NOT MY JESUS

As far back as the 2000 election of G.W. Bush (and really even before that), I heard people use the slogan “Not my president.”  It made sense – to a large extent.  The majority of Americans voted for Al Gore, but due to the rules put in place before hand, the popular vote was edged out by that of the “electoral college.”  Thus, despite the previously agreed upon rules for elections, the sense of fairness and the will of the people were not observed.

Who knew how bad that could erode?

But using the slogan “Not my president,” was largely just a sentiment, possibly ceremonial in some venues.  It didn’t have teeth.

But then it happened again in 2016.

Again, the slogan was trotted out, and again it was largely a matter of sentiment.

It wasn’t the previously agreed upon rules that gave us the next ring of hell we call the 2020 election.  No.  That was just Donald Trump.  But that old familiar dread and disgust with election results resurfaced, only this time it switched parties.  And no longer was this just a sore loser’s sentiment, but a sore loser’s rebellion.

“Not my president” suddenly grew teeth.

The last two years have not resolved this mess, but the divide has deepened, and sadly the American church (evangelicals particularly) are there pounding the wedge through our society for all we are worth.  The fires of this hell have now taken hold of the Supreme Court and started churning out all manner of fresh sewage and division – in Jesus’s name!

I can only speak as a “resident alien” in this power-grab culture.  I accepted G.W. as my president, and though I really didn’t like either option in the 2016 election, I prepared my soul to accept Hillary and then like so many whiplashed at the last moment and accepted Trump instead.  I didn’t even particularly like Joe Biden, though I felt relieved to see milquetoast would be my president after the Trump years!  But as a devoted disciple of Christ, I can tell you the “Jesus” you find driving wedges and grabbing at power in Hell Fest 2022 is not my Jesus!

If you feel the same as me, please leave me a comment.  Type “Not my Jesus” in the comment box and tell the world.

Thanx

WHITE PRIVILEGE AND CHRISTIAN COMFORT

When I was a little kid, the big kids at church used to sing a song which almost sounded like a Native American melody, and the words were “They will know we are Christians by our love….”  The idea seemed to be lifted right out of John 13:35.  I didn’t understand who “they” are in that line or why we they would care, but it sounded nice.  As I grew up, the connection to John 13 seemed to take the idea to a new level.

I’m not sure why I mention that now, except for whatever reason, it dawns on me how much comfort I felt in that notion.  Enraptured in the song as a small child, it was almost as good as “give the world a Coke!”  There seemed to be some slow-ride slide in the sentiment ushering folx into heaven as more and more people simply began to feel the love and join the ranks of rainbow-happy disciples who are in love with love with irresistible attraction.

It was a bubble.  A utopian dream of a child.  A fantasy, and not one well thought out, really.

I have not heard that song in decades.

When I was a young adult, maybe 20, I saw a tee shirt on a young man that looked like a cross between a cartoon and a rock tee you might get at a KISS or AC/DC concert.  The picture and the caption showed a brain in flames (pretty rock-n-roll, if you ask me) announcing, “This is your brain in hell.  Any questions?”

It was both cool and Jesus-nerdy at the same time.  I was a bit spellbound by it.  It was confrontational.

In the years – decades – following, I saw more, more and more tee shirts, coffee mugs, tattoos, and bumper stickers in whatever variety announcing Christian faith to others in various marketplaces and school settings.  It seemed “They will know you are Christian by your tee shirt.”  (That is not in John, by the way.)

I am an old metal head, and I have a closet full of heavy metal tee shirts.  Most of them I no longer wear (too small, for one thing).  Oh, and I really dig the cool ones like Iron Maiden or Cannable Corpse.  I never found one like Slash had with the tombstone and a label for “Black Death Vodka,” so, I don’t have that one.  But I always kinda wanted it.

Such shirts have a way of misrepresenting me anymore.  In fact, my big kids went to an Iron Maiden show a few years ago and brought back a couple shirts for me.  I wore them a few times, but I found myself in an impromptu prayer service with a couple street people I never met before on a street corner with passing traffic, and I was wearing it.  No one made mention of it, and I didn’t think about it until I was leaving, but I decided then not to wear it out and about anymore.  Then my four-year-old adopted son told me the monster on it scared him, and so I retired it altogether after that.

But I mention that to say that I always kinda liked how hostile, scary, and in-your-face some of those shirts could be.  They don’t really tell you who is in it.  Like a book cover, you shouldn’t judge the contents by the appearance.  But such an appearance was just not congruent with me either.  But that in-your-face grit was part of the thrill.  It was “metal” as they say.

That brain-in-hell “Christian” tee was sorta like that.  It certainly did not promote the they-will-know-we-are-Christians-by-our-love vibe, not on two counts: first, it was gritty and hostile and in-your-face; secondly, it was a tee shirt and not love.  But it did indicate this person is “Christian” – whatever that is.

Let me change gears now, but this will loop back in soon, I hope.

There was a comfort in that give-a-Coke vibe I got from our old song about knowing we are Christians by our love.  The world was safe and getting safer.  As a kid, I wasn’t really getting the John-13 connection as much as the comfort connection.  This was America where we were enjoying our freedom of religion, and the FIRST amendment had paved the way for Jesus to usher in the last wave of the apocalypse.

I look around even now at the massive cathedrals of the Bible Belt (at least), and a town like Lubbock almost literally has a church on every corner.  We are “about as Christian as it gets.”  If you want to get down on your knees and pray on aisle four in the United Supermarket, you sure can.  (I’ve done it with some of my needy friends.)  Of course, people will look at ya strange.  The other “Christians” don’t drop their shopping and run to join ya, but they won’t run you off for this.

Why not?

Lubbock “Christianity” has slowly morphed from being characterized by LOVE to being characterized by conservative politics (different tee shirts yet again).  Our faith moved from mild-mannered confrontation, past defensive, and has become offensive.  No concern to be loving, the more power-grabby it gets, the less love it has at all.  But is sure is IN YOUR FACE as a voting matter.  Lubbock is a “sanctuary city for the unborn” because the “Christians” who otherwise can’t turn out to the same church (some of us are Catholic, others Baptist, still others Methodist, and still others church of Christ, or Presbyterian, Pentecostal, and a few are Cowboy Church, Trucker Church, or even Biker Church (I almost forgot to mention “Metropolitan Church” which seems to be code for LGBTQ)) found they can join in the power grab.  We can’t get ourselves TOGETHER to honor Jesus like we do to honor a football game, but we did turn out the vote together.

And we feel mighty comfortable with ourselves for that.

I am not a church historian.  I cannot speak with really any authority about the church in the Middle or Dark Ages or even the Renaissance.  But I know the church of the first, second, and third centuries knew no privilege.  Persecution?  Oh, yeah.  Lotsa that.  Long before there was “gay bashing,” there was feeding Christians to lions!  (You’d think we might have some real comfort to offer to persecuted people of all kinds, even if we view their lifestyles as sinful.)  (That would be love.)

But as a modern-world Christian in America, I am slow to see that most folx outside “the church” look at the church as very privileged.  Especially the white, middle-class kind.  And honestly, my comfort with that old song from my youth tells me I am colluding with that notion in ways I don’t normally think about.  If you don’t have the benefit of the ancient history (and maybe the middle history, though I cannot say decisively), the church changes from the persecuted to the persecutor pushing policy and driving people to do things they aren’t naturally inclined to do – often with impunity.

Those of us in touch with those origins might tend to see it otherwise, but we need to wake up to the more current perception which also has merit.  I think there is a Christian comfort that approximates white privilege in that regard.  It’s not characterized by love either.  What a mistake it is for the church to be known as Christian by our uncaring privilege and unbothered comfort, by our tee shirts, tattoos, and voting power.  You can’t give the world a Coke like that.  You sure can’t give it Jesus.

DO I SOUND LIKE A CHRISTIAN?

I sorta took a dive off the shallow end with my previous posts (yesterday).  It felt good to write those things (in a twisted way).  I tapped into my inner – inner what? – and let it go.

I wasn’t just simply trying my hand at satire, though that is how I packaged it.  I was feelin’ it.

Here’s what I kinda realized last week: This, or something like it, is the face of Christianity in the world today.

I didn’t say the face of Jesus; I said the face of Christianity.  There are lots of non-Christians looking at the faith from the outside, and the kinds of things I posted are SOME of the kinds of things they see.  (There are lots of insiders looking in the mirror and suddenly finding their “voice” in this stuff too.)

I in no way think my words represent all Christians, but certainly the Bumper sticker kind.  The flag waving kind.

The face of Christianity also looks like unrepentant pedophile or rapist clergy, serial philandering pastors, greedy popstars and more.

Even those Christians who resist this stuff must grow like wheat with tares of this sort in the midst.

I’m not writing just now about all the dynamics of growth, discipline, patience and all that.  Good stuff to consider, but rather it dawned on my that my care for the homeless goes shunned, and I have been shunned with it, as I present it to people LIKE THIS.

