Monday, September 25, 2023

Shooting Straight: My Welcome Message from Facebook

 (UPDATED 09/25/2023) 


Going to put this here as a pinned post. Why? Because I get a lot of friend requests and I wonder (when I look at their pages) if they really read my "about" page. Particularly when they come here and what to argue. 

If you don't want to see posts about the following, you might want to rethink that friend request unless you can play nice with others and not be a jerk or troll to people on my page.


I believe in God. I am a person of faith. But I'm not a conservative Evangelical. I grew up Southern Baptist and even used to work for the organization at a national level, but would most likely not be very welcome in many of them now because I also believe in a woman's right to choose and the right to life, liberty, and happiness of my LGBTQIA+ friends and folks. 

I also no longer believe the Bible is an infallible document. I believe we should strive to be more like Jesus by the examples we have, whether infallible or not, and less like the American Nationalist Church of Both God and Country Inextricably Tied Together.

I don't believe I was ever called to be a Nationalist, but instead a follower of Christ without a home or country. I believe the idea that patriotism and Christianity (or any religion) should be linked is so far afield from what the founding fathers (or Jesus, for that matter) wanted and specified that both they and most religious icons would be appalled at the very idea. 

Don't get me wrong. I love my country. But I also love it enough to call it out when it's wrong and not believe that it's above reproach or even the best system ever created. I believe that doesn't make me some kind of traitor (unless you adhere to a modern sort of McCarthyism). 

In other words, I have my own personal religious beliefs, but I also believe that I don't have the right to have my country govern you by my beliefs. Nor do you have the right to have my country govern me by yours. 

Except when they intersect. 

You know, like when it comes to human rights and such. Not killing each other. Not denying life, liberty, and happiness, or the right to trials, the right to vote and have reasonable access to voting, the right to not be shot in the street by angry men with guns, or strung up without trial for looking at a white woman admiringly. You know, those things in the Constitution, Declaration, Bill of Rights, and other amendments. 

I believe that when my POV or your POV disagrees with those kinds of human rights issues, we back off and default to those certain inalienable rights instead of what we believe my God or your God had to say about any of it.


I believe that as we grow as a country to accept human rights and build equity to access the system equally, we need to embrace the spirit of the amendment process and change the laws so they grow with us. The founding fathers pointed us toward the future with the ability to amend the Constitution. Every step we refuse to go forward is inexorably a step backward as the rest of the world moves on.

I believe Trump was and still is a con man. I also believe too many other Republicans fear his power base, so they keep quiet even though they believe the same thing too rather than risk losing a house in the Senate or House. Cowards. I also believe that the things followers of Trump revealed about the so-called "salt of the earth" people tell us that we only THINK we've become better people as a nation. Way too many of us still live in a mindset set and solidified around the period of the Civil War. 

I've seen way too many people espouse (not in these words but these ideals) that Black and Brown and Gay people are fine as long as they don't become too public with their culture and identity and as long as they play by white, straight rules instead of expecting "the Christian nation" to accommodate them as the people they already intrinsically are or seek to repair any systemic mechanics that put them at an economic, political, social, cultural, legal, etc. disadvantage. 

I'm neither a Democrat nor a Republican. I tend to agree more with Democrat ideals now, but I'm no member of either party. I still wish we could have one big pool to vote from, rather than a single candidate from primarily two well-funded parties. 

I personally hold these truths to be self-evident that all people (black, white, brown, gay, straight, trans, poly, religious, non-religious, etc.) are endowed with certain inalienable rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. 

I believe the minute you try to trample on the rights of anyone because their identity doesn’t align with your group's viewpoint or because they were born into the wrong economic bracket or are from “one of those neighborhoods”, well, you and I are going to have a disagreement, and I'll double down in being an ally to those whose rights you're gunning for. 

I believe in the right to bear arms, but I also believe in gun control. I believe the argument for what constitutes reasonable gun control should be out of the hands of anyone funded by gun manufacturers. 

I believe there is something intrinsically flawed with our system when a black man can be justifiably shot for running away, but a white man will be chased and tackled instead if he does the same. I believe that unless Black Lives Matter, it's ridiculous to try to sell the idea that All Lives Matter any more than it's justifiable to argue that the Civil War was about whether the state's right to use slavery as a basis for the economy was a more important issue than the national need regarding the right for a slave to not be a slave at all. Just like the current argument that a state's right to ban abortion should be a more important state need than the national need for a ruling on whether or not a woman has bodily autonomy to make her own choices. 


