Archive for July, 2009

29
Jul
09

A Brighter Shade of Palin

After seeing the mind-bogglingly rambling and non-sensical farewell speech by Sarah Palin the other day, my immediate reaction, like so many others who haven’t drank the Kool-Aid and see her as the female kick-ass naughty librarian second coming of Jesus, was:

What the fleezy was that?

However, at one of my regular blog destinations, I joked that it might make good spoken word poetry, particularly in combination with the right jazzy beat in the background.

Who knew how prophetic I was…turns on on the “Tonight Show with Conan O’Brien,” William Shatner did a beat poetry version.

My friends, it is sheer brilliance, and you can see it here:

http://laughingsquid.com/william-shatner-recites-sarah-palin-farewell-speech-in-the-style-of-beat-poetry/

Sarah Palin, on the other hand, is still an idiotic dipwad who should never be entrusted with any duty more important than changing urinal cakes and replacing paper towels in the dispenser.

29
Jul
09

All Those Unanswered Prayers

So, I haven’t had much in the way of ideas lately (the blog will go on; just not sure if it will get updated more than a few times a week though…we’ll see) so I decided to pray for a little guidance.

And the answer I got was to, well, talk about prayer. Fitting, eh? Also, with this tiny revelation came the thought to link my topic with something another blogger, BlackGirlInMaine, had posted about recently at her place.

In her post “The follow-up” she reprints a column she wrote on the topic of race and more specifically perceived racism. In it, she notes that when she suspects racism against her, white people are often quick to come up with alternate scenarios, invalidating both her instincts and a lifetime of experience she had with something they have never had to deal with personally.

This is the way I feel when, for example, someone like The Word of Me (and I love you, TWOM, and want you to keep commenting; I’m not knocking you) comes into the comments and questions the validity of prayer, as he did for this post here in comment #10.

I could go on all day about what Jesus meant when he said anything asked in his name would be given, why God couldn’t possibly grant all prayers since some would be in direct conflict, the difference between a proper prayer and a selfish one, etc. etc. etc.

But I won’t.

What I will do is ask this: Why must some huge prayer-fulfillment event be the proof that prayer works? Why must most prayers be answered to prove there is a purpose and place for prayer? Why must I provide outside evidence of the power of prayer?

Much like racism, it’s something that one experiences quite personally. I believe in the power of prayer because prayers have been answered for me.

I pray for strength, and I usually get just enough fortitude to get me through what was previously crushing me.

I pray for help when a financial crisis rocks my family, and before long, I get a gift or an opportunity that provides me with just enough money to get past that crisis.

I pray guidance in writing a blog post, and when I open my Bible, a highlighted passage is staring me in the face (and I don’t highlight very many passages in my Bible) and I almost immediately know what I am supposed to say about that passage.

No, not all my prayers are answered. But many of them don’t deserve to be, and I know that in many cases once I’ve had time to think about it. Hell, I know that a lot of the times when I’m doing the praying.

The point is, I have a very personal experience with prayer. To require me to seek out some proof of its power is to essentially tell me I’m delusional to some degree. Because you’re saying that the proof in my own life isn’t enough. That I cannot trust my own experiences.

I’m not the kind of guy who ever looked for a savior, you know. I’m not the kind of guy who ever wanted a God who expects me to answer for my sins. I’m really not. It would be much easier to pick a religion that is less demanding of my spirit or to pick no religion at all. But I am a Christian because I feel the truth in it, not because I chose it. Likewise, I have experienced what prayer can do.

I’m not saying that I can prove to you prayer has power simply based on my own anecdotal experience. I’m just saying that you cannot demand that I offer up proof it works and that in the absence of statistics and correlations and visible proof I must reject that it has any value.

I can’t prove that I really love my wife or that she loves me. I can’t provide hard evidence that love exists between us. I can only say that I feel it and know it is there. But it would be easy to say it’s just a delusion based on neurotransmitters or that it’s something that only has short-term value and really never lasts.

