well since i have posted anything here in a year and a half
I have, over the last few years, been struck by the connections between Islam and Christianity - the points at which our understanding and experience of God is so similar. Tariq Ramadan has a piece in the New York Times about Reading the Koran. Change the words a bit, read 'Bible' for 'Koran' and and parts of his writing express poetically, almost perfectly my understanding of how I as a Christian relate to sacred text. Here's a few of these passages:
It is the Word of God — but it is not God. The Koran makes known, reveals and guides: it is a light that responds to the quest for meaning. The Koran is remembrance of all previous messages, those of Noah and Abraham, of Moses and Jesus. Like them, it reminds and instructs our consciousness: life has meaning, facts are signs.
The Koran speaks to each in his language, accessibly, as if to match his intelligence, his heart, his questions, his joy as well as his pain. This is what the ulema have termed reading or listening as adoration. As Muslims read or hear the Text, they strive to suffuse themselves with the spiritual dimension of its message: beyond time, beyond history and the millions of beings who populate the earth, God is speaking to each of them, calling and reminding each of them, inviting, guiding, counseling and commanding. God responds, to her, to him, to the heart of each: with no intermediary, in the deepest intimacy.
A dialogue has begun. An intense, permanent, constantly renewed dialogue between a Book that speaks the infinite simplicity of the adoration of the One, and the heart that makes the intense effort necessary to liberate itself, to meet him. At the heart of every heart’s striving lies the Koran. It holds out peace and initiates into liberty.
It is not merely dangerous but fundamentally erroneous to generalize about what Muslims must and must not do based on a simple reading of the Koran. Some Muslims, taking a literalist or dogmatic approach, have become enmeshed in utterly false and unacceptable interpretations of the Koranic verses, which they possess neither the means, nor on occasion the intelligence, to place in the perspective of the overarching message.
When dealing with the Koran, it is neither appropriate nor helpful to draw lines of demarcation between approaches of the heart and of the mind. All the masters of Koranic studies without exception have emphasized the importance of the spiritual dimension as a necessary adjunct to the intellectual investigation of the meaning of the Koran. The heart possesses its own intelligence: “Have they not hearts with which to understand,” the Koran calls out to us, as if to point out that the light of intellect alone is not enough. The Muslim tradition, from the legal specialists to the Sufi mystics, has continuously oscillated between these two poles: the intelligence of the heart sheds the light by which the intelligence of the mind observes, perceives and derives meaning.
For the Muslim’s heart and conscience, the Koran is the mirror of the universe. What the first Western translators, influenced by the biblical vocabulary, rendered as “verse” means, literally, “sign” in Arabic. The revealed Book, the written Text, is made up of signs, in the same way that the universe, in the image of a text spread out before our eyes, abounds with these very signs. When the intelligence of the heart — and not analytical intelligence alone — reads the Koran and the world, the two speak to one another, echo one another; each one speaks of the other and of the Unique One. The signs remind us of meaning: of birth, of life, of feeling, of thought, of death.
The Koran is a book for both heart and mind. In nearness to it, a woman or a man who possesses a spark of faith knows the path to follow, knows her or his own inadequacies. No sheik is needed, no wise man, no confidant. Ultimately, the heart knows. This was what the Prophet answered when he was asked about moral feelings. In the light of the Book, he said, “Inquire of your heart.” And should our intelligence stray into the complexities of the different levels of reading, from applied ethics to the rules of practice, we must never forget to clothe ourselves in the intellectual modesty that alone can reveal the secrets of the Text. For “it is not the eyes that are blind, but the hearts within the breasts.” Such a heart, humble and alert, is the faithful friend of the Koran.
. . . Faith means trust. Trust is the act in which one may rely on the faithfulness of another, that His promise holds and that what He demands He demands of necessity. 'I believe means 'I trust. No more must I dream of trusting in myself, I no longer require to justify myself, to excuse myself, to attempt to save and preserve myself. This most profound of human efforts, to trust in ourselves, to see ourselves as right, has become pointless. I believe not in myself, but in God. . . So also trust in any sort of authorities, who might offer themselves to me as trustworthy, as an anchor which I should hold on to, has become frail and unnecessary. Trust in any sort of gods has become frail and unnecessary. . . no matter whether they have the form of ideas, or of any sort of destiny, no matter what they are called. Faith delivers us from trust in such gods, and therefore also from the fear of them, from the disillusionments which they inevitably, repeatedly hold for us. . . . To hold on to God is to rely on the reality that God is there for me, and to live in this certainty. This is the promise that God gives us: I am there for you. . . Because God is for us, we may also be for Him. Because He has given Himself to us, we may also in gratitude give Him the trifle which we have to give.
. . The glory of faith does not consist in our being challenged to do something, in having something laid on us which is beyond our strength. Faith is rather a freedom, a permission. It is permitted to be so - that the believer in God's Word [here Barth is referring to God's coming to us as Jesus, not as reading material / the Bible] may hold on to this Word in spite of everything that contradicts it. It is so; we never believe 'on account of', never 'because of'; we awake to faith in spite of everything. Think of the people in the Bible. They did not come to faith by reason of any kind of proofs, but one day they were so placed in situations that they might believe and then had to believe in spite of everything. God is hidden from us outside His Word, but shown to us in Jesus Christ. . . . When we believe, we must believe in spite of God's hiddenness. This hiddenness of God reminds us of our human limitation. We do not believe out of personal reason and power. Anyone who really believes knows that, The greatest hindrance to faith is again and again simply the pride and anxiety within our human hearts. We would rather not live by grace. Something within us energetically rebels against it. We do not wish to receive grace; at best we prefer to give ourselves grace, This swing between pride and anxiety is our human life, Faith bursts through them both.
