A Few Thoughts on #AngusTJones, the Entertainment Industry and Religion

Joel has two sympathetic and concerned posts about the Angus T Jones situation here and here. Chris added his two cents here.

I’ll leave commentary on Seventh Day Adventists and their beliefs to the experts, but I wanted to make a comment on money and religion. I think that it’s very telling that what it means to be religious for liberals and conservatives are completely different in the U.S. On the conservative site Twitchy, the situation was turned into yet another Hollywood conservative being victimized by liberal accusations of hypocrisy. I don’t think this issue is about hypocrisy versus non-hypocrisy, but about a matter of faithfulness, and what it means to be religious.

The Seventh Day Adventist church has a reputation for being very socially conservative, and blaming television and media for bad morals is nothing new. But what about the things that Jesus taught, his morality when it comes to money. Because of a religious commitment to corporate capitalism, conservatives don’t want to think through morality as it pertains to greed and selfishness, and when they do, it’s only when greed and self-centeredness are in excess that they become sin, rather than being anti-thetical to the Gospel themselves.

Statements like this from Jared Padalecki, Sam Winchester from Supernatural,

[blackbirdpie url=”https://twitter.com/jarpad/status/273478324356018176″]

made me think about one economic morality story, (as well as a famous conversion story!) that Jesus’ disciples left us, the story of Zacchaeus. Zacchaeus was an infamous celebrity in his day, a tax collector who had dirty money on his hands. As part of his being saved, Jesus approved of Zacchaeus giving back the filthy money that the taxman had stole, and more so!  If we are to think seriously about salvation on Jesus’ own terms, we need to take Jesus’ approval of Zacchaeus’ repentance as part of our own definitions of what it means to be saved. Christianity is not about getting on our moral high horse, separating ourselves from the rest of society while pointing out others’ sins. It’s about showing others how to love our neighbors, and living out a new way of being human in our worship of the Triune God.

Angus T. Jones is right about Two And A Half Men being moral filth though. It’s horrific writing, as well as it’s continued existence as a show in spite of Charlie Sheen‘s history of domestic violence never made me a fan of the program.

 

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h00die_R (Rod)

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Ranking, Theological Studies, and Racial Hierarchy: Some A-Musings #SBLAAR

Recently, I keep thinking whether to be saddened or happy that I did not have the means to go to the American Academy of Religion/Society of Biblical Literature. Why would I enter a space where my body because of the color of my skin is not welcome?

Let me start here. I have to wonder how can Christianity stand as it is here in the United States when its leading magazine, Christianity Today, saves a space for Neo-Confederate racists like Doug Wilson. Do we really believe that outsiders will take your community seriously in a culturally pluralistic society like ours? Let’s ask Mitt Romney for his thoughts! I think the problem is much more deeper than simply permitting a racist to write for your top magazine in the name of “tolerance.” The problem of race and theology is the one of the closed theological canon, and here, no I am not talking about the Bible, (but of course, we always can if you want!).

What I am referring to is the ever perpetual push by privileged white Protestant men to always want to go back to Saint Augustine without addressing any of the problems surrounding his bad interpretation of Scripture (Judges and Romans in particular) and his anti-Jewish statements (ironically, but always condemning Martin Luther for his!). I think this uncritical reclamation project is part of an on-going and unnecessary cycle in Christianity called Euro-centrism. One of the plethora of examples comes from seemingly innocent suggestions like from Stephen C Barton, Complementarianism and Darwinism at The Jesus Creed who “contends we need to read the Bible with Augustine and Barth, that is, both christologically and eschatologically.” Of course, Barton is in pronouncing nothing new, it’s the run of the mill post-liberal, radically orthodox argument. However, just exactly, who’s Augustine will we be reading with? Who’s Barth will we be reading with? These men are not alive to dialogue with us about their great writings, they have interpreters, and it is their circle of interpreters that has remained closed, and thus the canon. In fact, one must ask does the work of one James Hal Cone and his interpretation of Karl Barth (see Black Theology and Black Power), will his interpretation of Barth be included?

