Four Reasons–From A Christian Perspective–Why Kim Davis Is 100% Wrong

“Please…. Your freedom of the press is against my freedom of religion.”

By now, you have probably heard about a County Clerk in a little corner of Kentucky called Rowan County, who has been refusing to issue marriage licences ever since the Supreme Court ruled in favor of same-sex marriage. Her name is Kim Davis. In a statement about her refusal, she writes, “To issue a marriage license which conflicts with God’s definition of marriage, with my name affixed to the certificate, would violate my conscience. It is not a light issue for me. It is a Heaven or Hell decision.” She goes on to declare that she will not be stepping down…. “I was elected by the people to serve as the County Clerk. I intend to continue to serve the people of Rowan County, but I cannot violate my conscience.” HERE IS WHY SHE IS EMPIRICALLY, COMPLETELY, OBJECTIVELY, AND, IN ALL OTHER WAYS, 100% WRONG.

  1. This is the face Kim Davis makes when people use their fancy

    This is the face Kim Davis makes when people use their fancy “logic.”

    LOGIC–Imagine you worked at a restaurant, and you believed that God thought drinking alcohol was a sin. Now imagine that the restaurant’s owners decided to start selling alcohol…. As an employee, you are NOT being forced to drink alcohol in violation of your religious liberty. And if you decide that having a job where you sell alcohol to others goes against your moral code, you are free to find another job, right? What you DON’T do is you don’t go into work and refuse to sell people alcohol–claiming “religious freedom”–and expect to keep your job. The same is true if your job is issuing people marriage licenses….

  2. He really does....

    He really does….

    HYPOCRISY–Refusing to issue a marriage license to a couple because you believe the Bible condemns their union is a difficult position for a County Clerk to take without turning into a giant hypocrite. The Bible actually says nothing whatsoever about same-sex marriage. It does say quite a bit about the issue of divorce. It seems to say that if a person gets a divorce for a reason other than infidelity and then remarries, that person is guilty of adultery (that’s one of the big 10!). I wonder how many divorced people Kim Davis has issued marriage licenses to…. Of  course, the Bible has some really interesting things to say to the Church about obeying the rules of their government. But then again, the Bible also says that women shouldn’t be in positions of authority. Yikes!

  3. Rowan County

    Rowan County “Christians” should know better….

    CONFUSION–Kim Davis and her supporters are arguing that forcing her to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples amounts to “Religious Persecution.” These people could not be more confused. It is not religious persecution to tell a person she is not allowed to persecute whole groups of people just because she (mistakenly or otherwise) believes that her religion calls for that persecution. This is the same mentality of the people who are opposing anti-bullying legislation on the grounds that they believe they should be allowed to bully gay kids as a part of the Christian expression of their beliefs. Just because you belong to some freaky “religion” that views forced sex with strangers as an act of worship, it doesn’t give you the right to go around raping people.

  4. I'm usually a pretty compassionate guy, but I'm sorry: Boo-Freaking-Hoo. Do your job.

    I’m usually a pretty compassionate guy, but I’m sorry: Boo-Freaking-Hoo. Do your job.

    INTEGRITY–I once heard Rob Bell say, “Christian is a fantastic noun, and a terrible adjective.” And while that is true, this should still be said: Staying on in a position for which you are refusing to perform the duties you were hired to perform–all while continuing to take a salary–is far from a “Christian” thing to do. It doesn’t matter is you were hired or elected, you agreed to take a position and perform the duties of that position. If–through a change in your own conscience, or a change in the laws of the country–you find yourself unable, in good conscience, to perform the duties your job entails, you DON’T keep taking money while refusing to work. You step down. Let’s say you accepted a position as One Direction’s publicist…. Then God changes your heart to see that their music is just awful and you decide you can’t (in good conscience) talk them up anymore, YOU DON’T refuse to step down but insist on still getting paid for a job you won’t do. That’s not “Christian.” That’s extortion. Do your job.

Some of the things I wrote here are ideas that I worked out on The Boeskool’s Facebook Page. If you haven’t “LIKED” my page yet, you probably should. It’s fun. CLICK HERE! Also, if you want to follow this blog, you can do that just to the right of the title. Or, you can follow me on Twitter RIGHT HERE!!

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“The Test For An Unfaithful Wife,” or “How To Perform A Biblical Abortion.”

I couldn’t really decide on a title, so you can pick whichever one you find less offensive. Or whichever one you find more offensive. I really don’t care…. Whichever one actually gets you to read this.

Biblical Literalism taken to its comical extreme.

Biblical Literalism taken to its comical extreme.

There are a whole lot of people out there who believe that the Bible was meant to be read more like an accounting ledger than a book of poetry. They firmly believe in the idea of Biblical Literalism & Inerrancy–Interestingly enough, two claims which the Bible does not make about itself anywhere in the text. So when people embrace this concept of strict Biblical inerrancy, if a verse says, “God told the Israelites to ______,” then they believe that God LITERALLY TOLD the Israelites to ______, and that we are to read the text with that understanding. So if the text reads that the Lord said to “go, attack the Amalekites and totally destroy all that belongs to them. Do not spare them; put to death men and women, children and infants, cattle and sheep, camels and donkeys (I Samuel 15:3 NIV),” then God actually said that. God told them to kill all the women, children, and babies. God told them to do that. God did. God.

These are the sorts of folks who quote Bible verses about God’s command to kill gay people….

“If a man lies with a male as with a women, both of them shall be put to death for their abominable deed; they have forfeited their lives.”
(Leviticus 20:13 NAB)

…. But mysteriously say very little about God’s command to kill disobedient children….

“Suppose a man has a stubborn, rebellious son who will not obey his father or mother, even though they discipline him. In such cases, the father and mother must take the son before the leaders of the town. They must declare: ‘This son of ours is stubborn and rebellious and refuses to obey. He is a worthless drunkard.’ Then all the men of the town must stone him to death. In this way, you will cleanse this evil from among you, and all Israel will hear about it and be afraid.”
(Deuteronomy 21:18-21 NLT)

“Please don’t make me read Bible verses…”

Now listen, I know when the Bible verses start coming out, people’s eyes glaze over. So here’s the deal: I’m going to put a big quote here in just a little bit…. But don’t freak out. If you don’t feel like reading it, you can just skip past it, and I’m going to write a short summary of what is said. And then, after you skip the text and read my short summary, you will probably think to yourself, “NO FREAKING WAY IT SAYS THAT,” and you will go back and read the text, scratching your head in disbelief that this stuff is actually in the Bible. So anyway, here it is–The “Test for an Unfaithful Wife.” Behold, Numbers 5:11-31….

Then the Lord said to Moses, “Speak to the Israelites and say to them: ‘If a man’s wife goes astray and is unfaithful to him so that another man has sexual relations with her, and this is hidden from her husband and her impurity is undetected (since there is no witness against her and she has not been caught in the act), and if feelings of jealousy come over her husband and he suspects his wife and she is impure—or if he is jealous and suspects her even though she is not impure— then he is to take his wife to the priest. He must also take an offering of a tenth of an ephah of barley flour on her behalf. He must not pour olive oil on it or put incense on it, because it is a grain offering for jealousy, a reminder-offering to draw attention to wrongdoing.

“ ‘The priest shall bring her and have her stand before the Lord. Then he shall take some holy water in a clay jar and put some dust from the tabernacle floor into the water. After the priest has had the woman stand before the Lord, he shall loosen her hair and place in her hands the reminder-offering, the grain offering for jealousy, while he himself holds the bitter water that brings a curse. Then the priest shall put the woman under oath and say to her, “If no other man has had sexual relations with you and you have not gone astray and become impure while married to your husband, may this bitter water that brings a curse not harm you. But if you have gone astray while married to your husband and you have made yourself impure by having sexual relations with a man other than your husband”— here the priest is to put the woman under this curse—“may the Lord cause you to become a curse among your people when he makes your womb miscarry and your abdomen swell. May this water that brings a curse enter your body so that your abdomen swells or your womb miscarries.”

“‘Then the woman is to say, “Amen. So be it.”

“’The priest is to write these curses on a scroll and then wash them off into the bitter water. He shall make the woman drink the bitter water that brings a curse, and this water that brings a curse and causes bitter suffering will enter her. The priest is to take from her hands the grain offering for jealousy, wave it before the Lord and bring it to the altar. The priest is then to take a handful of the grain offering as a memorial offering and burn it on the altar; after that, he is to have the woman drink the water. If she has made herself impure and been unfaithful to her husband, this will be the result: When she is made to drink the water that brings a curse and causes bitter suffering, it will enter her, her abdomen will swell and her womb will miscarry, and she will become a curse. If, however, the woman has not made herself impure, but is clean, she will be cleared of guilt and will be able to have children.

