Simply put, you cannot be America First and a follow of Jesus at the same time. You just can't. God desired not only to save the people (and the animals too!) of Nineveh, God wanted to save Jonah. God wants not only to save the world today. God wants desperately to save the United States for we are lost, especially when so many of those who so lavishly and loudly claim to follow God also cry "America First!"
I have watched all of what is happening in the United Methodist Church from the safe confines of the sidelines and I have felt deeply troubled. I was troubled not only for the deep pain that continues to be inflicted on many people I care about and deeply respect. But even more, I felt troubled because even though I had left the church I still felt responsible for what was happening; for the pain that was being caused.
On Wednesday, Gina Haspel will go before the Senate Intelligence Committee to begin her confirmation process as the next Director of the Central Intelligence Agency. Haspel was a senior operative what was nicely called the CIA’s "enhanced interrogation program." The better name for this is simply torture.
Who are the Debbie Downer Police? I am talking people who are so in favor of maintaining the status quo, who are so opposed to institutional transparency and honesty that they will do everything they can to squash cutting or sarcastic humor. Indeed, it has always been a sarcastic sense of humor that has exposed darkness and has shed light on systemic injustice or marginalization. I am talking about humor that makes us laugh while also creating a space for liberating new perspectives.
This all seems so random. Just walking into a city and yelling something that is quite alarming, but without any context or ascribed call to change and then to get the response described here means the people of Nineveh, along with their king, were either very easily induced into following random town criers,or something was happening among the people of Nineveh that had prepared them for Jonah's proclamation.
The Muslim Ban should most definitely be overturned by the Supreme Court. But we also must see it against the backdrop of the policies of this administration and understand that questions of religious freedom go hand in hand with policies of racial discrimination. And we must fight for freedom for all people
If I unleash a mighty tirade and tell you the pain of my heart and drop a few f-bombs, will you still remember I’m a child of God? If I challenge the way our denomination does justice, loves kindness and walks humbly with God, will you listen to understand and not condemn me? Can I trust you to be my partner in faith and pilgrim on the way?
The pastor of Mike Pompeo wrote a letter to his congregation saying that Mike is opposed in his Senate confirmation to become Secretary of State by "enemies because of his faith." Mike Pompeo has made anti-Muslim and anti-immigrant statements and those of who oppose him do so, largely, out of our desire to be faithful to the gospel. Here is my letter to his pastor.
We have a tendency to think of idolatry as contained solely in one's theological belief system and not also in our individual or corporate ethical engagement. But idolatry is whatever separates us from that which God has called us to. This means that our vain idols can be found in our nationalism, our racism, our classism, and our misogyny.
Prophetic engagement was initiated by the movement of the Spirit; not something decided on by some agency while they meet in a five star hotel, eating expensive food, and striving after institutional mandates as much or more than they seek after justice. Prophetic engagement was a fulfillment, or a continuation even, of a deep and abiding faith in God. Prophetic utterance is a response to both a loving and wrathful God who is sickened by mistreatment of the poor and abuse of the power by those in powerful positions.
Easter has always been my least favorite Sunday and since no longer serving in a local church, it is the Sunday I try and skip. But there is one thing I will miss this Easter. I actually have missed it for the last year I have taken a break from church. And that is participating in the Lord's Supper.
Crusader trump has come so that we "Christians" will have life and life abundantly. He will prevent the continued persecution that me and my fellow "Christians" have suffered from for years; persecution for having to actually do our jobs or to have to expend any love or compassion to others (I mean we only have so much love and compassion and we might as well save that for people who really matter - you know, people like us). Crusader trump will protect all of us from having to ever actually "be" Christian.
I just want to be a part of something that ends the harm and suffering. It doesn't have to be cool or hip. It doesn't have to be slick and they sure as hell do not have to have the coolest headshots. I just want to be part of something real and something that effectively stops unnecessary suffering and injustice. If you call that prophetic then I am all in. If you con't call it prophetic I am still all in.
Perhaps the worst thing about donald trump is that he is so awful a leader, he is so racist, and so misogynistic, that we will be happy with the next leader, whoever they are, if only they are not as awful a leader, or as racist, or as misogynistic. In other words, trump has so lowered the bar that we'd be happy with a trained seal. That is the power of bad leadership.
I am praying each day of Lent for the salvation of donald trump. It is not difficult and it does not require a lot of time, though perhaps it should. My prayers do not seem to be working from my vantage point at least. There is a gospel story that comes tomind when I pray; the story of Zacchaeus. There is a reason why this passage is so rarely heard about in our churches.
Further, whether a church has a US flag in the sanctuary or not does not address some of the deeper issues associated with nationalism and service to the state. I do not want to give too much credit to churches that do the simple (remove a US flag from the sanctuary) and virtually ignore the more difficult task of addressing our essential loyalties and allegiances which can either buttress or undermine the sin of nationalism
In the current age of political entrenchment it is easy for liberals to immediately jump to the side of Christopher Wray and the FBI and vigorously defend both. But, to be fully honest, this has to feel a little odd, especially considering the less than stellar history of the FBI. In fact, when Democrats and others become outraged that trump is politicizing the FBI their outrage rings a little hollow.
Amnesty is usually given because we know and like the people who receive it. We even talk about how amnesty is given because the recipients have “earned” it. But how do you “earn” something that is freely given? If you “earn” it, then it’s not amnesty; it’s a form of compensation. We grant amnesty to people we know and like and we withhold it from people we do not know or we do not like.