Category: Spirituality

Open Letter to the GOP “Christian” Congressmen

Open Letter to the GOP “Christian” Congressmen

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Dear GOP Congressman,

 
I write you today, not as an American citizen, though I am. Instead, I write as a Christian. You know, that religion out of Israel some 2,000 years ago, that most of you claim to follow. The one with the guy who was like “give away your belongs, pick up your cross, and follow me.” Yeah, that religion. Your behavior recently has really pulled my inner William Jennings Bryant out. Basically, “You will not Crucify Us Upon a Cross of Gold.” You will not drown us in a river of disease. And you will not win.

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Jesus only loved Christians? Yeah that’s bull.

Jesus only loved Christians? Yeah that’s bull.

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Something has bothered me since I first saw Erik Erikson‘s tweet this weekend. It’s been a slow burn that started on Saturday, and continued as I worked on a weaving project all weekend. Not even the sports that I watched could distract me from the gnawing problem with the logic behind the main tenet of his argument.

We have to pause for a moment to forgive the postulation that Jesus was a Christian: anyone with half a wit of sense would realize that Jesus didn’t worship himself. Jesus spoke to a Jewish audience, and Jesus saw himself as a Jew. His disciples called him Rabbi – a Jewish teacher.

But ignoring that, we find ourselves in a quandary, in my mind. How do we ensure that the person whom we are treating is a Christian, under Mr. Erikson’s view? And, if we believe that people should witness to those who are non-Christian, are we doing them justice? By not offering a hand up, or an open door or a sip of water or a loaf of bread, are we showing non-Christians how Christians behave? Obviously, if you tell me that you cannot help me because I don’t believe the same as you, I probably don’t want anything to do with your religion.

Bigotry and ignorance are born from closed systems. A closed system that is not welcoming is not a Christian, nor a Christlike, behavior. Remember, as Paul states in Romans 13:10, a verse that find myself citing more and more these days, that “Love does no harm to your neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.”

It amazes me that calling on Christians to love people who are not Christian or helping those in need, regardless of their faith, creed, race, sexuality, or anything else is a statement which is contentious these days. I challenge everyone who reads this, regardless of your faith, to help a stranger today, and even better, make no mention of religion (yours, nor theirs) as it does not matter. All that matters is that we are in this world together, and not reaching across the lines only serves to further divide us.

Godspeed, God Bless, and Good hunting,

Dave, Kentucky.

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God Is Love – A meditation on 1 John 4:16

God Is Love – A meditation on 1 John 4:16

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Introduction

I originally wrote this piece in 2015 as a Facebook post following the striking of DOMA by the Supreme Court. It is a shot taken at “Christians” who would deny those that love each other the legal rights of marriage.

God is Love  (1 John 4:16)

A simple sentence, but one that is often lost in the days of an us vs. them Christianity, in which many of my brothers and sisters in Christ find themselves in the current days. Millions of dollars were spent defending legislation that existed for no other reason than to prevent loving couples who held different beliefs from being allowed to be married in the eyes of the government. To rob these couples of a basic right which would in turn allow them to be at each other’s side until the very end of their days, and allowing them to literally cherish each other until death parts them.

But God is love. A tenet that will stand the test of time, even as people like Ted Cruz fight to keep injustice and prevent love from blossoming. Even as people praise County Clerks for stepping beyond the rule of law for religious reasons, and not issuing licenses for people to be allowed to marry in that county at all.

But again, God is love. God’s love is nigh on impossible to define with the limited vocabulary that exists in the English language, but the Greeks gave us a word that is passable. Agape. Unconditional love. Regardless of where you or I or anyone has fallen short on the expectations of God, the love is still there. But to deny love, is to deny God, and that is unholy.

Legislation at what cost

Millions were spent to defend this legislation, and people swear they will continue to fight tooth and nail to uphold “traditional marriage;” which is a axiom I don’t understand. Prior to 1967, in many states of the union, the joining of interracial couples was illegal in several states. Then came Loving vs. Virginia, in which ALL NINE JUDGES ruled on the basis that such denial of the marriage contract was illegal. I was thirteen years old when the act of marital rape became illegal in all 50 states.

But God is love. And I wonder how much more good could have been done with those millions of dollars, rather than to allow them to become attorney fees. If yesterday was an average day, and the last reported trend from 2010 has not increased, twenty-two veterans lost their final mission, and ended their own life on American soil after surviving the hell that is war. If last night was an average night, 49,933 veterans were homeless last night on American soil. Had we had the courage to behave the way God wants us to by following the example of sacrificing the unblemished lamb for us out of love, why did we spend millions of dollars pursuing a hateful agenda that was more in line with the vile that Fred Phelps and his clan spit every day, instead of following in the lines of “God is love.”

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Encourage One Another: A Meditation on Hebrews 3:13

Encourage One Another: A Meditation on Hebrews 3:13

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Tomorrow, we will witness the hallmark of the Democracy of the United States: the shifting of power from one president to the next. And as it has been since the first President Bush, we shift from one ideology to another. I don’t know what tomorrow brings, or what life in a Post-Trump America will be like. Instead, tonight, I opt to seek solace in the words from the Epistle to the Hebrews 3:13. The author writes, “But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called ‘Today,’ so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.” (NIV)

Encourage one another

Originally written to Jewish Christians living in Jerusalem, the epistle tells the reader to stand fast in the face of persecution. However, I feel adversity is a more appropriate term. That does not change the morale of 3:13.  According to Merriam-Webster, encourage means, “to inspire with courage, spirit, or hope.” To inspire. That is an amazing concept alone. Take a moment of each day to inspire someone else. Could you imagine? Taking energy in our daily interactions with others, and using it to inspire them. It’s hard to imagine.

