A Quick History Lesson about a “Quick History Lesson”

historylesson

This meme was posted by a friend on Facebook. I really wanted to tell them it was nonsense, but we’ve had so many discussions on how they don’t know or understand history and yet they don’t wake up.  I wonder if it’s even worth discussing it with them anymore. I grew up like them, so I understand what they were trying to say but this meme is nonsense to me.

Some people might look at this and say the republicans are always on the right side. While others will look at it and say the republicans haven’t done a thing in 150 years. The truth of course is some place in between. Neither political party is all good or all bad no matter what you’ve been told. I grew up being taught that the Republican Party was God’s party. What a joke! God isn’t political. Man is. When politicians talk about God, most of the time they just want your vote.

Ok, off my soap box for a minute and back to the meme.

If you understood the political voting in America you might ask why do some areas of the country always vote one way or the other? Why do the one time confederate states now vote heavily republican now and the one time union vote heavily Democrat? When up to the 1950’s it was completely the opposite? What caused the shift? And does it matter. Yes,  At least I believe it does.

If we really understood what the meme said you’d know that some things never change but others do. But it may not be what you think.

In the 1960’s the Democrats held the oval office but the republicans owned congress. There was a battle over civil rights. Not unlike today. In the 1960’s it was the black civil rights movement. Have you ever wondered why since the Republicans freed the slaves and gave the African Americans the right to vote et el why today they vote heavily Democrat?

The Civil rights act of 1964 seemed to change a lot. President LBJ said after its passing that “”I think we’ve just delivered the South to the Republican Party for the rest of my life, and yours.” Why did he think so? The south was still very anti-equal rights and highly democratic. The southerners felt betrayed by their party and flipped sides. The next two elections were landslides for the Republican Party as the country elected Nixon to the Whitehouse. The Republicans controlled the Whitehouse for 20 out of the next 24 years becoming more conservative as they were led by Jerry Falwell, Pat Robertson and others who then chased the liberal wing to the democratic party. If it wasn’t for Watergate the Democrats might not have won any of those elections.

In the 1860’s the Republicans were the radical liberals fighting for equality, but not today. That has changed. What hasn’t changed is that the conservatives don’t want that equality. In both cases the conservatives used the Bible to say they were right. Slavery is ok according to the Bible and homosexuality is wrong according to the Bible.

As an ordained pastor in a very conservative denomination I know that people will use the Bible or their religion to support their bigotry. That’s what the Pharisees did and that’s what a lot of the church does today. Some things never change. But there are real followers of Christ that teach love for all. Glad that doesn’t change. Just wish there were more.

So, whether you agree with it or not with the meme it basically says most liberals vote for equality while most conservatives continue to vote for themselves.  It has nothing to do with the political parties.

Vote totals for “Civil Rights act of 1964”

Totals are in “YeaNay

  • The original House version: 290–130   (69–31%).
  • Cloture in the Senate: 71–29   (71–29%).
  • The Senate version: 73–27   (73–27%).
  • The Senate version, as voted on by the House: 289–126   (70–30%).

By party

The original House version:

  • Democratic Party: 152–96   (61–39%)
  • Republican Party: 138–34   (80–20%)

Cloture in the Senate:

  • Democratic Party: 44–23   (66–34%)
  • Republican Party: 27–6   (82–18%)

The Senate version:

  • Democratic Party: 46–21   (69–31%)
  • Republican Party: 27–6   (82–18%)

The Senate version, voted on by the House:

  • Democratic Party: 153–91   (63–37%)
  • Republican Party: 136–35   (80–20%)

http://www.archives.gov/publications/prologue/2004/summer/civil-rights-act-2.html

