APOCALYPTIC PLEDGE OF ALLEGIANCE

I pledge allegiance to upside-down flags of the divisive partisan politics of the disintegrating States of America, and to the Republic for which they devour, what used to be one nation under many gods – or no gods at all (no longer “one nation” really, but at least we still have many gods), half dissolved, with liberty for gun toters, and justice for the rich (especially the rich and white) – oh and marijuana to sedate everyone else.

(The first casualty of war is the truth.)

“SPARK A NATIONAL CONVERSATION”

I just watched Lead Me Home on Netflix, a 40-minute documentary on homelessness in three major West Coast cities.  The short video documentary has a visual quality of a Hollywood movie, which makes it unique, but it is desperately (or is that thankfully?) short on time, plot, and details.  Somehow it manages to be almost great and yet almost lousy all at once.  (I cried.)

But I looked it up on IMBd where it is said the project “aims to spark a national conversation.”

Hmmm…

I’m conflicted about that too, really.  A conversation?  Like a book on my mom and dad’s coffee table in their living room – conversation?  Is that what we need?

But then on the other hand, if you are conversing, then you aren’t ignoring, and that surely has got to be a step in the right direction.  No?

Well, let me presume it is and do my little part to help set off the spark.

I have visited all three West Coast cities over the years, LA and Seattle both several times.  But it has been many years since I visited too, and though I went down to the original Skid Row in Seattle to share the love of Jesus with the bums there, I must say, the video is eye opening.  The ranks of homeless in these cities has swollen tremendously since I last visited; I was shocked.

I don’t know why they call those “squatters’ camps” since to my eye those are shantytowns woven right into the fabric of the city.  I’ve become accustomed to small town and rural life since living in Phoenix and Denver.  We have a homeless population here in Lubbock too, but nothing on that scale.  And it appears, based on the documentary, and information I have through the years, that the explosion of this problem has grown exponentially in recent years.

Homelessness has been there a long time, but these levels are recent.  And they are heartbreaking.

I’m game.

Let’s converse!

I’M NOT REALLY A GOOD EMPLOYEE

That’s not to say I am bad, though.

“Good” is a relative term, and so without some specific context, I am not inclined to use it with regard to myself.  At least, not with the kind of contextless context I have come to expect – like a one page resume.

Let’s get into this.

I am honest.  I have high standards of excellence.  I value loyalty.  I am sensitive to the feelings and needs of others.

How am I doing so far?  Am I a standout applicant yet?

Am I the best and most qualified applicant for the position?

Probably not.  I really just don’t compete.  If there are ten other qualified applicants, I am sure half or more are younger, faster, maybe even smarter.  Half of them are more dedicated.

I am a rather needy person.

I need time – let me say that again.  I need t – i – m – e to learn the ropes.  I need your patience.  I need it explained again.  And if the job is fast-paced, I will likely take even longer to learn it.

How am I doing now?

I got my education in Bible, not rocket-surgery.  How many jobs are there where that is required or desired?  I have an AA degree in … in … well, technically, it’s “manufacturing,” but really, it’s electronics – sorta, and was my local school’s answer to windmill maintenance.  I graduated top of both programs, but the electronics degree… well… that’s just not me.  I couldn’t set the clock on your VCR (don’t tell the young’uns what a VCR is).

But if you put the patience into the investment with me, eventually, you will find me to be a star on your team.  It’s happened before, and I am sure it can again.  I am especially strong as a partner, a teammate with one or two others.  I can be the team leader, but solitude is like Kryptonite to me.

I need enough money to pay the mortgage and keep my kids fed, but honestly… I hate money.  I really don’t want any.  IF I could find a gig where I got my needs met and a few simple comforts too, I could probably be so much more happy without a paycheck.  But where do you get that deal?

I mean, think of working in a family business 100 years ago in most any city or village.  You have two or three brothers and sisters working along with your parents, possibly aunts and uncles and cousins too (if it’s a really big operation).  You live in the same house or neighboring houses, likely on the same plot of land.  You eat meals together – nearly all of them.  You order a few needful things out of the Sears catalog (don’t explain that to the young’uns either), and so what do you need a paycheck for?

I could be happy like that.  But the world practically won’t allow it now.

I mean, who writes a resume in that gig?  You get promoted, if that is even a thing, when your grandpa dies, your dad dies, and/or your oldest brother dies.

But look at the stability of that life!  Where are all the homeless encampments?

I don’t want to overstate it, but when you contrast it with modern life, there’s little or no divorce, you share the bath water with the siblings in good times and bad, and everyone shares the burdens and blessings together.  No one thinks of you as an “employee” at all.  You are brother or uncle and to a few maybe Dad, but you are in practically no danger of being fired or laid off EVER.  You learn a set of skills, and over time you become very good at them.  The whole community comes to rely on you and your family for the service you provide.  And your reputation is not merely yours earned, but yours both earned and received as a gift.

I like to think I could fit in that gig very well, if given the chance.

But they don’t offer that deal at McDonalds or Walmart.

So, I am a street minister giving away my services to those who cannot pay or hold down a job or at least a living instead.  And I am not a very good employee.

YOU MIGHT BE A PROPHET… (IF JEFF FOXWORTHY SAYS SO)

People often come to me and say, “Hey, Agent X, how do you know you are a prophet?”

