Moral Contradictions

Thursday, March 30, 2006

America needs more prophets.

Or so would the late and very wise Phil Strickland would probably say. He headed the Baptist General Convention of Texas Christian Life Commission and had a speech titled "Where Have All the Prophets Gone?" (scroll down) published post-humously in the February 2006 edition of the Baptist Studies Bulletin.

I read the speech last night before I went to bed and I wish I waited until morning. I wanted to wake my wife up and share what I read as it proved to be a document that I never ever want to lose or forget.

For compassion to move to action requires an alliance of love, power, and justice. As Paul Tillich said: “In both interpersonal and political relationships, love, power and justice are inseparable. Without love, power becomes tyrannical and justice is only a name for the rule of strong. Without power, love is reduced to sentimentality and justice to an impotent ideal. Without justice, love is a perverse dance of domination and submission.”

Always, the prophet must be imaginative. One does not prophesy about what is but about what ought to be. Which usually makes prophecy sound absurd to the common ear.

Let me give you an example. A pastor mentioned to me that he did not like the beginning of our Christian Life Commission flyer, that it could cause controversy in his church. Here are the words, aptly authored by Joe Haag, so I’ll brag about his work:

“To follow Christ means that we allow his life to gain leverage against our lives. Against our lust for power, he endures the cross. Against our pride and arrogance, he washes the disciples’ feet. Against our upward mobility, he preaches good news to the poor. Against our self absorption, he has compassion on the multitudes. Against our tight circles of family and friends, he reaches out to strangers. Against our safe noninvolvement, he confronts the powers. Against our violence and hatred, he demands that we love our enemies. Against our self righteousness, he welcomes sinners. Against our bigotry, he tells us about a Good Samaritan. Against our frenzy, he invites us to trust God. Against all the lies which enslave us, he tells the truth which sets us free. How can we be transformed into the image of Christ? One answer is that as we surrender our lives to God’s purposes, God changes us.”

That pastor did not like the words “our pride and arrogance” or “against our self absorption.” He said, “I’m not going to say either one of those about America.” Which means, what, that he accepts the Lordship of America? Who will be left to speak a word for the Lordship of Christ?


Wow. Those are tough, yet very true words, for all Christians to hear. I was deeply humbled when I read that paragraph, as it reminded me that we're not called to a "Christian-Lite" life, but rather to carry the cross with Jesus.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

The "however" is the downfall

Church families have split, members disaffected, friendships ruined - all because a group of folks conveniently forgot their heritage to force their view on others. What a shame. Baptists originated out of the free church idea. They were tired of being told what to believe by bishops and priests, tired of being told how to worship, and tired of persecution if they disagreed. Some even gave their lives for the right to embrace "soul freedom" in a free church.

Let me say that because I don't think enough people understand this fact: some early Baptists died for the core founding beliefs of our denomination. They didn't recover.

The word "however" is the bane of today's Baptists. How can I say "well, your son is healthy, however, he has a tumor on his brain"? The word "however" fundamentally changes a sentence, much in the same way has it has changed modern Baptist life. We grew from humble, yet volatile beginnings back in the early 17th century.

However, some folks lost sight of why a convention was even formed. Baptists went over 200 years without a convention. Two centuries... 6-7 generations came and went with no offiical organization binding the local Baptist church. The convention was created to pool resources to eventually fund missionaries and then fund theological training. Within that framework, the uniquely Baptist free church and free soul ideas prevailed.

However, a group came to power in the latter quarter of the 20th century and were determined to, for the first time, use the convention to suppress "soul freedom". Convinced that only their intrepretation of the Bible was the only ticket to heaven, they schemed to take control of the leadership of a very large and powerful denomination.

However, they had to overcome the Baptist idea of the free church. How could they exert control over a "bottom-up" organization and convert it to a "top-down" group? They realized that the President, elected every year at the annual convention meeting, had appointment powers over the trustee boards of mission organizations and seminaries. If like-minded people were appointed, they could wrest control and steal esstablished institutions to further their goals, rather than have to start a new denomination from the ground up. Thus, once achieved in 1979, the group got to work. So-called "liberal" professors were targeted.

However, one would hope that the average Baptist would have an appreciation of their heritage and recognize what was happening. Because this process occured over a period of years and possessed extraordinary planning, any action proved to be too little, too late. Thus, once that initial Presidency was one, nothing could stop the tide of the takeover. Not content to challenge theological students with various viewpoints, both liberal and conservative, professors were kicked out of seminaries if they didn't adhere to a very strict theological stance. Controversial and complex theological points were boiled into a black and white test designed for either blind allegiance or excommunication. No room for discussion was allowed. Thus the purging began.

However, that wasn't enough. Strict conservative stances, justified with selected verses in the Bible taken out of context, were taken by the Convention and taught to pastors in training at the seminaries that were swept of dissent. These pastors took this narrow yet explosive and emotionally-driven ideology to local churches and the brunt of the convention began to bear down on the local church. Churches were eventually limited to what they could give, who they could give to, and what they could believe - if they disagreed, they were forced to abandon their assocations and look for new ways to support missions and theological training.

However, the question that begs to be asked is thus: if this group that calls itself Baptist, yet rejects the Baptist heritage that its forefathers suffered and died for, are they really Baptist? How does a group justify using the levers of an institution that was simply created to expedite the mission of the church while simultaneously respected the priesthood of the believer and the concept of the free church?

However, despite this blatant disregard for the damage that this group has done in the name of doctrinal purity, this group and its leaders continually take the moral high road.

However, I come from a Galatians 6:7 background, and I predict that this group, the Southern Baptist Convention, will one day pay dearly for the hurt, damage, and sins it has committed. By using power politics, ridding the convention of good and faithful Christians, and disrespecting the very defintion of Baptist, the SBC will pay for using the end to justify the means. The amount of hurt, pain, and damage that they inflicted may never surpass any good that they may do.

More and more, I pray that more Baptists will see through so-called doctrinal statements such as this:

We believe that the Bible is the verbally inspired Word of God, and is sufficient as our only infallible rule of faith and practice. We deny that other books are inspired by God in the same way as the Bible. The fundamental truths to which we are committed are expressed in the Baptist Faith and Message 2000 with the clarification of inerrancy as described above. The doctrinal position of the Southern Baptist Conservatives of Virginia shall not be binding upon any local church; however, the convention recognized its right and responsibility to determine its identity, including doctrinal parameters, and to include within its affiliation those individual affiliates and churches who can freely agree with it, and to exclude those individuals or churches who do not.


