You Can’t Make This Stuff Up

gary johnson

Understand, ye brutish among the people: and ye fools, when will ye be wise?  Psalm 94:8 (King James Version)

In 2012, I posted “Don’t Know Whether to Laugh or Cry” which dealt with the circus of that year’s Presidential campaign involving President Obama and Governor Mitt Romney (MA).  Fast forward to this year, we have another illustrious bunch of candidates ready to take on the mantle of the US Presidency.  On the Democratic side we have former Senator Hilary Clinton (NY), who was both a former First Lady and Secretary of State; and we have Senator Bernie Sanders (VT).  On the Republican side, we have businessman Donald Trump.  We also have a fast growing Libertarian candidate, former Governor Gary Johnson (NM).  And don’t forget the myriad “third party” candidates all itching for the Presidency.

That being said, I’ll start with the Democrats.  Clinton wants to return to 1600 Pennsylvania Ave in the worst way.  Being a former First Lady and Secretary of State, Clinton’s bitten by the White House Bug and is ready to return.  However, there is enough dirty water that’s gone under the historical bridge for me to want another Clinton in the White House.

With Sanders, he looks like he needs to sit down a spell.  To me he appears a little bit clueless when it comes to the rigors he’d face if elected.  The Presidency can age a person in no time flat with all the responsibilities and stresses with the job.  He may be a nice chap and all that, however he seems a little too nice for a job you have to be a bastard at times for.

Speaking of bastards, we now go to the lone Republican, Donald Trump.  Trump-despite his billions-has shown the underbelly of American politics: racism, xenophobia; sexism; and a whole host of ills.  He has a following that believes he’ll “Make America Great,” who doesn’t realize that he’ll stab such following in the back.  I’ve written about Trump in a recent post, so I won’t go any further.

When I watch an even bigger circus with the three main candidates, I can’t believe it.  I watch Blacks snuggle up to Clinton-despite some of the anti-Black policies that occurred under her husband’s watch as President (1992-2000).  Then there are those who champion around Sanders-especially Blacks and Jews-are looking for a socialized America with Scandinavian countries as the model.  Let’s not forget those Whites who are spewing their venom through Trump whilst listening to hollow promises.

Although I don’t watch the news all the time, and limit my social media exposure, what I’ve seen from this campaign is almost surreal: you just can’t make this stuff up.  And tonight’s Scripture talks to these candidates who are both brutal and foolish; when will they be wise?  When will these three wise up and tackle the issues at hand instead of the sound bites and empty promises?

Next month here in Jersey, we have the primaries.  Then this summer, we have the party conventions as each party nominates their hopeful for November (and beyond).  I feel the next six months are going be weirder as we progress.

Like I said, you can’t make this stuff up.  Peace.

P.S.: Now mind you, I did not include Gary Johnson in the mix.  The reason is quite simple (and I’m a registered Democrat): I believe Johnson’s the best candidate for the job.  “What, a Libertarian at 1600?  Surely you jest!” You may say.  However, after what I’ve seen over the last 20 years: continuation of Reagan-era drug laws; increased surveillance; merging of Church and State; a flawed foreign policy; and other issues, I believe it’s time for a much needed change.

Posted in news, politics, thoughts | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Strength for the Journey

But he said to me, “My grace is all you need. My power is strongest when you are weak.”
2 Corinthians 12:9 (New International Reader’s Version)

Take it from personal-and present-experience: there are days that life is going to overwhelm you with everything including the proverbial “kitchen sink.”  You’re assaulted from situations that are close to you.  If it’s not your personal health, it’s the health of a loved one. If it’s not some financial situation you’re contending with, someone near and dear to you is going through.  If you’re a parent and/or a caretaker, it can be even more overwhelming.

These life situations can make you pull your hair out, scream, and run out the door naked never to return.  “Somebody, shoot me” becomes your personal mantra (or prayer).  You ask God “Where are you?” “Why me?”  And if God were to show Him/Herself, you’d try to strangle Him/Her.  Take it from me, it can do a number on you.

However despite it all, Paul’s words come to me tonight in the above text.  Paul was given “a messenger of Satan” to put him in check, so Paul would not boast about some celestial stuff he saw.  Paul asked the Lord three times to remove this “thorn in the flesh,” however the Lord gave him the above verse as a reply.  Now me?  I would have given God a “WTF?” reply.  “I’m going through some shit right about now and you tell me that all I need is Your grace? Don’t you see what I’m going through?” I would ask.

