Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Men, stop talking about rape! Please!

First it was Missouri Senate candidate Todd Akin, then it was Indiana Senate candidate Richard Mourdock, and then it was Colorado state representative Joe Salazar.  All men, all talking about rape, all making complete fools of themselves—and deservedly so; why men think they need to be talking authoritatively about rape is reprehensible.  To me, it represents that last vestiges of patriarchalism dying its long, slow, and painful death. So, being that I’m a man, I’m going to shut up and let women speak.

Here’s some of what they have to say for themselves…

Read a few of these, read all of them, and if you’re  a guy, let’s just shut up and listen.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Michelle Malkin where are you??

'Air Tanker 11 saving lives & structures during the Station Fire in LA County, CA #CAFire' photo (c) 2009, Fireground - license: Last June 2012, when wildfires were ravaging the state of Colorado, and a particularly devastating Waldo Canyon fire was wreaking havoc on Malkin’s hometown of Colorado Springs, Michelle was fired up about budget cuts that had caused a reduction in the fire fighting air tanker fleet. Her particular concern was over the Obama administration’s handling of the aerial tanker fleet. She states, without sources, that what was once a fleet of 44 planes a decade ago was now only 9.  She writes that “the Obama administration’s neglect of the federal government’s aerial tanker fleet raises acrid questions about its core public safety priorities.”  Malkin, a fiscal conservative, was essentially criticizing the government for not spending enough money.

Fast forward to present day and the so-called “sequestration.”   The sequester, otherwise known as the Budget Control Act of 2011 was authorized by a bipartisan committee as a trade-off for an increase in the debt-ceiling.  The deal was set up to ensure the Republicans and Democrats could settle on some kind of deficit reduction deal.  To spur the two parties to come to an agreement, this “sequester” was put in place, composed of cuts that neither party would like, with the hope that the possibility of such cuts would motivate the two to settle on a compromise deal. Well, to the surprise of no one, no deal has been made as both sides were unable to come to an agreement.

 Now the Republicans are accusing the President of “crying wolf” over the impending budget cuts, and there’s plenty of mud-slinging both ways about who is really at fault over this.  Basically, Dems are okay with some cuts but want to see revenues (taxes) increase as well, while the GOP is completely opposed to any tax increases and will only go along with budget cuts.

So what does this all have to do with Michelle Malkin? Well, according to Colorado Senator Mark Udall, some of the budget cuts that will happen because of the sequester is a “slashing of the number of next-generation air tankers the U.S. Forest Service can acquire to supplement its Korean War-era firefighting fleet” and “ Further cut the U.S. Forest Service's Wildland Fire Management fund, which pays for hotshot crews and helping clear brush and fuel from our forests.” So yeah, while Malkin was making a big deal about there not being enough planes when her city was on fire, she’s suddenly silent—no, actually making light of the coming budget cuts.

'Rich' photo (c) 2012, Images Money - license:
The true "God" of the GOP
This is my problem with Republicans; they scream and cry for budget cutting—until it actually effects them. When Malkin’s city was on fire and she was being forced to evacuate, cuts to the nation’s firefighting capabilities was unacceptable.  Yet, when there is no eminent threat to herself, she’s fine with similar cuts. Republicans talk all the time about cutting spending, yet it’s spending that will never affect them.  Its millionaires and billionaires calling for cuts to Social Security and Medicare, its guys making seven figures saying that a minimum wage increase won’t help Americans, and its people claiming they care about clean water and air yet then want to eliminate the laws that actually forbid polluting. If you vote republican, please wake up. The GOP doesn’t give a sh*t about you.  They only care about pleasing the selfish, greedy, rich people that put them into office via humongous campaign contributions.  For instance, Republican governors nation-wide are proposing tax-cuts that will—surprise, surprise—overwhelmingly benefit the rich.

Republicans want to have it both ways, to cry out against “excessive spending” then make a bid deal anytime budget cuts actually affect them. They want to have their cake and eat it too.  It’s about time Americans starting calling them out for it.


June 12, 2013, portions of Colorado are up in flames yet again, and where is Malkin? Blaming the government of course, saying nothing of the budget cuts she herself supported, ironically wondering why the government can't spend money any faster??

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Stop disguising your hate as “patriotism,” “faith,” “freedom,” or whatever else…

Recently at a high school basketball game in Texas, students from one school were reprimanded for chanting “USA, USA” towards the opposing team.  On the surface such cheering seems out of place at worst and harmless at best, but taking a closer look reveals that there’s more going on. The opposing school, of which the USA chants were directed towards, is largely made up of Hispanic students. The principal and superintendent of the chanting school felt the chant was out of place and had racial overtones.  Even more, four teen boys were asked to take off American flag bandannas   While these boys claim to be simply patriotic (the four appear to be Caucasian) such actions and cheering in context are completely out of place and bordering on racial taunting (I’m at high school basketball games all the time, all across the metro area I reside in and I've never heard anything similar). The school superintendent stated that he thought it was a “teachable moment” for the entire school. So, no harm, no foul, case closed. Not exactly.