And, as I noted before by referencing BGIM’s post, you can invalidate a person’s claims of racism by simply saying, “Well, how can you be sure?”

But that’s just a way to tear the other person down a little, whether you intend it or not. Because it’s easy to pick apart subtle or ephemeral things when you aren’t in the midst of them.

Prayer works for me. And so I know it’s real and powerful.

That’s may not be good enough for some of you out there. But it’s good enough for me.

24
Jul
09

Apology Accepted???

offended-angryI’m having a quandary about apologies. It’s not that I have a problem accepting them. It’s not that I am unable to forgive. Sometimes, I am even able to forget.

Rather, my problem is with how to respond to them.

Once upon a time, I could simply say “That’s OK” or “Don’t worry about it.”

I can’t do that as much anymore, particularly in my family life, and that bothers me. I don’t have a good way to respond to an apology from, say, my daughter or wife that I feel both acknowledges my thankfulness to have been apologized to, without letting the other person off the hook.

Let me explain, because my problem is different relative to the two individuals I’ve mentioned (I’ve left out Son of Blue because, frankly, he doesn’t find himself in many positions that require apology, and when he does, they are minor things typically).

Little Girl Blue gave me some serious drama a couple mornings ago, and eventually, she apologized. I said “thank you” because saying “That’s OK” would seem to me to give her the impression that whatever she did to bring on the apology was OK. And I want her to know I appreciate the apology. But I was reminded of how tricky this is for a little girl when I was explaining to her on the way to daycare why what she had been doing was so bothersome. She got tired of listening to me and said, basically, “I said sorry…isn’t it over now?” (3.9 years old going on 16…)

I had to explain to her that the apology is the beginning. The way to really show she’s sorry is to not keep repeating the same tantrum behaviors and other nonsense that cause me to get mad to begin with. And so I still don’t know the best way to let her know apologies are good, and welcome, and desired…but that something more is required on her part than just saying some words.

And then there is Mrs. Blue, whom I love dearly. Who shall never be replaced by anyone. Whom I would catch a chestful of bullets for. She reminds me of the problem of adult apologies, more so than any other adult, because as my spouse she has many more opportunities to do me wrong and treat me badly (and the same goes for me in relation to her…I’m no angel).

There are some recurring patterns that cause her to be unnecessarily mean to me and that cause me to get royally pissed off on a periodic basis. I’m happy to hear an apology from her, in large part because I know she means it more than Little Girl Blue does, but I don’t know how to respond in a way that says, “thanks for saying that, I really do forgive you…however, I might still be a little salty from the leftover stings and the knowledge that this is probably going to happen again in a few days or a couple weeks.” (which is a bit long, you see…)

“Thank you” seems too simple, informal and childish to me somehow, but it’s the best thing I have. In other words, I’m stuck with the same response as with my child, but it doesn’t seem to fit in the adult world, and I don’t have an alterantive.

Because “That’s OK” certainly doesn’t work. What happened wasn’t OK, or I wouldn’t have been upset to begin with.

“Apology accepted” is like some passive-aggressive formal thing. It doesn’t have any emotion or love in it; it’s a rubber stamp from the bureaucracy of the mind.

“Forget about it” certainly doesn’t work because, well, I want the other person to remember not to do that to me again.

And not responding at all verbally to the apology suggests I haven’t accepted it, even if I have.

Basically, I don’t have a point here to make, because I don’t have an answer. But if anyone has any advice, I’d love some. Even if it’s to tell me I’m vastly overthinking things.

20
Jul
09

Keeping a Good Woman Down

jimmy-carterFormer President Jimmy Carter just called it quits with the Southern Baptist Church after church leaders decided to continue to prohibit women from being ordained and insisted that women be “subservient to their husbands.”