- from Dogmatics in Outline
Geez Issue 7 on monsters includes an excerpt from a previous post of mine on Blackwater Thot I'd make the original a bit more accessible & tidy it up a bit. Here t'is
Cruella De Vil, Cruella De Vil,
If she doesn't scare you,
no evil thing will
To see her is to take
a sudden chill
Cruella, Cruella De Vil. . .
101 Dalmations came out in 1961. I was 8, and Cruella de Vil was, for the longest time, the face of evil in my mind. Clearly that's what evil people looked like, skinny with unmistakably nasty eyes. It's what many of us thought evil looked like. It was, perhaps, too dangerous to think that it might look like Roger or Anita, the nice couple who loved the puppies. Or like Oprah or Dr. Phil.
Unfortunately we were duped.
Erik Prince is the CEO and founder of Blackwater, a private mercenary army for hire [complete with the largest private military base in the world, with some 20 aircraft in their fleet, forces deployed in 9 countries and 21,000 'contractors' at the ready – a larger army than half of the nations in Africa.] Blackwater has been contracted by the Bush admin in Iraq and region. The idea of a private army for hire is pretty chilling in itself, but if that doesn't chill you, Prince's pedigree should.
His father, Edgar, founded the Family Research Council, where young Erik once worked as an intern. He must have learned well from these worthy pro-family lobbyists, because he then went out and started his own mercenary army. Paid killers. Erik Prince is a billionaire [I'm tempted to say something about 'making a killing in business' but I'll resist]. He is also a dedicated, right wing fundamentalist Christian. Let’s see, a billionaire theocrat with a private army. . . If that doesn't chill you no evil thing will.
Erik's mom Elsa, has been a board member of Focus on the Family and the secretive uber-conservative Council for National Policy, brainchild of Tim LaHaye [yep, the Left Behind guy]. Erik’s sister, Betsy, one time head of the Michigan Republicans, married Dick Devos, son of Amway’s Richard Devos. [Both Ricky & Dicky have strong connections to the CNP as well]. So, Erik’s loving mum, sis and brother in law all linked to this secretive ultraright group itself linked to theocrats. And Erik’s got an army.
Betsy and Dick have a foundation that backs groups like Focus. Not to be outdone, Erik has his own foundation, bizarrely named “The Freiheit Foundation” [Freiheit is German for ‘liberty’ but Erik isn’t German. And I am certainly not suggesting a link to Arische Freiheit (“Aryan Freedom”) and Aryan mysticism. Nope, way too conspiratorial.] Freiheit, however, does fund numerous religious right groups including the Acton Institute that targets anti-poverty campaigners and those nasty global warming alarmists. He also sits on the board of Christian Freedom International, an evangelistic organization operating in several predominately Muslim counties including Sudan where, coincidentally, Blackwater “has an interest”.
With over $750 million in US state department contracts, the Blackwater group includes training centres [over 50,000 paid killers trained in the homeland], production of armoured vehicles and remotely piloted aircraft,. Their Presidential Air Service helpfully has secret facility clearance from the Department of Defense [renditions are so much easier that way] And under Cofer Black, former head of counterterrorism at the CIA and Blackwater’s Vice-chair, they’ve created ‘Total Intelligence Solutions’- spies for hire.
Erik though is the quiet type. He eschews the spotlight, shy perhaps, or maybe he simply to prefers working under the radar. Strongly pro-family, pro-life [and as a mercenary boss, one can only assume pro-death as well] he may have a dog, a cocker spaniel perhaps or a golden retriever, and a garden with tulips. A pretty wife, a nice estate. He doesn't look anything like Cruella, really, does he?
Let's see, a major war-profiteer, mercenary army CEO. . . does that seem a bit at odds to the gospel? to the person/spirit/ethos of Jesus? Jesus who said, 'You've heard it said, 'Love your neighbour, hate your enemy', but I say to you 'Love your enemy.and pray for those who persecute you, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you..."
We make the mistake of thinking that evil shows up as the opposite of the good, often it is more like 'the good with benefits' – it begins with a little twist here, a little lie there, a quick justification.
Whatever its spiritual genesis, evil thrives not because of sociopaths [though they do their bit] but because of everyday folk who choose to live an unexamined life, chose to live a lie rather than face uncomfortable truth. Roger, the Dalmatian loving father could have been a pedophile or a war profiteer, could have taken pot-shots at pro-choice gynecologists, and Anita might not have suspected a thing.
I joke about this stuff in order to avoid madness. . . but joking aside, having watched the rise of the religious right in the US for 3 decades, I'd never considered the possibility of them creating their own army. I'd underestimated the wiliness of the devil. Yet here's a group that has created its own army, with the blessing of the Bush administration, and is amassing huge profits.