To the SBCV, SBC, and all other like-minded folks, to steal a phrase from the world: you can't have your cake and eat it too.

Newsflash: Tom DeLay isn't humble

Mr. Tom "I am the federal government" DeLay can't keep his mouth shut:

"Our faith has always been in direct conflict with the values of the world. We are, after all, a society that provides abortion on demand, has killed millions of innocent children, degrades the institution of marriage and all but treats Christianity like some second-rate superstition."

He added "We are also a society that tries to hire labor for as cheap as possible, pull in the greatest profit from everyday necessities such as gas, ignore the tens of millions that are uninsured, ignore those who are impoverished, and tramples over the very institutions that formed our great country... oh wait, that sounds too Democratic, scratch that."

"This is a man, I believe, God has appointed ... to represent righteousness in government," the organizer, Rick Scarborough, told the audience.

"When we look at what the Bible teaches, we feel confidant in knowing that an arrogant and corrupt official is there in DC to pay lip service to our interests while he enriches himself, his family, and his friends. God bless him."

Scarborough added that DeLay shouldn't worry about his upcoming election and indictment for "God always does his best work after a crucifixion."

Scarborough went on and said "We understand that by comparing this crooked politician to Jesus Christ we are using all the stops to protect him and our interests, for really, we're surprised at how long we've been able to get away with promoting partisan politics under a religious banner. Let's all thank the Lord the IRS isn't any the wiser."

Folks, Christianity isn't under attack for it's faith - conservative Christianity is under attack for it's, well, conservative politics and it's complete perversion of the Bible to further and justify their prejudiced and uncompromising goals.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Impressed

Last week was BTSR's spring break and I missed not having my Baptist Heritage class. I know I'll be saddened once the semester is over.

Dr. Cecil Sherman is a living legend.

I could listen to his stories for hours. The class is only 2 hours long and I wish it was more. The man had to look deep within the "soul" of Baptists, understand how church was to be conducted, and then took a stand against the practices of a bunch of power hungry folks bent on perverting principle and tradition for their own gain.

Dr. Sherman had the love and willingness to take that stand and the wisdom to create a new convention in the CBF. He had to look at two ways of organizing churches:

1. The convention route, which had the advantage of being more efficient, yet as the SBC proved, could be used to pressure the churches and institutions it was designed to help, and that was no good.

2. He could create separate "societies", distinct groups to fund individual missions. By and large, according to Dr. Sherman, this is how the American Baptists work. However, this method isn't always the most efficient, but it does keep the power in the local church and out of the hands of theological uniformists.

Dr. Sherman had to create something in the middle and was responsible for its success. He's really big on church polity ("how we do church... are you here?"), as it relates to what are roots are as Baptists and how that translates to what we do today.

That's where my heart is. How does our history and heritage intersect with how we do church, and how does church intersect with the world?

Anyways... I'm wondering if anyone's done a biography on Dr. Sherman. I firmly believe that years from now in other Baptist Heritage classes his name will come up often.

I'm seriously thinking of reading up as much as possible on the creation of the CBF and all things associated and then asking him if I can do some sort of bio on him. I really don't feel like I'm qualified at all, but I can envision at least interviewing him and taking notes and using those later on for a dissertation or something.

It's so exciting to learn more about myself and my calling even at my old age. :)

Fall 2007 and a summary of the past 2 weeks

Okay, back to a little personal blogging. I'm continuing to feel called to go to seminary. A couple weeks ago I had lunch with two folks I highly respect. Wednesday I had lunch with Dr. Cecil Sherman, professor of the Baptist Heritage class I'm auditing at BTSR and the first leader of the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship. He listened to my interests, where my heart is, and figured I had two options. 1. Study religious history in a secular setting or 2. Go to seminary where I can pursue my calling and have the history/politics part be an avocation.

I asked him if I could have it both ways... study at seminary and leave the option open for secular doctoral work once I get to the other side of my master's education. He laughed and said "sure sure, if you want to be in school for the next 6-7 years". He gave some very wise advice and a couple of phone numbers of people I have yet contacted to get further wisdom. He told me that no matter which direction I decide that I should "run it into the ground" and go after it.

I then had lunch with a good buddy who's on staff at my home church. We usually have lunch about every 2-3 months, so I don't know how surprised he was. He was very encouraging and reassured me that many don't know exactly what direction they're headed when they entered seminary. He encouraged me to look at divinity schools as opposed to 'stand-alone seminaries' for more options in classes to round out my education. Besides, he said, most churches don't understand the difference (nothing too major) and just want to see the "M.Div" by your name.

My wife and I then took off on our grandparent's trip, and when we visited her grandfather in Shelby, NC, we expressed interest in maybe walking around the Divinity School at Gardner-Webb University just a few miles away in tiny Boiling Springs. He informed my wife that her 2nd cousin worked there, and before I knew it, I had a parking spot reserved for me and an appointment with the director of admissions for the Divinity School. Cool.

That meeting went okay - not as great as we thought it would, just because the guy, who was very nice, seemed distracted. Once I mentioned my job as webmaster, he ranted about their school's webmaster for about 10 minutes. I ended the meeting by thanking him for his help and we walked out. As we were about to walk out of the building, he caught us and told us the dean was over in the next room at a reception and he wanted us to meet him.

Dr. Chuck Bugg was incredibly nice. He interuppted his conversation and sat down with us for about 10 minutes and asked me what I was looking to do and where I thought I was going in life. He recognized my wife because he just moved down there from BTSR last year, so we bonded a little on our Richmond background. My wife's ears perked when he said they offered certification in pastoral counseling, something my wife wants, but didn't quite know how to get. He told her that she could finish at BTSR next spring and then just take a few classes there and be set.

Dr. Bugg offered the best argument for divinity school versus seminary. As a divinity school is usually attached to a larger university, "cross pollenization" between disciplines can occur. In Gardner-Webb's case, they offer a dual degree program with a Master of Divinity and a M.A. in Religion. Very cool.

Overall I liked the school - I liked the direction it's heading, I liked the smallness of it and of the surrounding area... I liked the fact that Kristen has a grandfather and two sets of aunts and uncles nearby. I like the fact that it's only one state away, and ultimately I like the fact that the program seems to offer me a lot of options, which comes in handy as I'm not exactly sure where I'm heading. One thing that concerns me is name-recognition.... I didn't know the school existed until a couple years ago. However, that's not a deal breaker for me.