However, when I calm down for a minute and listen to God, I realize what He/She is saying. God’s reminding me that His/Her grace-that power that is imparted when I’m powerless-is sufficient for me. That God gives me strength for the journey all the time.  There are times I may not feel it, or believe it, however I come to realize that God does just that.  And believe it or not (take it from me), the only way we can become Divinely strengthened is to be weak.  When I say “weak” I don’t mean being a wimp.  It means that when we’ve spent out all of our human strength and feel as if we’re at the end of our rope, that’s when God’s power can work through us-giving strength for the journey. Being “weak” allows us to drop the “strong” facade and our ego, and makes us receptive to this power.

You see, our strength only goes but so far.  Our finite human strength can deplete at any time; the apparently strongest individual could burn out overnight.  Plus our human strength is based on the physical.  However, God’s strengthening grace transcends all levels of human existence and does not deplete; it’s based on the spiritual and transcendent-independent of time and space.  It’s strength that is truly sufficient.

We’re going to face shit from life that will work us to our last nerve; and will work on our spirits as well.  I wish it were otherwise, however this is the case for us.  However, let us be thankful and glad that God has strength for the journey available to us.

Makes the journey easier.

Peace.

(Image by Me: Looking North on Bloomsbury Road, Milford, NJ)

Posted in Christianity, life, thoughts | Tagged , | Leave a comment

The Future of God?

For I am the Lord, I change not
Malachi 3:6a (King James Version)

It was 9 years ago I started this blog; April 2007 was its original iteration.  After a couple year’s hiatus, I returned in 2011 with the present iteration.  It was during these 9 years I shared my experiences from a Christian to a follower of Christ.  It was also during these 9 years I wrote about the Church.

Now as we’re almost in the middle of 2016, and we see Western Christianity going through more changes than a stage actor during their performance, I wonder about the future of God.  As not only Christianity, but human spiritual development is undergoing its evolution, where will God fit in the equation?  A sage once said,  “Galileo put God out of a home and Darwin put God out of a job.”  Today we’re seeing Atheism in the pulpit as preachers and teachers are moving beyond the Big Alpha Male in the Sky who does the supernatural, intervenes, and all that other cool stuff.  In my own African-American community, we’re seeing Atheism among the young, educated and professional-despite media portrayals of us being exclusively the opposite-the population the African-American church is wooing.  Even science, which is slowly coming together with spirituality, is portraying “God” in a light different than that of Scripture.

Plus, God ain’t so hot-despite the “growth” of churches in the Southern Hemisphere.  People don’t really give the Big Guy/Gal much props anymore.  It seems God has evolved from humanity’s Creator to its stepchild.  Even in religious countries where Atheism is a death sentence, people are still kicking God to the curb.

If we look at tonight’s Scripture text, we see a Divine declaration turning into a moot point.

So what’s God’s future?  Is God destined for the welfare motel having to work odd jobs to eat?  Or is God destined for the funeral pyre of history where many a theologian is sending Him/Her?  Will Christianity (along with its fellow Abrahamic faiths, Islam and Judaism) try to fight back for God with whatever means necessary?  Or, as science and spirituality come together, will see see a new “God” come forth?

The future of God?  That’s a good question; and one that will be explored in the days to come.

Peace!

(Image above by me: Abandoned church in Franklin, NJ)

 

Posted in Christianity, culture, heretics/heretical thinking, religion, thoughts | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Sorry, You CANNOT Save the World

Can’t save everyone!

17 And Moses’ father in law said unto him, The thing that thou doest is not good.
18 Thou wilt surely wear away, both thou, and this people that is with thee: for this thing is too heavy for thee; thou art not able to perform it thyself alone.
Exodus 18:17-18 (King James Version)

It’s a truth many of us don’t want to hear: we cannot save the world.  We cannot help everybody, every time, everywhere.  We’re not the superheroes/heroines we (and others) think we are.  We just cannot save the world.

Many of us try to be the “hero/heroine” for others; always trying to rescue them when they’re caught in some issue.  This is prevalent in families, close relationships, and in churches; we try to rescue those closest to us.  We try to offer some word, do some deed, lend money…etc to help another.  All too often, we do this at our own expense.  We pour ourselves out over others we forget about ourselves.  We think that we may just be able to offer that word, or that act that cane rescue another.  God knows I’ve had: been there, done that, brought the T-shirt, and even posted photos on Facebook.

