Faith vs. Fatalism

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Our nation is torn by conflict, turmoil & violence. Passiveness in the face of evil is a luxury for some (the comfortable conservative who fears change) who face no direct physical risks or brutality. It presents as resigned wisdom or other-worldly spirituality. Sadly, it is a despairing fatalism that dooms many to misery and death.
One example of the opposite was William Wilberforce.

Humpty Drumpfy Tried to Build a Wall…

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Stable genius Drumpf, dreamt of a wall,

A big wall, a tall wall, bigger than all,

To keep those nasty immigrants out once and for all,

He got the idea in a Hannity phone call,

He told the MAGA hatters, Mexico would pay for it all,

He threatened, he bullied, he whined, shut down the government, employees and all,

Republicans scattered like rats in the hall,

He thought Nancy Pelosi was one of his cheap dolls,

But she said no and has him by the balls,

O what gall, this Drumpf (et al), we can’t wait till he finally falls!

(With apologies to my 4th grade poetry teacher)

Toxic Religion

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“Then Jesus began to say to them, “Beware that no one leads you astray.  Many will come in my name and say, ‘I am he!’ and they will lead many astray.”    Mark 13:5-6

(Lectionary Reading for 11/18/18).

40 years ago today,  Jim Jones killed over 918 people in the Jonestown massacre, the culmination of years of manipulation, misconduct, drug fueled paranoia, violence and abuse of all kinds. A one time, Methodist, Disciples of Christ, Assembly of God preacher who shared a platform once with William Branham, Jones developed his own eclectic blend of evangelical, social justice, inter-racial equality brand of religion at the People’s Temple in San Francisco, CA but ended in the forced death of his followers and U.S. Congressman Leo Ryan among others.

Jones has been one of many that promised heaven but delivered death. Others have followed like David Koresh (1993- 80 dead) and Heaven’s Gate (1997- 39). In these cases, toxic religion may have first been an opiate that turned into strychnine.

Faith is a force for good in our world. Distorted religion doesn’t present itself as poison. It may look like Kool Aid (or Flavor Aid) at first. But when the gospel is replaced by an ideology, whether of the left or the right, or MAGA nationalism, or supplanted by a cult of personality, along with authoritarian demands for obedience, idealized, hero worship of political leaders as god-like, spineless clergy and court paid prophets, the suppression of dissent and a major dose of media propaganda,  then the body count will eventually add up.

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40 Years later…

A Moment of Silence Won’t Make School Kids Safer.

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Saturday, the Florida Senate Republican majority refused to pass any legislation to make school kids safer from guns. However, they did have a moment of silence.  Their silence screams “it’s OK with us when a 19 year old with an AR-15 kills 17 adults and teens – we are OK with the loss of life, injuries and trauma that result.”

Their refusal to act speaks louder than any speech. I’m sure there will be more speeches, thoughts and prayers.  No real doubt – because somewhere, sometime for someone, the slaughter will sadly happen again. No matter how big the body count, the Florida Senate Republican majority along with most current GOP leaders prefer a moment of silence to action.

Forbidden Observances

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“Merry Christmas” has become the rallying cry of the jingoism of the (t)Rump pseudo-nationalistic ideology. However, Christmas has not always been popular even among Christians. In 1647, the Puritan-led English Parliament banned the celebration of Christmas, replacing it with a day of fasting and considering it “a popish festival with no biblical justification”, and “a time of wasteful and immoral behavior.” On May 11, 1659, the Massachusetts Bay Colony legislature officially banned Christmas and gave anyone found celebrating it a fine of five shillings

“For preventing disorders arising in several places within this jurisdiction, by reason of some still observing such festivals as were superstitiously kept in other countries, to the great dishonor of God & offense of others, it is therefore ordered … that whosoever shall be found observing any such day as Christmas or the like, either by for-bearing of labor, feasting, or any other way, upon any such account as aforesaid, every such person so offending shall pay for every such offense five shillings, as a fine to the county.”

Cotton Mather, New England’s most influential religious leader, told his flock in 1712 that “the feast of Christ’s nativity is spent in reveling, dicing, carding, masking, and in all licentious liberty…by mad mirth, by long eating, by hard drinking, by lewd gaming, by rude reveling!”

Most Western churches mark Dec. 25 for the liturgical celebration of Christ’s birth though the date is historically unreliable and most likely inaccurate. Many Eastern Orthodox churches mark the incarnation on Epiphany typically the first Sunday in January. Some, who are in the Puritan tradition make no big deal about it. Roman 14:5 tells us “one person considers one day more sacred than another; another considers every day alike. Each of them should be fully convinced in their own mind.” That seems like a wise policy that spares making “much ado about nothing.” Sadly, Trump’s hijacking and distortion of the day to celebrate the wonder of the incarnation is far more damaging than any supposed “war on Christmas.” Slogans may pump up the crowds but it’s not the faith the church has confessed in the words “for us men and for our salvation he came down from heaven, and by the Holy Spirit was incarnate of the Virgin Mary, and became man.”

So then, either way, have a Merry Christmas, an incredible Incarnation, an effulgent Epiphany, and Happy Hanukkah or for any neo-pagans, a Super Saturnalia!

Yes, indeed, “unworthy to lead.”

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“…the crime and violence that today afflicts our nation will soon come to an end. Beginning on January 20th 2017, safety will be restored. The most basic duty of government is to defend the lives of its own citizens. Any government that fails to do so is a government unworthy to lead.”                                                                    Donald J. Trump (7/21/16)

8/12/17 – Charlottesville:

3 dead (Lt. H. Jay Cullen, Trooper-Pilot Berke M.M. Bates, Heather Heyer); 33 injured

10/1/17 – Las Vegas:

58 dead, 489 wounded

“You fascists bound to lose…”

 

19321932 – Berlin / 2017 – Charlottesville

 

 

“All You Fascists”
(Words by Woody Guthrie, Music by Billy Bragg)

I’m gonna tell you fascists
You may be surprised
The people in this world
Are getting organized
You’re bound to lose
You fascists bound to lose

Race hatred cannot stop us
This one thing we know
Your poll tax and Jim Crow
And greed has got to go
You’re bound to lose
You fascists bound to lose.

All of you fascists bound to lose:
I said, all of you fascists bound to lose:
Yes sir, all of you fascists bound to lose:
You’re bound to lose! You fascists:
Bound to lose!

People of every color
Marching side to side
Marching ‘cross these fields
Where a million fascists dies
You’re bound to lose
You fascists bound to lose!

I’m going into this battle
And take my union gun
We’ll end this world of slavery
Before this battle’s won
You’re bound to lose
You fascists bound to lose!