Sunday, October 28, 2012

Halloween, the holiday we celebrate 364 days a year

I’m not a big Halloween fan; spooky, scary stuff don’t appeal to me and I try to stay away from things that go “bump in the night.” I don’t like horror movies either—especially the “torture-porn” genre that have become the norm like Saw or Hostel  (I actually think it’s disturbing that someone could be entertained by watching another human be gruesomely killed, but that’s for another blog).  One thing I’ve noticed about Halloween, it’s perhaps the only day of the year we are actually honest with everyone else. What do I mean?

Halloween is when we actually outwardly show something we tend to do all year long—Not be ourselves.  When celebrating Halloween, we explicitly pretend to be someone we are not, or someone we want to be, or someone we wish we could be whereas the other 364 days of the year we’re far less explicit about it.  Halloween is perhaps then the one day of the year we’re actually being honest with ourselves and everyone else.

 As if we weren’t hard enough on ourselves, very often it’s the external influences of others telling us who we should be or how we should act, trying to label us or force us into labels.  We’ve got friends, or family, or society trying to push their expectations on us. Like truly being ourselves wasn’t hard enough already, we’ve got to try to fit into the labels others make for us or be who they expect us to be.

A wise man once told me that we spend our whole lives learning to be ourselves, growing comfortable with ourselves, accepting ourselves for who we really are.  It’s a calling perhaps; our destiny in life is to be ourselves, to become comfortable in our own skin and celebrate what makes us individually who we are. 

What if instead of celebrating being someone different—or not being ourselves—we celebrate being authentic? What if we were honest with ourselves about who we really were and what we really wanted? What if we stood alongside those wanting to come out and be there true selves?  Further, what if we created safe places and safe spaces were people (including us!) could be who they really are?!

Maybe for Halloween this year we can “dress up” as a “mysterious, often unseen spirit” – our true self!

Monday, October 1, 2012

Conservative Christians, following the way of Jesus…as long as it’s fiscally responsible.

If only Bill O’Reilly was the only one advocating this position.  Conservative hero Michelle Malkin has often cited the need to “limit our compassion” in regards to providing medical treatment to the less fortunate.  Thanks to folks like O’Reilly, Malkin, and evangelical theologian Wayne Grudem championing their own neo-liberal economic policies under the guise of Christianity, this misguided view has “trickled down” to the average Joe.  In a recent conversation, someone told me that  “it was never expected that the church would take care of everyone …there were guidelines for who should receive support…there were stipulations…those who were taken care of had to fall into the categories mentioned.”  Yeah…that comes straight out of the Bible.

As the preceding video shows so well, somehow conservative Christians have bought into these neoliberal, libertarian, and “free-market” economics.  Even worse, this economic policy has crept its way into Christian theology.  Perhaps you have seen the video posted above before, this idea that Christians should be “responsible” and “set limits” on their charity, only if it “makes sense.”  Christians are willing help others out if they “deserve” it or are willing to help themselves. 

Jesus was anything but “responsible;” if anything he was a troublemaker and a firebrand.  There was a time (Matthew 4:18-22) when that he told a couple guys to literally walk off the job and follow him. Think about that, Jesus told two small business owners to stop being productive and instead live off entitlements and charity! What a job-killing socialist! I remember another time; another guy wanted to follow Jesus but said he needed to bury his father first. Jesus said, let the dead bury the dead (Luke 9:60) How outrageous! How irresponsible! Jesus should have given him time to arrange his 401k, set up the trust funds, go over the financial documents… Oh, and do I even need to mention the time Jesus went nuts and trashed the market at the temple? (Matthew 21:12)  Jesus was anything but a sensible, responsible, limiting, guideline-making philanthropist. 

So, we are forced to ask, why have conservative Christians embraced this economic policy so readily? Because they can get the best of both worlds.  They get to talk about being “holy” and “Christ-like” on Sunday while driving home in their Lexus to their McMansions.  Listening to Christian radio, they drive over the bridge under which the homeless sleep, past the bus stop where the low-income earners sit, and around the food bank where a line stretches around the building.  Then, over a plate full of food, they thank the Lord they are not like the other “sinners” (Luke 18:11) all before saying “Grace” (somehow they also have forgotten they grace they themselves received from God, despite their own unworthiness).

 Conservative Christians have embraced such an economic policy because it lets them ignore other “troublesome” passages about rich people having a hard time getting into heaven (Matthew 19:24) or a rich man in hell for not helping the less fortunate (Luke 16:23).  “Buying into” (literally) such economic policy allows conservative Christians to keep their conscience at ease while at the same time reinforcing their own “righteousness.”

Well, I’m saying enough. I’m calling you’re bluff.  It's B.S.


Jesus was anything but “responsible” with his compassion…

Matthew 9:36 – “When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for (some of) them”

Matthew 20:34 – “Moved with compassion, Jesus touched their eyes (of those who didn’t depend on government for medical insurance)”

Matthew 14:14 –“When he went ashore, he saw a great crowd; and he had compassion for (those who were willing to help themselves) and cured their sick”

Matthew 9:35 —“Then Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, and proclaiming the good news of the kingdom, and curing every disease and every sickness (of those who had coverage for their pre-existing conditions)”

Matthew 10:8—“Cure the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, cast out demons. You received without payment; give without payment (to those who meet the stipulations)”

Oddly enough, it’s conservative Christians who are so often accusing “liberal” Christians of “picking and choosing” which verses they follow.