Radical Jesus Is Not Happy With The U.S.

Jesus’ ministry begins with John:

 “ Then the people of Jerusalem and all Judea were going out to [John], and all the region along the Jordan, and they were baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins.

But when he saw many Pharisees and Sadducees coming for baptism, he said to them, “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Bear fruit worthy of repentance. Do not presume to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our ancestor’; for I tell you, God is able from these stones to raise up children to Abraham. 10 Even now the ax is lying at the root of the trees; every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.” Matthew 4: 3-10

 

If we put this in the modern context and apply it to us (See Robert MacAfee Brown’s The Bible Speaks To You)

The country is at war (never a good thing) — Spiritual war, but war nonetheless. This, in fact, may be worse for those in power.

Our current government has shown its stripes.  The Muslim Ban (“Let’s call it what it is… a Muslim Ban”, said Donald Trump) was the first step to the Mexican Ban, the asylum ban, the brown-on-the-border ban, the immigrant ban.   This policy is simply an extension of that policy.  We didn’t like all- of- them then and we don’t like all -of-them now.  Any “them” will do.  “Them” is whoever people define as “not real Americans”.  Now, after 17 months, those politicians who supported The Man all along are  have realized that they are in deep trouble with the voters because the vast majority of people know it is immoral and wrong to rip children away from their parents as punishment for wanting a better life.  The voters are the least of their concerns in this spiritual war…

So let’s try this again:

“Then the people of Texas and all of America were going out to  and all the region along the Rio Grande,  and they were washing themselves before the TV cameras, confessing their sins.  But when the people of God saw many the Haters and Those who Supported Hate For Their Own Power coming to say it was wrong,  they said to them, “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Bear fruit worthy of repentance.  Do not presume to say to yourselves, ‘We have the Pilgrims as our ancestor’; for I tell you, these are the Pilgrims Even now the ax is lying at the root of the trees; every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.

 

Then Jesus himself speaks:

“When Jesus saw the crowds, he went up the mountain; and after he sat down, his disciples came to him. Then he began to speak, and taught them, saying:

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.

Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.

“Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy.

Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.

Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.

10 Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

11 Blessed are you when people revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely[b] on my account. 12 Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”

Does anyone in this current administration think that they are poor in Spirit? The people who did this, did this because they think they are right and righteous. Donald Trump has said about God, “I’ve never had to apologize”, and Jeff Sessions quoted scripture. There people do not believe they are poor in Spirit. The people on the other side of their assaults think they are poor in spirit. Jesus says, “Blessed are the poor in spirit”. Guess which side Jesus is on.

Does anyone in this administration mourn? They seem to delight in their power to hurt others. The administration says, “Blessed are those who make others mourn”. The people they hurt mourn. Jesus says, “Blessed are those who mourn”. Guess which side Jesus is on?

Is there a meek one in this government? I haven’t seen one. These people own the earth right now. Jesus says, “the meek shall inherit the earth”. Guess who wins in the end?

Are our policymakers “hungering and thirsting for righteousness”?  Donald Trump and his supporters thirst for power.  Jesus said blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness”. Guess who is on Jesus’ good side?

Our government pursues a “Zero Tolerance Policy”, even when it runs out of resources to do it. Jesus says, “Blessed are the merciful”. Those who follow this policy refuse to be merciful. Guess what side Jesus is on?

Are those who implement or support these policies “pure in heart”? They think so.  Sarah Sanders says that being rejected from a restaurant says more about “them” than her. Piety is not the same as being “pure in heart”. Will they see God? Possibly they will. Will they be happy about seeing God? No, I think they will not.

Does the policy of a Muslim Ban or a Brown ban make for peace? I’m not seeing it. Does the country feel peaceful? Not from what I read. Do people who consciously antagonize others make for peace? Jesus says, “Blessed are the peacemakers”.  Guess who Jesus stands with?

Who are the persecuted here? Is it those who are denied the chance to live with their families or is it those who get their feelings hurt while eating? When we understand who the persecuted are, we  can figure out which group Jesus sides with. Do you want to guess who sees the kingdom of heaven?

“Blessed are you when people revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account”? Trump lies all the time about people. He says Mexicans are  rapists. Muslims are terrorists. Canada is our enemy. Guess who Jesus says is blessed?

 

These two stories are from the beginning of Jesus’ ministry. There’s a lot more to come. Guess whose side Jesus is on?

 

Resisting with Peace,

 

John

 

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On LGBTQi? Rights and The World Right Now

For as many years as I can remember, I have wondered what all the fuss was about.

Why do I care about who is sleeping with who? Why do I care about who is in love with who? Why is it any of my business? Why is it any of my concern? Who died and left me to be judge and jury?

When I thought it was all about sex, I was in my 20’s and I thought, “People who are having sex or orgasms are happier people to be with”. Who could be against that?