Also, if I exclude any argument from marginality in terms of race here, why do Barth and Augustine have to be the ones we return to (aside from Jesus Christ) when it comes to theology? Why not Clement of Alexandria? Irenaeus of Lyons? Do not Augustine & Barth lend themselves to particular theological biases? Call me crazy, but in the end, the RadOx and postliberalism movements are just lending themselves to being just another (maybe a more mainline, moderate?) wing of the Neo-Calvinist movement, where Calvin and Augustine, and then occasionally Barth are at the top theologically; that is, their interpretation of Scripture is viewed as also necessary for every Christian. Closed canons. Closed to bodies of color. Closed to women.

Indeed how we rank theology programs and theologians do more to tell us what bodies you value more than tell us the worth of any institution. Take R.R. Reno’s ranking of the top theological institutions: it is conceded that Duke Divinity School has the best of what the mainline has to offer, with “postliberal conviction.” Reno seems to betray his criteria, Duke is mainline but it is also orthodox, which is quite confusing for me, because isn’t evangelicalism supposed to be the space of orthodoxy? When it comes to prioritizing the hierarchy of theologians (re: bodies), and the closed space of the theological canon, what matters is not so called “doctrinal orthodoxy” but that space which is closest to what you want to deem ideal culturally. In short, making the white ambiguous, hegemonic CHURCH the answer to the world’s problems (postliberal Christianity) has more similarities to conservative evangelical’s dominionism, the idea of a “Christian” domination system.

It’s rather curious that a site/publication dedicated to just war theory and conservativism would praise Hauerwas and Hays, two outspoken pacifists, but it’s not about doctrine. Like the postliberalism that is now the supposed new orthodoxy, it’s about shared culture and linguistics, a reactionary social apologetic in the name of “tradition”. Yes, I have read George Lindbeck’s The Nature Of Doctrine, but have you read any criticism of his work? Cultural hegemony is prized over and against teaching (truth as propositional): the reign of cultural orthodoxy! And a return to Augustine (read:traditional white interpretations of Augustine of Hippo) and Karl Barth (read: traditional and newer white appropriations of Karl Barth’s Theology of the Word). While postliberalism claimed to call itself a different creature than either liberal or conservative, I think things like John Milbank’s email declaring Radical Orthodoxy to be the New Face of Historic Orthodoxy or Theology Studio’s uncritical assessment of Reno’s list put U.S. postliberalism/U.K. radical orthodoxy squarely on the right IMNSHO. Nothing wrong with being conservative, but being dishonest about your political and theological biases are!

Oh to not have to talk about race! Maybe if I bleach my skin and start talking about how THE CHURCH is the end all, be all of everything, then people will start listening to me more? Am I right?

h00die_R (Rod)

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Thoughts on Genesis, Creation, Science, and other Mythologies

When I was a kid, MTV was in its infancy. They still played music videos back then. In fact, that was all they played, if you can believe it. It was during that time that I started to really like the band Van Halen. Of course, the band was named after Eddie and Alex Van Halen, who were both amazing musicians in the band, but back in those days, I didn’t really care about the music so much. I remember watching Van Halen music videos and really loving them because of the insane antics of their front man. David Lee Roth would jump off of speakers, do karate kicks, and yell out nonsensical words, while wearing what looked like clothing made from cut up strips from 4 other outfits. He was the reason I liked Van Halen.

Unfortunately, as so often happens, various factors drove a wedge between the guys in the band. So, after their successful 1984 album, David Lee Roth was replaced by lead singer Sammy Hagar.

Now don’t get me wrong, Sammy Hagar is cool, and a good singer and all, but it wasn’t really Van Halen to me. It wasn’t what I had come to expect or enjoy. So I did what many of us do when real life doesn’t align to our desires. I ignored it. Whenever Van Halen would come on MTV, if it was David Lee Roth, I would keep it on. If it was Sammy Hagar, I would turn it off, so I wasn’t reminded of the reality. I would insist that my friends who liked Van Halen with Sammy were not true fans of the band.

In short, I was in denial.

We can be like that with our faith, too. If you have faith long enough, ideas and opinions will come along that challenge the way you have believed or thought. Sometimes, these aren’t a big deal.  For example, finding out that the Sabbath was Saturday in the Bible, not Sunday. Others, however, can be a very big deal indeed. For example, creation.

