Category Archives: grace

What the Hell, America???

diving-into-the-abyssWe did it, we really did it. I truly thought that we might skate right up to the edge of the abyss that is the hate-filled shitshow  known as
“The Trump campaign”, but would heed the call of the better angels of our nature and step back. But, we didn’t. We dove in, head-fucking-first and made orange-hued disaster zone Donald Trump President of the United States. Way to go, America. Way to fucking go.

Before I go any further, I just want to say that if you voted for Trump you’re still my neighbor and I still love you. I mean that with all my heart. But, I have to say, I am extremely disappointed in you. Why? Because when you voted for Trump, you told people who are black, Latino, Muslim, LGBTQ, women,…, basically, anyone who isn’t a straight, white man that you don’t give a fuck about them.

How do I come to that conclusion? Let’s break it down by the numbers:

  1. Donald Trump received the endorsement and support of the Ku Klux Klan, Nazi’s, white nationalists, and Alt-right trolls. He’s not the first to win the backing those odious groups, but he is the first in a long, long time who didn’t immediately repudiate it. In fact, he added a couple of white nationalist activists to his campaign staff.
  2. In the very first speech he gave, Trump called people from Mexico rapists, drug mules, criminals, etc. To be fair, he did say, “…some, I assume, are good people” (italics mine). Throughout his campaign, he has talked about massive deportations, building a wall and more.
  3. Trump has called for a ban on Muslims entering the country and greatly increased surveillance (including a database for Syrian refugees). All to fight “Islamic terrorism”. He also attacked the Khan’s, a Gold Star family who just happens to be Muslim.
  4. Trump opposes marriage equality and transgender bathroom access and supports the First Amendment Defense Act (which basically legalizes discrimination as long as it based in a “deeply-held religious belief). His VP, Mike Pence, believes deeply in conversion therapy (which has been rejected by all major health professions).
  5. Do I really need to detail Trump’s incredibly awful history with women? I guess so, since quite a few women voted for him. Donald Trump is a documented womanizer and misogynist. He may be guilty of sexual assault and has been accused of raping a 13 year old girl.

This is the man we chose to lead our “Christian nation”.

Several of my friends are hurting right now and most of what they’re saying can be summed by this post from Jasmin Pittman-Morell:

Didn’t sleep very well last night. Fear won out over calls to love or healing or unity across racial/socio-economic/political divides. Grieving and wondering, now what?

Indeed, now what? First of all, we should keep in mind that, as bleak as it looks right now, there is a bit of silver lining: Hillary Clinton is actually ahead in the popular vote. While that doesn’t help much with political stuff, it is heartening to know that the majority of Americans aren’t as racist/sexist/homophobic/Islamophobic as it may seem. Second, we roll up our sleeves and get to work so this kind of shit doesn’t happen again.  Third, we hold our breath and hope that the system of checks and balances our Founding Fathers put in place work to restrain Trump’s more dictatorial impulses. I realize that’s not much, but it’s all we’ve got right now.

10 Things You Can’t Do And Call Yourself A Progressive Christian

onedoesnotsimplyprovideevidencememe
An example of #3

The Progressive Edition

A certain popular progressive Christian blogger has made a name for himself with a series of posts titled “10 Things You Can’t _________”. These lists make some really good points, but I have a slight problem with them: they’re all directed at conservative, evangelical and/or fundamentalist Christians. That’s a problem for me  because it smacks of the “Not all Christians” thing. God knows progressive Christians aren’t saints, however much we’d like to think otherwise. So, I came up with my own list. And, I’ll go ahead and say you probably aren’t going to like it.

