Posts Tagged ‘pastors

30
Sep
09

An Itinerant Deacon?

So, I find myself wondering: Am I am itinerant deacon in some strange sense?

What I mean is that nearly a decade ago now, I was ordained a deacon by my father-in-law, crossfoglakewho at the time was also my pastor. The church was small. Very small. Which I actually think was a plus, as we could have discussions and Bible teaching/debate as often as sermons—and sometimes both in the same hour to hour-and-a-half sermon.

So, I didn’t have a lot of duties, really. It wasn’t like doing the Lord’s Supper (communion) was all that taxing, even though I had to serve the entire congregation myself. I said it was small, right? I didn’t have a lot of greeting to do at the door. But I helped. And when I wasn’t helping during services, I was a sounding board for my father-in-law, and I did other support duties for him, like trying to set up a rudimentary online ministry, editing religious writings he was doing, and things like that. Even after I moved hundred upon hundreds of miles away to relocate in New England, I have done things like transcribe tapes of a book he was writing about the role and nature of Satan.

Since coming out here more than seven years ago, I haven’t really served much as a deacon. Part of that has been the lack of a church home for much of that time. We would find a church to attend, and find it reasonably tolerable or even promising, and then after some weeks or months, we would find some fatal flaw in regard to staying there (crazy heretical things cropping up, people treating our multicultural family with the cold shoulder, sexism or homophobia, etc.). Wisely, I haven’t made a point of mentioning my deacon work in the past when I have entered a church, not wanting to be put to work and getting sucked in when I’m not even sure it’s a church I want to join.

At one church, I did make my deacon past known, and it was a small church of size similar to my father-in-law’s, and I helped with communion there a couple times and some other stuff, but then the pastor started getting a prophet complex, started preaching a lot of prosperity/name-it-and-claim-it stuff, and started preaching about how if you weren’t speaking in tongues, you weren’t born again. I clammed up about being a former deacon at the next several churches we tried after that.

For almost a year now, we’ve been members of a church. It’s a fairly big church (for this area, that is), and it’s involved in the community a lot and people are pretty nice. The sermons can be a bit light sometimes, but the liberal bent is more in line with the views of myself and my wife, since the more conservative churches seem to like to campaign against legalizing same sex marriage, stomping on women’s right, and wonderful things like that. I’d rather have a church that errs on the side of equality and human rights and kindness, rather than one that preaches nasty attitudes.

The pastor hasn’t really called on me to serve, and it doesn’t look like there’s much need for me anyway.

So, what is my role? Am I really a deacon?

I like to think that I am, and that is where the whole itinerant deacon concept cropped up in my mind. Itinerant preachers are those who travel, and don’t really set up shop in a particular town or church. I think that’s what I am, because of the Internet presence I’ve created for myself. I talk about spiritual and religious matters (among other things), and having a blog that can be read by anyone in the world, I “travel” in a way. But am I serving as a deacon? I think so. I am lifting up Jesus and serving church needs, in the global sense of the church of Christ. I sometimes find inspiration in posts from sermons that my current pastor gives, and so at times I am helping him get his words out there, however indirectly.

So, I am a helper, and a representative. I guide people where I can to examine scripture and to look for answers and spiritual growth, and those seems to me to be very deacon-like things.

So, I’m ordained, but not called to a specific place. I am no Bible scholar, but I believe I have deep enough spiritual discernment to be of help in presenting Christianity, the Bible and Christ in a good light.

I am, in the end, a servant. Albeit a servant who sometimes cusses and sometimes is irreverent. But you know, Jesus had a sense of humor and sometimes a short temper, too. So I’m in good company there.

And so, for now, I remain your humble itinerant deacon.

04
Feb
09

Pastors Ain’t Special by Mrs. Blue

slacksAs has been the case, about as often as not, it is one of my periodic (and increasingly rare) phone calls with Mrs. Eager that has inspired me to come over here to the dear hubby’s blog and go on a rant about something.

