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I gave my first 'peace sermon' as a guest speaker in a small town in western Nebraska last Sunday.  Here are a couple of quotes.

"Clearly Jesus believed he could honor what they [religious leaders, teachers, Pharisees] claimed to stand for, while shaming and insulting what they really stood for. And that's just what he did."

"It's not always out of line to criticize religious people, institutions, or practices. And that's what I'm going to do here today."

Key points:

  1. Jesus certainly would say out loud just what he thinks about our churches today, and it would not all be pleasant.

  2. Many American churches have helped give Christianity a bad name and flavor, as shown in four particulars: a) focus on others' "sins" and our own "righteousness", b) neglect of the little people, c) listening to liars, d) support for unjust wars.

I got a mixed but courteous reception in both services.  The full text is below the fold.

[My site address is publicchristian.com ]

ON WHAT ISSUES WILL AMERICAN CHRISTIANS BE JUDGED?


I.  JESUS AND THE 'CHURCHES'


Talk to me.  What do you remember about the relationship Jesus had with the religious establishment?  (Brief pause, looking around.)


How did he get along with `the churches' and with their leaders?  Of course they weren't `churches' in his day, but there were similar institutions.  Did he ever have problems with them?  Did he ever say anything disrespectful?  What was the relationship like? (Some interaction.)


In fact there was a problem, as we all know.  But it is important to remember that in fact Jesus had a lot of love and respect for these institutions: the temple, the priesthood, the Scriptures, the synagogues.


He was in synagogues very regularly on the Sabbath.  In fact, he was often on the platform. Now that was no mean feat in those days.  It meant he had a lot of respect and credibility among the powers that be in the religious community - and that often included some of the movers and shakers in the secular community.  A synagogue in a city like Capernaum was a major center of influence and money in the society of the town.  And Jesus was honored and welcomed in that synagogue, and in many others.


However, he did not pull any punches.  He said whatever he felt really needed saying.  Here are some examples.


"Which is lawful on the Sabbath: to do good or to do evil, to save life or to kill?" But they remained silent  He looked around at them in anger and, deeply distressed at their stubborn hearts ... (Mark 3:5)

In this case he was up front, in charge of the service at that point, and very much the focus of attention.  It was one of those set-ups where they wanted him to step out of line, and he did so, on purpose.  He looked at the man who needed healing, then asked for all to hear, "Which is lawful on the Sabbath: to do good or to do evil, to save life or to kill?"  And he waited and looked around at them for an answer.  Well, that's an unanswerable question, an insult in fact, given the way they were operating.  So they kept silent.  But he also was insulted, because there were obviously serious issues that needed facing that day in that place, and they would not face those issues. And they went out furious.


"He looked around at them in anger."  Up front, in church, without words, his anger showed.  This was a very serious confrontation, and everyone present knew it.


Here's another:


Beware of the teachers of the law. They like to walk around in flowing robes and love to be greeted in the marketplaces and have the most important seats in the synagogues and the places of honor at banquets. They devour widows' houses and for a show make lengthy prayers. Such men will be punished most severely." (Luke 20:46,47)

"Devoured widows houses."  Really?  Yes, really.  And that happens today, fairly often.  People in positions of authority in American Christianity taking money from people who cannot afford it and in return not giving what they are contracted to give, which those people whose money they are taking really need.  I've seen it literally, taking widow's houses, "to support the ministry," which meant to support the so-called ministers.


Clearly Jesus believed he could honor what they claimed to stand for, while shaming and insulting what they really stood for - how these real people actually behaved in practice.  And that's just what he did.


My point is that it's not always out of line to criticize religious people, institutions, or practices.  And that's what I'm going to do here today.  I see some important ways in which many Christians and churches in this country are showing a very bad face to the world around us, and we need to be talk about that.


And, shock of shocks, the name of one or two political parties may come up - in fact, will come up.  Especially the Republican party.  Now I know that can be a shock.  I know Christians  - literally - who are more offended if you criticize the Republican party than if you criticize St Paul, the Prophets, or even Jesus Himself.  That's the truth.  Many conservative churches have developed a very close, virtually symbiotic relationship with the Republican party over the past few decades, so much so that to talk about one is to talk about the other.   I'm not here to talk about the Republicans, but about the churches.  But the Republican party will come up a couple of times.  Just so you're warned in advance.




II.  THE CHURCHES AND ME


A few days ago I received an angry email.  Here are a couple of sentences from near the end of that email.


I'm just very concerned because you are helping my son to turn further and further away from church. How can you call yourself a Christian when the goal of your website is to turn people away from church. Talk about wolves in sheep clothing!"
   

I wrote a short response to that and put it on my web site.  Part of my response was to point out incidents like we just talked about where Jesus criticized the `churches' of his day.  And there are really quite a few of those incidents.


But I also responded to the charge that I'm helping young people turn away from the church. I wrote:


>"It pains me to see young people leave the church. I know some of these kids, and I promise you, many of them would really like to be involved. They want something honest and realistic and healing. I do not encourage them to leave their churches; I applaud them for staying and trying to make things better."

"But, as in Jesus' day, there are some things that must be said. I'm not the one driving youth from the churches; many churches have proven very capable of doing that without my assistance. I'm trying to show them that the churches, in spite of appearances, are carriers of the most precious of truths."

Here are some comments other people added to that article after it appeared.


1. As one of the people who left the church, I assure you that people like you are one of the few reasons I've ever seen to go back. The few times I have gone back though, I met people more like the ones who post hateful replies here. I go back less and less now.

2. I haven't left the church, but I have to say that since the election I've been thinking about it a lot more. And it has nothing to do with this website except insofar as this site points out just how sadly the churches are doing at relating to reality. Not to mention Biblical reality.

3. I keep thinking there must be some way that we can re-build Christian community closer to the way it should be, but because so many people have left the church it's hard to find them. This actually seems like the best way we have until we can find another way to bring them back.

4. I have to say that I am in the same boat. Having been taught that "church hopping" is nearly a sin, I stuck with the same church for years until I could no longer take it. ... I really am not looking for a comfortable sermon or for a whole church to agree with me.. I am fine with worshiping alongside christians that I don't agree with 100% in terms of theology, however, when the main preaching is spun ... then I feel i run the risk to become hardened and blind. I totally understand why people stop going..

These comments say that the church in America is being used and abused and made a fool of.  These and others who comment on these issues see the church - and its Gospel - being profoundly misrepresented on the American public scene.  I believe they are very right in seeing it that way.

 

And many believers are being forced out of the churches, because they see the churches as not practicing what they preach, or as not preaching what the Bible asks them to preach.


III.  I want to mention FOUR AREAS WHERE I SEE REAL PROBLEMS  with our credibility and our behavior as Christians.


First, Emphasizing Other Peoples' Sins and Our Own Righteousness.


   

This the world sees through INSTANTLY!  And they rightly despise it.


   

In Isaiah 58 God is complaining to people who are faithful and energetic in their worship celebrations.  You'd think God would be pleased.


   

To them he says, among other things, "Do AWAY with the yoke of oppression, with the pointing finger and malicious talk."  Notice how oppression and blaming the victim of your oppression go together.  C S Lewis says that when we mistreat those we dislike, our hatred for them increases.  Maybe that's why so many non-Christians, and so many who have left the churches, use words like "hateful" and "intolerant" about us.  Maybe they are right.


   

Did you know that Paul talks about greed - he equates it with idolatry - more than he talks about homosexuality?  But the churches and the religious political activists don't.  And many Christians certainly don't get as angry about greed as about homosexuality.  But Jesus did.  He also mentioned greed a number of times, and he never did specifically mention homosexuality.


   

We get so worked up about sexual immorality among homosexuals we don't know, and seldom mention pornography usage among fellow church members, or habitual flirting or other types of adulterous behavior.  American culture is soaked in invitations to heterosexual immorality, and the Bible repeatedly speaks against it.  But where was the Christian support for a constitutional amendment against heterosexual immorality? In fact we honor preachers who are guilty of those behaviors.


   

Now how does a lot of that come into our homes?  Hey, how about if we launched a boycott of cable tv?  Six months.  No cable in millions of Christian homes.  And write a few letters explaining why. Wow.  That would send a message.  And not only would it not cost us anything, it would actually save us money.  But we don't do that.  Instead we rage about other peoples' homosexuality.


     

Do you think the world does not pick up on this hypocrisy?


   

We rant and rave about the lack of prayer in school.  But there are far greater and more common injustices and outrages going on in our schools regularly, and we hardly make a peep. I  know those of us here who work in education pour our hearts into it and do the absolute best we can.  But we know there are things that are just not right.  Yet Christians fuss loudly and repeatedly about whether we have prayer in schools.

 

Do you remember?  Jesus in fact insulted those who were concerned to pray in public.  So did the Old Testament prophets.  Jesus said, "Go into your closet ... and your Father who sees what is done in secret, will reward you openly."  Now which would be better - to force people to pray, or pretend to pray, in public, or to go pray in private ourselves and actually get answers to our prayers?  I think it would be better to actually be getting answers.


There was a politician in another Christian nation some years back who had a lot of support from the churches.  They saw him as good for the economy; he was good for national pride and self-esteem; he stood up against the nation's enemies; he was against Communists and liberals; he was against gays.


Sounds like a `moral values' candidate to me!  Do you know who it was?


His name was Adolf Hitler.


He gave people targets for their anger and hate: Jews, liberals and Communists, foreigners, homosexuals.  He knew that hate is a tremendous motivator.  And he burned down Europe with it.


A Lutheran pastor named Martin Neimoller spoke out, was arrested in 1937, and finished the war in a concentration camp.  In the years following he made many speeches here in the US, and often ended with lines like these:


In Germany they came first for the Communists and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Communist.


Then they came for the Jews and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Jew.


Then they came for the trade unionists  and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a trade unionist.


Then they came for the Catholics and I didn't speak up because I was a Protestant.


Then they came for me--and by that time no one was left to speak up.


Second, Accepting and Repeating Falsehood


1.    A high official in the White House said recently, "That's not the way the world really works anymore.  We're an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality."  Well, we may force our views on people, maybe on millions of people, but we do not "create our own reality."  And REAL reality will sooner or later come back to bite us.


2.    Almost everything I've heard about John Kerry from Christians in the last few months has been false - demonstrably false.  Why is that?  That should not even be possible.


3.    A Pew research poll about politics and religion found that most people supporting the Iraq war believed several falsehoods about that war.  And I mean "falsehoods", not disagreements.  These are facts that are publicly available and easily researched.  Most who were not supporting the Iraq war did not believe those falsehoods.  But all agreed that those ideas had been disseminated by the Administration itself.  Why did Christians not pick up on this kind of discrepancy?


4.    Rush Limbaugh -- It is well known that Rush's talk is laced with lies and slander, frequent malice and hate, obvious self-worship, contempt for law and for people who honor the rule of law.  Rush injections incite anger and malice in his listeners.   There is much anger among men in our churches, and I know that regular doses of Rush and people like him keep that anger and irritation at an edge.


   

This is not good for you.  I tried to listen to Rush.  I decided it was not good for me, but that I would allow him up to 10 lies per day, then shut him off.  The most time he got from me under those terms was 15 minutes.  The experiment only lasted a few days.  Why do I want to drink in lies & hate?


Third, Disregarding `the least of these'


Matthew 25:44,45 "Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?"  He will reply, "I tell you the truth, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me."  Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.

When Chelsea was little her family moved.  In the new state, Indiana, they applied for state medical aid for her, but it never came through.  So they put her medication on credit cards.  When the cards were maxed out, Connie took her to an emergency room.  There they called Connie negligent and threatened to take Chelsea away because Connie was not providing her with medication.  That got straightened out, but that kind of thing IS coming for many of us, given the direction we are clearly and rapidly moving.


Friday's New York Times quoted a mother from Tennessee, which once had an widely admired health security system, but whose system is now on the ropes.  The mother said, referring to her 12-year old daughter, "Why, in a country this wealthy, must parents choose to watch their children die?"  Why indeed?


The tax credit companies get for providing health insurance for their employees is being removed.  I'm relatively safe, with my retirement, but not entirely so.  But what about you?  What about the many Americans out there who will literally die prematurely because this extremely wealthy nation will not see to it that health care is available to its working people?


Our good jobs leave the country, and poor jobs increase.  A man I know in this state can own two fast food stores for a few years, and retire in his mid-forties with $1million in the bank.  But the people who work in those stores get few or no benefits, and will soon do without hope of overtime pay.  How do you raise kids on $7 or $8 / hour?  How do you retire on $8 or $9 an hour?  I don't know just what, but something very  inappropriate is going on here.


Does Jesus care?  Do non-believers around us SEE that Jesus cares?  I know all the economic and philosophical arguments.  But I also know that Jesus said, "whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me. Then they will go away to eternal punishment."


