Here’s another fictitious conversation. Brady and Florentino discuss penalties for abortions.
Nice to get some clarity from Lincoln himself on his view of black and white equality.
Since I wrote the post on remembering the fallen children back ages ago on Christmas Eve 2012, wherein drone attacks on Pakistan were at 303, we’ve now reached 306. And tack on several more in Yemen.
This needs to stop. These drone attacks dehumanize war. They dehumanize the “enemy.” It all serves to justify the killing of them and those over there; you know, those terrorists.
We Christians need to stand up, band together, and tell the President and his administration to stop this madness, this murder, this evil.
But why aren’t Christians doing so? Why aren’t servants of the Prince of Peace calling for the end of the drone attacks? Because they support the attacks? Because they support the dehumanization of those in Pakistan and Yemen?
Why are so many Christians so intensely and intentionally silent when it comes to torture, war crimes, massive “collateral damage”? And if they are not silent, they are overtly outraged when objectors raise their protests.
No, I don’t want to generalize, but where is the outcry? If there are truly so many Christians in this country, where are the massive protests and calls for the end of it all? The only option I see as viable is the Christian community is being sinful in either acceptance or promotion of these attacks, or in their silence. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was right when he called the US government the greatest doer of evil in the world. And today there has been no change. He also considered silence on evil a sinful act. Silence when injustice is being done is no different than committing the evil act yourself.
Dr. King was influential. But there are very influential Christian pastors and leaders around the country, with large congregations and listeners and supporters. But King spoke out. King walked in protest. King went to prison. Then King was shot down. (And I think many folks just pigeon-hole Dr. King as the leader of blacks; but, remember why he was in Memphis in the first place.) Who among our Christian leadership in this country is willing to set such an example? Who is willing to place love for God’s special creation–humans–above their own lives, their own political agendas?
But I recognize the realities here. Of the very few people who will read these words, not one of them will be a Christian who supports the drone attacks and openly defend it. The silence will continue. The sin will continue. The Church will keep blood on our hands. And we can’t just wash it away. There’s only One who can, and it takes repentance on our part.
We can never repent if we never cease to do the evil that we do.
One the one hand, there are large farms, which include but are not limited to the companies you find in…
Earlier today, Wes Howard-Brook posted some excellent and inspirational thoughts on Newtown, drones, and the unbalanced not just reporting but uproar on the part of the American people. He posted his thoughts on a Facebook page that you need access to in order to read it, so I can’t share the post and don’t have permission as of yet to repost them here. So, I’ll be giving my summary and own thoughts, bringing my own voice into the conversation.
As we (Americans, and in particular Christians who happen to be American) continue to mourn the death of 26 people in Newtown, CT, as well as the continuing deterioration of security when it comes to our kids in school, my prayer for this Christmas time is that we remember.
We need to remember that 27 people died that Friday morning. If you consider the killing of the 26 (20 of whom were dear little children) a tragedy, than the end of one life who is now so shunned, despised, and even forgotten, is just as tragic. He was not the first to do what he did, nor will he be the last. Mr. Adam Lanza lived a life that resulted in him going to that school that Friday morning at that time. And there were many people involved in his life along the way. When enraged Cain killed his own brother, God showed mercy. When the Jewish leaders and Roman Empire hung the unblemished lamb on a cross, Jesus showed mercy. But why are Christians unable to mention the 27th dead person? Why are we not asking for the prayer and support of the family and friends of the 27? If we cannot show mercy, if we cannot forgive, if we cannot shed away the anger and vengeance in our hearts that builds up in response, then we will not be shown mercy.
We’ve all heard pastors tell congregations, “God loves each one of you. He made you and thinks you’re special, and has a great plan for your life.” But, when events like this occur, does something happen to the status of the killer? Was Mr. Lanza no longer special in God’s eyes as he walked into that school? What happened to the great plan God has for his life? Or the Columbine killers? Or the Virginia Tech killer? Did God’s great plans get thwarted? Is God not great enough to ensure his plans don’t get thrown off kilter by fallible, weak creatures? Where is the consistency from the pulpit and the leaders of these congregations?
We need to remember that our children are not the only children on the Earth killed en masse. We’re all aware of the US use of drones to attack political and military targets. But, don’t be misled: those targets are people. In Pakistan alone, from June 2004 through December 2012, there have been 355 drone attacks (303 of which come under Pres. Obama himself). 3,404 people have been killed (you’ll see numbers vary based on who is reporting the number dead). Of those killed, 889 were civilians. The number of children: 176. But those numbers haven’t caused the societal uproar that Newtown has. Those numbers haven’t raised the calls for drone-control legislation. Or, are we to believe, as some have argued with the gun issue here in the US, that the children and civilians in these Pakistani towns should have more guns or even drones of their own as that would put a stop to the violent attacks being done to them?
