Happy Imbolc, everyone. Or Candlemas, if you prefer.
At the Episcopal Church of Saint John the Evangelist, in the Mission District of San Francisco, we share communion standing in a circle, the homeless, the transvestites, the breastfeeding mothers, the white guys in bow ties, a family gathered around a table, celebrating the unbreakable love that holds us together. My Baptist roots pray that Jesus returns, right here, right now, sees us like this, shoulder to shoulder, taking care of each other, sees that we will be alright, that we are going to make it. Continue reading
Early Wednesday a.m., six masked men with guns robbed 24 year-old professional athlete Cleanthony Early as he was leaving a birthday party at a strip club in New York. One robber shot him in the knee, which presumably was intended to end his career but didn’t, as somehow the shooter missed hitting anything important.
On the face of it, it’s not a very remarkable story.
Cleanthony Early was in the wrong place at the wrong time. Well, young men are stupid. When I was a young man I put myself in any number of extremely wrong places, that in hindsight could have resulted in me either getting badly hurt or incarcerated for a long time. To paraphrase a popular commercial, that’s what young men do.
And professional athletes get robbed with some regularity. Continue reading
James Street’s The High Calling is the rare sort of sequel that continues a story without giving in to the typical reader’s desire for neatly tied up plot lines.
As I have written on a couple of occasions now, work and the need to complete my latest book have slowed my reading. As a bit of indulgent diversion for myself, I have just completed the sequel to James Street’s novel about the life of a Baptist minister, The Gauntlet. This later work, The High Calling, picks up Baptist minister London Wingo’s story some 20 years after the ending of that earlier novel. While The High Calling is a sequel, however, it is a sequel that cares less about tying up previous plot lines than about exploring how time and change (that elusive quality we know as mutability) affect the lives of Wingo, his daughter Paige, and their friends.
Street’s novel finds London Wingo returned to Linden, MO, where he began his career as a minister to accept a call to a church. That church, Plymouth Baptist, is a new church founded by members of Wingo’s earlier church, First Baptist. Street seems to be setting the stage for a battle between churches, between ministers (the current First Baptist minister, Harry Ward, seems to be the sort of minister cum entrepreneur one sees much of in contemporary American religion), between visions of what the Baptist church should be. Continue reading
Ahhhh sports. For whatever reason, we’ve decided that the best way to deal with our most pressing national issues isn’t directly through our elected representatives, but metaphorically, through sports.
Guns, drugs, income inequality, violence against women, gender identification, homosexual rights—you name it, our sports venues are where those issues are debated.
This week end was a big one on the metaphorical battlefront. Continue reading
Jeb Bush has proposed only admitting Christian Syrian refugees. On the face of it, it’s an obnoxious, bigoted suggestion, a clear violation of the fundamental principle of separation of church and state, and flies in the face of all this country stands for. But what if he’s right?
The problem is not so much that some of the refugees could be terrorists, although that’s certainly a possibility, e.g., the Tsarnaev brothers, as it is that they could form a potential breeding ground for future terrorists. The risk is second-generation terrorists. Continue reading
In which we learn that Buddha and Jesus met the same sorts of people…
Each morning my wife Lea and I read together, a delightful habit which we have been practicing for a number of years. Our readings consist of a religious/spiritual works (we are eclectic, though our readings tend to rotate between the Christian and Buddhist, particularly Zen Buddhist, traditions primarily), works about art (we’re fond of both art history and criticism), and poetry. We recently finished the 1928 Book of Common Prayer, and we are currently working our way through a work called Teachings of the Buddha. This work is a compendium of various lessons and stories – one might use the word parables safely – attributed to Siddhartha Gautama.
Of particular interest to us have been remarkable similarities between stories of the Buddha’s experiences and stories of those of a later teacher, one well known (at least by name) to Western culture – Jesus Christ. One of these “shared stories,” the woman at the well, is worth a look because it gives us insight into the traditions of two major religions and of how we understand their teachings. Continue reading
By Whitney Downard
Despite political and social gains elsewhere, women cannot hold many high religious offices because of their gender. By limiting leadership positions to men, churches erode women’s role in defining worship.
The priesthood, a cornerstone of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, grants the holder the power and authority to act in the name of God. Only those who hold the priesthood can administer priesthood blessings, bless the sacrament (the passing of bread and water) or perform baptisms. Most importantly, a majority of leadership positions within the LDS church can only be held by those possessing the priesthood. Only worthy male members, 12 and older, can be priesthood holders.
The LDS church isn’t the only church to limit women. Several major religions in the United States don’t allow women to hold meaningful leadership positions. The authorities in power – men – dictate what, how and if women can contribute to religious dogma. This prevents women from performing important spiritual rituals or practices.
I’m not saying that Donald Trump ought to close the Westboro Baptist Church. Or that Donald Trump ever said that he might close the Westboro Baptist Church. I’m just asking if he would.