Thanks to our friends at FoxNews and their endless need to peddle fear and paranoia, commentator Todd Starnes has put this story out as a case of American patriotism being trounced upon.   Starnes has served this up as a nice, juicy piece of red meat and folks are taking the bait. Right wingers are predictably working themselves up in frenzy, clueless to what’s really at stake.

Borderline racist actions such as this that masquerade as “patriotic” fervor are hardly new.  In 2010, students at California school showed up wearing clothing emblazoned with pro-American messages on Cinco de Mayo.  The school just happened to have a large Hispanic population as well. Coincidence?  I think not.  This kind of thing has been going on for as long as the U.S. has been a nation, feigning patriotism to hide racism or hatred or fear of the other.  The only thing that’s changed is the demographic facing ridicule. Instead of the Irish immigrants, or African-Americans, or Jews it’s now Latinos taking the heat. Unfortunately, this tendency of hiding behind something that looks good on the surface is used far too often. Christians disguise homophobia with words like “the Bible says,” or “sin.”  Others hide behind “freedom” or “big government” to disguise their selfishness and lack of concern for those less fortunate than themselves.

I’m not trying to say that all patriotism is racism in disguise, or that all people of faith are hateful.  There are people who believe homosexuality is a sin because of their interpretation of scripture yet are still able to be loving and respectful to gays and lesbians. There are people who value laws and social order yet still respect the dignity of all human beings, whether they came to this country illegally or not. And there are people who value the freedoms this country provides without disparaging people who need a little extra help from government—because society itself has failed them.What I am saying is that slapping the words “patriotism” or “faith” or “bible believing” on what would normally be considered hateful speech or actions doesn't make it okay. 

The FoxNews story illustrates that some people are just so maniacally insane about their patriotism that they’re blind to what’s really going on.  In many ways, they are dishonoring true patriotism in our nation.  The most fervent patriots should be condemning times when people hide their hate and racism under the banner of patriotism. 

The Bible commands us not take God’s name in vain because we are to understand God as so holy, so magnificent that even to misappropriate God’s name is to insult God.  When people use patriotism to disguise their hate, they are insulting all the great American patriots that have gone before. In the same way, when people disguise their hate under the guise of Christianity, they are insulting Jesus Christ, the person on whom the faith is founded and who admonished his followers to share his love with all.

So stop trying to hide your hate and fear behind something else. If you’re going to hate, have the guts to just hate. If you’re going to be a homophobe, stop being afraid of letting your true thoughts be known.  Or, better yet, stop hating, stop being a homophobe, and stop being afraid of anyone who doesn't talk/think/look/act like you.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Getting Weary of all the “Gun nuts”…

'S&W Pre 34 2232 Kit Gun 1950's' photo (c) 2006, Stephen Z - license:
It seems like there’s a certain portion of our society running around screaming that the sky is falling.  They are waving their hands, jumping up and down, and spinning in circles while yelling at the top of their lungs; “Obama hates the 2nd Amendment,” “He’s coming to take our guns,” “Obama is dictator,” “You’re not taking my guns without a fight,” and so on. They’ve gone beyond overstatement, beyond exaggeration, and beyond hyperbole. I can think of no other way to describe it than just “gun nuttery.” They’ve become nut-jobs for their guns, they are you might say, “gun nuts.”

I suppose I should have seen this coming a while ago. For when comments from some on Facebook after the tragedy at Sandy Hook were things like “guns don’t kill people, people kill people” and “protect the 2nd Amendment,” it should have been obvious. We’ve got people flipping their lids over Obama’s 23 executive orders, we’ve got people fighting tooth and nail to keep the CDC from studying gun violence, and we’ve got people ready to Impeach President Obama over universal background checks.  Not because he invaded two foreign countries, not because one war was founded on lies, not because he advocated torture—Universal Background Checks!!

For all the fervor about protecting our constitutional rights, I keep wondering why then these same people aren’t up in arms (pardon the pun) about how the USA PATRIOT Act shreds the Constitution.   How they’re oddly quiet about Obama’s shameful ignoring of the Constitution in regards to his usage of Drones to kill US citizens without trial by jury who have been labeled as terrorists.  Heck, they’re all about the Constitution, yet strangely silent when it comes to ensuring equal protection under the law to Gays and Lesbians.   