We need to remember to include in our prayers the children killed by these drone attacks. While any number of people killed in violent attacks gets our attention–it should get our attention–and causes change in a community even if only slightly, the killing of children can be especially embedded in our lives. But while we pray for the families and friends of Newtown, we should extend those prayers to the families, friends, and communities of those children killed by our drone attacks.
Do you remember 30 October 2006? That’s the day one drone attack at a school resulted in the killing of 69 children. 69! But were they not as precious or important or special as our children?
Martin Luther King, Jr. comes to mind. When he spoke at Ebenezer Baptist Church on 30 April 1967, he was defiant and prophetic (as he tended to be):
There’s something strangely inconsistent about a nation and a press that will praise you when you say, “Be non-violent toward Jim Clark,” but will curse and damn you when you say, “Be non-violent toward little brown Vietnamese children.” There’s something wrong with that press!
There is no difference here. When we call for the protection of our own children, we must call for the protection of their children as well. Why? Because that evil segregation of ours and theirs created by sinful man has no place in kingdom of God. Nor do the people perpetrate that segregation.
We need to remember that just saying we want to help children around the world is no substitute for doing so. From Wes Howard-Brook’s original post, he asked,
Why is it so much easier to respond to visible violence like this than the more hidden violence against children that is involved in producing so many of our daily consumer products?
But lest we put this off on politicians, let’s consider the basic ingredients of our holiday cheer: chocolate and sugar. Unless you choose to buy from ethical providers like Mama Ganache Chocolates, each Hershey “kiss” or other such treat is a direct contribution to the enslavement and suffering of innocent children. Why not a national boycott of sugar and chocolate, if we actually are disturbed by the deaths of children?
Having followed and been involved in some of the modern abolitionist movements today (seen mostly in the anti-human trafficking pushes going on around the globe), I can understand the dilemma he’s pointing out. People are willing to voice their rage against slavery, but tend to be unwilling to change their economic and consumer habits. Whether they know it or not, what they buy has a greater impact on slavery worldwide than what they say. Many people know buying Hershey’s or Nestle chocolates supports the enslavement, impoverishment, and even death of children around the world, but they still buy Hershey’s and Nestle chocolate because they like it so much. They actively make the choice to put their likes over the lives of children.
Is it because those children are not ours? Slaving away, dying, here in the United States? Is there another reason?
This is the time we celebrate Christmas. It’s a celebration of the incarnation, when God took on flesh, coming to release captives. He came to abolish injustice. He came to eradicate racism. He came to give sight to the blind. He came to set the oppressed free. He came to proclaim good news to the poor. And then he would die.
We need to remember this is a time of hope. Not just for those who call themselves Christians and are saved. There is hope for the poor Pakistani child whose already impoverished town was destroyed by a couple of drone missiles. There is hope for the family struggling with their first Christmas morning without their beautiful young kindergartener.
But Jesus brings that hope. And we display that hope not when we hate and kill; only when we love.
New random series to the blog: Fictitious Conversations. Subjects will change. This first one is between Gertrude and Joadson, talking about Joadson’s new adventure: the Army.
Got involved in (what I thought was) a quality Facebook discussion on the teachings and example of Jesus with respect to whether or not Christians can defend themselves with violence against an intruder, someone breaking into their house. Well, as good a quality discussion as one can have on Facebook that is. So many stinkin’ limitations.
One person inferred that pacifists believe Christians should be doormats, and that we won’t defend ourselves or others against killers and rapists. Even just my very existence (as an ‘Acquiescent pacifist Christian’ man) made him nauseous and gag. True story.
But, one still very important issue that came up was the idea that Jesus used violence to cleanse the Temple. That he did harm to people while clearing them out. That is a myth, plain and simple. But it lingers. And what gets me is that you don’t have to be a pacifist to see through the myth. In my experience, all you have to do is read the text again.
Then Jesus entered the temple area and drove out all those who were selling and buying in the temple courts, and turned over the tables of the money changers and the chairs of those selling doves. (Mt. xxi.12)
Jesus entered the temple area and began to drive out those who were selling and buying in the temple courts. He turned over the tables of the money changers and the chairs of those selling doves, and he would not permit anyone to carry merchandise through the temple courts. (Mk. xi.15-16)
Then Jesus entered the temple courts and began to drive out those who were selling things there (Lk. xix.45)
He found in the temple courts those who were selling oxen and sheep and doves, and the money changers sitting at tables. So he made a whip of cords and drove them all out of the temple courts, with the sheep and the oxen. He scattered the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables. To those who sold the doves he said, “Take these things away from here! Do not make my Father’s house a marketplace!” (Jo. ii.14-16)
Among the four descriptions of the event, only John’s telling could even remotely be considered an act of violence. And that’s very remote. But, that’s where the myth shows up. So that’s what we need to deal with.