We all know how the story goes. There was chaos and darkness, then the divine got involved. Light was created. Then waters above and below were separated from each other. Then dry land was created. The sun, moon, and stars were next. Finally, humans were created as the capstone of this new world. This was all ordered around the number 7, and after it was all done, the divine rested.

Unfortunately, this story has caused many people to lose their faith. Because this isn’t just the story of Genesis in the Bible. This is also the Enuma Elish.

The Enuma Elish is an ancient Babylonian creation story, written down on seven tablets. It was discovered in the library of Ashurbanipal in Mosul, Iraq in 1849. It predates the writing of the Bible by hundreds of years. If you are tempted at this point to stop reading, you are not alone. There have been many who simply can’t process this because of an earnestly held belief about the Bible that they can’t bear to challenge. And there are many who would like nothing more than to use this text to destroy the faith of truly believing people who simply can’t explain how this new information can exist alongside their deeply held beliefs.

Hold onto that tension for a moment. The fear of letting go of a deeply held and important belief comes from not knowing.

What will it mean if I give up this belief about God? Can I still be a person of faith? If what I believed about this thing is wrong, what else about my faith have I got wrong? How far does this rabbit hole go?

The reason we are often too scared to confront these questions is that we don’t know the answers. We shouldn’t blame radically atheistic college professors for causing young people of faith to give up their religion. If a college kid decides that the things they learn at a college or university cannot co-exist with their faith, it is likely because that is what they have been told in their homes and churches. Well-meaning religious folks have often placed science or education at odds with faith, as if we have to choose one or the other, and we are told that “good Christians” will choose faith over science every time. Forced to make that decision, deeply committed people of faith have a decision to make. Many choose to give up on their faith, looking for a worldview that is more reasonable and logical. Others choose to simply deny the facts or science or history that they learn in favor of maintaining their faith. They treat education and learning like I treated Van Halen once David Lee Roth was replaced. The thought of losing something precious to them is so painful that it is easier, and often more authentic to their experience, to simply deny what is reality.

But what if there is a better way than either denying faith or denying facts? What if a different way, a 3rd way, actually leads to a more responsible engagement with life than either of those? What if it turns out that what God was and is doing through the scripture is far more radical and engaging than we ever thought? And what if it doesn’t mean we have to deny the truths of the universe to embrace it?

Yes, please.

You see, before the Bible was written down, the majority of it was passed down orally. The big exception being their laws. But for the most part, families and tribes would sit around a table or perhaps a fire, and tell and re-tell the stories of their people and their land that formed them and gave a certain order and story to their lives. Many of these stories told of what God had done for them in times past. Stories of ancestors and traditions and feasts. Stories of God.

Eventually, there was a need to write these stories down. That reason was Babylon.

When the huge number of Jews were taken from Israel to exile in Babylon, things changed dramatically for them. Everything about their life was thrown into chaos. They knew how to live life back home. They knew the best places to eat, they knew how to make a living.

Their relationship with God made sense.

But in Babylon, none of that mattered. They had to start over. And another thing… if God was so great, why didn’t God do something? The Babylonians had an answer for that one. For the Babylonians, if you were taken over by them, it meant that their god was more powerful than yours. Your god was beaten by theirs. And in Babylon, there were plenty of gods to choose from.

The story of Babylon threatened to overtake the story of the Jews. Imagine the little Jewish children being educated in the ways of Babylon. Imagine that instead of the story of the God of the universe being king over all that is, and having created it and loving it, instead you have the Enuma Elish.

The Babylonian story told of how the world was chaos. This chaos had a name. Tiamat. The great dragon. The linguistic root of the word Tiamat is the same as the Hebrew word Tahom, the deep. That is because she was the Babylonian goddess of the seas. A number of gods contended with Tiamat, with murders and trickery occurring, and lots and lots of yelling and thrashing and noise. The Enuma chronicles a younger god named Marduk making deals with the other gods in order to become king of the gods if he vanquishes Tiamat for them. Marduk battles Tiamat and rips her in two, forming the heavens with one half and the earth with the other. Marduk goes on to create the stars, moon, and sun. After, Marduk enslaves all of the other gods who sided with Tiamat. They are freed from this arrangement when Marduk kills Tiamat’s husband and uses his blood to make humanity, as slaves to the gods.

