Thursday, August 25, 2005

Christian Responses to Pat Robertson

Crossposted at Sacred Space: Reflections from the religious left

After Pat Robertson called for the assassination of President Hugo Chavez of Venezuela, we saw a number of moderate and progressive religious leaders step forward to denounce his statements. Bob Edgar of the National Council of Churches called Robertson's words "appalling to the point of disbelief". Bishop Peter D. Weaver had this to say:

Rev. Robertson's stand calls us to perpetuate the Cold War, urges us to join the terrorism we reject and pushes this world into a deepening spiral of violence," Weaver said. "On the basis of the Bible, the spirit of Jesus Christ, and Christian tradition, I urge Rev. Robertson publicly to apologize and renounce his misguided statement."

In an Aug. 24 letter sent to the White House, Weaver also asked President George Bush to reject Robertson's call for violence against Chavez.

Rev. John H. Thomas, General Minister and President of the United Church of Christ has said

"It shouldn't surprise us that someone who prayed a few years ago for a hurricane to afflict others in order that his own enterprise be spared would also endorse political assassination," Thomas, the UCC's general minister and president, told United Church News on Wednesday.

"The fact that we aren't surprised [by Robertson’s comments] does not reduce the outrage that Christians of many theological perspectives feel at Robertson's remarks," Thomas said. "They deserve condemnation from all of us."

It is important to add that even very conservative religious voices are denouncing Robertson's words. According to Christianity Today's blog Al Mohler, dean of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary has said of Robertson, "He has brought embarrassment upon us all."..."With so much at stake, Pat Robertson bears responsibility to retract, rethink, repent, and restate his position on this issue. Otherwise, what could have been a temporary lapse of judgment can become an enduring obstacle to the Gospel."

And the same blog entry tells us that American Family Association spokesman Ed Vitagliano objected to a call for violence in the name of Christ

"We do not think it is a Christian thing to do to call for assassination of another country's leader. We understand the nation does things it thinks it should to preserve survival, but for someone who is a minister we feel greater care should be taken in representing the name of Christ. The name of Christ should not be mixed in, even accidentally, with the call for an assassination."

Finally, this last excerpt is not from a religious spokesperson, but this piece by Patti Davis in Newsweek Society is just too good not to share.

The Sin of Blasphemy

At the risk of sounding quaint, this is just not the God I was raised with, and it certainly isn’t the God who answers me. I close my eyes sometimes and say, “God, I gave someone the finger today when I was driving. I know I shouldn’t have.” And what I hear back is something like, “I saw that. And I’ve told you before, that was a child of mine too. A tailgating one, but my child nonetheless.”

I’m actually feeling a lot better now about my temper flares in traffic. At least I’ve never considered using weaponry.

I’m sure the members of the Christian Coalition won’t take my suggestions, but they might want to consider making a rule that anyone who calls himself a Christian has to have some passing acquaintance with the teachings of Jesus. I’m no Biblical scholar but I am absolutely sure that Jesus never suggested assassinating anyone.

When I lived in New York City, I used to give money to a homeless man who stood on the same corner of Columbus Avenue every day, rain or shine. He was never pushy, he was always polite, and I just felt like giving him money. One day, I saw a man in a business suit getting right in this man’s face, waving a Bible at him and telling him he was a sinner and he had to accept Jesus and ask forgiveness for his sins. I walked up, gave the homeless man a five and said to the sidewalk preacher, “You know, Jesus would never do what you’re doing.” I walked away quickly before he could hit me with his Bible. And I walked away feeling very sorry for Jesus. People keep doing things in his name that are so un-Christianlike.

Well, if I felt sorry for Jesus then, I feel like weeping for him now. Shouldn’t people like Pat Robertson just go start their own religion and leave Jesus out of it?

Patti Davis' words about her conversations with God remind me that Pat Robertson is a beloved child of Godde too. Dang. I still have a hard time with that sort of thing. Maybe it's time for me to revisit Anne Lamott's Loving Bush: Day 2

It was like being in the Twilight Zone. It was a nightmare. It was clear that the pastor, Veronica, was speaking directly to me. She said that Christians have a very bad reputation in the world, because we have earned it, with our hate and self-righteousness. We speak in reverent terms of grace, justice, equality, mercy, and then we despise people who were also created in God's image, who are Her children too. She said that if George Bush had been the only person on earth, Jesus would still have come down and died for him.

This drives me crazy. That God seems to have no taste, and no standards. Of course, by the same token, on most days, this is what gives some of us hope.

And it brings me back to the words of "Here I am, Lord, by Dan Schutte

I will break their hearts of stone,
Give them hearts for love alone.

Maybe I need to reflect on those words some more today...and remember that it's not just Robertson who has a stony heart that needs fixing. When I start to slip into schadenfreude in response to Pat Roberston being scolded by his own allies, it's probably time to humbly invite some divine repair work on my own heart.

Sunday, August 21, 2005

Sabbath time at My Left Wing

Crossposted at Sacred Space: Reflections from the religious left

I promised my daughter I'd take her to a dog wash fundraiser that is being run by a local animal welfare organization. She wanted to volunteer at one of the local rescues/shelters and was bummed to find out that she needs to be at least 12 to do that. I promised that the next time there was a dog wash, I'd take her so that she could help out, since I knew from past experience that there was no age cutoff for that.