Fourth, supporting unjust, unjustifiable, and murderous wars


You've heard that classic quote from the Viet Nam conflict.  "We had to destroy the village in order to save it."  If it's MY village, I might prefer that you not try to save it!  Our technology and our people were being used to kill 100's of thousands of Vietnamese who never wanted us there in the first place and were very willing to die to make us leave.  Our government kept telling us, right up to the very end, what wonderful things we were accomplishing over there - how we were winning the hearts and minds of the people - how well `Vietnamization' was working.


   

I supported our troops back then by wanting to see the government get honest about how it was using and misusing our troops, and about what was really happening over there.  Surely that is an appropriate Christian approach to government.


   

Today our troops are being misused even more dishonestly, and in ways that are even harder on their families, and are then being recalled after they return home - or if disabled, they come back to find veterans medical resources being cut.  AND, as back then, the government is telling us about the wonderful things we're doing over there, how we're bringing democracy and crippling the insurgency (an insurgency that did not even exist a year ago), and how the Iraqis are on the verge of taking over all the hard stuff.


   

But worst of all they - and our powerful technologies - are again being used to kill dozens of thousands of innocent civilians.  They may have welcomed some help, but they never asked us to come and take over their country and destroy it and create thousands of new terrorists in the process.

 
   

Again I support our troops by asking our government to get honest about how it is using and misusing our troops, their families, and our veterans, and about how we are killing scores of thousands of people who would never have been our enemies if we had behaved honestly in the first place.  Surely that is an appropriate Christian approach to the powers that be.


   

If we do not know what our government is doing in our name - and even in the name of Christ - we are still responsible.


IV.  CONCLUSION


Here are a few more quotes.  These are from other blogs and online discussions in the last 2 or 3 weeks.


1.  What I am referring to are the connections that the religious right has built to the supremely immoral side of the Republican Party who give away riches to the rich, forget about the poor and the needy, and sleep content while bombing into extermination the villages of other countries in the name of civilization and Christianity.

2.  My wife and I just changed churches to get away from the people who act as if God and the GOP are interchangeable.

3.  I have been very troubled with how so many of my fellow brothers & sisters in Christ just go along with the republican party and its garbage. I believe Bush has had his opportunity to live his faith and failed our country majorly. I cannot, in good conscious, vote him into another term. I deeply sorrow over what we have become as a country. We are disliked around the world and God have mercy on us for the what we have sown. I do not want to reap it. I don't want my children and grandchildren to reap it.

I don't like talking about these things.  I never have spoken about such issues from the pulpit in all my fifty-nine years - but I think I should have.  What do I want from this?  I want two things. I want us to realize there are very genuine, very thoughtful Christians, some of the best Christians in this country, who disagree with us about some of these things, whatever our position.  To be a Christian does not automatically mean one is a Republican (or a Democrat).  And I want us to realize that in many ways the churches truly are presenting a very bad face to the world around us.  We do have to talk about that.


Let me close with a prayer that was recently posted as a comment on my website.


"I haven't gone to church in over twenty years. Born again in a Southern Baptist church, I had gone to many different churches, including Methodists, Assembly of God, Nazarene, and many more. But more and more, I found the churches were no longer focusing on the message of Jesus, of forgiveness and love, of being humble.

"Now, even more than then, there is arrogance, pride, self-righteousness, even hatred. ...  It's breaking my heart. How can people not see?

"Heavenly Father, I forgive all who have ever committed any offense against me. Forgive me for going astray. I could not find You for so long, but You were never lost. I was. Help me to not hate those who are blind. I humbly ask you to forgive me of all sin. Please, give me Your strength to endure what is to come, and keep me from being blinded to the truth. And please, help others to see.

"Even if I cannot be forgiven, I hope you will hear my prayer for others. My heart is breaking for those who cannot see. My tears blind me, my spirit is broken, and I beseech You to reach out to Your children, before it is too late. Nothing is impossible for You. I love you, Father, and I can only trust that You know my heart. In the depths of my despair, for myself and for others, You are the only answer, the only hope. Great God, please forgive all of us, for our hatred, our arrogance, our pride. I pray you hear my plea, in Jesus' name. Amen.

Excuse me, I can hardly see to type. Don't know where that came from, but I'm ripped up right now. Be back later.

(Closing prayer)




by Larry Harvey (a sermon delivered Nov 21, 2004, at the Vineyard church in Curtis NE)

Originally posted to publicchristian.com on Mon Nov 29, 2004 at 01:08 PM PST.

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Comment Preferences

  •  That speaks to me. (4.00)
     Thanks, now this is Christianity as I understood it.
    •  Thank you (4.00)
      Thanks, everyone, for your encouraging comments.  This is a strange work for me, but I think it's a very important work. I guess we (all of us, the moral resistance) are the cultural immune system, and our culture has very dangerous systemic infections. So we may be pretty busy in the days to come ...

      "We must become the change we want to see." -Gandhi    PublicChristian.com

      by larryrant on Mon Nov 29, 2004 at 04:50:29 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  this lapsed Baptist (4.00)
        ...would go back to church again to hear sermons like this one. Truly I would. And trust me when I tell you that this is saying a lot.

        OTOH I am not willing to subject myself to a thousand Sundays worth of evil Pharisees' speechifying to find them. How does one find such worthy and uplifting words without wading through an awful lot of offal?

        Seriously, how does one find the good 'uns, like pastordan and yourself?
         

        There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics. --Benjamin Disraeli, cited by Mark Twain

        by sheba on Mon Nov 29, 2004 at 05:21:01 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Talk to the spiritual left (none)
          Ask your religiously progressive friends where THEY go; as for me, I can't talk up my parish, St. Gerturde in Chicago, enough!  This parish is the hub of the Catholic social justice movement in Chicago, with amazing, inspiring members such as Kathy Kelly (google her) and Delle Chatman (google her too).  

          When you're going through hell, keep going. -- Winston Churchill

          by valleycat on Mon Nov 29, 2004 at 06:52:33 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Don't have any locally (none)
            Ask your religiously progressive friends where THEY go...

            That's the problem; my religious friends and my progressive friends are not the same people. Can't make new religiously progressive friends w/o finding out where they all hang out together and vice versa. I suppose I could google and hope for the best; does anybody have a better suggestion for how to find such religiously progressive folks in their neighborhoods?

            I really, really think that working with social justice Christians, aside from being personally fulfilling and really cool, will be of critical importance in the next round of elections (yes, Virginia, there is a 2008, not to mention a 2006). So I would very much like to figure out how to get hooked up w/the religious left in my town. But it seems that if one isn't in a major metropolitan area one might be distinctly Out Of Luck in that regard. Is there a resource I'm missing?

            There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics. --Benjamin Disraeli, cited by Mark Twain

            by sheba on Mon Nov 29, 2004 at 08:40:50 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  Unitarian Universalists (4.00)
              The great thing about being a Unitarian is that I don't have a religion.  Unitarians believe that each person finds their own understanding of God (gods, higher being(s), humanist principles, etc.) and so does not dictate any creed.

              Unitarian sermons focus on understanding, using history, theology and current affairs to prompt reflection.  There are hymns, prayers and a great sense of community, but all flavored with tolerance and respect for different views and values.

              After years of encouragement I finally got my dad to go to a Unitarian fellowship in his very right-wing city last month, and he now appears to be hooked.

              You might try it.  Look online here for a fellowship near you.

              The willow knows what the storm does not: that the power to endure harm outlives the power to inflict it.

              by LondonYank on Tue Nov 30, 2004 at 12:08:52 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  Seconded (none)
                On even-numbered days, I'm an atheist.  
                On odd-numbered days, I'm a deist in the Enlightenment tradition.
                On Sundays, I am a Unitarian Universalist.

                I am slowly learning that the hypocrisy of some Xtian sects does not mean that all Xtians are hypocrites, and that you don't have to be a conformist Xtian to acknowledge your own spirituality.

                LondonYank got it exactly right.  Those of you who hate church, or even religion in general, might try out a UU service or two.  You might be surprised.

                -AG

                Bull Moose Progressive
                Supporter of self-defense rights for responsible citizens

                by AlphaGeek on Tue Nov 30, 2004 at 01:42:41 AM PST

                [ Parent ]

            •  hmm (none)
              where in VA are you?

              My dad is a progressive pastor in King George/Stafford county.

              Ed

              Just remember...people are always more important than ideas.

              by circuithead on Tue Nov 30, 2004 at 06:41:31 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  oops, wrong reference (none)
                ...sorry, I was referring to "yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus."

                I'm in Oregon City, Oregon, a swing city in a swing county in the outskirts of Portland.

                Rats.  If I'm ever in King George, though....

                There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics. --Benjamin Disraeli, cited by Mark Twain

                by sheba on Tue Nov 30, 2004 at 06:45:52 AM PST

                [ Parent ]

        •  Does your city have a Gay Mens' Chorus? (none)
          Attend an event and inquire as to whether any of the members are clergy, and where they preach.  (Not that you have to be gay to be a progressive Christian, but most openly gay clergy tend to be progressive, and in my experience often better than average preachers, since they are/were often held to a higher standard.)

          Or try looking in the religion page of the paper for a church that has a "forum" or "speaker series" that sounds appealing.  It seems every week we have a whole slew around town of discussions of social justice, vigils against war or social ills, labyrinth walks, and the like.

        •  You'll most likely find them... (none)
          ...among liberal Episcopalian, Presbyterian, UCC, Disciples of Christ, United Methodist, Evangelical Lutheran, and Unitarian churches, though several of these denominations are on the verge of splitting between conservatives and liberals.  If you basically like traditional Baptist worship, you'll probably be most comfortable in a Reform (Presbyterian or UCC) setting.

          If a church belongs to the "Confessing Church Movement," a supra-denominational, reactionary, anti-gay movement, don't bother with it at all.

      •  yep, good work. (4.00)
        I've been saying that the Christian Coalition would not much care for the Christ that I know.

        He would expect them to give over their riches to the poor and follow him around doing good works for the underdogs in life.  He would ask them to give their furs to the homeless and their surplus food to the hungry.

        He would disapprove of usurious borrowing and lending and of wars of greed in his name, he would abhor the holy words used to justify the ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians and now, thanks to George W. Bush, Moslems everywhere.

        No, I don't think my Bible-thumping Church-Goin Bush-votin All-White-All-Tight  suburban neighbors would much care for the priorities of Jesus Christ, Prince of Peace.

        http://www.katemckinnon.com

        by kate mckinnon on Mon Nov 29, 2004 at 05:24:44 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  With apologies (none)
          -to liberal Evangelicals:

          "Evangelical Christianity, as everyone knows, is founded upon hate, as the Christianity of Christ was founded upon love." - H.L. Mencken

          Europeans are to Americans what Greeks were to Romans. Educated slaves. - Luigi Barzini

          by Sirocco on Tue Nov 30, 2004 at 05:05:33 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  As a member of the ELCA... (none)
            ... the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America... I've also been more than distressed about the perversion of the term "Evangelical" from "of, relating to, or being in agreement with the Christian gospel especially as it is presented in the four Gospels" to what most consider it to mean today: "zealots"

            "Conservative Christian" is an Oxymoron

            by Prairie Logic on Tue Nov 30, 2004 at 05:15:23 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  It's hell to always have to... (none)
              ...explain... "No... my church is not one of those churches..."

              "Conservative Christian" is an Oxymoron

              by Prairie Logic on Tue Nov 30, 2004 at 05:20:07 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  I can understand that (none)
                -sorry if my Mencken quote caused offense.

                You are right about the semantics, of course. For instance, Evangelical Lutheranism is the formal state religion in my country - and the Church of Norway has female Bishops and co-inhabiting gay vicars.

                Europeans are to Americans what Greeks were to Romans. Educated slaves. - Luigi Barzini

                by Sirocco on Tue Nov 30, 2004 at 05:47:36 AM PST

                [ Parent ]

            •  Hijacking, even... (none)
              I believe that historically, "Evangelical" meant that there was nothing you needed to do--or indeed COULD do--to ensure your salvation.

              How ironic that the Christians (usually Calvinist) who claim the term today almost as another denomination in itself, seem obsessed with earning their salvation through "correct" (literalistic) theology and good behavior.

              On the other hand, Calvin never really was "Evangelical" in that sense--he always insisted on people following extensive rules, religiously.

      •  Good work larryrant... (none)
        ...keep it up...
    •  You can find out what some progressive Christians (none)
      are doing by visiting CFBA.

      Church Folks for a Better America -- A Time Comes When Silence Is Betrayal -- Iraq news, in-depth analysis, antiwar poems, good sermons, and more

      Also take a look at:

      Confessing Christ in a World of Violence

  •  Thank you (4.00)
    Thank you for putting your sermon on DailyKos.  Please don't be discouraged if they don't generate a lot of comments.  

    Please keep posting things like this.