Here are a couple things Carter had to say on the matter in an essay published in The Age:

At its most repugnant, the belief that women must be subjugated to the wishes of men excuses slavery, violence, forced prostitution, genital mutilation and national laws that omit rape as a crime. But it also costs many millions of girls and women control over their own bodies and lives, and continues to deny them fair access to education, health, employment and influence within their own communities.

and

The truth is that male religious leaders have had — and still have — an option to interpret holy teachings either to exalt or subjugate women. They have, for their own selfish ends, overwhelmingly chosen the latter. Their continuing choice provides the foundation or justification for much of the pervasive persecution and abuse of women throughout the world.

So, how do I feel about this?

Good for him.

I think that too many Christian denominations and churches hold to a very antiquated and inappropriate interpretation of male and female roles based on both a misunderstanding of the Bible and an inability to discern that certain things talked about in the Bible were meant to flow with changing times.

A lot of folks give Paul shit for a number of things, among them the way he “hijacked” the early church and made his own personal doctrine. But he also gets a bad rap for the way he viewed women. This is, after all a guy who said that women should be silent in church and that men were at the top of the decision-making heirarchy in the family.

Two things.

First, even if you think Paul is a sexist ass-hat, let’s remember how Jesus treated women, and let’s agree that Jesus wouldn’t much like the idea of treating women like idiots, treating them badly, or lording oneself over them.

Second, I don’t think Paul was a sexist douche-nozzle.

Bear with me ladies (and some of you men, too)…

Yes, Paul did talk about women remaining silent in the churches and women being beneath men in the heirarchy of God -> Jesus -> Husband -> Wife -> Children.

But this is also the guy who had some notable women doing evangelism in what seems to be a pretty equal role with their husbands. Paul is also the guy who said not just that a woman’s body belongs to her husband, but that a husband’s body belongs to his wife. This isn’t saying you can abuse your spouse, because he specifically speaks out against that. What it is, people, is the first biblical recognition in the New Testament epistles that men and women become partners when they marry, and belong to each other. That they need to work with each other and make decisions together about a variety of things.

It is my feeling that Paul talked about silence in the church with women primarily because education of women wasn’t exactly a priority back then. They would have been among the least prepared people to address doctrine. This is likely also why he spoke against women pastoring churches. He clearly realized that women could add value and be strong in their own right, or he would have spoken out against Priscilla and other women doing evangelistic work. But in his time, as a whole, women were not in a good position to be speaking on doctrine, and often what Paul wrote was more specific to issues facing the church at that time, and not meant to be doctrine for the long run.

Likewise, in a world where women couldn’t inherit much of anything and didn’t have much in the way of rights, what is he going to say other than “the man is head of household.” To claim otherwise and to encourage women to do otherwise would have been madness, and wouldn’t have paid off for those women in the end. Which is probably why he stressed the need for husbands to honor and respect their wives, and for Christians to honor widows and support them.

Paul probably did have certain male chauvinist tendencies. How could he not, given the culture in which he was raised? But many things in his writings show that the early Christian church was supposed to uplift women, not keep them down, and that is a message that too few male church leaders today are paying attention to.

Jimmy Carter has, and I hope that others will follow his example.

17
Jul
09

A Gift that Can’t Be Refused

It wasn’t that long ago that I was talking about race relations and white privilege, and here is a blog post I saw on Facebook post that lays it out much better than I did. Those who know what white privilege is and accept that it’s real will likely find this interesting, but might not learn much new.

For those who think white privilege is a crock, if you still think that after reading it, I fear there may be no hope for you in terms of understanding the insidious face of racism, particularly as practiced in places like the United States by the majority racial group.

Anyway, here it is:

White_Privilege:_I_benefit._Do_you

16
Jul
09

Drive-by Scripture, Jeremiah 31:33

This is the covenant I will make with the house of Israel after that time,” declares the LORD. “I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people.

This is the passage that was sitting before me when I randomly opened my Bible today. (OK, it was the second thing, if I’m to be honest. The first time I opened it to get my Drive-by Scripture for today, it opened to the concordance [sort of like an index] at the back of the Bible.)

I find this passage interesting in being the one I turned to given the recent discussions between me and Tit for Tat on how arrogant Christianity and other religions are that want to convert people (which, let’s be honest, really amounts to: “We’d like you to join. Will you?” which is a pretty common thing for groups to do).