As for Truett :) my sister wants to be there next Spring. I have an aunt and uncle down the road in Austin... the price is right for the school, the program looks to be good (not sure if it's good for me yet or not), but I'm not wild at all about moving my wife and I out there. I'm almost in a "been there done that" when I was in Oklahoma for 2 years. I know something like that shouldn't stop me from what I have to do, but at the same time a move to North Carolina would be a lot easier on everyone involved than a move to Texas.

One other thing that concerns me about North Carolina is the direction of the state convention... I really don't want to start school and then re-fight the "conservative trustee versus the not-conservative enough professor" battles that blemish the history of the six SBC seminaries...

Anyways... who knows where I'll be. The good news is that I have some time because I'm tied to Richmond for another 14 months. Stay tuned... :)

Monday, March 27, 2006

Some more mind-blowing statements

I guess if you repeated certain statements over and over, they become true. At least in the Southern Baptist world that seems to be standard policy.

From an article about the North American Mission Board published at ChristianPost.com titled "Southern Baptists Respond to Critical Report with Remedies", I saw this gem at the bottom:

The Southern Baptists admitted they are not perfect, but saw such an opportunity like this one to come out stronger.

"We do not want to give the impression to anyone that we do not welcome criticism," said Holcomb. "As we worked we realized, 'Hey, this is going to make us better, this is going to make us stronger.'"

The Southern Baptist Convention is the largest free church denomination in the world with 43 million members across the globe, including more than 16 million members in the United States.


Apparently the North American Mission Board is drinking something different than the International Mission Board. The IMB almost kicked off one of the SBC's most loyal trustees, Wade Burleson, in yet another example of the legalistic-no-criticism environment they apparently learned from the Pharisees.

I commend the NAMB for these statements, but I must admit that my jaw dropped when Mr. Holcomb included all Southern Baptists as welcoming criticism.

Another statement that made me guffaw was "largest free church denomination"... how can you have a free church when the SBC leadership has plotted methodical steps for enforcing strict discipline from the top down through it's institutions on down to the local church?

"Free church" and "Southern Baptist Convention" no longer applies.

Dr. Richard Land, the ERLC, SBC, and the H word

On the way to work this morning, it hit me. What immediately followed the following revelation was my hand smacking my forehead with the word "duh!".

After telling the President that "Ours is a nation of law [sic]..." and Southern Baptists "are deeply offended at a very basic level when the government doesn’t enforce the law..." in regards to illegal aliens, where have they been when the President has made up or ignored laws to allow torture and spying on American citizens?

I was taught that sometimes you don't just sin with your actions, but you can also sin with your non-action.

I cannot shake the thought the SBC is merely a group of political and cultural conservatives who justify their world view through their interpretation of the Bible. They have shaped and warped the Bible to suit their own needs through misinformation and the cherry-picking of verses. I wonder how Bruce Gourley's response to Dr. Albert Mohler would fit into the SBC's belief that the Bible doesn't contradict itself.

Why can't we as Christians objectively look to the Bible for clues as to what political causes to advance? I don't feel like I can dismiss the thousands of references to help the poor and focus on one or two verses on homosexuality or other red-hot issues conveniently used to stir up passions and elect preferred officials. I also feel like I need to research the entire Bible to see what it says on various subjects and read each verse and passage in context.

Does that make me a heretic, to truly seek the face of God and what his will for my life would be?

No matter your opinion on the previous question, it's not yours to make. No one will advocate for or against me when I stand before God one day. Just me.

Sunday, March 26, 2006

A few random updates...

//I hope I don't have another Sunday like today... my idea of "day of rest" doesn't include waking up at 6:30 and then go to church from 7:30 - 12:00. It was my own fault as I covered sound for someone without looking at the calendar. I would've noticed that I was already scheduled for the other service plus the church was hosting a prayer breakfast. So I apologize if the following doesn't make any sense, or if a whole bunch of letters repeat for 87 lines because I fell asleep on the keyboard.

But I digress....

I've been commenting on several stories as of late which have had signficant updates in the past 36 hours or so.

(1). Religious freedom... er, execution looks like it won't happen in Afghanistan for the Christian who converted, which according to the sharia law of the government that our government put in place by force, demands death for this "crime". God Bless Afghanistan? This one still hasn't sorted itself out yet...

(2). Just a couple days after Dr. Richard Land proved himself yet again to be one of the leaders of America's largest conservative group that happens to meet every Sunday by pushing for the President to follow the law in regards to illegal immigrations, some of "the largest demonstrations for any cause in recent U.S. history" happened against criminalizing illegal immigrants. (Yes I know "criminalizing illegal" is self-defeating, but for Dr. Land to turn yet another complex social and moral issue into a black and white frame based on his position of being a top dog of a church is reprehensible).

I'll have to do some research into who presented this plan, but one of the proposed options for handling this situation is: Allowing foreigners to stay in the country legally as custodians, dish washers, construction workers and other low-paid employees.

*where's that wall again.... *BAM!!*

Remember all the press about the million man march awhile back that wasn't quite a million? 500,000 took to the streets in LA. Half a million folks felt so strongly about this issue that they protested in a city 3,000 miles away from our nation's capital. I'm hearing that they're planning even bigger demonstrations. I'm used to seeing those type of images and thinking "what's going on now in [pick your current unstable country]?"... Just as we all said "I can't believe this is happening in America" after Katrina, we're forced to say it again.

(3) Um... at what point is it okay to use the term "civil war" to describe what's happening around Baghdad? Do we have to hit triple digits in the number of folks daily found dead in the streets? Apparently 50-70 a day is merely called having a "mild disagreement".

...

I'd also like to thank Ms. Vivian for the compliments and welcome her readers and her input... check her site out... now! :)

//to bed.

Saturday, March 25, 2006

The Trifecta strkes again

Folks, politics corrupts. Politics + Money + Faith is a very powerful combination that potentially could do a lot of good, yet under this Administration and prevailing political climate has proved to cause unfathomable harm.

I don't think I'm smart enough to form a non-profit organization purporting to support a "pro-family" agenda in Washington - and then make a over a million dollars lining my pockets by taking 1/3 off the top of donations.

Apparently I needed to work for Tom Delay to learn these tactics. Edwin A. Buckham learned how.

A top adviser to former House Whip Tom DeLay received more than a third of all the money collected by the U.S. Family Network, a nonprofit organization the adviser created to promote a pro-family political agenda in Congress, according to the group's accounting records.

DeLay's former chief of staff, Edwin A. Buckham, who helped create the group while still in DeLay's employ, and his wife, Wendy, were the principal beneficiaries of the group's $3.02 million in revenue, collecting payments totaling $1,022,729 during a five-year period ending in 2001, public and private records show.