In talking with her, she told me Mr. Eager has been having some trouble with ringing in his ears (tinnitus for you technical minded types), and he was starting to wonder if it was God’s judgment on him for having words with the pastor of a church they were going to until recently. Give me a break! But before I get to that rant, in all seriousness, if you’re Christian, pray for Mr. Eager. He’s a musician, and a good one (guitar and bass mostly) and I think he could do great with a modern music ministry. But hearing problems could be a big muck-up for plans like that.

Anyway, to get back to the point, I think it’s ridiculous that he’s worried God has judged him with illness or injury for questioning  the head of a congregation. Granted, this is the second church he’s done this at, but let me recap:

The first time, it was at the same church that hubby and I fled from as it got increasingly freaky and fixated on speaking in tongues and espousing questionable doctrine and things like that. Mr. Eager and Mrs. Eager were essentially kicked out (of the church band and the church) when he questioned that pastor on doctrinal stuff. This is the very same kind of stuff that made us leave, so fact is that he was on the money. The stuff that was (and is now) being preached there is half made up by the pastor now.

The second time well, I’m not sure the details on that discussion/confrontation, but dear hubby and I had taste-tested that church too and found it a bit wanting. I think the new pastor there has a bit of an ego (though he was an improvement over the fire-and-brimstone, vegetarians-are-all-pagans guy who came before him) and he seems more focused on his own vision of stuff than on leading the congregation he has in the way that they need to be led. Just my humble opinion of course.

But the point is that pastors aren’t special. They crap out the same kind of hole the rest of us do. Assuming they have both their legs, they put ’em into separate legs of the jeans or slacks just like you or I do. They get angry, they can be selfish and shallow, they can get hopeless, they can get confused.

In short, they are human.

Pastors are not, as some poor souls seem to think, some special spiritual emissaries that God has set down in a church. I like to hope that most pastors are put in place with a little nudge by God, but realistically, I know it is church boards who do this, and they’re human too. They hire humans. Humans who can get led astray or get full of themselves or just make mistakes.

Pastors are great for providing leadership, just as an executive director leads a non-profit. But they still have to answer to a board of directors, just like an executive director does, and they sometimes have to answer to the membership (congregation) as well. They aren’t perfect. And when they are wrong, either because of bullheaded choice or by honest mistake or by a case of the raving loonies, they need to be called to task. They need to be made aware. Mind you, I say this as the daughter of a preacher, who used to head his own small church. I love my dad, but if anything shows you how a pastor can be just as imperfect as the rest of us, no matter how much biblical knowledge he has, being the child of one will do it.

I know Mr. Eager well enough to know he’s pretty softspoken for a big guy. I doubt he read the riot act to the pastor. I’m sure he was trying to be helpful and led by God to say something. In short, even if he was mistaken about the pastor, he was right to speak up.

What wasn’t right was for the pastor and cronies to ease him out of the church for having spoken up. Dealing with dissent by kicking people out is a piss-poor and un-Christian way to handle things.

No, the tinnitus is most likely from a life of playing loud music. And I hope Mr. Eager gets past that physical problem. He really wants to do a music ministry and I hope he can. The only punishment he is receiving is what he is heaping on himself for no good reason, and what yet another pastor did to for trying to do the right thing.

30
Jan
09

Running Him Haggard

ted-haggardI haven’t really talked about Ted Haggard, who lost his position as pastor because of a series of homosexual encounters that he had. There’s a reason for that: By and large, I don’t really harp on pastors in the news because of their personal peccadilloes, sexual or otherwise. When they have personal failings in their lives, that isn’t on my radar that much. Reading up on their exploits and travails doesn’t sit well with me and doesn’t interest me, just as the latest celebrity sex scandal really doesn’t light my fire either.

Personally, the time for me to rag on a pastor who’s in the spotlight (or even not in the spotlight) is when I see him leading his flock astray with wrongheaded attitudes or unsound doctrine or skewed spirituality or somesuch.

So, why am I mentioning Haggard now?

