Just Keep Swimming. ..


It’s official:  America has elected the most unqualified, racist,  sexist demagogue in recent memory. 

White supremacy reigned last night, add the man with the KKK endorsement took the Presidency. 

So what do we do? 

Don’t panic (I’m working on that one myself). There are chances every day to build back the bridges Trump’s supporters are trying to burn,  to make this a country for all of us, not just straight white Protestant males and their wives.

In the words of Dory, “Just Keep swimming.”

Vote Today! No Excuses!


Like I said yesterday, the Republican candidate is a terrifying, unqualified, cruel,  egomaniacal, racist misogynist who’s advocated torturing the families of suspected terrorists and has allegedly sexually assaulted multiple women and allegedly even a couple of young teen girls … And who has bagged about sexually assaulting women when he didn’t realize the microphone was on. 

He’s demonstrated an unprecedented disrespect and disregard for the rule of law and even for the constitution. 

If you’re not a Republican,  step up to defeat him for obvious reasons.

If you are a Republican,  step up to defeat him and force your party leaders to nominates someone sane and qualified in 2020.

Election Forecast: Russian Roulette

Five Thirty Eight,  Nate Silver’s political polling and statistics site, gives Hillary Clinton an 85% chance of winning the U.S. Presidential election, about a 5 in 6 chance.

That leaves Donald Trump with about 15%, or 1 in 6, chance.

The same odds as Russian Roulette. Lovely. 

And the same outcome, at least for some people. Remember,  you’re voting for a man who’s promised to commit war crimes, intentionally target civilians, assassinate, and even torture the families of suspected terrorists, without trial.

Remember the 1990’s? Maybe it’s time to bring back the old bracelets & slogan: “What Would Jesus Do?”

Thoughts on the Presidential Debate 

Watching the presidential debates, it occurs to me that Donald Trump either cannot or will not answer the question as asked. 

He talks in whatever direction he wants to talk about, rambling on, repeating the same points and going over the same lines again. 

When asked about his earlier comment that Hillary didn’t have the presidential “look,” he claimed that he’d said she didn’t have the stamina to be president. 

He literally ignored the actual question and his actual (sexist, inappropriate)  comment. He pretended it didn’t exist. 

Clinton was specific and knowledgeable, going into detail. She went after Trump for being vague. I doubt that will hurt him much, but eventually he’ll have to give some details. 

Trump didn’t come off as a mad cartoon like he had in some interviews and soundbites.

But he was evasive, as if he either didn’t know the answers or didn’t want to answer the questions.

And sometimes he outright lied. Like how he repeatedly said he was against the Iraq war from the beginning, when he actually said in 2002 on the Howard Stern Show,  this: 



But revisionist history is pretty much a part of the Trump game. People are quick to buy that he’s the pro-life candidate, but he only “became” pro-life once it was time to run for office as a Republican. Before that, he was in favor of partial birth abortion being legal:

For the record, Clinton said she could support a ban on partial birth abortions so long as it had an exemption for the life and health of the mother. 

That’s more pro-life than Trump’s old position,  but less pro-life than the position he is vaguely but vociferously taking now, I think. 

Honestly, I’m worried. Trump sounded more reasonable and sane than I’d expected. 

I feel like we’re one step closer to having a bribe paying, scam college runningtorture advocating, warmongering, strip club owning, misogynist, unqualified, alleged child rapist as our president. 

Sigh.

I don’t want to sound like I’m trashing Republicans in general. I’m not. The GOP presidential field was pretty weak this time, but someone like McCain, Kasich, or even Romney would probably do a good job in the White House.

I know I’ve moved to the left quite a bit since I was younger, but Donald Trump really seems like the worst human being to run for president in my lifetime, maybe longer. I think he’s dangerous in a way that no nominee I’ve ever seen had been.

And it frightens me that so many sane, functional, good,  intelligent people disagree. 

It really frightens me that he may be leading our country for the next 4 to 8 years. 

I Didn’t Build This

During the campaign, the President made a lot of people mad by pointing out that every business owed its success to factors beyond its founders’ brains and hard work. He used the ill-worded (and frankly insulting) phrase, “You didn’t build this.”

Thanks to the wide availability of video-editing software, we got to hear that clip again and again and again. Well, once more won’t kill you.

Okay, now that you’ve watched it, let me ask a question. I promise it’s related.

We have so much. So why do we begrudge every tax dollar that goes to the poor? Why do we cling so tightly to the idea that we have earned all we have?

Maybe it reminds us that all we have comes from God, that we could just as easily have been born in Sri Lanka, in a village with no clean water, and helplessly watched our siblings, and later our children, die of cholera or dysentery.

We could have been born in Rwanda or the former Yugoslavia, and been caught in the genocide of their civil wars.

We could have been born in North Korea, and been crushed under the boot of a multi-generational dictatorship.

We could have been born to a fourteen year old single mother in an inner city, a girl who might read at a fourth grade level. To a mother that will never finish high school, will have no support from the father, and who may or may not have support from her family.

We could have been that young mother. A mother who will have to live on welfare and what little she can earn without a degree, and who will forever earn the scorn of respectable middle-class American Evangelicals as a “welfare queen.”

But we weren’t. We were born to families that didn’t have to worry about contaminated water, or genocide, or secret police, or grinding poverty and alienation. We were born in a country with the rule of law, modern infrastructure, and functioning social safety nets.

We didn’t choose to be born in the developed world, nor did we build it prior to our birth. And we didn’t build our parents, or choose them. Heh, maybe John Calvin isn’t 100% wrong, after all. We didn’t build these things in our home countries, but we can help build them in the developing world, through organizations like World Vision.

So, yeah, the President’s right (as much as I like to criticize him).

I didn’t build this. God did.

No matter how much hard work I put into, well, anything, I would have had no chance if I’d been born just one continent away. And the ugly truth is, neither would you.

Things I DON’T Repent Of

Communion Wine

I’ve been doing a lot of repenting lately, for my own past sins and the corporate sins I was a part of. And I make no apologies for giving those apologies. But I want to be clear on a few things I am not sorry for:

I don’t repent of believing in Jesus as the living, crucified, resurrected Word of God, begotten not made, who is with God and is God, through whom all things are made.

I don’t repent of believing that the Bible is the divinely inspired written word of God. Breathed by God, written by humans, profitable for study and meditation and growth.

I don’t repent of believing in prayer. I don’t know how or even if our prayers change God’s mind, but I know that praying changes me. That’s all I need to know.

I don’t repent in believing in the priesthood of the believer, believer’s baptism, sin, redemption, the Apostle’s Creed, and a God who is both just and merciful.

I don’t repent of my libertarian belief in civil rights and individual freedom. I didn’t leave the Republican Party; the Republican Party left me (right around the time when it embraced torture and indefinite detention without trial).

I don’t repent of my generally conservative/libertarian-ish political ideals. I’m no longer convinced of even the potential adequacy of private charity to replace governmental welfare programs, so I’m not really a true libertarian anymore. And I tend to think that our problem may be less the size of our government and more the corruption and cronyism within it. But I still generally believe that a lean, well-run government is better.

I don’t repent of criticizing President Obama for his indiscriminate use of drone strikes in nations we are not at war with. Predator drone strike he authorized have killed over 1,500 civilians, over 170 children.

And I don’t plan to stop challenging the narrative that he is some kind of compassionate, righteous leader who “cares” about children and strives for peace. He has as much or more blood on his hands than President Bush, and I do not intend to let that go unspoken.

I don’t repent of sharing community with people whose beliefs don’t line up perfectly with mine, either politically or spiritually. If I stopped, how would I ever learn?

I don’t repent of the churches I’ve been a part of, where I’ve had friendships (we call them “church family”) with both the very young and the very old, and everyone in between.

(One dear lady in our church remembers teaching elementary school in 1934. She told me a story from then: when Bonnie and Clyde were killed, the police brought the wreck of their car around so the children could see it. Something that seemed like ancient history to me was an adult memory to her. Where else would I find that?).

I don’t repent of criticizing evangelicalism from the inside. That’s where I am. I’m not an ex-evangelical, a former evangelical, or a recovering evangelical. I am an evangelical Christian with deep concerns that weigh heavily on my conscience and my heart. And I will speak them from within.

Words for the Sandy Hook Massacre

Grieving angel statue

Angel of Grief by Timothy Valentine, Creative Commons

Yesterday I wrote that I had no words, only prayers and mourning for the victims of the shooting in Colorado.

That wasn’t entirely true. As I watched my Twitter feed scroll by, as I browsed through Facebook, as I read comments at blog posts like this one (Rachel Held Evans’ painful yet beautiful post about grieving together), I found that I had many, many words.

Sterile, unhelpful words about the effectiveness of various gun control measures and the appropriateness of bringing politics up so soon.

Resentful, self-righteous words about the massive outpouring of public grief at the death of 20 American children and the collective silence and apathy over the death of 170 Pakistani and Yemeni children at the hands of our Predator drones.

Suspicious, disbelieving words about the President being overcome by emotion at the death of children, despite his culpability in the drone strikes.

Cynical, jaded words speculating as to just what rhetorical use politicians, preachers, and media personalities will put this to.

None of these words is worthy. None of these words is righteous. These words must not be said, must not be written, while the blood is still fresh, the wounds are still raw, and the bulk of the details are still unknown.

And being right is never an excuse for using someone else’s tragedy as a soapbox. They did not live and die so you or I could hammer our righteous talking points home.  The killer already mortally assaulted their humanity. We should not further degrade it.

And so I urge you to cast aside these words, or at least defer them. Take time to respect and share in the victims’ grief. Compassionately suffer with them.

If you can, imagine the inner torment of the killer. Consider what forces, psychological or spiritual, may have driven him to such violent, murderous madness.

Listen, and experience the sorrow. Don’t think about what you’re going to say next. And forgive those who fail to do the same. Please forgive me if I fail.

And pray, please pray.

After the Vote Rush (Wrestling the Partisan Angel)

Well, it’s all over but the shouting now.  The votes are (mostly) tallied, and the victor has been decided.  President Barack Obama has been re-elected, and will be our President for the next four years.

I’m dragging today, because I stayed up and watched the speeches last night.  Governor Romney was gracious in defeat, and seemed far warmer, more genuine, and more likable than he had during the campaign.  President Obama’s acceptance speech was Presidential, gracious, and even a little inspiring.

People predicted the apocalypse when President Obama was first elected. Others predicted a new post-racism, post-sexism utopia.  We got an Affordable Care Act modeled on Mitt Romney’s Massachusetts program, drone strikes against Pakistani and Yemeni civilians, no change on Gitmo, the end of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, continued surveillance, and slow-but-steady economic growth.

Competent, but surprisingly consistent with Bush, down to a similar disregard for civil liberties.

And despite the pundits’ alternate snarling and simpering, that’s what we’re likely to have for the next four years.  Some things will get better.  Some will get worse.  For the  most part, it will be more of the same.  America will survive, just like it would have under Romney.

So what is there to do now?  Only pray.  Pray for God’s guidance for President Obama and his family.  Pray for wisdom for all our elected officials of both parties.  Pray for our nation.  Pray that God will heal the divisiveness that turns us all to broken glass every four years.

Pray that we may be clearer, more compassionate, more insightful, more virtuous. Pray that we the people can model the virtues we want to see in Washington.

Pray for President Obama, whether you voted for him or not. And remember Romans 13:1-7. Pray for President Obama, whether you like or approve of the President’s policies (or abhor them), and remember that God loves him as much as he loves any of us.

Amen.

Election Day Communion

Election Day Communion 2012

Over 500 churches across the nation are gathering on election day, November 6, 2012, to hold communion.

We gather to remember that whoever wins, God is still in control.

We gather to remember that whoever we vote for, we are all still one in Christ.

We gather to remember our brothers and sisters in Christ who suffer persecution, who don’t get to vote, who don’t get to gather publicly.

We gather to pray for our leaders, whether we voted for them or not, that God will give them wisdom and compassion.

We are gathering at South 28th Avenue Baptist Church.  We may be few in number, but we will gather.

It’s not too late for your church to join the communion, to remember our unity.

Remember, we are all one in Christ – liberals,  conservatives, independents, Evangelical, Reformed, Mainline, Catholic.  We are all one in God’s love, all saved by the same Son, the same Redeemer.

Learn more here, at http://electiondaycommunion.org

 

The Audacity of Losing Hope in Politics

I know it’s easy, in this political season, to look at both candidates and lose hope.

One promises hope and change, but wages a drone warfare against Pakistani villages, killing hundreds of civilians. The other speaks the language of conservativism and the Christian Right, but spent his career dismantling businesses and shipping jobs overseas.

Both seem utterly in the grip of corporate interests.  Neither seems apt to bring an end to warrantless surveillance, extrajudicial execution, and indefinite detention.

Yes, they’re different, but they’re different like Nero and Julius Caesar were different.  One may be worse, one may be better, but neither one will be truly good.  God warned Israel against wanting a king, but Israel persisted.  It looks like we’re still reaping that harvest now [1 Samuel 8:10-18]

As you know if you’ve been reading this blog, I’m not going to be able to vote for either President Obama or Governor Romney, because of their use of (and acceptance of continued use of, respectively) Predator drones to strike Pakistani villages.

Killing men, women, and children, burning houses, and terrorizing  entire towns semi-permanently?  Cruel and pointless.  Defining as “militants” any male of fighting age who happens to be found in these areas?  Deceptive and arrogant.  Hiding these actions from public scrutiny?  Disreputable and disgusting.

Nobody seems to be taking this seriously.  Most of my ‘progressive’ friends and most of the Emergent Evangelical voices on the blogosphere are still singing the President’s praises, as if they’d never even heard of this.  My more conservative friends wholeheartedly get behind Mitt Romney, taking an “anybody but Obama” stance.

Even the Libertarian candidate, Gary Johnson hasn’t ruled out continuing the drone-slaughter, even as he promises to bring the troops home.  Apparently, Pakistani lives are cheap these days.

And both candidates who actually have a chance of winning are so beholden to corporate interests that we commoners hardly even matter.  Would I have voted for one or the other, if not for this slaughter?  Maybe, but it doesn’t matter now.  I won’t support this with my vote.

I’ve heard people say that President Obama isn’t a real Christian, but never because his hunter-killer drones kill Pakistani children.  No, it’s because he’s pro-choice and pro-gay marriage.  I’ve heard people make similar arguments about Governor Romney, because his economic policies will hurt the poor.

And everybody’s so gung-ho for their candidates that they seem to think the world will end if their man loses.

The world won’t end.  Too many rich people have too much invested in this crony-capitalist, “too big to fail” model.  The world will only end when God ends it.

And that’s the thing to remember.  God is not up for re-election.  God is the king of the universe, regardless of the popular vote or the electoral college.  As Christians, we have to remember that, and remember where our true loyalty lies.

I’ve heard people question whether any true Christian can vote for President Obama.  And I’ve heard the same thing about whether any true Christian can vote for Governor Romney (not because he’s Mormon, but because of his regressive economic policies and his pseudo-Randian VP).  Frankly, both positions are ridiculous.

Christians have a lot of reasons for voting for candidates, and questioning somebody’s commitment to Christ because they don’t share your political preferences is borderline blasphemous.  Election 2012 isn’t the Messiah versus the Antichrist.  It’s two rich, connected power-players competing for the most powerful prize on the planet.  If your conscience leads you to vote for one or the other, fine.  But shut up about God’s candidate.

As Christians, we need to maintain unity, with each other and with our neighbors of other faiths.  Whoever wins will be our President, but not our true ruler.  You don’t like Romney?  You don’t like Obama?  Try living under Nero or Caligula.  Try being a Russian or Ukrainian or Lithuanian Christian during the Stalin years.  Though many were martyred, God preserved his church, and it flourished, even underground.

To quote Longfellow, God is not dead, nor does he sleep.  No matter who wins or loses, we have to stick together, to pray together, to pray for whichever man makes it to the White House, to pray for our nation.  God is our Hope, not any man.