Somehow, though, Judaism seemed to be off the hook under that logic in the discussion because they don’t very actively seek converts.

But let’s look at that passage from Jeremiah, which pretty much focuses on the Hebrews alone being God’s people and the ones for whom the law will be written on their hearts. No, it’s just the Christians and the radical Muslims who are “arrogant” among the major religions.

Why should Judaism not be considered arrogant, because they don’t seek to let people in (under Tit for Tat’s argument), and they consider themselves the Chosen People…yet Christianity is arrogant because it seeks to embrace everyone and preaches that God looks to include all people under his plans?

To robyn and other readers who are Jewish: This is not a slam on Judaism, because I don’t believe Judaism is inherently arrogant. I’m actually rather fond of Jews, given that half of my Bible (more than half, actually) is based on their scriptures and because they still have a key place in God’s heart and in God’s plans. Also because I’m fond of folks in general, including some Muslims, pagans and others who don’t subscribe to my faith. It’s just that it’s interesting how Christianity is picked almost 100% of the time as the most arrogant religion around, even though every religion can be picked apart to be made to look arrogant. But nobody really does that very often, except with regard to Christians…Oh, and politically wing-nutty Muslims who somehow got the idea that killing folks and/or conquering them will get them in good with Allah and get them a bunch of virgins in the afterlife.

Yeah….

13
Jul
09

Getting Off Track, Part 2

As is so often the case, I went negative on my “own kind” first by pointing out some serious flaws in many Christian mind-sets (see “Getting Off Track, Part 1“) before I decided to go pointing fingers at the non-Christians. But now, it’s time for some people on the other side to get their share.

I saw a bumper sticker a few days ago: Jesus, Protect Me From Your Followers.

I got a chuckle out of that, because it is true than many Christians make Christianity an easy target due to their actions (and not because there’s anything inherently bad in the tenets of Christianity itself). Frankly, a lot of Christians scare me, and I’m a faithful (if inconsistent) follower of Jesus.

But at the same time, when people get in my face (literally or figuratively) about how arrogant I am that I would say Jesus is the way, the truth and the life, I can only ponder this: “Methinks thou dost protest too much.”

Why the rancor toward Jesus and the faith centered on him? I mean, this is one of the most progressive guys of ancient history. I’m still waiting to see agnostics and atheists pile onto the Jews or Buddhists or anyone else and call them arrogant for believing their paths are the right paths and probably the only legitimate paths.

And please, don’t start with the “Well, Christianity has done more damage than…” It’s a bullshit argument that half the time isn’t even accurate and generally has little to do with Christianity itself, and I’m tired of people arguing that most of the world doesn’t really even know about Jesus, much less believe in him, and thus I should shut the hell up…and yet somehow my faith is doing these people such harm. You can’t have it both ways. Is Christianity abusing them, or are they ignorant of Jesus? Kind of hard to believe both things.

Maybe I’ll start a path toward accepting the argument that having a set of strong beliefs makes me arrogant when more people around me start saying, “Gee, representative democracies in capitlalist nations sure do seem to do a lot of damage to the world! We’d better abandon capitalism and democracy right now!”

It is not arrogance for me to say that Jesus is the right path. It’s my belief, and you are welcome to think otherwise and to disagree with me. But it still doesn’t make me arrogant.

You see, God has an easy way, and a hard way. But it all comes down to Jesus the Christ in the end.

I give Little Girl Blue as much freedom and latitude as I can. I allow her, even at just shy of four years old, to disagree with me strenuously if she likes. But in the end, if something needs to be done a certain way (i.e. Daddy says so), then it will get done my way in the end. Not because I’m a tyrant but because that’s the way it needs to be, for her health, safety, and general well-being and proper growth.