No reason, except that I don’t have a better topic in mind, I don’t think most of my readers want another installment of my novel posted again so soon, and because Chez over at Deus Ex Malcontent posted about Haggard recently, so he’s on my mind a little.

People have said a lot about Haggard, and I’m not going to go into a detailed recounting here. You have links above you can click on, so if you don’t already know, find out from folks who’ve followed this more closely.

What I want to address is the notion that he was done wrong by his former congregation. It’s not a simple “yes” or “no,” though, because it depends on what you’re asking.

Was it wrong that he was pretty much forced to leave the position of pastor because of the scandal? No.

On that count, I totally agree that he should have stepped down or been removed had he refused to. In fact, I would say that he should have stepped down long before his same-sex activities came to light publicly. I don’t say that because I have anything against homosexuals. Some of my best friends are, or have been, gay. Or lesbian. The point is that that sexual lifestyle is at odds with the doctrine of that church. If he is going to regularly have gay sex, and he wants to be a pastor, he needs to be the pastor of a church where gay sex is accepted. Someplace where the doctrine says that loving homosexual relationships aren’t really what the Bible decries, and that God meant something else in the Bible.

I mean, if the man was an active alcoholic, that should also disqualify him from pastoring, as the Bible is clear that a pastor shouldn’t be prone to abusing drink. An adulterous pastor also has no business at the pulpit. Most Christian churches hold to certain doctrine, and if the congregation is operating from a standpoint that certain core things are very wrong, a pastor who does those things as a matter of course should be getting gone.

He’s welcome to start his own congregation somewhere else, as long as he’s open about who he is and the congregation is cool with that.

Now, I’m not saying that you kick a pastor out because he slips up and has one brief affair or one-night stand. Or even if he is found to have once or twice gotten a blowjob from a transsexual hooker or something. A fleeting or short-term sinful failing is something that a congregation should be willing to help the pastor work with and overcome.

A long-term or lifelong tendency to do that act that is counter to the church’s doctrine over and over again is something else entirely.

Now, as to the shunning he apparently got by his friends and former congregants. How do I feel about that? It was totally shitty. And wrong.

If there is someone in the church, whether pastor or not, whom we claimed to have loved as a fellow Christian, and we drop them like a hot pan in our bare hands because they do something wrong, we are not being Christ-like. We are not doing right by that person. We should still love that person, and try to understand and help that person, in whatever way we can most effectively do so.

That may simply be support. It may be patience. It may be acceptance.

The bottom line is that we shouldn’t hang our people out to dry because they’ve done wrong or made a spectacle of themselves. By all accounts I’ve heard, Ted Haggard got treated wrong on a personal basis.

He should have been removed from the pulpit, but he should have been embraced by his chruch thereafter.

End of story.

21
Jan
09

Judge Not…Not Too Much at Least

gavelI don’t like to get judgmental about anyone. OK, that’s not true. I’ve have some notable and very amusing conversations with Mrs. Blue in which I have been very judgmental. Shame on me. Truly.

But my point is that, really, I don’t generally feel comfortable judging folks. Which is as it should be, biblically speaking, for we are told “Judge not, lest ye be judged.”

And yet, you may have noticed that around here, I’ve taken certain well-known pastors of huge churches to task. I’ve pretty much said that one of my own recent former pastors has essentially become a virtual cult leader.

I’m not judging.

Really, I’m not. I am, however, pointing out that some of these guys are taking very dangerous paths. In terms of their teachings, the dogma they espouse and the way they treat people, they show themselves to be of questionable characters and motivations.

At times, I cut them at least some slack, based to a certain extent on this:

For through the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think more highly of himself than he ought to think; but to think so as to have sound judgment, as God has allotted to each a measure of faith. For just as we have many members in one body and all the members do not have the same function, so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. (From Romans chapter 12)

There are those, I’m sure, who would take me to task for my approach to spiritual matters, what with my cavalier language and my propensity to talk about sexual odds and ends (and tips and crevices…oh my!). I feel that I am responding to a calling to reach out in a different way and perhaps to different people.