How do you reason with a “Jesus loving” I…Q voter about love?

I doubt very much you do.  Reasoning is for philosophers and scientists.  No bad thing, but a waste of time in a lot of other arenas.

I think I have been wasting my time at church.

You can reason all day long with a pastor about loving the homeless, but if he is more interested in your wife’s breasts and worried that his liaison with the deacon’s daughter is going to be discovered, you really aren’t going to get very far.

VOTING IQ TEST

Okay.  Look.  We ain’t stupid.  That’s just a media hoax.

The voting test is not spelled “IQ” – that’s somethin’ else entirely.  Not sure what that is, but it’s right in there with Pie Are Square and some fancy college talk.

No.  It’s I…Q.  You gotta put the little dot, dot, dot in there to get it right.

Here’s how it wurx.  You show up to vote with your three forms of ID, an electric bill (or something with your current address on it, and a pint of blood in case armed conflict breaks out, and you say “I READ Q.”  Then you pass the test.  Then you vote.

All them suckers who can’t read Q don’t pass, and they don’t get to vote.

The reason it’s shorted to I…Q in regular parlance is due to the fact of “The R-word.”  Some politically correct “people” insist we don’t use “The R-word,” but I ain’t skeered.  I’ll just come right out and say it to your hostile, inbred face.  I don’t have no reason to whisper it behind your double-wide back.  This is Amerika, Damn it.

And… Jesus saves!  You know it because is says so right in the constitution.

MAD AS HELL

Speaking AS A CHRISTIAN, an American Christian, I just want to say first off, I’m mad as hell!

They took prayer out of our school, aborted our babies, took LSD trips, and tried to take our guns!

I’m mad as hell!

Oh, yeah.  I’m thinking clearly.  Anybody as mad as hell as I am can plainly see the truth of it.

Oops.  Pardon that Ivermectin fart.

Jesus died wrapped in “old Glory.”  That’s what it means when it says he was “glorified.”  And you’re damn right.  If he’d had an M-16 for every disciple, there wouldn’t be no masks in schools today, chipping away at our freedom.

Hell, yeah!  I’m mad as hell.  It’s my Christian duty to be mad as hell.

This mess all started when they took away our right to pray in school, as I was trying to say before you rudely interrupted me.

Wait, what?

Who’s “they,” you say???

Well, the communists, of course.

Okay, okay.  Yes, there is some discrepancy there, I get it.

Look.  Just check it out from Q.  Then you will understand.  It’s all just as plain as the nose on your media lovin’ face.  The Communists were just a media hoax.  I get it.  But they put the “they” in THEY.  Okay?

And anyway, I’m mad as hell!

We got rights!  Damn it!  You hear me?  RIGHTS!!!

Uhhh hmmm…. No… No, you are putting words in my mouth now, you terrorist!  You don’t have the right to have an abortion!  God said no to that one.

But he said yes to guns!

Hell, yeah!  I’m mad as hell!  Those liberals and the media just keep coming for your kids.

No!  Shut up.  I’m talking.

And I’m mad as hell!

You’re damn right that teacher should have been armed!  She should have passed out weapons to the class before the pledge of allegiance.  Then you’d see what happens to a bad guy with a gun!

Strip fourth graders of their second amendment rights and see what happens?

I’m mad as hell about it!

Jesus would have shot that bad guy from his cross if he’d had a second-amendment-protected assault rifle!  That’s what’s wrong with this world today!  And I’m mad as hell!

Hell yeah, I am gonna vote!

IVERMECTIN ENEMA

Did I miss anything?

There’s a lot to be outraged about going on out there, what with a war in Ukraine, Biden’s state of the union troops address, and everything Trump.  Was there another church shooting?  Or was it a school?  I can’t keep up.

But rest assured.  I am OUTRAGED!  I might have missed a chance to post it, but I have remained true to the outrage cause.  The cause may be lost, but the outrage is found!  Arm first-graders and teach them to shoot back!  (That’s what I always say.)

I’m okay!  I’m okay.  Just a little outraged is all….  Thank God, and may he get all the glory.  I was standing up for my unalienable God-given rights, like a good Christian is supposed to do, when the liberal media said something.  I was in the bathroom shoving Ivermectin up my butt and missed something to be mad about.

But listen to me psycho babble…

The thing is this: I was going to the school board meeting to voice God’s will that our children should not be forced to wear masks in school.  This is a free country.  We are not Nazis!  Damn it.  We are CHRISTIANS!