If any one of you reading this happen to be Christian and you voted for President Bush because you thought he would protect your faith, let this serve as a wake-up call: Your faith and vote is being used for highly immoral purposes. Greed is the most common sin that is currently undermining our faith, our finances, and our Constitution.

Also, it's patriotic to question your government. Just ask the soldiers that died to set up a government that truly represented their needs and interests. Ask them why they wanted a Bill of Rights. Ask the leaders of late 18th century Virginia why they wouldn't ratify the Constitution unless it had that Bill of Rights. Ask them why that was so important. Ask they why they fought and died for a country that respected the rule of law and didn't pay lip service to those laws and amendments.

Our country is most definitely heading in the wrong direction - only certain religious leaders are justifying President Bush's actions at the helm as he continually marginalizes and trivializes our Constitution and Bill of Rights.

Money by itself isn't bad, yet the Bible teaches us the love of money is wrong. Greed plus faith combined with power is anti-American.

Bill Moyers versus Richard Land

My post about the article describing Dr. Land's opinion of what most Southern Baptists are worried about continually boggles my mind. We're talking head exploding stuff, especially in light that he communicated this to the leader of the free world.

I'm finally getting around to reading Bill Moyer's speech at Wake Forest that everyone has raved about. I love it as you can tell he does this out of love for his country and its faith, its direction, and its health... and I'm only 1.5 pages through.

Let's compare what Mr. Moyer's said to Wake Forest, and what Dr. Land said to the President. In other words, we'll compare what was said to a divinity school to what was communicated to the most powerful man on Earth.

On behalf of Southern Baptists to President Bush by Dr. Richard Land of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Comission:

The ERLC’s Land said he told the president Southern Baptists “are deeply offended at a very basic level when the government doesn’t enforce the law. And it’s clear that the government is not rigorously enforcing the law at the border or in the country when it comes to illegal immigration. As Southern Baptists, we believe that Romans 13 teaches the government is to punish those who break the law and reward those who obey the law

Land told Baptist Press he also said to Bush, “Second, if it is felt that there needs to be comprehensive immigration reform and the laws need to be changed, then change the laws but rigorously enforce the law, whatever it is.

“Third, the overwhelming majority of Southern Baptists want the government to secure the borders. That does not mean sealing the borders but having control over who goes in and who goes out and making sure that everyone is doing so legally.

“And finally,” Land said, “if the government can convince Southern Baptists it is serious about controlling the borders, then I think a consensus can be built for some kind of guest-worker program that does not involve amnesty and that does not allow people who have come here illegally to jump place in line over those who are attempting to come into the country by the normal, legal channels.”


Let's compare that to what another Baptist, albeit not of the Southern Conservative Church, said:

The following year – 2005 – the editors of The Economist, one of the world’s most pro-capitalist publications, produced their own sobering analysis of what is happening in America. They found great and growing income disparities. Thirty years ago the average annual compensation of the top 100 chief executives was 30 times the pay of the average worker; today it is 1000 times the pay of the average worker.

They found an education system “increasingly stratified by social class” in which poor children “attend schools with fewer resources than those of their richer contemporaries.” They found our celebrated universities increasingly “reinforcing rather that reducing” these educational inequalities.

They found American corporations no longer successful agents of upward mobility. It is now harder for people to start at the bottom and rise up the company hierarchy by dint of hard work and self-improvement.

The editors of The Economist studied all this evidence and concluded – and I am quoting a pro-business magazine, remember – that the United States “risks calcifying into a European-style, class-based society.”

Let that sink in: The United States “risks calcifying into a European-style, class-based society.”

Has your mind exploded yet? I would like to think that if I represented a large body of Christians and got a chance to speak to the President about the collective group's concerns about the pressing moral issues of the day, illegal immigration wouldn't be near the top. Given that recently there's been a push to criminalize those who willingly help illegal aliens.

Dr. Land proves that at the very least he embarrasses Southern Baptists and at worst is truly representative of their top priorities.

I'm not even finished with the speech, but I know I'm keeping it around. I have a strong feeling that this speech will influence my thoughts and my posts that show up here for a long time.

Friday, March 24, 2006

If you had the President's ear...

...and represent the largest Protestant denomination, thus endowing you with great responsibility to speak out on the pressing moral issues of our day, what would you focus on? Torture? Lack of Affordable Health Care? Corporate Irresponsibility? Corruption? Decreasing wages? Breaking the law? Katrina irresponsiblity? Rising gas prices? Record deficit spending?

Well you would be remiss, because you obviously missed the Most Important Moral Issue that Concerns Southern Baptists:

Illegal Immigration

**Bangs head on wall**

.... *sigh* ....

So does Dr. Richard Land of the Southern Baptist's Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission speak on behalf of Christians, or conservative Republicans who happen to go to church?

Nick at Nite 8:23

Apparently I'm missing something in my faith. That's right.

Leave It To Beaver

Somehow while giving a talk about needing more Christian representation in Washington D.C., Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee (R-duh), said:

"There are many Americans who are spiritually disconnected, culturally lost... Most of us in this room truly believe that America was better off when it was more about 'Leave it to Beaver' than 'Beavis and Butthead.'"


Via Jesus Politics I read a great post that contrasts Fundamentalists with Liberals. Though I don't agree with all that he wrote, one point stuck out to me in particular.

Fundamentalists fail to distinguish between what is Christian and what is the cultural Christianity that they were nurtured on.


I can't wait to go back to school.

GOP loving Christian wake up call?

I haven't seen this question asked yet, but will the case of the Afghan Christian who could face death for his beliefs wake up the eyes of the most rabid supporters of our President? I would like to think that a "George Bush listens to God therefore we shouldn't question him" person would have to look at this situation and swallow hard.

Via Jesus Politics I read that only three weeks ago President Bush spoke about religious liberty in Afghanistan.

I just wonder if the tide is turning and if that 34% approval rating will drop any further.

boop...boop... booooooooop

Yesterday my wife and I took a stroll around the neighborhood as we usually do on nice days (ahh... I do enjoy the life of the tele-commuter). As we turned a corner around our usual loop, we spotted a man in a suite accompanied by two women in dresses. We both said "uh-oh" and steeled ourselves for the worst: Jehovah's Witnesses.

While I was at the University of Oklahoma, apparently I had a target on my face that only Mormons could see which said "witness to me, I look lost and don't have anything else better to do for the next hour". Every time I spotted them, they wouldn't molest the folks in front of me, yet something about me apparently fit their profile.

"Excuse me, can we speak to you about Jesus?"... "Nope, I already know Him, thanks".