The NET reads as above: “So he made a whip of cords and drove them all out of the temple courts, with the sheep and the oxen.” Notice the text never said he actually hit anyone, only that he drove them out and had a whip of cords. The text as it stands needs a certain leap, a certain set of assumptions to be true, if this passage could be used to argue in favor of Christians using violent force on people.
One of my new best friends (via his great book), Antonio Gonzalez, clears the issue up in great summary:
It is important to observe that the Greek construction used in the passage (“all” followed by te…kai) does not indicate addition (all, along with sheep and oxen), but simply makes explicit the content of “all” (all, both sheep and oxen). Accordingly, when the Gospel says that Jesus expelled “all” with the whip, it means both the sheep and the oxen, but not the people. (Gonzalez, 132)
While the NET translated the portion as addition, the NIV read it properly: “and drove all from the temple courts, both sheep and cattle.” It’s a non-violent situation. It’s an act by Jesus that may be forceful, but there was never any act of force or violence against people.
I find it kind of odd that the NET does not even supply a translation note (reason they chose a particular reading over other possible or disputed readings) for this portion.
Many times we (and I include myself here) will recite a passage from memory, or at least our interpretation of a passage, so much without actually going back into the text and reading it, that we believe what we’re saying even though it’s unverified. We can convince ourselves, unwittingly, that there is no need to open the Bible to that passage again. We’ve got it down. It’s cases like this that should remind us that no matter how much we think we know our Bible, no matter how simple we might think it is having studied it before, maybe even read it in the Hebrew or Greek, we need to stay grounded and humble and return to the text itself.
We just might be surprised at what we find. Or what we don’t find.
Referenced: Antonio Gonzalez, God’s Reign & the End of Empires.
In an odd twist to our lives, I just spent the past couple of hours tonight job hunting online, wherein I submitted my resume and filled out applications for three graphic design positions: one in Irvine, CA; one in Knoxville, TN; the last in Boston, MA.
Was I looking for those places specifically? Nope. They just happen to be where the positions were available, and the positions were ones I am qualified for. The pay would be excellent.
Is that good? Heck no.
I don’t want to move. We have some great plans for this house and property we’ve only lived in for just over a year.
But, the reality is, as of Jan 1, 2013, it will cost us too much to work & live here. My job at The Californian is very low wage. With the raise freezes and the 5% pay cut that have been in place for 3 years, my pay has been stagnant. There have been reassurances that the pay cuts will not end, & there will be no raises up coming. There are no other positions at the paper that I can move into with better pay.
There are no design positions available in Bakersfield at the moment. And I can’t just go it alone via freelance because that well of client base is tapped out by the few and successful agencies in town. It’s still a small town; not much work to go around.
In January, our health insurance rates will almost double, which will suck an extra large chunk out of each paycheck. There is simply nowhere for us to cut in our own budgets. Well…that’s not totally true. We spend a lot on gas, like everyone. If I just don’t drive into work, we’ll be fine. Of course that would mean not having a job at all anymore.
What a viscous cycle.
So I’ve opened up my range: anywhere. I don’t want to move. My wife doesn’t want to move. My kids don’t want to move. But do we have a choice? So far God has done nothing to really bind us here. There’s been nothing but closed door after closed door, struggle after struggle. I don’t want to give up this farm and this dream (though the dream can go on elsewhere, I know).
Can I just get another job? No. My wife’s health is so shoddy I have to be here when I can. We can’t afford to hire help. There is no community of people around us, supporting us with helping hands in that way.
Plus: should I have to get another job? Is that what the people of God are supposed to be doing, working away from home more than they spend time at home with their families? Why is it that I can’t have or find a job, a source of income, that will cover our needs and expenses?
Some say, “At least you still have a job.” Technically true. In the real world, though, it’s an absolute hell of a situation. The reality is that people who are underemployed by wage (not hours worked but by rate of pay), especially at a full time position, are unable to rectify that problem so easily. We can’t just go find another job. We have to work. And because it’s full time during the day, I have to wait until the wee hours of midnight to do serious job hunting.
So now I need to go to bed, so that I can wake up, get ready, and get to work, to do a job I am very good at. I will smile and I will love my Jesus. And I will come home and send more resumes and fill out more applications.
Just not here in Bakersfield.
Some wise words from Wendell Berry.
Contrary to what is frequently believed, the reign of God does not consist in a state or in some institutionalized…
For I received from the Lord what I also passed on to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night…
I feel as if I’ve gone through the homesteader’s right of passage. Yesterday, with the help of some good friends…
I missed Day 1, so this will be a two-fer. Day 1 I am extremely thankful for my wife, who…
May my living not be in vain. A sermon so powerful and so relevant. How easy it would be to…
Continued from part 3 LDS members today need to be honest about the racist history of the church. But who…