Category Archives: Rants

What in the ‘World’ is the Church Thinking?


Recently, I’ve read a lot about social and cultural ills, and, how the Church ought to respond to them. Some of these have to do with specific events. I read one this morning that just put me over the top with incredulity. David Hayword shared a story that I found totally unbelievable. Here is a link to David’s blog, http://www.patheos.com/blogs/nakedpastor/2013/06/money-women-and-guns/.
Last week I read a post by Frank Schaeffer about human trafficking. This is an issue that is of paramount importance. And, I commend Frank’s voice on it. He has highlighted the role of social media to the modern-day slave trade. http://www.patheos.com/blogs/frankschaeffer/2013/06/facebook-and-google-must-do-far-more-to-stop-the-slave-trade/
I could go on and on about the growing economic disparity between the so-called 1% and everyone else. I could mention how our elected leaders are owned and operated by various special interests…special interests that are only concerned about their own interests. Tony Jones wrote a very insightful piece about this at http://www.patheos.com/blogs/tonyjones/2013/06/08/our-eternal-war/
So, what is the Church saying and doing? From the sermons I’ve heard and the people I’ve talked to, it seems that we are really, really concerned about personal piety and creating a counter-cultural presence. Now, please don’t get me wrong. I’m not disparaging these. (Although, I think the counter-cultural thing is counter-productive. But, more on that some other time.)
I hear so-called Christian leaders speak out against LGBT folks on a regular basis like these people, who, incidentally, God loves. I hear our leaders worrying and complaining because their children masturbate. I listen to well-meaning folks break down to tears because alcohol exists…or tobacco, or pot. I listen to high profile ‘leaders’ talk about gender roles as if they had a hotline to God. Oh, and don’t get me started about science and evolution. What a ‘slippery slope’ these topics present to the ‘faithful.’
So, we reject the culture. We build structures that shield us from the tainted influences of this ‘fallen’ world. We build crap. http://www.patheos.com/blogs/irreverin/2013/06/evolvingfaith/
I think that it’s far easier to identify specific ‘sins’ and issues that differentiate us, that make us exclusive, than to deal with the real task of building God’s reign here, now, on Earth. What does that look like? I certainly don’t have an exhaustive answer to this. I do know, however, some of the characteristics of it. From Jesus, himself, I see his understanding of this vocation. From Luke 4:18-19 we read, “18. “The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, Because He anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor. He has sent Me to proclaim release to the captives, And recovery of sight to the blind, To set free those who are oppressed,  19. To proclaim the favorable year of the Lord.”(NASB)
I don’t see a lot about complementarianism in this. I do see a mandate for caring for the distressed and marginalized, however. James adds more insight into the heart of God. He wrote in chapter one of his letter, “Religion that is pure and undefiled in the sight of God our Father is to care for the orphans and widows in their distress, to keep oneself pure from the world.” (trans. mine.) Many evangelicals will say, “Aha! Keep pure from the world. That means individual moral purity. Exactly what we’ve been preaching!” My response is, “Not so fast.” What is James’ understanding of what we translate ‘world’? He used ‘Cosmos’ for this. The idea contained in this language has to do with world systems, not individual piety. The systemic abuses of greed and power undergird this verse. Systems that continue the marginalization of entire groups of people are included here. Embedded privilege is condemned in these few words by the apostle. While we nit-pick about masturbation people who Christ loves and gave his life for are set apart as ‘other’ and judged to be something ‘less than’ us. While we look for ways to define who is ‘in’ and who is ‘out’ girls and women are abused and subjected to horrific conditions so that men might cling to their power and privilege. Workers are denied living wages so that some corporation can pay handsome dividends to its stockholders. Hundreds can die in a factory in Bangladesh in order to pad some executive’s pockets with pictures of a guy named George. LGBT people are forced to choose between honesty and self-loathing because some religious leader preaches hate-filled sermons to the ‘faithful.’
No, our responsibility to God and God’s good creation is to be a royal priesthood and holy nation. A place of safety for the distressed and marginalized people of the world. Not to defile ourselves by being a party to the very systems that cause the distress and marginalizing.

Good news from Cleveland this week. Maybe, we can make it even better.

Well, it’s been nearly a week since the news broke that Michelle Knight, Gina Dejesus and Amanda Berry had been found and released from hell. I was in the kitchen when my wife started to carry on about something. I walked to the living room and she said that Amanda had been found. We watched intently as the story of horrific imprisonment and abuse began to unfold before our eyes. Relief! The families’ hopes had been realized. Gina’s mother had been the ‘point’ of years of hope for her daughter. “Never give up hope!” became a rallying cry for her and the countless others who supported her and Amanda’s families.

But, for me, something wasn’t quite right about how the story was being told by the local media. Everyone on air kept talking about the ‘good’ ending to this decade long ordeal. Yes, every year that passed dimmed the hope that the girls would be found at all, let alone alive. And, here they were! Yet, there were years unaccounted for. There was the loss of innocence. There was the loss of family and friends. There was the loss of self as each of these young women became the ‘property’ of one deranged individual Man. And, this is the story that is missing from all of the good news. One human male thought that he had the right to abduct, imprison and abuse these women. One man, Ariel Castro, took his male privilege to the extreme and subjected three young women to inexplicable horror. But, is he only one man? What is it that causes a person like Castro to consider for even a moment that he has such ‘rights’ over other human beings? Why did he think that it was ‘OK’ to take girls for his own twisted pleasure?
A person whom I have come to deeply respect for her views on issues of sexuality and abuse of privilege, Jennifer D. Crumpton, blogged the day before these young women were found and released. I had read her post and viewed a linked video that night. She wrote about the ‘rape culture’ that is so pervasive in our society. I’m not going to tell her story, but she talked about how male privilege covers up male abuse of others. We live by a double standard in which an abuse victim is re-victimized by media and peers while the male abusers are referred to as ‘boys being boys.’ How ridiculous and perverted! We allow male privilege to rape, imprison and kill, then we all act horrified when an Ariel Castro appears. Ariel Castro, who was embodying the very ‘rape culture’ that we allow to flourish in our midst.
Yes, it is great news that Michelle, Gina and Amanda have been freed. It gives hope to the thousands of other families who have missing children. I hope and pray for all of these that they, too, can be reunited with their loved ones. But, the awful truth is that we continue to allow our culture to embrace gender violence in the name of male privilege.
Please read Jennifer’s post:
And, take 20 minutes to  view the linked video of Jackson Katz, PhD.
Perhaps, if we can use the God given minds that we have, and open our hearts to God’s Spirit and to one another, there may be a truly ‘good’ ending to this story.

Arrogance of Medical Doctors Ticks Me Off

I’m sure that many folks in this country have experienced this. You ask a doctor a question and they, condescendingly, ask what your medical background is. Like whatever they may say is so far above your puny comprehension that they cannot be bothered with such things. Or, you tell a doctor that the course of treatment they are taking is not working. They say, ‘Trust me’. They think that they cannot possibly be mistaken. After all, they have gone to medical school and done their residency and now are gods that can pronounce truth and justice to the uneducated minions.
I’ve had this happen to me twice. The first time my mother had just had a very serious surgery. One of the pieces of equipment that was designed to safeguard her failed. Because of that, the doctors gave her too much fluid and almost killed her. During her recovery I went to the attending physician and asked about her condition. He looked at me and asked me what my medical experience was. I looked at him and said that I didn’t have any. I was the concerned family member that he was going to talk to…NOW! That got his attention and he took pains to explain what was happening. As a result, we moved my mother to a facility that was far better equipped to help her.
This past week another doctor tried to impress with her vast medical knowledge and experience. My father has been in a skilled nursing facility for rehab from surgery. During his stay he became restless and, as the staff reported, combative. I can see that. He has dementia and doesn’t understand much of what is going on around him. The staff physician prescribed a medication that was supposed to settle him down. After a couple days, we noticed that he was becoming agitated and unresponsive. We asked to review his meds and found one that could cause the symptoms we observed. When I questioned the doctor, she assured me that the meds were safe. There was nothing about them that could cause what we were observing. The problem was, we KNEW his behavior. We have been attending to him for the last year and are very aware of all of his issues. What we were seeing was something drastically new and dangerous. We continued to question the doctor. She continued to tell us to ‘trust’ her judgement. Finally, after more than a week, the doctor started to take us seriously. We had told her and the nursing staff that Dad’s behavior was abnormal and most likely caused by the meds he was getting. (Now, it helps that I’m married to a Nurse who deals with these meds. She was instrumental in helping us get our message across to the attending staff. But, what about everyone else who does NOT have someone to help?)
Anyway, the doc discontinued the medication that we suspected was causing problems. Gee, after one day Dad’s condition has improved. Whodathunkit?
My point in this rant is that medical professionals, particularly M.D.s, cop an attitude of omniscience that only Yahweh can claim. Family and friends, those who are with the patients day after day, can help when it comes to abrupt and drastic changes in behavior and condition. For these doctors to simply blow off our concerns and observations is simply arrogance. Arrogance that could very well cause harm. Perhaps they should read the Oath again…I will prescribe regimens for the good of my patients according to my ability and my judgment and never do harm to anyone.