kokomo, as we look at the life of Ryan White.  Ryan was a teenage hemophiliac who became infected with HIV from a contaminated blood treatment. We see, as Elton John states, that Ryan and his family were “true Christians.”  The story also reveals the very non-Christian actions and attitudes of many of the church-goers and residents of Kokomo at that time.  The majority of the townsfolk ostracize this afflicted boy and his family.  “It seemed like a modern-day witch hunt, and Ryan was to be burned at the stake.” Adults were worse than the kids who teased and tormented him. His entire family suffered. This is some sad, sad commentary on the nature of fear, religion, and those who propose to represent God.  But even through being shunned by the town, his classmates and his “church,” Ryan said “There’s always hope with the Lord. I have a lot of trust in God.”
Eventually, Ryan and his family did have to leave town so Ryan wouldn’t have to be buried in such a place of evil hatred.  The town he moved to, only miles away, welcomed him with open arms.  In the end, Ryan reached the entire nation.
The faith, love, and Christ-likeness of Ryan and his mother forever changed the life of Elton John.  Elton is very honest about how his addictions, anger and ego were in control of his life.  “You can’t imagine how selfish I was at the time, what an asshole I had become.” Seeing Ryan give out so much love in the face of so much hate helped E.J. face his own demons.  Elton entered rehab in 1990 and has been sober ever since.  His interactions and friendship with Ryan White also led to the creation of the Elton John AIDS Foundation.

Elton shares stories of personal loss, as so many of his friends and acquaintances were suffering and dying from this pandemic. There are stories of people like Rock Hudson and Freddie Mercury.

We also see AIDS on more of a national level.  This, of course, includes people like Jerry Falwell, again on their religious high-horses proclaiming AIDS victims are just getting what they deserve.  Even some government leaders help spread the hate, fear, and misinformation that ads fuel to the fire of an already devastating crisis.

And we look at AIDS from a global perspective.
Over in Africa, we see that in addition to an extremely bad AIDS situation, there is also an epidemic of rape.  Someone is raped every 26 seconds.  The men and leaders seem to think this is normal behavior, and punish the women who attempt to report being raped.  These unreported atrocities give tremendous momentum to the spread of the disease.
Another disgusting story is about how the Bayer pharmaceutical company knowingly sold tainted, AIDS transmitting medication to other countries so they wouldn’t have to throw them out and lose money.

Throughout this book, we’re shown the many faces of AIDS.  The involvement of some famous warriors against this disease, like President Bill Clinton, Paul Michael Glaser, Princess Diana,  Elizabeth Taylor, and many others is discussed.  We examine what has been done, and where we need to go from here.

I would be remiss as a reviewer if I did not mention the book’s shortcomings.  They can be summed up by saying “Elton John is not an author.”  The writing stumbles from time to time, and there is much redundancy.
Having said that, the stories are far too interesting, and the information far too vital to miss reading “Love Is The Cure.”

I’ve always enjoyed Elton’s music.  At the same time, I sensed that he was pretty much a jerk.  Reading this book has helped me see a different side of Elton John:
A loving, helpful, mellowed-by-age-and-experience, redeemed Elton John.  When he speaks of his drug use, party-life, and “unprotected” multiple sexual encounters he says that it’s a “miracle” he never contracted AIDS.  I feel he does not use that word lightly.
His miracle is one with which I can totally identify.

“Love Is The Cure” is truly an eye-opener, and I thank God that Elton John has written it.


Buy the book. Click HERE.


[For years, now, my wife and I have been involved in raising funds for our local AIDS Task Force here in Fort Wayne, Indiana through  their annual “AIDS Walk.”  This year’s walk is over, but you can still donate.
If you’d like to do so, click: www.Aids-Walk.info.
Thanks! Dave.]

Buy the book. Click HERE.

Quotes:

– The bottom line is, we’re all human, and we all deserve to be helped and to be loved.
– I was consumed by cocaine, booze, and who knows what else. I apparently never got the memo that the “Me” Decade ended in 1979. The Elton ego train kept rolling right through the ‘8Os.
– Ryan White inspired a nation, changed the course of a deadly epidemic, and helped save millions of lives.
– As a child with hemophilia, Ryan had been treated with compassion. As a child with AIDS, many treated him with contempt.
– Many religious institutions, governments, and the general public sent an unmistakable message to people with AIDS: We do not care about you.

Buy the book. Click HERE.

– Falwell and his ilk helped guarantee the AIDS epidemic would get far worse.
– It still stings to recall the pure, unadulterated hatred that was spewed at gays and AIDS sufferers.
– What makes AIDS so frightening, so very lethal, is that it takes advantage of more than our biological weaknesses. It take advantage of our social weaknesses.
– Conservative religious and political leaders continue to stand in the way of implementing what we know for a hard fact will save millions upon millions of lives.
– Fighting stigma is difficult work. Instead of directing our animosity and fear at someone’s disease, we direct it at the person who is sick.

