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    Aug 8, 2007

    Failing America's Faithful










    Watch the video above, and then continue reading. Really. I'll wait.

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    What took you so long?! Geez!!

    For those that have kept up with my sporadic blogging, you may remember my short blog containing a rhetorical question concerning same sex relationships. This could easily follow as the end to that fuse I lit sometime back. Again, the lack of reading audience greatly diminishes the size and fallout of the powder keg.

    For as long as I could vote, much to the razzing of my wife (though her registration choice was made from similar reasoning), I have been registered Democrat. In my short stint voting in elections (Starting with Slick Willy's second term) I can't remember actually voting for the Democratic Party for Presidential Office. I take that back. The one exception to that would have been my first time out when Bill was re-elected. Dislike him as I did, and still do, I couldn't bear the thought of Dole taking office ... and Perot is just a joke - he's got the right idea, but he's not the guy to bring his idea to fruition. All this said Ms. Townsend is making me doubt my decision to register myself as a hard working blue collar fundamentalist citizen. My politics and viewpoints are mine alone, and registering as Democrat to me means voting my second choice for Presidential office through the Primary. I don't always agree with the frontrunner for the Republican Party, but (until now) I've been resolute and comfortable with my choice of registered party.

    (I'll be borrowing, and personalizing, an analogy from my pastor's last sermon.) To make the freshest frog legs, you need fresh frogs. You can't get any fresher than alive. If you drop a frog into boiling water, you'll have a hard time keeping the frog in the pot. The trick is to put the frog, or frogs, into a pot of cold water and gradually raise the temperature until the water comes to a boil. As the water's temperature slowly rises, the frogs become acclimated to the change. By the time the frogs realize they're in danger, they're all but cooked and no longer have what it takes to escape.

    The title to the book intrigued me, so I stopped surfing channels and raise the volume a few notches. We are "mixing God with politics and losing our way". Okay, that makes sense to a point. Her comment about the (public voice of the) Christian Church not speaking out about "the common good - caring for the homeless, the helpless, the sick - but rather politicking against abortion, stem cell research, and same sex marriage. I'm still with her to this point. These are valid points. I don't think we should back down on our stands here, but we should be just as vocal about caring for the needs of those around us. Now actions speak louder than words, and a lot IS done, but why aren't we vocalizing these needs?

    This is when the other foot hits the floor. "Nowhere in the Bible do you hear about same sex marriage?" I had to cheer for Stephen here. I don't know where he stands personally, but he did his homework if he didn't know the passage personally. Leviticus ..:namespace prefix = st1 ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags" />20:13 baby! Of course she retaliates with the popular argument about the Old Testament not being entirely applicable to today's times, citing passages (in general of course, nothing specific like the one just thrown in her face) that may sound pro slavery, and stating that we've evolved cerebrally enough to realize what those passages are really about and did away with slavery over 150 years ago. What passages are those again? Maybe she skipped reading Exodus, and missed the Charleton Heston movie as well. The title of that book alone alludes to what happens in it. God used Moses to free an entire people from slavery. Never once do you read of God instructing us (the Israelites, us today, however you want to read it) concerning slavery. There was servitude during the time, and that is a cultural matter of the times, and would be the better suited topic for the argument she was trying to make. She instead says we should be open and acceptant to the ways of others and love everyone unconditionally. Though the latter is exactly the way God loves us, and in turn should be the way we strive to love each other, she is clearly trying to gray some very clear lines. She tries to come back with specific reference to the second commandment "Love thy neighbor as thyself". Kudos for making reference, but the "second commandment" would actually be in reference to creating an idol, or making some thing an idol that you worshipped INSTEAD of God. The "second greatest commandment", as stated by Jesus Himself (second only to "Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength"), is actually what she was grasping for in effort to regain footing. Though it was mentioned later, I rather enjoyed Stephen putting the final nail in the coffin as he used her reference against her by insisting we needed a standard by which to measure how we love, and that is, as commanded, to love others as we love ourselves. If we have no love for self, how do we know how to love someone else?