If this is how our story starts, with violence, conquering, disharmony, slavery, then won’t this form us into a particular people? What if that thought was simply unacceptable to the exiled Jews? What if they did something about it?

Stories have power. And so it appears that the Jews took the language of Babylon’s creation myth, filled it with what they knew their God’s character to be, and wrote it down in the form of what is called “temple literature.” First though, the similarities between the Enuma Elish and the Genesis account are not accidental, nor are they problems. The similarities are meant to evoke certain emotions and insert particular meaning to the story.

For example, if I start out a sentence with the phrase, “I pledge allegiance to the…,” most of us in America will know the next word is “flag,” followed up by, “of the United States of America.” Similarly, if I start out a sentence by saying, “Once upon a time, in a far off land…,” you know immediately that what you are about to hear is a fairy tale. There are shortcuts in our minds that let us know how our brains should process what comes next.

Now what if I say, “I pledge allegiance, to the flag, of the United Cartoon Kingdom of Mickey Mouse?” or what if I began a speech by saying, “Once upon a time, in a far off land, water can be formed by combining 2 hydrogen atoms with 1 oxygen atom?” Those statements mess around with our pre-conceived ideas about how those statements should end.

When Babylonians heard the Jews’ new take on their epic, it must have made them both confused and angry.

And for a group of oppressed, beaten down, broken, poor exiles, looking for a way to subvert  an empire that seemed as large as the world itself, this must have been exactly what they needed to fight back.

You see, in this story, there were no gods fighting. There was no yelling or screaming. There was no conquering. There was no slavery. There was 1 God, who didn’t shout, but whispered. This God didn’t need to strive and conquer to create. This God simply spoke. And this God did not find contempt in what was created, and enslave them. This God loved what was made and called it good. Not violence, conquering, disharmony, slavery. But conversation, peace, harmony, care. The difference is more powerful than the similarity.

But the language wasn’t all that was radical about the Genesis creation story. The framework, the poetry was important, too. The format of the Genesis story is what is called “temple literature.” This is an ancient form of religious poetry which details the building of an earthly temple as a residence for the god who would be worshipped there.

The temples in temple poems started off as non-functional.  They weren’t built and weren’t doing what they should. The poems describe first how the temple is built, with material. Now, the poems weren’t meant to provide a literal depiction of how the facilities of the temple were built, but instead, it laid out, in poetic forms, how the structure was organized for a particular function. After the structure of the temple was in place, it still wasn’t a temple proper. In order for a temple to be a temple, the structures had to be fulfilling their function. They had to be inaugurated and the structures used for their own particular function. To this end, the poems described how the previously discussed structures were then filled by functionaries and put to work. Then, after all of those things were in place, the god was said to “rest” in the temple that was provided for them, and they dwelt in this temple ever after.

The way that the god was said to dwell in the temple was through some sort of statue that was placed in the center of the structure. This idol of sorts represented the god in a very particular way. The difference between the god and the idol was often blurred so that it was taken for granted that whatever you did to the idol was considered as being done to the god. If the idol was worshipped in the temple, the god was considered to have been worshipped. If the idol was washed, the god was washed, etc… This was taken so seriously that when the idol of the god Marduk was stolen from his temple in Babylon, it was said that Marduk himself went into exile until the statue was returned.

Now read Genesis 1 again. The structure of it is that of a temple poem. But instead of a literal building being built, the world itself is God’s temple. And, after having created the “structures” (seas, land, heavens, lights, etc…), those structures are filled with functionaries (vegetation, animals of various types, and finally, humans), just like in temple poems. Of course the capstone of temple poetry is the placement of the idol in the center of the temple. And the same is true for Genesis 1. The phrase the Bible uses is “let us make humanity in our image.” The word image is from the Hebrew word “selem,” which also means idol. And when all of the prep work is done for God’s cosmic temple, God rested in it. Not that God ceased working on behalf of the universe, but that God took up residence among us.

You see, even from the beginning, God has not been trying to invite us up to God’s place. God has been telling us that the divine is coming down to be with us.

