Monthly Archives: September 2012
A Collection of Thoughts
Jesus Was a Capricorn
He ate organic food
He believed in love and peace
and never wore no shoes.
Long hair, beard and sandals
And a funky bunch of friends
Reckon we’d just nail him up
If he came down again
I have to admit that I agree with many of Kris Kristofferson’s sentiments on the subject of Jesus and honestly, I started thinking about what would Jesus be like if he came back to earth today. A few years ago, one of the big things was WWJD? bracelets. Christians were challenged to ask themselves “What would Jesus do?” and sadly for too many of them, it was not unconditional love and acceptance. Would Jesus discriminate as so many Christians do today, especially against those who are different (that is , unless you are a Christian Republican and now have decided for the first time in your religious history to believe that Mormons are Christians just like you)? Instinctively, we all sense that the answer must be a resounding No! Yet we live in a time when many churches are leading the effort to deny gay and transgender people equal protection under the law. Since so many churches are invoking the name of Jesus to justify their assault on the rights of gay and transgender people, I invite thoughtful people everywhere to ask this simple question:
What would Jesus do?
The answer is not hard to find. One of the themes of Jesus’ ministry was a recurring conflict with the Pharisees, a powerful group of legalistic religious leaders. The Pharisees were waiting for the Messiah to come, and they believed that would happen only when their entire nation became righteous. So, in their minds, anyone who failed to follow their particular set of rules was bringing down a curse on their nation and worthy of contempt.
Sound familiar? I see the same type of attitude and arguments from the Christian conservatives, who increasingly are becoming the voice of the Republican Party.
The list of people despised by the Pharisees was long:
- The Samaritans were considered religious heretics and ethnically impure.
- Sick people were believed to be sinners whom God was punishing.
- Women were deemed unworthy of discipleship.
- Tax collectors and Roman soldiers were regarded as the enemy.
- The poor, who had neither the time nor resources to maintain rigorous rites of religious purity, were thought to be beyond God’s grace.
The list of people despised by Republicans is even longer.
Jesus emphatically rejected each one of these prejudices as I believe he would the prejudices in the world of today. You can read the stories yourself in your own Bible. E.g., John 4:1-42; Luke 10:29-37; John 9:1-34; Luke 8:1-3; Matthew 11:16-19; Matthew 5:38-48; and Matthew 9:18-26.
A classic example is provided in Matthew 8. There, a Roman soldier asked Jesus to heal his “pais.” This is a Greek term often used in ancient times to refer to a servant who was his master’s same-sex partner. [K.J. Cover, Greek Homosexuality (Harvard University Press, Cambridge, 1978), p. 16]. When the soldier said, “Lord, my ‘partner’ is lying at home paralyzed, in terrible distress,” Jesus was immediately compassionate and spoke no words of exclusion or condemnation. He simply said, “I will come and heal him.”
In the dialogue that followed, Jesus commended this Roman solider for having more faith than anyone he had ever met and assured him that he would sit down in the Kingdom of Heaven with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. By this miracle of healing, Jesus preserved this loving same-sex relationship.
The Gospels are clear. Jesus refused to be bound by cultural prejudice. Repeatedly, he took up the cause of the oppressed and defended them against narrow-minded religious leaders.
A Call To Action
I call upon Christians of goodwill to have the courage to follow the example of Jesus. Specifically, I call upon Christians everywhere to take four key steps to end the Church’s history of persecuting gay and transgender people:
- We must renew our commitment to honesty.“Thou shalt not bear false witness.” Exodus 20:16. This is one of God’s most basic commands. Too many Christians today are playing fast and loose with the truth, making sweeping statements about gay and transgender people without ever taking the time to investigate. For example, some confidently assert that “gay people choose to be that way” and “gay people can change their orientation if they want to” and “the gay and trans lifestyle is inherently unhealthy.” None of these statements have any basis in science or reality. As Christians, God expects us to love the truth, seek the truth, and tell the truth – even when it’s not popular.
- We must educate ourselves by daring, like Jesus before us, to become genuine friends of all people who face persecution.Jesus set the example. He was a genuine friend to all kinds of people, including those that his contemporaries derisively referred to as “sinners.” Anyone who really wants to know the truth about gay and transgender people needs to take the time to get to know us, have a meal with us, engage in a real conversation with us.
- We must carefully reexamine what the Bible teaches about same-sex relationships.On many occasions in the past, “accepted Christian wisdom” has been wrong. For centuries, many in the Church vigorously opposed the right of women to vote, condemned interracial marriage, and supported slavery – always insisting that the Bible supported their point of view. Now we know better.
