July Rambling: Weird Al, and the moon walk

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Political language… is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind. – George Orwell. To that end, Bible Stories for Newly Formed and Young Corporations and Congratulations: It’s a corporation.

An answer to the child immigrant problem at the US-Mexican border? I note that the Biblical Jesus was a refugee, his parents fleeing Herod’s wrath. Yet so many people who profess to follow the teachings of Jesus Christ “are so uncaring and hateful about hungry children trying to get to a better, safer place to live.”

In the non-surprise category: Stand Your Ground Laws Lead To More Homicides, Don’t Deter Crime.

Misleading on Marriage: how gay marriage opponents twist history to suit their agenda.

Yiddish Professor Miriam Isaacs has dug in a previously unknown treasure of over a thousand unknowns Yiddish songs recorded of Holocaust survivors; text is in Swedish, but can be translated. Miriam was my old racquetball buddy decades ago.

The Creation Myth of 20th Century Fundamentalism by Jeff Sharlet, who I also knew long ago.

Australian swimming great Ian Thorpe came out as gay. Arthur explains why it STILL matters. Also: I Can Be Christian, and Gay, and Live in Alabama.

Portraits of people in 7 days’ worth of their own garbage.
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Easter is new

eastereggsOne of the things my pastors, and pastors before them, have often said is that you should be different on Good Friday than you were on Ash Wednesday. It’s not always easy to do that. The texts tend to be SO familiar that one has a tendency to “mail it in,” theologically. “Oh, yeah, that scripture; I know EXACTLY what that means.” I think, remarkably, that I did not “mail it in” this Lent.

Frankly, I’ve been puzzled by people who look at Scripture as though God handed it down in 17th century English. Continue reading

Art, science, Bible, baseball

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More from New York Erratic:

Who is your favorite visual artist? Favorite director?

I tend to be rather catholic about these things. Here’s the best way to recognize the artist of paintings, BTW.

My church has Tiffany windows, which I like; the one above is one of them. Gordon Parks is a favorite photographer. Always though Frank Lloyd Wright’s buildings were interesting, if not always practical. Van Gogh I enjoy, but there are so many more; I love going to the house in the Hyde Collection in Glens Falls, NY because it’s so eclectic. Did one of those Facebook things where you should live, and it came up with French Polynesia, which reminded me that I like Gauguin too.

But I guess my favorite visual artist is Rodin, whose work I find sensual as all get out, even if it isn’t all his work.

I took this list of a list of the 50 greatest directors of all time. Of all the directors whose films I’ve seen more that three Continue reading

Tittynope, or ort, and poor Lazarus

tittymouse As is my wont, I checked out the Grandiloquent Word of the Day, which, for a day in late February, was tittynope. The term was SO peculiar that I had to check it in
another source. And sure enough – “Tittynope: (noun) a small quantity of anything left over, whether a few beans on a dinner plate or the dregs at the bottom of a cup.”

My old friend Hadiya – she’s not that old, but… – asked if it was related to the word ort. I’d say, definitionally, yes.
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MLK as creationist?

MLK-ed-quoteIn a couple different Facebook strains around the Martin Luther King holiday, I read suggestions that Martin Luther King was a creationist. This is, as far as any evidence I’ve seen, a total fabrication.

First, a sidebar: apparently, there’s a narrative out there that suggests that philosophically – it is a Darwinian worldview that allows racism to exist, while a biblical perspective does not Continue reading

What Would Jesus Be Packing?

jesus-gun-wwjd41First I read that churches in Kentucky are using gun giveaways to help people find Jesus. Then, in a front-page story in my area, the pastor of a local Baptist church plans to give away an AR-15 assault rifle to the winner of a free raffle at an upcoming Sunday service.

From the Troy, NY church’s website:

We have decided to hold a special service honouring hunters and gun owners who have been so viciously attacked by the antichristian socialist media and antichristian socialist politicians the last few years. Our country was built with the King James Bible and the gun.

My theology is very different from this, and I struggled to understand. Continue reading

Doing your good deeds publicly?

HydrantsFBBack in mid-February, our local newspaper social media guru wrote: “A good deed loses some of its purity when it’s broadcasted by the ‘doer’ on social media.” I thought this was self-evidently true.

One person replied: “I’d like to think people do this to inspire others to follow suit. But the skeptic in me is pretty sure that they do this to satisfy their ego.” I have no idea about the motivation, but too often, it just feels unseemly.

Another: “If you want to pay it forward, just do it! If you are looking for praise for your complimentary cup of coffee , then you did it for the wrong reasons.” I’ll give that an AMEN.

And: “Bragging about a good deed is tacky. Class is when you do the right thing, not only when no one is looking but also when no one will thank or praise you.” YES.
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Note to self: do not talk about religion on Facebook

Twice late last month – once on Christmas eve – I had “conversations” about religion on Facebook. It’s often unsatisfying, because I am a believer in spite of uncertainty, and these folks are usually convinced of their rightness.

Oddly, both ended up involving the Biblical phrase “render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s, render unto God what is God’s.” Without getting into the whole back-and-forth, one guy insisted that the verses, appearing in all three of the synoptic Gospels (all, except John), meant that we are directed to obey earthly authority, pay taxes, and the like.

My view is more in line that Continue reading

Loving with your whole heart is not easy

This is the Advent devotional I wrote for the FOCUS churches this year. It had to be based on a particular Scripture lesson (Matthew 22:34-46), be of a certain length, and end with a prayer. For your convenience, I’ve followed the piece with the Scripture.

In the Scripture lesson, Jesus is being tested theologically. The religious leadership of the day is constantly trying to trip Him up, asking a bunch of questions. What IS the greatest commandment? To love God, and likewise, to love each other.

We are often tested trying to follow these dictates. Sure we may see ourselves as “good” and “nice” people. Maybe we go to church, quote Scripture. Do we REALLY love God with all our heart, mind, and soul? I think God knows that a mysterious and disembodied deity may be sometimes difficult to comprehend.
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