These Hebrews, by using the language of Babylonian myth, the poetic structure of ancient near-east temple poems, and infusing them with the character of their faithful and loving God, transformed and transcended that literature, subverting their oppressors, and saying something profound about God and God’s relationship with humanity that had never been said before. You might even say that it revealed the character of God in such a way that it was inspired.

And the end result is not anti-darwinist, nor is it simply a nice bit of fluff to explain things the ancients didn’t understand. It was a way of rebelling against an unjust empire, and in the process, making a profound theological statement that whatever you do to God’s image/idol – humanity, you have done to the creator God.

A message that Jesus would pick up and run with centuries later.

Perhaps it is time to reject the old false choice between giving up on faith or sticking our rational head in the sand. What if we have a God that would never force us to choose between faithfulness and reality? And what if that God might just be up to something far more interesting and powerful than simply deciding between religion and science?

Optimistic Chad

Chad really really hopes things are going to turn out ok. He loves his wife - with the passion of 1000 exploding suns, and is a diligent, but surely mediocre father to his brilliant and subversive children. He likes Chinese food.

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Thoughts About Star Wars, the Oppressed, and the Book of Genesis

Every journey has a beginning. So does every story. But sometimes, especially around popular stories, not everyone can agree on where the beginning is.

Take Star Wars for example.

(I suppose if you knew me, this is the point in which you would simply shake your head and stop listening, because you would say that I always bring Star Wars into the discussion. And you would be right. But this time, it is important.)

In 1977, Star Wars started off as a single movie. The way the film unfolded, it gave you the feeling that you were jumping in in the middle of a story in progress. Not everything was explained. People and places were referenced, but never fleshed out. It was even subtitled: Episode IV, a New Hope. There was mystery about what came before, and for those of us lucky enough to be kids during the original heyday of Star Wars, it was fertile ground for our imaginations to play in. Star Wars did so well in theatres that the 1 movie became 3. Then it began spinning off into cartoons, direct-to-TV kid’s films, books, and video games. While those all told stories not found in the movies, we could still all agree that the starting point for Star Wars was Episode IV: A New hope.

Then things got complicated. In 1999, a new Star Wars movie was released. It was titled, Star Wars – Episode 1: The Phantom Menace. This movie (along with the 2 movies that followed it) gave us information about the characters from the original films that we didn’t know. It explained how they got where they were, and what happened to them and around them that got them to the place where we were familiar with them. It gave us an origin story.

Today, if you ask a Star Wars fan where the story starts, you will likely get 1 of 2 answers. Chances are, if they were brought to Star Wars in the 70’s and 80’s, they will tell you that the story starts with the original trilogy (episodes IV – VI, and you can watch episodes I-III if you really want to). If you ask someone who came to like Star Wars in the 90’s or 2000’s, they will likely tell you that the story works best when you watch them in numerical order (I-VI).

Which is right?

Many of us have asked a similar question about our story. One author called it The Story We Find Ourselves In[1]. For the ancient Hebrews, the beginning of the story was God. Strangely enough, the story didn’t start with God creating everything. At least not until later. Their story actually started with God showing up to rescue a broken and poor people, who would eventually be called Hebrews. The story started when a God who defends the weak and releases slaves was revealed. That story would later be called the Exodus, and is collected in the Bible.

Yet, most of us know that the Bible starts with Genesis (a book about origins) and not Exodus. Why?

Genesis is sort of like the Star Wars movies released after 1999. They aren’t telling the main story. They are telling the story of origins. You know that group of people who were rescued by God? How did they become slaves in the first place? Who were they? Where did they come from? Genesis answers those questions. And yet, Genesis was never there to explain things about “them.” That is because the scriptures of the Hebrew Bible were written by ancient Hebrews for ancient Hebrews, as records of their history and their origins. So the questions that were answered by Genesis are not, “who were THEY?” but instead, who are WE? Where did WE come from? How did WE become slaves?

It might not seem like it, but that is an important distinction.