(Not really.  Only in a recent fantasy, but not in real life.)

And I tell them, “Well… in truth, I never actually call myself a prophet.  I do, however, embrace the call.  It’s a reluctant thing with me.  The faith heritage I come from frowns on this, and it gets no respect there.  And in fact, as callings go, my experience is like losing at a game of musical chairs; when the music stopped, this calling was the only ministry left for me.”  Yeah, originally, I didn’t want it.

But I won’t get into all that.  It’s been said before, mostly.  However, I want to ask others to consider carefully if this isn’t their calling too.  And what easier way to do that than to invoke Jeff Foxworthy?

The fact of the matter is that if God calls you, you have met his criteria.  Will you be faithful?  Will you answer the call?

But beware, it’s not some high status calling.  Not in God’s court.  Maybe in Pharoah’s court, Nebuchadnezzar’s, or Ahab and Jezebel’s, but not God’s.  This is not a calling to self-advancement but to God’s.  All that is required is for God to speak through you and for you to be faithful with his message.  It’s a very low bar for such a high calling.

In fact, if God can speak through Balaam’s Ass, you might be a prophet!

If something good comes out of Nazareth, you might be a prophet!

If Mary, a virgin, gave birth to Jesus, and if he was really the Son of God, you might be a prophet!

If you preach for no pay or worse yet, you take a beating for preaching God’s word, you might be a prophet.

If whores, beggars, and all their lame friends pack your place so that there isn’t room to get in or out, you might be a prophet.

If you ever got thrown overboard at sea and swallowed up by a giant fish, you might be a prophet.

If you ever started a riot by preaching the gospel, you might be a prophet.

If you dance around beating a brick with a stick, you might be a prophet.

If you speak out against an ungodly king and counsel him unpatriotically, you might be a prophet.

If you ever married a whore and loved her, you might be a prophet.

There are two kinds of prophet, those who speak for God and those who speak for the money (or positive feedback) – who butter people up for favor.  There are true prophets and false prophets.  The latter tend to work for kings and rulers, telling them what they want to hear.  The former tend to earn a prophet’s wage.  (Exceptions, of course, but not the rule.)

So, don’t think high of yourself if you answer the call.  Think high of him who calls you.  No. You are not worthy, but you get to be part of the solution rather than just part of the problem.

REPUBLICANT’S & DEMON-CRATS (THIS KIND… ONLY BY PRAYER)

And when Jesus had stepped out of the boat, immediately there met him out of the age that is passing away a man with PRESIDENTIAL AMBITIONS.  He made it is business to Make this present evil Age Great Again.  And no one could HINDER him anymore, not even with a SEX SCANDAL, for he had often been bound with LAWSUITS and REGULATIONS, but he wrenched the REGULATIONS apart, and he broke the LAWYERS in pieces.  No one had the strength to subdue him.  Night and day among the POLITICAL HACKS and in the PENTHOUSE he was always TWEETING out and cutting himself with LIES.  And when he saw Jesus from afar, he ran and fell down before him.

Can you believe it?  He actually ran and fell before him!

Somehow, I can’t believe that you believe it, but he did!  He ran and fell before him!  Stunning, I know!

But wait!  There’s more….

And crying out with a loud voice, he said, “What have you to do with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I adjure you by God, do not torment me.”  For he was saying to him, “Come out of the man, you ARROGANT, and SHAMELESS, POLITICAL AMBITION!”  And Jesus asked him, “What is your name?” He replied, “My name is THE LARGEST INAUGURATION CROWD IN HISTORY, for we are many.”  And he begged him earnestly not to send them out of the country.  Now a great herd of PAGAN HORDES was feeding there on the blood of the saints and the poor, and they begged him, saying, “Send us to the PAGAN HORDES; let us enter them.”  So he gave them permission. And the ARROGANT, and SHAMELESS, POLITICAL AMBITION came out and entered the PAGAN HORDES; and the ARMED CROWDS, numbering about two thousand, rushed into the CAPITOL BUILDING like a FRAT CLUB and someone took a COUNTRY CRAP on the desk.

Some parts of this story are easy to believe.  Other parts are all but impossible.

Which parts do you find hard to believe???

I bet right about now (assuming you are reading this far) you are dividing your mind up into political categories.  Part of you is digging in your political/emotional heels WHILE you read this sentence, and is already pledging your allegiance to one political party or the other.

But I wonder – I hope – there is at least part of you reading this far feeling a bit more disturbed by the cavalier latitude I take with Scripture.  Is this “prophet” being faithful to God and his Word?  For THAT is actually a far, far, far MORE important matter.  (Just sayin’.)

Of those who are taking the Bible seriously here, I ask again: Can you believe it?  This man comes running to Jesus, bowing low and begging mercy?

I NEED this.  I think you do too.

There is a divide here in this passage that does not cut down the middle of American politics, at least not along the dotted line you find in “the media.”  Look again.  Which parts of this story are hard to believe, and which parts are easy?  What makes the difference?

Can you see it?  Can you see the invisible line running the Jesus way through this story?

The hard parts to believe are the humble bits.  It is so very easy to believe the proud and arrogant bits, but the humility is almost impossible.

Let’s pick up the Bible again.