Now, Little Girl Blue can say, “Daddy, I don’t want to” and then do it anyway because I’ve asked her nicely and explained why it’s necessary. That’s the easy way. (Note, I don’t expect the easy way to be to just obey me without question; not even God really expects that of us…He knows us too well). Or, she can throw a tantrum or ignore me repeatedly and do other things that will cause me to raise my voice and possibly snap one of her favorite DVDs in half and throw it out (should she push things that far).

She has options. But eventually, it comes down to me or to mommy and what we’ve laid down as law.

You can give Jesus some serious consideration now (and hopefully come to see that he is the way, the truth and the life), or you can just keep shouting that it’s arrogant to believe such things. But I wonder, when your heart beats its last, and you see Jesus, and he gives you an amused little smile, a shrug of his shoulders and says, “You know, Deac and Big Man and a lot of those other folks pretty much had a lot of it right. So, why don’t we talk about the choice you want to make now”…what are you going to do?

Are you going to say, “Oh, well, I guess we should talk then. I guess I was off track there.”

Or will you say, “Fine, I’m here, you arrogant messianic asshole. You think I’m going to bend my knee now?”

Hard way, easy way…and even a semi-hard way right in between the two, I believe…but hell, it’s your choice, and I’m devout in my conviction that you have every right to make any of those choices. Your right. Your free will. It doesn’t affect me in the end. I wish you well, I hope you do well in this life and the next, and I respect your rights.

If that’s the new definition of arrogance, then I’m happily arrogant.

12
Jul
09

Random Silliness

As I work to get some more installments of the “Cleansed By Fire” novel finished and try to charge up my brain to tackle various issues and try to at least blog every other day around here, I thought I’d provide a little filler, courtesy of some of the spam messages that try to get past the filter and into my comments around this blog. Here, then, are some excerpts from the most recent batch that I’ve purged from the spam queue:

Good time. , teen lesbians fingering, teen lesbians fingering is teen lesbians fingering, horny sluts fucking

URLs deleted from the above message. Not because I have anything against porn but because I doubt the sites deserve any promotional efforts nor are worthy of your time. But anyway, I see a lot of focus there on “teen lesbians fingering.” Call me old-fashioned, but I guess if I wanted to see them, I’d want to see a bit more action than just fingering. More importantly, why do the “horny sluts” get so much less promotion, and what have they got against a little fingering?

What is tiger airlines friends fly free was above which airline crate dog

I’ve seen better translations on fortune cookie messages and in my assembly instructions for cheap furniture from Asian or Eastern European sweat shops.

I dare you to read that line out loud, five times in a row, without needing some sort of surgery on your tongue afterward.

What your name? , hot tub pictures

If you’re asking for my name, shouldn’t you be inviting me to your hot tub, not just trying to get me to look at pictures of them?

And are there any teen lesbians in those hot tubs fingering some horny sluts?

11
Jul
09

Getting Off Track, Part 1

So, a couple days back in “Journeying Toward God,” I said I’d have some follow-up points on Christians and non-Christians and where I notice they can really get off track. Well, first, the Christian folk.

I see in too many Chrisitians the kind of legalism that Jesus railed against when he was arguing with priests and scribes back in the day.

It’s not that Jesus didn’t believe in the law. He did. It’s not that he didn’t follow the law. He did (and was one of the precious few people in existence who ever did). But as he point out on more than one occasion, the spirit of the law was the critical thing, and not the literal letter of the law.

What good is a sabbath day where you don’t work, but you’ll let someone suffer because to help them is to “work?” What good is paying tithes if you go through your day with no kindness or mercy? What good is praying if you do it in public just so people can know you’re really doing it, when you might not even be feeling it?

I see a lot of Christians around me, whether literally or on TV and in books who are all too willing to spout the Word of God and tell us why we must follow it, but who don’t get the larger points of salvation, mercy, love and the rest.

I have, for example, slammed the Duggar family many a time for their beliefs as part of the quiverful movement. They focus on the relatively few Bible passages that talk about the blessings of a large family, and make like that means we should just keep spitting kids out as fast as we can. But that’s not what the Bible tells us. In Bible times, for one thing, people didn’t live very long on average compared to today. They worked the land or sea in many cases, and needed children to carry out the family work. In some cases, God wanted the Hebrews to have many children so that there would be plenty of Hebrews to carry out His plans and his works and set the path and eventual stage for Jesus.