  •  You mentioned that you have a website..... (none)
    Would you be willing to post the address?
  •  Genuine Christianity (4.00)
    Yes, this is Christianity.  Pseudo-Christianity must be far more offensive to the Father and Son than atheism.

    Yes, we will be judged: to love God is to do good to the "least of these [our] brethren". To hate God is not to do for our brethren. There is a terrible fate awaiting those who either neglect or do ill to the "least of" the Lord's brethren.

    The Republican Party is the "poster child" for what will bring down God's Judgment; it is because they make claims to being the party of Christ, while showing little or no compassion or charity (love).

    Of course this is not to suggest that the Dems are all saints; this is not the issue, here.

    "This people draweth nigh unto Me with their mouth, and honoreth Me with their lips, but their heart is  far from Me.
    But in vain they do worship Me, teaching [for] doctrine the commandments of men." Matthew 15:8-9.

    Something all of us Christians need to keep in mind when we examine our own respective agenda.

  •  great rant (none)
    even better that you were able to deliver it at a church.  that's the kind of thing that makes me want to go to seminary!

    even cooler that this just made the recommended list!  a very nice counterweight to the knee-jerk antireligion in the "mad christian housewife" thread.

    courage, faith and truth my brothers and sisters

    by zeke L on Mon Nov 29, 2004 at 01:58:08 PM PST

    •  I don't think (none)
      the overall tilt of the "housewife" thread was antireligious, just against any variety that's not holistic and humble. At any rate, I'm glad I can say that my seminary gave me a good deal of this kind of message. For anyone looking for Christian literature that looks like this, ignore most of the self-satisfying "self help" literature out there, and check out some commentaries.
  •  More sermons like this (none)
    would be very helpful.

    The right-wing has hijacked religion in this country.

  •  website (none)
    i too, am interested in your website.  it was a wonderful post, and no doubt a wonderful sermon.  lets hope that more Christians come to understand what exactly it means to be Christian.

    "When I give food to the poor, they call me a Saint. When I ask why the poor have no food, they call me a Communist." [helder camara]

    by jeysiin on Mon Nov 29, 2004 at 02:11:44 PM PST

  •  recommended (none)
    Thanks for posting this. You've captured the spirit of Christianity as I've understood it - the type of Christianity that I and my wife are trying to pass on to our kids. I too don't currently attend a church, mainly because for many years I've been turned off by the hypocrisy I find. For what it's worth, if you or someone like you were preaching at one of my local churches, I have a feeling I'd be changing my Sunday morning activities.
  •  aoeu (none)
    The link is found in his profile.

    Or here.

    no haikus now,
    join your local democratic party.
    There are fights in 2005 coming up.

    by TealVeal on Mon Nov 29, 2004 at 02:15:45 PM PST

  •  amazing (none)
    I actually got chills reading it.  Please post the link to your website, too.

    Wanna take a swipe at the GOP financial base? Cancel your cable subscription.

    by bionicKitty on Mon Nov 29, 2004 at 02:16:45 PM PST

  •  Amen! (4.00)
    It's been said before - Christian Conservative?  It's a contradiction in terms. Many religious leaders including Pope John Paul II have said it and now I'm saying it: Jesus wasn't a conservative. He fed the hungry simply because they were hungry- He didn't make them find a job first.  He healed the sick, simply because they were sick.  Jesus was a liberal; it was the people who crucified Him that were conservative.

    Thank You!

    Over the past two decades, conservatives have turned the word `Liberal' into a curse word - Even though it's very definition and policies promote a political ideology that is free from prejudice, favoring civil liberties, social generosity, social reforms and progress for everyone. They've made the word `Liberal' an almost-blasphemous term even though it was the conservative political and religious leaders that Jesus defied who killed Him.

    Wonderful Sermon!

    Amen!

    •  Right on... (none)
      ...the term "Conservative Christian" is a classic oxymoron.  

      This very excellent and heartfelt sermon clearly captures the beliefs of many Christians.  I penned an Op-ed a number of years ago on this issue as well... and posted it here a few months ago.

      •  oxymoron? (none)
        only for certain connotations of conservative. be careful about defining your opponents as evil, yo. "argument by definition" is never a very fair track to take. what, do we mean politically liberal, socially liberal, theologically liberal, and in what time and place? it's complete nonsense to read our definitions of 'liberal' back to 1930ad, much less 33ad, and especially not to equate 'liberal' to 'good' and 'conservative' to 'bad'. even more so when you realize that the democrats are firmly on what many around the world would call the right.

        here's a quick question for you: are the amish conservatives or liberals? answer carefully and throw your article on the trash heap accordingly.

        Join the battle against cosmic evil!

        by gzt on Mon Nov 29, 2004 at 10:20:44 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  fine. (none)
          i gave up and actually read your article. it didn't quite make the error i ascribed to it. however, you would seem to describe the amish, according to what you say, as absolutely and completely liberal, which still strikes me as nonsense. 'liberal' ceases to have meaning except as 'warm fuzzy things like not killing and helping the poor' rather than saying something about what school of political philosophy somebody is aligned with.

          Join the battle against cosmic evil!

          by gzt on Mon Nov 29, 2004 at 10:25:13 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  well... (none)
            ... sorry for not responding earlier... was sleeping!

            anyway... labels are lame in that most people with the ability to think stray from their "assigned" tag...

            •  except most people don't *think*. (none)
              or, if they did, it's irrelevant. illiterate peasants over the past two thousand years make your statement that christianity is, at its core, absolutely liberal and that conservative christianity is an oxymoron completely meaningless. not that they're conservative as opposed to liberal, but that liberal and conservative have no meaning outside of our current political context, and even there it's sketchy. but their failure to conform is not due on any part to their intellectualism. if one's going to claim conservative christian is an oxymoron, one had best do so for liberal christian as well. i mean, certainly, the modern american conservative agenda does not match the christian ideal, but neither does the modern american liberalist agenda.

              Join the battle against cosmic evil!

              by gzt on Tue Nov 30, 2004 at 05:53:34 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  speaking of "ideals." (none)
                ... this country has always struggled to live up to its ideals.  For instance... "all men are created equal..." yet slavery continued another "four score and seven" years after the signing of the Declaration, etc.

                ...but then these failings do not excuse us... as individuals or as a country... from continuing to strive towards reaching and achieving these ideals...

                "Conservative Christian" is an Oxymoron

                by Prairie Logic on Tue Nov 30, 2004 at 09:32:49 AM PST

                [ Parent ]

        •  Jesus is Liberal ! (none)
          Jesus was and is a social, political, moral liberal.  The Gospels tell us that.

          The time frame.  Here is my question - How are the issues of today much different that they were 33A.D.?  The issues are pretty much the same today as then.

          Everyone has to eat, everyone needs healthcare, everyone wants a home, everyone wants to be told the truth, and (most) everyone wants genuine dialogue before we attack another country.

          The issue of a Liberal Christ can be found throughout the gospels, but is particularly evident in The Gospel of Matthew (Matt 25: 35-40).  It is very simple. The scripture explains how we should treat the hungry, the thirsty, and the sick.  And how we treat the "least of these," is how we treat Jesus Himself.  Consider which of the two groups mentioned there more accurately reflects conservative policy in our country.

          Liberal - mostly good.
          Conservative - mostly bad.

          Sorry.  That's my (very strong) opinion.

          Peace.

          Truth - Equity - Peace - That's what I've learned from Jesus The Liberal.

          by ssolice on Tue Nov 30, 2004 at 06:42:47 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  very well (4.00)
            i don't deny that the modern liberal movement in america better provides for these things than the american conservatives, my problem is with conflating, say, providing for the sick with liberalism per se. or even communal [cenobitic] living! one of the most natural things in the world is a hospital run by the church, after all, and state funding of the church made such things possible in many countries, but at times continuing such funding was an essentially conservative thing to do, while wild voices of Progress were shouting something else - something which, at least temporarily, reduced aid to the poor and needy. the modern american liberal way is not the only possible manner of implementing the mandate to feed the hungry and such.

            anyways, reading the gospels, you should realize that supporting government action is not the same as personally attaining virtue. giving a loaf of bread to a hungry man is far better than subscribing to liberal ideology. remember the pharisees, it cuts both ways...

            Join the battle against cosmic evil!

            by gzt on Tue Nov 30, 2004 at 07:48:21 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  Excellent point (none)
              Christ didn't say how you should feed the hungry, just that you should feed them. If your preferred approach is government assistance, that's fine. But if that approach isn't working (whether because of lack of funding, mismanagement of the program, whatever), then people are still hungry, and doing something about it is still your problem.

              This is one of the reasons why people talk about "limousine liberals." Advocacy is great, but you can't eat it.

              •  He Did Say How....... (none)
                Jesus says the hungry should be fed and the sick should be healed through the abundance of others.  He calls us to be our brothers' keeper.  Jesus says to feed the poor, heal the sick, and the blind.  He says that we will be blessed even though they cannot repay us; He says we will be repaid at the resurrection of the just.

                That is what the Church was when I was growing up - it was Liberal - it was giving.  And it was through our abundance.

                What happened to us?

                The members of the Church were our government reps. and this ideology went to DC with them.

                Now they're all bought and paid for.

                Kill and ban the DC lobby - Solve most of the problems!

                Truth - Equity - Peace - That's what I've learned from Jesus The Liberal.

                by ssolice on Tue Nov 30, 2004 at 09:35:02 AM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  Keeping your brother (none)
                  Which is more "Christian:"

                  Vote for a tax cut. Donate all the money you receive as a result to a charity that feeds the hungry and cares for the poor.

                  Vote against a tax cut. When it passes anyway, use the money you personally receive to support the election of progressive candidates.

                  •  When will Churches cut Social Secuity checks? (none)
                    Not ever.  The Churches can't, won't and haven't ever done it all.  The government is needed to carry the load.

                    Saying you believe in non-governmental help of your fellow-man is a dodge.  

                    •  Two-edged sword (none)
                      Remember that Social Security itself is a relatively recent development. Until very recently, there was no governmental safety net. If your church, family, or union/guild couldn't take care of you, you were pretty much stuck. The New Deal was necessary in part because the Great Depression hammered much of the non-governmental support system.

                      When churches and their members are committed to "doing it all," they can and have. The Amish are exempt from paying Social Security tax, and are not eligible for Social Security, unemployment, or welfare benefits: their community looks after its own as a religious duty.

                      One can (arguably) do one's Christian duty to the poor by direct charity rather than through the government. In fact, forcing other people to act (through taxes) in accordance with one's beliefs is (arguably) a state establishment of religion, and therefore prohibited.

                      Now, I'm not personally opposed to government programs. But if you raise the "Christian duty" argument with political conservatives, you're likely to see exactly this sort of response. Best to be prepared.

                      •  Can't convince right-wing theocons (none)
                        I agree that theocons may respond by stating that they don't need the government to help their fellow man.  And, yes, the true believers of the theocon philosophy will not be convinced no matter how cogent the argument.

                        But those subject to persuasion would have to admit that not enough theocons give a 10% tithe to their churches, and there are simply not enough theocons, to take the place of the government.

                        I am convinced that the hard-core theocons can only be convinced by some type of event or crisis in their own personal lives.  See Dick Cheney.  It is good for us to make our arguments for the future, planting intellectual seeds.

                  •  Inequitable Policy Will Be Judged Harshly ! (none)
                    The poorest 20 percent of American workers, who earn on average $16,600 annually, will get a tax break of $250 this year, about 1½ percent of their income. That amounts to about 68 cents a day.  

                    The richest 1 percent of 'workers', with average incomes of $1.1 million, will receive $78,460 in tax cuts this year. That's more than 7 percent of their income.

                    I wonder how Jesus would react to such `moral clarity'?  His Gospel, being based in truth and equity, leaves little doubt to the answer.

                    How many 'workers' making over 1 million dollars this year do you know that donated their $78K tax refund to the homeless and hungry?

                    In my view, such inequitable policy will certainly impart a harsh judgment in God's court.

                    Peace.

                    Truth - Equity - Peace - That's what I've learned from Jesus The Liberal.

                    by ssolice on Tue Nov 30, 2004 at 01:11:08 PM PST

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  Individual responsibility (none)
                      Governments aren't called to account for themselves in the hereafter. Individuals are. A rich man who spends his tax refund on golf vacations and private jets while his neighbors starve will clearly have quite a bit to answer for.

                      On the other hand, advocating progressive positions and candidates is not necessarily enough to satisfy one's moral obligations. If I were having an argument about "Christian duty" with a religious conservative, I don't think I'd want to claim that a check to John Kerry's campaign was "better" than a check to a homeless shelter.

                      I'm bringing this up because of a statistic that I vaguely remember (but can't find a reference for), indicating that red states give more per capita to charity than blue states. I'd certainly agree that the Republican party's positions are unChristian, but that doesn't mean individual red state voters are as well. Being judgmental is as dangerous for progressives as it is for conservatives.