“‘This, then, is the law of jealousy when a woman goes astray and makes herself impure while married to her husband, or when feelings of jealousy come over a man because he suspects his wife. The priest is to have her stand before the Lord and is to apply this entire law to her. The husband will be innocent of any wrongdoing, but the woman will bear the consequences of her sin.’ ”

“I hate to tell you this, but I’m going to need you to take a big drink of ‘the water that brings a curse and causes bitter suffering.’ It’s actually tastes a bit like lemon Gatorade….”

So, for those of you who skipped ahead, here is what that just said–If you suspect your woman has been unfaithful (but have no proof), you can bring your woman before the priest, he will concoct a bitter drink (made of holy water, tabernacle dust, and washed-off curses that were written on a scroll) that he forces your woman to drink. Here’s how it works: If the woman has been faithful, she will be able to have the child and be “cleared of guilt.” But if she is a cheating tramp, the Lord will cause her abdomen to swell, and she will miscarry the baby and have what doctors refer to as a “Spontaneous Abortion.” One more time, just to sum up a little bit more, the Bible says that God will abort the babies of wives who have been unfaithful.

I used to think that the Bible said nothing about abortion, but it turns out it does. It says that if you are feeling jealous of your wife, you can force her to drink an abortion-causing holy elixir that will cause her baby to die as a consequence for her infidelity. So when these Bible-thumping politicians use the Bible as the reason they are against abortions–even in the cases of rape, incest, and when the mother’s life is in danger–they must not actually be reading their Bible. There are plenty of Biblical examples of God being into killing babies. He said in Hosea that the Samarian kids will be “dashed to death against the ground, their pregnant women ripped open by swords.” The Psalmist writes, “Happy is the one who seizes your infants and dashes them against the rocks.” Anyway, science has shown that somewhere between 30-50% of all conceptions end in miscarriage…. If God is in control of everything, that’s a whole lot of abortions he is responsible for.

The Naked Pastor dropping truth bombs.... Like he does.

The Naked Pastor dropping truth bombs…. Like he does.

Listen, I’m not trying to be blasphemous here. I obviously don’t think that God is into killing babies. Just like God didn’t tell the Israelites to commit genocide against the Amalekites. Just like God didn’t give Moses a Salem-Witch-Trial-Esque, “If she drowns, she’s innocent/If she floats, she’s a witch” sort-of method of figuring out which women cheated on their husbands. The point is this: You can have Biblical Literalism & Inerrancy, or you can have the belief that God is against abortion in all cases, but you can’t have both. The text clearly portrays God as being the driving force behind abortions for unfaithful wives (Let’s also not forget that Leviticus 20:10 commands adulterers to be but to death). If you’re reading your Bible in a literal way–One that has a 6000 year old planet, an Ark that fit two of every animal in it, and a God that commands his people to commit genocide–you need a new way to read your Bible. And if you find yourself in a church community that reads the Bible this way, you need to find a new church community. This brand of fundamentalism is not only intellectually inconsistent, it is downright dangerous.

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“Boys Will Be Boys,” and Other Bullshit

Maybe you'll call me Chris.... Now? #Smolder

Maybe you’ll call me Chris…. Now? #Smolder

When I was growing up, all the girls called me “Chris,” but all the guys called me “Bosko” (My last name distilled down to its base ingredients). Then came college, and as I met all those new people, some of the girls I met started calling me “Bosko” as well…. Apparently, they didn’t know the rule. So I would inform them–“You can call me Chris.” But some were persistent with calling by my shortened last name…. Defiant even. You see, in my head, every female I encountered was a possible romantic encounter, and a hook-up seemed less likely with a girl who was calling me “Bosko.” You know what? (and I am not at all proud of this) It wasn’t just in my head–I would say it out loud. I would actually explain to a girl I had just met that the reason she was supposed to call me “Chris” was so that it wouldn’t be awkward if we ended up dating later. And most of them would not even say anything (to my face, at least) about how much of an ass I was being. Some girls–the stronger ones–would be like, “I think I’ll stick with just calling you ‘Bosko.'”

Yes, sometimes I wear a shirt and tie to bed.... Kindly get me a sandwich.

Yes, sometimes I wear a shirt and tie to bed…. Kindly get me a sandwich.

Have you ever noticed how sometimes people use lack of eye-contact as a defense mechanism? It happens in a lot of situations. Maybe you’ve tried to get a bartender’s attention before, and you might’ve noticed how they seem to be intentionally not looking at you while they are doing other things (you’d be right, by the way–it IS intentional). Most of us have done it ourselves. Like me, you’ve probably walked through a mall before–just trying to find The Apple Store… Alright, fine, it was Hot Topic… and you can just FEEL a person at one of those kiosks trying to make eye contact with you so they can say “May I talk to you for a moment?” and then squirt some freaking lotion in your hand, try to sell you some $.50 hair thing for $10, or peddle their crappy cell phone cases. If you have ever been lassoed into one of these awkward kiosk conversations before, chances are good you probably know what it’s like to try very hard to avoid eye-contact with someone as a way of protecting yourself. It’s annoying as hell trying to navigate your way through the mall without catching the eye of one of those kiosk people every 15 feet….

Now imagine having that same sort of annoyance every time you step outside of your home.

Just in case you're a guy who doesn't notice the writing, it says,

Just in case you’re a guy who doesn’t notice the writing, it says, “STILL NOT ASKING FOR IT.”

The other day a girl was walking toward me–I say “girl” because she seemed about college-aged, but I guess “young woman?” Anyway, I was being my normal, smiley self–I’m usually a pretty friendly dude when I’m out in public. When I’m walking around, I’ll generally smile at people, look them in the eye, maybe say “Hello” or “How’s it going?” But this day (as sometimes happens) I could feel this girl going out of her way to NOT make eye-contact with me. And for the past couple days, I’ve been thinking about this phenomenon–Girls avoiding eye-contact with guys they don’t know with the same fervency that I avoid eye-contact with a kiosk workers. Imagine walking around feeling like every guy you saw was going to possibly try to hard-sell you a cheap watch if you looked him in the eye.

Now, I’m not sure it this is happening everywhere, or if I’m just looking creepier and creepier these days (doesn’t have to be an either/or situation–very possibly both), but this is something really disturbing that I honestly haven’t spent too much time thinking about before now. When this young woman avoided my eyes–like some busy bartender–part of me felt a little offended. I wanted to assure her that I wasn’t a threat to her. I’ve felt a lot LESS threatening since I’ve been married (In a “Good news, ladies! I don’t care if you call me ‘Bosko’ anymore” sort of way–Groan). I wanted to show her my wedding ring… or remind her that I’m old enough to be her dad… or say something that conveyed, “Don’t worry–I’m not trying to have sex with you,” but not in those exact words. Unfortunately, “Married” or “Old enough to be her dad” does NOT necessarily equal “Not trying to have sex with you.”

Banners at Old Dominion.... Translation:

Banners at Old Dominion…. Translation: “Ladies–Your purpose is strictly sexual in nature.”

So why am I writing this? I guess I’m just coming to more of a realization of how lame it can be for women to be around all these men. I don’t consider myself particularly pig-headed when compared to other guys, but there was a significant time in my life where I actually tried to make women address me in a way that kept open the possibility that we might one day hook up. I wonder how many other guys are walking around, not looking at women as fellow human beings–with ideas and goals and lives of their own that are worthy of respect–but instead diminishing them to just another possible sexual partner. And I wonder how many young women, after years and years of encountering males who look at them in this way, feel like it’s just easier to keep their heads down.

She should smile more.

She should smile more…

Because a lot of the time, making eye-contact with a man leaves a woman in a no-win situation. Once eye-contact is made, the woman has to decide whether she is going to smile and be friendly (which is interpreted as “She’s totally into me and giving me permission to talk to her”) or whether she is going to keep an uninterested stone-face (which is interpreted as “She’s a snob who thinks she’s better than me. What a bitch!”). We already make women try to walk this impossibly narrow, sometimes imaginary line between Professional & Playful, Youthful & Experienced, Sexy & Slutty…. They’re supposed to be athletic but not too muscular, attractive but not out of reach, assertive but not “bossy,” ethnic but not TOO ethnic, skinny but not TOO skinny, successful but not so much that she doesn’t NEED me, and on and on…. Add to all this some stranger looking at you, and being faced with the choice of coming off as being “into him” or being a bitch. Given all that, it makes perfect sense to keep your eyes down and avoid the whole situation. It’s part of the reason celebrities wear dark sunglasses….

