Friday, June 17, 2016

The Safety Dance...


There is no fear in love.  But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment.  The one who fears is not made perfect in love.  We love because he first loved us.
1 John 4:18 & 19

"And what am I to do?  Just tell me what I supposed to say?  I can't change the world.  But I can change the world in me when I rejoice."
Bono

A few days ago there was a horrific mass shooting at gay dance club in Florida.  While committing the atrocity, the gunman called 911 and pledged his allegiance to ISIS.  Needless to say, politicians tried to make hay out of it.  In particular, Donald Trump renewed his call for a ban on all muslims from even visiting the county.  He then essentially asked the American people if they feel safer today than they did eight years ago.

When I heard that, this is what I posted on Facebook that morning...

SOAP BOX TIME: I just heard Trump asking the question, "Do you feel safer today than you did 8 years ago?" Here's my answer...
Yes. I feel perfectly safe. I buy my gas from a nearby B.P. station owned by Ali, a Shiite from Lebanon. From time to time I shop at a "Halal" market next to the Somali (Sunni) mosque a half a mile from my house. I feel perfectly safe.

I also feel safe around my Jewish friends, my agnostic & atheist friends, my Australian, British, German, Hmong, Vietnamese (Buddhist), and Canadian friends. I don't think I know any Hindus, but I feel perfectly safe around Curry & Tika Masala.
To be perfectly honest & blunt, about the only people I get nervous & itchy around are my fellow "Christians." (It's a LONG story) I get a lot of red flags off of those folks.
I also get suspicious of people from Wisconsin and other Packers fans.
I'm not going to waist my energy running around being fearful of everyone & everything. I simply don't have that much to spare. That is all. (smh)

This event was a horrific tragedy, but the response has been a national absurdity in many respects.  For starters, this appears to have little to do with Islam, except to act as a fig leaf for a crazy man.  The FBI had dismissed him earlier because he had talked about being tied to Al-quaeda, Hezbollah AND The Nusra Front. (Three organizations that all hate and try to kill each other.) Now it just might be that the killer was simply a self-loathing, gay man who couldn't handle that.

Now Trump talks about banning families & relatives just to be on the safe side.  To be on the safe side, he should probably deport me, too.  My grandfather was from Norway, and I still have relatives over there.  Back in 2011, Anders Breivik slaughtered 70 people at a Norwegian youth camp.  To quote Aragorn, "That same blood flows in my veins...that same weakness."


____________________



Americans love their fear.  We do.  So does the church in America.  Personally, I think that's the biggest problem that the church in America has.  Fear.  We fear modern science.  We fear muslims.  We fear the government.  We fear christians who ask questions.  We fear the "other."


Jesus wasn't big on fear.  He used versions of the phrase "Don't be afraid" quite a bit to his followers and disciples.  Paul didn't seem to be big on fear either.  He didn't seem to have any problem telling truth to power.  After the reinstatement of Peter, Pete didn't seem to be big on fear.

In fact, Jesus actually put the proper use of fear in perspective; "Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul.  Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell." (Matt. 10:28) So if you are in Christ, and Christ is in you...what is there to fear?

What's changed?



Two days ago, I got together with a friend named Dan that I hadn't seen in a while.  We were talking about the state of christianity in this country.  We joked that so many christians need to have a tiny god that they can reduce to a formula on a piece of paper.  A little god that can be throughly understood and controlled.  If we are informed that the God of the bible is quite a bit bigger than that we get scared & nervous.


"I am the way, the truth and the life.  No one comes to the Father except through me."
John 14:6

"Salvation is found in no one else, 
for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved."
Acts 4:12

Dan & I agreed on the above.  At this point in our lives, that's all we really know.

Jesus is the resurrected King.  
The creator God of the universe.  
The only hope for human salvation.

After that, I'm open for discussion.  I'm not afraid of questions or debating things.  I'm not afraid of modern science and it's discoveries.  I'm not afraid of what archeologists find.  I'm not afraid of scholarly debates on the bible & theology.

As mentioned above, I'm not afraid of my muslim neighbors, either.

Nor am I afraid of gay people.  I need more gay friends.  I have no fashion sense, so they are very handy to shop with.

I am not afraid of cross-dressers.  Although no one is ever going to stop me from laughing hysterically...on the inside.

I'm not afraid of Indians. (Dots, not feathers) I need tech support from time to time.

I am not afraid of Jews.  Where would the state of American humor be without them?

I am not afraid of Italians.  Bada-bing, bada-boom!

I am not afraid of Atheists.  Where would existential philosophy be without them?

I am not afraid of Agnostics...I'm just not sure if they really exist. (Brrrrrrrrrrrroom-TSH!)

I am not afraid of the Irish...dirty, potato grubbing Micks with their Guinness beer.

I am not afraid of people from California.  "Su'p Bruh."

I am not afraid of people from Iowa.  They have been punished enough.

I am not afraid of raging Pentecostals.  Benny Hinn & Kenneth Copeland make me thankful I am not them.

I am not afraid of Canadians.  Although I do believe that their inherent politeness masks a deep seeded berserker rage that spills forth whenever hockey is played or poutine is consumed.

____________________ 


Statistically, if you want to fear anyone in the U.S., it should probably be white males.

It was said that the shooting at the Pulse night club the other day, was the biggest mass shooting in U.S. history.  That's not true.

In 1890, the U.S. cavalry shot anywhere from 150 to 300 Lakota people dead at Wounded Knee in S. Dakota.  That's the biggest mass shooting in our history.

Oh, it get's better.

The FBI estimates that from the end of the civil war through the end of the Civil Rights movement, over 5000 black men were lynched in this country, by white males...all good christians from there bible belt, ya know.  Talk about your domestic terrorism.

All of this in our "Christian Nation."

This past winter, Ammon Bundy's crazy offspring and their goofy friends took over a national park in Oregon to keep the government at bay.  They claimed God had told them to do it.

I have some very good reasons to be nervous around my fellow believers and anyone who calls themselves a "Christian."



Still, at the end of the day, I can't say that I have much in the way of fear.  It's true that I don't have the energy for it.  But also, I know who my God is.  I'm probably one of the most unfaithful, selfish, ungrateful followers of Jesus that you'll ever meets.  So I'm thankful that it's his faithfulness that matters.

He never misses, 
never loses, 
always wins...
and he's told me that he has me.



Want to know what I actually AM afraid of?

Strawberries with hair on them.

Peace

Joe

Friday, May 27, 2016

The B.I.B.L.E...