                      •  But Advocating the Destruction of the Safety Net (none)
                        As the repressive conservatives do, is clearly not what Jesus had in mind. Listening to Jerry Falwell congratulate himself on having social programs at his church reminded me how far Christianity has fallen from the ideals that Jesus taught.

                        Helping all through the government shows a true compassion for the neighbors that Jesus spoke of. Restricting it to your congregation or religious body is just one more example of selfishness that Jesus condemned.

                        A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, adored by little statesmen and philosophers and divines. - Emerson

                        by freelunch on Tue Nov 30, 2004 at 03:40:20 PM PST

                        [ Parent ]

                      •  Government must be accountable to its citizens - (none)
                        The less this government is called to account for its actions, the more it will continue to act with impunity.

                        Whenever this government is called to account for its appalling record on poverty, it tries to hide behind some lame child tax benefit or other bullshit excuse.

                        The fact is nearly 36 million Americans - one in eight- now live in poverty and millions more are considered working poor.  That means many of those are HUNGRY!

                        This governments actions and policies are SINFUL!

                        Peace.
                        Out.

                        Truth - Equity - Peace - That's what I've learned from Jesus The Liberal.

                        by ssolice on Wed Dec 01, 2004 at 06:10:18 AM PST

                        [ Parent ]

            •  Point Taken (none)
              But the actions of well-meaning conservatives in some third world country are not necessarily what I would expect in the behavior of the right-wing Christians in America.

              These people say they vote on "morals" while they ignore this theology-of-war emanating from the Oval Office. They confuse their role with God's. They practice political idolatry and the politics of fear.  In short - they lie.  And many on the left or in the center are simply afraid to say it.

              As Christians, we should all accept the commandment to a strong presumption against war.

              As Christians, we should all accept the commandment to respect all life - to be "pro-life" not just anti-abortion.  

              But instead we show very little compassion for the poor, we're indifferent to poverty and capital punishment and we fight unjust wars and ravage the earth, which God entrusted to us.

              I agree with what you say, but staying silent about and unjust government (conservative or liberal) is betrayal to Christ in my view - and therefore, inhibits my personal attention to Grace.

              I appreciate the dialogue.

              Peace.

              Truth - Equity - Peace - That's what I've learned from Jesus The Liberal.

              by ssolice on Tue Nov 30, 2004 at 09:28:11 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  oh, i agree. (none)
                but i'm not talking about third-world countries, i'm talking about first-world countries decades or centuries ago. third-world countries tend not to have state-supported churches, after all. other than that, i pretty much agree, though the religious sorts i hang with are pro-life in its original dorothy day-esque sense. all i'm saying is that saying 'jesus was a liberal' or 'conservative christian is an oxymoron' is a bit silly.

                Join the battle against cosmic evil!

                by gzt on Tue Nov 30, 2004 at 04:54:03 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

  •  Fantastic (none)
    Just fantastic.  Thanks so much.  I'm going to share this with people offline.
  •  Preachhhh it!!! (4.00)
    Amen my brotha!  

    I'm a member of a progressive Catholic parish in Chicago, and this is the type of sermon I'm accustomed to.

    Thanks for the daily dose of the Spirit; keep at it.

    When you're going through hell, keep going. -- Winston Churchill

    by valleycat on Mon Nov 29, 2004 at 02:20:29 PM PST

    •  Which (none)
      Parish do you belong to?  I'm looking for social justice at services.  A suburbanite.
      •  St. Gertrude Catholic Church (none)
        at 1420 N. Glenwood in Chicago's Edgewater neighborhood. (Corner of Glenwood and Granville) I was a fallen away Catholic, disgusted with the direction of the church and the rampant hypocrisy I saw both in the pews and at the pulpit.  
        I stumbled upon this amazing parish, and had what I can only call a "re-version" experience.
        At St. Gert's, they let women preach, accept gay families (of which their are many) and have a strong emphasis on social justice with so many ways to get involved, there are litterally too many to choose from.  
        I don't know what suburb you live in, but I think it's worth the drive if your within 45-1hr. drive. Come to our 10 o'clock mass sometime, and prepare to be "converted!"

        When you're going through hell, keep going. -- Winston Churchill

        by valleycat on Tue Nov 30, 2004 at 07:14:13 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Thank you for your reply (none)
          I appreciate your response and recommendation of St. Gertrude's.  I do live far away, but maybe someday I can come visit.  I'm glad you've found such a wonderful, caring community.  My church is nice, but the people are wrapped up in their own lives.  While they love to help others, they--well--they voted for Bush.  
  •  Great Material (4.00)
    We really should be more pointed about all of this.

    These self-proclaimed Christians are in many ways literally opposed to Jesus--"Christians Against Christ" --although we won't win them over by challenging them that directly.

    Sins of others--this from Jesus is more than philosophy, and it's no mere suggestion--it's a command: "Judge not."

    The same is true for reconciliation and sharing. They're not just advice.

    And we don't need to dance around with the indefinable concept of greed. Jesus is concretely anti-money, and he instructs us against accumulating it and against failing to share it in a number of teachings.

    But while this is fine for concluding that our path may be closer to Jesus' than our opponents', it doesn't tell us much about how to win them over. Confrontation never works, especially for a faith that is founded on the concept that believers are persecuted.

    For this we may need help from the religious left (or "non-right) developing some way to make the contrast clear without triggering a sense of personal attack in them.

    We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy....--ML King, "Beyond Vietnam"

    by Gooserock on Mon Nov 29, 2004 at 02:22:38 PM PST

  •  They Should Be Called Neo Christians (none)
    This new Christian movement has more in common with the Neo Conservatives than traditional Fundamentalist Christians.  Traditional Fundamentalists believe in ministering to the poor, they stay out of politics, believe that wealth is a tool of satan, they are staunchly anti war and they are excellent stewards of the environment.  

    Since this new group has very little in common with traditional religious beliefs, since they have re-interpreted the Bible to make wealth, war, political intimidation and environmental degradation palatable,  and as they are so closely identifiable with the neo conservatives they have earned the distinction of being called Neo Christians.

    •  Neo (4.00)
      Well, "neo" is a term used by some of them who are trying to get back to a more Christian christianity.  They're a little too wrapped up in post-modern trendiness, but they're at least trying.  cf. Brian McLaren's "Finding Faith", "A New Kind of Christian", etc.

      "We must become the change we want to see." -Gandhi    PublicChristian.com

      by larryrant on Mon Nov 29, 2004 at 04:09:55 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  I always wondered why (4.00)
        "Neo-Orthodox" fell out of favor.  Seems to me we could use another Reinhold Niebuhr, but a little less wordy.

        BTW, no wonder you got a "mixed response".  You fairly burned the sanctuary roof off on this one, Preacher!  And it is good to know that there are "faith-forward" people even in the evangelical churches...

        Thanks for a great sermon.  Hope to see more of them!

        The UCC: to believe is to care, to care is to do.

        by pastordan on Mon Nov 29, 2004 at 05:21:50 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  New kind of Christian (none)
        I grew up Baptist and went to a small Christian college - Brian's book and lots of discussions with other searching friends helped me find the Christianity you've written about above. We cannot say it enough. Thanks for doing your part.

        I miss Kerry's pink ties...

        by shelly vander on Mon Nov 29, 2004 at 06:56:19 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  Marcus Borg, (4.00)
      in his book the "Heart of Christianity," has an interesting take on this.  He contends that the casting of the meaning of "faith" as some sort of zealous factual literalism is a relatively recent development -- a reaction to modernity.  He contrasts the "God of requirements and rewards" imagined in modern pop-Christian culture (see "Prayer of Jabez," the "Left Behind" series, etc.) with the view of God of love and justice.  He maintains that the latter view, which the neos frequently assault as "liberal" Christianity, has deeper roots in Scripture and tradition.      
      •  Wow, I don't usually agree with Marcus Borg, (4.00)
        at least not with his historical Jesus approach (which I find to be grounded far more in speculation than in history), but he's right on the money regarding the focus of Christianity historically.

        My own area of specialization is early Eastern and Byzantine church history.  Just read the sermons of a bishop such as John Chrysostom and you'll see the focus on love and justice.  This focus, combined with a deep interest in traditional theology (God as Trinity, Jesus Christ as human and divine), were the main foci of most Christian discourse for half of the Church's history, later shifting in the West to issues of sacramental theology, etc.

        Interestingly, John Chrysostom (late fourth/early fifth-century deacon in Antioch and then archbishop of Constantinople), one of the most biblically literal of early Christian theologians -- most in the East eschewed literalism in favor of allegory -- would be appalled at the level of biblical literalism dominant in certain areas of American evangelical Protestantism today.  He made fun of those who thought that God had actually taken a rib from Adam to make Eve.  Likewise, Basil the Great (bishop of Caesarea in the late fourth century) would be astounded to learn that some Christians interpret the word "day" literally in the creation account of Genesis 1.

        Maybe what we Christian liberals need to do is start a movement for "traditional" Christianity that is rooted in the Church's history rather than these newfangled interpretations of Scripture that have no grounding either in reality or in the theological tradition of the Church.

        Oh, yeah, I'm Greek Orthodox.  We've been doing this for almost two thousand years now. <g>

        I do not suffer fools gladly

        by GreekGirl on Tue Nov 30, 2004 at 02:32:24 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  yeah (none)
          I like to call it "the pre modern movement".

          I know that this sounds kinda "anti science" but not really...it's about returning to faith and not being the literalist that we have today.

          Ironically, the funamentalist movement tries to argue against modernity by using modern tools.  The return I espouse is about returning to a greater use of allegory in search of greater "truths" than can be found in a strict, rigid literalist interpretation.

          It's quite a simple arguement and theology in reality.

          Jesus used parables.  Parables weren't literally true, but were figuratively true to point out a great truth.

          Just remember...people are always more important than ideas.

          by circuithead on Tue Nov 30, 2004 at 06:54:11 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Allegory was the earliest Christian method (none)
            of biblical interpretation, arising in the Hellenistic community in Alexandria.  The first to use it to great effect, the brilliant theologian Origen in the early third century, picked it up from the first-century Jewish philosopher Philo, who adapted Platonic philosophy to allegorize the Torah/Penteteuch (the first five books of the Hebrew Scriptures, i.e., the "books of Moses").

            Origen was more cautious in his use of Platonic philosophy than Philo, and, a century and a half later, the Cappadocian Fathers were even more cautious than Origen had been.  (Origen and some of his ideas were condemned in the mid-sixth century, but I have a special affection for him and don't think he should have been held to later standards of orthodoxy.)

            I always find it ironic -- and depressing -- that all these modern-day Christian fundamentalists who think Scripture is "self-interpreting" conveniently ignore the fact that the earliest Christians interpreted Scripture entirely differently than these self-righteous boobs do today.  And, in their ignorance and audacity, it doesn't seem to bother them at all to discount people like Irenaeus of Lyons or Origen, who were only two or three generations removed from Christ and his apostles themselves.  But, of course, these American fundamentalist Protestants living two thousand years later know better. <g>

            I do not suffer fools gladly

            by GreekGirl on Tue Nov 30, 2004 at 10:31:50 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

    •  Un-Christians (none)
      They are to Christianity what 7-Up is to Coke-a-Cola...

      (apologies to anyone who actually likes 7-Up)

  •  the rise of the "religious left" (none)
    It's a good thing.

    "Get busy livin' or get busy dyin'" Shawshank Redemption

    by tepster on Mon Nov 29, 2004 at 02:35:33 PM PST

  •  I'd go every Sunday to hear you speak (none)
    and I'm a lapsed Catholic! It makes me feel a lot better to know that members of these 'churches' really do understand what's going on. Thank you larryrant for the terrific diary.
  •  Amen. (none)

    For Real News try: http://www.democracynow.org/

    by Kenyan on Mon Nov 29, 2004 at 04:14:49 PM PST

  •  Single girlie man who cries like a lib drama queen (4.00)
    What Karl Rove and RED staters would say of Jesus today...

    I just can't help but think about how WRONG those fundies are about religion, every time I see the Pieta... And think about the laws they would pass to forbid public funds to be spent in  "indecent" works of art and "indecent" gay/bi artists like Da Vinci, Michelangelo and others...

    A black and white boring  New "W" world order. Sigh...


    The world has not seen that many 'moral' American voters before [Nov 2nd 2004]'" - Yuri Yusogotcha, head of the Ukrainian election delegation

    by lawnorder on Mon Nov 29, 2004 at 04:15:29 PM PST

    •  Cheney'd call him Boulder Boy! n/t (none)

      If the only tool you have is a hammer every problem looks like a nail.

      by k9disc on Mon Nov 29, 2004 at 06:10:23 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  What would Rove do? (4.00)
      Rove always attacks the strength, not the weakness, of the opponent.

      What is the strength of our opponent? Their twisted Christianity, perverted into a political movement.

      We must focus on attacking it, shaming it, calling it what it really is and not what the greedy-for-power-and-money frauds who run its "ministries" try to pass it off as: in any legitimate way the lineage of Jesus' ministry.

      We should mock and shame these people, who have surrendered the free will God gave them to make of themselves slaves to evil - evil which is as real as the claims that Kerry's courage was cowardace were not. Only this way will Rove be unseated, rather than four years from now at the left hand of Jeb.

      Everything that they have used to make Democrats shy from admitting the name "liberal," should we lay on those who might think there's any pride in being "fundamentalist." We must undermine them both with science and with scholarship in the very scriptures they quite obviously have never gained the intellectual or emotional skill to read the meaning of.

      We must pray that they awaken. And if they don't, we must not look back as they fall behind us, having rendered themselves unfit for either science or citizenry, unready to go on to the next stage of civilization which will leave them behind, as civilization always does, as the savages, the heathen who had not vision enough to see the better roads ahead. Just as the war gods of the Greeks and Romans were left behind, so will the Jehovah these fools make false idol of.

      And the living God will rejoyce.

      Amen.

      •  Did you read Tim from VA's diary ? (none)
        Daily Kos :: Branding the GOP As The Party Of Confederate Reactionairies

        Over the past 25 years, the GOP has had tremendous success branding the Democratic party as the party of the godless Northeastern liberal elite. Nevermind that this image has no basis in reality -- of the 57 million people who voted for John Kerry included more than a few middle class people, the type who go to their white-steepled churches on Sundays, teach their children "moral values" like peace, generousity, tolerance and honesty, and generally work hard and play by the rules. Can we turn the tables? I think we can, by branding the GOP as the party of reckless, Confederate firebrands.

        The amunition is there.  The GOP base right now consists of many reckless Confederate firebrands who, if they could, would take America back to a time of segregation (see Trapper John's current post about the Alabama Segregation vote), revive and teach creationism, criminalize gays and lesbians, shut down the federal government, start reckless wars, abolish public education, pave the Grand Canyon, and drill for oil on the Gettysburg Battlefield....

        The world has not seen that many 'moral' American voters before [Nov 2nd 2004]'" - Yuri Yusogotcha, head of the Ukrainian election delegation

        by lawnorder on Mon Nov 29, 2004 at 07:55:30 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  a new meaning for "Left Behind" (none)
        that Tim LaHaye blasphemy is not only badly written, but just dead out wrong.

        Reclaiming the "L" word for America!

        by billlaurelMD on Mon Nov 29, 2004 at 07:56:09 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  /We should mock and shame these people. . ./ (none)
        Prairie Logic's comments (upthread) gave me an idea for a great bumper sticker (aka "drive-by preaching"):

        Conservative Christian
        is an oxymoron

        •  Hey Thanks... (none)
          ... I've been mulling over what "signature line" I should add... you answered my question.

          "Conservative Christian" is an Oxymoron

          by Prairie Logic on Tue Nov 30, 2004 at 04:32:00 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Partly True (none)
            From my vantage point, Conservative Christianity seems to be split into a few groups, only some of which reject Jesus's teachings. Just as one example, many Methodists and Reformed are quite conservative, but they don't practice the politics of hate and condescension that most of us here are so unhappy with.

            My question for a conservative Christian would be "Would your congregation call Jesus to be your pastor?" Would they put up with His railing against selfishness and self-righteousness? Would they accept His condemnation of their behaviors? Would they tolerate His acceptance of those who are outcasts of society, such as Blacks, immigrants, gays, and the poor. Would they be willing to pay more taxes to help all of their neighbors, not just donate more to their church to make their church look good in the community.

            "Conservative" in a religious context means too many things to make your sig fair.

            A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, adored by little statesmen and philosophers and divines. - Emerson

            by freelunch on Tue Nov 30, 2004 at 06:51:16 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

  •  Absolutely brilliant (4.00)
    I hope some parishioners were moved by it.

    People become so wrapped up in daily struggles to "keep up" with the perceived affluence around them they are easily led into believing that a few hours a week in a house of worship will somehow redeem them.  It's like some churches are no better than social or country clubs.  I've heard the same about non-Christian places of worship, too.  Too much showboating, not enough genuine compassion and community.  

    If that's all some people are using churches for, fine by me. I don't have to be there with them, but for God's sake, I hate it that these so-called Christians are banding their powers of bigotry together to impose their so-called morals on the rest of us.  Christ would be appalled at the outrages perpetrated in his name.

    Will you be a Weaver of the fabric of our Democracy, or will you be a Moth?

    by jandey on Mon Nov 29, 2004 at 04:32:36 PM PST

  •  Money-changers in the Temple (none)
    First thing Jesus is going to do upon his return is shove a golden fire of retribution of the ass of religious bigots and hypocrites. Jerry Falwell, watch your backside.

    We the undersigned urge you to support Federal funding for research using human pluripotent stem cells. -80 Nobel Laureates to Pres. Bush

    by easong on Mon Nov 29, 2004 at 04:33:35 PM PST

  •  Lurking on this blog... (4.00)
    a long time. Finally joined and started to contribute this year. I have read more diaries than I can count. Many of them were quite moving. None moved me more than this one.
  •  Just what's needed (none)
    I hope you can write more of these. There are so many people who need to hear this.
  •  Tootin' m'own horn (4.00)
    You might wanna check out this story over at Kuro5hin I wrote (also made a diary out of) entitled Status Report: Wormwood to Screwtape. I reckon It'll be to your likin.

    "Truth is my god, and Justice his bride."

    by JamesC on Mon Nov 29, 2004 at 04:40:27 PM PST

  •  Wonderful sermon (4.00)
    That is a beautiful, meaningful sermon. I'd love to hear what the reaction was of the church members because I'm thinking of printing it out and giving it to the pastor of my former church. He's a good man and I suspect he feels similiarly as you do. But the congregation is extremely conservative and in the Southern Baptist denomination, preachers who anger their congregation too often may find themselves out of work.

    But that is one congregation that needs to hear this. And I'm tempted to nail this sermon to the church door for them to read. We had already talked about switching churches before the election because we we didn't feel part of the church community. But one of the kickers for me was when the K/E supporters did a sign "wave" at a busy intersection. A lot of people passed through. One of them was a man in his 50s. When he had brain surgery to remove a tumor, my wife and I were part of the continuous prayer chain for him. When his guard unit was activated, we  joined his family in prayer. He didn't want to go and his family didn't want him to go. But he went and he went with our prayers. He returned safe and we were glad. Then standing at the intersection and waving to the drivers, I saw him looking at the large groups of us on the different corners. He was angrily muttering, "No, no, no" and shaking his head. I  sensed he was getting ready to really spout off at the Kerry people and I realized he didn't recognize me. "Hi Randy," I said. "Oh, hi Carnacki," he replied and then drove away. But his anger at people supporting the candidate that would support the troops, that would work for a better health care plan for Americans, etc. When he had to go to Iraq, it was "terrible" to his family and the congregation. But with him back, well that war was just the right thing and if you wanted to support the troops, you had to support Bush or you were a traitor to your country in their eyes.

    We currently are attending an Episcopal Church. We found it on our second "church shopping" visit. Lots of Kerry bumperstickers on cars and minivans. I don't want a church that is partisan Democrat any more than I want a church that is partisan Republican. But to me, Democrats do tend to value people more than money and that is Christ's message.

    Well, Watson, we seem to have fallen upon evil days. -- Sherlock Holmes.

    by Carnacki on Mon Nov 29, 2004 at 04:44:12 PM PST

  •  thankyou (none)
    beautiful concluding prayer
  •  thank you (4.00)
    I like your sermon a lot, though I'm not Christian. What I find most uplifting is the fact that you delivered it in a church in Nebraska.

    The whole country, the whole world needs your voice. Spiritual realities and belief have been so injured/distorted by the extreme cruelty,  and delusion of the so-called 'religious' right.  And it hurts, actually hurts, to see people allowing themselves to be manipulated and distracted so callously by the likes of Karl Rove and George W Bush.

    So keep on preaching, reverend.  Raise your voice for all of us worthy, loving, implicated citizens who do not attend your church but have come to fear your congregation.

  •  Yay Larry!! (4.00)
    What amazed me about your sermon is that you could not tell what Christian tradition you came out of. It spoke to everyone and it spoke the true good news of the New Testament.

    May God bless you in your work. Thanks!
  •  THANK YOU (4.00)
    I see others have thanked you as well...but I feel compelled to let you know how much your piece moved me.  I've tears in my eyes as I'm posting this to you.

    I consider myself a Diest.  I greatly admire Christ and his teachings.  But like Ghandi said..."so many of your Christians are so unlike your Christ".  

    Thank you for proving that some Christians are indeed like your Christ.

  •  of course this is going to appeal to liberals... (none)
    but allow me to play devil's advocate.  The right wingers don't think they are ignoring the poor, here or in foreign countries, they give money, and do charity close to home, they support missionaries that go overseas to save the souls of the heathens. Looking to guilt these folks using quotes from scripture isn't going to work if these folks already are doing what they think is needed to be a good global, and local citizen.  

    Greed, and gays...

      Attacking greed using religion is fine, but the relgious folks will point to all the money the greedy rich folks give to their churches, and to other orgs to help the needy.  

    Getting right wing christians to embrace gay people by pointing out greed was a worse sin is a bit, I don't know, weird.  

    Foreign policy...

    What if these good christian folks know just what their government is doing but they believe what the government is doing is fine?  In fact, I'd go as far as saying they believe that Jesus is on their side, and that they are on the side of right, and if the people getting killed were really innocent they'll be looked after by God.

    All and all a fine Unitarian liberal Christian sermon, but I doubt you are going to reach the right wing christians with this.

    absolute freedom for one individual undoubtedly limit's the freedom of another.

    by jbou on Mon Nov 29, 2004 at 05:22:15 PM PST

    •  Sure but... (none)
      They will need to justify their actions and maybe the less idealogical will realise the mistakes they have made. This sermon will not magically change what is wrong in religion today, but a constant barrage of sermons like these will change a lot. And besides, even if that sermon got one person to start THINKING then its worth it.

      War. War never changes.

      by Tulwath on Mon Nov 29, 2004 at 05:39:18 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  And God Hardened their Hearts... (4.00)
      Sorry... couldn't resist.

      What if these good christian folks know just what their government is doing but they believe what the government is doing is fine?

      Joshua 11:20

      For it was the LORD himself who hardened their hearts to wage war against Israel, so that he might destroy them totally, exterminating them without mercy, as the LORD had commanded Moses.

      •  Shakespere said it better (none)
        "The devil can cite scripture for his purpose."
        -- fromThe Merchant of Venice

        When you're going through hell, keep going. -- Winston Churchill

        by valleycat on Mon Nov 29, 2004 at 07:10:52 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Shakespeare was no Christian (4.00)
          I once sat down on a long afternoon with a concordance to the Complete Works, and read many of the passages where Shakespeare has characters speak of Christians. They are always roundly mocked and ridiculed.

          Then compare Shakespeare's pagan passages. The man was no more a Christian than were most of our Founding Fathers - Deist at most, as for leaning in that direction, and better acquainted with Greek and other Gods than with any saints. His poetic successor Milton was of course quite Christian - but regretted it greatly in Paradise Lost - where the paradise was that of the old Gods before they were cast down for reasons barely just.

          And the Third Earl of Shaftesbury, Anthony Ashley Cooper, whose writings on ethics and aesthetics were foundational to the intellectual climate from which our nation was founded, was somewhat rightly accused of being an athiest. He argued well and with convincing detail that to worship a flawed, angry, warped image of God was worse than not to worship any God at all. It was from the reticence to embrace a flawed image of the Highest that Deism developed.

          We must bring forward the brilliance of our past to meet the future, where we will desparately need it. Only some small part of that brilliance was ever Christian, and only the smaller part of that ever currency among the sort of Christians Shakespeare and his popular audience were quite comfortable mocking.

          When those worshiping the End Time control the political machinery of the most-armed nation in history, playing along with their madness, humoring it rather than calling it clearly what it is, makes us madder than them - and more guilty since we're the ones who can see clearly just how bad and dangerous this madness is. They are our Caliban and our Taliban, and must with all haste either be raised up into civilization, or cast out totally.

        •  Speaking of... (none)
          ... which brings us back to a post higher up that references a parody... of C S Lewis' "The Screwtape Letters," which told the tale of the devil (Screwtape) teaching his nephew (Wormwood) how to harvest souls.  
    •  Those who have ears (none)
      The right wing so-called Christians won't listen, but the moderates will.

      shrug The ultra-conservatives who were most threatened by His message didn't listen to Jesus, either.

  •  God Bless You (none)
    I can only wish that I had been there to here it.

    I've always believed that without sinners, Christ would have been out of a job. To paraphrase Obama, there are red sinners and blue sinners.