30 years ago I heard Corrie ten Boom asked if she feared Germany returning to fascism.She looked thoughtful, then answered, “Germany. . .No . . . but I do fear that America could drift into fascism. . . “ Sounded over the top, then. Far less so now.
As Canadians we maybe need to start asking what we will do if/when the US drifts/lurches into a fascist state, a theocracy . ..And as Christians, we need to start asking the questions Bonhoeffer asked, at what point must we give up our silence, our comfortable acquiescence?
here are some links and other resources re blackwater:
American Theocracy: The Peril and Politics of Radical Religion, Oil and Borrowed Money in the 21st Century. Kevin Phillips. 2006
Blackwater: The Rise of the World’s Most Powerful Mercenary Army. Jeremy Scahill. 2007
The Theocons: Secular AmericaUnder Siege. Damon Linker. 2006
Eternal Hostility: The Struggle Between Theocracy and Democracy. Fredrick Clarkson. 1997
Rabbi Margaret Wenig in 1997 created a bit of stir when she broadcast the meditation "God is a woman and she is growing older" - which contains some lovely imagery:
God is a woman and she is growing older. She moves more slowly now. She cannot stand erect. Her face is lined. Her voice is scratchy. Sometimes she has to strain to hear. God is a woman and she is growing older, yet she remembers everything.
On Rosh Hashanah, the anniversary of the day on which she gave us birth, God sits down at her kitchen table, opens the Book of Memories, begins turning the pages, and God remembers.
"There, there is the world when it was new and my children when they were young." As she turns each page she smiles, seeing before her, like so many dolls in a department store window, all the beautiful colors of our skin, the varied shapes and sizes of our bodies. She marvels at our accomplishments: the music we have written, the gardens we have planted, the stories we have told, the ideas we have spun.
"They now can fly faster than the winds I send," she says to herself, "and they sail across the waters which I gathered into seas. They even visit the moon which I set in the sky. But they rarely visit me. . ."
Then there are the pages she would rather skip. Things she wishes she could forget. But they stare her in the face and she cannot help but remember: her children spoiling the home she created for us, brothers putting each other in chains. She remembers seeing us racing down dangerous roads—herself unable to stop us. She remembers the dreams she had for us—dreams we never fulfilled. And she remembers the names, so many names, inscribed in the book, names of all the children she has lost through war and famine, earthquake and accident, disease and suicide. And God remembers the many times she sat by a bedside weeping that she could not halt the process she herself set into motion. On Yom Kippur, God lights candles, one for each of her children, millions of candles lighting up the night making it bright as day. . .
"Come home," she wants to say to us, "Come home." But she won't call. For she is afraid that we will say, "No." She can anticipate the conversation: "We are so busy. We'd love to see you but we just can't come. Too much to do."
God knows that our busyness is just an excuse. She knows that we avoid returning to her because we don't want to look into her age-worn face. It is hard for us to face a god who disappointed our childhood expectations: She did not give us everything we wanted. She did not make us triumphant in battle, successful in business and invincible to pain. We avoid going home to protect ourselves from our disappointment and to protect her. We don't want her to see the disappointment in our eyes. Yet, God knows that it is there and she would have us come home anyway.
What if we did? What if we did go home and visit God? What might it be like?
God would usher us into her kitchen, seat us at her table and pour two cups of tea. She has been alone so long that there is much she wants to say. But we barely allow her to get a word in edgewise, for we are afraid of what she might say and we are afraid of silence. So we fill an hour with our chatter, words, words, so many words. Until, finally, she touches her finger to her lips and says, "Shh. Sha. Be still."
Then she pushes back her chair and says, "Let me have a good look at you." And she looks. And in a single glance, God sees us as both newly born and dying: coughing and crying, turning our head to root for her breast, fearful of the unknown realm which lies ahead.
In a single glance she sees our birth and our death and all the years in between. She sees us as we were when we were young: when we idolized her and trustingly followed her anywhere; when our scrapes and bruises healed quickly, when we were filled with wonder at all things new. She sees us when we were young, when we thought that there was nothing we could not do.
She sees our middle years too: when our energy was unlimited. When we kept house, cooked and cleaned, cared for children, worked, and volunteered—when everyone needed us and we had no time for sleep.
And God sees us in our later years: when we no longer felt so needed;when chaos disrupted the bodily rhythms we had learned to rely upon. She sees us sleeping alone in a room which once slept two. . .
When she is finished looking at us, God might say, "So tell me, how are you?" Now we are afraid to open our mouths and tell her everything she already knows: whom we love; where we hurt; what we have broken or lost; what we wanted to be when we grew up.
So we change the subject. "Remember the time when... "
"Yes, I remember," she says. Suddenly we are both talking at the same time . . .
"I'm sorry that I..."
"That's alright, I forgive you.
"I didn't mean to...
"I know that. I do."
We look away. "I never felt I could live up to your expectations."
"I always believed you could do anything," she answers.
"What about your future?," she asks us. We do not want to face our future. God hears our reluctance, and she understands
After many hours of drinking tea, when at last there are no more words, God begins to hum, "Aiyiyi-yi-yi, yiyiyi-yi-yi-yi, yiyiyi-yi-yi-yi."