And when they came TO the DISCIPLES, they saw a great crowd around them, and scribes arguing with them.  And immediately ALL THE CROWD OF GOD’S PEOPLE, when they saw him, were greatly amazed and ran up to him and greeted him.  And he asked them, “What are you arguing about with them?”  And AN ABBA from the crowd answered him, “Teacher, I brought MY (EXODUS 4:22) SON to you, for he has a SPIRIT that makes him MUTE.  And whenever it seizes him, it throws him down, and he foams and grinds his teeth and becomes RIGID. So, I asked YOUR DISCIPLES to cast it out, and THEY COULD NOT.”  And he answered them, “O faithless generation OF GOD’S PEOPLE, how long am I to be with you? How long am I to bear with you? Bring him to me.”  And they brought the (EXOD. 4:22) SON to him. And when the spirit saw him, immediately it convulsed the boy, and he fell on the ground and rolled about, foaming at the mouth.  And Jesus asked this nameless son’s ABBA, “How long has this been happening to him?” And he said, “FROM HIS YOUTH (EVER SINCE EXODUS!).  And it has OVER THE COURSE OF HISTORY cast him into fire and into TRIBULATIONS & EXILE to destroy him. But IF you can do anything, have compassion on us and help ISRAEL.”  And Jesus said to him, “‘IF you can’! All things are possible for one who believes.”  Immediately the ABBA of the child cried out IN HUMILIATION and said, “I believe; help my unbelief!”  And when Jesus saw that ISRAEL came running together, he rebuked the unclean spirit, saying to it, “You mute and deaf spirit, I command you, come out of him and never enter him again.”  And after crying out and convulsing him terribly, it came out, and the (EXOD. 4:22) SON was like a (3-DAY DEAD OR BAPTIZED) corpse, so that most of them said, “He is DEAD.”  But Jesus (THE SPIRIT BEARER) took him by the hand and lifted him up, and he arose.  And when he had entered the house, his disciples asked him privately, “Why could we not cast it out?”  And he said to them, “This kind cannot be driven out by anything but HUMBLE prayer.”

Oh boy!  Here we go again taking cavalier latitude with Scripture!  

Disclaimer: Okay, I will freely admit that the tweaking I have done with Scripture injects it with MY interpretation, and I acknowledge that with humility on my part, thus pray on it before you blindly accept it.  But I ask you to take it seriously too, reason with it, and see if God’s Word doesn’t illuminate your world afresh as you give me a hearing.  You are perfectly free to reject it afterward, and even I don’t regularly read Scripture this way.)

St. Mark mentions demons numerous times in his gospel, but he features two for special attention (chapters 5 and 9) which you have just read about in this post.  As near as I can tell, they are essentially the same demon (or from the same family), but flying two different flags.  The first one flies the flag of Rome, the second one the flag of Israel.  In both cases, the demon afflicts these people with pride and contempt, with lording it over others.  We might call these/this demon(s) “Them & Us.”

With emphasis on the Us.

If you were a young Jew of about fightin’ age the first time you read Mark’s gospel, and if you thought Mark was recruiting you into a zealous, rebel force to defend the temple against Rome as you read it, you would be confronted first with the Roman demon.  And you rightly would recognize this demon cannot be bound with shackles and chains, though many have tried, and you would rightly see that his way of life is of the Age passing away (like living in the tombs) rather than awaiting The Age to Come (eternal life).  You would look out your door and see Legion, alright, and all of that would ring true easy enough, but to see Rome come and bow down before Jesus, pleading mercy, would shock you.  And if you in anyway were to view Jesus as God’s chosen Messiah, you would want to see Rome so humbled before him.  Or, turning that thought around the other way, if Rome were to come beg mercy from him, he must surely be great and chosen of God!

(And we must recall that the Emperor Constantine in fact baptized the empire just a few centuries later!)

But when you, the young Jewish rebel recruit, get to that second, nameless demon, it would subtly sneak up on you that Mark’s Jesus has prophetically cast all of Israel in his little proph-O-drama.  Everyone on scene is Jewish, and we have a father, an abba to this boy, who comes with his demands for salvation.  The boy is literally a son of the father.  (Let me say that again: he is the SON of the FATHER – literally – and you meet another character in chapter 15 who goes by this name: Barabbas – bar Abbas, and he is a proud rebel too.)

Maybe we could call this demon (or family of demons) “the love of power” or the POWERS family of demons and watch Jesus pit against them the power of love (or more specifically, power of humble prayer).  IF you want to be rid of the one infesting you, you must go humbly ask your ABBA to get rid of him, because THIS KIND ONLY COMES OUT WITH PRAYER.

Back to chapter 9, though, Jesus is casting characters in his apocalyptic proph-O-drama, and this Son of the Father (otherwise nameless in this text) stands in for all of Israel.  It helps if you recall that the Bible speaks of Israel as God’s son on various occasions, the very first time being found in Exodus 4, where Israel is oppressed by the Pharaoh of Egypt and God tells him, “Hey, Buck-o, that’s my son you are picking on.”  If you recall, the God of Israel then proceeds to kick some pagan butt with 10 horrible plagues, culminating in a visit to Pharaoh’s own son by the Death Angel.  All of these things are stage props and backdrops in Jesus’s proph-O-drama.

So, what does this demon plaguing the son of the Father have to do with the Legion?

They both love power.  The one bearing the flag of Israel may seem small and powerless, but he still loves power and craves it.  If you just have FAITH, you know that eventually God is going to kick the butt of pagan empire, and when Our God, who is bigger than your god, finally does it, we are going to dance and gloat with delight!