Who am I to say that Joel Osteen of Lakewood Church isn’t fulfilling his own calling to the letter? Perhaps that is what God wants Joel Osteen to be doing. Or Pastor Rick Warren of Saddleback Church. Or Mark Driscoll of Mars Hill Church.

And I find myself with these passages from the Book of Romans staring me in the face: 

Who are you to judge the servant of another? To his own master he stands or falls; and he will stand, for the Lord is able to make him stand…But you, why do you judge your brother? Or you again, why do you regard your brother with contempt? For we will all stand before the judgment seat of God…Therefore let us not judge one another anymore, but rather determine this-not to put an obstacle or a stumbling block in a brother’s way. (Excerpts from Romans chapter 14)

It is that last line that reminds me I am fully justified in shining a light on the pastors that I have and the attitudes among many Christians that I have, when I take issue with common attitudes among Christians. Or non-Christians for that matter.

I am not judging people. I am looking at actions and calling to mind the very real possibility that those actions are going to lead people astray. Encourage them to do things that aren’t right. Lead them down paths of false doctrine that Jesus would have cringed to hear.

It’s entirely possible I’ve been guilty of the very same thing at time. I hope not, but if I have been, I hope someone will open my eyes to that and I hope that if it’s true, I will correct myself.

I cannot judge the people I rail about, but I can say that at times, they seem to be clearly doing wrong, and in that they are hurting others, and they need to be called on it.

14
Jan
09

The Cussin’ Preacher

mark-driscollI had  a whole other topic in mind for today, but I’ll save it for tomorrow since it might irritate Mrs. Blue and Miz Pink anyway, and I don’t need that.

Instead, I’m going to follow a lead kindly provided by Big Man of Raving Black Lunatic (if you haven’t ever done so, visit him…NOW…he has good shit to read on his blog…OK, visit him AFTER you read this post then…).

Here’s the link (it’s an article from the New York Times Magazine, and it’s longish, but it’s entertaining, interesting and worth the time to read, trust me): www.nytimes.com/2009/01/11/magazine/11punk-t.html?em Mrs. Blue had also hipped me to this story, but she neglected to send me a link, so Big Man gets the credit.

Anyway, the article is about Mark Driscoll of Mars Hill Church, a Seattle-based preacher that has earned the enmity of both conservative Christians and liberals, and is known as the “cussing pastor.”

Look, I can’t do justice to this guy’s personality and the controversy around him in this post. You have to read the article (and you should probably check out Mark Driscoll’s blog sometime, too, though it isn’t nearly as interesting or fiery as his sermons). But suffice to say he’s attracted quite the following of alternative types in Seattle that don’t thrive in the traditional church environment. He preaches on topics like “Biblical Oral Sex” and “Pleasuring Your Spouse.” Right there, you have to know I’m going to have some kind of soft spot for the guy.

Which isn’t to say he doesn’t scare me a little too, because he does, but more on that later.

First, I want to say that his rougher and more raw approach to preaching, along with his assertion that Jesus was far from some weepy wimp, are things that I wholeheartedly support myself. And it’s a slowly growing trend. I mean, how many people in Generation X, much less Generation Y, really want to go to the traditional church services filled with old-ass hymns? Some, sure, but most, not.

Even when pastors don’t go for the foul-mouthed, snarky approach like, for example, that I use here, there are still signs that more and more, especially younger ones, are embracing change.

Sometimes, that’s as simple as updating the music to include more modern things like rock and R&B or even jazz and punk. Sometimes it means making sermons more adult or more relevant, instead of ephemeral and, well, “preachy.”

I believe in holding to the Word of God and preaching the Bible. That said, there are always areas where interpretation is fluid and where things can (and sometimes should) be adjusted for modern realities. In other words, the practice of churchgoing, and of preaching, needs to adapt. Let’s face it: Our grandparents’ and great-granparents’ churches, no matter how “traditional” we think them to be, were not the same as the churches of the 17th century. Nor where those churches anything like the early church shortly after Jesus’ resurrection. Change is both necessary and inevitable.

