Crossing a Fine Line and Heading Down a Slippery Slope

Image above: Scott Olson via Getty Images (Courtesy of The Huffington Post)

Then said Jesus unto him, Put up again thy sword into his place: for all they that take the sword shall perish with the sword.
Matthew 26:52 (King James Version)

As we watch the news of continued protests in Ferguson, MO in the wake of the death of (unarmed) 18-year old Michael Brown by a Ferguson police officer, we see a disturbing trend taking place.

For years, we’ve seen the deaths of unarmed Black (and other minority) male youth at the hands of law enforcement (and a few private citizens), or other forms of police brutality.  And only now, Whites are beginning to feel the sting of the same-especially in the wake of the above events; and the recent #Occupy events.  More and more, our police officers-sworn to serve and protect the public-have been doing almost the opposite.  And this is sad, because there are many good police officers who do their best to serve the public trust.

However today we see a number of our police acting with impunity against anyone who they feel is a problem: minorities; GLBTQs; artists; innocent unarmed protesters, the mentally ill; and even harmless homeless folk.  Today, we see complaints of abuse of power by these officers, which many times seem to fall on deaf ears in police departments all over the land.  We see activist groups giving tips on what to do if stopped by the police; the ACLU even has an app to record police action on your smartphone.

And to add fuel to the fire, we seeing a growing militarization of our police forces.  When I was coming up, you had SWAT (Special Weapons And Tactics) officers, however they were for special high-risk situations like hostage takings.  However, we now see our police with body armor, helmets, assault weapons that rival a small army, even armored vehicles.  What’s up with that?  Is our police becoming afraid of the public?  Is the police afraid of the next riot?  Even military veterans have criticized this militarization.

When I think on the above, I think how these cops have crossed the fine line between “to serve and protect” and “to terrorize and arrest.”  We see how some have literally gotten away with murder; and how a police officer was acquitted after brutalizing a mentally ill person.  These officers have allowed power to get to them and have traded their consciences for cowardice disguised as “control.”

And once the above fine line is crossed, these people start heading down a slippery slope-a slope leading to their eventual downfall.  You see in tonight’s Scripture, Jesus was being arrested (of all things).  At that time, Peter took a sword and sliced off one of the arresting party’s ears.  Jesus warned Peter that one who lives by the sword (or violence) will die in like manner.  This is something many of these law enforcement people don’t realize: violence begets violence.  No matter how much protection these cops have-either from the courts or equipment-they cannot escape that Divine Karma that awaits them.

I hope and pray that justice comes for Michael Brown’s family; and a peaceful resolution to the events in Ferguson.  However for any police officer who crosses the line, becomes a militarized terrorist on the public dime, and starts down the slippery slope to his/her own downfall?  All I can say is “God help you” (if He/She does).

Peace (and justice) for all.

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So You Think You’re Going to Heaven

Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.  Matthew 7:21 (King James Version)

Just a reminder to those Fundagelical X-tians out there who think they have some special “boarding pass” to the Next World….

Sleep tight!

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Which Way Do We Go?

IMAG0801

See, I have set before thee this day life and good, and death and evil…  Deuteronomy 30:15 (King James Version)

I’m getting to the belief that humanity is at a fork in the road; and God is giving us a chance to decide which road to take.  The only problem is that we don’t have too much time to make a choice.

The first road-albeit a unknown one-is where we grow up.  We learn we have to care for the Earth, not abuse it.  We have to level the playing field for all, not just the “1%.”  We have to come clean in our religions and learn to work together to heal humanity, no keep wounding it.  We have to love all, not just our select ones.  We have to try to repair as much damage as we could; knowing full well we have to accept the consequences for that which is beyond repair.  We must shut off the war machine once and for all.  It’s tough, however it may ensure the survival of our species.

The second-and familiar road-is that we continue on our present course.  We keep having wars.  We keep widening the gap between rich and poor.  We keep abusing the Earth, continually transforming the environment into an unlivable one.  We keep forcing our religions down each other’s throats with violent fundamentalism.  We allow the corporate world to wreak its havoc in government.   We keep going down this path, and only God knows where we’ll end up (and I think He/She won’t want to know).