And we are transported back to a time when our fever wouldn't break and we couldn't sleep, exhausted from crying but unable to stop. She picked us up and held us against her bosom and supported our head in the palm of her hands and walked with us. We could feel her heart beating and hear the hum from her throat, "Ah ah baby, ah ah baby, aiyiyi-yi-yi, yiyiyi-yi-yi-yi, yiyiyi-yi-yi-yi."
Ah, yes, that's where we learned to wipe the tears. It was from her we learned how to comfort a crying child, how to hold someone in pain.
Then God reaches out and touches our arm, bringing us back to the present and to the future. "You will always be my child," she says, "but you are no longer a child. Grow old along with me...the last of life for which the first was made." . . .
God holds our face in her two hands and whispers, "Do not be afraid, I will be faithful to the promise I made to you when you were young. I will be with you. Even to your old age I will be with you. When you are grey headed still I will hold you. I gave birth to you, I carried you. I will hold you still. Grow old along with me...."
Here's the communion liturgy we used @ knox this morning [easter 07] - put together out of some spare parts [morph communion, jonny baker / grace, etc.], easter readings, plus some original bits. 2 voices & response.
Because so many in our community have direct connections with family and friends in other lands, including many still in refugee camps in Africa, we began by imagining that the walls of the church weren't there, that the table extends far beyond this church, reaching to every land where people are gathering to celebrate communion this easter, and asking people to imagine this table specifically reaching the people they want to be connected with this morning.
 Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices so they might go and anoint him. Very early on the first day of the week, before the sun had risen they went to the tomb. As they walked, they asked each other, “Who is going to roll the stone away from the entrance” Later that same day, two of them were going to a village called Emmaus. . . And as they walked they talked about the things that had happened. Jesus himself caught up to them, and joined in their conversation, but they did not recognize him. . .
 Bewildered and heartbroken, we too know the experience of the women who stumbled toward the tomb. We know the experience of great obstacles blocking our entrance to hope. We too know the experience of wandering, blinded by grief and self-absorption.
And on this most wondrous of mornings we are reminded that no rock, no obstacle, no impossibility can match the capacity of your astonishing love: “He’s not here, he’s risen.” the angel said.
We who are have been wandering find a place here, here where the smell of warm bread and the taste of new wine reveal our true host, a living Lord. May those who are unsure find their place today. May those who’ve forgotten, rediscover joy.
Wondrous God, today your people all over this earth gather in grand cathedrals and mud huts to celebrate the victory of life over death, of possibility over probability, of hope over despair.
 Different hues, different hair, yet lifted by the same love;
different tongues, different values yet lifted by the same love,
Original child, newcomer child, held by the same hands,
poor child, rich child, soldier-child, held by the same hands,
Women in rags and with designer tags drinking from the same cup,
woman with AIDS, woman with child, woman at the well drinking from the same cup,
Old men, young men, men without names, sharing one loaf,
on killing fields, and in respectable suits, sharing one loaf,
sons of the slaves, sons of the free, sons of the Wind, sharing one loaf.
The Lord is here
God’s Spirit is with us
Lift up your hearts
We lift them up to God
Let us give thanks to the Lord our God
It is right to give God thanks and praise
 O Lord our God, sustainer of the universe, at your command all things came to be: the vast expanse of inter-stellar space, galaxies, suns, the planets in their courses, and this fragile earth our island home. By your will they were created and have their being.
Redeemer God, Word become flesh, we remember you in bread and wine, body and blood, broken so that we with all creation, may be made whole. Through your death the power of fear is destroyed, through your resurrection the power of hope is restored. Thank you.
And so with angels and animals, microbes and mountains, we join our hearts in praise. We join our voices with peasants and paleontologists, with the diplomatic and the desperate, with the lovers and the lonely and all your children, in joy saying:
Holy, holy, holy, holy, God of power and might,
Heaven and earth are full of your glory.
Hosanna, Hosanna in the highest
Blessed is the One who comes in the name of the Lord
Hosanna in the highest.
 We recall with wonder, how Jesus, dusty from the walk to Emmaus took bread, thanked you, broke it, gave it to his companions, and their eyes were opened. We remember with joy how he took the cup, thanked you, and offered it to his companions and their hearts were opened.
 In this place, heaven and earth meet under the rainbow of God’s promise. In this sharing of bread and wine, future hope becomes reality now. So bring your still frozen earth, bring your scorched land, your open sky, your restless, guilty waters, bring your swift unbending road and your anxious city streets to this table where your host says, “I make all things new.”
Lamb of God you take away the sin of the world
Have mercy on us.
Lamb of God you take away the sin of the world
Have mercy on us.
Lamb of God you take away the sin of the world
Grant us your peace.
Word becomes flesh,
flesh becomes bread,
bread becomes body,
body becomes word.
God is bread,
bread is broken;
pain becomes wine
wine becomes joy.
Wine bursts the wineskins,
God bursts the tomb,
Stones roll away,
Bread breaks into song:
So, I thought that went pretty well . . .
A brief one act play for Lent.
Setting: A panel of religious leaders [Nate, Bart, Nick, Jake and Joseph] are sitting around a board room table. There is one empty chair. They’re all dressed in nice suits. Jesus and Peter enter, dressed like labourers.
Jesus and Peter enter. Nate stands up [but doesn’t go over to shake their hands], gestures for them to come in.