I am not always proud of the language I use here. And sometimes I wonder if my subject matter is appropriate. But at the same time, I started this blog under prayer, and by the calling of the Holy Spirit, and if God wants me to stop doing this, I fully expect (and hope) that He will make that clear. Until then, I will assume that I fill a necessary niche for both believers and non-believers and possibly-yet-to-become-believers. In the same vein, Mark Driscoll fills a necessary place.

But, as I said, he does scare me a bit on some points. So here’s my take on the guy. After all, I have skewered Joel Osteen, the smiling pastor, several times for his Word of Faith based tomfoolery. Just because Pastor Driscoll cusses doesn’t mean I’m going to give him a pass.

The Swearing and the Racy Topics. Hell, I’m in favor. It’s who he is, and he draws a strong following for it. In other words, there is an audience for his style and message. I will not side with the Christian mouthpieces, pundits and leaders who say he’s wrong for using harsh language or being rough around the edges. It takes all types of preaching to get the gospel out there.

The Casual Dress. This is a guy who will often preach in a T-shirt. I’m cool with that, too. I don’t think that we have to put on dresses and suits to honor God. We honor Him with our praise, our love, our faith and sometimes our actions. We came into this world naked and we leave behind molding, decaying corpses. Some of us are ugly and some of us are good looking. God is far less concerned with our outward appearance than we like to think He is.

His Support of Traditonal Gender Roles. OK, I’m iffy on this. I do believe that the husband/father is the spiritual head of household. But I think we need to tread carefully about the whole “submitting to the husband” thing. Marriage is a partnership. When something impacts on the spiritual well-being of the family, the man should get the final say unless he’s a spiritually clueless idiot. On other matters day to day, I don’t think it’s just “Do what the man says.” Driscoll strikes me as leaning toward the idea that women should ultimately do what they’re told by their men, and that’s a dangerous road. If I get him correctly, he doesn’t believe women can preach. I believe that is wrong and I think they should indeed preach. I’m still somewhat on the fence about the women as pastor issue, but am not opposed to it completely.

His Assertion That Jesus Was Macho. Hell yes! Jesus was tough physically and emotionally and he could sometimes be tough on people. He could be sarcastic. However, Driscoll likes to throw around comments about how most of us have “feminized” the church and turned Jesus into some limp-wristed hippy type. These kinds of comments make me think Pastor Driscoll is a raging homophobe perhaps. I’m not against preaching homosexual sex as a sin, but I am highly and vociferously against homophobia. Some of my best friends (truly) have been and continue to be homosexual, and very few of them are “limp wristed.”

His Neo-Calivinist Doctrine. Aw, damn! Hold the motherfucking presses! Calvinism! Shit, Calvinism? I shouldn’t be surprised, because I see hints of this among many of the more conservative Protestants, even those who don’t outright preach Calvinist thought. But John Calvin was responsible for some people being burned at the stake for disagreeing with him, so he’s not someone I want to uplift in name or in doctrine. Also, I have a big beef with Calvinist thought on the whole idea of predestination. The idea is that God has already decided in advance who’s going to Heaven and who’s going to Hell, and he picked a pretty small number to go to Heaven.

I have several problems with this.

First, why would God simply want to be a puppetmaster? This flies in the face of creating humans “in His own image.” Free will is an intrinsic part of being human. If God simply wanted more servants, He could have simply have never created Adam and never created the split with Lucifer and had a bunch of lovely obedient angels and no war in Heaven. To think that God has mapped out our end in advance, and we have no part in how we turn out, doesn’t make a lick of fucking sense.

Second, how could our Father in Heaven wish that no one would go to Hell if possible, as Jesus told us, if He’s already decided to personally mark people in advance to go there? Salvation seems meaningless to me if it’s being handed out willy-nilly. If that’s the case, Jesus made no sacrifice for us at all, because it wasn’t for all of us and it was already mapped out. In my mind, Jesus had free will not to die on that cross, and I think he would have gone to Heaven, being sinless. The rest of us would have been screwed though.