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Civil_Rights_Act_of_1964

http://www.270towin.com/states/

Jesus, No Stable, Just Love

love-your-neighbour-as-yourself

But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people.
 Luke 2:10

Merry Christmas or whatever your holiday is this holiday season.  I hope you have or are having a good one.  I am a Christian but don’t hold to the traditional look at the Christmas story.  I don’t think Jesus was born in a barn or cave, but in a home of Joseph’s relatives.  He did after all go to Bethlehem because he was from there.  The word that Luke uses for inn when we translate “there was no room in the inn” is the same word that is used for the “upper room” at the last supper.  Now I don’t know about you, but I never pictured the last supper in the Holiday Inn banquet hall.  Ok, that’s stretching it a little.  But what makes more sense that Joseph and Mary were visiting relatives and when she was reading to give birth they moved her to a bigger room or they were traveling and about to give birth and some jerk throws them in a stable?  Especially when you think about the importance of hospitality in that region during that time and before.  The Old testament has many verses about taking care of the stranger or traveler so it was important to them to do that.

If you are wondering about the manger,…. Many people kept their animals in the house at night for the extra body heat.  They would keep a small manger filled with food in the home to keep the animals quiet at night.  I wish that worked with my cats.

Do we know about what year he was born?  Absolutely not.  Everyone says 4-6 BCE because they  only read Matthews account talking about Herod the Great.  Yes, He died in 4 BCE so that should make Jesus born before that date.  That would work except that Luke says that Jesus was born while Quirinius who took the position in 6 CE.  That’s 10 years after Herod died.  Hmmmm Can’t exactly make the stories not fit can we.  Yes he was the Legate of Galatia from 5-3 BCE but that isn’t the word that Luke uses.

So we either have to admit that Luke is wrong or our tradition is wrong about the time of the birth.

Now we could sit and debate about whether I’m right or wrong, but that isn’t really what is important.  What is important is what the birth of Jesus represents.  It’s a change.  A big Change that calls to us all.

Throughout the book of Deuteronomy, judges and the books of Samuel and the Kings there is a cycle that is continued to be pointed to that Matthew points to.  the Deuteronomy cycle is basically this.  You are in good standing with God, you commit sins, you are punished and a Messiah (judge, good King) comes and brings you back to good standing.

The Jews at that time would have felt they were in bad standing and Jesus is pointed out as the Messiah.  The one that would lead them back to good standing.  He would lead them into caring about one another and not following some religious laws or tradition that has been made up.  Jesus calls us to love and sacrifice.  He said the greatest command was to Love God and love your neighbor as yourself and then he showed the way by sacrificing himself for this idea.  When he says to take up your cross he is saying you better be willing to die as a revolutionary.  Not necessarily a revolutionary against the government, but against any group or organization that holds to ideas that are hurtful to people.

A true Christian follows in the steps of Jesus, Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr. and fights for the poor, oppressed, persecuted, underprivileged and victimized.  Just like Jesus fought for women and foreigners we must continue to change the world as he did.  To do that we have to see each other as someone to be loved, no matter what they are liked or what your religion has taught you to think of them.

When it all comes down to what is important, those traditions aren’t important. It’s whether you actually love.  Are you willing to sacrifice it all and make the change?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quirinius

Choose Love not Hate

love all

“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.  By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”  Gospel of John 13:34 & 35

 