I think that may have covered it all. If you believe opposite me, that's fine. You have the freedom to believe as you choose, even to embrace delusions. But if any of these things make you want to rethink "friending" me here on social media, that's okay. No hard feelings. I'd rather us deal with that now than it becomes hard feelings later. Cool? Good. 

However, if you are cool with all that, or even disagree with it but can be cool with me believing it anyway and not be a jerk here on my page, then go ahead. Click the button. Let's be friends. You're welcome here.

Monday, September 18, 2023

Yes, I Really Believe This

 I think it's the curse of the Type A people
who are drawn to becoming pastors that so
many churches skip Jesus to get to Paul,
because Type A's are far more comfortable
with the do this, don't do this rules from
Paul rather than the be this, love like this,
don't show off how religious you are of Jesus. 

Sadly, those folks often miss the point that the
reason people approached Paul for his wisdom
on matters of church leadership was that he first
modeled servanthood to them during his journeys
and didn't just come in and rattle off a
litany of do this and don't do that.  

I really believe the American church in
particular, and a theologically unprepared
at best and defenseless at worst flock,
has suffered because of that. 

Wednesday, September 13, 2023

Sheep and Goats Revisited

A little something I try to remember that I learned from seeing the way my granddaddy Taylor loved the children of his community where he preached. He would provide the bus for them to attend events and he would find and repair broken bicycles for any child who wanted one pretty much. 

Grandma and Granddaddy Taylor.
Marie and Rev. Mittry Taylor. 
That little something?

The division between sheep and goat here has nothing to do with having the right "code of morality" or "beliefs about moral issues" or about legislating people into living under your beliefs. Instead, it has everything to do with how much we make the choice to serve others, in particular, the desolate.

I like to believe that people who are more genuinely Christlike reach a point where that kind of choice becomes almost as natural as breathing. Conversely, I also tend to believe that people who resist service to those in need, particularly to the poor, are a lot further from the Jesus they claim to worship than they realize. 

(Matthew 25)

31 “When the Son of Man comes in his glory and all his angels are with him, he will sit on his glorious throne. 32 The people of every nation will be gathered in front of him. He will separate them as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33 He will put the sheep on his right but the goats on his left.

34 “Then the king will say to those on his right, ‘Come, my Father has blessed you! Inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the creation of the world. 35 I was hungry, and you gave me something to eat. I was thirsty, and you gave me something to drink. I was a stranger, and you took me into your home. 36 I needed clothes, and you gave me something to wear. I was sick, and you took care of me. I was in prison, and you visited me.’

37 “Then the people who have God’s approval will reply to him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you or see you thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 When did we see you as a stranger and take you into our homes or see you in need of clothes and give you something to wear? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’

40 “The king will answer them, ‘I can guarantee this truth: Whatever you did for one of my brothers or sisters, no matter how unimportant ⌞they seemed⌟, you did for me.’

41 “Then the king will say to those on his left, ‘Get away from me! God has cursed you! Go into everlasting fire that was prepared for the devil and his angels! 42 I was hungry, and you gave me nothing to eat. I was thirsty, and you gave me nothing to drink. 43 I was a stranger, and you didn’t take me into your homes. I needed clothes, and you didn’t give me anything to wear. I was sick and in prison, and you didn’t take care of me.’

44 “They, too, will ask, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or as a stranger or in need of clothes or sick or in prison and didn’t help you?’

45 “He will answer them, ‘I can guarantee this truth: Whatever you failed to do for one of my brothers or sisters, no matter how unimportant ⌞they seemed⌟, you failed to do for me.’

46 “These people will go away into eternal punishment, but those with God’s approval will go into eternal life.”

Wednesday, May 10, 2023

Idolizing the Words, Ignoring the Word

There is a difference between divinely

inspired and divinely copyedited/translated

across multiple languages. We would do

well to not idolize the created thing.

Saturday, June 25, 2022

Fightin' Words?

I just want to hold my grandchildren today and remind them I promise to make the world better for them. Even if they choose the need to make a difficult decision regarding a pregnancy, even if they discover they are gay or trans or whatever color of the rainbow they learn themselves to be, to keep them safe from classrooms riddled with dead kids, to promise to love them regardless and to never stop fighting to make the world safe for them.

Reminder for the Christians out there: We are called to be salt and light and make disciples as we go, never called to legislate our views of morality on the world in which we live. This world is not our home, and no political or religious extremism will ever make it so. Jesus never told his followers to get political power and change the Roman laws to be more like pre-King Israel.

There are believers on both sides of these issues. So for all you "I'm right, you're wrong" believers who feel like you have the hotline to God that the rest of us don't, remember that church history is filled with reformers who needed to correct the established church over and over again that they didn't have everything right any more than any of us do. Also, know that none of these issues are requirements for faith or indicators of its presence or its absence. Your understanding of scripture isn't absolute. Nor is mine. All believers would all do well to remember that.

