Friday, November 11, 2016

"X"


“I don't want to see religious bigotry in any form. It would disturb me if there was a wedding between the religious fundamentalists and the political right. The hard right has no interest in religion except to manipulate it.”

Billy Graham, 1981

"What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul?"
Matt. 16:26

"If you listen to fools, the mob rules"
Ronnie James Dio

The bible fascinates me.  If you read it in context and for all it's worth, it will blow your mind.  These ancient authors, under the influence of the Holy Spirit, writing thousands of years ago still speak truth to the human condition.  "There is nothing new under the sun," says one in Proverbs.  And he's correct.  As far as the human condition is concerned, there really is nothing new.



So here's something you might know from the pages of the bible.

Samson.  You know the story.  Big, strong guy with long hair that couldn't keep his hands to himself.
Hero, right?  Not exactly.

The Book of Judges is perhaps the most disturbing book in the Old Testament.  Rape, murder, assassinations, Levites slicing and dicing  their concubines up and mailing chunks around Israel.  Pretty freaky deaky.  No wonder you don't get many sermons from that book.

The Book of Judges is not a book of heroes.  We think that it is because the way the author of Hebrews in the New Testament uses some of the characters in it.  And that's legit.  Hebrews is a pick-me-up sermon in the form of a letter.  However, the Book of Judges is not.

Compiled during the time of the exile in Babylon, the Book of Judges is an indictment.  It is helping to answer the question, "How did we end up in exile?"  The author's answer is, "Because we kept screwing up, that's why!"

Interesting side note:  There is only ONE good judge in the entire Book of Judges.  It happens to be the only woman judge...the Prophetess Deborah.  The rest are bums who go from bad to worse.  I doubt it's an accident that the author purposely shoved a woman in the face of a highly patriarchal and faithless Israel. (I told you the bible would blow your mind.)

In it's context, Samson is a mirror of Israel.  To the Jewish exiles in Babylon, the story of Samson was their own story.  A story of faithlessness in the face of a faithful God.  Samson was given every chance in the world, and he just couldn't stay faithful to God.  In the end, God does a form of mercy killing and allows Samson to commit suicide and take his enemies with him.

Samson is a terrible roll model, and not someone to be looked up to.
He is no hero what so ever.
Instead, he is a warning to Israel
...and all followers of the God of the Bible.

"Whatever you do, do NOT be like Samson."

So why do I bring up Samson?

You know this election we just had?  I have heard multiple pastors and "Christian" spokespeople, including the author, Eric Metaxas, whom I respect a lot, call Donald Trump "Our" modern day Samson, coming to aid America and the church in our hour of need.  I think to myself, "That's not exactly the kind of help I'm looking for, thank you very much."

(Still, the idea of seeing a blinded Donald Trump pushing the pillars of the capital rotunda down on his head would get plenty of views on YouTube.)


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Apparently I'm really good at irritating people.  Everyone has their own unique skill set.  I guess that's mine.  Whatever.

This post will hopefully irritate people from all walks of life, right left and center.  So, let's roll...


When I woke up Wednesday morning, this was my reaction to the election.  I was absolutely stunned.  I didn't vote for either Trump or Clinton.  But I never thought in a million years that someone as uniquely and utterly unqualified to be President would actually get elected.

Americans never seem to understand how the rest of the world perceives us.  I suppose it's because we don't have to care, since we're on this giant island with the world's most powerful military.  Still, by and large, the rest of the world believes we just elected a Clown-in-Chief.  I'm very embarrassed to be an American at the moment.

Still, as curious as I am to see how long Trump can hold himself before he pops off and let's his true self come out, I'm not as terrified as I was two days ago.  Actually, it's more a source of amusement now.  I'm guessing that the White House staff will be dumping copious amounts of quaaludes into his food supply, or something along those lines, to keep that blithering fool under wraps.

The real source of amusement is going to come from the ardent Trump supporters, and the let down that is headed their way.  In no short order, you will see The Donald realize just how little he can get done just through force of his will.  He is most likely going to not follow through on the vast majority of his campaign promises.  Mostly, because they were simply pure fantasies to begin with.

In particular, I have no idea how he's going to bring back all of those manufacturing jobs.  Unless everyone wants to pay $50 for a pair of socks, no, those types of jobs are never coming back.  So, good luck with that.