Alas, the man turned out to be the pastor of a new church that's starting in the area. He mentioned the name "Truth Baptist" and very quickly a couple proverbial red flags started climbing their respective poles in my brain...

1st Red Flag

Just down the road a little ways in the "downtown" Mechanicsville, a church called "Anchor Baptist Church" moved into a funeral home last year (irony's great, isn't it?). Outside on the sign they made it a point to print "Member SBCV"... meaning, they're apart of the Southern Baptist Conservatives of Virginia, a splinter group formed when the fundamentalists failed to takeover the state convention. That little sign tells me that I won't be visiting there anytime soon.

"Anchor" and "Truth" don't follow the trend I've noticed in naming Baptist churches. Most times they're named for their location or a location in the Bible. "Bethel"... "First Richmond"... "Hillcrest". "Anchor" and "Truth" make it seem that church has an axe to grind.

2nd Red Flag

I really can't describe it, yet something about the pastor's demeanor threw up another flag. I think the fact that he was young, almost too young, didn't help. I can't describe exactly what unsettled me, except that I think I'm constantly refining my "Fundy Radar". You have to look for certain words, certain actions, and even certain reactions to what is said during the conversation.

For instance, part of that unsettledness arose when we declined the invitation to his church mainly because my wife is on staff at another church. I would like to think that his response would have been a bit more cheerful. Not too many fundies like a woman minister... granted, some draw the line at pastor, while others draw the line at a woman standing at the pulpit. I've experienced both kinds. I'd like to give him the benefit of the doubt - maybe he had a long day, maybe because I don't know him I mis-read him (entirely possible as my radar is still in Beta).

The website

With this whole 'biblical inerrancy' crap that was nothing but a ploy to call dissenters heretics and achieve power, I've lately been wondering if some fundamentalists sub-consciously think the Bible is part of the Trinity. I for one think that the Holy Spirit can work through the Bible, but at least in the Southern Baptist world, they would rather usurp that privelege and interpret the Holy Book for you.

After taking the card they handed out, I looked up their site. They are an independent Baptist church... let's just say "Independent, Fundamentalist, King James Version church - All Visitors Welcome" isn't the most friendliest of signs.

Anyways, I was a bit unnerved when under "Our Beliefs" at their website, "The Scriptures" was listed above "God", "Christ", and "The Holy Spirit". One one level I can understand why they did this, yet at the same time others like me would be bothered by the fact that anything is above God.

Errata

I'm also uncomfortable with the statement "we would certainly love to grow and become a large Church". I think all churches have that desire (okay, only the ones that haven't turned into social cliques), yet I would be more comfortable with "we would love to have a large number of firm and committed believers worshipping together". Do you see the difference? The focus turns away from quantity to quality. There's been too much focus on numbers (*cough SBC cough*). I'd much rather be apart of a small church of committed Christians than a large church with flaky ones.

Conclusion

After the encounter my wife and I compared notes... I had to laugh when she said "I smell a Moral Contradictions post".

I didn't write this post to be mean or overly critical. The pastor seemed nice and I admire their faith and commitment to fulfilling what they believe is God's Will. Though I don't agree with a few aspects of their approach and faith, I respect them and wish them good luck.

I'm especially in no place to criticize their calling as our church is located in a booming suburbian area and is very visible, yet attendance has declined 7% over the last 6 years. We've got enough problems of our own...

The Southern Pharisee...er... Baptist Convention

I just prefer to refer to the nation's largest Protestant denomination as the Southern Church. Clearly leaders of the organization spend too much time jockeying for who's more conservative than Christ-like. (hat tip to Bruce at Mainstream Baptist for the post and the thought). I think too many folks identify themselves as Baptists first and Christians second.

I was disappointed to hear that Wade Burleson has agreed to let the Board of Trustees of the International Mission Board muzzle him. He merely observed and offered constructive criticism, yet apparently that wasn't welcome.

I couldn't help myself, but I immediately thought of Jesus standing before the Pharisees. Now that was a group of folks who focused on the law rather than God... and didn't like being reminded of that fact.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Homosexual hating homosexuals

One of the things I learned while growing up is that often I get the most upset with someone if they commit an action or exhibit a fault that deep down I know to be a problem with my life. Often this is due to personality similarities - for instance I often clashed with my mother in my teenage years because we were so similar. I have a sneaking suspicion I'm not the only one who is wired in such a manner.

I was reading Waldo Jaquith's blog today and actually laughed out loud at this entry titled "In which a self-hating bisexual becomes angry".

Basically, the story goes as such: Waldo receives an email who disparages him for "trying to commandeer the term family values for your own perverted use" and wants to ship his "hippie ass to Iraq and use you for hostage fodder for terrorists operating over there" and wants to see his "faggot ass on a website, in an orange jumpsuit, blindfolded with a knife to your throat".

Okay... unfortunately this person's vote exactly equals mine, yet somehow I can still sleep at night.

With "poetic justice" Waldo proves that geeks rule the world - he did some research on the Internets and found that this troll has a profile on a homosexual website where members prefer to search for mates by looking at pictures of each other's genitals.

Waldo 1, "hate-mongering" closet homosexuals 0.

Interestingly, I immediately thought about a post I wrote about Alan Colmes' interview last June with 'fag-hating' Fred Phelps where he wouldn't directly come out and say No to the question that he was a repressed homosexual.

Folks, this is why you must question everything.

Where did that hole go?

My wife and I visited our respective grandparents Saturday until Wednesday. We got back in town just in time to run to church and oversee various activities there. Thus, today is the first time I've been able to check on the 'outside world' via the internet... for that matter, be able to watch television (besides Jeopardy).

I just want to put my head in the sand. I was on a good pace, being able to daily ingest the junk of the All Powerful Trifecta between the government, corporations, and the religious right... but having to catch up from the past 5 days all at once has simultaneously made me want to cry, run away, and punch someone, preferably a member of the APT. (hmm... could this be a new term?).

I'll just keep the memories of crossword puzzles, drives in the country, stories of the old days, and Jeopardy in a special place that I can return to when I get overwhelmed again. :)

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

I'm back...

...Forgot to post that my wife and I were making a 'grandparent tour' for a few days. Once I ease back into the daily grind I'll update once again.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

A politician that gets it...

Via the Associated Baptist Press comes an article titled "Rural Texas pastor bucks the norm, running for legislature as Democrat".

Kerry Horn, pastor of the First Baptist Church of Covington, Texas, is facing an uphill battle as the Republican incumbent of 14 years is head of the House Committee on Appropriations. His announcement has emotions running high in the rural district outside of Dallas.