Anyway, it occurred to me that I needed to protect myself from COVID while there at the school board meeting, since there is sure to be shouting and shooting, but since I ain’t going to wear one of those godless masks or get one of those computer chip injections, I figured I better double up on my Ivermectin enema.  I also guzzled two cups of my uncle’s urine, just to be safe.  (Tasted pregnant!)

Anyway, I am a law -n- order, abidin’ citizen, a good Christian who is righteously pissed off, and it turns out ivermectin makes a slower enema than the usual stuff.  So, it was taking too long.  So, I was kinda in a bind running around the house trying to find my Glock and extra clip (like American Express, don’t leave home without it!), with Ivermectin oozing in my shorts.

(Well, that part’s a little personal.)

Anyway, so I was running late then.  But that’s no excuse to break the law.

So, I dutifully hopped in my truck, put on my seatbelt, and drove the speed limit all the way to the school, 40 mph on State Street, 55 mph on Heritage HWY West for six miles, then 35 mph on Wilson Ave up to the school zone where I dutifully slowed for the flashing warning light and cut off my cell phone call.  I stopped at every stop light along the way.  (It’s the law.)  And so, I was late.

Late and oozing.

Oozing and outraged.

Starting to get a little irritable.

And there were all these masked idiots shouting like Nazis at us NEO-nazis, and they tell me I missed my chance to speak.  They all act like no one cares about not wearing a mask anymore; they think bringing an AR-15 to school, legally purchased at 18 is a bad thing!  And I want to respond in my outrage, I really do, but the Ivermectin is just slowing me down.

At first all eyes were on me, so I began explaining we have these God-given rights not to wear masks and forcing us to wear them infringes on our freedom!  You can’t let liberals muzzle you like that.  First, they take your guns, then they take away your right to smile like God says in his holy book right there in Second Opinions chapter 11 bankruptcy.

Anyway, thank God for my unalienable right to vote!  (I’m white, so that goes without saying.)  And thank God for the electoral college.  It’s better than “stealing” an election.  And thank God he is gracious with “pussy-grabbers” like me.

Did I miss somethin???

Oh… no more abortions?  Hell, I am livin’ proof God didn’t want no abortions.  That’s why we have the death penalty.  You gotta let these criminals shoot up a school before you kill them.  God made guns so that good guys with guns could stop bad guys with guns!  (Stupid liberals always screwing that up in the media.)

Damn!

What’s this country coming to?

Our schools can do better, y’all.

Just sayin’.

(“Lyin’ Ted” for President!)

Sorry, I think I got a little Ivermectin on ya there, Jethro.  Got a hanky?

God bless America!

I’m outraged.  Anybody wanna fight?

Just remember, your vote don’t count.  Mine does, but yours?  (Are you white enough to vote?)  Don’t bring a ballot to a gunfight, son.

Oops.  I’m still oozing.

WITH A BOTTLE DANGLING FROM THE TEETH, A TOY IN EACH HAND, WANDERING AROUND THE LIVING ROOM WITH POOP IN HIS PANTS…

I am so glad the child was not aborted.  Aren’t you?

It’s a small victory from a small battle, but for that little human life, it’s everything.  And I am grateful for him.  (Even though I am the one stuck with the mess!)

I want to take a moment on this momentous day to celebrate the little life of that (almost) two-year-old who brightens up my life with his.  (I wish you could see his smile!)  I enjoy saying “Godzilla” to him and he growls back at me.  We are friends.  He is now my kid after going to court and getting permission to make him mine.

He is happy and getting healthy (though he started out with birth defects due to his mother’s drug addiction and a father no one knows).  His whole life is a redemption.  He lives and thrives with Mrs. Agent X and me because of Jesus in our life.  (Oh, and I am far from perfect.  It’s not like he has a good Pops trained by the best.  Not at all.  It’s more like a very broken person seeking healing decided sacrificially to share some of the healing with a fellow needy person, and I surely hope I don’t damage him with my damage more than he already is!)

And so, our little victory is still a struggle in progress.

But we celebrate it with Godzilla growls and other routines.

I am so glad he was not aborted.

Aren’t you?

But…

But there is a lot of fighting and gloating going on “out there” today.  There is this other BIG “VICTORY” being celebrated out there today.  A “victory” being protested by the masses.  And I want to be clear about this: I in no way support “abortion” rights for almost any reason.  I would consent to it in those rare cases where it saves the mother’s life, but really… not in any other cases.  Certainly not to suit some consumerist whims.  In fact, I am shocked at the hard heartedness that entertains such possibilities and demands them as rights.