Partially because as a people, we have become divided. I alluded to the ease of being nasty to others in the meditation on Self-Control. It is really easy to ‘otherize’ someone who doesn’t agree with you. Lots of us are guilty of it. Calling someone a name like “libtard,” or “rethuglican” or “demoncrats,” it does nothing but deepen and further the divide between us. I have done my share of otherizing people, because it makes it easier to ignore how they feel about something.

Possible Effects

But what can an encouraging word do? I’m really not sure. I know when I’m having a rough way of it, encouragement can lift my spirit. This temporary boost to my spirit often causes me to see other things less darkly, and slowly helps pull me out of the rough way of it. Think of how awesome it would be to have an encouraging word daily. From anyone of your friends, it doesn’t matter who, or even a complete stranger. Just something that is contra to the normal discouraging negativity that we are constantly bombarded with in the information age.

Encourage also means “to spur on,” such as light and water encourage plant growth. Could it be that the writer of the epistle meant that we must encourage each other to carry on?  That encouragement causes people to grow as people, and possibly build empathy towards their fellow man? If we look at the second part of the verse, the answer in my mind is yes. “…[S]o that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.” The author shows us that lack of encouragement causes the heart to harden. Even if we remove the religious undertone of sin’s deceitfulness, and replace it with just deceitfulness, the statement holds true.

“If it bleeds, it leads” causes a hardening of our hearts in that we become desensitized to violence and in the quest for ratings, darker and nastier things move to the front. But why? Why isn’t the news sharing encouragement? Or leading with good news, putting the troubles in the middle and closing with a different good news? Could it be that we have become jaded from a lack of encouragement that we only want Schadenfreude?

What we can do

A high five or a fist bump is great encouragement

Frankly, I would challenge everyone to attempt to encourage another person daily. Not compliment them, but truly encourage them if you see them struggling. A well-timed “good job” or “you did this well” can mean the world to someone. Especially in the information age where it seems that people are more likely to tear someone else down instead of try to build them up. Even something as simple as a high-five or a fist bump can act as a bright spot when someone grasps a difficult idea, or finishes a difficult task, or is just being a cool person.

Tomorrow begins a new chapter in America, and we can prove that there are decent people left in this country. To accomplish this, we must be decent people. I leave you with the words of the Bard, “Screw your courage to the sticking place,” and be kind and decent people.

God bless and good hunting.

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Self-Control: A Meditation from Galatians 5:22

Self-Control: A Meditation from Galatians 5:22

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In the fifth chapter of his letter to the Galatians, the Apostle Paul spoke of the fruit of the Spirit. Namely, “22 … love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control; … .”[NASB translation] (emphasis added) In this modern world, these fruits are hard and rare to find. One continually eludes me, though I am trying much harder to maintain the one fruit from which the others may grow. Today, I speak of self-control. Paul lists self-control as the last fruit. However, I postulate that without self-control, mastery over what Freud called the Id and the Ego, the other fruits are out of reach.

While all the fruits of the spirit are important, there can truly be no order, and no morality without self-control. None of the other virtues are easy on our best day. The world’s scientists have given us, for the first time in history, the ability to have near instantaneous communication and transference of ideas between people of different countries. It is that same technology that bombards us with the images of some of the worst that our fellow humans can inflict upon each other. It is that same technology that instead of attempting to build a better society is used to tear down our fellow man through careless insults that the sender can forget about after merely hitting the ‘publish’ or ‘send’ button.

Self-Control Is Hard!

To attempt to see kindness in the human race requires some mental gymnastics, based on how our news media sends us photos and stories with the mentality of ‘if it bleeds, it leads.’ We also have to look beyond the radicals who would speak for any religion. Further, we must acknowledge that no race is genetically superior to another, and mute the voices that would suggest otherwise.

Self-control is missing for many of us in our daily lives. Be it in economic or financial matters, where any possible extra money is spent on frivolities, or in gluttony, or the drink, or any number of drugs that can dull the hardship and assist in forgetting the monsters that each of us face daily. And those monsters are real – be it depression, anxiety, lack of sleep, working multiple jobs to eke out a living – whatever monster it is they are real. And the world does not care about anyone individually, so who can blame someone for seeking a brief respite from the cold, uncaringness of the world?

An imaginative thought of self-control

But humor me for a moment, and take a brief fantasy trip with me. What if the escape of choice, lead us instead to being kind, joyous, loving people? Imagine a world where the golden rule was in effect 100% of the time. How not fighting on Facebook at someone for having a differing opinion, could lead to a happier day for everyone involved. Why throw vitriol, and having an argument descend into who is “literally Hitler?” Would it not be more pleasant to debate, “I see your point, but I disagree for reasons X,Y, and Z” and let a debate grow, instead of merely picking a fight? Compromise is not a dirty word. The minority power should remember that they are supposed to be a loyal opposition.

What can we do

I don’t have an answer for fixing the world. It is not something that I am capable of doing on my own. But I can do one thing, and that is work on controlling my own behaviors. To be a kinder person to those who need kindness. However, in order to truly do such a thing, I must first focus on controlling myself. That is a path that shall be difficult for me – for my temperament is such that I tend to act rashly. This is my goal to work on this throughout the year, and guide myself to a better place.

I challenge every person who reads these words to pause, and before you launch an attack, attempt to look at the situation from other point of view. It’s possible that maybe under all the party politics and grandstanding, that deep down we are all Americans. Even beyond that, we are all human beings who need to come together and find a sense of community with our fellow man. Even on the internet, remember that we are all people at keyboard.

God bless, and good hunting,

Dave

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