Problem is… until now, no one has noticed that Legion lives in the tombs and the son of the Father is as good as dead.  Neither of these will flourish in God’s Reign and the Age to Come.  Both are parasites at best.  Principalities and powers out of whack!

But it should be a shock to your system also that according to this apocalyptic proph-O-drama, the son of the Father (Israel at large) has an unclean spirit!

Hmmm…  I asked above, “Which parts are hard to believe?”  At that moment in this post, my readers were reacting to the post digging heels into politics and emotion and dividing up along party lines.  But we are finally at a point where I can say to you, the parts easy to believe are the proud parts.  The parts of the story hard to believe are the humble parts, particularly the ones we hold in contempt.

We believe that man who can’t be bound with shackles and chains.  We have seen him; we know him.  Some of us even love him!  But when this great one comes begging mercy, that’s a huge dose of humility that is just very hard to believe.  This is not a man prone to beg mercy.  And likewise, finding a demon within US, one the disciples cannot cast out – for that matter, it is hard to believe.  That calls forth a humility we aren’t prone to answer.

Wow!  If you are still with me, I am impressed.  Can I get an “amen”?  Just drop down to the comments and leave me the “amen” if you are still with me, because I want to know.  I have a strong suspicion that out of the few readers I get, most have bailed on this post by now.

So… what does all of this have to do with you and me, with Demon-crats and Republican’ts?

Well, I live as a Christian in the modern-world version of Rome.  This means I struggle with both demons at once, and sure enough, this fantastic country which once was the envy of the world is ravaging itself apart FOR THE SECOND TIME in its brief history.  Even things like vaccines have become divided up, taking sides in a “two party[pooper] system.”  The bitterness on both sides is noxious, and yet at nearly every turn, I find myself being shoehorned into one side or the other.

I think you feel it too, unless you have wantonly given yourself to one side or the other already.  Then you just feel smug about your rightness as the whole nation burns up in eternal flames.

I tend to pick on Republican’ts more than Demon-crats, not because I champion Dems, but because the church has so thoroughly sided with the Cants!  We have a demon!  Can we pray?

Oh… you don’t want to face the demon in Us.  Of course.  That is humility a Cant can’t stand for.

My neighborhood is filled with fine, Christian homes and their yards and flowerbeds boasting placards in red, white, and blue that say “Pray for America” some of them even citing II Chronicles 7:14 as if there is something humble about this proud sign bobbing in the daisies!  Just because it says “humble” in the sign in no way means it is, and the fact that the son of the Father can’t see it, is revealed in Jesus’s proph-O-drama of old.  In some places, the same yard (or the neighbors) post signs and flags reading “Trump 2020… No More B*llshit!” or, heaven help us, “FUCK B*den.”

Do you really think that the God of Jesus, the God who comes incarnate to die a humiliating, agonizing death at the hands of both demons so that he can wrestle the power of LOVE from the love of power finds humility in any of that?

It’s right in that death that he takes a crown and receives the dominion once given to Adam and Eve.

IF you have read this far with me, I hope you will pray with me now too.

I would love it if you would leave a prayer in my comments.

Thanx

THE SILENT, MORAL minority

If there’s one thing you’ve learned from the last five or six years (though most of you have not internalized it), it’s that the moral is in the minority.  

So, let me be the first to say it, to get it out there in the open.  Because, when I was a kid, there was a very loud “majority” who claimed to be “silent” and “moral.”  Got a lot of press, they did!  And well… the way the world worked (this was back with it still “worked” sorta), it was very difficult to see past that.  The “moral” was very vocal about its silence and majority.  You were supposed to fear the sleeping giant!  Soon the church jumped on the bandwagon and became part of the very loud “silent” and “moral majority.”  

It just seemed like the right thing to do.

These days, the church is still on the bandwagon (though I don’t hear as much about the silence or the morality) and wants to MAGA with a self-professed pussy-grabber at the helm.  That’s not moral; it’s the bluff called on selling out back when I was a kid.

I am now giving voice to the silent moral, but he is in the minority.  The majority up and left their first love, and now the moral is alone in minority.  Also, silent – so far.  

Now, I know some of you (okay, both of you), my dear readers reading here look at a blog referencing “prophets” and think, “Who made you the mouthpiece of God?”

That is a good question, especially since I am a man of unclean lips.  But as my church so poignantly, so elegantly, put it, “[I] can scream at the top of my voice, [they’re] not listening!”  (I can link you to the post I published shortly after that upon request.)  So, here’s the irony on all of that: I speak for the God no one is listening to anyway, promoting a morality no one wants, and pointing out he is alone there, which sounds so weak and disgusting that I don’t get a hearing anyway.

Therefore, as my inner psychotic will tell you, I get to play the part of God in this little proph-O-drama.  Not the role he gives Joshua or Jehu, but something more humble, even shameful, and on par with Hosea or Jesus (back when the wood was still green).  I can scream at the top of my voice; you are not listening.

Meanwhile, both the “church” and the pagans are watching the world fall apart.  Not all of the kings whores, nor all the king’s men, can put Humpty back together again.   

So, let me ask you this:

What do you think it FEELS like to be God right about now?  

Do you even care?