"The book of Genesis is thus, in more senses than one, a primary source for Jewish theology.  It presents its ideas  on the relationship of God to nature, humanity in general, and to the people of Israel in particular in ways that are, however, foreign to the expectations of most modern readers.  It is therefore all too easy to miss the seriousness and profundity of its messages.  For the vehicle through which Genesis conveys its worldview is neither the theological tract nor the rigorous philosophical proof nor the confession of faith.  That vehicle is, rather, narrative.  The theology must be inferred from stories, and the lived relationship with God takes precedence over abstract theology.  Those who think of stories (including mythology) as fit for only children not only misunderstand the thought-world and literary conventions of the ancient Near East; they also condemn themselves to miss the complexity and sophistication of the stories of Genesis.  For these are narratives that have evoked interpretation upon interpretation from biblical times into our own day and have occupied the attention of some of the keenest thinkers in human history.

One aspect of narrative in Genesis that requires special attention is its high tolerance for different versions of the same event, a well-known feature of ancient Near Eastern literature, from earlier times through rabbinic midrash.  The book presents, for example, two accounts of Abram/Abraham's attempting to pass his wife off as his sister (12.10-20;20.1-18; cf. 26.1-11, where Isaac does the same), two accounts of God's making a covenant with him (ch 15 and 17), two accounts of how Jacob's name was changed to Israel (32.23-33; 35.9-15).  In these instances, most modern biblical scholars see different antecedents documents that editors (known as redactors or compilers) have combined to give us the text that is know in our hands.  This could not have happened, however, if the existing variation was seen was seen as a serious defect or if rigid consistency was deemed essential to effective story telling.  Rather, the redactors have chosen a different approach, retaining variant versions and treating them as sequential events in the same longer story.  The result is a certain measure of repetition, to be sure, but the repetition is in the service of a sophisticated presentation of themes with variations in a book rich in narrative analogy, revealing echoes, and suggestive contrasts.  For the Rabbis of Talmudic times and their successors through the centuries, the exploration of this subtle literary features provided an indispensable insight not only into the first book of the Torah (the most sacred part of the Tanakh) but also into the mind of God."
John D. Leveson 

The Bible is sacred text.  The various writers working down through the centuries in different places & times were all inspired by the spirit of God.  The bible is NOT God, though.  However, I and many others often treat the bible as if it were God.  We treat it the same way we treat God when we try to bend it to our will, to make it do and say what we want it to.  We love to try and force both God and the bible to do our bidding.  That way, we have the power.  We can whip out God or the bible to smack down those we don't like.  We luvs us a nice, tame, domesticated God and bible.

We often believe that we have succeeded at this.  We do so by closing our eyes and plugging our ears as we swing this domesticated mini-god around.  What we generally miss in the process is that the real God...and his sacred text, are standing a few feet away muttering, "Well, I don't think I'm gonna do that.  I'm gonna eat this sandwich instead."

____________________


Way back in the day, I was going to school in Jerusalem.  It was an evangelical christian school with a handful of christian scholars, and the rest being the best & brightest Israeli archeologists.  It was there that I had my first major "A-Ha!" moment.

It came in the form of a discussion on ancient Israel's exodus from Egypt.  The bible asserts that roughly over half a million men left Egypt with Moses.  Assuming that most of these adult males had wives and children, you're taking about least 1.5 million people leaving Egypt and wandering in the Sinai desert for forty years.  The problem is that there is no archeological evidence to support that what-so-ever.  That many people would have left massive trash piles all over the place, and yet there is none.  Today, there are not even 1.5 million people living in modern Jerusalem!

Before I go on, let me throw this one in too; Ai, the city that was conquered and destroyed after the battle of Jericho?  It doesn't exist.  It never has!  They've been looking for it for centuries.  They know exactly where it's supposed to be...and it's not there.

Not gonna lie, this information scared me when I first heard it.  Did it shake my faith?  A little.


The bible got it wrong?!?!?!?!


Not exactly. (Wink, wink)


Skeptics love these kinds of (Supposed) "Errors" in the bible.  Fundie christians recoil in horror at them.  They either try to ignore them, or run in fear into a fortress of their own making and come up with ridiculous counter theories to act as a balm for their tender & thin intellectual skins. (I.E. Ken Ham and his YEC theme park.)



Later, I attended Bethel Seminary.  There I had another "A-Ha!" moment.  I had to deal with the fact that the Old Testament was NOT one smooth read.  The first 5 books of the bible are often referred to as "The Books of Moses."  But the fact is that Moses didn't write all of them.  Also, the rest of the Old Testament readily appears to have been edited & re-edited before being presented in a form that we now use.

Fact: To be fair, anyone should have seen that one coming...myself included.  Parts of Exodus, Leviticus and Deuteronomy were written after Moses was DEAD.  I highly doubt that the ancient Hebrews had the science of zombie reanimation down back then.  Also, if you are paying any sort of attention while reading 1st & 2nd Kings, you will notice that the compilers state for the record that they are using a variety of sources for the important stories of the various kings at the tail end of the life of that given king.


The problem is not with the bible.  
The problem is with us.  

My professors quickly pointed out to us that the bible isn't the one getting it wrong.  We're the ones getting the bible wrong!

TRUTH: We bring a whole series of expectations to the text that the text has no interest in.  We bring our unconscious set of cultural baggage to a text that has no knowledge of it. (And I would argue that even if these ancient writers did have knowledge of 21st century, western thought...they wouldn't have cared a fig!) The writers weren't writing to us!  They were addressing & answering the questions and concerns of the ancient Hebrews.

____________________


Let me use this analogy: If you've ever traveled to a foreign country, where English is not the language, you may notice that they talk differently than you. "It's like those French have a different word for everything!" (Steve Martin) You might also notice that they think differently than you...act differently, and so on.  It wouldn't exactly be fair to expect someone in modern Japan to think like a modern American, would it?  It wouldn't exactly be fair to expect an Aztec to think like someone living in Sweden in the 1800s, would it?

Then why would you do that with the ancient Hebrews and the bible?

____________________


Ask anyone and they'll tell you that I'm big on "Context."  You can't really understand anything if you don't understand the context in which an action, or word, or thought is done.  Americans strike me as not being big on context.  One of our national pastimes is being offended.  Taking things out of context is a really easy way to be offended.



Remember the part above where the bible said that roughly half a million men walked out of Egypt?

The ancient Hebrew didn't have a numerical system.  They didn't!  They used words and letters for numbers, but it didn't resemble ours.