We see a similar situation in tonight’s Scripture.  Moses and the Israelites were on their sojourn in the wilderness, when Jethro – Moses’s father-in-law – comes out to see Moses after hearing what God had done for him and the people of Israel.  However, Jethro notices something peculiar about his son-in-law. Moses would sit and listen to the people’s cases as a judge from morning to evening all by himself since he could ask God about certain issues; which was the answer he gave Jethro when asked about it.   Jethro then gave Moses his counsel in the above Scripture, saying: “This ain’t good what you’re doing.  This will burn you and the people out.  This is too much for you to do alone” (modern translation).  Jethro was telling Moses that he couldn’t save the world.  Jethro then advises Moses to select judges for the people-leaving only the tough cases for Moses.  Moses heeds Jethro’s advice, making things run smoother and savings Moses’s sanity in the end.

However, we’re not like Moses where we can whip up a support staff to deal with folks’ issues.  We’re pretty much going it alone; and as Jethro warned Moses, it’s burning us out.  We’re becoming tired and spent.  We find that we have no one to listen to us when we need a shoulder to lean on.  We eventually become bitter and ugly towards others to the point we won’t help our best friend.  We feel used and become more harm than good for others.

We cannot save the world.  All we can do is our best to help when possible; however make sure that we keep our spiritual energy stores full.  Sometimes, people must go through their issue-especially if it helps them to grow.  Others we just have to realize that all the help we offer won’t help; and just have to step back so we don’t get sucked into their issue.  Like Moses’s judges, we must use wisdom.

We cannot save the world.  A harsh reality.  However it’s a reality that can save us and others in the end.

Peace.

(Image above by Me: Graveyard at Tranquility Church in Green Township, NJ).

Posted in life, relationships, thoughts | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

God IS Dead.

And the word of the Lord was rare in those days; there was no frequent vision.  I Samuel 3:1b (English Standard Version)

Just when you thought it was safe to go to the movies, God’s Not Dead 2 is coming to the big screen.  This film deals with a high school teacher’s career on the line after answering a student’s question about Jesus.  And to think, we were just getting over its recent predecessor, God’s Not Dead (I wrote about that movie in the past).

The second installment of God’s Not Dead shows an “us versus them” Christianity that attempt’s to  “prove” God’s existence.  We see stereotyped “Atheists” and people being “persecuted” for their faith.  This is not a witness of God’s love through our living.  No, it’s just a silver-screen bully pulpit for Christian fundamentalism.  Of course, Christian fundamentalists will gobble this shit up like free appetizers at a happy hour.

When I see stuff like this on any media: movie, social, TV, etc., it leads me to believe that God IS Dead.

“God? Dead?  Surely you jest!” You may say.  However I beg to differ.  You see, God is dead in our hearts.  We’ve turned the Divine into some ventriloquism dummy who we use to beat others over the head with to prove what we believe is “right” by putting words into His/Her mouth.  We treat others as if they’re the bad guys and we’re just “persecuted innocents”; instead of watching for the bad apples in our midst.  Movies like the God’s Not Dead franchise don’t show the existence of God; it in fact diminishes it and has killed God in us.

We’ve taken God and whittled Him/Her down into something we can use-instead of being used of God.  Paul’s words in Romans 1:22-23 come to mind:

 Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things.

Instead of lifting ourselves up to God’s level to live higher, we’ve dragged God down to our level.  We then killed God in our hearts by adapting this version of God that is far from what God truly is.  Instead of letting others experience God in their own way, we shove God down their throats.  And in the end, tonight’s main Scripture comes to bear: the voice of God is rare among Christians, and the frequent visions God could give us have all but dried up.  Thanks to that, the world sees a dead God; no matter what the producers of the God’s Not Dead franchise might claim.

Now you may get mad and call me the biggest heretic since Giordano Bruno, however I stand by my words.  God is dead to us and to the world.  And unless we change, they can produce other God’s Not Dead sequels up to Number 10.  God will still be dead….

And in the end, so will we.  Something to think about.

Peace.

(Image: ruins of Bethlehem Baptist Church in Asbury, NJ)

Posted in Christianity, culture, heretics/heretical thinking, thoughts | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

After Words?

15 And he said to them, “Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation. 16 Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned. 17 And these signs will accompany those who believe: in my name they will cast out demons; they will speak in new tongues; 18 they will pick up serpents with their hands; and if they drink any deadly poison, it will not hurt them; they will lay their hands on the sick, and they will recover.”

19 So then the Lord Jesus, after he had spoken to them, was taken up into heaven and sat down at the right hand of God. 20 And they went out and preached everywhere, while the Lord worked with them and confirmed the message by accompanying signs.
Mark 16:15-20 (English Standard Version)

I’ve been wrestling with this post-Easter post for what I’ve discovered.

When we think about Jesus’s resurrection, we also hint at his upcoming ascension back to Heaven.  For the next 40 days, Jesus wraps up his ministry and prepares his disciples for Kingdom work after he’s gone.  It’s during this time we hear of the “Great Commission” where the disciples were commanded to preach the Gospel to everyone; and that miraculous powers would accompany the disciples.  After his final words, Jesus was taken up into Heaven to sit at God’s right hand; and to work with the disciples in confirming his message by signs.

Now for many Christians, this would be a slam-dunk: Christ arose; he gave some final instructions to his people; and then he was taken up to Glory.  However, this passage is a very interesting one since Chapter 16 only goes up to verse 8 when the two Marys and Salome discovered the empty tomb on the first day of the week, saw the strange man in white who tells them of Jesus’s resurrection, and their running off afraid and saying nothing.  Verses 9-20 (including the above passage), were not part of the original manuscript.  This is quite interesting since Mark was the first of the four synoptic Gospels to be written (around 65 CE, 30-35 years after the time of Jesus). Even the Codex Sinaiticus-an early Christian Bible penned in the middle of the 4th Century CE-doesn’t have verses 9-20.

So what do we make of these “after words”?  What really happened after the events of verse 8?  What did happen to Jesus?  These are questions that would truly boggle one’s mind.  Who was the man in white: an angel or some human follower of Jesus we weren’t previously introduced to?  Did the two Marys and Salome eventually tell about the empty tomb, or kept it to themselves?  Sad to say, we may never know despite the fact that verses 9-20 were (way) later add-ons; as well as the other three synoptic Gospels.

For now, we’re left to believe that Jesus appeared to his people, gave the Great Commission and then ascended into Heaven.

However, this does make for interesting discussion; or at least thought.

Peace.

Posted in Christianity, heretics/heretical thinking, thoughts | Leave a comment

Do We Still Need Easter?

Today’s Easter Sunday, or Resurrection Sunday.  Today’s the day we commemorate the resurrection of Jesus from the grave.  Today’s the day of Sunrise Services, Easter Finery worn to church, Easter parades, Sunday School pageants, “Early Sunday Morning!” sermons (with the “Early” stretched for effect), Easter dinners, and plenty of Easter candy.  And last night was the requisite broadcasting of The Ten Commandments…“Oh, Moses, Moses, Moses….”

Despite the fact of Easter’s Pagan origins, it’s still a high point on the Christian Liturgical calendar (along with Christmas).  We went from Ash Wednesday, Lent, Palm Sunday, Holy Week, Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, Holy Saturday…all up to this big day.

However, I have a question for today: Do we still need Easter?  The celebrations grow tiring and predictable.  I think if I hear one more pastor yell, “EAARRILLY SUNDAY MORNING!!!” from the pulpit I may choke them.  Early days at church and Sunrise services should be considered grounds for heresy.  Social media pictures and gooey Easter pics need to be yanked off.  Plus, these Bible movies get to be a bit too much after awhile.  Maybe Easter has outlived its usefulness…

Or maybe Easter serves another purpose.  Easter may not be to “prove” Jesus’s resurrection, and the subsequent “supremacy” of Christianity.  Maybe Easter keeps hope alive in us, that death is not the final word.  That our souls won’t shut down and we just rot as Earth hurls through space for eons.  Maybe like the ancient Pagans, we too need Easter to celebrate the hope of life after death.  In a world where violence is at every corner and hopelessness is the order of the day, Easter is the answer.

Do we still need Easter?  Good question.  Peace.

Posted in Christianity, church, heretics/heretical thinking, religion, thoughts | Tagged , | Leave a comment