After the U.S. Civil War, the violence didn’t stop. Numerous gangs of bandits continued to fight on for almost thirty years after the war was officially over. The most famous of course was the James-Younger Gang, but there were also the Daltons and the Doolins, Henry Berry Lowrie and the Swamp Outlaws in North Carolina, the Baldknobbers in Arkansas and the Klan. Some of these are purely for-profit initiatives, but as often as not, they have a political bent. They are, along with the maimed, widowed and orphaned, and dislocated and impoverished, the human detritus of war.
Some wars produce more. The Hundred Years War in Europe produced so many companies of bandits that various popes proposed Crusades in an attempt to siphon them off into hopefully deadly wars, just as the French would later enlist SS into the Foreign Legion after WWII and sent them to Indochina. Others produce only a few. The Vietnam War contributed a member of the Symbionese Liberation Army and the Gulf War Timothy McVeigh. Sometimes so many are produced that they destroy entire countries, as the Liberia Civil War ended up ravaging Sierra Leone.
Regardless of nuance, the basic formula is the same. Angry young men, trained in the art of war, who come back disaffected and often with limited prospects. So they do what they know how to do—blow shit up and kill people.
Now we’re seeing the same thing in the recent wave of terrorism. New York, Madrid, London, Mumbai, Boston, and now Paris, again. We don’t know all the details yet, but what we do know suggests military grade weapons handled with military-level expertise in a military-like operation.
It’s not really about Islam or a reaction to the devastation created by the foolish adventuring of the Bushes and Cheney. It’s much simpler than that. They’re young, impassioned, angry and deadly and there are simply too many of them.
Hat full of words,
words like the ember-lit
belly of a Samhain sky Continue reading
Please make sense once. Just once.
ICMYI: Mint Press News (9/28/2015) – Ben Carson Considers Religion As Probable Cause For Searches
And if you can’t make sense, would you at least leave our 4th amendment rights alone?
Seriously, the irony is rich with this one.
““What we should be talking about is Islam and the tenets of Islam and where do they come from? They come from Sharia. They come from the Koran,” he told host Martha Raddatz. Continue reading
It helps when more people are behind you. How’s the view from under the bus?
ICYMI: Politico 9/28 – Cruz sternly rebuked by GOP
On Monday night, Cruz’s colleagues ignored his attempt to disrupt Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s efforts to fund the government without attacking Planned Parenthood. In an unusual rebuke, even fellow Republicans denied him a “sufficient second” that would have allowed him a roll call vote.
Then, his Republican colleagues loudly bellowed “no” when Cruz sought a voice vote, a second repudiation that showed how little support Cruz has: Just one other GOP senator — Utah’s Mike Lee — joined with Cruz as he was overruled by McConnell and his deputies.
Life must be truly surreal for him these days. I mean: Continue reading
20,000,000+ reasons why separation of church and state remains a good idea
Sometimes I mull and navelgaze and don’t have the decency to refrain from posting. This may be one of those times. Indulge me if you will, or not, but if these musings strike you in some way, one way or another, I hope you’ll share where those musings lead you.
Before our most recent tragedy, Planned Parenthood and efforts to defund it were all the rage in GOP quarters, replete with Fiorina trying desperately to overtake Hillary as America’s most notable serial liar. So while we struggle through this unfortunate hiatus until the next government shutdown showdown, I got to mulling and gazing.
How many people in America actually oppose abortion? Continue reading
Behind the scenes at Scholars and Rogues ideas are hashed out in emails and on social media. This week the meeting between Pope Francis and Kim Davis–and the bigger issues it raises for us–kept rising to the top of the pile. Perhaps it is appropriate that on the Feast of St. Francis we share some of our thoughts.
On the one hand, I just want Kim Davis to go away. Continue reading
I’ve recently outed myself as some kind of weird not quite deist/gnostic, read: believer in God, just very differently, so I find it a little peculiar that with all the allegedly Christian ministers and pundits spreading hate and fear, I feel called to remind people of this:
Matthew 25: 36-40
36 “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” Continue reading
I was disheartened, to say the least by yesterday’s headlines regarding Pope Francis’ meeting with Rowan County Clerk of Courts Kim Davis. And yet this meeting did not cause me to lose hope in his ability and intention to bring about significant changes in the Roman Catholic Church.
“Kim Davis, Kentucky Clerk, Is Said to Have Met Pope,” New York Times
“Pope Francis met privately with Kentucky clerk Kim Davis, Vatican confirms,” Washington Post
The first was posted on Facebook, the second sent to me in an email. The Facebook post came from Connie Schultz, author and columnist from Cleveland. She responded, “Kim Davis has now managed to poison the joy of so many who saw the Pope’s visit as a sign of hope. God’s work, you understand.” Her post was followed by an outpouring of disappointment, sadness, and some anger. Continue reading
The Gospels are clear. So are reactionary intentions.
If you think Muslims and the Koran are scary, you should check out the Old Testament sometime. It wouldn’t make someone else’s religion less scary, but it might put things in perspective. Western Judeo-Christian tradition is far older with a much bloodier history.
Kill people who aren’t like us: check. Continue reading