When I understood that people had long-lasting relationships, I could no more imagine excluding the love of someone’s life from a get-together than I could imagine cutting off my right arm. What do people talk about? Sports, hobbies, fun things, and their family and loved ones. How can someone fully enjoy themselves with half of them missing? I knew someone years ago. After they came out to me, it was years later before I got to meet their long-term love. When I did, I felt horrible for them because of my thoughts above. I swore I would never exclude someone because of their orientation, unless someone was getting hurt or hurting others (in those “philosophical” arguments with the right wing that heterosexuals have, we used to worry about gay pedophiles as though they were the same thing. Now I know better. There are a lot more heterosexual pedophiles than anyone wants to know) In any case, it’s simpler now. I still hate pedophiles. I still welcome nice people to my house, regardless of orientation.

I have never been particularly pro-gay or anti-gay. I have been pro “people are who they are”. I generally have enough to worry about keeping track of my own family. I don’t have time to be worried about someone else’s. I always thought that the “Defense of Marriage Act” was the stupidest name for a piece of legislation. Why would someone else’s love or marriage offend mine? I only had to defend my marriage from me or my wife botching it up.

As I type this, I may very well offend some of my gay friends or my liberal friends for taking a non-positive. apologize for offending your sensibilities. Of course, I expect that my more conservative friends are offended by my not taking a more anti-gay stand. I’m sorry you don’t agree. To both of you, too bad. I don’t invite intolerant people to my house.

But now something is different. Laissez-faire is no longer going to work. In all the stupidity around immigrants that the Trump administration has managed, the latest thing is that we’re denying asylum to people fleeing gangs or LGBTQi people terrorized at home, as though gangs are somehow less deadly to asylum seekers or that LGBTQi are somehow more of a threat to America.

Leave it to a bunch of people who don’t believe in science to think that bullets only kill bad people or that gay people are a threat to national security. If DOMA was stupid, this is stupider… and way more deadly. This idea is therefore, stupid and evil. There is no logic here. There is no compassion, mercy, grace, or love — all things I treasure — in it.

So, here’s the thing: Remember that quote that said, “when they came for the Catholics, I wasn’t a Catholic so I didn’t care … until there was no one left to care about me?” Not happening here. Not now, not ever. I can see the writing on the wall. So, now if anyone asks me, I’m pro-gay. I’m also anti-gang and pro-victim.

If you’re gay, lesbian, transgender, queer, or intersex, you are always welcome at my house. If you’re seeking asylum, you are always welcome at my house. You always were, but it didn’t matter before. Now it does. I’m somewhere between the kids of Parkland at the Tonys the other night and Robert Deniro the other night in my opinion of this administration.

As a Christian, I cannot condone this blatant division of people in the human family. As an American, I hate what Trump and Jeff Sessions have done to the place.

Resisting with Peace,

John

Let’s Talk About Law, Justice, and Ethics

I have been fascinated by, and far more aware of, our legal system over the last four or five years. It amazes me how many different ways there are to see the same event legally, how many processes there are –or can be — in the administration of justice, and how different rules/laws are applied in different circumstances, by whom and to whom.  In all of this, I have fallen back on two basic ideas:

  1. Fair is fair.
  2. No one is above the law.

This week, as Donald Trump stated that he has the “absolute ability to pardon himself”, the law broke. I don’t know if legally the case can be made that he has that power, but if my assumptions are correct and he can pardon himself, there is no law, and there is no justice. In a democracy anyway, if all citizens are equal (fair is fair), then the law should apply to everyone  (no one is above the law) and it should be applied to all in the same way. If a man or woman steals a pair of shoes, and they are sentenced to X amount, as prescribed by law, then any man or woman — including someone in office, including someone with the highest office in the land.

I am well aware that this is a fantasy, and not the way justice is meted out, but it is an ideal that we should struggle toward. It is the goal, and the closer we get to it, the more fair and the more democratic we will be. The further away we get from it, the more we descend into chaos.

This means that, if fair is fair, and Donald Trump can say, “the law doesn’t apply to me and there are no consequences because I don’t want there to be”,  then the drug dealer on the corner should be able to say the same thing because he or she doesn’t want there to be. This is the same idea that says that if the policeman can beat someone without consequence, where do they get the right to blame citizens for doing the same?

Years ago, I came up the term “the Mike Brown standard”. I look forward to the day when we use it on a daily basis. The idea, regardless of whether you think Mike Brown was innocent or guilty, is that if he couldn’t get away with it, then you shouldn’t be able to either. If he was “suspicious”, then the corporate lawyer on Wall Street is, as well.

When we start viewing things through that lens, we will have criminal justice reform in a hurry. Every citizen in this country should have the same presumption of innocence that the Wall Street lawyer has. Until the Mike Browns of this world get that, we’re not a full democracy.  The fact that one man can have no consequences for criminal acts he may have committed which effected millions of people Mr. Trump, while another is dead for ripping off a store owner, (Mr. Brown may have stolen a cigar from a store — or committed other acts involving that store or the neighborhood).

In order for there to be “equal justice under the law”, we ought to consider the Mike Brown standard when we consider the President’s pardon power. Until then, it’s just not fair.

Resisting in Peace,

 

John