  1. You can’t call Trump supporters “deplorables”. Or “racists”, or “ignorant”, or any of the other epithets that get thrown at them. It doesn’t matter whether it’s true or not. Jesus told us to love our neighbors and I’m pretty sure telling someone that they’re “deplorable” isn’t what he’d consider “loving”.
  2. You can’t tell everyone “I can’t vote for him/her. I’m voting my conscience.” Don’t misunderstand me, I’m not saying you can’t vote your conscience, just that you can’t be a condescending ass about it. Because, no matter what you think you think, that’s the way you come across when you say this. The same goes for “Choosing the lesser of two evils is still choosing evil.”
  3. You can’t call people out for taking advantage of “white privilege” while doing the same thing yourself. See #2 above.
  4.  You can’t pontificate on what you’d do if ________. What I’m talking about here is something I wrote about last week. I’ve seen several progressive bloggers write about what they’d do if one of their kids turned out to LGBTQ. It’s the “if” that’s the problem here. If you don’t have a gay kid (or have any kids at all), shut the fuck up and let people who actually live this reality talk about it.
  5. You can’t put words in people’s mouths. Or thoughts, or ideas, or pretty much anything else. It’s wrong. Don’t think progressives do this? Tell you what, google “progressive Christian memes” and then we’ll talk.
  6. You can’t marginalize people because of they lack the “proper” educational credentials. Don’t think this is happening? Take a look at the roster of speakers at any progressive Christian event. I can almost guarantee you won’t find anyone who doesn’t at least have a masters degree. And, don’t get me wrong, I’m not against education. Hell, I’m going into some serious debt right now because I believe in it so much. But, progressive Christianity has to open it’s eyes and see that there are people out here who have important things to say that are being ignored because they don’t have any letters after their name.
  7. You can’t attack everything a person believes in. This is less about the message than the way you present it. Granted, some of the things Christians believe need to be challenged because they are, to put bluntly, fucked up. But, going all “scorched earth” on a conservative Christian’s belief that “the homosexual lifestyle” is a sin won’t get you where you want to go. Unless where you want to go is making yourself feel superior to “those people”. If that’s the case, you are definitely on the right track.
  8. You can’t block people on social media because you don’t like what they say. It goes back to that “love your neighbor” bit. Is it hard? God damn right it is. But, I think that’s what Jesus was talking about when he said “Take up your cross and follow me.”
  9. You can’t be a condescending douche. If you’re thinking most of the items on this list are covered in this point, you’re right. This attitude of theological and moral superiority (that borders on arrogance) may be progressive Christianity’s greatest sin. Don’t you think it’s about time we started working on it.
  10. And, last, you can’t make lists telling people what they can and can’t do as a Christian. This pretty much negates everything I’ve said up to now and that’s the point. I don’t think we get to be the arbiter of what is “Christian” and what isn’t. It really gets on my nerves when some hard-core conservative tells me that I’m not a Christian because I believe in full inclusion, reject the idea of Hell, that I’m “pro-life”, etc. Doing the same thing to them seems kind of shitty.