    Give a man a fish, he dines today, teach him how to fish, he dines tomorrow, teach him how to sell fish and he eats steak! Anon.

    by Serendipity on Mon Nov 29, 2004 at 05:27:30 PM PST

  •  Larry, (4.00)
    Thanks so much for this. I think you could post on this subject for many many diaries and not ever run out of things to say.
    This is what the church I grew up in was like in the mid-to-late 60s.  Very much like your sermons.
    Once a friend told me she had found a woman on the ski slope, throwing up, drunk and freezing.  (We were in junior high school.) She helped the woman up, wiped her face, warmed her up a little and helped her down the slope. My friend's parents, members of our church, were furious. "Don't you ever have anything to do with a woman like that!"  
    I told her that she was doing just what Jesus had told us to do: What you do to the least of these, you do also to me.
    I hear you, I appreciate your message. Preach it!
  •  What, no "Millstone"? ;) (none)
    I'm running my daughter to a dance class, and clicked in here for a sec -- will read later.

    Searched for "millstone" here -- not found...

    Matt. 18.6:

    But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and [that] he were drowned in the depth of the sea.

    Mark 9.42

    And whosoever shall offend one of [these] little ones that believe in me, it is better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and he were cast into the sea.

    Luke 17.2

    It were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and he cast into the sea, than that he should offend one of these little ones.

    "and should anyone harm a little child, it would be better if that person had never been born

    and suffer the little children to come unto Me.  For whosoever harms a child it would be better if that person were to place a millstone
    around his neck and cast himself into the sea."

    covers the topic pretty well for me...lotta children gettin' harmed...oh, that's right, it's a war, never mind, it's OK...yes, the "War Exception Clause"... it's right here... somewhere...

    "And I'll stand on your grave, till I'm sure that you're dead... Even Jesus would never forgive what you do."  [exception noted] Bob Dylan, "Masters of War"

    What Would Gandhi Do?

    by HenryDavid on Mon Nov 29, 2004 at 05:52:50 PM PST

  •  Wonderful! (4.00)
    One of the best diaries I've read. I especially like the point about "accepting and repeating falsehood" being a major sin. That one thought is like a drop of acid that might start dissolving even a very hard heart, given a little grace. Thanks for posting this.

    By the way, someone above characterized this as distinctively Protestant in flavor. I'm Catholic, and I studied lots of religion and theology, and I must admit I don't see that. Please amplify. (Now, I'm not as much of a Bible scholar as I'd like to be...maybe there are obvious translation differences sailing over my head.)

  •  Jesus did not say greed was worse (none)
    An above poster commented: "Getting right wing christians to embrace gay people by pointing out greed was a worse sin is a bit, I don't know, weird. "

    Jesus did not say greed was a worse sin. Jesus never said homosexuality was a sin at all. Christ had a long list of sins and who was going to Hell and why. Homosexuals were not on that list.

    •  Christ did say that greed was a sin.. (4.00)
      Many, many, many times...

      "Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust consume and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust consumes and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also."

          "The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is sound, your whole body will be full of light; but If your eye is not sound, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light in you is darkness, how great is the darkness!

          "No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other.
      You cannot serve both God and mammon."

      .....

       "As for the rich in this world, charge them not to be haughty, nor to set their hopes on uncertain riches but on God who richly furnishes us with everything to enjoy."

      .....

      "They are to do good, to be rich in good deeds, be liberal and generous, thus laying up for themselves a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of the life which is life indeed."

      .....

          "'for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.'"

    •  Judge not (none)
      The anti-gay types always remind me of the story of the woman caught in adultery who was going to be stoned. (John 8:1-11) "Let anyone among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her."

      He didn't have much patience with people who wanted to police others before themselves.

  •  That's brilliant (none)
    I would love to send to a couple of evangelicals I know, but I know they'll just turn their noses up at it because you're a Democrat.  Their god is a Republican, see?

    I will share the link to your website to everyone.  This is such a heartfelt sermon, that one would have to be blind not to see the good in it.  

    Thank you for sharing this with us.

    "...Bush could kiss Osama bin Laden on national television and Karl Rove could spin it into a punch in the face." - Jim Hoover of Huntington Beach

    by fabooj on Mon Nov 29, 2004 at 06:15:09 PM PST

    •  After the Election... (4.00)
      ...I received the usual (at first I thought harmless and not that over the top) gloating email from a longtime friend (a Republican) who lives in another state. They are church goers, as are we.  

      However, pasted into the email at the bottom was this cartoon... which offended me terribly.  

      I never acknowledged it... thinking less was more.  I wasn't even sure how to respond, since a friend should have more sense than to send something like this.

      This thought kept coming to mind... "so this is what they really think of me/us?"

      I just might send this sermon as a belated response.

      •  Bush is forgiven? (none)
        Maybe by Jesus, but then so are the worst of us (and Bush sits near the top of that list). However, if you believe in the rule of Karma, forgiven or not, he will reap what he's sown. And what he's sown is unspeakable. George W. has one hell of a boomerang coming his way.

        Hostage smiles on presidents, freedom scribbled in the subway. It's like night and day. - Joni Mitchell

        by jazzlover on Tue Nov 30, 2004 at 08:41:45 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  Those changes came later, long after jesus.. (none)
      Much of what people think is Christianity was added much later.. in a series of political decisions by various sects, like the Roman church.

      So the oft-repeated-spin that poor people are bad and unlucky because of God's will, punishing them for some inner failing, and that rich people are rich because they are better than others, etc. was a political addition, during the long Dark Ages, not part of the Bible, or having anything to do with Jesus...

      •  Whoa (none)
        Don't heap THAT on the Catholic church.  It is the Calvinists and their ilk that believe that rich = good, poor = bad.  There are many things to criticize the Catholic church about, but that is not one of them.  That idea was a perverted outgrowth  of the reformation, not a product of the middle ages.

        Red States, Can we have our tax $ back now?

        by jtnephew on Tue Nov 30, 2004 at 08:23:21 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  You're both right (none)
          The Roman church did it's best to pervert teachings mainly to keep their flock ignorant and scared.  The Calvinist did "ordain" their richer members as "touched by God".  

          In reading Quicksilver by Neal Stephenson and there is a paragraph in the book that is so true, I had to reread it over and over:

          People who are especially bad, and know that they are...may be drawn to religion because they harbor a desperate hope that it has some power to make them virtuous--to name their demons and to cast them out.  But if they are as clever as he is, they can find ways to pervert their own faith and make it serve whatever bad intentions they had to begin with.  Doctor, I have come to the conclusion that the true benefit of religion is not to make people virtuous, which is impossoible, but to put a sort of bridle on the worst excesses of their viciousness.

          I feel that everyday we see cases of evil people using the shroud of religion to cloak themselves in good to defend their actions.  Fortunately, we all see good people choosing to do good, despite opportunities to do bad.  

          Our goal shouldn't be to judge others on how they practice their religion, but to be wary of those that judge us by how they practice their religion.    Actions do speak louder than words.  A person can tell me how pious they are all they want, but if s/he can't, or won't back it up with actions, there is no reason for me to believe it.  That it what I take away from the sermon above.

          "...Bush could kiss Osama bin Laden on national television and Karl Rove could spin it into a punch in the face." - Jim Hoover of Huntington Beach

          by fabooj on Tue Nov 30, 2004 at 10:59:35 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

  •  Thank You (none)
    Maybe i'll go to seminary. As a Methodist. it's my backup plan.
  •  Beautifully said. (none)
    I salute you, and hope many hearts were reached by your words.

    First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win. Mohandas Gandhi

    by boadicea on Mon Nov 29, 2004 at 06:23:37 PM PST

  •  Thank you (none)
    Thank you so much for your sermon. We need more like it.
  •  So True (none)
    Religion should be something perosnal, not a wedge point for political judgement and power. It shouldn't be force on you by laws.

    one liberal fighting against the Christian jihadists

    by missliberties on Mon Nov 29, 2004 at 06:34:39 PM PST

  •  Amen (none)
    I am a Catholic.  Although I have always taken some issue with the Church on some things.  I always respected how many of the people in the Church (many good friends) took service to the poor and war/peace issues seriously.  I am dismayed by where it has gone lately and do not know what to do about it.

    If stupidity got us into this mess then why can't it get us out? - Will Rogers

    by Semental on Mon Nov 29, 2004 at 06:48:48 PM PST

  •  Thank you for posting this. It was very good. (none)
    What could be more important...

    There is a lot of fear and lack of understanding on the extreme right, and it's a very small number of people who are the ones responsible for steering the others into this vicious circle of greed.

    The only way out is to break it. Those who can see, need to make this choice between real moral values and the right's fake ones of their own free will.

    I think that many of them will figure it out. Its my very strong feeling that inclusion and love is the only thing that can decisively conquer hate.

    That was Christ's real message...

    •  What's that hymn line? "Truth forever (none)
      on the scaffold, wrong forever on the throne"  (James Russell Lowell)

      http://www.earthstation1.com/pgs/civil_rights/dos-MLK650325-MontgomeryCourthouse.wav.html

      used by MLK in Montgomery:  ("How long?  Not long!")

      "We are on the move now and no wave of racism can stop us. The burning of our churches will not deter us. The bombing of our homes will not divert us. The release of their known murderers will not discourage us. We are on the move now, like an idea whose time has come. Not even the marching of mighty armies can halt us. We are moving to the land of freedom.

      "I know you are asking today, 'How long will it take?' Someone is asking today, 'How long will prejudice blind the eyes of men?" I come to say to you this afternoon, however difficult the moment, however frustrating the hour, it will not be long, because truth crushed to earth will rise again!"

      "How long? Not long! Because no lie can live forever! How long? Not long! Because you shall reap what you sow! How long? Not long! 'Truth forever on the scaffold, wrong forever on the throne, yet that scaffold sways the future, and behind the dim unknown, standeth God within the shadow, keeping watch above His own.'

      "How long? Not long! Because the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice. How long? Not long! For mine eyes have seen the coming of the glory of the Lord. He is trampling out the vintage where the grapes of wrath are stored. He has loosed the fateful lightning of His terrible swift sword. His truth is marching on!

      "He has sounded forth the trumpet that shall never call retreat. He is sifting out the hearts of men before His judgment seat. O, be swift my soul to answer Him, be jubilant my feet! Our God is marching on! Glory! Hallelujah! Glory! Hallelujah! His Truth is marching on!"

      That's what it took in 1965.  Have we got it in us today?

      What Would Gandhi Do?

      by HenryDavid on Mon Nov 29, 2004 at 10:05:13 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  I rejected Christianity (4.00)
    when I was just 8 or so, because I saw them (Christians) as being hypocritical. I worked as a dancer in the Crystal Cathedral's procuction of the Glory of Christmas and Easter for 5 years as a young adult. During the shows I listened to parts of the bible 3 times a night multiple times per week, and grew to respect Christ's words. The only problem is that the actions of the church and the words of Christ were polar opposites, namely the greed part. Since then I have studied more of the bible and also delved into some eastern religions, but the hypocrisy of almost all of the Christians I've ever met have kept me out of churches my entire life. Your sermon has made me feel glad that there are Christians out there (like you)who are not like all those that I've met before. I hope more like you come forward soon, and loudly because the Christian right really does give Christianity a bad face. I may not be a Christian in the traditional sense of the word, but I certainly embrace the words of Christ and try to live by them as best as I can. I've felt badly that hate and greed were what many Christians were embracing. It has made me feel more than ever that our country was moving in the wrong direction, but after reading your sermon I feel hopeful that if Christians like you will start speaking up, the country can move forward again.

    it's the corporations, stupid!

    by Pier1 on Mon Nov 29, 2004 at 07:01:14 PM PST

    •  You're a Christian (none)
      in the ways that matter. I say that speaking as a Vatican II Catholic, not a Mel Gibson heretic.

      But I don't mean to force the label on you. Labels don't matter. I could care less whether you feel like wearing the label at any particular time. There's only one thing that counts: did you love?

    •  A convention I attended (none)
      paid my way to a Crystal Cathedral Easter performance back in '96. I'm no Schuller fan, but I'll never forget those flying angels.
  •  Christian left (4.00)
    I predicted before this election the Christian left would surprise people and play a big role. So I was one election cycle off...

    Well, Watson, we seem to have fallen upon evil days. -- Sherlock Holmes.

    by Carnacki on Mon Nov 29, 2004 at 07:14:56 PM PST

    •  Hey, great sig! (none)
      I've got to GET me one of those!
      •  Sherlock Holmes (none)
        Are you a Sherlock Holmes fan?