In tonight’s text from Deuteronomy, this familiar verse was part of Moses’ final words he gave the Israelites before he died.  The Israelites were soon to enter the Promised Land and Moses wouldn’t be there with them.  Moses wanted to make clear to the Israelites what would transpire if they either obeyed or disobeyed God.  The above verse could easily be speaking to modern humanity.  I believe God is standing before us and saying these same words.  However, unlike the ancients, we don’t have much time.

Every day, if we don’t make a choice for the first road, we go further down the second road.  If we allow The Powers that Be to keep us from choosing, we decrease our chances for some livable future.  We must turn this tide now!  We The People (globally and locally) must shout out a collective “STOP!!!” and backup to where the first road begins.  We must now accept the “life and good” the text speaks about-even if it means massive change on all levels and in every sector.  We may not get to live the “life” we’ve been faking all these years, however we’ll still have humanity and a scaled-down sustainable civilization.

However, we keep delaying, we move further down the second road.  We will ultimately and consequentially have to accept the “death and evil” Moses warned about.  Then one day-maybe in the foreseeable future-we’ll have an unlivable world where we’ll find ourselves quite possibly on the way out as a species.

The title of tonight’s post is, “Which way do we go?”  That’s a question only we can answer.  I hope and pray we go the right way since our very survival depends on it.

Peace.

 

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Fuck the Poor

This could easily be rehabilitated for low to mid-income families.  However, why do that when you can...(see below)

This could easily be rehabilitated for low to mid-income families. However, why do that when you can…(see below).  Photo by Me.

As I live, declares the Lord God, your sister Sodom and her daughters have not done as you and your daughters have done. Behold, this was the guilt of your sister Sodom: she and her daughters had pride, excess of food, and prosperous ease, but did not aid the poor and needy. They were haughty and did an abomination before me. So I removed them, when I saw it.  Ezekiel 16:48-50 (English Standard Version)

When I was coming up, I used to hear people say “It’s a sin to be poor.”  What they usually meant was that the financial and material struggles they contended with was sinful in their scope.  They implied that there was some moral aspect to the poor-related vicissitudes they faced, despite the fact that they were never below the national poverty level.

Fast-forward to today.  Anyone living in the good ol’ US of A could say the same thing.  A recent tidbit of news circulating is that in New York City, developers of high-rises that house mostly the monied, will have a “poor door” for the few with low income who live there.  To me, this smacks of the “Colored” doors seen in the American South during the Jim Crow era (and some parts of the North too).

Not just in NYC, but in other parts of the US we see this “fuck the poor” attitude.  Despite growing numbers of the unemployed and foreclosed, we have representatives in Washington cutting away at long time safety nets for such people.  Today, we see more concern for banks, corporations, fat-cat politicians, and celebrities than We The People (or the 99%).  We have major cities phasing out low-income neighborhoods for higher-income residents; or increasing the property taxes to chase the low income folk out.

Even amongst We The People (me too), we have this “fuck the poor” attitude.  We complain about how our taxes are supporting “welfare queens,” or “lazy” people on unemployment or disability.  We play “blame the victim” with those who lost their houses due to the mortgage mess, or were downsized from a company through no fault of their own.  We say, “had they been more careful” or “they should’ve been saving their money”.  How quickly we forget that a catastrophic illness to us or a family member could wipe out our “wealth” in an instant.

Plus, how many of us are complaining about the fact that our taxes are financing a bloated military that’s dragging the US into bankruptcy while making us pariahs in the world’s eyes?  How many of us are protesting the real “welfare queens,” corporations that are given “personhood” status; the very same corporations that laid off some of us while they still generated a profit?  How about these career representatives in Washington that are making a killing now, and with their future pension?  Have any of us called for scaling down their pay and imposing term limits?

...When you can build THIS instead, and only let the high-income folk in!

…When you can build THIS instead, and only let the high-income folk in!

Today’s Scripture was a reminder to Israel about Sodom’s fall.  Through the prophet Ezekiel, God warned that is wasn’t a homosexual lifestyle-as some thought-that did Sodom in.  It was the inhabitants’ contempt for the poor while they lived in luxury.  Many of the Sodomites were “living large” while their fellows were struggling to survive; which sounds a lot like America at present.  And in the end, that’s why God destroyed Sodom.

Uhh…America?  News flash?  What do you think is happening here?  Our status as a player on the world stage is going downhill.  Our infrastructure’s crumbling.  Despite all the police and security technology, We The People are still getting angry. Plus, our economy’s not as robust as Washington and its puppet media wants you to believe.  I believe God’s getting tired of our “Fuck the poor” mentality in America; and is soon ready to say, “Fuck America” and let this country go bankrupt.  And it will be such a way that not even the wealthy can get away.

We have the means to empower our poor so they can become self-sufficient.  This is being done on a smaller scale in parts of our country (and not reported in mainstream media).  We can give them to power to contribute to the greater good.  We can also crack down on our politicians via the ballet box to make living affordable for the lower-and middle-income crowd.  We can also divest our monies from companies that keep fleecing us via the government, and watch them squirm.  There are a whole lot of ways we can help and empower the poor so they’ll be poor no more…

Or it will be business as usual.

“Fuck the poor?” We could keep at it.  However, we do it at our own peril.  Peace.

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Pandora’s Box

Proclaim this among the nations:
Consecrate for war;
    stir up the mighty men.
Let all the men of war draw near;
    let them come up.
Beat your plowshares into swords,
    and your pruning hooks into spears;
    let the weak say, “I am a warrior.”
Joel 3:9-10 (English Standard Version)

What a week it’s been.  First, we have Israel and Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip engaged in another conflict which first started as a shooting war with lobbing rockets across the border, and has now escalated into an Israeli ground assault into the Gaza Strip.

And next, we have a missile shot from inside the Ukraine down Malaysian Airlines Flight 17 as it flew over Kiev, killing all on board.  It’s believed that pro-Russian rebels might be the blame.  Nevertheless, we have people on both sides of the Atlantic looking to have Russia’s hide.

We open the proverbial Pandora’s Box every time we engage in some hostile action and let loose its attendant evils.  In the Middle East, we see the evils of religious bigotry, nationalism, militarism, propaganda, and loss of innocent life on both sides.  In the Ukraine we see finger-pointing, loss of lives, terrorism, nationalism, re-stoking of Cold War flames, and the cry for military action.  However, in both situations, we still fail to realize the ultimate end of these actions: death and destruction.

Even if Israel beats the crap out of Hamas in Gaza, or those responsible for shooting down Flight 17 gets their “just desserts”, it won’t be a peaceful resolution.  All that will happen is that things will quiet down for a minute before more troubles erupt.  Like in the Scripture text above, many are calling for war and are preparing for it-despite it being a Divine call for Israel’s enemies to meet their justice (not applicable to the present crisis).

However, there is hope, the last thing the emerged from Pandora’s Box.  Let’s have working, activist hope that these fools won’t win and drag us into their mess.  Let’s have a activist hope for peace while there’s still time…

…Before the evils overrun us.  Peace!

 

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What I Believe: Masculinity

When David’s time to die drew near, he commanded Solomon his son, saying, “I am about to go the way of all the earth. Be strong, and show yourself a man, and keep the charge of the Lord your God, walking in his ways and keeping his statutes, his commandments, his rules, and his testimonies, as it is written in the Law of Moses, that you may prosper in all that you do and wherever you turn  1 Kings 2:1-3 (English Standard Version)

Happy Summer!  As I quickly approach my 52nd Birthday, I realize that there are things I am constantly discovering (or rediscovering) about myself and life.  In 2012, I shared with you my 16 Core Values.  However, I see Number 17’s Value of Masculinity as a “backbone” value that works with the “nucleus” value of Love.  I know many of you may wince or be offended at what I’m about to post, however it is what it is.