June 29, 1964 a sweeping civil rights bill passed the United States Senate after 83 days of filibusters from its opponents. This was in the middle of the Black civil rights movement. The 19 senators from both parties were mostly from the south.
When the vote finally took place it was an over whelming vote of 73-27 in favor. So, 19 people with an agenda of hate stopped progress for nearly 3 months. Nothing could be voted on during that time that they stopped everything. That saddens me. What is even sadder is that that kind of hate is still around.
We still have a long way to go regarding civil rights. Yes it is better, but it has a long way to go. In the past few years there have been laws passed trying to stop the LBGT Civil Rights movement. Kids who are running to America for help are hated. Many want troops sent to the border.
In recent years states like Arizona, Missouri, and Tennessee have tried to pass laws trying to stop the LBGT movement. Laws like homosexuality being illegal to discuss in school or being able to not serve a customer if they are gay. Thankfully those laws have not passed.
This morning my pastor spoke on being nice to one another. Why can’t we be nice? That’s a good question. One thing he said is so very true. I can’t exactly quote him but here are the basics of what he said. “If you hear God telling you to hurt someone, to be mean to them, to do damage to them, it is not of God and you’d better see your doctor and get some medication.” If God is love, and I think God is love, then those that follow God can do no harm to others.
The saddest part of today’s Civil Rights movement is that the Church is one of the most vocal against people that it should love. It is not love to fight against a person’s rights. It’s just mean and selfish. It has nothing to do with God or the Bible. I almost want to say it’s Satanic but this isn’t Satan doing this. It’s people making a choice to hate instead of love.
President Johnson had a choice too. He was from the Deep South. Texas. He feared that passing this bill would hurt the democrats in the south. He feared his party would lose control of those areas. He was right. Many of those areas turned Republican. Johnson however knew it was the right thing to do.
I wish more people, not just out leaders thought like this. Doing what is right instead of what would benefit us the best. What if we started thinking of others first? If we put each other first we would not need an act of congress for Civil rights. It would simply be a normal part of life.
Next time you see someone different from you don’t think of them in negative terms. Think about what you could learn from them. Think about what their culture can bring to you. It will open up new and exciting times of growth that will benefit us all.

https://uk.news.yahoo.com/on-this-day–record-83-day-senate-filibuster-against-u-s–civil-rights-act-ends-165011753.html#vxAD9IM
http://thinkprogress.org/lgbt/2014/02/03/3241421/9-state-gay-propaganda-laws/

I know what Jesus Meant! So just follow me!

 I'M RIGHT

As I write this, yesterday was the anniversary of the start of the Council of Ephesus in 431 CE. The council was there to discuss whether Mary the mother of Jesus was the Christ bearer or the God bearer. At the end of the council the decision was in favor of the “God bearer” and those siding with the “Christ bearer” were kicked out of the church or left on their own. Those who left continued to worship Christ and God in their own way, establishing their own brand of Christianity.

I grew up part of the Wesleyan church. It was named after John and Charles Wesley who were kicked out of the Anglican Church which had left the Catholic Church. The Wesley’s then started the Methodist church. The Wesleyan church split from the Methodist church over how they chose their pastors and the slavery issue. For a while it was called the Wesleyan Methodist church but then merged with the Pilgrim Holiness church and formed the Wesleyan church. You will find some Wesleyan Methodist churches still around, because they left when the merger took place.

According to Wikipedia there are over 41,000 different denominations in the world. Did you get that? I thought we were supposed to be one. Anyway, this kind of got me thinking. How many times has the church had a schism and kicked someone out only for them to start a new brand of Christianity? Or how many times did a group leave because they didn’t see Christianity in the same way that they others did? And who really has the truth? How do we know that our brand of Christianity is the truth? It is only our brand because it was Spirit of God choosing it to be the victor. At least that’s what we are told. However most of these were simply church votes.

I’ve been to many church and denominational meetings about many different things and there is no real looking to the spirit to answer the questions before us. We vote for what we want and decide that is what God wants. How do we know that these councils were any different?

Then there is the Bible. How many of you actually know that there are several different books in other denominations around the world? The protestant bible in America has 66 books, the catholic bible has 73, the Greek orthodox has 76 etc… So who has the correct bible? All of us started as one and yet we can’t even agree on our text. What if there should be more books? What about fewer books? When the bible was first put together it wasn’t some divine intervention, it was several church councils.

So how can anyone say they really have the truth? We really only have what has been passed down to us by those in charge. It was that kind of person that Jesus yelled at repeatedly for abuse. How many times over the last 2000 years has our theology changed? A council in the early 300’s (Council of Nicaea) decided Jesus was indeed God; everyone else is free to leave. Another council 100 years later decided that the Spirit was also God. Several councils took this under consideration before it became orthodox. So it took the church 300 years to settle on that Jesus was actually God and another 100 years to create the Trinity. Those things that we hold so dearly today and without believing in them many would say that you could not be a Christian. What about those people in the first few centuries when that belief was not orthodox?