    She moves on to accuse the church of selling the public on the individual relationship with God instead of a more communal group mentality. This, in her words, is somehow "Shrinking God", or imposing limitations on Him. I seem to remember reading the curtain of the Holy of Holies being torn from top to bottom when Christ died. I also am reminded of Christ speaking with a rich young ruler and putting the proverbial ball in his court with some very real and PERSONAL choices that needed to be made. Christ spoke nothing of what this man should instruct servants to do, or what he should convince friends and/or family of, in regard to his question "What must I do to be saved?" Christ answered him regarding a personal commitment, not group involvement. Of course fellowship with others in our faith is necessary for spiritual survival, but it is by no means replacement, nor substitute for a personal walk with Christ. The fellowship without the salvation is just that ... fellowship. Ms. Townsend tries once more to throw another jab concerning the Christian Right shrinking God into this deity that only cares about "sexual plumbing". I hate to resort to a gimmicky cliché at this point, but here goes - "God created Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve."

    Bottom line is this: Whether you think that Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, by writing this book, is a French Chef preparing a delicacy, or just another unsuspecting frog in the pot, she is both mislead AND misleading. To remedy the graying of the lines by Ms. Townsend, and any author or spokesman of similar thought, feel free to pick up a copy of the book I've read several times and cite below. It should go unsaid that this suggestion includes and implies that you also have your Bible in hand as reference when reading ANYTHING that makes reference to scripture.

    All right. I'm done. Fire away with your thoughts on my thoughts ...

    7 comments:

    micah said...

    agreed.

    i thought it was funny that she also said, "the bible says nothing about stem cell research."

    um, duh. they didn't have scientists with microscopes who could look at stem cells nor did they even know what stem cells were! dumb statement.

    i think a better book on God and Politics is "God's Politics" by Jim Wallis. i think ms townsends book is along the same lines but she's much more extreem and misleading.

    Holly said...

    It is written: You will know them by their love.

    For a Christian understanding God's Grace and Love is extremely important. How can we possibly love God with all our heart, mind, soul, and strength if we don't understand how he loves us - it stands to reason that this has to be worked out before you can extend this kind of grace and love to others!

    Our greatest witness is our love! Who was it who said: Witness always, and if you must: use words.

    I believe in separation of church and state. The church should NEVER be forced to perform homosexual unions. The alternative is civil unions through the state. I believe as an American Citizen our neighbors should have that freedom. We're not to be the Holy Spirit to people (despite what the American Family Association, Jerry Falwell, or James Dobson say). God was very clear that the judgment we pass on others will be used on us. The only judgments we're allowed to make are righteous judgments and even then: God gave us an outline on when, why, and how we could pursue that (basically toward believers, not unbelievers). How can we possibly judge an unbeliever when they do not have the Holy Spirit to guide them?

    There are many issues we deal with today that were not addressed in the Bible. This is where the Holy Spirit comes into play. Paul wrote that if eating dedicated meat was a sin to your brother than do not do it in front of him. I think this applies to how we vote: our conscience, and the guidance of the Holy Spirit and the Bible should lead us. But let us not forget our duties as disciples of Christ: we are to care for the widows, the poor, the prisoners, and the sick. That IS our duty.

    God gave us gifts of the spirit and individual personalities so that we could fulfill these duties using our gifts, through our talents and personalities. That's why the modern church is quickly loosing "influence" with younger folks. We know what they are doing is.... dictatorial we just don't know quite how to pinpoint how it's wrong. I double the suggestion of reading: God's Politics by Jim Wallis.

    The only political statement I've found in the New Testament is: Pay unto Cesar what is Cesar's.

    I truly believe that the church is a body and we all have our individual parts to play. While I may be writing my representatives on this issue or that and informing my friends what's going on, it may be instilled in you to serve the poor or care for widows.

    As for the slavery issue: God addressed slavery because at the time slavery wasn't considered a sin (by those who had them anyway). He went about instructing those who had slaves to treat them well (or answer to him) and to give them a way out of slavery after a certain number of years of service. I think it was 7 years; the year of jubilee where all debts were cancelled? Anyway, It wasn't a condoning of slavery, it was dealing with the stubborn heart of man that God set about creating a path out of slavery.