DNC 2016: Hey, At Least We Aren’t Insane

     Well, the Democratic National Convention wound up last night and I have to say, from a comedy standpoint, it was boring as fuck. To be fair, though, it did have a hard act to follow. But then, next to the shitstorm that blew through Cleveland last week, “Blazing Saddles” (widely acknowledged as one of the funniest movies of all time) would seem like a big yawn. Of course, comedy isn’t everything and from a “save the damn country” outlook,  DNC 2016 was awesome.
     That’s not to say, however, that the event was devoid of whimsy. From Corey Booker’s address being totally overshadowed by the First Lady, to Hillary’s thorough lambasting of The Donald last night, there were some decent moments. As I did with the Republican’s soirée earlier this week, I’d like to offer a few observations on Hillary’s coming out party.
     As I mentioned just a minute ago, Corey Booker gave the speech of his life Monday night. It should have been his moment in the sun, his “Obama in ’04” moment. Unfortunately, he was completely upstaged by Michelle Obama. To be fair, he wasn’t the only one; no one seems to remember what came before or after Michelle’s address. Diana pointed out the Republicans didn’t offer any young, up and coming voices a chance to shine on the national stage. I said that’s because Trump didn’t want share the spotlight with anyone. It may be a moot point, though. I mean, if Trump wins, there may be another election for any young, up and coming voices to take part in.
     A recurring theme throughout the convention was that Hillary is first female nominee for president. Yeah, about that.., Hillary is the first woman to nominated by a major party. You see, the actual “First Woman Presidential Nominee” was Victoria Woodhull who was nominated by the Equal Rights Party in 1872. I’m not trying to take away from Hillary’s accomplishment, but Woodhull was nominated for the highest office in the land 52 years before women were even granted the right to vote. You’ve got to admit, that’s pretty damn impressive.
     The DNC wasn’t without its drama, either. Monday night was punctuated by a goodly amount of booing. It seems that some Sanders supporters who were singularly unhappy with the outcome of the Democratic primaries. They were even more unhappy when Sarah Silverman told them they were being ridiculous.  Several Bernie or Bust folks took to Twitter, renaming her “Sarah Sellout”. Why, that’s not ridiculous at all!
     But, the drama didn’t end there. When Bernie took the stage in an attempt to heal the rift between the factions, his full-throated endorsement of Clinton reduced many of his supporters to tears. And then, on Tuesday, when Sanders himself moved to nominate Clinton by acclamation and turned all his delegates over to her, many of those delegates walked out. Well, that’s mature.
I’m thinking all of the upset over Clinton’s nomination is best summed up by Seth Meyers: “We don’t have time for this. Donald Trump is ahead in the polls. The house is on fire, stop crying because we’re not putting it out with your hose!”
     Just as Clinton was a frequent target of speakers at the RNC, Trump wasmentioned frequently this week in Philadelphia. And, Hillary in particular didn’t spare his feelings. She questioned his temperament, intelligence, ego and general ability to lead in her address. At one point, she shared this direct quote from the short-fingered vulgarian: I know more about ISIS than the generals do”, replying “No, Donald, you don’t.” The criticism he had already received during the convention had driven Trump to the brink of violence. I can’t wait to see how he reacts to this.
     Perhaps the most interesting thing to come out of the convention is the reaction of some Republicans. Basically, Republicans are stunned and appalled that Democrats have seized the ground that their party abandoned this election cycle. Sorry folks, but that’s what happens when you nominate a narcissistic troll for President.
     Another unhappy Republican said that they heard “a lot more about God and faith at the DNC than the RNC”. Yeah, the RNC didn’t exactly set a high bar for “God and faith”. Other than an overtly partisan speech and prayer by a prosperity gospel preacher, I’m not sure God got mentioned there at all. At the DNC, however, the Almighty was mentioned numerous times.  Most notably by North Carolina’s own Rev. William Barber, called “one of the nation’s most powerful voices” by the Huffington Post. I could write pages on Rev. Barber, but it’d be better if you watched the speech.
     So, both parties have had their big “Look at us!” moments and the slate is set. This time around, we get to choose between a Terminator disguised as a grandmother and opening the seventh seal and ushering the apocalypse. All I can say is “Go Cyberdyne Systems”.

In Praise of the Anti-hero

I think this the logo for a skateboard company. But it's so cool, I just have to use it.
I think this the logo for a skateboard company. But it’s so cool, I just have to use it.

Regular readers here at the Progressive Redneck are probably aware that I’m a bit of a nerd. Not necessarily a classical nerd; I was never a member of the Pocket Protector Alliance and the endless arguments over the best gaming system don’t interest me in the least. If I had to categorize myself, I’d have to say I’m a book nerd. I love the written word; every bit of it, from Shakespeare to the most ridiculous science fiction novel. And, that includes comic books

When I was a kid, after every doctor visit, my mom would stop at the drug store in Pleasant Garden, NC to fill whatever prescription the doctor had written. Every time we walked in the door, I would make a beeline for the comic books and spent the entire visit perusing the selection. This inspection was crucial because, as a reward for not being too much of a pain in the ass, Mama would allow me to pick out one book. I haven’t been in that store for 40 years or more, but this memory is just as vivid as if it happened yesterday.