Finally, why preach the gospel if our eternal fates are preordained? Jesus calls upon us to spread the good news, but if it’s not for everyone, how good is it? And if God has already decided who’s going to Heaven, why preach about Jesus? After all, we have no influence, we don’t really choose God (He chooses who will choose Him), and there is no choice. So knowing about the Gospel would be pointless, and teaching others more pointless still. Again, I call bullshit on this.

So, while I like Driscoll’s general approach, I think he’s preaching some dangerous dogma, and I cannot support him personally on a doctrinal level. But if he can bring some souls to Christ, fantastic. As much as I also don’t like Joel Osteen on the other end of the spectrum, I won’t totally and completely argue with his approach nor dismiss it entirely out of hand if it saves some souls.

I will argue, though, with teaching things that put people on a bad path in life. And both Driscoll and Osteen are guilty on that in my opinion.

18
Oct
08

I Can See Clearly by Miz Pink

I ain’t blinded by the dazzling delivery of charismatic pastors. I ain’t awed by mega-churches. I don’t go weak in my knees when I see some one fall to the ground after being faith-healed. I don’t raise up my hands and start swaying when someone busts out in some “oingo boingo” tongues kinda talking. I’m not impressed by divinity degrees.

I can see clearly.

I can see clearly when a pastor is raking in big money from his mega-church, groomed like a Hollywood star and dressed in suits that most pastors can only dream of. I can tell how fake a faith-healing pastor on TV is; how they play off people being suckers and wantin desparately to believe. I can tell that you’re just deluding yourself and speaking gibberish and calling it tongues or worse yet you are feeling left out and just start yammering some nonsense so that everyone will thing you have the spirit. I can tell when your preaching your own agenda and not the word of God hisself.

Because I can read clearly too.

I can read my bible and I do thank you very much. It tells us how people will becomes lovers of themselves and spread false teachings and claim to be acting in Jesus’s name when they’re really just cashing in.

You aren’t all frauds out there I know that. There are lots of good preachers and pastors out there and even the ones with screwed up ideas often mean well.

But those of you who ARE cashing in. I see you. I see you clearly. But that doesn’t matter really because what you should be worried about is that God sees through you even more than I do.

06
Sep
08

Where Are Sarah’s Pastors? by Miz Pink

Mini Pink #3 has moved several of my internal organs so out of place and seems to be sitting right on top of all of them at the moment, with the exception of my heart and lung which he or she is jamming his/her fists into right now. I’m uncomfortable, I feel fat (because I am right now)…and I don’t feel at all like I’m glowing, no matter what Sir Pink or the rest of the fam tell me.

So, let’s make this quick.

Why the heck does Fox News get to run clips of Barack Obama’s former pastor over and over again to make both of them look crazy, then all the other news media start talking about “Is the pastor a liability?” “Does this mean Obama has anger against America?” and other crap, and a whole cycle begins that results in Barack having to reject the man who headed up the church he spent 20 years attending…and yet…

Sarah Palin has several wacky pastors and ex-pastors, who’ve said things like our action in Iraq is God’s war and who apparently like to speak in tongues a lot, and not only doesn’t Fox News say crap about it (I didn’t expect them to) but I don’t hear too many other media folks talking about it.

Wow! The black dude isn’t allowed to have ties to any religious figures with colorful opinions. But the white chick is. Oh, and still no mention in the mainstream media about John McCain’s various crazy/homophobic/sexist/racist pastors and spiritual advisors either.

Hmmmm…no double standard there, right? Anyhoo, Deke has more to say on the election stuff today maybe and probably several other times between now and November.

*Sigh* A guy with lots of unspent anger and questionable judgement and a religiously extreme mommy dearest from the arctic tundra. And a pretty decent chance that enough morons will band together to vote them into office. Lovely. Sir Pink…oh honey…are our passports up to date?

16
Jul
08

Smoke and Mirrors

Awareness Prevention Education.

OK, go back and read that again. Let it sink in.