    Another book I think would speak to you (about the modern church) is: A New Kind Of Christian by Brian D McLaren.

    Happy reading!

    ellieherrity said...

    wow.
    hm.
    where to start.

    1st - i second the brian mclaren suggestion. also his book 'the secret message of jesus'.

    2nd - at first i was excited to see someone standing up and saying that the christian right has made God small and that we aren't doing what Jesus taught us to do. then i heard her arguments and my heart sank. the message that we as christians don't love people enough and sit up on our self-righteous high horses and try and ram everyone into our little morality box needs to get out there, but not at the expense of our own scruples. it's a tough one to live in this country with so many freedoms and stick to our own beliefs while not coming across as a bible-thumping jerk. my brain is still working on this one. thanks for the exercise.

    3rd - i still haven't found an accordion. i'm too poor to afford a nice one. maybe once i get one and get good i'll go on tour and play for all my friends.

    ok, that was totally off topic, i admit.

    preemptive warrior said...

    Well, I recently made my religious beliefs clear first in Daniel's blog and then in a subsequent blog post of my own, but to sum up: I don't go to church but I am a very spiritual person with a very personal relationship with God. I have problems with churches (both on the national and individual scale) but what this woman said and wrote is nonsense. Who donated the most money by far to Hurricanes Katrina and Rita victims? Was it the Mohammedans? Buddhists? Nope, it was Christians. Who feeds the poor every Christmas? Who provides comfort for the elderly?

    This book is a comically transparent addition to the ongoing plot by the Democrat Party to "win over" the Christian vote. The only thing that I heard was Ms. Townsend whining about was how Christian voters vote for candidates who stand up for the values that they believe in...or what their churches trick them into believing is important, if you ask her. It's nothing more than a plea for churches to turn more leftist. Is it a coincidence that the only true capitalist countries are also majority Christian and the top givers to disasters such as the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake tsunami? These people actually think that instituting socialized health care and redistribution of wealth programs will completely curtail the already historically low poverty level in America. The funny thing about it all is that they are so out of touch that they will offend more people than they will win over with this mind-numbing swill.

    Oran: case in point.

    She also speak as if it's one or the other. Churches can do both, no problem; they can feed the poor (like they already do) and teach the morals that they believe in. Those "religious right" morals. So, so condescending.

    Hey, Ms. Townsend, why don't you go back to losing gubernatorial races for your party that haven't been lost in half of a century? It sure beats -- pun definitely intended -- preaching to the choir.

    juls said...

    If I could view the video I'm sure I'd have some FASCINATING insights of my own!! Anyhoo, well written and thought provoking!

    shadow warrior said...

    Your observations and thoughts are expressed so much better than most of us could possibly hope. However, I think we need more fresh frogs. People don't seem to be doing as well. Isn't there something in the Bible about animals being innocents? I don't know.

    But it is so obvious that humans are making personal choices that truly are not benefiting the individual or society. I just wish we didn't have to wait another fifty years to see how the sociologist and historians interpret and name what has happened in this decade alone.

    In the way of all warriors we search and fight for the good of all. To that in this day age is to set ones self up for unwarranted ridicule.

    preemptive warrior said...

    But it is so obvious that humans are making personal choices that truly are not benefiting the individual or society. I just wish we didn't have to wait another fifty years to see how the sociologist and historians interpret and name what has happened in this decade alone.

    Well, in any given decade there have been people making poor personal choices. It's just that our existence in this decade and this era makes us myopic. There are also people making good personal decisions. Surely you do not propose the government forcing people to make "good" decisions, thus not making them decisions at all....Again, this book is just one of many that have come out in the past few years alone, decrying the prospect of a "theocracy" (a misnomer for the situation which they fear, as "ecclesiocracy" more closely describes it) taking over America, or explaining how Christianity is really socialist in nature. Nothing but red herrings, and in putting forth the prescribed remedies to their ridiculous theories, they are doing exactly what they claim is happening now. "The church is too right-wing...make it more leftist! The church is going to take over the USA! Keep it completely out of government!"

    The really sad part is that there is a certain other religion out there with real, concrete threats to freedom, yet it gets ignored by most people.