Comic books have changed since I was kid; they’re darker and more complex. But, a lot of the heroes I remember from those days are still around: Batman, Superman, Captain American, Spiderman, the Fantastic Four, etc. Growing up, Batman was probably my favorite, something about a guy who dressed like a bat to operate as a vigilante appealed to me. I’ve never cared much for Superman; he’s too perfect. Even with all that teen angst bullshit, Spiderman was way more interesting to me.

You may have figured this out already, but I like my heroes just a little…, broken. I guess that’s why I’ve always preferred Marvel over DC, Batman over Superman. In fact, I believe one of the best comic book series ever published is Vertigo’s Hellblazer featuring John Constantine. A sorcerer with a smart mouth and a rather ambiguous moral code, Constantine is the essential anti-hero. And, one of the most interesting characters put to ink in a long time.

I feel the same way about biblical heroes, too. Don’t get me wrong, I love Jesus and all that, but I can’t really relate to the guy. With all the bullshit he had to contend with, he only got mad twice. TWICE. If I had to put up with all the bullshit he did, I’d have been in a constant homocidal rage. Fortunately, there are other characters that are more on my level. Like David, for instance.

David is one of the most human characters in the Bible. He constantly fucks up, from allying with his people’s most implacable enemy, the Philistines, to raping Bathsheba and murdering her husband; we’re talking about one fucked up dude. But, it’s that brokenness makes him so relatable. Every time I read David’s story, I think, “Hey, if this guy can stay in God’s good graces, maybe there’s hope for me.”

Then, there’s Jacob, who could’ve been the model for Deadpool. The guy is an aggravating smart ass with an over developed sense of self-worth and a very flexible morality. He cheated his brother out of his inheritance and skipped town hours ahead of a monumental ass-kicking. Then, he cheated his father-in-law, Laban, on several deals over livestock (to be fair, Laban was just as crooked). But, for some reason, God chose him as patriarch of God’s Chosen People.

Lest you think all the screw ups are in the Old Testament, allow me to present Peter, the disciple who, in the words of my friend, Michael Usey, “starts fast and finishes last”. Peter went from believing that he could walk on water because his rabbi said he could, to denying that he even knew Jesus when the chips were down. But, eventually, he came around. And, it only took his head catching on fire for it to happen.

Iconic heroes are boring. I mean, you always know that Superman is going to do the right thing and save the day. And, guys like Tony Stark/Ironman and Deadpool will, too…, eventually. But, their path won’t be anywhere near as straight as Superman’s. And, it will probably fuck a lot of stuff up. But, I guarantee you, it will be much, much more interesting. And, if we have to go there anyway, why not be entertained along the way?

ADHD and Church

Something I've said more than once.
Something I’ve said more than once.

Those of us who have ADHD often hear some version of “In my day we didn’t have ADHD. We had parents who weren’t afraid to discipline, and kids who were sent outside to play until the lights came on.” Yes, because ADHD isn’t an actual disorder and can be dealt with by letting your kids play outside. Oh, and don’t forget to beat the shit out of them. Because that always works.

Here’s the problem with that line of thought: I grew up in the era it references; I played outside, even after the lights came on (what kind of wuss goes in just because it’s dark?) and I was “disciplined” (and by “disciplined”, I mean “got my ass beat”) on an almost daily basis. And, guess what? I still have a rockin’ case of ADHD. So much for that theory.

While I can’t say I suffer from ADHD, I’m not going to lie and say I enjoy every minute of it, either. Between the fact that society isn’t set up for people with attention deficit and the maroons who try to tell you that it isn’t real, having this condition can be a real pain in the ass. That’s because most things in life cater to “normal” people, not whimsical souls like me. (And by “whimsical souls”, I mean “people with the attention span of a Cocker Spaniel puppy”)

One place that can prove challenging for people with ADHD is church. I know that sounds weird because church is supposed to a refuge, a place where everyone is welcome. And, in general, we are. The challenge comes in long, drawn out prayers and sermons, especially ones that don’t have much going on. Those things? They’re like a slow death for someone with ADHD.

Prayer time is the worst. I bow my head and close my eyes and it’s off to the races. It does not matter how hard I try to concentrate, my mind will take a random phrase from the prayer and go off on some weird free-association spree that defies description. Eventually, if the prayer goes on long enough, I’ll try and pull myself back to reality, only to spin off on another tangent seconds later. This stream-of-consciousness rampage is only halted by the word, “Amen”. Hell, I even do this when I’m praying to myself. The only way to prevent it is to write the prayer down and read it out loud. I’m sure that violates some rule about praying, but I’m past caring.

Sermons are a little better because I can take notes, which helps me focus. Of course, I still miss a few things, but at least it’s because I’m trying to get something worth remembering down on paper and not off in the ozone, daydreaming about traveling the galaxy on Serenity with Mal and his crew. Sadly, I’m not making that up; I’ve actually done it…, as an adult…, during church. Sorry, Michael.

Lest you think I’m whining about how my church isn’t meeting my needs, I’m not. The truth is, College Park does an excellent job at keeping me engaged and I’ve developed coping skills to deal with any problems that I might encounter. No, if I’m whining about anything, it’s living in a society that’s not set up for me and forces me to use those coping skills even in church, something that supposed to be a respite from the stress the world puts on us. I realize that whining is not a very grown up thing to do. But, then, no one has ever accused me of being a grown-up.

Christians for Trump 2016!

 

Christians for TrumpI don’t know about anyone else, but I have been so underwhelmed by the choices in the upcoming presidential election. Until recently, I floundered around, looking for the true, evangelical Christian candidate, all to no avail. Ben Carson was looking good for a while, but then I realized he’s a Seventh-Day Adventist, and I just can’t hang with a such weird, semi-magical faith. Jeb Bush is a Catholic and, as we all know, the Pope is the Anti-Christ. So, he’s out. I had all but settled on Ted Cruz as the one, but I just wasn’t feeling it. I thought all was lost until, just a few days ago, the clouds parted, the trumpets sounded and the answer I was looking for was revealed.

You see, that’s when Jerry Falwell, Jr, president of Liberty University and son of Rev. Jerry Falwell, endorsed Donald J. Trump for President of the United States, calling Trump “a successful executive and entrepreneur, a wonderful father and a man who I believe can lead our country to greatness again.” Yes! Coming on the heels of Sister Sarah Palin’s declaration of support , it is clear that God wants Donald Trump to lead this country back to greatness.

We’ve had hints that Brother JJ might come out for the Donald. Since Trump, aka “the last great hope for this hell hole of a country”, stepped onto the pages of history by declaring his intent to run for president, Falwell has put some time into building a rapport with the man. In recent weeks, he has compared Trump to Falwell, Sr and stated, “In my opinion, Donald Trump lives a life of loving and helping others as Jesus taught in the Great Commandment.”

And, the country is ready for this, beloved. As this sign at an Alabama rally for Trump back in August shows:

trump4

Of course, some wag is going to point to the Donald’s less-than-stellar knowledgee of the Bible or the fact that he can’t remember ever asking God’s forgiveness, questioning his evangelical bonfides. But, honestly, none of that really matters. What does matter? That Trump is the only person who can save us from the dreadful mismanagement that has characterized the Obama administration. I mean, seriously, how much more employment, peace and economic prosperity can this country take?

Mr. Trump is also the strong man we need to lead us against the forces that threaten to destroy the very fabric of our nation. Who else but Trump can go toe-to-toe with ISIS, Vladimir Putin and China? Sure, he backed out of the debate last night rather than face Megyn Kelly. But, after the way she went after him last time, who could blame him? Intelligent women who won’t put up with your crap are scary.

Does it matter that he’s greedy, privileged, willing to use all the resources at his disposal to stroke his own ego while others suffer (often on account of what he’s said), and cares nothing for the consequences of his words and actions so long as they don’t affect him personally? Of course not! All good Christians should aspire to be like Mr. Trump; rich as Croesus and unashamedly politically incorrect. Because, really, isn’t that what the Gospel is all about?

Who’s It Hurting?

Larry the Cable Guy
I don’t know about anyone else, but I’ve had about all I can stand of Dan Whitney’s faux southern redneck pose.

On Dan Whitney, Political Correctness and Trans Issues

For reasons unbeknownst to me now, there was a time when I found Dan Whitney’s faux southern redneck pose (aka Larry The Cable Guy) funny. I shouldn’t have; even if you leave out all the racist, sexist, anti-LGBTQ crap he spews, it’s still offensive to southerners because it paints us as semi-literate bumpkins who glory in their ignorance. And, isn’t that a lovely stereotype?

Whitney defends his schtick by saying it gets laughs. Once, to illustrate this point, he told one of his jokes as Dan Whitney, sans accent and ignorance and it fell flat. Then, he told it again as “Larry” and the audience ate it up. Basically, he’s taking the easy way out. Instead of writing better material, he chooses to pander to his audience’s baser instincts. When you have the kind of voice Whitney does, using it this way is deplorable.

What Whitney is doing is playing on working class white folks’ fear of change, and railing against “political correctness” is one of the best ways of doing so. Political correctness, of course, is the term certain people like to use when they demonize others for, basically, not being a dick. And, by “not being a dick”, I mean “not using language that offends others”. It never ceases to amaze me that some folks think this is a bad thing.

Unfortunately, being “politically incorrect” isn’t just a part of his “Larry, the Cable Guy” persona; it’s a part of being Dan Whitney. Last month, on his Sirius XM “Weekly Roundup” program, he went off on a political rant which included his disgust with people who are transgender, saying “Look, if you have a penis, you’re a boy. If you have a vagina, you’re a girl, That’s how it is.” Seriously? The fact that this guy gets standing ovations when he performs just makes me sad.

Now, I could list all sorts of valid research to counter Whitney’s claim; god knows there’s plenty of it out there. But, most likely, I would be wasting my breath because a lot of the people who agree with this sort of thing aren’t swayed by research or science, or pretty much anything else. So, instead, I’ll ask this question: Who’s it hurting?

The answer, of course, is no one. What is does is upset the straight, cisgender apple cart and some people have a problem with that. And, if I’m being honest, I can relate. As a straight, cisgender man, I have no problems whatsoever with people who are gay or bisexual and trans men and women don’t bother me in the least. But, effeminate men are a different story. Especially one who’s genderqueer and intentionally blurs the line between male and female. I know I shouldn’t feel this way, but lipstick and a five o’clock shadow freak me the hell out.

But, but freaked out as I may be, I still don’t tell these guys to “BE A DAMN MAN!!!” I think it, sometimes, but I never say it. Why? Because I’ve seen what happens to someone when they’re not allowed to be the person they truly are and, believe me, it is deadly. So, if you’re one of those folks who agree with Whitney on this, I want you to remember what I just said the next time you want to spew some bullshit about your genitalia defining who you are. What they’re doing isn’t hurting you in the least, but what you’re doing? It’s killing them.

Seriously, Y’all?

Syrian Refugee
Okay, the dialogue about the Syrian refugee crisis has gotten way out of hand. Is a country that was founded by immigrants, some of whom were fleeing sectarian violence and persecution, seriously debating whether or not to accept people fleeing from sectarian violence and persecution? I would think that this is a no-brainer, but obviously not. But, why? Why is this even a question?

I can answer that with one word: fear. You can parse it however you want, talking about “security”, “prudence” or whatever the current excuse might be, but the bottom line is that Americans are afraid to even let these folks into our country, much less welcome them, because of a threat made by ISIS. These douchebags, who fill social media with all manner of bullshit, claim that they’ve used the refugee crisis to smuggle 4000 trained fighters into western countries. And, even though there is no credible evidence of this happening, Americans are wetting themselves in fear. What the fuck? When did we turn into craven little wusses, cowering in fear because of some fuckhead talks big on the internet?

Now, let me say I’m not pissed at regular folks who are asking these questions; they’re merely responding to the fear-mongering bullshit that is permeating the airwaves and internet in the wake of the Paris attacks last week. The people pushing that bullshit are another story. Between politicians playing on people’s fear and uncertainty and the media’s need to fill the 24 hour news cycle (not to mention their whorish desire for higher ratings), these assholes have created a climate in the U. S. that is depressing, to say the least.

That climate has led people running for the highest office in the land to say incredibly asinine things. According to Jeb Bush, we should restrict our efforts to aid refugees to Christians. Seriously, he actually said that. And, as bad as that is, Chris Christie’s remarks are even worse. According to The Big Guy, we shouldn’t even let orphans under 5 into the country. What? While that sounds uncomfortably close to a GOP brain trust member Louie Gohmert’s “terror baby” comments, in Christie’s defense, I should point out that he feels this way because “…they have no family here. How are we going to care for these folks?” So, while it could be worse, it’s still bad enough that one of Congress’ most virulently Islamophobes, Peter King (R-NY), publicly disagreed with him.

In what may be the most clueless display by a “Christian”, Mike Huckabee went on Morning Joe to trumpet his unwillingness to take in refugees. For those of you who didn’t know, Huckabee is a former a Baptist minister. You heard that right, friends; a man who accepted a call to carry the message of a refugee says, in essence, that we should turn our backs on refugees. Fuck.

Sadly, these yahoos aren’t alone; I have lost count of the disgusting posts I’ve seen about the refugees. This may be a little inflammatory, but I’m not sure you should continue to call yourself a Christian if you think turning Syrian refugees away is the right thing to do.

I know we’re trying to figure out which is more important, compassion or security, but it’s really no contest: compassion should always come first. Especially when security really isn’t an issue, as in this case. In the last 14 years, the U. S. has taken in 784,000 refugees and, in that time, 3 have been arrested for terrorist-related activities. I tried to figure the percentage of that group who turned out to be terrorists, but the result was so statistically insignificant, it couldn’t be represented on the calculator. In the interest of full disclosure, however, I should also admit I suck at math and may have screwed things up. But, still, 3 out 784,000? And, those 3 weren’t even close to doing anything.

I think it’s time we, as a country and as individuals, examined why we’re so afraid of an ridiculously remote possibility that we’re willing to shit on a bunch innocent people. Considering that Americans suck at that kind of self-reflection and avoid it like the plague, I’m not holding my breath until we do.

Modern-day Pharisees

IslamicChristians_thumb[110]It’s a well-known fact that conservative Christians are the modern-day equivalent of those legalistic, New Testament buzzkills known as the Pharisees. From their obsession with sex to their penchant for out-of-context quotation of the Bible, conservatives are doing their level best to live out H. L. Mencken’s definition of puritanism: “The haunting fear that someone, somewhere, may be happy.” (because progressive obsessions [political correctness, gun control, non-violence, etc] are so much fun).

Take that Kim Davis woman, for instance. Where does she get off claiming “God’s authority” in denying others their legal right to marry when she’s been married 4 times herself. Someone needs to tell this woman that Jesus didn’t say anything about being gay, but he had plenty to say about infidelity and divorce (He also had a lot to say about not judging others and loving our neighbor, but let’s not muddy up the waters with such inconvenient passages). And, now she has a  book deal? Seriously? (Actually, she doesn’t. But, again, why wast time considering things that contradict what we want to believe?) And, what’s up with that hair? If she wasn’t so shitty to gay people, maybe she could find someone to take care of that for her. (Yes, because “the gays” are all about doing some hair.)

I just don’t get all this bigotry against people who are LGBTQQIP2SAA (explanatory link included for all the troglodytes who can’t keep up with this ever-changing acronym. And, I include myself in that category). Why, oh why can’t they be as Christ-like as we progressives are and join us in this march toward justice for all? I realize this shakes the foundations of everything they’ve been taught, but if they’d join us in the 21st century (and by “join us in the 21st century”, I mean “acknowledge that we’re right and they’re awful people”), things would be so much easier better.

As much as I don’t get their anti-gay stance, the political beliefs of conservative Christians baffle me even more. I mean, these people support Donald Trump, for God’s sake! Think about that for a minute; followers of Jesus, a man who preached radical inclusion and eschewed wealth and all its trappings, are losing their minds over a narcissistic money-hoarding billionaire with a xenophobic streak a mile wide (yes, progressive politicians, like Hillary “I love Wall Street” Clinton are pure as the driven snow). Honestly, though, my biggest issue is their mixing of faith and politics (something progressives would never do themselves). Okay, so maybe we do allow our faith to influence our political beliefs, but our intentions are good (and we know what road those have paved).

Isn’t it great to be a progressive Christian? I mean, what other belief allows you to fill social media with posts pointing out (to God and everyone else) all the ways you’re not like those bigoted, narrow-minded conservatives? 

Drive-by Evangelism

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If you live in Greensboro, there is a distinct possibility that you’ve seen this car. Lest you think this is a crazy, one-off occurrence,  let me assure that it’s not. I took this photo at a certain home improvement center on S. Elm Street in Greensboro last fall. Then, just a few months ago, I was sitting in the drive-through at fine fried chicken emporium on the north side of town and a car pulled in and parked. It, too, was covered in “turn or burn” graffiti and when the occupants got out, they were wearing matching t-shirts with similar messages. Isn’t that nice? Nothing says “God is love” quite like “Believe in me or I’ll torture you for all eternity!”

These cars are rolling religious tracts; you know, those lovely little pamphlets that say “If you died tonight, do you know where you would go?” My friend, Jinx Barber, said his answer to that question is “I know exactly where I’m going. First to the medical examiners office, so my wife can see what drugs I wasn’t sharing with her. Then over to the mortuary where they will tan my Baphomet tattoo (which is a full back panel, thank you very much) into a giant canvas. Then they will quarter and cremate me so that I do not have to endure bodily resurrection and have to put up with a bunch of goody two shoes jerks for the rest of eternity.” Did I mention Jinx is a pastor? Yep, a youth pastor too.

All these lovely activities fall into the category of something called “drive-by evangelism”, which Thom Rainer says is “A derogatory term for evangelistic encounters that are brief and abrupt and are considered to be ineffective for convincing people to convert to Christianity.” I especially like that last bit, “considered to be ineffective for convincing people to convert to Christianity”. And, that is true…, just like walking up to complete strangers and smacking them in the face is an ineffective way to make friends.

Most people who engage in this sort of thing usually claim it’s biblical, citing such verses as Matthew 28:19-20, Acts 5:42 and 20:20. Sure, because Jesus was the original tract bomber (that’s a real thing, y’all) and Paul traveled around the Gentile world with a sandwich sign that said “Get saved or you will burn in hell for all eternity!”

I suppose I should take moment to point out that, yes, Jesus did say that we should spread the good news. And, that Paul spent the last years of his life doing this very thing. Of course, they did so by taking the time to build relationships with people, not shoving scary-ass little booklets into their hands or waving ridiculous signs telling them what vile disgusting sinners they are.  But, hey, we’re Americans and finding quicker, “better” ways to do stuff is what we do. So what if we’ve applied our assembly line ethos to Jesus’ message of hope for the downtrodden and, in the process, turned it into a glorified “get out of jail free” card?  We’ve got to get this shit done so we can kick back on a cloud with a halo and a harp and enjoy the fruits of our labor. Because, really, isn’t it all about us?