Anyway, for those that think they have it all together in their theology, maybe you really don’t. Maybe you shouldn’t be so quick to say “the Bible tells me so” or “the bible says it and that settles it”, because if anything the Bible hasn’t settled anything. In fact those who think they know the Bible seem to split the church apart. So being right in doctrine does not seem to work for the church. Maybe we should try to be right with each other instead. Jesus did say “love your neighbor” but I don’t remember him ever saying get your doctrine right.

 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Council_of_Ephesus

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Timeline_of_the_Catholic_Church

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Christian_denominations

Questioning our beliefs makes us grow.

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“Religious belief, like history itself, is a story that is always unfolding, always subject to inquiry and ripe for questioning. For without doubt there is no faith.”

Jon Meacham.

 

A decade or so ago, I read a book called “20 Hot Potatoes Christians are Afraid to Ask”. I was reminded of this book this past week in part because of Jars of Clay’s lead singer Dan Haseltine’s question. All he asked was “Not meaning to stir things up BUT… Is there a non-speculative or non “slippery slope” reason why gays shouldn’t marry? I don’t hear one.” And then followed it with “I’m trying to make sense of the conservative argument. But it doesn’t hold up to basic scrutiny. Feels akin to women’s suffrage.”

All he did was ask a question and then was berated for okaying LBGT people, gay rights etc… Why attack someone for asking a question?

Then a day or two later a friend of mine posted a meme that asked a question of Christians. It was a conversation between an Eskimo and a Christian. Eskimo: ‘If I did not know about God and sin, would I go to hell?’ Priest: ‘No, not if you did not know.’ Eskimo: ‘Then why did you tell me?’ I found that to be a legitimate question and luckily no one jumped his case.

At my last church it was impossible to really ask questions. They were either ignored or ignored. It was either a roll of the eyes and “anyone else have anything to add?” question or you were given the “this is what the denomination’s beliefs are” speech. No answers, only frustration.

If the church does not allow questions how can it grow? Jesus was always asking questions of the religious leaders of the day. “What do you think about the Messiah? Whose son is he?” “The son of David,” they replied (Matt 22:41). The religious leaders also questioned Jesus many times. Jesus never told them to stop asking, but he hoped by hearing his answers they would learn something.

Questions are to help us think. To help us try to understand what the teacher is trying to teach. Most people aren’t trying to trick the teacher or pastor. They really want to know, to learn. However, many church leaders discourage questions. They want people to just take their word, because they are the teacher or pastor. Obviously they know what they are talking about.

I feel that if a pastor or teacher does not allow questions, they are a lecturer, not a teacher. A teacher encourages others to think for themselves, a pastor leads people to the answer but doesn’t give it to them. He allows people to find the answer for themselves. Many churches and their leaders today, find these questions dangerous. It was only dangerous because they feel their power slipping away.

As I write this it is the anniversary of the day that John Wycliffe and Jon Hus were condemned at the council of Constance. Two people who merely asked why. Why do we pay indulgences? Why can’t the people read the Bible? Does not seem like the church or its people have changed much does it?

It seems like anyone who questions the teachings of the church gets ridiculed by those who have to hold on to that belief. It often seems to be when we question our beliefs that it is an attack of Satan or “how can you question God?” types of responses. There does not seem to be a path of meaningful dialogue. It’s “Why?” and in response, “You’re going to Hell.” Not “Why?” and in response “Why do you feel that way?”

The thing is people believe that if you ask a question you are questioning God, but really it questions the human theology. Humans make mistakes, so our theology should not be set in stone and yet we hold on so tightly to our man made ways of thinking.   If your theology can never be wrong then maybe, just maybe, deep inside you are questioning it too, but are afraid to let it out. If not, then at least be open to listening instead of berating those who question something. They are thinking and learning and growing. Something we all should be doing.  Theology has changed over and over in the 1900 years of Christianity and if Christianity wants to continue it must continue to change.  But it will only change if we are allowed to ask questions.