Our numerical system comes from the Islamic Caliphate of the 7th century A.D.  Their numerical system represented static, locked ideas.  1 = one, singular item.  That's how the muslims invented algebra. (A good reason for me to dislike them since I sucked at math in H.S.)

Before that, you can consider the Roman numeral system that was common in Europe.

Heck, the Greeks invented Geometry, and they didn't even have a numerical system that resembles ours.

But to the ancient Hebrews, numbers were symbolic.  They could resemble a set of locked, static items, but they could also infer numerous other meanings.  You probably know this on a gut level to begin with.  7= Completion.  3 = perfection.  40 = a generation.

Moses was 40 when he killed an Egyptian and ran into the wilderness.  Forty years later, God pops up in a burning bush.  Forty more years go by and Moses drops dead on his 120th birthday. (Rough anniversaries, those.) The ancient Hebrews would not have concerned themselves with wether or not those were literal years like we might.  They would have understood that those numbers represented a period of growth and change in that mans life.


So when we're talking about context, we have to keep in mind "Cultural Context," too.

____________________



My first study bible was this one, the Ryrie study bible.  I still have it.  I didn't know it at the time, but this is a study bible for those who embrace Dispensational theology.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dispensationalism

Most American evangelicals have an unconscious underpinning of Dispensationalism.  It has some merits, but it also slices the bible up into distinct districts to be used or discarded like a loaf of Wonder bread.  Next thing you know, you get Kirk Cameron movies.

Currently, I use an N.I.V. study bible, published by Zondervan.  It's good over all, but in the past few years, I have begun to notice what a political document it really is.  It clearly has a ton of commentators and contributors, and they don't see eye to eye on all the issues.  I'm guessing that some are Calvinists and others are not.  Some comments seem to lean towards a Young Earth Creationist view, while others go in a completely different direction.

The result is that there are often no comments at all on certain areas where I have questions.  In other areas, the comments are so watered down that they are just silly.

Example: Gen. 1:7 "So God made the expanse, and separated the water under the expanse from the water above it.  And it was so."  Commentary = "And it was so."  The only possible outcome, wether stated or implied to God's "Let there be."

DUUUUUUUUUUUUUUH!!!!!


I dunno.  I guess the various editors were trying to play to the widest audience by not taking on any thorny issues.  All I can say is it doesn't give me much satisfaction.  It's a bit like listening to a song by Garth Brooks...appealing to the lowest common denominator.  Friends in low places, indeed...

____________________



This is the new study bible I got for my birthday.  Obviously, there is no New Testament to it.  So far, I absolutely love it.  It has modern rabbis commenting on it, but it also has commentary from before the birth of Jesus.  Odds are, when Jesus was a kid, he would have been hearing some of this live. (Pretty cool!)

The rather long quote at the very beginning of this post is from the introduction to Genesis.  Honestly, when I read it for the first time, it made me cry. (Seriously) It was just so good to read something with honest context.



Today's christians...certainly those in America, don't know enough about Judaism.  Particularly ancient Judaism.  No wonder we get bent out of shape when the bible doesn't conform to our wishes and understanding.

We make a huge mistake when we read our modern ideas into this ancient document.  The bible was written FOR us, like it is for everyone, but it wasn't written TO us.

If you really want to respect the authors, editors, compilers, AND the Holy Spirit that inspired them, then you need to try and understand the cultural context in which it was written.

The sad fact is, many people truly resist that...wilfully!  This past autumn, an elder at my church cautioned me on bringing up certain facts about the bible.  He said that it would shake people's faith if we challenged certain (Ignorant & uninformed) commonly held beliefs.

I agreed with him in a way, but for the opposite reason.  So many churches allow their attendees to walk out of a class or a sermon woefully unprepared for the real world and highly intelligent skeptics that are waiting for them.  THAT IS A CRIME!

Simplistic, simple-minded, pat answers are not going to cut it in the real world.  They might suffice inside the evangelical or Fundamentalist bubble, but that's just sad.  AND willful, wanton ignorance is nothing to be proud of.

Why do you worship such a frightened, little god? 

____________________

BTW: The Profs at Bethel Seminary taught me that no matter how the Old Testament came into it's final form, Jesus used it.  He apparently had no problem with it, since it was his spirit that guided it.  He certainly used it to full affect on the religious leaders of his day.  He adored it!  I also doubt that he stayed awake at night worrying that I would "Get" all of it.



The older I get, the more I enjoy letting go of the old bible and god that I had constructed.  The real ones are much more interesting and compelling.  I truly like the fact that the bible confuses me in many areas and leaves me hanging.  It forces me to "lean not on my own understanding, but in all my ways acknowledge Him."  I like that a lot.

At the end of the day, the only threat to my faith is me.  There are no others.  It's too late for them.  Me and my selfish willfulness are the only things that hinder my walk with Jesus.  You can throw any and every philosophical, scientific, religious and psychological argument you want at me.  It's to late for that.

I might not understand every jot & tittle in the bible until I stand before God...and I'll expect him to be grinning at that.  I've learned enough to know the following from it; Jesus IS the the Messiah, the resurrected King, the creator God of the universe, and the only, single hope for fallen humanity.

"This I know,
for the bible tells me so."

Peace

Joe


Friday, May 13, 2016

Every tribe, every tongue, every tastebud.


"When the hour came, Jesus and his apostles reclined at the table.  And he said to them, "I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer.  For I tell you the truth, I will not eat it again until it finds fulfillment in the kingdom of God.""
Luke 22:14-16

"After this I looked around and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and in front of the lamb."
Rev. 7:9

Nice picture, eh?  That one's actually pretty tame.  I was looking for one from a meat market in the old city of Jerusalem.  Way back when, I went to school there.  I remember my first day wandering around the old city and seeing skulls of sheep & goats hanging on the wall, all skinned but with the meat & eyes still attached.  I thought I had wandered onto an album cover for the Rolling Stones or Black Sabbath.
We had a pet goat at the school.  It had wandered through our rather wide metal gate, but couldn't figure out how to wander back out.  A goat makes a very cool pet, actually.  We named it "Schwarma," which is Arabic for "Spiced Meat."

Take a wild guess what became of it after it had matured?

Hey, we donated it all to a local orphanage.

I still dig goat meat and Middle Eastern food.  As I understand it, if you go to a Beduin feast it's usually some type of massive goat platter, complete with bowls of goat soup with little hooves sticking out.  If you are the guest of honor, the head sheik will pop the eyeball out of the goat's head and pop it in your mouth.  YUMMY! (Never had the chance to experience that.)