Before I go, I wanted to mention a new feature it's simple IF you ignore the complexity has started at My Left Wing...

Sabbath Time
As promised - this will become a weekly feature. It is a place to relax - share a happy story or memory. Share a fear or concern that the good thoughts, energy, encouragement, and prayers of the community might assist you with.

This is a place of Sabbath.

A place of rest, renewal, of delight.

It’s a place of “reasons for living.” - a "cool place."

Take a deep breath, hear music that is restful to you, put on some tea or cocoa, pull up a comfortable chair and enjoy the company of friends.

It is good that we are together this Sabbath time , I’m glad you’re here – what do you have to share today?

Very neat idea, I think.

Friday, August 19, 2005

Bush, Osama, and faith-based violence

William Sloane Coffin, in spite of having been told that he had 6 months to live several years ago, is still speaking truth to power...

Consider, Coffin writes, "President Bush's messianic militarism, a divinely ordained form of cleansing violence, and all in the name of a Jesus Christ who is the mirror opposite of the Jesus of the four Gospels."

"Osama bin Laden believes in faith-based violence; Bush believes in faith-based violence," the minister says in an interview. "Osama believes it's redemptive violence -- he's going to take out the bad guy; Bush believes it's redemptive violence -- we're going to rid the world of evil. You have to watch it -- you become like the enemy you hate."

Some may consider Coffin a heretic, but the minister says he began honing his message as a U.S. Army liaison to French and Russian forces during World War II.

"I considered World War II a necessary evil, and I think I still do," he writes. "However, I now realize, particularly in the nuclear age, that war, like most necessary evils, is far more evil than necessary."

"How can the president call Iran, Iraq and North Korea 'the axis of evil' when the whole of humanity suffers infinitely more from environmental degradation, pandemic poverty and a world awash with weapons?" he continues in his book. "We must agree to be governed by the force of law, not by the law of force. ... We don't have to lead the world; we have to join it."

More here.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Religious Left Sermons

This looks interesting:
A View from the Religious Left
sermons by the Rev. Dr. Randolph W.B.Becker

It's a podcast thing--something I'm still a bit behind the curve on--but they are semons you can listen to on MP3. (And some are available in text format.)

Here are some of the sermons available on MP3:

One of our great human fears is to appear the fool - but isn't it worse to foolishly appear wise by accepting without question what other fools have called wisdom?

Religion should be about transformation. There are two ways of being transformational, one as a change agent and the other as a supporter of change agents. Truly religious communities contain both.

WE BELIEVE - No One Stands Alone
Most religions claim that a "religious person" is someone who denies some aspect of themselves. We embrace the value of each individual, but only as we learn to not stand alone.

Also, there is a new post on Sacred Space: Reflections from the religious left:

Invisible Essentials and the Grand Design

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Googling the Religious Left

Checking Google rankings, I see that my Religious Left homepage is the second site that comes up. I really appreciate the help people have given as far as linking to that page whenever possible, and will welcome any additional assistance in spreading the word so that people can find my site in its new location, and de-link from religiousleft dot blogspot dot com. Long story short--that *was* my url, and then for some reason one day I logged into Blogger and found *all* of the blogs I'd created gone. As I tried, pointlessly, to get a response from someone at blogger, and also tried to rebuild some of my more critical blogs, it didn't occur to me to check to see if I could recreate all of my blogs. It didn't seem to make much sense, given that I now knew that my blogs on Blogspot could be wiped away at the drop of a hat, for no apparent reason, and there was no way to contact anyone for help.

But what, in hindsight, I *should* have realized even if I didn't plan to rebuild my whole Religious Left blog on Blogspot, I should at very least try to grab the url so that it doesn't fall into the hands of someone who is hostile to the religious left. I guess I must be naive--I just don't even think like that. But since obviously some people do, the *first* site that comes up on a Google search for "religious left" is my old site, ahem, "under new management".

My understanding of Googlebombing is that it's about consistently linking certain words to a web site, like when lots of liberal bloggers would make the words miserable failure link to the page with Bush's biography. If you visit that page, you will find that the words miserable failure do not appear anywhere on that page. But Bush's bio page on the White House web site shows up as the top result when you search for the words miserable failure simply because so many people did what I just did above.

A Google bomb or Google wash is an attempt to influence the ranking of a given site in results returned by the Google search engine. Due to the way that Google's PageRank algorithm works, a website will be ranked higher if the sites that link to that page all use consistent anchor text.

But knowing how that algorithm works, you can influence where your own site appears in rankings. My Religious Left blog at its old (now hijacked) url reached the first position in Google search results as a combination of the fact that I named the sites "The Religious Left", and it had the words Religious Left in the url, *and* because over two years many people linked to things I posted on my Religious Left blog.

So, the fact that S.B.'s "blog" (one post so far, announcing less than honorable intentions for the site) is now parked in my old spot, allowed him or her to benefit from entirely unearned top Google ranking. Not sure what to call that. The words "stealing" and "fraud" occur to very least the behavior is "not okay.

New entries

Religious Left update

New entries on Sacred Space: Reflections from the religious left

Diaries/articles about Faith AND Freedom Rally (Please pass along any I might have missed).

Cindy Sheehan news

Re-visioning the Assumption of Mary

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

The Religious Left

My Religious Left web site: promoting the politics of compassion since 2003

My new diary:
Sacred Space: Reflections from the religious left

Click here to see what happened to my original Religious Left blog.