Let me introduce you to the panel: This is the Rev. Bart McIsaac, the Rev. Dr. Nicolas Fitzpatrick, the Rev. Joseph McKay and Mr. Jake Jacobson, our lay delegate. We’ve been appointed by the council to have a bit of a conversation with you. We’ve invited you here really to let you know how much we care about you son, as, of course, we care for all our people. We want to make sure you don’t burn out, son, with all that energy of yours. [chuckles]
Bart: Thanks so much for your support to our community, we have great admiration for your dedication. Of course we know of your so-called miracles, but now we’ve received reports that you’ve been telling people that you forgive their sins. I am sure you are well aware of our due process for forgiving sins, we can’t have every self-appointed rabbi running around nilly willy telling people their forgiven now can we? So, we wanted to clarify the situation, have you been telling people that your forgive their sins?
Jesus: Why are you cultivating evil in your hearts? Do you think it’s easier to tell somebody their sins are forgiven or say to them ‘Get up and walk?’
Nate: No need to assume a tone like that, son. I am sure you are aware that we have have been duly appointed and carry with us true ecclesiastical authority over all these matters.
Jesus: True authority? You want authority? You want truth? Here’s some authoritative truth for you, God can turn stones into ecclesiastical authorities.
Nick: Now don’t get defensive son, this conversation will go much better if you show us due respect, a cooperative attitude will go far. You need to understand we really appreciate your efforts here, you’ve done a lot of good in the community. And we’re quite open to the idea of miracles. Why in fact we’d love to see one right now, why don’t you just do a little miracle here. Brother Bart over there has got a bad case of gout, don’t you, Bart?
Bart snickers and nods and takes off his shoe.
Nick: Go on, Jesus, go over and heal his toe.
Jesus' eyes flash at him.
Joseph: It's a simple task, do it and we’ll take that as a miracle, a sign a sign from God that you’re doing his work.
Jesus: It’s a slimy lot that seeks a miracle to prove a point. For you no miracle, no sign, except maybe "the sign of Jonah". . .
Jake [aside, to Joseph]: What’s he talking about? What’s "the sign of Jonah?
Nate: We’re not here trying to have a confrontation Jesus, we care about your, and we care about the people, we’re not trying to stop you, son, we just want to make sure that you are accountable, that you are following proper processes. Maybe you can explain to us, for example, why the people in your group don’t engage in the proper rituals for washing before they eat.
Jesus: Who are you to criticize them on this? Listen. It’s not complicated. It is not what goes into someone’s mouth that makes someone unclean, it’s what comes out of their mouths that makes them unclean.
[Josh stifles a laugh]
Nate: Let’s come back to the matter at hand, these so called miracles, son, if you really can do them, let’s see you do one right now. Again Bart’s got his toe all ready for you.
Bart wiggles his toe again.
Joseph: Come on, son. Show us a sign from heaven and then we’ll be satisfied.
Jesus: You want a sign, do you? When the sky is red at night, you say, it’ll be nice tomorrow. And when the sky is red in the morning, you say, it’s gonna storm. So you can accurately read signs in the sky but you can’t read the signs of the times. No miracle. No signs for you. Except the sign of Jonah.
Josh [to Joe]: Ask him about what means by the sign of Jonah.
Nate: Why it's Jesus, son of . . . [coughs] umm, anyway Jesus, good to see you, son. Come and have a seat. I see you’ve brought a support person. Good. That’s always an option of course, for those who feel they need extra support. What’s your name, son?
Peter: Rock. And I'm not your son.
Nate glares at him. Jesus smiles gently, looks at Peter, gives a slight nod no.
Nate: I’m not sure if Jesus explained our process to you, Mr. uhm, Rock, you can be a silent support to Jesus, but you’re not allowed to speak. Understand.
Peter mouths yes.
Nate: Josh, get a chair for Mr. Rock so he can sit down with us.
Josh stands, pulls up a chair. Jesus and Peter sit down.
Nate; Jesus, you remember me, I’m sure. My name is Rev. Nate Levison. I was the assistant pastor when you were just a little tyke in Sunday School. I remember you very well. You were quite inquisitve. . . you sure asked a lot of illiterate questions for a child a with illiterate parents like you had. You’ve done well for yourself son. Made quite a name for yourself. Drawing good crowds. And now we hear you're a bit of healer too, eh? You're a busy lad these days.
Nate: Well then if you can’t perform any miracles, we'll take that off the list. Maybe we should just review your teaching a bit, make sure it conforms to our understanding of faith.
Joseph: Perhaps we’ll start with your theological views on the sensitive issue of paying taxes. Should we pay taxes to the government?
Jesus; Hand me a looney.
Josh tosses him a looney. He holds it up for them to see.
Jesus. Whose face is that?
Josh: The queen’s.
Jesus: Then give the queen what’s belongs to her. And give to God what belongs to him.
Bart: Son, I'll be straight with you. We’ve had complaints that your teaching unfairly makes divorced people feel uncomfortable. As a divorced pastor myself I can tell you it’s not an easy road, and it sure doesn’t help when some unmarried know-it-all starts passing judgment on us. We've worked hard to create an open attitude toward divorce here. So. What do you think? Is it okay for people to divorce or not?
Jesus: Haven’t you read the Scriptures? They say the Creator made them male and female, and that the two shall become one. What God has put together, no one should tear apart. Here’s a question for you. A man had two sons, he asked them both to do some work in the vineyard. One said, ‘Sure Dad, I love you, you can always count on me’ but then he didn’t go. The second said, ‘I have a million things to do today, I can’t possibly work for you today’ but then he got to thinking about it and felt bad for lipping off, and so he quietly snuck off and worked in the vineyard. Which of them did what the father asked?
Committee members look at each other, a bit bewildered. . .
Josh: The second
Jesus: Right. [looks straight at Nate] And that’s why drug dealers and hookers are going to enter God’s kingdom before you do.
Nate: Now look here Jesus I’ve nearly had enough of your wise cracks, your insubordination. We believe in accountability, to whom are you accountable? Who gave you this authority?
Jesus: I’ll answer you as soon as you answer me this, John’s baptism, was it from heaven or did he make it up?
The group look at each other, flustered, and they huddle whispering
Nate: If we say from heaven
Bart: he’ll say, then why didn’t you believe him,
Nate: And if we say he made it up,
Joseph: some of our big givers are going to be upset because they believed in him.
Awkward pause. Some committee members look down..
Josh: Uhhm, well, we can’t tell you for sure.
Jesus: Well then I for sure can’t tell you where my authority comes from. You say you like truth, here's truth for you: God’s kingdom is going to be taken away from you and given to people who are going to do some good with it. Damn you people. You block the entrance to real life, and not only do you not enter, you try to keep everyone else out too. Damn your hypocrisy. You search all over for someone to convert to your way of thinking and make them twice as fit for hell as you are. Damn you for claiming to be guides when you are blind yourselves. Damn you for pretending to be righteous, following every little rule, and ignoring the stuff that matters: justice and mercy and compassion. You gag on mosquitoes and swallow moose. Bloody hypocrites. You clean the outside of the cup and but inside its full of greed and self importance. You fools, clean the inside and then the outside will be clean too. You are no better than whitewashed tombs, scrubbed clean on the outside but inside you are full of maggots and worms. You’re snakes. You’re vermin. Go to hell.
Nate: That’s quite enough. More than enough. We will tolerate your verbal abuse no longer. This hearing is adjourned. But mark my words, Jesus, this is not the end of it. It’s just the beginning.
Committee members grab their files and leave. Josh is the only one who pauses and looks back. Jesus and Peter sit for a minute. Then Jesus hits Peter on the back and nods to go. And as they walk Jesus puts his arm around Peter’s shoulders.
Jesus: So. . . I thought that went pretty well, what did you think?
Jesus hits him on the back again, and they exit laughing.
To provoke them to fight, they showed the elephants grape juice. . . [I Maccabees 6:34]
Why the hell would they do that? Sure, show the elephants grape juice, that'll get them all revved up, ready to squash some near eastern foot soldier from the other side. And anyway, where did these elephants suddenly come from? I mean how is it they suddenly show up in the pages of scripture at this point. Donkeys we have, sure, lots of donkeys. Sheep, lots of sheep. Goats too. Even lions. Asps. But elephants? No wonder this book only got halfway into the bible.
They must have been liberal protestant elephants. Grape juice instead of wine. We only pretend its wine: "With these your gifts of bread and wine we celebrate. . ." And no one stands up and says "Wait a minute, that's grape juice . . ." No one says "grape juice doesn't really taste like the Lord. . ." We give it out in individual shot glasses and pretend its a common cup. Not that long ago the priests gave out only wafers, keeping the wine for themselves. They told people when they have the wafers, its the same as having the wine too. Communion in one kind is communion in both kinds. That's harder to swallow than transubstantiation.
The problem many people have with the church is that they feel the church has lied to them. And it has. And they feel hurt. Betrayed. Communion in one kind is communion in both kinds. Grape juice is wine. God is always there when you need him. If you are good, God will reward you. But God is not always there when you need him, sometimes when you need him most he withdraws, is nowhere to be found. Not always a very present help in trouble, sometimes God is the trouble. And does reveal the Word in 12 minute homilies once a week.
We're sick of the pretense, sick of seeing people hurt. We're sick of pretending we have it all together. We're especially sick of the smiling, pious faces, well scrubbed and american looking, mouthing pat answers, religion that dribbles over the chin, religion that hides our fears, hides our hearts from one another.
Jesus said it best: "I am the pathway, the sincerity, the life." He refused to lie. Even about being godforsaken. He loved too much too lie. The people have a right to truth, to be not lied to. And God has a right to be not lied about. And communion isn't giving the elephants grape juice on Sunday so they'll be all revved up and able to endure another week of darkness in their offices and on the streets, trampling sin underfoot. It's about having someone to cry with, someone to be honest with. It's looking into a cup together and seeing our deaths and our lives, our hurts and our loves, our connection and our alienation. It's deciding to not run from the pain, not run from godforsakenness, not run from each other. It's hands touching each other, holding each others' cup of blessing and pain.
We don't need to lie. God never asked us to. We don't need to lie to protect God or sell God. It hurts too many people. Lies always do that. They take big chunks of our souls and petrify them. And it was, in the end, our lies, our need to protect our religious illusions that crucified the one who cam being honest, being sincere, telling the truth.
We don't need them anymore, the illusions, the deceptions. We don't need to hurt any more people
It was long ago that I heard Corrie Ten Boom speak, when, in the question and answer period, someone asked if she feared that Germany would become fascist again. She paused, and said quietly: "No, not Germany, but America. .. . ." Over these 30 years her fears seemed to become and more justified. Here are some quotes- lengthy, but chilling:
A fighting faith:
My feelings as a Christian point me to my Lord and Saviour as a fighter. Adolf Hitler, 1922.
This 'turn the other cheek' business is all well and good but it's not what Jesus fought and died for. What we need to do is take the battle to the Muslim heathens and do unto them before they do unto us. Jerry Falwell, 2002
I want you to just let a wave of intolerance wash over you. I want you to let a wave of hatred wash over you. Yes, hate is good...Our goal is a Christian nation. We have a Biblical duty, we are called by God, to conquer this country. Randall Terry, 1993
We are engaged in a social, political, and cultural war. There's a lot of talk in America about pluralism. But the bottom line is somebody's values will prevail. And the winner gets the right to teach our children what to believe. Gary Bauer
Nothing short of a great Civil War of Values rages today throughout North America. Two sides with vastly differing and incompatible world views are locked in a bitter conflict that permeates every level of society. James Dobson
Today we are engaged in a final, all-out battle between communistic atheism and Christianity. Sen. Joseph McCarthy, 1950
Secular schools can never be tolerated because such a school has no religious instruction and a general moral instruction without a religious foundation is built on air; consequently, all character training and religion must be derived from faith.... We need believing people. Adolf Hitler, 1933
I hope I live to see the day when, as in the early days of our country, we won't have any public schools. The churches will have taken them over again and Christians will be running them. What a happy day that will be! Jerry Falwell, 1979
The Christian community has a golden opportunity to train an army of dedicated teachers who can invade the public school classrooms and use them to influence the nation for Christ. D.James Kennedy, 1993
We're going to bring back God and the Bible and drive the gods of secular humanism right out of the public schools of America. Pat Buchanan, 1996
The public education movement has also been an anti-Christian movement... Pat Robertson, 1993
Universal education is the most corroding and disintegrating poison that liberalism has ever invented for its own destruction. Adolf Hitler
No Atheists allowed:
We were convinced that the people needs and requires this faith. We have therefore undertaken the fight against the atheistic movement, and that not merely with a few theoretical declarations: we have stamped it out. Adolf Hitler, 1933
The Constitution of the United States . . . is a marvelous document for self-government by the Christian people. But the minute you turn the document into the hands of non-Christian people and atheistic people they can use it to destroy the very foundation of our society. Pat Robertson, 1981
No, I don't know that atheists should be considered as citizens, nor should they be considered as patriots. This is one nation under God. George Herbert W. Bush
When I said during my presidential bid that I would only bring Christians and Jews into the government. . .the media challenged me. . . How dare you maintain that those who believe in the Judeo Christian values are better qualified to govern America than Hindus and Muslims?' My simple answer is, `Yes, they are.' Pat Robertson
We want to fill our culture again with the Christian spirit … We want to burn out all the recent immoral developments in literature, in the theater, and in the press. . .we want to burn out the poison of immorality which has entered into our whole life and culture as a result of liberal excess. . . Adolf Hitler
How much more forcefully can I say it? The time has come, and it is long overdue, when Christians and conservatives and all men and women who believe in the birthright of freedom must rise up and reclaim America for Jesus Christ.” D.James Kennedy, 1997
Theater, art, literature, cinema, press, posters, and window displays must be cleansed of all manifestations of our rotting world and placed in the service of a moral, political, and cultural idea. Adolf Hitler, 1926
We're fighting against humanism, we're fighting against liberalism ... we are fighting against all the systems of Satan that are destroying our nation today ... our battle is with Satan himself. Jerry Falwell
Fatherland Homeland security:
Unique among the nations, America recognized the source of our character as being godly and eternal, not being civic and temporal. And because we have understood that our source is eternal, America has been different. We have no king but Jesus. John Ashcroft, 1999
This country belongs to God ... He's the One who brought the United States of America into existence. He had a special purpose for it ... He raised it up, and it's not going to be taken away from Him. Kenneth Copeland
What we have to fight for...is the freedom and independence of the fatherland, so that our people may be enabled to fulfill the mission assigned to it by the Creator. Adolf Hitler, 1926
Christians have an obligation, a mandate, a commission, a holy responsibility to reclaim the land for Jesus Christ -- to have dominion in civil structures. . . But it is dominion we are after. . . World conquest. . . And we must never settle for anything less... George Grant
Our job is to reclaim America for Christ, whatever the cost. D.James Kennedy, 2005
Lord God, give us the strength that we may retain our liberty for our children and our children's children, not only for ourselves but also for the other peoples of Europe, for this is a war which we all wage, this time, not for our German people alone, it is a war for all of Europe and with it, in the long run, for all of mankind. Adolf Hitler,1942
These perverted homosexuals.absolutely hate everything that you and I and most decent, God-fearing citizens stand for.Make no mistake. These deviants seek no less than total control and influence in society, politics, our schools and in our exercise of free speech and religious freedom..If we do not act now, homosexuals will own America! Jerry Falwell, 1999
There will never be world peace until God's house and God's people are given their rightful place of leadership at the top of the world. Pat Robertson, 1991
The State & the Faith Community:
This the national government will regard its first and foremost duty to restore the unity of spirit and purpose of our people. It will preserve and defend the foundations upon which the power of our nation rests. It will take Christianity, as the basis of our collective morality, and the family as the nucleus of our people and state, under its firm protection....May God Almighty take our work into his grace, give true form to our will, bless our insight, and endow us with the trust of our people. Adolf Hitler, 1935
When the Christian majority takes over this country, there will be no satanic churches, no more free distribution of pornography, no more abortion on demand, and no more talk of rights for homosexuals. After the Christian majority takes control, pluralism (i.e., multiculturalism) will be seen as immoral and evil. . . Gary Potter
The Government, being resolved to undertake the political and moral purification of our public life, are creating and securing the conditions necessary for a really profound revival of religious life Adolf Hitler, 1933
You better believe that I want to build a Christian nation, because the only option is a pagan nation.. . . Randall Terry
Imbued with the desire to secure for the German people the great religious, moral, and cultural values rooted in the two Christian Confessions, we have abolished the political organizations but strengthened the religious institutions. Adolf Hitler, 1934
The faithful in mission:
If we remain strong and focused and tough when we need to, if we continue to speak clearly about right from wrong and defend the values -- which are not American values, but God-given values -- we can achieve peace. George W Bush, 2003
Remain strong in your faith, as you were in former years. In this faith, in its close-knit unity our people to-day goes straight forward on its way and no power on earth will avail to stop it. Adolf Hitler, 1937
The short-term objective of this country is to find an enemy and bring them to justice before they strike us. The long-term objective is to make this world a more free and hopeful and peaceful place. I believe we'll succeed because freedom is the Almighty God's gift to every man and woman in this world. George W Bush, 2004
I would ask of the Lord God only this: that, as in the past, so in the years to come He would give His blessing to our work and our action, to our judgment and our resolution, that He will safeguard us from all false pride and from all cowardly servility, that He may grant us to find the straight path which His Providence has ordained for the German people, and that He may ever give us the courage to do the right, never to falter, never to yield before any violence, before any danger. Adolf Hitler, 1937
I am convinced that I am acting as the agent of our Creator. By fighting off the Jews, I am doing the Lord's work. Adolf Hitler, 1936
God told me to strike at al Qaida and I struck them, and then he instructed me to strike at Saddam, which I did, and now I am determined to solve the problem in the Middle East. George W. Bush
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A few weeks ago I had a dream that we had a pet camel named Lenny - 2 dreams really. In the first Lenny was just a wee Lenny, a calf, and he'd jump in the car, so excited when we'd go for a car ride, etc. I woke up so happy from the dream I wanted to go back and dream more about Lenny. And that's exactly what happened - in the second dream Lenny was a mature camel, a good friend, and we'd stand and look out the window together in peaceful silence. When I told friends in the Somali community, they were excited because, Iearned, the camel is the symbol, the mythic symbol in fact, of Somalia. Since then I've had a bit of a fascination with camels, and, I discovered, there are 46 words for camel in Somalian. And here they are:
aaran "young camels who are no longer sucklings"
abeer or ameer "female camel that has not given birth"
afkuxuuble "miscarried camel fetus"
awr "male pack camel"
awradhale "camel that always gives birth to he-camels; stud-camel that always breeds male camels"
baarfuran "female camel that is not used as a pack camel"
baarqab "stud camel"
baatir "mature female camel that has had no offspring"
baloolley "she-camel without calf that will or will not give milk depending on her mood"
buub "young unbroken male camel"
caddaysimo "unloaded pack camel; unpoisoned arrow"
caggabbaruur "lion cub; young camel"
cashatab "female camel that has stopped giving milk or failed to conceive when it was supposed to"
cayuun "camel sp."
daandheer "strong camel of the herd"
duq "old female camel; old woman"
dhaan "camel loaded with water vessels"
dhoocil "bull camel; naughty boy/girl"
farruud or qarruud "mature male camels; elders"
garruud "old male camels; old people"
gool "fat camel"
guubis or guumis "first-born male camel"
gulaal "male camel unable to project the gland in his mouth; person with hesitant or stammering speech"
guran "herd of camels no longer giving milk that are kept far from dwelling areas"
gurgurshaa "calm, docile pack-camel which can be loaded with delicate items" [from gurgur "to carry things one by one"]
hal "female camel"
hayin "tame pack camel; [atr.] docile; [ext.] simple, uncomplicated"
irmaan "dairy camels"
kareeb "mother camel kept apart from her young
koron "gelded camel"
labakurusle "two humped camel [lit. two-camelhump-er]"
luqmalliigle "young camel"
mandhoorey "lead ~ best camel in the herd"
nirig "camel foal"
rati "male camel"
qaalin "young camel"
qaan "young camel ~ camels"
qawaar "old she camel"
qoorqab "uncastrated male (camel etc.)"
qurbac "young male camel"
rakuub "riding camel (from Arabic)"
ramag or ramad "she camel who has recently given birth"
sidig "one of two female camels suckling the same infant"
tulud "one's one and only camel"
xagjir "milk-producing camel that is partially milked (two udders for human consumption; two for its calf)"
- from here