WE KNOW WHERE YOU LIVE; YOU ARE BEING WATCHED (MY INNER PSYCH PATIENT)

Hmmm… That sounds threatening.  “We”?  As in there’s more than one of you interested in me?  I am having trouble believing that.  Not actually sure, but when coming from someone anonymous on the internet, and that is all the context, threat is the first option to consider, followed immediately by self-assessing for paranoia.

Of course, it isn’t paranoia if they really are out to get you.

Ahhh!  And now, just that fast, we are in full-blown CRAZY mode.

Yup!  Welcome to my world.

I am always just two steps from psychosis, delusions, and beliefs about God (rarely hallucinations, but I have a funny pot-smoking story from my youth which tempers that observation – more on that another time).  

I count myself among the sane, but just barely, and anyway, all the inmates say their sane.  If I had got this message off the TV, then I would be just one step from nuts.  As it is, three fourths of the time, I pick up these signals just from my fantasy life.  However, you gotta flex that fantasy muscle so you can think your way through these mind traps.  After all, like Dave Mustaine said, “If I know I’m going crazy, I must not be insane.”

Amen to that!

All of which leads me back to God.  A word of theology from the nut hut.  This might involve a bit of biblical theology at some point, but it’s not based there.  This is more philosophical theology filtered through shallowly subjective experience.  (Let that bake your noodle.)  It’s more Fight Club meets Matrix (oops, I just broke two rules and attracted attention from the Smith units.).

It’s like I always tell the psych patients, “Frankly speaking, it was being frank with others that got me in here to begin with….”

Words to live by!

But for some real insight, I try to tell people that you gotta know who you can trust.  Trust is so important in God’s good world, and you seriously gotta know who you can trust.  And that is true as can be!  Right as rain it is!!!  But I find it’s like so much else you can say in today’s world, once you’ve said it all, you’ve said nothing.  

The only thing I can find of substance is LOVE.  True LOVE, though, is not found in fallen people, it’s found in fantasy and/or faith.  But nowhere else.  

Are you still with me?  Of course, you are.  Even if you are only a reader in my mind.  Thanx for listening.  It’s lonely without you.

Hey, I’m not a psych patient, but I play one in my mind.

Look.  I didn’t take a major in English or poetry or drama.  Just the required course work, but I find, out of all the required coursework which wasn’t part of my major, the English Department helped my major the most.  I only mention that to justify the fact that I never actually read George Bernard Shaw’s play about Joan of Arc, but I did read Walter Wink’s discussion of a particular scene in it.

And I gotta say, Wink’s work is simply indispensable to modern theology, especially biblical/Christian theology.  But as a conservative Bible student, I love his work on one page only to hate it on the next, and it keeps toggling back and forth like that causing me to writhe in pain and ecstasy unparalleled anywhere else except for Queensrÿche’s Operation Mindcrime album.  (Let that bake your noodle.)

Anyway, Wink, describing Shaw, describing Arc (Can I call her Arc, or should I say Ms. Arc?), depicts a scene at her trial where she is interrogated by the prosecution.  The prosecutor says something like: You say God talks to you.  She responds with: Yes, God talks to me.  He counters with: That is just your imagination.  She shuts him down claiming: Yes.  That’s how God talks to me.

Bam!

Suck on that!  And let it bake your ever-loving noodle!

So, anyway, I am being watched.  

Well, DUH!  Between Alan Parson’s Eye In the Sky, Judas Priest’s Electric Eye, and Rockwell (whoever that is), I always FEEL like somebody’s watching me!

I try to purposely leave my phone outside the bathroom (or deep in my pocket) all the time because I know that between the FBI and the NSA, that little camera is always potentially rolling, and some stuff is just too personal!  I just imagine some lacky in the back office switching between his hunt for terrorists and internet porn, and suddenly rolling across me using the bathroom and then making sport of me without my ever knowing it, except that I am paranoid (unless they are really doing that).

Ha!  And I am nuts because I believe in God!

Look at you!

Are you still reading this?

I hate to break it to you, but you are just a figment of my imagination.  

Ha!  Joke’s on you!

AND NOW ALLOW ME TO BE WRONG AND LIE ABOUT ABORTION

(Disclaimer: Considering how my post about justice in recent murder trials actually stoked a real reaction, perhaps I should just say how I really feel about abortion laws too!  Hopefully, I get reaction again, however, hopefully some thoughtful dialog instead of cheap shot, hit -n- run comments.)

Once again, my opinion here is not the best, most comprehensive, and is only marginally legal.  Therefore, it is of little value in the big conversation, I think.  But it’s mine, and if you care to read it, you actually may discover something new said about the issue, for one thing, and for another, it might just be relevant too.

What can I say about abortion?

Let me say right off the top that I am against it.  I think taking a human life is so egregious in nearly every circumstance already (even in war) that, of course, I am against it.  Even more, I find abortion to be an extreme case of killing, since the unborn child is surely the most innocent creature in creation!  To be frank, I don’t support it for rape or incest either.  Such crime is not the baby’s fault, and punishing the child is just not loving in any possible scenario I can imagine.

There, I stated all of that right at the start AND put it in bold font so that I can be VERY CLEAR about this.  I do so because I find this to be such a hot button issue that anywhere in the discussion where it even appears I might give an inch will, for a lot of folx, appear to be utter betrayal of my position.  But I think that says more about the state of the debate in the public sphere than it does about the strength of my views.  So, I invite readers to comb over my remarks CAREFULLY and point out any inconsistencies where I undercut the position I state above.  I will be interested in your rebuttal!