Buy the book. Click HERE.

– The discrimination that the LGBT community [in Haiti] faced after the earthquake is hard to stomach.
– Like many people, I deeply regretted much of what [George W. Bush] did in office, but [his] decision to take aggressive action [with his [President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief] saved millions of lives.
– There are 2.5 million people infected with HIV in India, and their government has said essentially, “We don’t care about any of you because some of you are gay.”
– We certainly can’t do it without religious institutions on our side. Their power is too great, their influence too far-reaching. There is no excuse for furthering pain and injustice in the name of any god.
– For a small fraction of what was spent on the war in Iraq, America would forever be heralded as the country that won the war against AIDS.

Buy the book. Click HERE.

– The cure for AIDS is a matter of changing hearts and educating minds.
– The fight against AIDS comes down to compassion.

Buy the book. Click HERE.



WE ALL HAVE AIDS

 

Born This Way? April 29, 2013

Intelligent.
  Articulate.
    Humorous.
      Relevant.
OK.  I can tell you’re thinking, “Gee, Dave, we already know that about you.” But, as it turns out, I’m not talking about myself (this time). No, I’m speaking of a man named John Corvino.
If you’re familiar with his work, you already know the description above is accurate. If you’ve not seen any of his videos, now’s a great time to start.

BABYOne of the entries in his newest collection addresses the issue of whether or not LGBT persons are “Born this way.”
Finally, we’re starting to hear “I don’t care!” instead of some supposed definitive response.
I’ve been stating for some time that the “born this way,” and the “change is possible” arguments need, as T.L. might say, “Left Behind.” (Which would be the first time he used that phrase with any exactitude. I digress.)
Anyway, it’s time, in my humble opinion, to leave in the dust those opponents of equality who wish to engage in the same old, tired and worn out donnybrooks.

It matter’s not one iota if you were born gay. Even if you were not, your life and experience are just as valid as if you were born that way. So what if someone, somewhere, sometime actually did change their orientation. That doesn’t mean you can or should.
There are, quite sadly, those who still do not believe in racial equality. Equally sad are those who still think a woman’s place is in the home. There will always be some who’s minds are closed tighter than a dolphin’s butt.*
The best revenge, as someone has said, is living well.
Yes, we always need to stand against prejudice and bigotry. We will continue to fight for equality for all. But, as much as possible, let’s quit giving undue attention to the naysayers, and prove them wrong by contiuning to live life to the fullest.

And, with that, let me introduce to you, the following video:
(With Corvino, always stick around for the tag.)





John has a lot of great videos.
Click HERE for his latest series.


* “Dolphin’s butt” reference provided by Kathy Foreman.

 

Slippery Slope January 31, 2012



THIS IS JUST TOO GOOD TO NOT SHARE WITH AS
MANY PEOPLE AS I CAN.
It’s from the blog of Rachel Held Evans, and I can truly identify.
—————–

They said that if I questioned a 6,000-year-old earth, I would question whether other parts of Scripture should be read scientifically and historically.

They were right. I did.

They said that if I entertained the hope that those without access to the gospel might still be loved and saved by God, I would fall prey to the dangerous idea that God loves everyone, that there is nothing God won’t do to reconcile all things to Himself.

They were right. I have.

They said that if I looked for Jesus beyond the party line, I could end up voting for liberals.

They were right. I do (sometimes).

They said that if I listened to my gay and lesbian neighbors, if I made room for them in my church and in my life, I could let grace get out of hand.

They were right. It has.

They told me that this slippery slope would lead me away from God, that it would bring a swift end to my faith journey, that I’d be lost forever.

But with that one, they were wrong.

————

[Read this rest of this, and other writings by Rachel Held Evans. Click HERE.]

[AND buy and read her wonderful book
“Evolving In Monkey Town.” Click HERE.]

 

Thank God For Evolution August 22, 2011


Thank God for Evolution:
How the Marriage of Science and Religion Will
Transform Your Life and Our World
By Michael Dowd


Mr. Dowd makes a promise at the beginning of the book: “that the sacred evolutionary perspective offered here will enrich your faith and inspire you in ways that believers in the past could only dream of.”
I can say that for me, he kept his promise.
Although my review is mainly aimed at those with a belief in Christ, the author makes his statements applicable to those of all faiths, and to those of “no faith” as well.

As I always state, I do not agree with everything written in these pages.
It’s odd. Although Michael’s views in some ways seem to diminish the reality of God for me, they somehow simultaneously, in most ways, make God much more real, and much bigger than I’ve ever imagined God to be.
My wife commented that, when reading this book, I spent as much time staring off into space as I did reading. It’s just that kind of a book. And it did take me a long time to get through it.