We don’t live in a world where having tons of kids is good idea for most people (at least speaking from someone in an industrialized nation). In fact, it would be a back-breaking financial burden for 90% of families to simply just keep spitting out kids. And yet there are people like the Duggars who will hold it up as doctrine that we should be doing this because that’s what the Bible says.

Children are still a blessing, and we should have them for many reasons. But within reason.

Chrisitian will rail against homosexual marriage in society, when the only thing they should care about is whether their church is actually marrying gays and lesbians. On a societal basis, it isn’t any business of the Christians whether the government and the people as a whole want to let homosexuals marry. I don’t think it should be something that churches are forced or expected to do, given the biblical prohibitions. And yet Christians will lose their damned minds over this issue and start thumping the Bible in front of everyone to say it’s a societal evil that should be prevented or purged. But the Bible wasn’t written to build a society. God wanted it to provide a spiritual path.

I could go on with other examples. Prosperity ministries. Speaking in tongues. Killing abortion providers.

The journey to be in synch with God from a Christian perspective relies on an understanding of the Bible. But that understanding is not gained by compiling a list of do’s and do not’s. It is gained by understanding why we need to seek God and by recognizing the larger scheme of thing. It’s about opening our hearts to heaven and at the same time to those around us.

If we do those things, we will act in line with biblical precepts much of the time.

If we’re just following a rulebook, we’ll get off track every time, just like the priests and scribes Jesus criticized.

08
Jul
09

Journeying Toward God

A dock at sunset on White Sands Island in the Maldives.I’m often presented with this question from people who don’t believe in a higher power, or who aren’t sure if one exists (or who it is) and people with different faith beliefs than my own:

What makes you so sure that your faith is the right one?

Now, you can substitute in there. For example, some like to ask me how I could be so arrogant. Some ask me how I could believe my way is the only way. And so on. Sometimes, it’s a honest, interested query. Sometimes, it’s a challenge being thrown at me. Sometimes, it’s just plain mean.

But, regardless, it’s a valid question and—as hard as it may be for some of you to believe—it’s a question I ponder fairly often. And, mind you, manage to ponder without necessarily having to have a crisis of faith or doubt my own belief system.

What it comes down to is that I don’t believe my path is the only path. I don’t even believe that my Bible alone tells the whole story. I don’t necessarily think that all other faiths are wrong, though I do worry that many of them are off track in some way or another, or have the wrong focus (then again, I think many Christians are off track…).

God wants us to journey toward Him. God wants us to seek spiritual understanding. I also believe that God sent Jesus to be the focal point around which we should gather. The challenge is in trying to understand how Jesus fits into things and why he is the individual God set up as the ideal and as Lord. But the fact is that there really hasn’t been anyone like Jesus in religious history. I can’t think of any individual who has been held up philosophically, socially, jesus-prayspolitically, spiritually, intellectually and divinely (all at the same time) in any comparable manner. Not Siddartha Buddha, not Mohammed, not Moses, not David…no one of whom I have knowledge. And for well over 2,000 years, mind you.

That alone should make people sit up and take notice that Jesus is someone unique and special.

I have a few follow-up thoughts on this, in terms of where Christians and non-Christians are getting things wrong, as well as areas where they aren’t necessarily wrong but have misplaced priorities, but I’ll leave that for tomorrow or the next day…




Deacon Blue is the blogging persona of editor and writer Jeffrey Bouley. The opinions of Jeff himself on this blog, and those expressed as Deacon Blue, in NO WAY should be construed as the opinions of anyone with whom he has worked, currently works, or will work with in the future. They are personal opinions and views, and are sometimes, frankly, expressed in more outrageous terms than I truly feel most days.

Jeff Bouley

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To find out more about me professionally, click here. To find out more about me generally, click here.

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