I am, or attempt to be, a Jesus kind of person.  If it were not for Jesus, I probably would not feel strongly about this issue and probably would not know the joy of Godzilla growling with one plucked from hell’s fires.

But as a Jesus kind of person, I really must note two things about our “big victory” which are very un-Jesus-like: 1) Jesus never protested abortion, and 2) He instructs his disciples that we will not “lord it over” others like the Gentiles.

Jesus knew about abortion.  It tended to be a little different in his day.  Instead of butchering unborn babies in the womb, an unwanted pregnancy was discarded in the desert wilderness after a complete birth.  That’s right.  In his day, most abortions weren’t even “partial birth” abortions, but were “all the way birth” abortions (indisputably murder), and yet Jesus never protested it, preached against it, or even told his disciples to try to save as many as they can.

There is a deafening silence there as far as Jesus is concerned.

I do not take from that the notion that abortion is okay with him.  Not at all.  But I certainly find the kinds of tactics we put in place to change it are in no way congruent with his.

And that brings me to the second thought.

There are plenty of powerful “reasons” for abortion and abortion rights.  I don’t happen to believe they are good enough to justify it, but they are powerful reasons which anyone who loves others would surely want to address.  Those reasons will not be addressed by “lording it over” others, and yet that is exactly what we have going right now.  We have a few people in positions of power lording it over others, and largely in the name of Jesus no less.

But that only gives Jesus a bad name.  That is the main thing achieved by this.

I sure hope some lives are saved.  I believe that is so very important.  But I also hope those saved lives are celebrated, wanted, loved, and esteemed.  You can’t do that lording it over others.  And until we get that right, we will not be fit for the biggest VICTORY of the Age to Come.

I sure hope we can find a better path forward than the one we have tearing our world apart now.  I sure hope Jesus-kinds of people will not gloat, but humble themselves and present his name in a loving light.  The cost of offending people with his name taken in vain is not really any kind of victory at all, but a huge loss, one you might not see for a long time, but will come back to visit in the most terrible ways.

God bless America!

KEEPING UP WITH THE JONAHS

Like an old-fashioned cough syrup ad, I’m not a prophet, but I play one on the web.

Yeah.  Cute, huh?

Thanx.

Here’s whazzup: I am a “conservative” American living among conservative Americans yet finding that God hasn’t really blessed America anything like I ever thought.  When 19 school kids die from hostile gun fire in their classroom, and when that is just the latest in a loooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooong list of such shootings, that whole “God bless America” thingy starts ringing a bit hollow.

No?

Yeah.

It does.

I am weary of it.  Gutted by it.  Sick of it.  Burned by it.  Tired of it.  I am filled with contempt, and like the prophet of old, I struggle even to desire to live any more with it.

From my perspective, a perspective which is not entirely right, true, or accurate, but profoundly mine and certainly not devoid of righteousness, truth, or accuracy, those liberals and Democrats are either godless or at least they hover close enough.  One of the main hallmarks of us conservative types is our insistence that God be honored in our culture, that we make real efforts to adhere to his will.

No.  Not entirely right, true, or accurate, but nonetheless reflective of my starting point.

How I Got Here

For me, conservatives place a high value on personal responsibility.  Freedom yes, but freedom responsibly managed – and not freedom to run wild into chaos.  “Get a job, hippie!”

I have long questioned the undue fear of conservatives.  I was born during the Tet Offensive when Americans were dropping like flies in an attempt to prevent “the domino effect” of communism in a faraway jungle land we had never heard of before.  Even my Grandpa, a WWII vet who fought valiantly with Kamikazes and who raised an American flag up the flag pole in his own front yard even in decades when that was no longer “cool,” lamented that the Vietnam War was a tragic mistake.  And it was!

(Strange that these same people who brought you the domino effect won’t wear a mask or get a jab!  The same people who while Americans are dropping like flies from a virus accuse me of undue fear!)

It was a tragic mistake brought to you and perpetuated by presidents from both major parties, actually, but championed especially by conservatives.  My dad signed up to fight in that one because of his conservative values and ideals!  Yet the sheer stupidity of it all was pointed out and highlighted by liberals and hippies, people I thought looked, acted, and smelled strange.  People who were all into their free love and sexual revolution.  Freedom of a kind that looked pagan to me.

Hmmm…

These things have been complicated from the start.