When I was in 3rd grade, I started to ride the bus to school. I quickly noticed what most people of my generation know well. The cool kids sit in the back. Of course, I was far from cool, and so I sat far from the back. But I was always trying to get back there somehow. Because in my head, if I was able to sit in the back, I would feel cool. Accepted. Wanted. So one day, I decided to do simply make it happen. I got to the bus stop early and I was the first in line. When the doors opened, I rushed to the back, and claimed my seat, right in the back row. As the cool kids began to shuffle in, they tried to get me to move, but I was determined not to lose my place at the proverbial cool table. I suffered the sideways glances and the whispers as we rode on, but when the bus stopped, and everyone was exiting the bus, I was put in my place.

My thought was that I would exit the bus as soon as possible to avoid a confrontation with the kids whose seat I had taken. So I hopped up and started bolting for the door as soon as the bus stopped. To this day I don’t know who it was, but one of the kids behind me shoved me down, face-first into the isle. I was nearly to the exit. But not quite. I was literally stepped on by ¾ of the kids on the bus as they made their way off… and kicked a few times by the cool kids.

I tried hard not to cry as I limped to my first class.

What I really needed was someone to come alongside me and tell me something like, “Don’t worry about them. You don’t need them. You don’t need to worry about what everyone thinks of you. You can do whatever you want, be whoever you want. You are better than those people who don’t like you.”

But no one said that. At least not then. Later, I would hear about the God of the underdog. I would be driven to the God who lifts up the outcasts, the losers, the left-out. The God who believed in me[2]. But at that moment, I had no one.

Now imagine for a moment that there was a Roman Emperor. Imagine that he was hated for how abusive he was. Imagine that he took advantage of everyone, especially the poor and the weak. Imagine that he indulged every whim, every indulgence, and that nothing was too evil for him to try. Imagine that those who spoke against him were killed, and that no one was safe from being tortured and killed under this madman’s reign. Now imagine if someone were to tell him the same words I wished someone had told me.

“Don’t worry about them. You don’t need them. You don’t need to worry about what everyone thinks of you. You can do whatever you want, be whoever you want. You are better than those people who don’t like you.”

The same words, those encouraging, uplifting, good words, when given to a different person, a different place, a different time, a different context, can become downright evil. If misused, good words can create a breeding ground for evil.

The same is true for stories.

Genesis, the story of origins, was written by and for Jewish people in a certain context. I f we are able to hear those words in a similar way as the original recipients would have heard them, they become nothing short of divine brilliance. But cutting those words and stories out of their original context and pasting them into a radically different context, or worse – trying to apply them universally, can be (and has been) disastrous.



[1] “The Story We Find Ourselves In” is the second part of Brian Mclaren’s “A New Kind of Christian” fictional book series.

[2] Thanks to Five Iron Frenzy for writing “Suckerpunch,” a song that put my life into words.

Optimistic Chad

Chad really really hopes things are going to turn out ok. He loves his wife - with the passion of 1000 exploding suns, and is a diligent, but surely mediocre father to his brilliant and subversive children. He likes Chinese food.

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I Joined #NaNOWrimo This Year: As a #NaNoRebel for Church History!

In case you hadn’t noticed a new logo on the side bar of this site, I have decided to do National Novel Writing Month this year, as NaNoRebel of course in Political Jesus fashion. National Novel Writing Month is a group of people dedicated to writing a fiction novel of 50,000 words or more for the month of November.

Taking a break from being a pop culturalist, I wanted to get back to my first love, Church History, and try do a possible book accessible for laypersons, but at the same time, challenge the way church history is being done. Right now, I am challenging the idea that church history starts with the Jewish and Christian split in the first century, as if Gentiles and Jews don’t have a back-story or context.

I promise to keep you all updated.

What would you look for in a church history book?

h00die_R (Rod)

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Who Did I Vote For in 2012 For President?: Making My Suggestions To The Electoral College Count!

By now, I have kept you in anticipation, dear reader, who did I “not vote” vote for?

Okay, knowing that only certified write-in votes would could, and knowing the list of those certified write-in votes, I still decided to write in Christ Jesus, the Prince of Peace.

It’s been two years, and yet Jesus for President is still my theme song!

h00die_R (Rod)

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The Powerful Witness of Voting In Local Elections Only: My follow up post on “Not Voting” #JesusPolitics

About two weeks ago, I wrote The Powerful Witness of Not Voting In National Elections, and today, I want to follow up with that, and talk about the Bible, and theology, and politics all together. Run and hide!!!