You back?

OK, those are the words I saw writ large on the monitor of my wife’s PC, on some Web site she was on just recently. Those words made me stop in my tracks.

Now, as it happened, that wasn’t a sentence or even a phrase, nor a title of some initiative or program. They were three separate words putting forth the general mission of a non-profit group devoted to issues around brain injury survivors. They advocate: awareness, prevention and education. So, we can relax for a moment. Heave a sigh of relief if you like.

Better now? Yeah, OK, so you weren’t thrown off by those words like I was. Congratulations.

The visceral shock and dismay those words made me feel—before the real context of them had sunk in—was amazing. For just a split second, I feared for the world that we might somewhere have in place a program or initiative or stated goal of awareness prevention education.

But wait a minute! We do have awareness prevention education all around us, don’t we? Not simply one such program, and nothing official of course, but rather a general effort to keep us in the dark by the powers that be. I’m being realistic here, not paranoid. I don’t believe the government is smart enough or secure enough to carry out real wide-scale conspiracies. But still, in so many parts of our society, there really are folks who are working to prevent us from having any kind of awareness about what it really happening around us, whether individually or as organizations. I mean that in terms of politics, the economy and even the spiritual and religious realms. Like the “Wizard” at the end of The Wizard of Oz, they are telling us: “Pay no attention to the man behind the mirror!” And too often, we comply.

I’ll rant about the political and economic stuff in a moment just because—well—well, because it’s my blog and I can, even if the rant doesn’t fit my usually religious and spiritual ramblings. But let’s start with the religious/spiritual side.

One of my regular readers and commenters around here, WNG (who has her own blog called A Whole New G), recently commented on my post “Choosing Satan” a couple weeks ago and quoted a great line from a fantastic movie called The Usual Suspects that goes like this: The greatest trick the devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didn’t exist.

Think about it. How many preachers really preach about Satan? Not many. My father in law does with fair regularity (he’s a preacher, yes), and he’s even trying to write a book about the reality of Satan’s existence, the tools he uses and the defenses we can bring to bear—and I presented a smidgen of what he wrote in my post “That Ole Devil” recently. But most preachers don’t talk about the devil, or they talk about him in casual passing ways, or they even sometimes act like he doesn’t exist at all—or that he’s not active in the world itself but just in Hell.

And that kind of ignorance is exactly what allows Satan to move in stealth mode to influence people and events. If every time there’s a horrible natural disaster or some personal problem in our lives we’re blaming God because we don’t realize that we humans empower Satan here on Earth and that he actually has a lot of free rein to cause shit because we’re mostly a sinful, godless lot who allow him to run free…well, that gives Satan a lot of power. You can’t fight what you don’t even believe exists.

Also, the general societal penchant for misinformation on important issues of the day would also have us believe that every prominent pastor or other religious leader is a crook, a kook or both. Rev. Jeremiah Wright may have had some thorny opinons and maybe a couple radical views, but it wasn’t until Barack Obama took center stage that the media played soundbites from his sermons in ways that made him look like a crazy and much more radical guy than he was. He’s not the only religious leader to be painted thus, but he’s one of the most recent.

And yet the supposedly religious leaders who make us feel good and give us self-help-style advice instead of telling us the truth, like Joel Osteen, get major book deals and no one tries to paint them in a bad light. And folks with truly crazy and hateful notions like Pat Robertson, John Hagee or Jerry Falwell often get a pass in the media. People looked to them and people like them, and still do, for public commentary or private political advice without ever shedding light on their very shady sides. Yet Pastor Wright points a bright light at some of our nation’s very real spiritual problems and tells us we need to do better, and he’s a painted almost as a madman.

And as far awareness prevention education in the political realms, our government has had people believing that gasoline would always be cheap and that we could build sprawling suburbs and sell gas-guzzling tanks instead of devoting money to public transportation, intelligently designed communities, fuel efficiency and alternatives to fossil fuels.