        Well, Watson, we seem to have fallen upon evil days. -- Sherlock Holmes.

        by Carnacki on Mon Nov 29, 2004 at 11:03:04 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  But of course...one of my first three books, (none)
          back when I was only three or four, was a big book of Sherlock Holmes stories (not a kid's book, the real thing--my grandfather was a cruel taskmaster of English). I read that over and over as a child. Sadly, the volume has been lost. But it's hard to forget the clever Doyle.
          •  Sig (none)
            The other day there was a diary asking for the stories behind the threads. Here was my response.

            Sherlock Holmes
            Mine is from the Arthur Conan Doyle story, "The Adventure of the Dying Detective."

            I think we are living in evil days now.

            But I hope my sig is a reminder that, like Holmes and Watson, we can get through them and improve our situation by loyalty to each other, faithful companionship, intelligence, and, as Holmes' demonstrates in this adventure, a bit of cunning and guile.

            That's a lot for 10 words to carry. But that was my thinking behind choosing it.

            Well, Watson, we seem to have fallen upon evil days. -- Sherlock Holmes.

            by Carnacki on Tue Nov 30, 2004 at 06:17:04 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

  •  What people want (4.00)
    There was a quote my pastor used just last Sunday--
    (sorry Pastor Charles, I can't remember the citation exactly! But I was paying attention!  Promise!)

      that basically said if people are having trouble coming to church, particularly if the reasons they give have to do with the church's perceived and actual hypocrisy, what we need to do is NOT show them Christians, but show them Christ.

    Thank you for sharing this-- and for indeed, showing us a glimpse of Christ.

    "How fortunate for leaders that men do not think"-- Adolf Hitler

    by mrsdbrown1 on Mon Nov 29, 2004 at 07:26:46 PM PST

  •  On criticizing the churches (none)
    Matt. 23:29-31

    Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! because ye build the tombs of the prophets, and garnish the sepulchres of the righteous

    And say, If we had been in the days of our fathers, we would not have been partakers with them in the blood of the prophets

    Wherefore ye be witnesses unto yourselves, that ye are the children of them which killed the prophets

    In other words, oh yes, we've "learned the lessons of Vietnam; this time it's different!"

    And, "we now have a holiday named for Martin Luther King so we're not racist anymore!"

    But 10-1 odds, the next "King" is offed before you even know about him...

    What Would Gandhi Do?

    by HenryDavid on Mon Nov 29, 2004 at 08:11:42 PM PST

  •  Amen! (none)
    Thank you for providing links also to others in the beloved community. As Christian Democrats not only must we take our country back but also elevate the discussion of morals, values, and faith about short glib statements that appeals to the lesser side of our souls. Your analogy of the Pharisees is spot on.  By the way, new bumper sticker
    JESUS IS NOT A PHILOSOPHER
  •  Re-framing Religion in America (none)
    It became pretty clear to me and others during the Cold War period that Anti-Communism was America's true state religion.  It had all the passion and devotion of a national cult.

    Devotion to the Fatherland was the real driver, with the masquerade of traditional religion to, ah, blur the picture of following too closely in the recent footsteps of another rabid nationalism-gone-kaput.

    America had all the subtle spirituality of Rome [nada] with its State Gods, and none of the teaching that emanates from Jesus' deep, deep parables.  In fact, Jesus still reached out across centuries, and put the lie to most of America's hypocrisies and practices.  "Keep that guy up front, but keep him on a short, short leash!"

    (Hmmmmm..."Managing Jesus" -- now there's an essay and a half!)

    America was/is an Empire, enjoying its "Roman" moment in the sun, needing the fig-leaf of a character like J.C., to keep the rubes working in the sword factories.

    Communism down; beeeeg problemo!  Hustle up a replacement enemy.  PNAC working on it; J.C. still available for celebrity endorsements, long as he doesn't sing any of his original tunes...

    and -- best news of all!  No preachers caught with hookers in nearly 20 years!  Dozens have attended the Jimmy Swaggart School of Effective Cult Management, and benefited all of us thereby!

    Because, really, when you get down to it, it's all about SEX!  Everyday rubes can't fathom theology, but they do know when they're getting laid or not, or who else might be having more fun than they are.  That's your bread and butter!

    And what fun is it having a Church, if you can't control other people's lives? ;)

    What Would Gandhi Do?

    by HenryDavid on Mon Nov 29, 2004 at 08:35:21 PM PST

  •  Won't you look down upon me, Jesus? (none)
    You got to help me make a stand.

    You just got to see me through another day.

    My body's aching, and my time is at hand.

    I won't make it any other way.

    -- James Taylor, "Fire and Rain"

    "Jesus wept."  John 11:35

    not a dry eye in the house, as the Spirit passes over...

    What Would Gandhi Do?

    by HenryDavid on Mon Nov 29, 2004 at 09:30:37 PM PST

  •  thank you so much for this. (none)
    I work for a non-denominational minister as the editor of a magazine he publishes. Good guy, basically, but hopelessly screwed up: loves bush, supports the war, thinks the apocolypse is a-comin' next year ("all of the signs are there!!!"). (if you've read any of my other posts on here, you can see where he and I are inclined to have "problems.") He is, in short, everything that is wrong with "christianity" in america: fearful, sheeplike, driven by a theology of convenience that happens to coalesce nicely with the actions of his leaders. blind. and as a result, extremely dangerous.

    your sermon is the perfect counterweight to the poison that he spits out unknowingly every week. I'm sending it to him tonight, and I'm going to ask him about it tomorrow.

    by the way, did you record your sermon? it should be available as audio webcast...THAT would be a good link to send 'round to "christians" - and to get linked from the various catch-all religious/christian sites who always want content (i.e., beliefnet.). You could lure in some unsuspecting reactionaries that way.

  •  Mark is my favorite gospel and the only one (none)
    that makes sense of what Jesus teaches.  The others were all written much later and are really marketing collateral for the Roman church - faking up all the stuff about virgins, Bethlehem, stars, kings, slaughters, Egypt, etc., to fulfill Old Testament prophecy so that they could convert Jesus from a teacher to a messiah (as decided by vote of committee!) and create a powerful church structure to control religion.

    Mark focuses on Jesus during the brief span of his teaching from his baptism to his death (few paragraphs on resurrection were added 4 centuries later).  Mark doesn't care about Jesus' youth (although Mark does recount Jesus rejecting his mother and brothers when they come to see him and being dissed by his sisters when he goes home to preach).  The lessons Jesus taught as described in Mark are the most thought-provoking and compelling lessons in the Bible.  

    For more Mark-like teachings of Jesus, I recommend the Gospel of Thomas (supressed by the early church as not messianic enough).  Thomas records only what Jesus taught, and is thought to be quite contemporaneous with Jesus's life.

    The willow knows what the storm does not: that the power to endure harm outlives the power to inflict it.

    by LondonYank on Tue Nov 30, 2004 at 12:00:07 AM PST

    •  Very perceptive (none)
      Some of Mark is so incongruous that you have to think it is true.  The scene where his mother, brothers and sisters try to restrain him for being demented sounds like the reporting of facts about Jesus, however unpleasant.  And what goes on in the back of the Garden of Gesthemane is too embarrassing for Christians to even contemplate, so you never hear it discussed.  Instead you get the sanctified version in the later Gospels, the version that Mel Gibson chose to put in his movie.

      I also appreciate your noting the peculiarity that the earliest known copy of Mark, which dates somewhere in the 2nd century and is now housed in the Vatican, ends at the point where the two Mary's approach the tomb.  No mention of Jesus not being there or of a resurrection.  All of this was added by a later scribe, who threw in that line about Christians being able to handle poisonous snakes.  This unfortunate addition has cost quite a few Christians in the southern U.S. their lives since they developed a cult of snake handlers to prove their faith as Christians.

      Christians have been fortunate to pick and choose what they want from the Bible.  They can celebrate Matthew and Luke's account of the first Christmas and ignore the fact that Mark and John make no mention of any of these fantasies and insist that Jesus came from Nazareth.

      As much as I trust Mark much more than any of the other Gospels, I have to recognize that Matthew's account of the Sermon on the Mount is probably the most important passage in any of the Gospels and the most radical religious philosophy.  

  •  Thank you, thank you, thank you (none)
    And, again, thank you!

    As a Christian theologian who specializes in early church history and theology, I get incredibly frustrated with the way that certain segments of American Protestantism have perverted the Gospel message for right-wing political purposes.

    Your lifting up Christ's condemnations of the hypocritical religious leaders of his own day is as relevant today as ever.

    The true Christian moral majority needs to reclaim the word "Christian" for the public morality preached by the Hebrew prophets, including Jesus Christ himself.

    I do not suffer fools gladly

    by GreekGirl on Tue Nov 30, 2004 at 02:39:11 AM PST

    •  recommend a book to me (none)
      I'm an...I don't know...amateur theologian. Raised Catholic, married Episcopalian, consider self to be a "freelance monotheist" of the Karen Armstrong type.
      •  What are you interested in reading about? (none)
        I'm an Orthodox theologian and specialize in Eastern Christian church history and theology (early and Byzantine church), so most of my knowledge of bibliography is from this perspective.

        If you'd like to learn more about historical, traditional Christian doctrine, particularly in its Eastern form, a good book, published by St. Vladimir's Seminary Press, is The Orthodox Way by Bishop Kallistos Ware.  He is an Anglican convert to Orthodoxy who is a recently retired professor ("lecturer" actually -- their academic system is different from ours) of church history at Oxford.  He also has a good overview of Orthodox Church history, doctrine, and practices called The Orthodox Church, under his lay name Timothy Ware, published by Pelican Books.

        For a very different -- spiritual, theological, and non-legalistic -- approach to Christian ethics, there are a couple of good books.  One is Freedom of Morality by Greek theologian and philosopher Christos Yannaras, published by St. Vladimir's.  Another good one, published by Notre Dame Press, is Incarnate Love, by Vigen Guroian, an Armenian-American theologian who teaches at Loyola College in Baltimore.  All of Vigen's books are good, actually.

        For a return to the public morality espoused by the prophets, you probably should look at some liberation theologians, particularly those in the Latin American Catholic tradition (e.g., Gutierrez).  This area is outside my own expertise, but a good bookstore will be able to guide you to appropriate materials.

        Although the pope was right, I think, to condemn the violent extremists within liberation theology, he was absolutely wrong to come down hard on liberation theologians in general.  The best of liberation theology -- with its philosophy of solidarity with the poor, attempts to change embedded social and political structures which maintain economic inequities, and formation of base communities who read Scripture with social and political application to their own societies -- is a logical and necessary development from the "preferential option for the poor" espoused at the Second Vatican Council in the 1960's.

        Happy reading!

        I do not suffer fools gladly

        by GreekGirl on Tue Nov 30, 2004 at 10:48:50 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  not exactly on topic but (none)
          When people seriously ask me about Orthodoxy, I usually a) tell them to call a priest and b) tell them to buy Lossky's Mystical Theology.  What would your advice be?
          •  I think Lossky is a bit deep for an introduction (none)
            unless the interested reader regularly reads philosophy and theology texts.  I like Kallistos Ware's The Orthodox Way as an introduction because it's concise, gives a good feeling for the spiritual, organic, existential approach of Eastern Christianity, and isn't filled with a lot of historical information (which I of course love, but a lot of other people don't <g>), although it uses patristic quotes at the end of each chapter to give a feel for the historical and spiritual roots of our faith.  I used this book in my "Theological Foundations" course at a Jesuit university, along with C.S. Lewis' Mere Christianity.  It was interesting to see how some students preferred Lewis' rational, straightforward approach with almost no presuppositions taken, while others preferred Ware's more experiential and spiritual approach.  Different strokes, I guess. <g>

            Also, I still like Ware's The Orthodox Church for a good overview of Orthodoxy in general.  The Way deals only with some basic theological concepts, while the Church covers history, ecclesiastical organization, liturgical and sacramental practices, etc.  I think the Way is a good starter book to see if someone might really be interested in Orthodoxy, since the spiritual theology it presents is at the heart of the Church.  If the person does show interest, then one can start giving the reader material with more history and specific information, and then move to authors like Lossky, who are deeper.  I would only suggest a theologian like Zizioulas for someone who is already well-read and knowledgeable generally in philsophy and theology -- he really is heavy reading (I say that with affection, since he was on my dissertation committee <g>).

            I have bought but not yet had a chance to read the books on Orthodoxy by Daniel Clendenin, who I believe is not Orthodox but, from what I've heard, does a good job presenting Orthodoxy to non-Orthodox readers.  Schmemann writes about sacramental theology in a very accessible manner, I think.

            For Orthodoxy in America, John Erickson (dean of St. Vladimir's Orthodox Theological Seminary) has written an excellent, compact textbook, Orthodox Christians in America, for a series for Oxford University Press.  It's meant to be a high-school textbook, but I used it in my university course on Orthodoxy and gave it as gifts to family and friends.  It's well-written and is quite informative, with rare archival photographs and excerpts from difficult-to-find primary documents.  The book traces the Orthodox presence in this country from the Russian monk-missionaries in Alaska (it does briefly mention the abortive Greek colony of New Smyrna in Florida, and other unsuccessful early efforts) to the present day, including the breakup of the Russian Metropolia following the Bolshevik Revolution and the establishment of SCOBA.

            Personally, I found it interesting to see how the Orthodox Church in Alaska, because it had acculturated itself linguistically and otherwise to the native Alaskan tribes, was persecuted by the American government after the Russians sold Alaska.  I'm sure it didn't help matters that the first American Secretary of Education in Alaska was a Presbyterian minister.  The U.S. government did the same boarding school shenanigans in Alaska that they did in the lower 48, including not allowing the students to use their native tongue(s) or be served liturgically by Orthodox clergy.  That's why we were on the receiving end of the apology to the Alaskan people by a group of Western Christian churches a few years.

            I do not suffer fools gladly

            by GreekGirl on Thu Dec 02, 2004 at 01:33:56 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  yeah, I'm proud of our good record in Alaska (none)
              As an atheist becoming convinced virtually 'against my will,' as C S Lewis would have it in Pilgrim's Regress, I looked very critically into the history of the Orthodox Church, and was shocked to find so little to complain about.  Isn't it telling that the Russian missionaries wound up treating the Alaskan natives so much better than the Westerners did the other Native Americans?  More power to the Russians.  As it happens, a friend of mine in Toronto is Métis and also an Orthodox monk, and he had a lot to say to me on this subject too.

              I am certainly no theologian, and the text that pushed me toward Orthodoxy initially was Kalomiros's controversial The River of Fire.  I understand the case against Kalomiros, but I'll always have an affection for him because of the impact that essay had on me.

              The sort of people who ask me about Orthodoxy tend to be the sort who can handle Lossky.  I suspect that means that I need to get communicating more with average people.  I'll look into the Erickson for Christmas presents this year.  Thanks!

              •  Since your friends can handle Lossky . . . (none)
                you might also want to give them Christos Yannaras' Freedom of Morality (on Orthodox ethics) and Panayiotes Nellas' Deification in Christ (on theological anthropology and soteriology).  They're both part of the Modern Greek Theologians series that St. Vlad's has, along with Zizioulas' Being as Communion and a couple of others.

                I'm not familiar with Kalomiros or his work, but, whatever brings you to encounter the Ineffable One ...

                I do not suffer fools gladly

                by GreekGirl on Thu Dec 02, 2004 at 06:43:24 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

  •  Brilliant Sermon (4.00)
    I am very proud of your careful thinking and ability to attempt to communicate the truth.  Do you have your own church?  Do you find that when you preach guest sermons, you have any kind of effect on disbelievers?

    I attended Protestant churches throughout my childhood and youth, but left the Church because of what I saw to be the astounding hypocrisies of American organized religion.  You put your finger on many of them here: desire to constantly cast the first stone, endless work to protect the wealthy and powerful, elevation of lies and simultaneous condemnation of rationality and intelligence. . .  I think churches can and should serve as agents of true compassion and introspection.  Our society has simply become too wealthy and powerful, and too many churches serve as NOTHING more than banal apologists for the continued ignorant imposition of American empire at home and abroad.  It thoroughly disgusts me to see these people then claim to be "saved" by a "Jesus" who, if we are to believe scripture, would have found them far down the wrong path, insane, instruments of evil who needed desperately to be brought back into the fold.  How dare they claim to be for Jesus?  For morality?  Americans live in a deluded fantasyland, where they insist on misapprehending domination, corruption and injustice at home and the blind imposition of economic, political and military power abroad.  As a nation (NOT as individuals, NGOs, etc.), America has ceased to be a force for good in the world.  It is appalling.

    You are doing great work.  In these extremely terrible times, we need many, many more people like you.  We are fighting a desperate battle against the forces of darkness, and they have the upper hand in so many ways.  

    •  No (4.00)
      I don't 'have' a church, though we've been attending the one I spoke at for five years.

      It seems I somehow don't quite fit the model for 'pastor'-- wonder why.  It does seem that my style and my content are attractive to the fringe or unpersuaded people, to the not-quite-beautiful-or-rich people, and to the more serious minded (independent-minded?) among teens and young adults (and old geezers like me) -- to those, it seems, who are knowingly or unknowingly 'liberal' in their approach to ideas and to other people.  Such people are scattered all over the map, geographically, politically and theologically, so we have to be careful about overgeneralizations and the assumption that we know all about someone on the basis of one or two clues.

      Again, thanks to everyone for your responses; they mean a lot to us.  "Steal what you want."

      "We must become the change we want to see." -Gandhi    PublicChristian.com

      by larryrant on Tue Nov 30, 2004 at 07:45:58 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  nice work. (none)
    We get so worked up about sexual immorality among homosexuals we don't know, and seldom mention pornography usage among fellow church members, or habitual flirting or other types of adulterous behavior.  American culture is soaked in invitations to heterosexual immorality, and the Bible repeatedly speaks against it.  But where was the Christian support for a constitutional amendment against heterosexual immorality? In fact we honor preachers who are guilty of those behaviors.

    Absolutely.  So why keep trying to fix Protestantism?  It has untenable core assumptions and is a historical anomaly.  You should look into the Apostolic churches (Rome and the Orthodox churches,) which are far less single-issue and far more consistent.

    •  Rome's Obsession (none)
      I agree that Rome used have more consistency, but lately it has become the most obsessed with its control of sex and women. It still refuses to allow women to become priests; it refuses to allow priests to marry (though it accepts married priests from other traditions); it refuses to publicly acknowledge its role in the coverup of worldwide scandal of priests who have raped children or tell us how it will change; it refuses to accept birth control; it has made abortion a litmus test of politics; it is willing to keep gays as second-class citizens; it demands and supports hypocrisy in all things sexual.

      The lack of women and the anti-woman bias in the Roman hierarchy has been a corrupting influence and it is too bad that this Pope, John Paul II, who has been so good in so many other ways, has laid the foundation to continue this corruption well into the future.

      A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, adored by little statesmen and philosophers and divines. - Emerson

      by freelunch on Tue Nov 30, 2004 at 07:21:58 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  wow (none)
        The lack of women and the anti-woman bias in the Roman hierarchy has been a corrupting influence and it is too bad that this Pope, John Paul II, who has been so good in so many other ways, has laid the foundation to continue this corruption well into the future.

        I totally agree and totally disagree at the same time.  (I am an Orthodox Christian and, as such, regard Rome as both heretical and schizmatic, for the record.)  Yes, we obviously need women in the church; but what does that have to do with the ecclesiastical hierarchy?  The Church may well include women without their holding certain offices.  Unless we're conflating a mere worldly institution with the Body of Christ, offices are simply offices, nothing more.

        •  Worldly Institutions (none)
          However much we want the worldly to be but a small distraction, reality tells us that the world does matter. The way an institution is set up can affect a lot. Orthodox priests, at least, have wives, children and grandchildren. They are not so isolated or insulated from the mundane that they are unable to see how decisions affect their congregations and church bodies or how the most idealistic ones -- say about birth control -- can be the most absurd in practice, or how the isolation of women within the church ends up keeping them from being respected.

          A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, adored by little statesmen and philosophers and divines. - Emerson

          by freelunch on Tue Nov 30, 2004 at 02:14:33 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

    •  According to St. Paul (none)
      All clergy should remain celibate.

      When Rev. Falwell divorces his wife and starts campaigning for a constitutional amendment to require all clergy to remain unmarried, I'll believe he is sincere about preventing gays from marrying.

  •  Larry, you're a fundamentalist evangelical (none)

    I'm an atheist and you don't fool me for a second.  You've gone back to the fundamentals of Christianity for your message, and now you're evangelising about it.  

    Good work :-)

  •  Thank you! (none)
    This is a tour de force!  I have run so far from Christianity in the past few years because of all the hatred.  I have a friend who spews it--good works don't matter, she would refute all of this as being from the secular world, not from being in the spirit as she dismisses Sojourn--sigh!!!
  •  Religious Macarthyism (3.66)
    The persecution today in America of Christians , gays , and other religions and political patries is reminiscent of the years of 1950-1954 and the hysterical rantings of Joseph Macarthy .

    The Republican Politician Joseph Macarthy seen communism woven throughout the very fabric of our society and even in our lawmakers. The damage done to Americans is inclculable .

    The Macarthys today are the neocons and the Evangelical Right Wing of the Republican Party . Bush and company know what power a Politico-Religious government can wield . The Republican Politician David Duke , who ran for the Republican nomination to run against Bill Clinton in his second term ,was the Grand Wizzard of the Ku Klux Klan , sums up this current Politico-Religious government in a nutshell . David Duke was also head of the Republican Committe in his home Parish in Louisiana . Duke is a product of the Bible belt white Evangelical fanatics .

    Any one who opposes or has a different point of view Politically , Socially , or Religiously are labeled unpatriotic , communists , and/or ungodly atheists . It is worth noting that Jesus Christ did not spend the majority of His time among the Religious and Politcal figures of His day on earth as a man .Quite the contrary , Jesus remained among the hated tax collecters and prostitutes , the beggars and other poor , the widows and orphans , the lame and sick . Jesus did associate with a few wealthy prominent people but they were in the minority  of His followers .

    Jesus healed the lame and the sick and defended the prostitute against the Politco-Religious leaders of the communities . Saying , let he who is without sin cast the first stone , as He sat writing in the sand most likely the names of the men who were about to stone the prostitute . All of a sudden the men remembered an urgent appointment and went their way .

    Another Political Religious leader who lived in the time when Christ was on earth was a man named Saul . He was an expert in the Old Testament Laws . Saul came to see the error of his self-righteouss religious ways when he had an encounter with Christ while on his way to Damascus . After the encounter Saul was renamed Paul and began to teach Jesus . Paul asked a question that is so relevant for us today .

    Paul asked , "And why not say , "Let us do evil that good may come"?---. (Romans 3:8).

    Today this Politico-Religious government says , why not let us destroy Iraq and possibly 100,000 innocent civilian men,women,and children and spread freedom and democracy to that area ?
    Why not let us give Billions of dollars to the wealthiest people in America and pay for it by destroying all the social programs established for the poor in the last seventy years ? Why not establish new laws and do away with the old laws that do not support our Ideas of freedom ?

    One thing is certain , this political government will destroy it's religious counter part when it no longer serves their purpose .

  •  Thank you. (none)
    This reminded me of the days when I attended a church that I loved.  The people were mostly very kind and caring, and the pastor definitely was like a shepherd to his flock.  For instance, I was just becoming a teenager at that point, and having a lot of issues with my parents, and he did his best to mediate.  

    I have very warm and wonderful memories of that church.  Unfortunately, we moved away, and my family's distrust of organized religion prevented us from being able to find another church that we could feel as welcome in.  

    I've since had such bad experiences with Christians and Christianity that I don't know if I could ever go back.  

    At the same time, I can appreciate the sentiments you expressed here, and the divine light that I see in those I know who are what I would consider real Christians.  My husband's family is fairly religious; his mother is the daughter of a pastor and I had to get used to occasional references to Christianity again when we moved closer to where they live.  But it reminds me of the incredible sense of community and love that I felt when I went to that church, and so does your post.

    "We kill when we close our eyes to poverty, suffering, and shame." -Herman Hesse

    by tryptamine on Tue Nov 30, 2004 at 09:48:18 AM PST

    •  I just remembered, (none)
      while reading someone else's post: my Sunday school teacher asked us to read the entire New Testament.  At the time, I had aspirations to read the entire young adult section of the local library, so I did it just to do it.  From that, I have carried with me an image of Jesus that I rarely see in most "Christian" people; even as an atheist, I maintained that Jesus was a great man who had great things to say.  Thanks for reminding me of that, too.

      "We kill when we close our eyes to poverty, suffering, and shame." -Herman Hesse

      by tryptamine on Tue Nov 30, 2004 at 05:58:34 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  I agree with everything you said (4.00)
    Dear Larry,

    I have a dear friend and sister in Christ who I had to confront strongly about her support for George Bush.  I also asked her to read most of Isaiah 58.  I also asked her to read Deuteronomy 15, and Matthew 7 and 25.  Just for starters.  It amazes me how it is possible for right wing Christians to spend so much time in "Bible" study without ever actually managing to read the Bible.  They all seem to be reading these books like "The Purpose Driven Life" or Max Lucado's latest.  Whatever happened to actually reading scripture?  

    My friends and I all feel that the church is in a degree of danger it has not faced since the days when the Confessing Church split from the German Evangelicals in the 1930s.  Yes.  The German Nazi church was also called Evangelical.  It gives me chills to think of it.  I believe it is time for those of us who confess that Jesus is Lord, and not the Republican Party, to come out of the shadows and speak loudly and prophetically.  Thank you for your voice.  Through you, the Holy Spirit will encourage many believers.

    Blessings to you!

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