I remember as a youth, hardly older than the 19 dead kids in Uvalde, when the American Embassy in Tehran was overrun and the staff taken hostage.  I remember the images on TV of Americans led around blindfolded like lambs to the slaughter and wondering where our power and might was to stop it.  President Carter’s presidency would not survive the apparent impotence of that.  And even as Reagan was being sworn in, had not even taken the mantle of power yet, the Iranians buckled because they knew this president was gonna open a can of whoopass!

I remember, as a youth, our leaders looked around the middle east and found Saddam Hussein in Iraq to be the mortal enemy of Iranians, and even though he was a thug, our nation began arming Iraq like a proxy war against Iran.  The enemy of our enemy was our friend.

This was conservative.  This was good.  This was right and true!  You couldn’t find nary a single American to call out the folly of this.

Of course, within two decades, we were fighting Iraq – twice.

Why is it I never hear anyone point out that the WMD conservatives unduly feared in Hussein’s hands were our own making of a nightmare?  Why were we so ready, willing, and able to take WWIII to Kuwait but all these years later not to Ukraine?  Why are we arming Ukraine after the lessons we should have learned from Iraq?

Hmmm…  These things are complicated.

Well, I was watching.  I was THINKING about these things.  Doesn’t make everything I see and think right, true, or accurate, but I certainly started looking and thinking as a “conservative” – one with a bit of a self-critical eye.  Those hippies of the 60s were not MY KIND, but they had brought a corrective lens to some important things, and I really hate to be stupid for the sake of being “right.”

Conservatives, when I was a young adult, championed “principles.”  We were “thousand points of light” people.  We appealed to biblical imagery like “a city set on a hill” even if misapplied.  We would “stay the course” even when things seemed complicated, and we certainly tempered “FREEDOM” with “responsibility.”  Liberals, on the other hand, rewarded bad behavior with “midnight basketball.”  The wealth we generated, at least in theory, would “trickle down” and eventually everyone who behaved responsibly would enjoy some, and so in the meantime we needed to “deregulate.”

These kinds of things became baseline to my worldview, though I recognized they needed to be re-evaluated frequently and adjusted to ward off corruption.  I saw that the hippies, though they were largely mistaken, needed to be heard from because like environmental parakeets, their perspective had the power of correction for misapplications of otherwise good, right, true paths forward.

I think the way I became conservative was because I was born into it.  That’s sorta arbitrary, but it is true nonetheless.  I was born into a family and a segment of society that honors God, tradition, old fashioned values.  This isn’t to say that I am staunch about all these things.  I am tempted by waywardness like anyone else, but this stuff is my baseline, and I value it.

But then two major forces in my life also come to bear on me and my views.  One is the ever-growing inconsistency of everyone’s position(s), and the other is my Bible education where I got specialized training in God’s Word.

Inconsistencies

The inconsistencies of both conservatives and liberals, of both Republicans and Democrats, are so wild that I no longer see either side as right, true, or accurate, but rather selfish and power hungry.  Everyone wants power for themselves, and they engage in all manner of tradeoffs (with the devil) to get it.

Hmmm… This has long been the complaint from both sides about “politicians” in general.  They get into office promising headway into the power grab but wind up dealing with the devil so much you can hardly recognize the ideal anymore.

Just today, I heard the Supreme Court ruled against New York’s gun restrictions as unconstitutional, stripping that state of its long-held power to restrict concealed weapons on account of second amendment rights and the freedom it provides.  The Supreme Court did this.  That’s a conservative (at this point) federal government institution telling a state how to do its business.

Am I the only one that sees the irony there?

Yeah, my conservative friends normally champion the cause of state’s rights and of the autonomy of states to set their own agendas.  Local government knows better than far away, high up, ivory tower overlords.  Right?

Yeah, and what do you know but that is almost what (in substance anyway, because she sure isn’t using the same phraseology as conservatives) New York’s governor has to say about it.  Why can’t her state and the people who live there decide the rules they are going to live by?  (She sounds conservative now while the conservatives behave liberal!)

Wow!  Which principles do you want to live by?  You fickle people!

At the same time, in the wake of Uvalde, a handful of Republican senators suddenly want to find some kind of gun control, though they are desperate to do this in some way that is sensible without restricting second amendment rights.  And well, yeah!  In the wake of another shooting, a loooooong list of dead babies AGAIN, it sure looks to anyone who can rub two brain cells together like more of the same is not the right answer.

But again, in the news this morning, local news here in Lubbock where conservative types rule, I watch an interview with a gun shop owner who suddenly is advocating “gun safety” and “responsible gun ownership.”