- We must stop the use of the law to hurt gay and transgender people. Regardless what anyone believes about gay and transgender people, there is no excuse for doing us harm. Enacting laws that keep a dying gay person in an emergency room from seeing his life partner in his final moments of life is not Christian – it’s plain cruel. Enacting laws that refuse to recognize the shared property of same-sex partners, thereby forcing one partner to sell their home when the other dies, is not Christian – it’s just meanspirited.
The effort of some modern Christians to deprive gay families of basic civil rights is shameful and must stop. Jesus would expect no less.
I stand with Jesus in defense of those who are being unfairly targeted and invite you to join me in doing what Jesus would really do!
I have to apologize for something in this post: the politics of it. I do not like to overtly mix politics with religion. Quite honestly, I think they should be kept separate. in America, though, that seems almost impossible. However, in the current highly political climate of election season, I just couldn’t keep my mouth shut. So I hope you will excuse me for mentioning politics in this week’s Bible study.
Moment of Zen: Being Lazy
The most glorious, groundbreaking gay and lesbian movies of all time
48. Loose Canons (2010)
45. The Birdcage (1996)
41. D.E.B.S. (2004)
1. Do you still go to the movies? Why or Why not?
Which all-time favorite movie would you pay to see on the big screen again? Of course cell phones, babies, and assholes are banned.
Southern Decadence Arrests: 9 Anti-Gay Preachers Nabbed For Disrupting New Orleans Celebration
The New Orleans Times-Picayune identifies the preachers as Patrick O’Connell, 45, Rolando Igleasias, 31, Cesar Chavez, 22, Daniel Hoogerhuis, 26, Danny Guevera, 20, Larry Craft, 52, Montes Diego, 32 and Gary Brown, 33.
The men were found to be in violation of an ordinance that prohibits “any person or group of persons to loiter or congregate on Bourbon Street for the purpose of disseminating any social, political or religious message between the hours of sunset and sunrise,” according to the publication. A police spokesman said the men were previously warned not to use bullhorns, but did not comply.
Justin Craft, 31, was arrested on suspicion of battery, resisting an officer and interfering with a law enforcement investigation. The Wisconsin Gazette reports that Craft allegedly punched a police officer who tried to confiscate his bullhorn.
Anti-gay resistance to the annual Southern Decadence celebration — which the Wisconsin Gazette deems “a mashup of Pride, circuit party and Mardi Gras,” and reportedly draws an estimated 120,000 LGBT visitors to the city each year — are nothing new. Last week, one pastor went as far to suggest that Hurricane Isaac’s arrival at the same time as Southern Decadence was “a sign that God’s patience with America’s sin is coming to an end.”
“The church, city and nation have not repented and the homosexual agenda is far worse than it was in 2005,” Defend & Proclaim The Faith’s Pastor John McTernan wrote in a blog. “New Orleans is still hosting Southern Decadence with open homosexuality manifesting in the streets of the city. It could be that God is putting an end to this city and its wickedness.”
Rev. Grant Storms, known as one of the festival’s most vocal opponents, was reportedly convicted of obscenity last month after being caught masturbating at a public park near a children’s playground in 2011.
These nine men who were arrested are the types of “Christians” who have missed what God’s message is all about. In fact, i don’t consider them Christians at all. Truthfully, I wish I had been there, not just for Southern Decadence, which I’ve always wanted to attend, but because street preachers are one particular group of people who get under my skin the most. I am well versed in the Bible and in the doctrine of the Church of Christ. Several years ago, a street preacher on Beale Street (a mecca for blues and booze) in Memphis, Tennessee, started preaching to me about the wickedness of the world and how I should be saved. I admit it, I was a little drunk, but I stood there and debated him. In fact, I took his Bible from him and showed him verse by verse the error of his teachings. When he tried to dispute what the Bible said, I eventually retorted, “You should go now, repent of your sins, be baptized, and join the folds of the churches of Christ.” I further added, that if he did not then, “I was not responsible for his mortal soul.”. My friend who was with me at the time and I then walked into the Hard Rock Cafe and had a shot of tequila. When we walked back out ten minutes later, the preacher was no where to be seen. Now I will say, again, that I was intoxicated and I probably laid it on a little thick (I got on a roll, what can I say), but the preacher had met his match. I would never hesitate to do so again, and I believe that knowledge is the best defense against ignorance.
Information for this post came from the Huffington Post, and the images are from VJBrendan.com.
Critics found much of Teasdale’s poetry to be unsophisticated but full of musical language and evocative emotion. A New York Times Book Review contributor, writing about the 1917 edition of Love Songs, asserted that “Miss Teasdale is first, last, and always a singer.” Reviewing the 1915 volume Rivers to the Sea, another New York Times Book Review contributor deemed the book “a little volume of joyous and unstudied song.”