Hmmm…

So, the way this issue normally gets framed, as I see it, is a “right to life” vs. a “right for women to determine their own body.”  Does anyone think I am getting that much wrong?  Aren’t those the two stated positions of the issue in the broad debate?

By the way, let me go on record and say that I value BOTH of those ideals.  I happen to hold the human life in higher regard than a woman’s rights about her body, but in practically all scenarios where these two ideals are not in conflict, I definitely hold to a woman’s right to decide her health and body.  

Now… I am aware that a right to “life” is purposely and prominently placed in the Declaration of Independence, which suggests it is a founding pillar of our society.  I will be happy to point that out, however, as a Christian with a biblical worldview, I see no reason to rely on that fact.  I seek principles for this discussion founded in deeper foundation than that.

God is LOVE and Jesus gives his life rather than takes life as a demonstration of that love.  I believe in that ideal, and I think it weighs infinitely more than anything we find in “man’s law.”  

That said, I would hope we all live by the LOVE of God as sort of a law of LOVE, or God’s law, and that “man’s law” would bow to it.  But even God’s word tells me to respect government and civil authority, “man’s law,” and conduct myself peaceably therein to the extent I can.  This is where things begin getting complex, I think.

I honor the “man’s law” of the land which has allowed for abortion most of my life.  This despite the fact that I find our rights to abortion as a huge inconsistency to our founding principles as a nation and God’s law.  At least abortion is not something forced on me.  If that were the case, THEN I would feel compelled to stand up against the law (by that I mean if the law dictated that my child be aborted for whatever reason).  As it is, I can abide by the law without following it on the one hand.  On the other, I can try to influence others not to abort.  I can, though I choose not to, protest the law or protest abortion clinics.

Some, of course, have opposed abortion with murder.  This then is ironic at a whole other level.  Blowing up abortion clinics or shooting abortion doctors, certainly opposes abortion, but it fails to honor life, which undercuts the original concern (or possibly shows the true colors of the opposer as more hellbent about being in opposition than in actually being true to the ideal).

Likewise, I find it disingenuous to call opposition to abortion “right to life” if the bulk of those same people opposing abortion support war (really at any level or of any kind) or the death penalty.  Of course, it is easy to think you support those forms of killing reluctantly, and I do to reluctantly, but my measure of reluctance is far more extreme than practically anyone I know.

This, then, is an aside, but allow me to explain, I am and was against the Iraq war and spoke out against it among my church friends before it even started.  I was even against the war in Afghanistan too, except honestly, I didn’t speak out about that one simply because I knew I was wasting my breath.  I also was against the first gulf war.  I really think Christians should be seeking peace, even at the cost of our own lives, and I find practically all wars I ever studied have failed to seek peace in that way.  Also, I am against the death penalty in every case, even proven beyond a reasonable doubt – the only exception being the unrepentant.  There are some killers who are caught and refuse to repent or show any remorse, they remain proud all the way to the death house, and I think that those very few killers probably should be sent to face Jesus.  I don’t know anyone who shares these views.

Back to my point now, I think that rather than calling this position “right to life,” we should more rightly call it “anti-abortion,” since very few of us are actually standing for the right to life on its own terms.  I think the honesty and clarity would help.  And anyone who will kill an abortion doctor isn’t really interested in the right to life, but in the punishment/deterrence of abortion.  I think our insistence speaks to our contempt for the other side of the debate, demonstrating even verbally, a measure of hostility rather than peaceability.  

Shouldn’t we seek common ground with those who want abortion?  What if we found some?  What if we Christians told our culture that we will take ANY unwanted babies in ANY condition no questions asked?  We will give those little humans life.  What if we put our Christian money where our Christian mouth is?

Would this stop abortion?

Some think it would.  If the church really did that?  Yeah.  It really might.

But maybe not.  Maybe not all at once.  But look at that carefully before you just kneejerk react.  

IF –IF– if the church REALLY made this offer and lived up to it on a mass scale, it would make news.  Every woman would hear of it and know this is a genuine option.  Very few women go through abortion with no internal conflict, and this lovingly leans on that in the right direction.  You have to be seriously coldhearted to undergo abortion after that, and this will not be lost on the watching world.  And the world will be watching IF the church REALLY lives this out!

This kind of response does not kill any doctors, it completely honors life!  It sacrifices life for life.  It does not lord it over others!  It humbly serves others.  But it brings conviction to the heart and bears witness to LOVE, something God’s creation yearns to see.

This last observation, then BEGINS raising other subtle matters in my mind about changing the law, about overturning Roe V Wade.  When a bunch of Christians come together to apply political pressure through votes and judges and protests and the like, they are attempting to lord it over others – something Jesus clearly prohibits.  Surely, we need to look for the Christian influence the church found in a Roman Empire where the church had no vote, yet changed the world!  I think the modern church’s imagination is stunted.

That’s not all.

I also think that overturning Roe V Wade will very likely have two major unintended consequences.  (Let me just say this first before describing that: Any and every life saved by changing the law is cause to celebrate, I think, and I don’t want to miss out on that, but…)  Overturning the law will not, in fact, end abortion.  Reduce it?  Yes, I think so; I hope so.  But it will not eliminate it, and instead will lead to far more dangerous procedures performed by desperate people.  