Rape Culture is a real thing. And it doesn't get solved by teaching our girls how to not get raped--It starts with teaching our sons to not objectify our daughters.

Rape Culture is a real thing. And it doesn’t get solved by teaching our girls how to not get raped–It starts with teaching our sons to not objectify our daughters.

And I know this isn’t a problem that all women face… Not to the same degree, at least. Some women are okay being like, “Yeah, I could give exactly zero shits whether you think I’m a bitch or not. Deal with it.” Some enjoy the confidence it takes to walk up, tell a girl she’s beautiful, and ask her out. None of this stuff is simple–I can tell you this was a hard thing to navigate as a single guy. And I’m not trying to turn men into overly-sensitive, tentative little waifs who never take risks…. But there are many girls out there who are shell-shocked by the constant barrage of men in the world who are looking at them like a kiosk worker looks at a lady with a credit card. I have two beautiful daughters, but their beauty has WAY more to do with WHO THEY ARE than it has to do with their looks. I’d rather not have my girls walking around in a world that teaches them it’s easier to keep their eyes on the ground than it is to risk guys like me in college (and beyond) reminding them at every moment that their worth is tied up in how attractive and desirable their bodies are judged to be. Maybe it’s time men started keeping their own eyes down.

Or E--A glass of wine with Bill Cosby.

Or E… A glass of wine with Bill Cosby.

Because really, this isn’t a female problem–It’s a human problem. For most of human history, if boys are focusing too much on a girl’s body, we have been telling girls they need to change their clothes. We use bullshit phrases like “Boys will be boys,” and we ask bullshit questions like “What was she wearing?” We tell all these cultural fables about masculinity that are a stone’s throw from the stories they tell in some cultures that end up forcing women to wear burkas.  And this is not political correctness run amok–It is simply treating people with respect, regardless of whether they have a penis or a vagina. We are sexual creatures, but we don’t have to lead with that. It’s okay to be attracted to someone…. It’s not okay to interact in a way that sexualizes an entire gender. Our sexuality is a part of us, but it is not the most important part. We need to do a better job of teaching our boys that they are not controlled by their desires.

So here are some things we should be teaching our daughters to insist on, and teaching our sons to live out. Guys, please remember….

“The world is full of ‘guys.” Be a man. Don’t be a guy.”

  • Making eye-contact with someone does NOT give you permission to start talking to that person. Learn to pick up on social cues.
  • Sexist jokes are NOT more socially acceptable than racist jokes.
  • Women don’t owe you anything. Nothing.
  • Virginity is NOT “taken” by guys and “given” by girls. It is a mutual decision.
  • Women have every bit as much of a right to be “Just looking for fun” in a relationship as men do. And they can do this without being shamed in any way.
  • Women are under NO OBLIGATION to be bubbly and effervescent when you are near. Women, just like men, don’t need to explain why they are not smiling.
  • The fact that you think a woman is beautiful does NOT entitle you to tell her such.
  • T.V. shows that link sex and violence are societal poison. They are gross. Don’t watch them.
  • Boys are every bit as capable (or incapable) of controlling their desires as girls are.
  • If you are looking at women the same way you look at a steak dinner, you are a creepy, creepy dude. And everybody knows it.
  • Respect SHOULD be sexier than confidence. Any girl who doesn’t believe this is probably not worth being in a relationship with. The world already has plenty of confident ass holes.
  • Misogyny, Patriarchy, and Gender Inequality are real things…. Understand that, and act like it.
Got this from Buzzfeed. My daughters are going to know that don't owe anyone a smile.

Got this from Buzzfeed. My daughters are going to know that they don’t owe anyone a smile.

So there you have it…. I probably missed a lot, and I probably got a lot of stuff wrong, but that’s my take on it right now. If you have some more good things for guys to remember, please write them in the comments.

Posted in 3) Bathroom Humor, 5) Not Quite Sure | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 10 Comments

Being A Progressive Christian, and Other Things That’ll Get You Sent Straight To Hell….

“When we were children, we thought and reasoned as children do. But when we grew up, we quit our childish ways.”
~ Paul, from his letter to the Church in Corinth (CEV)

“I have much more to say to you, but right now it would be more than you could understand.”
~ Jesus, from The Gospel of John (CEV) 

Ironically, we use Farmer's Insurance.... Even though farmers are usually less progressive. Okay, that confused me.

Ironically, we use Farmer’s Insurance…. Even though farmers are usually less progressive. Okay, that confused me.

I am a progressive Christian. That’s what I am. I haven’t always been aware that there was a word for what I am, but I’m pretty sure that’s the word–“Progressive.” And if you are a Christian who can stomach any of the stuff I write (without feeling compelled to burst into fervent prayer for my hell-bound soul), chances are good you’re at least a little bit progressive as well. Now, I should start by pointing out that there is a difference between being theologically progressive and politically progressive. A person can be theologically progressive and very conservative politically… or vice versa. I tend to skew a little bit politically progressive as well, but one does not necessitate the other. For the sake of what I’m trying to talk about today, let’s only talk about being progressive in the theological sense…. But all this begs the question, “What does it mean to be progressive?”

The dictionary gives these two main definitions:

pro·gres·sive
prəˈɡresiv/
1. happening or developing gradually or in stages; proceeding step by step.
“a progressive decline in popularity” synonyms: continuing, continuous, increasing, growing, developing, ongoing, accelerating, escalating;
2. (of a group, person, or idea) favoring or implementing social reform or new, liberal ideas.
“a relatively progressive governor”

Cookie's too big for the glass of milk? Thanks

Cookie’s too big for the glass of milk? Thanks “Obama.”

Wikipedia defines Progressive Christianity as “a form of Christianity which is characterized by a willingness to question tradition, acceptance of human diversity, a strong emphasis on social justice and care for the poor and the oppressed, and environmental stewardship of the Earth.” Which (to me, at least) sounds awesome…. but there are a lot of people out there who are very threatened when people start talking about “Progressive Christianity.” To those folks, suggesting that we might not have all the answers right now–or worse, that some of the answers we’ve had in the past don’t really work anymore–is a very scary proposal. There are many religious communities who might use air quotes when they say the word “progressive.” Or, they might put some stank it when they utter that word, and say it like they might say the word “Universalist.” Or “Muslim.” Or “Pedophile.” Or “Obama.”

The thing about clinched fists is that they hurt people a lot easier.

The thing about clinched fists is that they hurt people a lot easier.

There is no hard, fast definition for what makes a Progressive Christian, but here is how I would describe it for myself: I believe that God is STILL SPEAKING to us…. That everything didn’t get magically settled when the canon was closed. I believe that there is much more power and life in asking the right QUESTIONS than there is in having the right answers. I feel way more comfortable in communities that focus less on our differences and more on our UNITY in Christ (and I know that really “churchy,” but bear with me). I believe that the Church, just like the message of Jesus, is meant to be INCLUSIVE instead of exclusive. I believe that it’s important to acknowledge that I think differently than I did ten years ago, and chances are good that I’ll think differently ten years from now…. And that acknowledgment should birth HUMILITY in us. There is an OPEN-HANDEDNESS to Progressive Christianity that might look to some like lack of faith, but I think it’s really more a matter of INTELLECTUAL HONESTY. Progressive Christians are comfortable using words like Evolving, Expanding, Growing, and UNFOLDING. And as a help to you, I have created this handy, dandy visual aid:

I swear it was in focus when my daughter filmed it on my phone, but something got lost in the translation…. Anyway, you get the idea: You can look at that first little square and say, “This is the truth,” and be right, but as you go along, the truth unfolds… And it expands… And it gets bigger… And at some point, you might look back at that first little square–before things started unfolding–and see it as such a small piece of the truth that you can’t remember how you ever saw it as the whole truth.

Let me give you another picture of this: Let’s say a mother says to her son, “Don’t touch that stove!” Then fast-forward 15 years, and maybe that same mother says to that same son, now older, “Would you please go to the stove and make me some tea?” Did the parent ever lie to the child? Of course not–It was always the truth, but she was just speaking to him some where he was at. The stove stayed the same…. The mother was always truthful and loving…. But as the son changed and matured, the mother’s directions evolved to match the expanding consciousness of the son.

Some might portray “Progressive Christianity” in opposition to “Traditional Christianity,” but I’d argue that traditional Christianity has ALWAYS been progressive. People say things like, “God never changes, and neither does the ‘Word of God!’ What about the BIBLE?!?” Well, I’m glad you asked….

First of all, the "Word of God" was never a book. It was always Jesus. Always has been, always will be.

First of all, the “Word of God” was never a book. It was always Jesus. Always has been, always will be.