Our government also managed to paint an opportunistic war in the Middle East as an attempt to protect us from terrorists, playing on the fears generated by that national tragedy we simply call 9/11. Billions upon billions sunk into a war and a postwar effort that we might not be able to get out of for years, all for greedy and petty reasons—money that could have rebuilt our thousands of old and sometimes failing bridges, helped our school systems, repaired our roads, fixed our Social Security mess and maybe gone toward getting health insurance for those who cannot afford it now. We can find the money for war, but we can never find it for promoting peace and building up our own house. And that’s because the government entities (and the businesses who both manipulate and serve government) always have us looking at boogey men instead of speaking truth. And we buy into that nonsense and let ourselves be led.

And if we focus on the “education” part of awareness prevention education, we need look no further than our public (and often private) school systems that teach a sanitized view of history that paints the United States as the paragon of democracy and capitalism and wisdom while glossing over the enslavement of Africans, the disenfranchisement of Black Americans, the genocidal efforts against Native Americans, our abuse of child labor and adult labor too, our successful attempts to steal land from Mexico and our unsuccessful ones to steal land from Canada, and so on.

The news media, which once actually served as the “fourth estate” to keep tabs on our three branches of government, is now focused almost solely on generating ad revenues and satisfying sponsors; getting higher ratings with fluff and bullshit while slashing funding for real coverage of world events; and putting blowhards in front of the camera to spout ideological claptrap instead of practicing any kind of balanced journalism and real examination of the issues. At this point, the media is one of the biggest promoters of “awareness prevention.”

Awareness prevention education is real, folks, and it’s been active for quite some time. Like I said before, it’s not a formal thing and it’s not even a secret conspiracy. But it’s a mindset created by the rich and powerful that we choose to accept as reality. We see something on the news or on the Internet and we just swallow it as truth without even thinking twice. We support “awareness prevention” all the time. We embrace it (either actively or by our silence) and we live by it. By avoiding awareness of what is really happening, we put our souls in peril, we are running our country into the ground, and we are destroying the future that we should be building for our children.

Be aware. Be educated. Don’t be led by people who don’t have your best interests at heart. Use that brain God gave you.

04
Jun
08

Woman on top by Miz Pink

No this isn’t gonna be a sex post. Though in Deke’s once-weekly tradition I’ll try to write one before the weekend. What this post is about really is that I’m about to break ranks pretty noticeably with Deke on something. I think women can be pastors and I want to see more of them in the pulpit doing that.

Deke’s mentioned in passing a few times about the biblical foundation for men as head of household and for men being spiritual heads of churches. And he posted about it more detailed-like over here. Deacon Blue is a friend so I’m not going to trash him but I respectfully disagree. He made his points well I think and I’m glad he doesn’t have a problem with women in power generally speaking. I’m glad he and Mrs. Blue operate on a partnership basis and not a partriarchy. I’m also glad he’s not running around blaming Eve for the state of the world. But I still disagree with his man on top position, no matter how marginally he puts men in that top spot.

Jesus was really subtle. Sometimes too subtle for our own good because his stuff often went over people’s heads, even the apostles heads. He spoke in parables and he often wouldn’t even give straight answers when people asked if he was the messiah. And so I think the apostles kinda missed the fact that Jesus taught women and showed serious respect to them and included them as part of his circle. And so we get Paul telling us that women are supposed to play second fiddle to the men and not have authority over them. Whether someone twisted Paul’s words later or added that in or whether Paul really said it…I don’t really care. It’s wrong. And churches through the ages have been telling women to sit down and shut up for too long.

There. I said it.

Sorry Deke. Maybe back then keeping education away from the women meant they weren’t equipped to be pastors or other types of spiritual leaders. But there were some female evangelists back then, there have been some important women in religious movements and what about today? Well today we have every bit the educational level of men. We are just as born again. And we get the exact same Holy Spirit when we accept Jesus.

Therefore, as equal human beings and children of God just like the men are, we have every right to be in the pulpit at any level. We share spiritual responsibility in the household. We are equals and I’m not going to accept anything other than that.

End of story.




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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