Also, for those who then carry the baby to birth, a crap ton of them will opt to put those babies INTO the SYSTEM of foster/adoptive care!  Suddenly, the SYSTEM will be flooded with newborn refugees, something I don’t think conservatives are ready for.  That will be a huge burden on tax and services – something I would hope Christians were getting ready for anyway, but which I don’t think we do.  Instead, I think Christians very naively hope that by passing a law against abortion, suddenly a lot of immoral living pervading the public will just suddenly clean up because this law is passed.

The last concern I want to raise here at this time is somewhat of a tangent, but it’s a good place to voice it.  So many of my Christian brothers and sisters oppose a woman’s right to choose about her own body where abortion is concerned because of its cost to human life, but so many of those same brothers and sisters oppose vaccines for COVID because they think God gives them a right to choose about their own bodies – and this puts the public at large at risk of death! 

What an amazing and glaring inconsistency?  

At the risk of bogging down in COVID debates, this is not the first or only inconsistency about vaccines either.  I think of those generations of Americans who made America great the first time who beat smallpox, polio, and whooping cough among other diseases because of a willingness to get vaccinated, and so, in my view, this is indicative of a level of obstinance and unpeaceable attitude and behavior which thwarts biblical teaching about Christians vis-a-vis the government for one thing and for Christian care for others for another thing.

Hmmm…

So, I think we can do better.  Yes, but the better I would aim at is not the same broad side of the barn as what we find the public rhetoric, I think.  But I hope it gives one or two readers here something to think about and maybe react to also.  

 

KYLE RITTENHOUSE KYLE RITTENHOUSE KYLE RITTENHOUSE KYLE RITTENHOUSE KYLE RITTENHOUSE

This post is for “Anonymous,” the anonymous commenter who left me a brief message on my recent post, November Justice, telling me I was wrong and to stop lying.  Obviously, you are impassioned about Kyle Rittenhouse, so maybe you are his mamma out to shut down any chatter which might be deemed critical.  (More likely, you are a family/friend of mine not wishing to be identified, but that makes this all the more important.)  Anyway, I invited you to come back and discuss it further.  But since you haven’t come back, either you didn’t see my reply or you are avoiding the part where we have the civil discussion.

If you look at the post, a civil discussion is very obviously the idea.  I certainly went to a lot of trouble to qualify how unimportant my opinion is on the one hand, and on the other, I gave a LOT of latitude to the court for the verdict we got, even seeing as legally right.  I went to a lot of pain to point that out too.

But you came with a cheap shot claiming I am wrong, on the one hand, and demanding I stop lying on the other.  Which is it?  Am I wrong or lying?  Probably no one is reading that, but hey!  You did.  So, I am inviting you back.  Hoping that by repeating Kyle Rittenhouse over and over, you will find me in your quest to stop the lies and wrongness.

Kyle Rittenhouse Kyle Rittenhouse Kyle Rittenhouse Kyle Rittenhouse Kyle Rittenhouse Kyle Rittenhouse Kyle Rittenhouse Kyle Rittenhouse Kyle Rittenhouse Kyle Rittenhouse Kyle Rittenhouse Kyle Rittenhouse Kyle Rittenhouse Kyle Rittenhouse Kyle Rittenhouse Kyle Rittenhouse Kyle Rittenhouse Kyle Rittenhouse Kyle Rittenhouse Kyle Rittenhouse Kyle Rittenhouse Kyle Rittenhouse Kyle Rittenhouse Kyle Rittenhouse Kyle Rittenhouse Kyle Rittenhouse Kyle Rittenhouse Kyle Rittenhouse Kyle Rittenhouse Kyle Rittenhouse Kyle Rittenhouse Kyle Rittenhouse Kyle Rittenhouse Kyle Rittenhouse Kyle Rittenhouse Kyle Rittenhouse

I take my own integrity too serious to just let you smear it with characterizing me as a liar.  Come back and show me where the lie is, me and any other reader who might happen by.

Thanx

Kyle Rittenhouse Kyle Rittenhouse Kyle Rittenhouse Kyle Rittenhouse Kyle Rittenhouse Kyle Rittenhouse Kyle Rittenhouse Kyle Rittenhouse Kyle Rittenhouse Kyle Rittenhouse Kyle Rittenhouse Kyle Rittenhouse Kyle Rittenhouse Kyle Rittenhouse Kyle Rittenhouse Kyle Rittenhouse Kyle Rittenhouse Kyle Rittenhouse Kyle Rittenhouse Kyle Rittenhouse Kyle Rittenhouse Kyle Rittenhouse Kyle Rittenhouse Kyle Rittenhouse Kyle Rittenhouse Kyle Rittenhouse Kyle Rittenhouse Kyle Rittenhouse Kyle Rittenhouse Kyle Rittenhouse Kyle Rittenhouse Kyle Rittenhouse Kyle Rittenhouse Kyle Rittenhouse Kyle Rittenhouse Kyle Rittenhouse