When you read about people in the Bible referring to “scripture,” they weren’t talking about the same book you find next to your hotel bed. Their “scripture” was a collection of stories and books and poems–some which made it into our Bible, and some which didn’t. And one thing that their scriptures were VERY clear about was dietary laws. In an attempt to stay “clean,” the people of that time had specific rules about what they could eat and who they could touch. This is one of the reasons the religious leaders got so upset about Jesus hanging out with “sinners.” The scripture was clear–There was some stuff that was unclean, and if you touched it or ate it, YOU became unclean. And (they thought, at least) if you were unclean, God couldn’t be close to you. But in Jesus, we are told that we have the best picture of what God is like…. And there was God, eating with the people who everyone referred to as “unclean.”

Thank God for Acts 11.

Thank God for Acts 11.

Anyway, fast-forward again to the story in Acts 11 where Peter (the one whom Jesus told he was going to build his Church upon) fell asleep and had a vision of a sheet filled with unclean food. In the dream, God said to him, “Get up, Peter; kill and eat them.” And Peter says, “No way. Not me. I’m a good Jew–I’ve never eaten anything that’s unclean.” But God says to him, “Do not call something unclean if God has made it clean.” And of course, this was hard for him to hear. Because the conservative in him said “God never changes.” But here’s the thing: They didn’t go back to the scriptures and figure out they were reading things wrong–It was Peter’s experience that God changed his tune on the kosher laws. So maybe God DOESN’T change–Who knows? But what we DO know is we have all kinds of examples–in scripture and beyond–of God revealing and unfolding more and more truth about himself as we are more and more ready to hear it. A progressive truth.

To simplify, Progressive = Change Good. Conservative = CHANGE BAD!!!

To simplify, Progressive = Change Good. Conservative = CHANGE BAD!!!

Add to this the fact that Jesus, in the book of John, says, “I’ve got so much more I want to tell you about, but you can’t even handle it right now.” and I don’t know how you could see the story as anything other than progressive. This has ALWAYS been the story. It’s the story of humanity waking up–little by little–to the reality of how much God loves us. It’s the story of the gradual letting go of shame. It’s the story of the discovery that we don’t have to earn God’s love…. But as we realize that we have always been the beloved of God, we discover the appropriate response is to love the people around us (and ourselves). It’s the story of an expanding and progressing idea of who my neighbor is…. The story of an expanding and progressing understanding of inclusion–of who gets invited to the party. The story of the Bible has always been a story of a progressive movement–From a people who thought that their worth was wrapped up in how “clean” they could keep themselves…. All the way to a God who says to us “Don’t you dare call something unclean that I have called clean.” And you know what? He’s still saying this to us today.

Last thing: If you are in the Nashville/Franklin area of Tennessee, you’re looking for a Church home, and you feel like a progressive Church might be a good fit–You should come visit GracePointe Church in Franklin. I can’t say enough good stuff about it.

Posted in 1) Jesus | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

Josh Duggar, and When It’s Okay To Shame People

Ashley Madison's original motto, was "Life is short. Affair hard." But some folks at Reebok wasn't having it.

Ashley Madison’s original motto, was “Life is short. Affair hard.” But Reebok wasn’t having it.

It’s all over my Facebook feed, and it’s already trending on Twitter…. Josh Duggar is one of the first names to come out of the Ashley Madison hack that stole personal information–over 10 gigabytes worth–from about 33 million users. For those of you who don’t know, Ashley Madison (whose motto is “Life is short. Have an affair.”) is kind of like a dating website, but it’s for people who are married and want to cheat on their spouse–People who pay money to have the website set them up with other people who want to cheat. By just about any sensible standard, this site is really, REALLY disgusting, right? Well, a group calling themselves “Impact Team” thought so too, so they hacked into Ashley Madison’s records, and threatened to post the personal information of all the people who have used their services if they didn’t take down the site…. A threat they made good on yesterday, when they posted the names, email addresses, home addresses, and last four digits of the credit cards of all Ashley Madison users. And now everyone is freaking out, because apparently it turns out Josh Duggar had two accounts.

Chris Hansen probably wasn't invited to too many dinner parties there for a while.... That's the LAST face you want to see when you walk into someone's home.

Chris Hansen probably wasn’t invited to too many dinner parties there for a while…. That’s the LAST face you want to see when you walk into someone’s home.

I’ve been thinking about this for a bit now. I’m not sure if this show is still on or not, but about eight or nine years ago, I used to like watching a show called “Cheaters.” In the show, people who suspected unfaithfulness in their relationship would hire a “Cheaters” private investigator to find out if their significant other was cheating (spoiler alert: If they made it on the show, their partner WAS cheating), they would film the person being told, and then they would film that person confronting the cheater. As you can imagine, it was high drama. Around the same time, the “To Catch A Predator” shows were on NBC, where they would set up stings for people attempting to meet up with underage kids. The people would walk into a house expecting to have some sort of sexual encounter, they would be confronted by Chris Hansen, and then they would be arrested. And people like me tuned in by the millions to watch along at home.

Seeing someone "get what's coming to them" is not enjoyable.... Maybe that's why she's wearing the blindfold.

Seeing someone “get what’s coming to them” is not enjoyable…. Maybe that’s why she’s wearing the blindfold.

I used to enjoy watching these shows because it used to make me feel good to watch people “Getting what they had coming to them.” I think I liked the idea of Justice–These people chose their path, and now they were “getting what they deserve.” And if I was able to watch that person receive their Karmic Wedgie, all the better…. Then something changed. I started getting grossed out while watching those shows–Not so much at the acts of the people who were getting “exposed,” but more at my own voyeuristic enjoyment of their humiliation. I started seeing them as people–People whose brokenness was being put on display. And what kind of human being enjoys watching another person being destroyed? Wanting to see someone’s life come crashing down all around them says a lot more about the state of my soul than it does about the state of theirs.

So now people are putting Josh Duggar’s brokenness on display as well (for the second time in about 6 months). And though the story may seem even tastier because of the hypocrisy involved with him working for the Family Research Council (an anti-gay, “family-values” political organization) while he was looking for an affair, he is still a person. I don’t believe his hypocrisy makes him “fair game” for name-calling and tearing down. We can expose hypocrisy without demonizing and destroying the person who is being exposed as a hypocrite. I have been a hypocrite many times in my life. I have known people who have had affairs. They are not all awful people…. They are mostly hurting, broken people. But it’s a lot easier to celebrate the downfall of this guy…

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…. than it is to celebrate the downfall of THIS guy:

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For me it is, at least…. The second picture reminds me that it’s not only Josh Duggar who is affected by all this. There are other people involved. His wife is involved. The kids in this picture don’t know about human frailty, brokenness, and hypocrisy–They don’t know about how those things can bring so many marriages to an end…. They just love their dad. The news of Josh Duggar’s infidelity is NOT something to be celebrated.

Something tells me Romney didn't okay the use of his image in this advertisement.

Something tells me Romney didn’t okay the use of his image in this advertisement.

And you should probably also remember this number: 33 MILLION!! 33 million users is a whole lot of people…. Chances are, many of us know other people who are on that list. It is being reported that about 10,000 of the names on that list could be government officials. Imagine your dad or your mom being on that list, because–again–chances are very good that for some of my readers, this will be a reality. I don’t know Josh. I don’t know his wife. But if it came out that one of my friends was on that list, I certainly wouldn’t be posting articles celebrating his hypocrisy. I’d be trying to help him. I would see if there was some way that I could help her. You know why? Because I love my friends…. and that’s what people do for the people in their lives who they love. “Mercy triumphs over judgment,” even when you feel like the judgment is well-deserved.

Joining in on the evisceration of someone whose brokenness is being put on display is completely antithetical to the way of Jesus Christ. And I don’t want to get all “Jesus Jukey” on you here, but if you call yourself a Christian, you have no business piling on to the celebration of the exposure of Josh Duggar’s hypocrisy. We are in the redemption business. We are in the restoration business. We are in the business of LOVE…. Even loving our enemies. Actually, ESPECIALLY loving our enemies. I hope this difficult time will be short for the Duggars, and I hope they will come out of this stronger than they ever were. And in the meantime, I hope the folks who are calling themselves “Christians” will show the world how much more powerful MERCY is than judgment.

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A Preemptive Eulogy

This scene gets less and less funny the older you get....

This scene gets less and less funny the older you get….

Yesterday morning I woke up, stumbled out of bed, and shuffled over to the bathroom…. And just like I do every morning, I peed for an “Austin-Powers-getting-cryogenically-unfrozen” length of time while gargling some Listerine (sure, there are other mouthwashes that don’t inflict actual pain, but I figure if it’s not making your entire mouth numb, it’s probably not working). I guess when I spit out the mouthwash, some got hung up on my beard and dribbled onto my chest, and when I looked down to wipe it off, I saw it: A grey chest hair. Well, more silver than grey, if we’re being honest. There is was…. mocking me and my aches and pains…. Trying to be as conspicuous as possible, sticking straight out, in that last little hairy rigor mortis that hairs do as they go through the death throes before turning grey–The same way many of my beard hairs have done in the past. But for some reason, this hair stuck out like a little monument to my own mortality. Within hours of noticing this stupid little hair, I had thrown my back out on a soccer field while pretending I was still in high school….

If I had know THIS is what these goof balls looked like, the song probably would have felt quite as profound.

If I had know THIS is what these goof balls looked like, the song probably wouldn’t have felt quite as profound.

So my own mortality and that little hair weren’t really the things that inspired me to write this post–I’ve actually been thinking about this for a while now. I remember my father–before he died–sitting me down while I was just hitting adolescence, and making me listen to the words of Mike & The Mechanics’ “In The Living Years.” He walked me through the song, and I remember him tearing up at the part that said, “I wasn’t there that morning when my Father passed away. I didn’t get to tell him all the things I had to say. I think I caught his spirit later that same year. I’m sure I heard his echo in my baby’s new born tears–I just wish I could have told him in the living years.” I felt like he was lamenting his own father’s passing, and not necessarily saying to his son, “If you’ve got something to say to me, say it while I’m still alive.” But there have been many times that I’ve thought about that moment–that song–over the years…. Times when I wish my Dad was still alive, times when I wish he could have met my beautiful children, times when I wish I would have told him all the things I had to say while it was still “the living years.”

It's okay that I never knew him.... I can still miss him.

It’s okay that I never knew him…. I can still love him.

The longer we live, the more people we know who have died. That’s just the way life works…. And everyone likes to believe that people who have died can still hear us. Me? I’m not so sure. Maybe…? I don’t know. I know the thought is very comforting, but everything we believe about what happens after people die is speculation at best. Since I have been writing this blog, I have written a few times about people who have died who have meant something to me. I wrote about my Dad. I wrote about the passing of Maya Angelou and the tragic death of Robin Williams. Recently I wrote about the death of an acquaintance/sort-of-friend named Bob. As the patriarch of the Westboro Baptist Church laid on his death bed, I wrote a Love Letter to Fred Phelps. And I also wrote about a sort-of-friend named Brent. Brent died while I was writing that post, and as I wrote there, “He was a giant of my childhood, and he probably never knew it.” There are no guarantees that dead people can hear our attempts at kindness after they are gone.

So here is what I am doing: In honor of a broken Father who sat down with his son in front of a stereo and cried… In honor of a great tree who fell… In honor of an actor whose gift of making people laugh was never enough to silence the voices telling him he was never enough… In honor of an acquaintance who made a big impression… In honor of an aging enemy who God loved every bit as much as he loves me… and in honor of a childhood friend who was always the coolest person in the room… I have decided to try something. I want to get everyone within the sound of this blog post to write a Preemptive Eulogy.

Feel free to use this picture if you write your own Preemptive Eulogy.

Feel free to use this picture if you write your own Preemptive Eulogy.

Telling someone how amazing they are, how much we love them, how they touched our hearts and changed the course of our lives–The time for saying all these things is NOT when a person is lying in a casket. So here’s what I want you to do: I want you to write SOMETHING to tell a person how special they are to you, and I want you to do it publicly. It can be a Tweet, it can be a Facebook status, it can be on Instagram, it can be a blog post, if you have a blog…. Whatever. And then hashtag #PreemptiveEulogy so people can find them all in one spot. Of course you can tell the person to their face as well, but there is something special about standing up and saying, “This person is fantastic and inspiring and amazing, and I want to make sure everyone knows it.” Enough waiting for people to die to say how we feel….

And, just to be clear, this is NOT something that is meant just for those of us who are getting older and closer to death and finding grey chest hairs. No one knows when you or someone else won’t be around to say the things you want to say. This can be for the young, or it can be for the old. It can be for someone you know well, or it can be for someone you have never met–I mean, I cried like a baby when Phil Hartman died, and I never met him once. He never did one thing for me…. Other than that one giant thing of making me laugh over and over and over again. And you know what? That is worth something. And it’s worth saying something about. So…. Just to recap, here’s what I want you to do:

  1. Write about a living person who has touched your life in some way. Tell the world why you care.
  2. Post what you wrote–long or short–where other people can read it.
  3. Make an attempt to get the person you wrote about to read what you wrote. And if you read something about a person, and you “know someone who knows someone,” pass it along to that person.
  4. Include the hashtag #PreemptiveEulogy.

I’ll start.

I took a trip to New York City recently. It was my first time there (HERE is a self-centered, somewhat humorous pictorial tour of the city, in case you are interested), and as I walked through that city, I heard echoes of music the entire time. It was the music of Paul Simon. I whistled the tune to “Feeling Groovy” (The 59th Street Bridge Song) while walking though Washington Square Park. I kept a lookout for the words of the prophets. I looked up at those buildings, I thought about “The Only Living Boy In New York,” and sang the words, “Here I am.” With every step I took, his lyrics floated around me. And I thought, “Hey, I’ve got nothing to do today but smile….”

They *might* have been a little bit high here.... And that's okay.

They *might* have been a little bit high here…. And that’s okay.

My first car was a baby blue Toyota. About its only amenity was its tape player, and one day the eject button broke…. The tape that was in it at the time was Simon & Garfunkel’s Greatest Hits. Luckily, it would switch to the other side when it reached the end of the tape. For about three years, everyone who rode with me knew that they were listening to S & G or nothing. I might have been able to jimmy it out, but I really didn’t want to. I listened to those songs so many times that when when one song ended, I knew the exact starting note of the song that was coming next. I left behind the melodies and Art’s harmonies, and I sang the third parts of those chords…. imagining a day when chance would bring our paths together, and Paul would hear my subtle third part harmonies, and he would invite me to join the “Poet and a one-man band.”

“You want to be a writer–Don’t know how or when? Find a quiet place. Use a humble pen.” ~ One of My Heroes

And I know, Paul (can I call you Paul?), you look back at a lot of those early songs as something inferior to your later work (and you’re certainly right in many ways), but they were the soundtrack to my childhood. They were tunes that taught me harmony. As a child, I thought it was all about Art, but when I found those stories, those tunes, those songs came from your mind, I marveled at the talent that created them. And then, to discover all the stuff you had been creating on your own…. The music just got deeper and deeper as my expanding consciousness was able to receive it. Really, your songs made me marvel at God in new ways as well. The first time I listened to the Graceland album, I thought to myself, “This is as good as it gets.” And it still is. But the breadth and depth of your work…. It’s staggering.

Here's Paul during a brief period of time where he also smashed watermelons with a giant hammer....

Here’s Paul during a brief period of time where he also smashed watermelons with a giant hammer….

So I can’t thank you enough for all the moments–all the hours I’ve had driving with your songs, discovering something new and amazing. Thank you for the way you spelled out the words “ANIMAL BEHAVIOR.” Thank you for the way you rolled your eyes with your voice when Art didn’t pause long enough on the beginning of “The Boxer” in the concert in Central Park. Thank you for the trains in the distance, thank you for the hearts and bones that won’t come undone, thank you for “The Penguins, The Moonglows, The Orioles, and The Five Satins.” Thank you for the complete work of art that is the album “You’re The One.” THANK YOU! And it’s not because you’re in your 70’s now, and it’s not because you’re getting old (“God is old, and I’m not old). It’s because your music has made my life richer. Your songs have pulled me toward compassion and understanding in ways that are hard to express. I don’t know you, and we’ll probably never meet, but your work has touched my soul. And I wanted to tell you.

Now…. If anyone can pass this along to Paul Simon, that would be swell.

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There’s No Such Thing As An Unarmed Black Man

“I felt threatened.” That’s what they always seem to say….

Twelve year old Tamir Rice. Shot immediately while playing in the park with a BB gun. This is what threatening looks like.

Twelve year old Tamir Rice… Shot immediately while playing in the park with a BB gun… In an “open carry” state. This is what threatening looks like.