So, I encourage you to go ahead and ask. Keep asking until you understand, even if that is 50 years from now.   “The key to wisdom is this- constant and frequent questioning, for by doubting we are led to question and by questioning we arrive at the truth.” Peter Abelard.

 

http://www.thewire.com/politics/2014/04/jars-of-clays-christian-fans-lash-out-after-the-lead-singer-tweets-for-same-sex-marriage/361256/

http://www.glaad.org/blog/jars-clay-frontman-posts-apology-stands-support-lgbt-equality

The meme http://www.whyistheresomething.com/answer/going-to-hell

Bearing Arms, A Right

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I don’t know how many people have actually looked up to see what it says.  Most people seem to believe that it says that the average American should be able to own a gun without any regulations.  That anyone should be able to go into a gun shop and walk out with whatever they are able to afford.  No questions asked.   I am a gun owner.  I have owned a gun for most of my life, but I find it odd that good people would not want some kind of regulations on who might be able to buy a lethal weapon.

The following is the entire second amendment.

Amendment II

“A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”

First note is that it states “A well regulated Militia”.  To me “well regulated” means that there are laws controlling it from getting out of hand.  I don’t see how we can have”well regulated” guns without laws to manage them.   The definition of regulate is to “control or maintain the rate or speed of (a machine or process) so that it operates properly.”  I personally have no problem with regulating guns based on this definition.  I don’t see that the government is doing anything differently than this either.  What I have seen is that it’s OK when a Republican congress or president regulates, but when a democrat does it, it is not OK.

I remember Reagan trying to regulate guns back in the 1980’s but I didn’t hear people yelling back then.  But they did when Clinton tried to pass regulations (that started under Reagan) and now there is complaining as President Obama wants to.  I don’t remember either Bush trying to regulate anything with guns.

Secondly the amendment says it is for the “security of a free state.”  This statement means keeping America free from outside attacks.  I don’t know how someone having a gun without regulations is going to keep America free.  If Russia, China, or whoever attacks we have the military to defend us.  When this amendment was written we did not have a large military.  Local militias were our main defense, so we needed people to own guns in case the British attacked like they did in 1812.

Today only China has more people in the military than the United States. In the late 1700’s when this amendment was put into place we didn’t have much of anything.  By the war of 1812 the British had nearly 1/4 of a million troops compared to 7,000 in the U.S. military so we needed people to have guns.  When Napoleon invaded Russia in 1812 he had over half a million troops.  We were tiny and insignificant.  We needed anything and everything we could get to defend ourselves.  We did eventually get up to the mid 40,000 during the war, but there was still a big disparity.

With the invention of planes, rockets, tanks and so much more, the idea of a militia has become obsolete, like maybe this amendment has.  We have no need today for an active militia because we have such a large military.  Militias in the way that the amendment was written no longer exist and haven’t for a century.

Thirdly, what is wrong with background checks on people who want to own guns?  Do you want criminals to go buy guns?  If you take away regulations then they will be able to walk into a store and buy one just like anyone.  No questions asked.  Of course they may go steal one, but it would be less risky to simply buy one without questions so that they can go rob that gas station or shoot their neighbor, spouse, or whomever they are ticked off at at that moment.

Is there something wrong with banning assault weapons?  Who needs one?  You can’t hunt with one.  I can defend my family easier with a handgun than I could an assault weapon, especially at close range.

Another thing the Obama administration would like is to limit ammunition magazines to a 10-round capacity.  I don’t understand why you’d want more rounds than that.  Realistically if you haven’t hit your target in two shots, it’s gone.  So what would you need a gun with so many rounds for?

I have never been given a good reason as to why someone wants these types of weapons or that much fire power.  I have never been given a good reason for why a person should not have patience and wait a couple days to be approved for a gun.  I find the reasons given to be selfish and impatient.  I want it and I want it NOW!  No one should be able to tell me what to do, what I can have or what I can do with it.  That is how those who fight against gun control sound to me.  Maybe they need a good time out.