When you come for bodily autonomy, you're targeting my daughter and my granddaughter. When you come for the right to marry your chosen human partner, you're targeting my nieces. When you come for the rights of trans folks to exist equally in the public square, you're coming for some of my best friends and my chosen family. So, yeah, damn right I'm gonna fight you on this. Know that well. 

Wednesday, June 8, 2022

False Dichotomies of Faith

Be careful, my fellow believers, when you start to divide things… Your job is to be salt and light, flavoring and shining, not separating.

There isn’t a separate sacred world and secular world. Although there can be sacred and secular mindsets. Nor are their sacred and secular jobs. Nor are their sacred and secular items (like music or pen sets or figurines). As believers, we unite the whole by being sacred in that one single world.

And we’re to enter into that one world with love and not as a clanging cymbal. We to be salt and light, not as a sort of morality police. We (as we go) make disciples one person at a time, not trying to change the world top-down from a place of cultural, political, or community power or authority, but grassroots, one at a time, from a place of lowness, humility, meekness, patience, long-suffering.

Sacred is the image of God that is part of creation. Too often, we define it as something it is not, i.e., an arbitrary (gnostic pretty much) grouping of things that are "God things" (like church and clergy, etc.) and secular as things that are "not-God-focused" like your regular job, your kids playing recreational sports, music, etc. 

It's a false dichotomy that came about with Kierkegaard in developing the move from reasonable faith to a leap of faith. He began with the physical (the real) and the spiritual (the woogie boogie, not his words, but the idea), and the culture of Christendom ran with it, dividing the clergy from the regular workers, the study of theology from the study of nature and science and literature and other God-infused disciplines, dividing sacred activities like prayer and reading scripture from secular activities like helping a neighbor build a house and tending to a garden (caretaking God's creation). 

We took it to its natural course post-Great Awakening by creating full subcultures of so-call sacred things and so-call spiritual things. That's given us such heresies as the Christian music "market" and Christian stationery sets, to avoid having to mess with their "secular" counterparts.

I'm referring not so much to the biblical ideal of sacred, which is defined as being set apart and is a matter of the heart (all over the old testament in regards to sacrifices) but the human ideas that get passed around as what sacred means in order to draw arbitrary lines in God's creation and in the great wealth of knowledge in that creation, whether originating from devotion (theologic) or discipline (rational/scientific/philosophical). Sacred in the OT pretty much only comes into play in regards to sacrifices and offerings. It is we believers who abused the word to make it mean something different. And that's the point of all my comments today. We keep trying to beat that same dead horse to divide between the right and wrong, when sacred has nothing to do with that. The divider is between sacred (set apart) and selfish (held onto) not sacred (spiritual) and secular (non-spiritual). 

I just don't believe in the myth of the "secular world." It's just the world. 

And the sooner we stop talking like it, the sooner we'll be better equipped to be actual salt and light rather than referees who stand on the side and judge.

Wednesday, September 15, 2021

Immigrant’s song

by John Fischer

It’s hard to talk about Christianity in American culture right now without getting tangled up in politics — something I prefer not to do from the Catch if I can help it. But on the currently contested issue of immigration, I can’t help it. Mainly because there is a biblical mandate, both New and Old Testament, to welcome and make room for the stranger and the foreigner. If we are going to be marketplace Christians, we need to exhibit God’s attitude toward strangers and foreigners regardless of what our government does, and God is always placing them first. We may disagree over what we want the country to do or how they do it, but there is no discussion when it comes to us individually.

This is true for us as believers wherever we are in the world. Over forty times in the Old Testament, the Jewish people are admonished to welcome the stranger and the foreigner. And both Jesus and Paul speak of the same thing to us as followers of Christ. Hospitality toward strangers is built into our spiritual DNA.

Perhaps we can learn something from our Jewish friends. A recent article I read from a reputable source pointed out that there is a strong movement among Jews in America to aid and assist their Muslim neighbors and provide hospitality toward Muslim refugees among others. Syrian refugees can take English courses through a free program at a New York synagogue. One Rabbi claims that the current attitude of shunning immigrants being exhibited in America is “a betrayal of what this country stands for, what we Jews stand for, and is a terrible recollection of our own history… There has been an incredible coming together of synagogues around the country to welcome Muslim refugees. Jews really understand what it is to be ‘the other’ and to arrive in a strange country.” And now this same hospitality is being extended to Afghan refugees. 

What is it to be “the other?” Many of us don’t know.

Read the full article: