Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Loving Day


When I was growing up in the 1970's, I remember people - very serious, studious, well dressed, religious people, with bible in hand, standing in my living room and using the Christian scriptures as a basis for their very strongly held conviction that whites and blacks should not marry.

There were verses, somewhere. Important verses.  WEIGHTY verses, of the the most serious nature and imparting the gravest of warnings to those who would disobey.

And, my God, but they *believed*.
Earnestly, in their bones, with CONVICTION! They believed.
It wasn't a game, or a ruse, or some sort of misdirection designed to justify "hate". They were all-in. It was real. A battle for the soul of America.
In their hearts, they were utterly convinced that they spoke for Almighty God, and were defending the purity of the soul of a nation against the nefarious agents that would serve to corrupt it.

And they had ARGUMENTS!  Arguments, I will grant, that inferred racial context in old testament purity codes, but, still - ARGUMENTS!

Fast forward to 2015:
Those same sorts of people now use those same sorts of scriptures and arguments as the basis for their strongly-held position that gays should not marry.
They've got verses! Important verses.  WEIGHTY verses, of the the most serious nature and imparting the gravest of warnings to those who would disobey.

And arguments! Arguments, I will grant, that seem to largely involve animals and toasters, the occasional misreading of scripture, and a bizarre position that our nation is "Christian" in the same way that ancient Israel was Jewish.

But, still - ARGUMENTS!

It's real! It's a battle for the soul of America, and they're all-in.

They don't stand in my living room anymore, because after years of being defined as their enemy and characterized in the most vicious terms imaginable, as a representative of all that is wrong in the nation and world, I could no longer bear their presence.

BUT, they stand somewhere, even now, and proclaim in the same way as before the "truth" of their position. Not a quiet, personal truth about how "I" should live "my" life, in a "sinful" world, as a "stranger in a strange land", or a "pilgrim" passing through.

By No Means!
This is a truth for all! All of US! The elite, the exceptional, the *chosen* nation, blessed by almighty God to become the almighty Empire, triumphant!

And, oh ... ( a solitary tear rolls from left eye) ... you unbeliever ... if you disobey.
... the consequences ...

But, I've seen this movie before. I know how it ends.

A) Alienated people give up on a church that is more and more focused on, in this case, their naughty bits, and less and less relevant to their spiritual life. The church, in turn, becomes ever more isolated and cut off from any opinions that might challenge their apocalyptic and culture-war-centric world-view.
B) The rest of us will roll our eyes at them, and
C) Gays will get to marry one another.
D) Good, earnest, honest believers will continue be mislead by the idols they've erected in their sanctuary; Idols of culture, nationalism, conservative politics, militarism, and on and on, because no one they can hear will challenge those positions.

It's OK, though. They are diminishing in our national conversation. My children will live free of them. Those who pass laws to force others to abide by their beliefs will be defeated. Personal Freedoms, at length, will prevail.

And maybe, just maybe, quite in spite of them, we will learn to be one nation, under God, with liberty and justice for ALL.

Friday, May 29, 2015

Great - Have some food. On me.

Right. So ...

the other day, I'm at the local quickie-mart.

I'm there because I'm a shameless Pepsi addict, and I'm feenin'.  
All I can think about is the wave of joy that will wash over me when I get that first hit of my bubbly, burp-y, burn-y sugar-fix.

Day before payday. Multiple proms and band trips and a graduation and an unfunded bathroom project and some unexpected car expenses and dental work for two kids and hospital bills and Lord-only-knows-what other demands on my finances, as unexpected as they are unavoidable, have hit all at once, and they have drained my checking and savings accounts, utterly.

So, here's me, feeling very sorry for myself, indeed. Feeling like I'm working my life away and have nothing to show for it; hitting the soda-bottle for that sweet, sweet pick-me-up to get through another day of making some other guy really rich, and scoring my fix with change I scrounged from the change jar.  

And that's when I see her.

Right in front of me stands this girl; old enough to have a baby with her, but not beyond her early 20's, surely. She's wearing dirty pj's and buying that same Pepsi, and a slice of pizza as a bonus, with what appears to be some sort of government card.

I have to confess that, in that moment,  I was overwhelmed with this sense that I'm quite literally working my life away to pay for her Pepsi and Pizza when she couldn't be bothered to even wash her PJ's.

So, let me start by just acknowledging that I GET IT.

I really do get it. I get that impulse that I see so many of you expressing on a daily basis on the facebooks. Meme's like this one:

Government assistance isn't paid by the rich, it's paid by the guy working 70 hours a week who can't afford what you're buying, 

Yep. Spot on. I hear ya'.  

Frustrating! Irritating! Unfair! I get it.

I find that the conversation around this comes down to this:
One side wants Karma to work, and the other side doesn't. 


You make bad decisions, and you end up with a crappy life. Your parents make bad decisions, and you have either to work extra hard to overcome them, or you end up with a crappy life. Someone does something horrible to you and sets your world spinning off kilter, you have to overcome that, or live a crappy life. 

I get that perspective.

I just don't agree with it.  

In spite of the way I felt in that moment, I don't agree with the sentiment that we should not be feeding poor people. Even poor people who have made, and continue to make, bad decisions (such as wearing dirty PJ's out to buy soda and a slice of pizza).

At a fundamental level, here's why: 
And this: 

And, finally, because I believe that government is not this externalized beast that is up to no good.

Government is us. The government that I am determined to FIGHT for is not what's being done to us, but what we choose to do together!

I believe in a government of the people, by the people, and for the people. 

Saying it is not the government's place to take care of the poor is exactly like saying it's not MY place to take care of the poor.  

No, it is EXACTLY saying that it is not my place to take care of the poor.

Are they undeserving? Maybe. Maybe not. Who knows. Let's assume they are. And then, let's feed them, anyway.

In fact, in the list of all the things that a rich nation might give to the undeserving, I would think that FOOD would be at the top, wouldn't you?! Yeah, you're not the greatest, but here: let's not let you starve...

So, you're lazy? You're stupid? You're ugly? You have no social skills? You have a mental or physical disability? You have made terrible decisions resulting in a criminal record and no one will hire you? You continue to make terrible, impulsive financial decisions that lead to absurdities like you're owning an iPhone but not being able to buy groceries

You are completely unlovable and I can't stand to be in the miasma you create for more than a few seconds?

Great - Have some food. On me.

In Jesus' name, amen.