As a man,  I embrace the Divine Masculine and celebrate my my masculine spirit without seeking permission, shame or fear.  I am a protector, provider, pro-creator, nurturer, and initiator.  I am the custodian of all things masculine to pass onto my son and other young males.  I am also the builder, the sower, the mentor, and the craftsman of my photography. I am the leader of my home-not the emperor or dictator.  I look to the Divine for strength and guidance.  I strive to lead by example, which is not easy at times.  However, I also lead with love-as God calls us to lead.

I am the Divine Warrior.  I fight for that which is eternal: integrity, love, creativity, spirituality and justice.  I will live-and one day die-with honor. I am not the hyper-masculine male who fights just to fight, or to prove something since a real man doesn’t have to prove a thing.  My manhood is not defined by my possessions, my job, my physical/sexual prowess, or my social circles.  For there are many males who “have it all,” yet have not proved themselves manly.

There are many who find masculinity something to be demonized, which is partially understandable:  We have a hyper-masculine culture of war, gang lifestyles, overemphasis on athleticism, hunger for power and wealth at the expense of others, patriarchal mindset, objectification, and an idolized violence.  And because of this hyper-masculinity, we see these people wanting men to tone down: to be androgynous, metro-sexual, or “soft/sensitive” as not to frighten or “offend” others.  However either extreme does not speak to my masculine spirit; in fact they don’t serve it at all.

I choose to live in Divine integrity as David expressed to Solomon above-that what makes me a man.  When I live as such, all the other positive qualities of masculinity will flow forth.  There, the Divine Masculine embraces me, empowers me, and leads me as I work to be a leader myself.  I do not compromise my other Core Values with Masculinity, as some would think.  No, on the other hand, I strengthen them.

In a society where it seem like there are only “a few good men” left, I embrace the Divine Masculine.  And in turn celebrate my masculinity.

Peace!

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Owww!!!

And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.
John 8:32 (King James Version)

Welcome to Summer 2014 season folks!   And like any good reader, I started my summer reading with some good books-fiction and non-fiction.  One excellent book in the latter category is titled, Putting Away Childish Things by controversial German theologian Uta Ranke-Heinemann. In 1970, she became the first woman in the world to hold a chair of Catholic theology at the University of Essen. She lost her chair in 1987 after denying the virgin birth.

The book is not for the theologically squeamish.  Childish Things is a hard-hitting critique of such cherished Church doctrines about Jesus, including: the virgin birth, Jesus’ lineage from King David, the empty tomb, and the ascension.  Even someone like me who’s liberal in their beliefs had to breathe in-breathe out when reading.  However, if there’s anyone who wants a clearer look at the life of Jesus and still enjoy him may want to check this book out.

To get an idea of what Ranke-Heinemann’s theology is like, here’s her “Sevenfold Negative Creed:”

  1. The Bible is not the word of God but the word of men.
  2. That God does exist in three persons is imagination of men.
  3. Jesus is man and not God.
  4. Mary is the mother of Jesus and not the mother of God.
  5. God created heaven and earth, hell is a product of human fantasy.
  6. The devil and original sin do not exist.
  7. A bloody redemption at the Cross is a pagan sacrificial slaughtering of a human being, based on a model from the religious Stone Age.

Such above thinking is not new to many Christians-inside and outside of academia.  However, it’s more people on the outside that’s starting to think like this and it’s scaring the pants of the Church.  Ranke-Heinemann’s right up there with John Shelby Spong and John A.T. Robinson.

I know many would read Childish Things and scream, “Heresy!”; or at best ridicule it.  However, if what we have is worth living then it is worth examining-even under the harsh (electron) microscope of history and scripture.  So often, we forget that history can prove (or disprove) many a Biblical tenet.  And we see how scripture can contradict itself as well.  Plus, the book will show the painful mutation of a simple Divine ethic of love of God into a twisted and perverted belief system-a fact many in the Church would rather ignore.

Like the title of this post, I too said, “Owww!!!” when reading this book.  However (if being the case) I’d rather get hurt by the truth, than killed by a lie-no matter how comfortable it is.

Check this book out during the summer.  It will be a (painful) eye-opener.

Peace!

(Above image of Uta Ranke-Heinemann courtesy of vice.com)

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