If he or any other politician would talk about helping those folks transition into new jobs, in the new economy, with our new technology, that would be a fresh start...and one based in reality.  But what does Trump care?  He just wants to win.


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I guess what breaks my heart the most about this election is how the church prostituted itself once again.  That never comes as a surprise to me anymore.  But it still breaks my heart.


Back in the day, Billy Graham used to have Richard Nixon speak at some of his crusades.  When Watergate happened, and Billy heard some of the Nixon tapes with Nixon rambling on with drunken profanities, he was stunned and shocked.  He realized that Nixon had used him for his own, selfish political purposes.

To his credit, Nixon refused to see Billy after that.  Billy reached out to him during that time, but Nixon refused.  He didn't want to taint Billy anymore than he already had.  He felt remorse.

Billy learned his lesson.  He stayed completely out of politics after that.  Hence the quote at the top of this post.  Billy fully understood the damage that politics can have on the church and the message of the Gospel.

Unfortunately, Billy's kids have yet to learn that lesson.  Franklin isn't the only dimwit in the family.  Billy's daughter, Ruth Graham Lotz said on the news this morning that Trump's election was a blessing from God.

It's true that God has a hand in everything that happens. (I say that, and I'm not even a Calvinist.) However, I would highly doubt this to be a blessing.  Maybe God is giving us the divine middle finger.

____________________


From what I hear, 80% of "Evangelicals" voted for Trump.  These people who claim to love and follow Jesus, voted for a man whose entire existence has been one diametrically opposed to everything Jesus taught and stood for.  That's fascinating to me.  I guess it just goes to show what fear can do.

Why did these godly, faithful, god-fearing, bible-believing folks vote for a man who is a black hole, vortex of character?  Why did these lovers of Jesus vote for a man whose life is a mirror of everything that a Christian must never do or be?  Why did these faithful followers of the God of the bible vote for a man who many of these folks consider to be America's Samson? (And we know how that worked out now, don't we?)


From what I've heard, the court system was the #1 reason.


We gotta keep the Supreme Court "Conservative."  If we don't, Christianity will soon be illegal.  Then, they'll take away our guns so we can't overthrow the government when we need to.  Then, they'll make abortion mandatory for all unless your baby is gay.  THEN, when your gay baby grows up, you'll have to bake a cake for it's wedding.


The Supreme Court, particularly under John Roberts, has had a conservative majority since the 80s.  Guess what having a "Conservative" court got us?  Citizens United, voter suppression, gay marriage and yes, Yes, YES, best of all...OBAMACARE!!!!!

If you place your faith and protection in the vain hope of a friendly court, you are worshipping the wrong god.



Here's what gets me about the extremely narrow issues that so-called Christians fixate on.  They are not truly issues.  They are litmus tests to prove how religious you are as compared to someone else.  They are nothing more than windmills to be tilted at, so as to show that you are a good, "Religious" person.

But they have little to do with either reality or Christianity.

Let's have some fun...and here is where I get to be an equal opportunity irritator.

#1. Abortion: I'm going to tell you a truth that you won't like.  It's a not so well kept secret that politicians on the Right and Left know, but won't speak openly about.  Here it is; Abortion...will NEVER, EVER be illegal in the U.S!!!!  It might be limited in one form or the other, but it's never going away, folks.

You don't have to like that fact, but it's still a fact.  Politicians on the Right and Left know this in their hearts.  But they bring it out ever few years, shake it in the face of people, and get them all worked up.  It's a NON-issue that goes nowhere, but it plays really well to the base...and ya gotta get them votes.

For the record, I HATE abortion!

But I understand reality.  The term is called "Stare Decisis."  It's been the law of the land since 1973.  It isn't going away.  If you want to fight abortion, there are better and more effective ways to go about it than voting for something that will never happen.

https://www.guttmacher.org/fact-sheet/induced-abortion-worldwide?gclid=CKmH1Ib-oNACFZWCaQodYw4Kyw

The link above is to the World Health Organization's study on abortion world wide.  One interesting fact was that the more restrictive a society is with abortion, the more there are.  The more advanced a society is, the less there are.