I doubt there is a single food out there that I won't try at least once.  Just because something is different or unusual, doesn't mean it's bad.


I'm a butcher.  I work in the meat department of a Co-op in the Twin Cities.  I love what I do.  I like the people I work with.  We're all "Foodies."  We talk about meat, produce, fish, and recipes all the time with each other and with customers.

In fact, this past week I created a new brat/sausage, in honor of a college kid who works there and gave me the initial inspiration.  I call it "Prince of Wales Lamb Sausage."  It is ground lamb mixed with leeks, carrots, potatoes and garlic.  Like I said, I love what I do.  It's fun.


____________________



Last Friday, the Festival of Nations was in town.  So I took my sister over to see it.  They pick a theme for the festival and build exhibits around that theme.  They also have music, dance and lots of interesting foods.  The weirder, the better, as far as I'm concerned.

(You might be able to figure out why, hard as try to work out, I simply cannot get 6-pack abs.)


So anyhoo, when I was there it got me thinking.  I love other cultures.  I wish I could do a lot more traveling than I have.  It fascinates me.

When I see other cultures, I get a glimpse of what heaven will be like, and what the earth will be like when Jesus' restores everything.

The Western mind is soaked in Greco-Roman thoughts and world views, which don't generally line up with the bible very well.  This translates into how we view the afterlife.  The Greeks thought that the body was a bad thing.  A prison of sorts.  Go read Plato's thoughts on The Cave analogy.

Or I suppose you could just watch this video...


The goal for the Greeks was to escape the body and just be a spirit.  That was what was pure & true.

This is why you will see images of heaven with angels, harps and clouds.  I should state for the record that if that is what heaven is like, I don't want to go.  Also, it simply isn't biblical.

To the ancient Hebrews, they eagerly awaited a bodily resurrection.  Check out Martha's conversation with Jesus before he resurrects her dead brother in John 11.  Also, in all three accounts of Jesus' transfiguration, both Moses & Elijah appear in the flesh.  Apparently, what ever heaven may be like, you do get to walk around in the flesh.  Certainly, in the restored earth you get a physical body.

The idea that there wouldn't be some type of physical existence in the next world was completely foreign to the Jews of Jesus day...except for the Sadducees, I suppose.

It is also interesting to notice that the bible does hint strongly of joyful feasting in both places, along with numerous other physical activities.


I really like that thought.


My dad tends to fuss a bit over the thought of eating in heaven.  "Will we have to poop" he'll ask me?  I just retort that we'll have to get the compost from somewhere.

I guess my thought is that why would God give us these sensations of pleasure in this life, only to take them away for good in the next one?


When I think about the restoration of all things under the new & perfect order that Jesus' reign will bring about, I get excited at all of the new things I'll be able to experience & learn.  Think of all the cultural flavors, music, art and so on, that will be brought to the table.  It's mind blowing!


Personally, I'm of the opinion that Jesus will request me as one of his personal salsa makers.  I can't prove that biblically, but the Spirit of the Lord has anointed me with much skill with hot peppers and other spices.

Also, call it blasphemous all you want, I'm going to challenge Jesus to a slider eating contest.  If I'm lucky, maybe I'll be able to get a 6-pack with the new/perfected body...

Hey, you never know!



Peace

Joe


What the heck...



Saturday, April 23, 2016

Symbols & the Image of God


"So YHWH created man in his own image, in the image of YHWH he created him; male and female he created them."
Gen. 1:27

Don't be deceived, my dear brothers.  Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of heavenly lights...:
James 1: 16 & 17


It was about 9:45AM when I heard it on the radio.  MPR said that Carver County deputies had rushed to Paisley Park studios because someone was down.  I thought, "That's not a good omen."

I was out running errands, and had to enter a store.  By the time I returned to my car, it was official.  Prince Rogers Nelson was dead.

Paisley Park studios is about 11 miles from where I live. I thought about driving over there just to take a look.  There weren't that many people over there at that time of the morning.  Maybe it's a good thing that I didn't.  By the time of the afternoon rush hour traffic, thousands of people had gathered over there, and Hwy. 212 was backed up for miles.

By night time, 1st Avenue (The venue where Prince first achieved notice) was holding an all-night dance party.  It's Saturday morning now, but near as I can tell the dance party is still going on.  The 35W bridge across the Mississippi river will be lit in purple for the next week.



Love him or hate him, if you live in Minnesota you have to appreciate Prince.  This is a large State with a small population.  Yet, for some odd reason we have come up with Post-it Notes, Roller Blades, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Garrison Keillor and his Prairie Home Companion, "Surfin' Bird," the Guthrie Theater and Bob Dylan, among many other cultural achievements.  St. Paul can even boast of having the nation's largest occult publishing company, Llewellyn. (Hurray?...)

Yet Prince put Minnesota and the Twin Cities on the map in ways that no one else did.  Primarily because he stayed here.  He grew up in North Minneapolis and chose to move to a western suburb.  He had a massive affect on the local music scene, and it's no secret that he mentored scads of up and coming musicians.


I was in High School when Prince began to gain attention.  I was a senior when I fist heard bits and pieces of the "Controversy" album.  I can honestly say that I had never heard anything like it.  It had New Wave, funk, pop, and rock in it.  Totally original.  Other than some interesting musical styles, the lyrics were the strangest I'd ever heard.

He would combine overt sexual innuendos with spiritual themes. (More on that, later.)  It was shocking, offensive and intriguing all at the same time...with a beat you could dance to.

"1999" came out when I was in college, and that's the album that catapulted him into the stars.  I got to see him on that tour at the old Met Center before they tore it down.

It was the original line up of his creations.  Vanity 6 opened the show.  Three good looking gals in their skivvies singing.  What 19yr old boy didn't like that?  Then it was The Time.  Morris Day and Jerome almost brought the house down.  Then it was Prince.  He only played for about an hour, but it was something else.

Don't tell Prince this, but The Time actually out performed him. :)


____________________


So what does his death have to do with a blog that explores the church in modern America?


To be honest, I had a hard time with a lot of Prince's music.  Some of it was so overtly dirty that I just couldn't handle it.  I recognized that he was a musical genius, but those dirty lines really turned me off.  Still, unless you chose not to pay attention, there was clearly something more going on...




There are folks out there who have a difficult time with the ancient language and culture of the bible.  The nuance and profound depth can confuse and bother them.  They keep wanting to make the bible fit our modern cultural and scientific context, and it simply wont.  I think it's much wiser to let the bible be the bible and speak it's ancient wisdom on it's own terms into ours, whether it's modern America or 3rd World Nepal.  If you let it do that, you will find that a good deal of the time, it is smacking us "Moderns" over the head and essentially saying, "You think you so baaaaaad?  You don't know jack!"