Wow!  You think???

Yeah.  He wants us to not penalize “law abiding, responsible, gun owners” on the one hand (so far, more of the usual), but now he wants to educate the kids about guns so they grow up handling them responsibly and not fearing them needlessly.

Uh oh.  Is he trying to indoctrinate the next generation here?

It sounds like it.

All these kids getting shot up in schools and church might make them afraid of guns, and so we need to get in front of THAT.

How?

With “gun safety” and “responsible, gun ownership.”  We need to teach guns to kids.  (Hmmm… I thought “education” was always the go-to liberal approach.)

But here’s the kicker: The gun shop owner actually said, and I don’t think he noticed the words escaping his own lips, that we need to “keep guns out of the hands” of irresponsible, law-breaking types.

Really?  A gun shop owner, a conservative, a guy who both politically and financially has a stake in flooding society with guns wants to keep guns out of the hands of someone?

Let me ask you this (Mr. Conservative): Does the second amendment say a gun owner should be “educated” and “responsible” in his gun ownership?  Is THAT in the constitution?

My God!  How stupid can you get with your staunch inconsistencies?

Go back to restricting voting rights!  That’s constitutional too.  The founding fathers didn’t intend women, blacks, or even vagrants owning no property to have the right to vote.  They very inadvertently and mistakenly called “all men… equal.”  Oprah Winfrey, constitutionally and traditionally speaking, should not have a vote!  In fact, it was expanding the vote as we have done which let in so much encroachment on our own power.

Hmmm…  (I think I just stumbled on to the real, real.)

God’s Say

And this brings me to that other force in my life, my Bible education.  When I went to school to study Bible, there were all manner of impurities and outside influences creating filters for how my mind and my soul would absorb God’s will for the world or my life.  But there was a strong independence from hometown, political agendas and ignorant family tradition too.  Liberation theology from Central America or Feminist Scholars, Catholics, and Marxists all came to the table to talk about Jesus, and no longer was Jesus the domain of my conservative, kneejerk reactions to hippies.

I certainly did not swallow these other perspectives outright.  I was a conservative, one believing in THE BIBLE.  But listening to God in the echo chambers of other conversations provided a lot of correctives, not unlike hippies protesting Vietnam.  Such protest doesn’t make all things hippie right or good, but like environmental parakeets, they signal something is wrong with the atmosphere at the least.  They provide illumination at least in part.

I have come to see that God too is in this power struggle, but now I see far more clearly that the power is, was, and will always be his, not ours, that we wrongly wrangle and struggle to wrestle power from him to suit our own in-group and personal agendas.  I see “the right to bear arms” as an outgrowth of idol worship, an idol to which we are all too willing to sacrifice our children.

A Constant in The Midst of Inconsistencies

At root, if you listen to conservatives or liberals, you find there is a constant, a consistency which never is violated: the self-will to power.  IF there is one thing above all Donald Trump is good for, it’s illuminating that the one and only thing he is good at and smart about is promoting himself.  He will gleefully destroy a nation in the process, as long as he can have power.  There literally nothing else consistent about him.

(Except maybe his vanity.  You don’t see any pictures of him with a wet head!)

I am watching the party I always viewed as my baseline throw out all its principles for this man.  It’s no longer a matter of tradeoffs, but wholesale embrace of the devil!  Oh, and the church is one of the main promoters of this crap!

Keeping Up with the Jonahs

And this is where I finally come around to Jonah.

I have taken something of a prophetic stance in this life, I speak for God the Word of God to his people.  No one listens to me, but I speak it.

I keep preaching in various ways to give the glory and power to God and embrace humility and love especially for the least of his brothers.  It gets me punished, not rewarded, but I keep saying it.

Jonah is one of the most profoundly hell-fire-and-brim-stone preachers of the whole Bible.  He doesn’t want to be, but he is.  And why does he not want to be?  Because he hates the people to whom he is sent, and he knows God will be gracious with them.  Jonah doesn’t want them saved.  He preaches to a nation that oppresses his, a nation so lost and otherwise not blessed of God that he wants to see them punished rather than spared.  And only after going into the bottom of the sea and the belly of the sea beast does he finally fulfill his mission most reluctantly.  And his sermon is full of blistering contempt.

Yet it saves.

God, it seems, is not without a sense of irony.

His message from God is God’s message for wayward people who ironically are convicted by it and then saved.

All to Jonah’s chagrin.

And so Jonah sits back when it is all done, tortured by the sun, watching, probably fantasizing that God’s judgment and wrath will finally fall on these idiots.