Teasdale’s work in the 1926 book Dark of the Moon demonstrates her sensitivity to language, according to New York Times Book Review contributor Percy A. Hutchison. Hutchison praised “the exquisite refinement of Sara Teasdale’s lyric poetry,” which “shows how near Sara Teasdale can come to art’s ultimate goals.” Marguerite Wilkinson, writing in the New York Times Book Review and Magazine, commented on Teasdale’s poetic development in 1920’s Flame and Shadow, noting that “Sara Teasdale has found a philosophy of life and death,” having “grown intellectually since the publication of her earlier books” and displaying a “growth in artistry.” Wilkinson concluded that Flame and Shadow “is a book to read with reverence of joy.”
Saturday Review of Literature contributor Louis Untermeyer, reviewing Strange Victory shortly after the poet’s death, also commented on Teasdale’s development. Untermeyer insisted that Strange Victory “must be ranked among her significant works,” that its “beauty is in the restraint” of its “ever-present though never elaborated theme.” Reviewing the 1984 collection Mirror of the Heart: Poems of Sara Teasdale,Choice contributor J. Overmyer voiced similar opinions of Teasdale’s poetry, as its “simply stated thoughts are complex . . . and reverberate in the mind.”
Not This Again: The Circumcision Debate Continues
The American Academy of Pediatrics on Monday announced its first major shift on circumcision in more than a decade, concluding that the health benefits of the procedure clearly outweigh any risks.
“There is clear evidence that supports the health benefits of circumcision,” said Susan Blank, who led the 14-member task force that formulated the new policy being published in the journal Pediatrics.
The statement, and accompanying technical report, marks the first revision of the organization’s position since 1999, when the academy backed away from circumcision. At that time, the group, which represents about 60,000 pediatricians nationwide, concluded that there was no clear evidence for or against circumcising newborns. The group affirmed that position in 2005.
Since then, the popularity of circumcision in the United States has declined. Only about 56 percent of newborn males are circumcised.
The academy’s task force spent seven years combing through the latest research, analyzing more than a thousand studies. Their conclusion?
For starters, Blank says, circumcision helps baby boys pretty much immediately.
“The health benefits of male circumcision include a drop in the risk of urinary tract infection in the first year of life by up to 90 percent,” she says.
But there’s a much bigger reason to do it, Blank said. Circumcised males are far less likely to get infected with a long list of sexually transmitted diseases.
“It drops the risk of heterosexual HIV acquisition by about 60 percent. It drops the risk of human papillomavirus [HPV], herpes virus and other infectious genital ulcers,” she says.
It also reduces the chances that men will spread HPV to their wives and girlfriends, protecting them from getting cervical cancer.
“We’ve reviewed the data and, you know, we have gone through them with a fine-tooth comb, and the data are pretty convincing,” she says.
Critics, however, were not convinced. They liken the procedure to female genital mutilation.
“We have no right as parents or as physicians or adults to strap them down and chop off a normal part of their body. To do that is a human rights violation and an ethical travesty,” says Georgeanne Chapin of the anti-circumcision group Intact America.
Chapin and other critics argue that the scientific evidence is questionable. For one thing, the studies about HIV have only been done in Africa, where AIDS is much more common among heterosexuals.
“They’re cherry-picking their evidence,” she says. “They act as though there’s this huge body of literature. It’s all the same couple of studies that have been regurgitated and reprogrammed. Over the past 150 years, all kinds of medical benefits have been proposed as resulting from cutting off the foreskin, and they have all been disproven.”
Critics also question the safety of the procedure, saying too many boys are damaged for life by botched circumcisions.
But many experts say the academy is making the right call. They dismiss any comparison to female genital mutilation as grossly misleading and say male circumcision is about as safe as any procedure could be.
Some think the academy’s position is long overdue, and that the group should have gone even further and more forcefully recommended circumcision.
“I think that all healthy newborn babies should be circumcised,” saysEdgar Schoen, a professor emeritus at the University of California, San Francisco. “I feel about newborn circumcision the way I do about immunization: It’s a potent preventive health procedure that gives you a health advantage.”
For its part, the pediatricians group hopes the new recommendations will encourage more parents to circumcise their sons — and more insurance plans to pay for it. As Shots reported last week, a lot of state Medicaid programs have stopped covering circumcision.
“Those families who choose circumcision should have access to circumcision. Cost should not be a barrier,” Blank says.
The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has been promising for years now to issue the government’s first guidelines about circumcision. But the CDC keeps delaying it and still has not said when that will happen.
You Are Never Alone
Joshua 1:9 (NASB)Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous! Do not tremble or be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”
I may not be able to do much, but I at least attempt to bring some hope to those who read my blog. In one way or another, we are all in the same boat, and we must love and encourage one another so that this often cruel world we live in will be a little bit better of a place to live.