For me the whole issue is about safety. Safety for you, your kids, your family, your neighborhood.  If you have not done anything wrong then there is no reason to not want regulations.  You will still be able to get your gun.  I don’t think any of us wants a gun in the hands of someone who is unstable or has a history of violence.  Those people will be denied.  The less available guns are to people like that, the better and safer society will be.  Yes, I know that criminals will just go out and steal a gun or buy one illegally, but the harder we make it for them the better and safer we will be.

Hope this helps you better understand the the second amendment.

http://www.infoplease.com/spot/guntime1.html

The Definition of Marriage

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Answering the Gay Question Part 4

What does the Bible say about marriage?

There has been a lot of talk about what the definition of marriage is in this country.  Is it between a man and a woman or between two people regardless of sex?  The conservative Christians hold to the idea that the Bible states that marriage should be between a man and a woman.  After all God created Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve.

There is really very little consistency in the books of the Bible as to what really defines marriage.  Shall we have one spouse or multiple?  Is divorce ok or not?  Exodus 22:16 says that if a man rapes a women all he has to do is pay a price and he gets to marry her.  Good thing we don’t follow that one today.  I have found only one verse (1 Timothy 3:2 & 12) that says a man should only have one wife.  In that instance the writer is specifically talking about overseers and deacons and not necessarily about everyone.

What about Jesus?  Jesus didn’t really say much about who should marry.  His main statement is that there should be no divorce and boy we aren’t very good with that one.  In that verse he says, “But I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for marital unfaithfulness, causes her to become an adulterer, and anyone who marries the divorced woman commits adultery.”  Matthew 5:22.  Many people argue that since Jesus said wife and did not talk about a husband’s husband or a wife’s wife that marriage is between a man and a woman.  My question to them would be why would he?  The question of homosexual marriage was not happening in their time.  If he started talking about irrelevant things then he would have become irrelevant.

Going back further to Adam (or Mankind as it could be translated, Eve meaning the source of life), there is a contradiction in the two creation stories that is worth looking at.  Many discuss that the two become flesh as meaning that God wanted male and female to partner up in marriage.  However in Genesis 1:27 it says that God created man (Adam) in his own image, in the image of God he created him, Male and Female he created them.  So they are already of the same material.  They are already of the same flesh.  So why would God (Elohim) in Genesis 1 create them in the same image and God (Yaweh), in chapter two create them differently?  Which is correct?

In Genesis 3 the story continues and Yaweh declares that the woman will be ruled by the male. (Vs. 16) By the way, that belief in male domination is about the only consistent marital connection throughout the Bible.

Also we must take into consideration that the writers of Genesis lived in the days when a man could have multiple wives and taught according to that belief.  Paul however said that you should only get married if you burn for another.  1 Corinthians 7:9-10.

1 Corinthians 7 also says that divorce is ok in some circumstances, that according to Jesus was not.  But according to the Pentateuch it is ok.  So which is right?  Isn’t Jesus supposed to be the final answer and yet our churches are full of divorced people?  Many of them are in leadership too, but that isn’t what the writer of Timothy says.

Colossians 3:18-19, 1 Peter 3:1 and Ephesians 5:22-33 all tell women to submit to their husbands as we do to the Lord.  There is no equality in this. We submit all things to the lord.  Our entire life is given up and we serve him faithfully.   Is this what women want? Do women want to serve the husband?  To give up their entire life and follow the man wherever he goes without getting explanations?

Of course we have rejected this idea and want a partnership in marriage.  We want one spouse for life.  But if that somehow does not work out, there is forgiveness and you can be reinstated in the church and in life.  There is no real sound definition in the Bible.  The only definition is what we want to believe it is.  Maybe that is how God left it.  For us to decide who we want to love.  After all, he loves us all and created us all, so why shouldn’t we be able to love that person who God created for us?