However, he gets it - and is able to explain exactly how his faith intersects with his politics.

Horn said he has a “moral compass calibrated by a higher standard than a party platform.”

He has little patience for Christians whose political opinions are focused on certain hot-button moral issues. “Here you get enraged about abortion and homosexual action, but you wink and nod at adultery,” Horn said. “Don’t give me this holier-than-thou business when you dismiss other sins.”


I would definitely vote for him. The following quote sealed the deal:

No political party can claim moral superiority over the other as long as it’s made up of the same fallen people.


Wow. We need more politicians in both parties like him.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Here's one reason...

...why I'll never put a Jesus fish on the back of my car:

DeLay scored 2/3rds of the [primary] vote without lifting a single finger in the district... His field people zeroed in on the evangelical (and other core constituencies) vote like a razor. For example, every house with a car sporting one of those Jesus fish magnets was targetted. Those voters were bombarded with DeLay's direct mail and urged to turn out and vote. (Source)


[In full disclosure, my wife has one on her car, but it was placed there before we met. :) ]

Bruce and others can probably set me straight, but from what I understand of politics, so much rides on the "framing" of an issue. In order to come out looking good no matter the circumstances, one must spin an issue into a pre-conceived frame so as to shut out any contradictory opinions and buttress against attacks.

Some of you may remember the "prayer alerts" issued on behalf of Mr. Delay as indictment rumors swirled. Despite obvious signs of corruption, arrogance, and blatant disrespect of our nation's core values, the former Majority Leader has survived so far by framing his situation as a "Christian Statesman" under attack.

Folks of the Texas 22nd Congressional District - you were used. You were identified because of your beliefs, and more than likely you were fed a combination of sympathy for Delay plus fear of what happens if he isn't elected. How will he repay you? Oh, he may fight for the issues you hold dear, but unfortunately one of the side effects of his career in DC is blatant and unapologetic corruption. Yeah, he's a real stand-up guy.

How many Republicans were decrying the lack of character in Washington circa 1999? You may call me a liberal (un-true), but I have a problem with a Christian Statesman acting in very un-ethical and un-American ways. The issue isn't what he believes or what he fights for - it's how he fights.

For too many Christians (see "Southern Baptist Convention, take-over of;") the ends justify the means. Growing up, I was taught that leading a Christian life is a journey in which the means very much affect the end.

Until the opposition party can emboldenly frame their religious beliefs as being consistent with their politics (a huge thank you to Governor Tim Kaine for blazing the trail for other future candidates, not only in Virginia but also nation-wide), the GOP will continue to use its religious base by generating sympathy and fear to gain power - I for one am sick of these character-less tactics. There has to be a better way.

More E-Beacon fun...

After the first month of the publication of the Hillcrest E-Beacon, the online newsletter seems to be a hit. I spent a few hours designing the layout, and our secretary has a program to fill in the information each week. Once she's done each Wednesday, I double-check it for formatting errors, and then an email is sent to the church that it's published.

The first goal of the E-Beacon was to better inform members of what's happening with our church. As our pastor says, quite a few folks forget we meet every Sunday. Part of that goal is to further fellowship, community, and dialogue. Today I added the "Weekly Bible Picks" to post a couple verses for members to collectively contemplate. I then posted a link where members can send their favorite verses so they can be published in subsequent weeks.

A couple former missionaries in our church recently lamented that our church doesn't seem to have much of a foreign missions outlook. Thus, I added the Missions Moment as another feature to serve as a reminder that God's love is for everyone.

The awesome thing about the E-Beacon is that it really did not take that long at all to develop nor does it take much time to update. The format can be copied for any church. I'm really excited to be able to use my geeky skills for God.

Anti-insomnia morality

Bob Geiger hits it on the head with his post: The Love Ends When You're Born in South Dakota.

"In the history of the world, the true test of a civilization is how well people treat the most vulnerable and most helpless in their society," said [S.D. Governor] Rounds.

That’s an amazing statement coming from the governor of the state that houses the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, which has long been one of the bleakest places in North America from a socio-economic point of view.

If the goal is to truly create a culture of life, then the definition of "life" must encompass the time spent outside of the womb.

If the goal is to sleep better at night, then this action by South Dakota will take care of that - yet also ensure the view that right-wing Christians are self-serving hypocrites.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

How did Missouri anger God?

...or I'd like to think that's what Pat Robertson might think.

Maybe I'm weird, but I view the Bible as something very powerful - it's the Word of God, for crying out loud. (For non-church people, anytime we write something with a capital letter, we're required to take off our shoes. Not really. Okay, I'll stop.)

I also view myself as very very tiny, at least compared to God's sheer strength and all the "omni-" prefaced words. I come nowhere close to having an "omni" before any adjective that describes me, and I have small feeling that I'm no different from the rest of mankind.

Further I loathe Christians who justify their actions, whatever they may be, on just one verse. Again, I'm probably a heretic, but I feel the Bible should be taken as a whole. Who am I to say that I should give more weight to one verse when another verse doesn't completely jive? To me, that merely serves as a reminder that I'm very very little and I don't have all the answers. Again, Word of God - not word of me. I approach it with reverance and caution.

The one thing I'm 100% sure of is that Jesus died for my sins and that He calls us to follow in His footsteps. I alone will account for my sins to Him.

I also know that there are many contradictory opportunists who wield enormous respect in certain circles that claim to associate severe weather or other disasters as God's punishment if that particular geographical area is perceived to have committed a communal sin.

I, for one, know that to be sheer and utter crap.

If I was as arrogant and heartless as the Pat Robertsons of the world appear to be, I could say that Missouri getting smacked by tornadoes today is retribution for the Baptist state convention kicking CBF-affiliated churches out. Or maybe Missourians got a little too rowdy last weekend and some took indecent liberties with livestock. Or maybe I'm just pulling stuff out of my butt, because that would be the original location of the majority of what passes through these so-called Christian leaders' mouths.

No - I say that I don't know if there was a reason why north-central Missouri seemed to have been targeted today. I might just say that there was no particular reason except for a strong low-pressure system that happened to include some nice backing winds.

I understand there's a need for answers - a desire for "Why?" to be fullfilled. However, sometimes there are no answers... and that's okay. I personally feel that crap happens, and when it does, we are not called to point fingers and try to divine why said crap occured - rather, we're called to help those affected, to love them, grieve with them, sit with them. Life's rough - tearing people down to make us feel more righteous is ungodly.

Pray for the people of Missouri tonight, that those affected by the storms will quickly rebound. Pray for those this spring and summer that will be hit. (Disclaimer: I love chasing storms - however, the best tornado hits an empty field and looks pretty.)

Pray and love - don't judge.

Channeling Bryan

I am thoroughly enjoying Kazin's "A Godly Hero: The Life of William Jennings Bryan". One of the biggest reasons he inspired so many people was that he truly believed what he was fighting for reflected his strong religious beliefs. He viewed the issues of the day (which strangely mirror current issues) as moral issues that required tough moral decisions based on his Christian convinctions.

I repeatedly chastise today's politicians for simply pandering to the Christian right by working on "trivial" issues such as homosexuality while failing to work for solutions for the poor and homeless. We can sin by not taking action.

I also chastise Christians for assuming that the government is solely responsible for furthering God's Kingdom. Folks, Jesus gave us a church, not a government, and we must re-learn how to be good stewards of his gift and use it to affect and change society. Jesus proved He could change the world - heck, the course of history - no matter what type of government existed, whether it was a polytheistic imperialist or legalistic theocracy.

EM Risse at Bacon's Rebellion has a great write-up about why politicians focus on the 'trivial' issues instead of the more pressing, yet complex societal problems. Though he's writing for a Virginian audience, the message resonates for our entire country. Here's a quote:

Last week we were was puzzling over why the General Assembly would spend so much time on issues that are of limited importance: Like guns in private cars on commercial parking lots and defending citizens from the horrors of cameras that identify those who break the law by running red lights.

They were spending all this time and energy when there was a two-year budget to pass.

...

Legislators know that no matter what they do about the bills before them, there will be less and less affordable and accessible housing and the Shelter Crisis will continue to become worse for the vast majority of the citizens in the Commonwealth.

Not one legislator will yet admit these realities.

Not one of them has yet stated they know why these trends exist, but they know in their hearts – right hearts and left hearts – that this is happening. They know in spite of campaign promises and oaths of office it will continue to happen.

So legislators believe they might as well spend their time on something they can talk about "winning," or at least "fighting for," when they get home and especially when they next run for office.

...

A society that relies on a market economy to allocate resources and democratic process to guide governance is the sum of its citizens individual actions. Right now citizens of the Commonwealth are sliding toward total entropy with the governance practitioners going along for the ride.


We as Christians who don't fully identify with Christians in the GOP camp must learn to challenge the status quo, as Jesus did. We must learn to take our faith into the public square and demand that our politicians address our country's fundamental problems. Our society may be driven by a market economy, but that gives us no excuse for allowing the moral aspect of today's issues to take a backseat.

However, before we can hope to challenge our country and its politicians, we must be willing to challenge ourselves, myself included.

Micah 6:8:
He has showed you, O man, what is good.
And what does the LORD require of you?
To act justly and to love mercy
and to walk humbly with your God.

The entire post is worth reading.

Friday, March 10, 2006

Cogs or Frauds

I've argued here on many fronts my misgivings about marrying religion to politics. The two biggest reasons are:

1. Politics corrupts - Sometimes people, even Christians, don't know how to handle power. They can quickly become too preoccupied with the "perks" of power and/or keeping it.
2. The "using" of Christians - many GOP politicians merely view GOP-leaning Christians as just another voting group to get to power. As long as those politicans make it seem they're addressing their pet issues, the politicans have free reign to pursue other policies, no matter if they hurt Christians or the folks Christians are called to help. (see Kansas, What Happened To).

I've written about Max Blumenthal's article "Abramoff's Evangelical Soldiers", the Religious Right Watch highlights a section bears repeating:

While Abramoff cooperates with federal prosecutors, his former Christian-right surrogates have abstained from coming clean about their relationship with him. Acknowledging willing collusion with a disgraced casino lobbyist would be suicidal among their followers. But there are also risks in casting themselves as useful idiots in Abramoff's game. Such a tactic would reveal the "pro-family" movement as just another gear in a sordid Republican political operation. What did Dobson know and when did he know it? As the wheels of justice grind on, those who claim to speak with the authority of Scripture may soon find themselves under oath.

Folks, God is powerful and is not to be taken lightly. My understanding of the Bible is that God has an all-encompassing purpose for His will, and being able to sleep a little better at night because a certain law is passed doesn't seem quite right.

Beware - when one claims to speak for God, especially a politician, you better make sure they're doing some honest listening - but that's not enough. We are Christians first, and Americans second - I reserve my Constitutional right to question any politician with whom I disagree, Christian or not.

I fear too many of our so-called "leaders" miss the big picture.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Maybe Hillary Clinton was onto something...

...when she was filleted after bitterly complaining about the "vast right-wing conspiracy".

I have a problem with a group of people who say they believe in limited government and cut social and welfare programs at the same time as expanding federal powers to police our country's morals. I have an even bigger problem when these same people do this under the guise of Christianity.

How has this come about? My occasional trolling of Daily Kos revealed this diary entry by progressivearlingtonian titled "Ken Blackwell's Blog Caught Scrubbing Super Secret Post".

The diarist details the Council for National Policy, an organization with a cardinal rule that "The media should not know when or where we meet or who takes part in our programs, before or after a meeting".

What drew progressivearlingtonian to investigate the CNP was a post by Ohio gubenatorial candidate Ken Blackwell's post about his speech on his blog, only for it to be deleted.

Here's a snippet of what was found:

The CNP was founded in 1981 as an umbrella organization of right-wing leaders who would gather regularly to plot strategy, share ideas and fund causes and candidates to advance the far-right agenda. Twenty-five years later, it is still secretly pursuing those goals with amazing success.

Since its founding, the tax-exempt organization has been meeting three times a year. Members have come and gone, but all share something in common: They are powerful figures, drawn from both the Religious Right and the anti-government, anti-tax wing of the ultra-conservative movement.

It may sound like a far-left conspiracy theory, but the CNP is all too real and, its critics would argue, all too influential.

CNP's first president was Tim LaHaye famed millenialist preacher and writer of the Left Behind series of popular books about the "end-times" and the Second Coming of Christ. LaHaye,like the whole of the nation's Religious Right leaders, nurtured a strong contempt for the First Amendment principle of church-state separation, because it seriously complicates their goal of installing fundamentalist Christianity as the nation's officially recognized religion.

Many members of the CNP are part of the Christian Recon­struc­tionist movement. Reconstructionists espouse a radical theology that calls for trashing the U.S. Constitution and replacing it with the harsh legal code of the Old Testament. They advocate the death penalty for adulterers, blasphemers, incorrigible teen­agers, gay people, "witches" and those who worship "false gods."