No, but seriously, today, I did vote, but I did not participate in the election ritual that was for the nation’s President. Our media is obsessed with rank and arbitrary power, talking points, and gotcha moments. As I educated myself last night about the one very important, and competitive local election for a local office, I watched a debate online, read a few articles, it was a toss-up (admittedly, I was leaning slightly towards one candidate) until I saw the results of the two candidates’ vote/action on Texas’ rape kit bill, and I was shocked. Pushed by Republican and Democratic leaders, and signed by a Republican Governor, the Rape Kit Bill eliminates a lot of red tape that Texas rape victims have to go through to just see the possibility of justice. It requires all police departments to submit evidence of rape within 30 days to crime labs. It would not have cost the state a cent! Yet, one of the candidates voted against this bill, claiming for economic reasons that it was not funded properly.

Let me put this into theological perspective. The male candidate, one of 8 no votes out of all the Texas Legislature, attends a conservative complementarian evangelical church. One of the times that I visited this place, we learned the story of the prophet Huldah in 2nd Chronicles 34, a woman who was a prophet of God, who lead Israel to bring back the Book of Deuteronomy. This church, ideologically closed to the theology of women as second class citizens, teaches that Hulah is not a prophet, she is only supposed to be called a “woman of God” since women can in no way speak or represent YHWH. Suffice to say, I was enraged not only for the women who were being excluded from the truth of this text, but because lies were being taught about the Bible. The text calls Huldah a prophet, in the original Hebrew. Think about that. so-called “inerrantists” who believe the Bible more than “liberals” and “moderates” only believe inerrancy as far as it affirms their misogynist ideologies.

So, yes, Franklin Graham I did vote my biblical values today. I voted with Huldah and the women prophets in the Bible. I voted no to a blind ideologue, regardless if others see him as a cookie-cutter Texas social conservative. I voted in local elections, I voted for either women, or voted against the incumbent in all of the races that had opposition. My ballot was filled with Greens, Libertarians, Democrats, and Republicans. But who did I vote for at the top? That’s for the next post!

h00die_R (Rod)

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Thoughts About Dads and Focusing Too Much on Heaven

One time, when I was 15, my dad and I drove halfway across the country. I have relatives in Arkansas that I saw perhaps once or twice every few years, and this was one of those times. We made this drive often enough that I started to remember the big milestones.

I remember the place along the I-40 with all the cars face-down in the dirt, half-buried with their backsides to the sky. I remember giant fake-dinosaurs, restaurants offering steak-eating challenges, and a giant missile on a Native reservation that advertised fireworks for sale. Those things always excited me when I saw them because they acted as signposts that we were getting closer to the end of the trip, and each milestone heralded our arrival at our destination.

What made this trip more memorable than the others for me was that for the first and only time, it was just me and my dad. The reason for this is lost to my memory, but I remember that it was the longest time I have ever spent with my dad alone. I was a few months away from my 16th birthday, and so I was still getting some driving time under my belt before I took the test that would lead to automotive freedom.

My dad let me drive almost the whole way.

I remember being overwhelmed with appreciation that the man would let me drive. I hadn’t driven very much at home, and whenever I would ask, it seemed like there was always something else he was doing. But now, he let me drive for hours on end. He trusted me to drive the car.

He also trusted me with a few other things on that trip. He trusted me with his thoughts about his own dad. He told me how he never really saw eye to eye with him. He told me that his dad was a hard worker and a good man. He told me that he was as thankful as he could be that his dad lived just long enough to hold me in his arms before he died. And he told me a lot of the things that he wished that he had said to him, but never got a chance to.

I wish we had more time to spend together, dad.

I’m proud of you, dad.

I love you, dad.

That time is burned into my memory. Credence Clearwater Revival was playing on the radio, the faint smell of manure and dust seeped through the window and the look on my dad’s face when he looked at me and smiled, as if to say, “don’t make the same mistake with me that I made with my dad.” After a while, the radio stations lost their signal and I would catch my dad singing softly to himself. I still remember the songs he sang.