The police officer who choked the life out of Eric Garner as he gasped the words, “I can’t breathe” felt threatened. The police officer who was responding to a call about a boy playing in a park with a gun (a gun the caller TWICE said he thought was fake) felt threatened when he pulled up and shot 12 year-old Tamir Rice twice before his squad car even stopped moving. The officer who saw Michael Brown walking on the street felt threatened when the teenager didn’t respect his authority by moving fast enough to the sidewalk, and he felt even more threatened when he shot and killed him moments later from a distance. The officers who were responding to a call at a Walmart of a report of a black man with a gun felt threatened as well–So threatened that they shot and killed John H. Crawford III IMMEDIATELY after arriving at the store as he talked on the phone to his girlfriend…. Even though the gun he was carrying was a BB gun that they sold at that Walmart. Ugh…. The stories go on and on. I can’t even keep track of them. There shouldn’t be so many unarmed black folks getting killed that it’s hard to keep them straight.

**NERD ALERT*** The only

**NERD ALERT***
The only “Oathkeeper” I’m a fan of is the one carried by Brienne of Tarth.

You can CLICK HERE to read the stories of over 100 unarmed people of color who were killed by police just last year alone. This week marked the one year anniversary of  the killing of Michael Brown, and there were protests in the streets of Ferguson once again. During the protests, heavily armed people from a group calling themselves “Oath Keepers” showed up…. Funny how when a bunch of white guys with assault rifles show up at a protest, it doesn’t seem nearly as threatening. I’ll tell you this much–If there were over 100 police shooting of white “open carry” folks who were killed because they made police officers “feel threatened,” those “Oath Keepers” would be talking about open war against the government (even more than they already are, that is). But there are hundreds of stories like these–just from the past two years–of police officers using deadly force and ending people’s lives because they felt threatened. And really, there is a lot for police to feel threatened about right now.

If you've ever posted anything like this, I've got bad news for you: You are racist as hell. Like.... Not

If you’ve ever posted anything like this, I’ve got bad news for you: You are racist as hell. Like…. Not “swastika tattooed on your forehead” racist, but not far off either.

Now, before I go any farther, I need to point out that there is more than one kind of racism. There is the overt kind of racism–The racial slur-using, confederate flag-waving, “I hate black people” sort of racism–As well as its close cousin, the “subtler racism”–The kind that looks around before telling certain jokes, swears he “likes black people, but just not the THUG black people,” and wouldn’t mind when they move into her neighborhood, except that it’s probably going to affect their property value. And then there is Systemic Racism. Systemic racism is written into to rules that we all play by. It is the board on which we place our game pieces. It is the air we breathe (or the air we don’t breathe). This distinction is important, because many times if someone points out “Racism,” people think they are being accused of “secretly hating black people.” When really, what is being pointed out is how someone is playing by rules–usually without even knowing it–that are unfairly in favor of white people.

Sometimes I think back to the skinny, teenage me singing Chuck D lyrics, and I don't know whether to laugh or cry.

Sometimes I think back to the skinny, teenage me singing Chuck D lyrics, and I don’t know whether to laugh or cry.

So when people say that law enforcement is contaminated with racism, they are not necessarily saying that police officers are using the N-word when no one is looking…. They are saying that the rules of law enforcement are unfairly stacked against people with brown skin. If you subconsciously equate blackness with suspiciousness or criminality, that is going to effect who you pull over. We all play by the rules of racism–regardless of the color of our skin. You don’t have to be white to be more nervous about a black man walking up to your car than you would be about a white man walking up to your car. So what happens when you take all the rest of those reasons that police officers are feeling threatened, and you combine those reasons with feeling more threatened by black skin? Well, we can see what happens…. People get killed for running from a traffic stop that he realized would probably send him to jail for missing child support payments. People get shot in the face for not wanting to get out of his car on a traffic stop for not having a front license plate. People get gunned down for stomping on cars…. I walked on cars as a kid, and as stupid as it was, no one ever deserves to die for it.

Here's a cover photo from a closed

Here’s a cover photo from a closed “We Support The Police” Facebook group. There is way more diversity in this picture than there is among the group’s members.

If you’re an officer and lots of people start accusing police of being racist, you feel threatened. When folks on social media start questioning your motives, you feel threatened. When the tide of public opinion starts turning away from respecting your authority, you feel threatened. When you truly believe you are trying to do your part to make the world a better place, and then you feel like you constantly have to defend yourself, you feel threatened. And when you add those threatening feelings to the regular stress of having a job were you are putting your life on the line every day (for not a whole lot of money), that’s A LOT of feeling threatened. Even before encountering any sort of criminal, you’re arriving on the job feeling threatened. And that leads to resentment…. Which leads to anger….

And then, add to that the systemic racism we all breathe in every day that effects the way we see things…. What happens when the color of someone’s skin starts to look like a weapon? What happens when we start to “weaponize” blackness? What happens when officers arrive at work feeling threatened, work a threatening job, and then start to see dark skin as more of a threat than light skin? Innocent people die–That’s what happens. Men die for selling lose cigarettes. Twelve year-old kids die while playing in a park. Dead teenagers, who just graduated from high school, lie face down on the street for four hours. Young men holding a floor model BB gun in Walmarts get murdered.

Maybe if I would have been wearing my 'stache they would have let me support the police?

Maybe if I would have been wearing my ‘stache they would have let me support the police?

Something has to change. These young men and women and geting hashtagged all over the place. And it’s so messed up to say, but right now the fastest way for a cop to become a millionaire is to kill a black kid, get fired from his job, and then wait for the donations to start pouring in. And I know that racism is not the entire problem with policing, but it is part of the problem. This post is getting long, so I had to get rid of a whole bunch of stuff I wrote about Facebook groups supporting police officers. Just believe me when I say: There are a bunch of groups (both closed and open) devoted to “Supporting Police” and “BlueLivesMatter” that are cesspools of some of the most racist, disturbing shit you will ever lay eyes on. I asked to join a closed group supporting police, and I was blocked from even seeing the landing page three minutes later…. But then again, my Facebook cover photo is of me and my church at a Gay Pride Walk, and a simple Google search of my last name will pair me with “Huffington Post,” so…. Not much of a surprise. But it doesn’t take more than 20 seconds on one of these pages to be certain of one thing: There is a growing anger within the police community.

There is nothing funny about this. I just wanted to show an example of the sort of garbage that is posted on these

There is nothing funny about this. I just wanted to show an example of the sort of garbage that is posted on these “Blue Lives Matter” pages. So…. Yeah.

And that anger is moving in the opposite direction of healing. This problem is not going to be solved by trying to crack down even harder. I believe the thing that needs to change is the culture of law enforcement. We need less “law enforcement” and more “Peace Keeping.” I know that there are all kinds of really good cops out there–I am proud to say that I am friends with some really good folks who are police officers–But within law enforcement, there is a very strict policy of never criticizing anyone else with a badge, and that has to stop. Right now, when an officer makes a mistake, everyone else in law enforcement starts circling the wagons. There are many places in this country where things have just gone horribly off track, and the criticism the world needs to hear is the voices of the officers who are seeing it. People are trusting the police less and less, and the only way to reverse that is to have people speak up who are on the inside. This country NEEDS police officers we can trust–who are viewed as the helpers and not the enforcers–and the only way to rebuild that trust is to start by admitting there is a problem.

Until then, we are just looking at more and more lives that don’t seem to matter. And more senseless deaths. And more hashtags. And more of our black brothers and sisters being killed for having nothing on them that was threatening in any way…. Other than the color of their skin. And that is a threat they can’t ever leave at home. No more hashtags. Say it with me…. BLACK LIVES MATTER.

Posted in 5) Not Quite Sure, Jesus, Politics | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Four Things Our Grandchildren Are Going to Be Ashamed Of

"When I was a kid, THIS is what an insurance salesman looked like."

“When I was a kid, THIS is what an insurance salesman looked like.”

Have you ever looked back in history at things people did and asked yourself, “How the hell did they think that was okay?!?” As a kid learning about U.S. history, I remember thinking, “You mean to tell me that women couldn’t vote until 1920?!?” And, “Wait…. The majority of the people in the country used to believe it was okay to OWN black people?!?” And, “What do you mean there was a time when a country actually tried to kill ALL the Jewish people?” It all seemed barbaric—like a time before fire, where some Neanderthal with a club dragged his woman around by her hair. If you’re anything like me, you’ve probably thought to yourself, “How could we have been alright with this?” And this question SHOULD lead you to ask, “I wonder what things are happening today that our grandkids are going to be horrified by?” I can envision our descendants—picking up whatever new technology has replaced history books—and looking back on the time we live in. And I can hear those voices from the future asking….

  • “Wait…. You mean to tell me that they were okay with a system that saddles their young people with tens of thousands of dollars of debt in college loans?!? How could they possibly be okay with that?? And they had to pay back those loans with INTEREST?!? One of the most important roles of a society is the education of its children, and they were alright with a system that forces poor kids to go into serious debt in order to attempt to obtain an education? How the hell did they think that was okay?!?”