"In the image of YHWH he created him"

The term "The image of God" is used at various times in the bible.  In James and the aftermath of the flood account in Genesis, referring to humans as image bearers is what gives all humanity value, worth and dignity.  However, in the first creation account, baring God's image is what gives humans function and purpose.

Read through it.  
If you let it speak for itself, without an agenda, it's really fascinating.

You may notice that when God brings living organisms into existence the phrase, "according to their kind" is stated and restated as the agenda and purpose for plants and animals.  They are to recreate themselves.  But when it comes to humans, that phrase is dropped.

I wont bother going into detail about what the Hebrew words "Radah" and "Kabash" mean, but suffice it to say that humans were created to be CO-creators with God.  We were built to work and make things.  As God's stewards on his good earth, we were made to tend his good world and bring even more creation into it.

Which is why it always galls me that the majority of "Evangelicals" in America don't think that pollution is a big deal.  "It's a socialist myth that farting toxic fumes into our air could possibly have nasty side effects!"

Not in any way that we are to think of ourselves as Mini-gods as Oprah might.  However, we bare His image.  We are naturally creative.  We bare HIS image in a way that nothing else in creation does.  How could we not be creative?




I don't "Get" a lot of modern art.  But I still like to see it.  Even stuff that might rub me the wrong way.  I figure if it is purposely offensive, then it must be that way to challenge me on some level.  Don't get me wrong, there is plenty of junk out there.  I've got some artist friends.  They are the first to say that a huge chunk of artists are simply posers who want to live the whole Bohemian life style...and have the tax payers fund it if possible.

Still, sometimes I will see a painting, drawing, photo, or hear some music, and I will swear that I glimpse a piece of God in it somehow. (Could be that I'm just plain nuts.  Meh.) I remember seeing Neil Young play "Like a Hurricane" live and I KNOW I heard the image of God flowing out of him.

"You are like a hurricane.  There's calm in your eyes."
It has since become a very personal hymn for me.


And that's where it gets interesting.  You can be a complete raging, militant, Jesus-hating atheist...and you are still made in the image of God.  You can have little to no overt knowledge of Christ, but he still created you, he values you and you share some of his characteristics.

That's why I can see God testifying to humanity and to himself 
when I see his image doing creative works.

"Every good and perfect gift is from above..."


It breaks my heart that someday those very qualities will come back to haunt those who reject Christ when they finally stand before him.

____________________


Prince.  An interesting fellow.  I don't recall the name of the Lutheran church in Minneapolis, but in his teen years, he did attend the youth group there.  Later in life, he became a Jehovah's Witness. (There are stories, which may be urban legends, of him showing up at people's doors with his bodyguards to hand out Watchtower tracts.  And that's funny!) I know that he changed the lyrics to his dirty songs after he became a JW.

Like I said before, if you were paying attention to him, you could see that there was more going on then simply dirty lyrics.  Why else would someone meld sex with spiritual thoughts?  Prince was looking for something.  I don't know if he ever found it, but I'll give him credit for at least looking.  Most folks don't even bother to try looking for more.  That's beyond pathetic if you ask me.

I'm not one to judge most folks in their last moments.  Who can tell what was going on in their heads at that time?  I recall that when the militant atheist, Christopher Hitchens, died, his close friend, a Believer, refused to condemn him.  They had been friends for a long time and often debated publicly.  Hitchens knew the Gospel message.  In his dying moments, perhaps he cried out to Christ.  It is not for me to condemn.

So Prince?
His last minutes were spent in an elevator at his home/studio.
Did the image speak to him?  
Did he hear the dove cry?



Do you? 


Peace

Joe

____________________

Incase you're curious about truly talented Prince was, take a look at these two videos.  Prince could play around 30 instruments with perfection.  I think about that when I here a whiny fraud like Kanye West talk about his own "Art." (Sure buddy, you forgot to add the "F" to the beginning of that term.)

You'll have to wait a bit on this first one.  But do give it a view.  I don't know who the first guitar player is, but contrast that with what happens around the 3:30 mark




And...




Saturday, April 16, 2016

The Tactics of Grace



“Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them."
Matt. 5:17

"So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets."
Matt. 7:12


"Jesus entered Jericho and was passing through.  A man was there by the name of Zacchaeus; he was a chief tax collector and was wealthy.  He wanted to see who Jesus was, but because he was short he could not see over the crowd.  So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore-fig tree to see him, since Jesus was coming that way.
 When Jesus reached the spot, he looked up and said to him,“Zacchaeus, come down immediately. I must stay at your house today.” So he came down at once and welcomed him gladly.
All the people saw this and began to mutter, “He has gone to be the guest of a sinner.
 But Zacchaeus stood up and said to the Lord, “Look, Lord! Here and now I give half of my possessions to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody out of anything, I will pay back four times the amount.”
 Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, because this man, too, is a son of Abraham.  For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.” 
Luke 19:1-10


Let's say that your out taking a walk some where.  You're minding your own business.  Up ahead, you see a group of folks holding signs.  As you get closer, you begin to be able to read the signs.  They read something along the lines of, "You suck!"  "YOU are a horrible, messed up jerk."  You need to join our club, or you be a complete and total loser FOREVER!!!!"

As you get closer, this group begins to turn it's attention to you.  A few of them even start walking to you to hand you leaflets that explain your worthlessness.  They tell you that they care about you, they don't want you to be the jerk that you are.  They want to help you to stop being such a loser.

A quick aside: This actually happened to my and two friends from Bethel Seminary.  We were going to see Neil Young and Crazy Horse in Minneapolis.  For some odd reason, there were people outside the Target Center carrying signs that basically said, "Turn or Burn!"

We found this to be odd, because it was Neil Young and NOT Bette Middler...in which case I would have fully understood.


Anyway.
How receptive might you be to their message????



Exactly. 
____________________



This morning, a friend of mine had "Liked" this on Facebook.  I didn't think about it much at the time.  However, as the morning wore on, it began to gnaw at my brain for some reason. (Mostly because I think it had to do with John MacArthur.)

MacArthur's not a bad guy.  As far as understanding the basic essentials of Christianity, he a good resource.  However, after that you better know what you're getting into.

He espouses "Dispensationalist" theology, which has some merits, but can also quickly descend into all sort of kookery. (I.E. John Hagee and his blood moons, or those awful "Left Behind" movies.) He doesn't believe that catholics...or probably orthodox christians can be saved. (Which pretty much cancels out the entire church up until the Reformation.)

He has also earned a solid reputation for not exactly being the most gracious or merciful guy, even though his catch-phrase is "grace to you."

I've often believed that the theology we embrace has as much to do with us and our personalities, as it does with what the bible says.  That's something I try to be on guard about at all times, because I can easily wish that bible and God would do what I want them to do...and that rarely works out very well.

At any rate, in this instance I think it's absolutely true, because by and large, what MacArthur is saying simply DOES NOT match up with the tactics that Jesus used when it came to dealing with sinners.  Jesus never, ever confronted sinners with how sinful they were, or how they could never get the law right.  He never berated, condemned, or told anyone how unworthy they were.  You can't find it in the bible, and I dare you to prove it otherwise...


I'll wait a moment while that rolls around in your head.


____________________

A HA!!!!!!

I was wrong.  Jesus actually DID condemn certain sinners, didn't he?  At which specific group of sinners...and we are all sinners...did Jesus save his most blasting condemnations for?

That's right.  The professional religious class.  He routinely tore those guys a new one almost every chance he got.

Something to think about...

____________________


The thing is, I'm not in any way, shape or form trying to minimize sin and the sinful nature, nor what it does to people.  I struggle with my own crap every single day.  I hate my sin.  I hate the fact that I'm really, really good at it.  I am fully and completely aware of it.

And I think that most people, including non-believers are too, on some sort of level, anyway.  Most people I know already realize that they are messed up on some level.  They might not understand what "Sin" is, but they know they have issues to deal with.  They don't need someone to come along and shove it back in their face like a puppy who just pooped on the carpet.  They need someone to come along side them and extend love and mercy.  You know, kind of like Jesus did with Zacchaeus.

It's also been my experience that, other than Donald Trump and his supporters, the folks who have the least awareness of their sins and sinful nature are my fellow Believers.  It's not exactly a secret that outsiders view us as being judgmental and hypocritical.



Recently, I've been wanting to write about the whole Transgender thing that now seems to be becoming more popular.  I've read and listened to some bits on this that really disturb me to my very core.  My soul tells me that this sort of self-mutilation is wrong on every level and has deep spiritual warfare roots to it.

However, I'm having trouble writing anything due to the simple fact that I hardly know anyone for whom this is an issue.  I've only had two trans acquaintances through my job, and both of them have left.  I never got the chance to develop the friend relationship that I wanted.  I want to hear their stories. I want to understand THEM,...their fear, guilt, shame, etc.  I admit it.  I can't wrap my head around something like this.  Until I do, I think it unfair of me to say too much on this issue one way or the other.



And that's the crux of the matter.


If you look at the character that Jesus displayed in the Gospels, you rarely see him saying much to the "Sinners."  He talked a lot to his disciples and followers.  He certainly had some good speeches and buffets for large crowds.  However, there simply isn't much recorded of what he had to say when he was sitting down for a meal, or being alone with those sinful types...be they hookers, traitors or what not.  All you see is that he hung out with them when everyone else looked down on them.

That very act on the part of Jesus seemed to have some amazing impacts on those folks.  It spoke volumes without a word.

"The Silence is Deafening," is a favorite quote of one of my old seminary professors.



Maybe Jesus knows something we don't.



Islam?  Get yourself some muslim friends.  Atheists?  They're great to have extended conversations with.  Buddhists?  You might learn a thing or two about materialism in America from them.  Gays?  Unless you have some as friends, you have no business speaking about them. (Besides, I had one once who was the BEST to go shopping with.  I have no fashion sense.  He had it in spades.) In fact, unless you are going to expend a bit of effort to get to know various people, what business do you have saying anything to them?  It's great to pontificate in public, but the final and ultimate meat of the Gospel is found in relationship.  That's where the rubber meets the road.



Maybe Jesus still knows something that we, you and I still haven't figured out.

Peace

Joe



Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Stupor Tuesday.


"Of them the proverbs are true: "A dog returns to it's vomit," and "A sow that is washed, returns to her wallowing in the mud."
2 Peter 2:22

"What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun."
Ecc. 1:9


As incredibly rebellious and unfaithful as I am, at the end of every day I am thankful for the faithfulness of Jesus.  It's his faithfulness that saves.  Not mine.  I'm a dead man walking if I had to depend on myself for salvation.

I've said this many times, but I'll say it again; Jesus never misses.  He always wins.  He never loses.  He has my back.  So, of what should I be afraid?

____________________


Back in the early 90s, I worked for my cities' water department during the summer while in school.  We only had AM radios in our trucks, so it was either classic rock or talk radio.  There was a new voice on the air who was entertaining.  His name was Rush Limbaugh.  I listened to him a lot.

As entertaining as he could be, I couldn't help but notice that he had a thorough and brutal mean streak in him.  He liked to call himself a "Conservative," but over time I just thought he was mean.  I grew tired of him...and his callers in particular.  Most of them simply came off as uninformed at best, or simply really dim-witted.  Anyone who challenged Rush on an intellectual level, or with facts, Rush would hang up on.

One of the ways to make me angry is to misuse the bible, or treat Jesus like a whore for your own ends.  One day, Rush was commenting on the Israeli/Palestinian conflict.  He said something along the lines of there being no reason to work for peace over there because nothing could be done.  "It's all right there in the Book of Acts," he said.  Click!  That was the last time I ever listened to Rush Limbaugh. (For those of you who don't understand, most likely he was speaking on End-Times theories, which most likely would reference the Book of Revelation.  Having read Acts more than a few times, I have noticed that Luke never comments on Palestinians.)



Rush was just the beginning.  Soon, there were numerous far-right talk show hosts.  Each one trying to "Out-Right" the other.  They call themselves "Conservatives," but they're not.  To be a proper Liberal or Conservative is to subscribe to a philosophy, an intellectual assent to a set of principles.  David Brooks is a Conservative.  So was William F. Buckley.  These guys are anything BUT intellectual.  In fact, they mock intellectuals...Glenn Beck in particular.

What guys like Rush, Hannety, Beck, FOX news and even Alex Jones have done is to give a fig leaf to kooks and crazies.  They have given permission for Traditionalists...people simply afraid of change, racists and all manner of extremists to call themselves "Conservatives," when in reality they are  willfully ignorant or just plain stupid.

"I believe that Obama is destroying this country with his socialist ways, and by allowing illegals to take our jobs."  Translation; "We have a Nigger in the WHITE house and beaners make my hamburgers at McDonald's!!!"


____________________



This morning on Facebook I posted the following, "Repeat after me; "Congratulations, Madame President!""  It was me laughing at the fact that the Republican Party is continuing it's ritual Seppuku with Super Tuesday being an over all victory for Donald Trump.  If it continues, Hillary Clinton will almost certainly be the next President.  For that matter, the Democrats could put a tumbleweed up as their candidate, and it would most likely beat Trump.

Personally, I would prefer Sanders.  If you think the kooks are out in full force now, just wait until you get a Jew in the Oval Office...and a self-proclaimed "Socialist," no less.  Talk about entertainment value!

The sad fact is that the Republicans have done it to themselves.  They tolerated and encouraged the talking heads on the radio and TV to stir the pot of anger and fear, so long as it suited them.  Well, now Roger Ailes' Frankenstein is off the reservation and whooping the establishment.


____________________

I had this past Friday off.  I was driving around and tuned in to listen to the GOP debate from the previous night.  Bad idea.  It made me so angry that I had to pull over and park for a while.  Middle School tantrums.  That's what that debate was.  Donald Trump wets his pants?  Marco Rubio has big ears?  Really now?!?!

To their credit, Kasich and Carson tried to stay positive.  That's why the moderator rarely called on them.


Who's fault is this?

It's yours!
It's mine!
It's all of ours!!! 

Newspapers don't sell well if the front page has happy, positive stories.  "If it bleeds, it leads."  Why do you think gossip rags like Star, or the National Enquirer stay in business?  We can't get enough of the trash.  To have it play out on a national stage with the fate of the country and national prestige at stake?  Even better!

The one who says the most ridiculous and absurd statements?  The one who can stoke the rage, fear, paranoia and anger the most?  They win.



You can get frustrated over your situation in life.  We all do.  Still, odds are that it wasn't the fault of the jews, blacks, mighty-whitey, the gays, the straights, a cabal of Free Masons, some vast right-wing or left-wing conspiracy.  If you want to blame someone for your life of anger and fear, walk into your bathroom, look in the mirror and bust in the mouth with your fist the person you see staring at you.


____________________


The good news?  
As I said at the top; Jesus never misses.  
He always wins.  
He never loses.  
He has my back.  
So, of what should I be afraid?


I have been seeing more and more of my far-right and extremely conservative friends waking up.  They are shocked that so many people who call themselves "Christians" supporting someone like Donald Trump.  They are baffled and terrified.

For the record, I absolutely and firmly believe that supporting Trump is a Sin!!!!!  There are plenty of politicians that I like and don't like.  I've never said that about any American politician in my life.  But I mean it.  To support Donald Trump is an absolute betrayal of, and a stab in the gut to, Jesus Christ!


So many Christians are waking up.  They didn't pay attention to Billy Graham when he warned about this back in the early 80s.  Now they are reaping what they sowed, and they don't like it.

This is good!  This is a sign of potential repentance.  The purity of the Gospel, the Good News of Jesus' kingdom, has been whored out long enough for the sake of political expediency.

Let there be a clear divide in the church.  Let those who want to embrace political idolatry follow their false messiah with a bad haircut.  Let those who want to follow the king let go.  Hold loosely to the trap of secular politics.

Someday, some day there will be no America...or any other nation for that matter.

Someday, some day it will be like this...
Then I saw “a new heaven and a new earth,” for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea.  I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband.  And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God.  ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”
Rev. 21:1-4

So I look at the results of Super Tuesday.  I'm not pleased, but I'm at peace.  I do get the giggles at the absurdity of all of it.  But as I get ready to shower and head off to work, I consider this...

And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.  Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.   Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.
Phil. 4:7-9


Peace

Joe



Monday, February 15, 2016

The Last Trumptation of Christ...


But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days.  People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God - having a form of godliness but denying it's power.  Have nothing to do with them.
2 Timothy 4:1

For the record, this post is going to be more of a rant than anything else.  I just need to get some stuff off my chest.


The state of American politics frustrates me to no end, especially as it is related to the church.  Perhaps it would be better to say that it frustrates me because of the way the church is related to it.  To my mind, it's one of the biggest forms of idolatry in America.

Don't get me wrong.  I enjoy the game of politics.  I have ever since I was a little kid.  I'm a nerd.  I am.  I even ended up teaching Civics for years.  So it's a big part of me.  However, it isn't my religion the way it is for so many...christians in particular.

To be clear, I was (Emphasis on "Was.") a life-long Republican.  I still tend to lean that way.  However, I will never, ever, under any circumstances be "Partisan" again.  In fact, I would encourage other Believers not to be partisan either.  I'll explain why in a bit.

Back in 2008 when Obama was running for office, I voted for McCain.  I knew that Obama was going to win, and I wasn't freaked out by that.  I just have always admired John McCain.  Simple as that, really.  HOWEVER, what happened after Obama was elected literally blew my mind.  Like I said, I've followed politics since I was a kid.  I was used to hearing crazy stuff come out of the mouths of the opposition.  I remember hearing that Reagan was the anti-christ, then Clinton, blah, blah, blah.

But when Obama got elected, it was as if all the doors of the asylums were thrown open.  The kooks and crack-pots came out of the woodwork.  Within a year, I recall reading various reports from the FBI and Southern Poverty Law Center pointing out that "Hate Groups" had blossomed 300% and more.  The TEA Party sprang out of nowhere, fueled by the Koch Brothers and Glenn Beck, and conspiracy theories began to grow like weeds.  Now we had a Muslim Marxist President from Kenya trying to take away our precious guns while FEMA sets up death camps for christians.

BTW: Want to have some fun?  The next time some willfully ignorant moron throws around the terms "Fascist, Marxist" or "Socialist," immediately ask them for the definition. 19 out of 20 times they wont know it.  They just know it's a handy insult because Limbaugh or Maddow can fart it out of their mouths.

My reaction to all of this lunacy was to make a complete break from any of what began to pass for "Conservative" or "Republican."  I thought, "These guys are nuts.  I want nothing to do with them.  I guess I must be a Liberal."  And I stuck with that for awhile.

Oops!

Turns out, the far left is just as goofy as the far right.  I have a friend who loves to preach to the choir on Facebook.  Even this morning, his usual screed was up and running.  I am of the opinion, based on what he puts forth on a regular basis, that he is one step away from saying that all Republicans want to tear the beating heart of infants from their chests and drink the blood in front of their parents.  I don't even bother to look at his stuff anymore.  I just scroll on past.


So what does this make me?


It doesn't make me anything.  

I'm not a "Moderate."  If you want to give me a worldly label you could call me a pragmatic realist.  Sometimes you need the government to do some stuff, other times just leave it to the free-market.  Considering the state of our national infrastructure, roads, bridges, power lines, etc., I think we need a massive investment...and privatizing our interstates is not the way to do it.

But you almost never hear a candidate talk about that.  Why?  Because it's not sexy.  It doesn't go "Boom," or make sand glow...to the glory of God.  It's must more fun to make stuff up as you go, like building a giant wall on our border and forcing another sovereign government to pay for it. (Damn Canadians!)

____________________


Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.  
Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is - 
his good, pleasing and perfect will.
Romans 12:2


When I hear a Believer say that they are a Liberal or a Conservative, what I hear them say is that they are only half a christian.  Sure they follow Jesus, but they really, really want to be defined by an earthly label, too.

The bible never defines anyone by a worldly label.  You're not a conservative or a liberal.  You're not gay, bi, straight.  Your not even primarily to be known by your nationality.  For starters, you are the image barer of God...even if you don't believe in God.  But if you are a Believer, well, you start out as a sinner saved by grace, and you end with being the righteousness of Christ, his joint heir, a child of the king.

That sounds a whole lot better to me than some stupid political or economic ideology created by flawed, fallen, imperfect people...or for that matter, letting yourself be defined by the latest social science fad, that will be gone in 50 years, that allows you to be six different genders at once. (Hey, whatever might be going on between yours ears, turn that over to Jesus.  Your plumbing doesn't lie.)


If you go by the bible's definitions, you see the world differently.  Instead of following Man's ideas and philosophies, you let Jesus renew your mind.  And that's why it's tough to follow Jesus and be very partisan.  For starters, to be partisan you have to shut of at least half of your brain.  Your side is always right, their side is always wrong. (I thought you were supposed to do away with that type of thinking after Middle School.) It's ridiculous!

"To be biblically consistent, you have to be politically inconsistent."
Ricarcd Cizik

____________________


So what does any of this have to do with a picture of Donald Trump's mouth as a toilet bowel? (Other than the obvious.)

Since the end of the 70s, the church in America has become increasingly tied to far-right politics.  The Left has some of it, too, but not nearly as much as the Right does, for whatever reason.  This isn't even remotely good for the church.  All you had to do was watch the big political shin-dig in Iowa a bit ago to see that Christians are lumped in to the cause of the far-right.  This means that those outside the church think that to follow Jesus, you have to hold to a particular political stance.  That is NOT the good news of Jesus.

I am convinced more and more, that if I took the average American christian and dropped them off in Nepal with my friend Bobby (A missionary with Tibetan refugees) they would have almost no frame of reference to follow Jesus.  They wouldn't know "How" to be a Christian.  They'd start looking for the local chapter of the NRA or TEA Party.  The concepts of "Liberal & Conservative" would have no meaning in that context.  They would be lost.  Bummer.



It's been pointed out that the majority of Donald Trumps supporters are Evangelical Christians.  A man who goes through wives the way some men go through socks.  A man who preys on the vulnerable with his casinos...

Fascism: "A political ideology that encompasses an extreme form of nationalism, militarism, authoritarianism, usually mixed with xenophobia and the exploitation of the fear of outsiders."

...in other words, a man who is a fascist.

His biggest supporters are those who claim to follow Jesus.

(Yes, I just threw up in my mouth a little bit)


This man walks onto Liberty University and can't even read or pronounce the bible remotely correctly, and is endorsed by Jerry Falwell Jr.  This man is endorsed by Sarah Palin, Rick Santorum and Mike Huckabee, who all claim to follow Jesus.  This man...

I know what your thinking, Santorum & Huckabee didn't actually say they endorsed Trump.  However, when you walk onto a Trump's private stage while smiling and waving as you are in the process of shutting down your own campaign...


The only saving grace in any of this is that some of my far-right friends are beginning to notice that something is terribly wrong in the church and with politics when this is happening.

His biggest supporters are those who claim to follow Jesus.

Really.


____________________



Now let's talk about Grandpa for a while...I mean, Ted Cruz.

It has been said many times that a "Fundamentalist" is a person whose arrogance is mingled with ignorance. This applies to both religious and purely secular forms of fundamentalism.  Militant Vegans are fundamentalists in their own meatless way. (And boy, are they easy to beat up!)

Teddy from Canada is both a religious AND political fundamentalist.  He is very certain that his campaign is divinely directed.  He is doing God's will, and don't try to tell him otherwise.  Like when he shut down the government a few years ago, because he didn't get what he wanted.  He spent a portion of his filibuster speech quoting the militant, Jesus-hating, atheist Ayn Rand.  His shut down cost American business roughly $20-24 billion.  Clearly, this was all God's will.


Here's a thought that many politicians don't seem to understand.  In a "Democracy," you don't get everything you want.  That's why you have to do this thing called "Compromising."  You see, that's how a representative democracy works.  When you get everything you want, all the time, that's what's called a "Dictatorship."  Since Ted is doing God's will, I think he would be very happy being a dictator.

Take a wild guess at who the biggest supporters of Ted are?

That's right.
His biggest supporters are those who claim to follow Jesus.

____________________

For a man who claims to follow Jesus, I don't recall anyone with less humility than Ted Cruz.  The only thing a follower of Jesus should be certain about is that Jesus is who claimed to be, the son of God, the Messiah, the only hope for humanity.  After that, we better have a decent does of humility.  Ted has none of that.

I won't bother rehashing too much of what's already been said, but here is an excellent article written by the Conservative, David Brooks...

http://www.nytimes.com/2016/01/12/opinion/the-brutalism-of-ted-cruz.html?_r=1

Ted is NOT a nice guy.


Then there is the charming character trait of Ted's where he mixes his arrogance with his very, very willful ignorance.  He puts a cherry on the Sundae, too, by being incredibly rude. (BTW: You can read the transcript, but it's even better if you actually listen to it)

http://www.npr.org/2015/12/09/459026242/scientific-evidence-doesn-t-support-global-warming-sen-ted-cruz-says

By the by, here's a link to N.A.S.A.s site which Ted apparently can't or wont read, saying that Ted is full of moist, steamy, you-know-what...

http://climate.nasa.gov/


Not to fret, all of this is obviously God's will.  How do I know this?


That's right.
His biggest supporters are those who claim to follow Jesus.



SMH!!!



Peace

Joe