A list of former and past members reads like a who's who of conservative Christian Right activists, anti-tax and anti-government activists, billionaire right wing philanthropists and GOP office holders, past and present.


Unfortunately, assuming a tin-foil hat isn't involved and that progressivearlingtonian is correct, the existence and purpose of this organization does not surprise me. I am extremely unsettled at even further proof that some so-called Christian leaders of sold the soul of our faith for political power. Christians should operate in the light through the God-given gift of the church and not in the dark underworld of politics to achieve the goals of His Kingdom.

Politics are of man, the church is of God.

If this isn't a contradiction...

...then I don't know what is.

I printed out yesterday's Ethics Daily news item Article Says 'Arminians' Don't Have Place in SBC' for my wife to show her one quote:

"Pelagianians, Arminians and Open Theists will not find a home in our Southern Baptist family," Akin wrote in his article. "We will love them while also disagreeing with them."


Whether you're a Baptist or not doesn't matter; what matters is an organizational leader saying "this group isn't welcome, but we'll love them anyways".

Will they love them and disagree with them before or after they're forced out of the SBC? Will they still love them if those folks find a home in the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship?

This almost sounds like those Baptist church signs that say "Independant, Fundamentalist, King James Bible - all are welcome".

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

WJB do-wah?

American politicians who lost the Presidency yet influenced our history have always intrigued me. Henry Clay is an example. However, one person has stood out to me ever since I first read about him: William Jennings Bryan. I think the fact that he ran for president three times and lost during a period of history often rushed by school teachers piqued my interest.

Yet, the reason why he came to mind today is that essentially he was a fundamentalist progressive. In today's political climate that's unfathomable. A quick thought is that the GOP has done a terrific, albeit evil, job of exploiting fear among evangelicals that their faith is under attack, only to go to Washington to vote against their best interests. (See: Kansas, What's the Matter With?)

In today's parlance he would be something akin to an ignorant & bigoted tree-hugger. He definitely breaks the stereotypical mold with which we're familiar.

Thus, I'm going to head out to the bookstore tomorrow to pick up a book released last month by Michael Kazin titled "A Godly Hero: The Life of William Jennings Bryan".

To demonstrate how Bryan's beliefs don't quite work in today's climate, check out this screenshot I nabbed of "People who bought this book also bought".



An attack book on Carter, a book on McCarthy and another on Stalin. Talk about the spectrum.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Did Al-Qaida read 1984?

If they did, then they've won. They're forcing us to create a Big Brother society that knows no bounds - not even credit card payments go unnoticed by the Motherland.

They paid down some debt. The balance on their JCPenney Platinum MasterCard had gotten to an unhealthy level. So they sent in a large payment, a check for $6,522.

...

They were told, as they moved up the managerial ladder at the call center, that the amount they had sent in was much larger than their normal monthly payment. And if the increase hits a certain percentage higher than that normal payment, Homeland Security has to be notified. And the money doesn't move until the threat alert is lifted.


I cringe whenever I hear the term "raghead" - not so much b/c of the racial aspect, but rather we're making the enemy seem stupid when they're not. It may make us feel better, but doesn't change a thing.

I love hearing Bush Administration officials defending torture in their prisons as the information they get from the terrorists is vital to national security- yet when defending themselves from UN inspectors at Gitmo, they say that the terrorists are trained to make up lies about their treatment to generate sympathy.

So wait - who's more stupid? Us, or the terrorists?

Monday, March 06, 2006

Any ideas?

I knew when I left college I wasn't done w/ graduate school - I just didn't know what to study. I was accepted in two very nice schools for a degree that only touched on my "geeky" gifts, but I felt like the time was off. Obviously this blog serves as an outlet for a large part of my interests, which are derived from my love of history, government, religion, and general geekiness. In the last year this blog has served as a work in progress of the thoughts swimming through my mind and heart.

Right now I have a very strong inclination to study Christian and Baptist history - I've always been curious about the subject but merely thought it was a 'hobby' that I would satisfy with an occasional book. However, God has kept nagging me, and lately some thoughts have come together to cause me to seriously think about school again.

I know that that past defines us, yet those living now define the past. For instance, as Dr. Sherman (and many others) say: the more things change the more they stay the same. What are our Baptist roots? How did this great idea start? How does our beginning apply today? Are current Baptist organizations actually Baptist, at least compared to how we began? Moreover, if I answer these questions for myself, what sort of role could I fill to share the knowledge that I learn?

At this point I don't feel called to be a pastor or minister - however I feel like I could be an asset to the church at large in a different capacity. I'm not sure I need or am supposed to go for an M.Div, although from living vicariously through my wife's current seminary education, I feel like I would learn a ton and enjoy those classes. I discovered a degree called a Master of Theological Studies with a concentration in Christian History. It's 48 hours instead of the usual 90 for an M.Div. Do I go that route, or go for an M.Div with a concentration in historical and theological studies?

I kind of want to stay in the "Baptist world"... yet Union Presbyterian School of Christian Education here in Richmond offers the MTS with the Christian History concentration, and I haven't found its equivalent yet... Any ideas of schools or programs that could help me down this vague road that I'm trying to stumble down?

/Eh, if anything this helps me to visualize some of the thoughts I've been having. A pre-emptive thank you for any thoughts or directions.... :) Hehe... I just want someone to tell me what to do!

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

I'm sorry...

...but I would have to think that any rational person (operative word = rational) has final proof that they cannot trust our President with the release of the pre-Katrina briefing. I remember the punch line in 2000 was "we'll bring integrity to this office", a jab at the outgoing President. What has this Administration done to prove that it's worthy of the word "integrity"? Sure Mr. Bush isn't getting some smack under the desk, but there are some stark similarities: both he and Mr. Clinton have been caught lying.

Unfortunately, Mr. Bush's lies have cost lives. I'm now starting to understand what my parents were talking about when they tried to convey the mood of the country after Watergate. God help us.

Should I be concerned?

Should I worry that a sitting Supreme Court justice thanked a man who uses inflammatory, hateful, and morally offensive language to advance his interpretation of God's will?


Dear Dr. Dobson,

This is just a short note to express my heartfelt thanks to you and the entire staff of Focus on the Family for your help and support in the past few challenging months...

...

As long as I serve on the Supreme Court, I will keep in mind the trust that has been placed in me.

---

Sincerely Yours,
Samuel Alito


I'm not sure how I feel about this... part of me says I should be troubled while another begs for a reason why I should be troubled. I haven't really thought this through, but I do know I'm not yet smart enough to adequately analyze the significance of such a letter.