This book defines evolution in some ways I’ve never heard before. Darwin only got it partially right, according to Dowd, who shows us “evolution is Not meaningless blind chance.”
We cover things like “Flat-Earth Faith Versus Evolutionary Faith,” “Experiencing God Versus Thinking About God,” “The Role of Humanity in an Evolving Universe,” as well as gaining an evolutionary Christian perspective on things like The Fall, Original Sin, Personal Salvation, and Loving your Enemies.
We see that if, as the Bible states, God is in all and through all, then everyone and everything is interconnected, interrelated, and interdependent.
As Carl Sagan said, “It takes the whole universe to make an apple pie.”

There’s an appendix I like that covers “Good and Bad Reasons for Believing.”

This book is about where and how everything came into being, and where it’s likely going. The focus, however, is really more about how we should live here and now. About how a sacred evolutionary perspective affects our every day lives, as well as future generations.
There is so much here that could radically change our relationships and our world, if put into practice.

As another reviewer has stated: “With evidence from contemporary astrophysics, geology, biology, anthropology, and evolutionary psychology, “Thank God for Evolution” lays out a compelling argument for how religion and science can be mutually enriching forces in our lives.”

This is a challenging, interesting, and I think, vital read. Buy a copy. See what you think, while keeping in mind that “all truth is God’s truth.”
— df

Buy the book. Click HERE.

Quotes:

By no longer opposing evolution…I now have a more intimate relationship with God than ever before.

Stop assuming that you know best how things are supposed to go in the world. Rather, try on an attitude of gratitude.

Facts are God’s native tongue!
The discovery of facts through science is one very powerful way to encounter God directly.

When a story becomes scripture, it ceases to evolve.

For our kind of intelligence, metaphors are not optional.

Buy the book. Click HERE.

Jesus as “the way, the truth, and the life” will still be central in an evolutionary form of Christianity.

A mistake about Creation results in a mistake about God. – Thomas Aquinas

God did not stop revealing truth vital to human well-being thousands, or even hundreds, of years ago.
As the UCC says, “God is still speaking.”

Thinking about God is no substitute for tasting God, and talking about God is no substitute for giving people ways of experiencing God.

Buy the book. Click HERE.

Any understanding of “God” that does not at least mean “Ultimate Reality” or “the Wholeness of Reality” is a trivialized, inadequate notion of the divine.

A deeply fulfilling marriage of faith and reason leads to empowered lives and healthy relationships – and to vibrant civilizations.

When I trust like Jesus, love like Jesus, live my truth like Jesus, take responsibility like Jesus, and serve the Whole like Jesus, I know heaven.

If a person is expected to give mental assent to word-based propositions in order to be “saved,” then God’s love is hardly unconditional, nor is God’s wisdom infinite.

Your life story is not something that exists independently of your interpretations.

Buy the book. Click HERE.

It’s impossible to love God without gratitude.
I have everything I need to appreciate the gift of the present moment.

We don’t think our assumptions.
We think from them.

A supremely disturbing fact of human history is that the greatest evils have been perpetrated by those who were trying to rid the world of evil.
Believers down through the ages have justified religious hatred and violence by appealing to their scriptures.

“Thy kingdom come, thy will be done on Earth as it is in heaven” cannot possibly mean less that allowing the Holy Spirit to guide us as a species in evolving mutually enhancing relationships with one another, with the larger body of Life (Nature) and with our own creations, and doing so to the glory of God.

Buy the book. Click HERE.

 

Heresy And Heretics June 3, 2010

The earth revolves around the sun. HERESY!
   (The Bible clearly teaches the sun rises and falls around the earth.)

The common man should have access to the scriptures.  HERESY!
   (The Catholic church said only professionals can understand the Bible.)

Persons with black skin should be treated as humans.  HERESY!
   (The KKK often held fundamentalist views and believed that the
   Anglo-Saxon Protestants were the DIVINE elite group who held the right to govern.)

Women are not possessions of their husbands.  HERESY!
   (We even need laws to state that women should get equal pay?!?!?)

     Galileo: HERETIC!
          Luther: HERETIC!
               Martin Luther King: HERETIC! (and Communist.)

Jesus Christ: HERETIC!

Jesus threatened the Pharisees foundational (fundamental?) beliefs to the very core, and
was Public Enemy #1 of the religious leaders.

History has proven, again and again, that the institutional church has
frequently labeled God’s prophets, and others speaking truth, as heretics.
Repeatedly, religion has had to be dragged, kicking and screaming, into the light of truth.
Anytime the status quo of it’s “authority” is questioned, challenged or threatened, rest assured,
it will be called heresy.

Knowing this, maybe we should look at who the church is railing against today.
   Bell.
      McLaren.
         Burke.
            Young.
Just to name a few.

Maybe, given the proven track record of the “church,” we should, at least,
give serious consideration to those whose teachings are currently being labeled as “heretical.”

From what I’ve seen, we need more heretics.  God bless the heretics.


— df

 

 
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