Leader of the Band, by Dan Fogelberg.

El Paso, by Marty Robbins.

I never made that drive again. And I haven’t spent that much time with my dad alone since. I don’t remember anything about what we did once we arrived at our relatives’ place. I don’t even remember who all we saw. I do remember the journey, though. I realize that the milestones that were supposed to excite me left me flat. Every milestone I saw on this particular trip didn’t bring joy. It heralded an end to this journey, this conversation with someone that I should know much better than I do.

It makes me wonder. Where else in life do we miss what is important because we are looking too hard to the end? The last time we were with someone who loves us, did we savor that moment, or were we in a hurry? Were we distracted? What about the last time we ate our favorite food? Did we eat fast, racing to the end of the meal? Or did we savor the tastes and the company we were with?

While we spend our limited time on earth, are we busy looking towards the end? To Heaven? To the afterlife? Are all of our efforts, spiritual or otherwise, focused on getting us there at all costs? I wonder if we miss something important about God and about ourselves when we stare too far into the future. Does life now suffer if we don’t savor it because we are too busy reading signposts and milestones? Are we too busy getting ready for the end of life instead of living it?

The trip with my dad seemed long at the time, but it was fleeting. No matter how much I want to go back there, I can’t. Let’s not make the mistake of not really appreciating life as it is happening, because we can’t ever go backwards.

One more thing. If we misread the milestones, if we don’t interpret the signposts responsibly, if we actually get our thinking wrong about the end of the journey, doesn’t that raise really big and important questions about how we might be actually missing the whole point of… well, everything?

Optimistic Chad

Chad really really hopes things are going to turn out ok. He loves his wife - with the passion of 1000 exploding suns, and is a diligent, but surely mediocre father to his brilliant and subversive children. He likes Chinese food.

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Sunday Funnies: Dunk The Vote: Your Suggestions Count!

I would like to thank T.C. Moore for sharing this video of the Key and Peele skit on facebook; it puts the electoral college into plain speech. Great!

h00die_R (Rod)

priestly abolitionist time travelling supervillian

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Blog Posts Of Note:Week Of October 28th: Disney Buys Star Wars, Andrew Sullivan Is Still Crazy

From: io9: Darth Vader tells other Disney owned characters he’s their father!

There were some good posts around this week, I really wish my favorite bloggers would post more…..Just Prayin’!

Kevin Greenlee wrote about why All Saints Day should be preferred to Reformation Day: All Saints Day Vs Reformation Day

Abram K-J had an excellent post on All Saints Day on St. Moses the Black (4th Century); he also wrote on the Septuagint: How to Read and Understand the Gottingen Septuagint: A short primer part 1

Joel took a break from writing his book to comment on Andrew Sullivan’s “silly” comments about the Confederacy making a comeback: Andy Sullivan Misses A Few Things With This Cold Civil War Bit. For the record, on my part, Andrew Sullivan may be crazy, but he’s right for the most part. The Confederacy is making a comeback, if you don’t notice certain governors of southern states bringing back Confederate History month, you are turning a color-blind eye to reality.

Lastly, Amanda Mac had her Theology Round up, which speaking of Confederacy, she linked to The Gospel Coalition’s post on Abraham Kuyper, which was silent on how his theology became used during South African apartheid. Not surprising given the TGC’s support for paleo-confederates like Douglas Wilson.

I wanted to take the time to say something about Disney buying Star Wars. First of all, if you think George Lucas has given in to his (nerdy) critics because of the “pre-quels,” I think you are delusional. Lucas cares nothing about fans say, stop giving yourself so much credit. I am curious to see where Disney takes Star Wars with the next trilogy, I will be watching with cautious eyes. My biggest fear is that the ideology and practices of the Sith will be watered down, because that’s what Disney does, waters down violence and angry speech to attract families to come to their movies. The Disney channel, on the other hand, hypocritically teaches young kids through shows like iCarly about how to be obsessed with dating and romance. I am concerned, but it is Disney, and they did do the Avengers. So, yeah, I’ll sit back and wait.

Give the Heir to the Empire trilogy a chance, (motivate me to read it since I own them)!!!!

h00die_R (Rod)

priestly abolitionist time travelling supervillian

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