  • “Wait…. You mean to tell me that they used to allow for unlimited financial contributions to political campaigns?!? And the Supreme Court actually voted in Citizens United to say that ‘money was speech?!?’ That would have given so much more power and influence to the wealthiest members of society! That sort of policy would essentially require candidates to find one of a handful of billionaires to fund their campaign in order to get elected, and that influence would be a threat to the very fabric or our democracy. How the hell did they think that was okay?!?”

  • “Wait…. You mean to tell me that there was a time in U.S. history when 1 out of every 100 people was incarcerated?!? How is that even possible? AND 1 in 3 BLACK MEN USED TO EXPECT TO GO TO PRISON IN THEIR LIFETIME!?! Impossible…. And you’r telling me that each of those people convicted of felonies lost their right to VOTE?!? That seems like it was just a new version of slavery! And black offenders received sentences that were 10 percent longer than white offenders for the SAME CRIMES?!? And people were alright with this??? How the hell did they think that was okay?!?”

  • “Wait…. You mean to tell me that all the scientists KNEW that humans were causing climate change, but they STILL didn’t do anything about it?!? That can’t be right! Look at all the people today who have died as a result of all these famines, and super storms, and wars…. All caused in part by environmental issues resulting from a callous generation, whose anti-intellectualism and greed were seemingly more important to them than the lives of their own grandchildren. Think of the things we could focus on if we didn’t have to focus on trying to reverse the effects of all their dirty energy…. How the hell did they think that was okay?!?”
They totally put Chris Christie closest to the camera as punishment for hugging Obama.

They totally put Chris Christie closest to the camera as punishment for hugging Obama. Lame…

Classrooms of kids are getting gunned down, and they didn’t do anything to try to make guns harder for criminals to get?!? Wealth inequality was at its greatest point since the Great Depression, and they didn’t do anything about it?!? They gutted the Voting Rights Act while people in power attempted to suppress voter turnout, and people just accepted it?!? They demonized poor people needing help from welfare, but they continually voted to hand out billions of dollars is CORPORATE WELFARE to giant to companies who send jobs overseas?!? And on and on and on…. That is not anywhere close to an exhaustive list.  And yet, if you noticed during the first republican presidential candidate’s debate, NOT ONCE did any one of these important issues come up.

“This country has socialism for the rich, rugged individualism for the poor.” ~ Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.

“This country has socialism for the rich, rugged individualism for the poor.” ~ Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Now, just in case you’re reading this and cynicism sinks in and you think to yourself, “Screw it. There’s nothing we do to change things”—PLEASE DON’T! I want to point out that if you take a close look at history, you’ll find evidence of that famous MLK quote that says, “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice.” Women won the right to vote in almost every country in the world (though not in Saudi Arabia—one of our closest allies—but that is a human rights abuse it seems we can overlook if you have enough oil). We passed the Civil Rights Act (though much of the policies in place right now still equate to a new version of Jim Crow). The global community came together to pass laws in an attempt to prevent the horrors of genocide from ever happening again (though little was done about Darfur). And we just saw a historic step forward for equal rights for people who are LGBT. We are far from where we need to be, but we are closer than we used to be…. And there is reason there for hope.

If we're not careful, we could end up with another one of these....

If we’re not careful, we could end up with another one of these….

And this is why it is so important for you to vote! Here are some numbers for you: 79, 76, 76, 74, 64, 62, 58, 57, and 52. These are the ages of the Supreme Court Justices we have right now. It is very possible that over the next 4-8 years, one or more of these justices will step down, and their replacement will be chosen by the people WE put into office. This stuff actually does matter. The ones with all the money and the influence are trying very hard to take the power out of the hands of the people…. But “the power being in the hands of the people” is EXACTLY the thing that makes this country great. The opportunity to get rich is NOT what makes America great–What makes it great is our ability to change things. And there are some things that really need to be changed.

It matters.

It matters.

Someday our kids, or their kids, are going to look back on this time, and they are going to shake their heads with wonder and disappointment at some of the things we could have changed, but didn’t. It will be hard for them to imagine forcing kids into incredible debt in order for them to get an education. They will marvel that there existed a time when the very rich could give as much money as they wanted to politicians, and basically choose who the rest of us get to pick from. As they look at back at our prison system, they will be filled with the same sort of shame that we feel when we look back at pictures of the horrors of slavery. And they will try to figure out—probably while living in countries with very different shorelines—why we didn’t do something about the environment when we actually could.

Together, we are powerful! Please, please organize… Please, please don’t lose hope… And please, PLEASE VOTE!!!

Posted in 2) Politics | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

If You Don’t Want To Support Planned Parenthood, Here’s What To Do….

There are a whole lot of folks who are very angry with Planned Parenthood right now. A video was released that appeared to show people from PP selling baby parts to an undercover buyer, and as a result of this very misleading video, there was a renewed attempt in congress to defund them–Despite the fact that (per the Hyde Amendment) no federal funds can be used by Planned Parenthood to pay for abortions. The attempt was defeated, but because of that video, many republican lawmakers have vowed to block any federal funding bill that contains any funding for PP–Even if it means shutting down the government (which, for many of these bozos, was probably the goal all along). But if we don’t look deeper into heavily-edited videos like these, we can end up with something other than the truth…. As evidenced by the following video, showing conclusive proof that Brian Williams knows all the words to Dr. Dre’s “Nuthin’ but a G Thang.”

Sure, a misleading video took down ACORN.... but really, an organization that is capable of mistaking this dork for an actual pimp probably shouldn't be in business.

Sure, a misleading video took down ACORN…. but really, an organization that is capable of mistaking this dork for an actual pimp probably shouldn’t be in business.

As a side note, if you want to damage the reputation of an organization, here is a really good recipe for how to do it: 1) Get hours and hours of undercover video. 2) Ask questions that are designed to get the kinds of soundbites that you desire. 3) Heavily edit the video to make it tell the story you are trying to sell, regardless if that story is anything close to truthful. 4) Leave out anything that doesn’t fit your narrative. 5) Release that heavily-edited, “bombshell” video online, secure in the fact that less than 1% of the people who view it will have the time or energy to plow through the ACTUAL TRANSCRIPTS to find out just how ethical the organization’s actions were. Voila… Damage done! It worked with ACORN and their “diabolical scheme” to help empower poor people, and now it’s being attempted on Planned Parenthood. And a viral lie is just like when my daughter spills a container of glitter–you can attempt to clean it up after it has gotten everywhere, but no matter how hard you try, you’re going to be finding that crap for years to come.

By the way, if you’re wanting an explanation of what was really happening in the PP sting video everyone was sharing, there is a very good explanation RIGHT HERE. But if you are not already a person who believes abortion should remain safe, legal, and rare, you are probably not going to click on it. Or if you do click on it, you will probably dismiss it as “more liberal lies.” If you want the short version, here it is: People are legally allowed to donate parts of themselves (tissue, limbs, organs, or my cadaver after I die). And if I donate a kidney, it doesn’t just appear at the lab/hospital I donated it to…. It costs money to transport things. Whether that thing is human tissue, flowers, or a Playstation 4.

Mark Zuckerberg: Baby Killer. OR, a philanthropist who donates billions of dollars in an attempt to make the world better. Can't be both....

Mark Zuckerberg: Baby Killer. OR, a philanthropist who donates billions of dollars in an attempt to make the world a little bit better. Can’t be both….

As a result of the collective outrage over this intentionally misleading video, a grassroots movement has started where people have called for a divestment in corporate sponsors of Planned Parenthood. Like me, you may have friends who posted lists of companies that give to Planned Parenthood on their Facebook page in an attempt to inspire people to stop supporting the names on that very extensive list. Well, if you want to boycott supporters of Planned Parenthood, maybe you should start with Facebook. Because Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg donated 19 million Facebook shares (valued at $992 Million) to a charity that funds Planned Parenthood. The year before, he donated 18 million shares to the same charity–the Silicon Valley Community Foundation.

Bye Felicia.

Bye Felicia.

I know this is going to be hard for you, but I also know how important your integrity is to all of you, and I can’t imagine you being alright with supporting a man who supports a charity that supports Planned Parenthood. Even though the truth is that the VAST majority of Planned Parenthood’s work PREVENTS the sorts of circumstances that might lead to an abortion, there are many of you out there online who could never be convinced that PP is not a giant baby-murdering factory…. And I suggest that you start your divestment by leaving Facebook. I don’t know how you could sleep at night knowing that every time you post another misleading, overly-simplified meme or article about Planned Parenthood, you are putting more money into the pockets of a man who donates billions of dollars that goes toward helping them stay afloat. Every comment, every post, every unending argument…. You are helping fund abortions. And if you believe the lies that video presented, then you should understand (as one of my really funny friends said on a Facebook thread), “by commenting, you’re propagating the dismemberment, sale and distribution of baby parts, you sick bastards.

So…. Farewell, “People Who Are Incapable For Some Reason Of Seeing The Complexity Of Situations Like The Issue Of Abortion.” You will be missed.

P.S. Before you decide to write all your angry responses, please do me a favor and read this post I wrote a little while ago called “Finding A Middle Ground On Abortion.” And if you’d like, feel free to follow me on Twitter or like my Facebook Page…. Something tells me I am going to lose more than a few people with this one.

Posted in 2) Politics, 3) Bathroom Humor | Tagged , , , , , , | 8 Comments

It’s Okay To Be Pissed Off About That Lion

There’s something that keeps on happening that has been frustrating me. It goes like this:

Person A: “I think that [X] is significant/important/noteworthy in some way, and I believe it deserves your consideration.”

Person B: “You think [X] is significant/important/noteworthy?! How can you care about [X] when there is [Y]??!!??”

It happens all the time. For example, you might have noticed this pattern playing out online when someone said they thought Caitlyn Jenner was “brave,” just to be met with a bunch of comments about what REAL bravery looks like–Firemen, Soldiers, Cancer Survivors, etc…. But imagine if people did this with everything. Like if I said, “So & So is kind.” And then someone else said, “So & So isn’t kind! WHAT’S-HER-FACE IS KIND!!!” If someone said something like this, they would be universally recognized as a complete douche, right? One person’s virtue is not negated or diminished by the fact that you think you know someone who possesses a greater degree of that same virtue.

If people aren't allowed to be upset by anything else each time a police officer shoots another unarmed black person, then there is going to be very little time to get upset by other stuff.

First of all, this is what racism looks like. And secondly, if people aren’t allowed to be upset by anything else each time a police officer shoots another unarmed black person, then there is going to be very little time to get upset about other stuff.

And the same sort of thing is happening right now. A story came out recently about a beloved lion in Africa named Cecil being killed by a wealthy U.S. dentist from Minnesota. And people (rightly, I believe) were outraged. This story happened to coincide with a story about yet another unarmed black man being murdered by police. Immediately, there were thousands of voices saying things like, “I wish we cared about black lives as much as we care about lion’s lives” and “BlackLives > LionLives.” And from the other side, there are shouts of “How can you be upset about some lion when we’re aborting all these babies?” and “If you really think that ‘Black Lives Matter,’ you should be voting Pro-Life.” And on and on and on….

Or Jewish Extremism. And yes, knives can be used to commit horrible acts of violence as well. Still, nobody died.

Or Jewish Extremism. And yes, knives can be used to commit horrible acts of violence as well. Still, I wonder how many would have died if this guy had a gun…

Basically, people are saying “You shouldn’t care about THAT. You should care about [Insert Your Cause Here]—Racism, Abortion, Gun Control, Human Trafficking, The Death Penalty, Police Brutality, Economic Inequality, Gay Rights, Immigration, Climate Change, ISIS, Cancer, Homelessness, Mass Shootings, Alzheimers, Autism, Alcoholism, Healthcare, National Debt, Muslim Religious Extremism, Christian Religious Extremism, Animal Rights, Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, or even insignificant stuff like War, Poverty, Genocide, and Lack Of Clean Drinking Water. But I think folks who are getting mad when people care about the “wrong” things are missing the point. There is so much indifference in the world, we should be celebrating every time people care about anything outside of themselves.

This is a picture of Jimmy John Liautaud, owner of Jimmy John's, bravely standing next to an elephant he just killed. Just in case you don't feel like supporting his trophy hunting habit anymore.

This is a picture of Jimmy John Liautaud, owner of Jimmy John’s, bravely squatting next to an elephant he just killed…. Just in case you don’t feel like supporting his trophy hunting habit anymore.

There’s a lot of stuff in the world to be care about. If you are one of the people who was genuinely horrified by the story of this dentist killing this lion–Just in case no one has told you yet–IT IS OKAY FOR YOU TO CARE ABOUT THAT. There are a lot of reasons to get upset about this story. Some rich, sadistic jackass paid $55,000 to kill a giant, healthy, beautiful animal that was living in a protected national park. They lured him out of the park by dragging a carcass behind their truck, they shined a spotlight on him as he ate, and then Walter Palmer shot him with a crossbow as he ate his dinner—missing his vitals, and sending him running away and dying slowly while they tracked him for 40 hours. Then they skinned him, cut his head off as a trophy, and attempted to destroy the radio collar he was wearing.

And if you’re not outraged by Cecil being killed, that doesn’t make you a bad person either. While I was talking about this story, my wife said, “I think my 'carer' is full….” Some people don’t have the capacity to care about another thing. And that’s okay too.

And if you’re not outraged by Cecil being killed, that doesn’t make you a bad person either. While I was talking about this story, my wife said, “I think my ‘carer’ is full….” Some people don’t have the capacity to care about another thing. And that’s okay too.

Here’s the thing: If you kill an animal for fun, it doesn’t make you a “hunter.” It makes you a person who fits the description of a serial killer. And it makes you a really gross human being in my opinion, but it doesn’t make you a hunter. Imagine me posting a picture of myself with a neighborhood dog I had just killed…. What kind of psychopath does something like that? And I eat meat. For me, there are two reasons to kill an animal: 1) If that animal is trying to kill you, and 2) If you’re using it for food. And I realize some of you might think I’m being a hypocrite to think it’s okay to use an animal for food, but not for the joy of having its dead carcass decorate my billiards room… and you may be right. But on the spectrum of things from morally questionable to morally reprehensible, shooting an elephant so that you can show your friends a picture of yourself next to the animal you just killed is way closer to “reprehensible” than eating a hamburger.

Say what you want about this guy.... he's got some nice teeth.

Say what you want about this guy…. he’s got himself some nice teeth.

When a person starts caring about something new, what you’re witnessing is the expanding of human consciousness. And that is something to be celebrated! It is the progressive movement toward the recognition that all life is precious…. and get used to seeing it, because it keeps on happening. It happened when people started saying, “Maybe we shouldn’t own people?” And, “Maybe women should be allowed to vote too?” And, “Maybe we shouldn’t be killing all these buffaloes?” And recently, “Maybe we shouldn’t have a different set of rules for gay folks than we have for the rest of us?” (And as a side note, just in case you’re wondering what privilege is, if you are in the group that decides who gets to be accepted…. That’s what it is. That’s privilege. If some other group of people wins the rights you already have, congratulations: You’re privileged!)

The frustrating this is that really, unless I write this within about 2-3 days of the story, it won't really matter anyway, because the vast majority of people will have forgotten all about it.

The frustrating this is that really, unless I write this within about 2-3 days of the story, it probably won’t matter anyway, because the vast majority of people will have forgotten all about it.

But getting upset at injustice is a good thing…. Even if you know of a greater injustice. Of course a lion getting killed is not as tragic as a human being getting killed—Of course black lives matter more than lion lives matter. And I understand that for those of you who view abortion as the single most important issue, seeing someone pitch a fit about a dead lion on the other side of the planet while seemingly ignoring babies dying here might seem like the height of hypocrisy. But I’ve got news for you: People could just as easily accuse either of these groups of not caring about the “important” stuff as well. There are three countries in Africa where over 20% of the population is HIV positive. There are about 358 million people in Africa without access to clean drinking water, and this is a problem we could fix fairly easily…. If we cared. In fact, just the money Americans spend on one “Black Friday” would be enough to provide every person on the planet with clean drinking water. And drinking dirty water kills thousands of people every day. That’s a lot of black lives…. And that’s a lot of babies.

Who knows…. Maybe if something inside of you starts thinking that a lion’s life matters, you might ask yourself the question, “What other things matter?” Those of us who find ourselves, more and more, caring about things outside of ourselves–We must remember what it was like for us when our consciousness was growing–When (whether it was from ignorance or indifference or just plain old selfishness) we didn’t care as much as we should have. And we can congratulate–we can cheer on–those other people whose souls are learning to love…. Whose souls are growing…. Whose consciousnesses are expanding. That is something to celebrate. Getting mad at someone for caring about this lion being killed without showing enough outrage over Sam DuBose being murdered is like me getting angry at a baby for crawling instead of running. Most of the time, people need to learn to crawl before they learn to run. Celebrate every step toward running!

Posted in 1) Jesus, 2) Politics, 5) Not Quite Sure | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments