Discimination, Civil Rights, Religious Freedom…

Politically speaking, I have always been drawn to Libertarianism. There are shortcomings, of course, like in any “System of this World,” including my belief that the common good needs to be given a far greater emphasis within Libertarian thought than many Libertarians I know tend to give it. Perhaps, however, if greater attention is given to the common good in opposition to individualism then it might cease to be truly “Libertarian.”
Anyway, I’m linking to A Stitch in Haste post entited, “On Religious Bigots’ New-Found (Faux) Libertarianism,” a blog-post of a self-described Libertarian about the Religious Rights’ campaign to oppose any type of legal consideration for the civil rights of gays because they claim that equal protection or anti-discrimination protection of homosexuals as a minority class would conflict with their right of free exercise of religion (believing that homosexuality is sin and should be opposed at all cost for the sake of the moral health of homosexuals and society in general).
A portion of their argument revolves around the perceived religious right that Christians who oppose homosexuality can deny their economic services or products to homosexuals because providing such things to homosexuals conflicts with their religious belief. For example, a Christian doctor that believes homosexuality is a sin should be able to refuse to artificially inseminate a lesbian couple or a Christian owned camp-ground should be able to say, “No,” to a gay couple that wants to use the pavilion to get married.
To be honest, I think they should have that right, regardless of whether I agree or disagree with the outcome, despite that fact that I might be discriminated against. And the Libertarian blogger seems to agree – to a degree, I suspect.
Yet, and here is the kicker, as the blogger suggests, the Religious Right is not willing to be consistent with their arguments or positions (shocker, I know!). The reality is, and most people get this, they only want freedom for themselves and their positions. They only want to discriminate against – homosexuals! When the same logic is used against other minority groups, such as blacks or Jews or the handicapped, they would absolutely deny a religious right to discriminate, but for homosexuals they hypocritically demand such a right. Their arguments are not based on logically consistent and rational precepts, but only on their right to discriminate against homosexuals. The author writes:

If the religious bigots really want to invoke libertarian arguments to legitimize their bigotry, then they better be prepared to be judged by real libertarians about the entire spectrum of libertarian issues — including separation of church and state.

As I just wrote, I think there is the possibility for provision for people to not provide services to others for whatever reason. I know that is not politically correct, and perhaps for reasons of the common good it is wrong of me. Yet…
The thing is, if groups of people want to make the argument that they have a right to discriminate against others (for religious or any other reason), then they cannot turn around and scream bloody-murder when they find someone or other groups that discriminates against them – which is exactly what the Religious Right is doing.
If they want to discriminate, then they must be willing to suffer the consequences (which they aren’t) and be willing to be discriminated against (which they aren’t). You can’t have it both ways – you can’t demand the right to discriminate and expect no one to discriminate against you! If I declare my believe that there is an aspect of civil liberty is to either give or deny to others my services or products, then I have to be willing to acknowledge that others have the exact same right to deny me their services or products. The question is whether I’m willing to face such discrimination. Of course, I’ve encountered too many “liberals” who declare no such right to discriminate even as they so obviously (and blindly) discriminate against those with whom they disagree.
Hypocrisy abounds in America, and regretfully within Christianity (nothing new, anywhere, I know). It is one reason why so many people look upon the Church with such disdain or indifference. We are our own worst enemies.

Time

A foundational principle of The Christian Life is to be ever mindful that we are from ages to ages, world without end.
This human experience, this Christian Life, is a 2,000 year experience. Stop and think about that for just a moment. Two thousand years! Then, being grafted into the Jewish experience, another 2,000+ years can be added to ours. We trace ourselves back in time 4,000+ years.
Too many Christians act out of extreme insecurity, as if this present time and this present culture can be a detriment to the continuation of the Kingdom of God. I think our collective acting out is due to a lack of understanding that we have survived every naysayer, every controversy, every persecution, and every prediction of growing meaninglessness and death. The other side of the insecurity coin is when we become overly confident by thinking that is it because of our human endeavor that the Church has continued on, rather than God’s divine doing. My call is to live into the transformation that beings me into thousands of years of Life.
Our perspective should not be so short, so limited, so culturally myopic. We think of time, really, practically speaking, to be a lifetime – perhaps a couple generations of living relatives, but that is about it.
That which has survived for 4,000 years… for 2,000 years through persecutions (given out and received), though a myriad of cultures, through controversies, through wars and rumors of wars, through the whims of fallible humans thinking that are the very conduits of God – that which is maintained through ages of ages I think is pretty darn reliable.
This is a critique of our oh-so-modern-and-smart deconstruction of and repudiation of and attempted transformation of the Tradition. Do we really think that 100 years of attempted overturning of 1,900 years of lived experience makes us something special? Really?
We receive, we maintain, and we pass along this Christian Life. We attempt to make it better and we attempt reform by our bound-up and limited vision… but despite our attempts that which will remain and be given over to the next generations, for another 2,000 years more, will only be that which touches deeply the human heart as it longs for reconciliation with the Creator.
Now, I’m not suggesting that change is bad or is not needed. Change is a given! We are in need of reforming, continually. Too often, however, what we envision to be in need of reform is not. We are foolish to think that we are so smart now, in these limited days, that we can ignore the lessons of the past – ages of ages. Listen, listen carefully, to the Tradition. That which has survived through the millennia is slight, but it is deep speaking to deep and of the essence of The Christian Life. Our perspective of time is everlasting, but we limit ourselves so when we do not recognize it.

Twitter

Alright already, I’ve joined the Twittery. There is, of course, much more to all this than simply grandiose egos thinking the world wants to know that they are doing or thinking from moment to moment – well, perhaps Ashton Kutcher is the exception. Take that, CNN. Can he punk with 140 characters?
I heard someone the other day say that someone was Tweeting the mass at St. Paul’s (my St. Paul’s). I think something is lost in the experience, something lost in translation, although it could be anything like “Mass for Shut-ins?” Place the babies next to the TV screen. HEAL.
So, I joined. Who the heck cares what I’ve got to say or might conceivably be interested in what I’m doing? Let me answer – No one but my mother! God bless her.
Twitter. Ugh. Yet, for a generation it will be as normal as breathing. And, I can see the enormous potential not yet realized.

Susan Boyle on Britian’s Got Talent

Okay, okay, I know this is the most recent “hype” story, but I’ve watched Susan Boyle over and over and I keep getting goosebumps.
For whatever reason, this YouTube video can’t be imbedded, but go here and watch and be amazed. Seeing Simon Cowell is and the other judges is priceless.
Susan Boyle – Singer – Britian’s Got Talent 2009

“GloboChrist” or is that “RoboChrist”

The following are a couple paragraphs from a review by Christopher Benson entitled, “The Messenger Is the Message: How will you obey the Great Commission today?” of Carl Raschke new book “GloboChrist: The Great Commission Takes a Postmodern Turn,” one of the books in Baker Academic’s series concerning Post-Modernism and the Church. I look forward to read it; although “GloboChrist” in the title? Really?

Obeying the Great Commission in the global cosmopolis does not involve a mission trip to “lost peoples at the margins of civilization”; the margins have become mainstream, while the mainstream has become marginalized. Nor does it involve sophisticated marketing campaigns. We make disciples of all nations as the pre-Constantinian church did in the face of “daunting and promiscuous pluralism”: through incarnational ministry, being “little Christs” to the neighbor; through contextualization of the message, speaking the idiom of the neighbor; and through relevance, hearing the needs of the neighbor. Raschke adds that relevance should not be confused with the prosperity gospel, “seeker-sensitive” ministry, the “hipper than thou” emergent church movement, the social gospel redux, or “bobo” (bohemian bourgeois) culture. Relevance is radical relationality…
GloboChrist ought to be regarded as an essential postscript to Lesslie Newbigin’s The Gospel in a Pluralistic Society. Raschke is at his best when he assumes the prophetic mantle, judging the Western evangelical church for “whoring after the false gods of spiritual and material consumption”; uncovering how the religious left is just “a fun-house mirror of the religious right”; questioning if Islamism is “an understandable reaction against the global overreach of the pax Americana”; chiding fundamentalists for idolatrously substituting an “eighteenth-century propositional rationality for the biblical language of faith”; pleading for the Emergent Village to stop replaying “the modernist-fundamentalist debates of a century ago”; and exhorting postmodern Christians to overcome their passivity and “privatized sentimentality” with a witness that possesses “the ferocity of the jihad and paradoxically also the love for the lost that Jesus demonstrated.” [emphasis mine]

The only thing, I really don’t like the term, “GloboChrist.” It sounds stupid, in my humble opinion. The last line of the quoted paragraphs above, along with the term “GloboChrist,” well, I just keep envisioning “RoboChrist” and I don’t like it. If we aren’t careful, “GloboChrist” will be the next rendition of the “Pax Americana” crusade waged by certain overly aggressive, culturally myopic groups in the form of “RoboChrist.” It will happen, you know, and they will completely miss the point.
It is easier believing in a super-being (RoboChrist) that will force everyone to “do the right thing/believe the right thing,” then to die-to-self in order to do a much more difficult form of ministry that involves incarnational being.

Day of Silence Protest

So, here is what I find funny – American Family Associate protests schools allowing students to remain silent during school, particularly during “instructional time.” Now, I know that AFA is protesting the Day of Silence – they protest anything that might lead to a positive image of anything that smacks of homosexuality. But, read the announcement below.
The politicized Religious Right continues to go further and further to the extreme (and the ridiculous) in their attempts to justify their position. They absolutely have a right to believe that homosexuality is sin and will result in the damnation of anyone who “practices” homosexual behavior, but they use the issues surrounding homosexuality and same-sex unions as scapegoats to turn away attention from their own contribution to and culpability for the decline of marriage in the West, and to maintain their political power and money.
They protest the right given to students on this day to remain silent all day. Most teachers and schools would welcome a day when students willingly remain silent. Anway, here is the announcement:

April 7, 2009
Dear Friend,
The Day of Silence, which is sponsored by the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN), fast approaches. This year it will take place in most public schools on April 17. On this day, thousands of public high schools and increasing numbers of middle schools will allow students to remain silent throughout an entire day-even during instructional time-to promote GLSEN’s socio-political goals and its controversial, unproven, and destructive theories on the nature and morality of homosexuality.
Parents must actively oppose this hijacking of the classroom for political purposes. Please join the national effort to restore to public education a proper understanding of the role of government-subsidized schools. You can help de-politicize the learning environment by calling your child out of school if your child’s school allows students to remain silent during instructional time on the Day of Silence.
Parents should no longer passively countenance the political usurpation of public school classrooms through student silence.
If students will be permitted to remain silent, parents can express their opposition most effectively by calling their children out of school on the Day of Silence and sending letters of explanation to their administrators, their children’s teachers, and all school board members. One reason this is effective is that most school districts lose money for each student absence.
School administrators err when they allow the classroom to be disrupted and politicized by granting students permission to remain silent throughout an entire day.

Correction or clarification

I need to say this:
There is a difference between dealing with theological and ecclesiastical issues and dealing with the abuse of people. (And, I know that different people and cultures define “abuse” differently.)
While I may say that the way we’ve been dealing with the issues of homosexuality and inclusion of gay people in the Church has not and is not working and that we need to find a different way forward (perhaps Rowan’s way), that does not for a moment mean that I suggest that the Church should not call out loudly the intentional abuse of people, period. I also know that there is enough hypocrisy and self-serving to go around. Double-standards abound.
Two different, although connected, issues, IMHO.

To be different, in the right way

I’ve said similar things (see below) over the last few years, and I think I’m getting close to figuring out something to do.
I discovered this sermon via Titusonenine and given by the Rev. Dr. Brian K. Jensen on 3-15-09, partially quoted below:

Rick Richardson is a professor at Wheaton College and the author of a book called Evangelism Outside the Box. He tells the story of a pastor named Dan who realized that his preaching was getting stale. So, with the support of his pastoral team, he took a part-time job at a nearby Starbucks coffee shop…
…Much to his surprise, all 21 people he worked with believed in God… They were all very positive toward God and toward spirituality.
Yet Pastor Dan was surprised to discover that while they believed in God and were interested in things “spiritual,” he also discovered that they were NOT interested in Christians, Christianity, or the church. No one wanted to hear Dan’s proofs for God, his invitations to church, or his ideas about salvation. Most of them thought they knew what Christianity was all about and had decided they didn’t want it. They were what some people call “post-Christian.”
The people with whom Pastor Dan worked were not interested in the church. The biggest thing Dan learned was that if Christians are to have meaningful spiritual conversations with these people, the first thing that must be addressed is the issue of integrity. [emphasis mine]
Dylan Rossi is an ex-Catholic and a native of Massachusetts. He believes he’s typical among his friends. He says, “If religion comes up, everyone at the table will start mocking it. I don’t know anyone religious and hardly anyone spiritual.”
Yet this one tops them all. Kendall Harmon is an Episcopal priest in South Carolina. He says, “A couple came into my office with a yellow pad of their teenage son’s questions. One of them was, “What is that guy doing hanging up there on the plus sign?” What is that guy doing hanging up there on the plus sign?… Like I said, we’ve got a problem.
…It reminded me of a story in Thomas Cahill’s book, How the Irish Saved Civilization. In it he speaks of the Roman Empire and the influence of Ausonius, a poet who rose to wield some political power. Ausonius once wrote, “Doing the expected is the highest value – and the second highest is like it: receiving the appropriate admiration of one’s peers for doing it.”
Ausonius was a Christian. Yet as Cahill described him, “His Christianity (was) a cloak to be donned and removed as needed.” Did you catch that? “His Christianity (was) a cloak to be donned and removed as needed.” Do Christians today have a similar problem? Many who are disgruntled with the Christian faith today think so. Many believe there is little difference in the behavior of those who claim to be Christian and the behavior of those who do not. In the book unChristian, 84% of the young people surveyed claim to know a Christian personally. Yet get this. Only 15% see the lifestyles of Christians as being different than anyone else. Have we forgotten that Jesus upsets the status quo? Have we forgotten that we are called to be different?

A huge reason that an increasing number of people no longer consider the Church as relevant to their longings or desires is because of us! There are other reasons, I know, but Christianity in this country and perhaps the West has lost integrity, and really we can’t fool people for very long. We’ve done this – we are our worst enemies. Christians liberal and conservative present a profoundly warped and deficient picture of the Christian Life. Why? Because we don’t experience it ourselves. That’s the problem; we’ve lost our birth-right’; we’ve lost the Promise; we look just like the rest of the world.
I want to be different – not just to be different, but because my life is so wrapped up in The One who is utterly different and who promises a life far different than what this current culture provides. But, how to go about recapturing the essence of a faith that changed the 12 so thoroughly that they changed the world.
Four questions we need to ask and answer seriously even to begin the plunge into the formation process, a process done sincerely and with the utmost of intent. Such and endeavor cannot help but transform us. We need desperately transformation. Four questions:
1. What do you seek?
2. Where are you going?
3. Who do you serve? – Serious question!
4. When will you begin? – There must be a sober, identifiable starting point – no more playing around