And the thing is… I feel it too.

I FEEL IT.

My fellow Americans, especially you in “the church,” listen to me.  Your idolatry should embarrass you, but it doesn’t.  You are proud of it instead.  Oh how sick can you be???

I am filled with contempt for you.  I am all but rooting for the fire to burn you up.

But, not quite.

I am sad too.

I love my country, and I love God’s people.  I love the lost.  I do.  I DO.  I DO!!!

But I am fed up too.

I can’t keep up with the Jonahs.

WHAT IS “SEPARATION OF CHURCH AND STATE”?

“Separation of church and state” is a phrase common to Americans.  We get it from Thomas Jefferson, a founding father.  I grew up well acquainted with the phrase (and, I believe, with the common understanding of it too).  But the older I get, the less it really makes sense.  It just is not as clear as I once thought.

I never associated the phrase with St. John’s prophetic apocalypse in Revelation 18:4, but I surely do now.  And yet I am certain St. John’s words (a completely different phraseology from Jefferson’s) were not intended to mean the same thing either, but once they are cross referenced, they seem to do a lot of business with one another.

I was not yet born when John F. Kennedy ran for and became our president, but he was the first Catholic to attain that high office.  Protestants and Catholics already had a long and tumultuous history before that moment, but in theory Catholics were welcome and free in the USA.  Yet the moment one became POTUS, there was a kneejerk fear he might bend his ear to the Pope, and the POTUS would effectively be a puppet-leader of a foreign power.

And I get it.

Your religious convictions are meant to be that deep by design.  To check them at the door in some effort to “represent the will of the people” sounds downright impossible.  If not impossible, it sounds like a bargain with the devil in practically every other context open to consideration.  (Damned if you do/damned if you don’t.)

But what I never heard anyone consider is whether the same type of concern can be applied to Protestants.  Just because there were battles between popes and kings in long ago church history doesn’t mean Protestants are immune to the same concerns of a more esoteric variety.  What influence does a Methodist pastor have on a POTUS?  What lobbying interest comes to bear on POTUS with a National Prayer Breakfast?  Where’s the alarm there?

By the way, we are obviously talking about a phenom in ways St. John certain is NOT addressing it, even though these ideas intersect at the same point.

But then again, why limit this observation to POTUS?  What about the average American voter?  Are these Americans supposed to check their religion at the door too?  Is that what Billy Graham or Jerry Falwell had in mind?

This question (not the conclusion) crystalized (Can a question do that?) for me when about a decade back I heard N.T. Wright, in the midst of a lecture, say about his country and ours, “In England we have an official joining of church and state; in America you have an official separation of church and state, and yet neither one of those works out in practice anything like stated.”  (Actually, that is probably a paraphrase.)

Boy… that’s an understatement.

I want to get back to St. John.  If not back to him exactly, at least a closer approximation.  The “church” of the first century (this will probably come as a shock to most outsiders and uninitiated) was not some power bloc or cultural institution that anyone in government thought they had to reckon with.  They didn’t get a vote; they were not in charge of any agencies, departments, and certainly were not on the “throne” of empire.

The power and influence the early church wielded was real, but not of this world.  It was highly self-sacrificial, and so the empire killed Christians every day by crucifixion, burnt at the stake, fed to wild beasts, and beheaded.  Christians were easy to kill; they would step up and volunteer to die as witness to Christ’s reign.  But Christians were stubbornly hard to be rid of by any stretch of the imagination.

But there’s something beneath that which seems tricky to discern: God’s LOVE.

Those early Christians didn’t form the precursor of some voting bloc or a “moral majority.”  They took up crosses and followed Jesus rather than pressuring a senator’s vote on this or that program, law, or budget.  In fact, they viewed the government, even pagan government, as ironically and divinely directed – somehow behind the scenes.

But they laid down their lives as a matter of their LOVE for God and others.

Oh, they preached and sang praises on their way to their executions, meaning they had a Christian agenda alright.  But underneath all of that was their love for God and others, and under that was God’s love for us.  Their own lives were not big enough, individually, to contain God’s love which poured out on the world in their martyrdom/witness.  And their God became enthroned on the praise of his people (Ps. 22) which was a power the world could not resist.

So, now in my later life, when I think of Jefferson’s phrase, “separation of church and state,” I see it as a purposeful separation of God’s love from America.

Not that humans can succeed in such an endeavor, but when humans engage in it, I figure pointing out the oddity and futility is wise.

Pull out of that whore!