'Nuts' photo (c) 2011, Lisa Jacobs - license:
  I get to see the false panic every day. Trust me, I’ve got friends on Facebook who’s every post seems to be pro-gun propaganda (Of course, they probably think all I post is liberal blog rants J).  It’s beginning to remind me of the story of the boy who cried wolf.  When the gun lobby responds with hyperbolic fear-mongering EVERY freakin’ time anything about gun control is mentioned, the general population is just going to start turning you off.  Then, if (and that’s a monumentally big “if”) the government actually does propose something that will truly threaten 2nd Amendment rights, no one is going to pay attention.

Look, I’m not a gun person, I’ve shot guns but I’ve got no interest in ever owning a gun. I don’t care if you own a gun. I’m totally cool with the 2nd Amendment. I understand some people own guns for sporting, for protection, or even for colleciton. But I also realize that guns have “sex appeal,” that they speak to that “small penis syndrome” like an H2 Hummer does, and that they’re an instant ego boost.  I get it. So I don’t like idea of fearful, paranoid people walking around with items capable of deadly force.  People like that do stupid things, ala George Zimmerman (allegedly). As a theological student, I’ve learned we’re all capable of doing bad things—and guns have the capacity to make our bad deeds much, much worse.  Remember, we’re not talking about a freakin’ screw driver; we’re talking about a potentially deadly weapon.

So, here’s what I need all you “guns nuts” to do, I need you to take it down a notch. And for the level headed gun owners I know that are out there, tell your overly dramatic cohorts to take a chill pill, because I’m much more likely to consider your points if you’re not running around acting like the sky is falling.  

Saturday, February 2, 2013

I HATE "bad theology"

It wasn't long ago I was the person in this drawing.
Some religious types will say that a person’s beliefs, or theology, should shape their life.  In reality, I’m convinced the opposite is true. Life shapes our beliefs, life shapes our theology.

I spent the first 25 years of my life as an independent, fundamentalist, King James Bible believing Baptist.  I knew Baptist theology inside out and believed what I was supposed to believe—that  is until the answers I had been taught no longer seemed sufficient for the questions that life was throwing at me.  Life began to reshape my theology.

I’ve spent lots of time in conservative churches since I “left the faith,” and in that time I’ve heard a lot of theology that I didn’t agree with. I’ve heard things that made me want to jump out of my pew and leave the auditorium had it not been for the people sitting on either side of me.  More often than not, my “coexist” bumper sticker and I have been extremely out of place.

Yet, being a former fundamentalist Baptist, I seem to have a soft spot in my heart for religious conservatives. During my time at a “liberal” seminary I have often found myself defending fundamentalists during discussions rather than criticizing (trust me; I have plenty of negative things I could say).  Similarly, I also tend to not like when others ridicule the faith and beliefs of conservatives; perhaps because I still have so many friends and family members who still align themselves with those views.  One critique in specific I tend to see over and over again is regarding the “bad theology” of fundamentalists/ conservatives.

Please understand, I’m not admitting to a mea culpa or wishing I could go back to the way things were—no, not at all. Fundamentalist theology has serious problems in my opinion.  It is inconsistent, illogical, anti-intellectual, and downright heartless at times.  An excellent blogger I’ve recently started following, Rachel Held Evans, recently wrote a good piece to this point.  Yet, as much as I completely agree with what she and others say, that soft spot still remains (and I’d bet Held Evans would admit the same).

 I think it’s the loyal, devoted faith of these people that I respect.  I’m reminded of a time I saw Christian musician Stephen Curtis Chapman in concert.  Performing after the tragic death of his 5 year old daughter, he shared that in the aftermath he went through a time where he questioned his faith. He had to decide whether or not he was going to be true to what he believed in spite of the tragedy that had befallen his family.  Chapman shared that in the face of the pain and suffering, he still believed.

How can you call this “bad theology?” This is a man who has suffered more than most can comprehend, for what can be worse than for a parent than to bury their own child?  I think also of my own faith journey, how in the face of circumstances that seem trivial to this man’s suffering, my theology began to change drastically—but  “suffering” isn’t something to be compared amongst individuals (“my scar is worse than yours”) and neither do I regret my own religious choices—but the respect still remains.

This is what I think. Theology is only bad if it doesn’t work for you.  The theology I heard for so long growing up doesn’t work for me anymore. Yet I imagine that the vast majority of those who have sat in the pews with me have been comforted by these beliefs.   But I offer this word of caution, for just because certain beliefs or theology works for you doesn’t mean it will work for everyone else.   Some might say theology is about believing the right things (I would disagree), but you’ve got to be able to sleep at night. So, as simplistic and shallow as this might sound, I mean it from the bottom of my heart—believe whatever you need to believe.  I’ll respect you’re theology, all I ask is the same in return.