It would seem to me that if Christians are so "Pro-Life," then they ought to screaming at politicians to fight world poverty.  But then again, I'm a terrible Christian, so what do I know?


#2. Gay Marriage.  Allow me to irritate my lefty friends first.  Unless you play fast and loose with Scripture, you cannot conclude that anything other than sexual purity until heterosexual marriage for LIFE (Minimal wiggle room for divorce) is the order of the day.  Let me go farther.  Defining yourself by who you get aroused by is a form of idolatry.  I don't know how you could come to any other conclusion after reading Romans 1:18-32.

In fact, let me push a few more buttons in an unusual way.  I don't view being "Gay" as a sin. (I don't like to define anyone that way to begin with, since human sexuality is much more complicated that we want to admit.) No, being Gay, Bisexual or Straight it NOT a sin...it's a TEMPTATION!

I used to have substance abuse issues.   That's a temptation for me.  You want me to define myself by that?  I won't!  It's a temptation...it's not the center of who I am  And every time it comes looking for me, I have to turn it over to Jesus.  So that's the question.  Are you going to turn your sexuality over to Jesus?  Yes or no?

And now I get to irritate my righty friends.  

I don't care if a guy wants to marry another guy.  Do they pay taxes?  Then let them have their rights.  I'm never going to defend it biblically, but then I understand that not everyone sees eye to eye on this issue with me.  I'm not going to compel anyone into my belief system. (Although I certainly don't object to a friendly debate.) I just don't see any upside to people living in the shadows.

In the mean time, this whole issue has very little to do with me.  I never planed on marrying another man.  So...

Would I go to a gay wedding?  I dunno.  Haven't been invited yet. (Bet the food would be pretty good and the outfits simply smashing!)

Been to a Atheist wedding once.  That was a weird one.  Still, neither of them knew Jesus, (DUH) and being friends with them was important to me.  It's hard to live out the Gospel if you're not in a relationship with folks.  And that's what matters to me.

#3. Religious Liberty. I've spoken to plenty of folks from countries where Christianity is illegal.  They have a better understanding of freedom than we do, I can promise you that.  Just because a Christian can't force his will on another person does not mean that we are losing our freedom.  Again, if you place your faith and security in the courts or politicians, you are worshipping the wrong god.


So why do I bring all of that up?  Because they are essentially non-issues for me.  I don't base my vote on them because they ultimately go nowhere.  I prefer to base my vote on what anyone says they will do for the weak and vulnerable...you know, "The Least of These."  Unfortunately, I rarely hear anything from any party about that.


But because Trump made vague promises to gullible "Christians," they drank the kool aid and now he will be in office.  The bright side is that the very folks who use to scream that "Character Matters" have now forfeited to right to ever use that phrase for the rest of their lives.


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I've struggled for a long time with my label, "Christian," or "Evangelical."  Over the years, these labels have compiled more and more negative connotations.

When I tell people I'm a Christian, they think of quack-tastic science, Adam and Eve riding vegetarian dinosaurs and their kids banging each other.  When I say I'm an Evangelical, people think of politics moving further and further to the far Right.  Again and again and again, I have to use the phrase, "We're not all like that."  But I could be wrong...maybe we are.

So, what to do?

I've been trying to find a term that throws people off.  That way, they have to ask me what I'm for, not for what I'm against.

I think I may have found it.  I heard a news story on NPR last week about Christian women who were revolted by Trump.  They used the term "Xvangelical" to describe themselves.  I like that.  I like that a lot.

I'm sick to death of politics.  I'm sick to death of Christians letting themselves be used and conned so easily.  I'm sick to death of the fear in the American church.  I'm sick to death of Christians being sluts to their narrow desires for political positions.  I'm sick to death of power hungry pastors.  I'm sick to death of quack theologians and their fear of scientific facts. ("How DARE God create things in a manner that I don't approve of?!?!?!") I'm sick to death of the health and wealth Prosperity cult.  I'm just sick to death.



Please understand, someday, someday, Jesus' kingdom will bet here in full and America and all other nations will disappear completely.

All I want to do is follow Jesus into his kingdom...
and other than Him, it feels very lonely.



I'm an Xvangelical.

Peace

Joe

Ladies and gentlemen, America's new national anthem.

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