Kyle Rittenhouse Kyle Rittenhouse Kyle Rittenhouse Kyle Rittenhouse Kyle Rittenhouse Kyle Rittenhouse Kyle Rittenhouse Kyle Rittenhouse Kyle Rittenhouse Kyle Rittenhouse Kyle Rittenhouse Kyle Rittenhouse Kyle Rittenhouse Kyle Rittenhouse Kyle Rittenhouse Kyle Rittenhouse Kyle Rittenhouse Kyle Rittenhouse Kyle Rittenhouse Kyle Rittenhouse Kyle Rittenhouse Kyle Rittenhouse Kyle Rittenhouse Kyle Rittenhouse Kyle Rittenhouse Kyle Rittenhouse Kyle Rittenhouse Kyle Rittenhouse Kyle Rittenhouse Kyle Rittenhouse Kyle Rittenhouse Kyle Rittenhouse Kyle Rittenhouse Kyle Rittenhouse Kyle Rittenhouse Kyle Rittenhouse

CONFESSION TIME

I am not the best father, not a better father, and only on a good day am I a good one.  I need to work on being better, but I don’t feel like it.  I’m worn out!  Yet, boy… I sure wish I had worked on it when my kids act out – especially when they thwart me, rebel, and say they hate me.  They need a good one.

I don’t really know what to do.  I wasn’t born just knowing what to do; I don’t really have the time and energy to read all the books and zines.  And anyway, I’d still have to evaluate which ones have good advice.

Well, sometimes I seem to know.  But not always.  More often than not, I feel lost, frustrated, tired, and sometimes angry too.  And while having those feelings is not a straight up bad thing in and of itself, stewing in them and failing to move through them to a better place definitely is.

Taking stock of myself (and my kids), I think how when I first considered becoming a foster parent, the idea seemed so lofty.   Special work for special people who know how to sacrifice.  Admirable people.  In fact, though veterans get a holiday and a few other perks, AND a grateful public instructed to “thank a vet,” as a foster parent, I have received that dutiful gratitude on a few occasions myself.  (I think of the ER doc who, upon learning my relationship to the child being examined, made a point to thank me for my service and waxed eloquent about how important and underappreciated it is.)

Yeah.  When I was still on the outside looking in, I thought it was a job for saints and not sinners, and I didn’t feel particularly worthy.  And while the expression of gratitude is nice, and really does put pep in my step, it doesn’t sustain in the long haul.

The way I gathered up the courage to rise to this challenge was by seeing how dire a need there is (well, that and a lot of encouragement from Mrs. Agent X too), since so very many little children in this country go either horribly neglected (Want a society of sociopaths?) or terribly abused and damaged sometimes sadistically.  Once you look at that, really look, you see that even a wire monkey with a bit of carpet stretched over it is a better parent, and with the bar set that low, I couldn’t find a reason not to jump in and help.  The bar is not set that high to “make a difference.”

On my absolute worst day as a parent, I will be better at it than some of those bio-donors are on their very best day!  In that light, I practically owe it them and to God to step up.

You know what?

That is all true.  You have to be a really, really, really bad parent before you aren’t improving lives.  And my sorry butt comes along and alleviates so much!  The bar is set low, and I get to be a saint!  A savior!  A legend in my own mind!

And there’s more than a grain of truth in all of that.  But it hides a lot too.  A lot of failure.  A lot of discouragement.

I am by far not the worst parent, not even particularly bad – though I have moments!  I mean, we are good in this house about feeding, bathing, clothing, and hugging kids.  Those basics, we got.  Yet, sometimes I lose my cool too.  I never hit or shake a baby, but I get short with people, I snap and say ugly things.  I fume and lecture, walk away mad.  And then when I hear my words played back like a tape recorder coming out of a four- or five-year-old, they convict me.

It’s then I see clearly that in addition to all the challenges these young people come into life with, nine months (if they get that long) of shriveled up umbilical cord, constrained by cigarette smoke, crack, meth, alcohol, and other dangerous chemicals, along with whatever challenges their DNA brings, they wind up in my care, which is a relief in the big picture to a degree, but they also suffer my deficiencies now too.

And this work is holy!  I really need to be sanctified before entering this holy place!  I really must take off my shoes to stand here, because this is God’s work, and I am not worthy.

There are times I realize that I lose my sense of fun and adventure.  My composure suffers.  I need to read to the kids more.  I need to get down on the floor and play build a railroad.  My four-year-old began preparing imaginary food for me to eat in her play kitchen the other day, and it took me five minutes to realize what she was doing or that I should pretend with her and enjoy it.

I was too busy with me to attend to her.  I was tired, and didn’t care.  I am sorry, I really blew it.  The face of God in all her innocence asked me to love her, and I was too busy!

I miss my church.

It’s amazing how much better a parent I am when my church is here with me.  As helpful and nice as an occasional “thank you” from outside observers are, I am blown away by the amount of patience I find in myself when my Christian brothers and sisters are in and out of my house participating in our life!  It seems automatic.  Just their mere presence brings, not some oppressive accountability (though that is there to be had too), but a boost in my parental imagination and my sense of strength for the tasks, and more desire to do well too.

Is that making sense?

But between the pandemic and the fact that my church shuns me, that easy fix is obliterated.  I am left more to my own weaknesses – to work them out alone in prayer.  And that certainly feels weak.

But it is my confession.

It also causes me to wonder about those original birth parents too.  What if they had the presence of the church in their lives?  How much would that change?  I wonder how my church might seek relevance in today’s world by considering the influence we might find right there.