Thursday, April 16, 2015

Politically Correct Baptist Ethicist

David P. Gushee is senior columnist for faith, politics and culture for Baptist News Global (formerly Associated Baptist Press). He is Distinguished University Professor of Christian Ethics and director of the Center for Theology and Public Life at Mercer University. Associated Baptist Press came on line in the early 1990s as the moderate/liberal alternative to the conservative Baptist Press, the former partnered with the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship, an early 90s loosely structured “splinter group” from the Southern Baptist Convention, with which the latter is partnered.

Gushee's most recent book, Changing Our Mind, has to do with his “conversion” from what he labels a “traditionalist” in a recent commentary vis-a-vis homosexuality to what he considers himself now insofar as his acceptance of homosexual marriage is concerned, perhaps simply a “non-traditionalist,” translated as a “politically correct ethicist,” which could be called an oxymoron. One reviewer of the book indicated that Gushee had replaced scriptural referencing of homosexual behavior (sin) with experiential referencing, i.e., behavior/emotion...or whoopee.

Gushee also sits on the board of Sojourners, a Washington outfit headed by Jim Wallis a “religio/politico” apparatchik vis-a-vis the Democrat Party, which publishes the liberal Sojourners magazine. Sojourners is joined hip-to-thigh with the George Soros combine and has received large sums from Soros to keep his clambake alive. Sojourners' IRS Form 990 showed total revenue for 2012 of $4.8 million, with only $1.2 million realized from publications.

Contributions, gifts, grants amounted to some $3.3 million...get the picture. In 2004, for instance, Sojourners received $200,000 from Soros, which probably kept Wallis afloat. In 2003, Soros helped bankroll the Clergy Leadership Network headed by former National Council of Churches pooh-bah Albert Pennybacker for the express purpose, as noted on the CLN web-site at the time, of seeing to it that George Bush was not reelected. Being totally religious but also totally political, it was not a tax-exempt organization and disappeared for all practical purposes after its failure. These mentions provide an accurate frame of reference for Gushee.

The forgoing is simply an example meant to point up the fact that churches/denominations and professional religionists have acceded to political correctness as the new religion, not least because of societal pressures to conform to what the self-styled elitists have decided is publicly acceptable as the nation's mores go south. Gushee is merely the most recent high-profile Baptist paradigm of this clutch, although he's very small potatoes Baptist-wise because of his disconnect from the largest Baptist group, the Southern Baptist Convention, with about 16 million members.

The so-called “mainline denominations” involving the Episcopalians, Presbyterians, Methodists, Lutherans and Disciples have tussled with the homosexual issue for decades and are drying on the vine, not least because of substituting political correctness for unmistakable scriptural absolutes such as regarding homosexuality and the Ten Commandments. The Presbyterian Church USA, which has just sanctioned same-sex marriage, has lost 27% of membership just since 1996. Gushee would “pull” the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship to his take on perversion, and he could well be successful, thus damning another denomination.

According to the American Psychiatric Association, until 1974 homosexuality was a mental illness. Then the pressure from the LGBTQ group became so great that APA trustees voted to remove homosexuality from the list of mental illnesses by a vote of 13 to 0, with 2 abstentions. What’s noteworthy about this is that the removal of homosexuality from the list of mental illnesses was not triggered by some scientific breakthrough. There was no new fact or set of facts that stimulated this major change (Behaviorism and Mental health, Oct. 2011).

The push was to declare homosexuality as normal but the trustees wouldn't hear of that. In other words, actual sexual disorientation, an aberrant formation, might occur in about the same percentage as that of missing limbs or spina bifida or mongoloidism. Homosexuality is overwhelmingly a chosen lifestyle featuring behavior that besides being condemned biblically is a total and obscene violation of biology, accented by God's imprimatur on how the propagation of the race occurs.

Gushee's commentary had to do with the RFRA laws, and he wrote this: “I do not believe that traditionalist Christians should be coerced to change their mind about this issue. We do not prosecute thought-crimes in this country and shouldn’t prosecute them in the church either.” Government can't coerce mind-change, just enforce laws, fair or unfair. Ditto for church leaders. Perhaps Gushee has not heard of premeditated crimes or hate crimes, the consequences of which are established on the basis of thought, such as the difference between murder and premeditated murder.

In any case, believers should have the right to determine the conduct of their businesses as long as the society is not adversely impacted. Even Gushee suggested that homosexuals do business with those who make themselves available; but, of course, trying to bankrupt a businessperson is so much more fun and the legal help is free.

And so it goes.
Jim Clark

Monday, April 13, 2015

Enough Race-mongering!

This is from a speech by Russell Moore, president of the Southern Baptist Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission: “The problem is that Sunday morning, when we are signifying to the rest of the world, 'here is a picture of the kingdom of God,' we gather with the same people we would gather with if Jesus Christ were still dead, and that's blasphemy.” The occasion was a two-day summit of some sort in March in Nashville, Tenn., titled The Gospel and Racial Reconciliation . Blasphemy is defined as “the act of insulting or showing contempt or lack of reverence for God.”

If Jesus were still dead we wouldn't be gathering in church to signify anything. It's rather arrogant to “picture” the kingdom of God, much less imply that it's ever “pictured” on Sunday morning or any other time regardless of the makeup of a gathering of sinners, whether red, yellow, black, white or chartreuse. If race were mentioned just one more time this year, that would be one too soon and one too many. Race has been talked to death like diversity, all the rhetoric about it pointing up the differences in people, not the good ways they're alike.

Moore was doing a replay of the old saw that the most segregated hour of the week begins on Sunday at the eleven o'clock worship service, implying that this is because of white racism, prejudice or bigotry and, of course, not suggesting that black folks might be perfectly satisfied. Does Moore think there's a significant number of SBC churches with bylaws welcoming only people of a specific ethnicity? If not, he might forbear painting with such a broad brush.

In 1995 during the Southern Baptist Convention in Atlanta, an apology to black people for the sins of Baptist forbears (slavery) and real-time Baptists (bigoted) was passed as a resolution. It was scorned by the leaders of the three largest black Baptist denominations. One black pastor even suggested it represented proselytizing in the black community. These people understood that no white or black Baptist in 1995 or for decades more than a century before had anything to do with inculcating slavery, thus could hardly apologize for unearned guilt. This made the apology look silly, and it was.

Moore's conference on race was scheduled for next year reportedly but rushed up to this year because of the killings of black men in Ferguson and Staten Island by white police officers, as if the Southern Baptist Convention was involved and despite the fact that the Ferguson Grand Jury found the officer innocent, with the whole procedure laid out on the Internet for everyone to read. I read a good part of it. This doesn't mean that there hasn't been guilt—Staten Island and other places—but a Baptist meeting in Nashville was not likely to do more than fire the rhetoric, which it obviously did. Blasphemy is serious business.

The constant drumbeat of white-Baptist self-flagellation/atonement by people like Moore over what they didn't do does the opposite of encouraging good race-relations because it keeps the subject of race on the front burner all the time, emulating the likes of Al Sharpton, whose antics no doubt contributed to the burning of Ferguson twice, not to mention the complicit race-mongering of President Obama and Attorney General Holder. Orchestrating integration actually is pandering by both sides. The only integration that has validity happens spontaneously as people venture to churches and are welcomed, although what happens there matters little when compared to how people treat each other in the market place.

Slavery was not an American institution but introduced in the 1600s by the British and other slave-traders when the U.S. was a colony. Importation of slaves was outlawed by Congress within 20 years of the birth of the USA and abolished altogether in about 75 years...by white people in both cases. Predictably, race-antagonisms have flourished through the years by both blacks and whites—and this has been wrong—but my white generation has bent over backwards—especially in the 1950s-60s—to try to make things right.

I was raised a Southern Baptist and worked full-time in SBC churches during the entire decade of the 1960s in music, education and church administration. African Americans were welcome in my choirs. My great-grandfather and two great-uncles, born in England, joined the Union Army during the Civil War, with great-grandfather wounded once and nearly dead of disease once. They owned no slaves and, being Kentuckians, could not be drafted. Consequently, I resent being labeled as responsible for slavery or discrimination by Moore or anyone else.

As for equating the wrong ethnic makeup of a congregation with blaspheming God...Egad!

And so it goes.
Jim Clark

Saturday, April 11, 2015

HILLARY

So Hillary Clinton will make her breathtaking declaration for the presidency...by social media? Well, of course! With her record of deception, looking folks squarely in the eye can maybe drag attention from the teleprompter and (gasp) make her susceptible to screeching out what she really thinks. That's sorta like Obama going off-script sometimes and unintentionally expressing his various biases/bigotries/whatever. Currently, he uses “prayer breakfasts” to go off script and vent his spleen on folks like mean-spirited Baptists.

Hillary can just tweet her cause, hopefully with some bright soul to keep her from typing an untruth, like the time she came under sniper fire in Bosnia and had to run for it, dragging Chelsea along, of course. She had tears flowing in New Hampshire when she told that tale in 2008. She assumed NH folks were too gullible not to see through that. Egad! Social media, of course, is just a one-way gimmick, so she won't have to take questions concerning things like where she, as State Secretary, was when Benghazi was burning or what she did in real time then or why she lied so pensively, along with Obama in the Rose Garden, about that subject. One shudders to think about another Clinton presidency.

One More Try

She said she would be president
...Again...she said that once before,
But much worse now the government
And she alone could it restore
To once proud place of prominence
Among the nations looking West
For leadership of competence,
And she knows she would be the best.

Prevarication she had made
An art-form extraordinaire
And so she told her staff...dismayed...
To fix that problem if they care
To stay in line as top gofers
Or find pink slips instead of checks,
And then she lined up new offers
For Arab sheiks and their huge checks.

State Secretary was her gig,
A sort of consolation prize,
When she lost out though not too big
That other time to save demise
From politics – her lifelong love –
She milked it for all it could buy,
All other things she said to shove,
For one last shot she had to try.

She mostly spent her time elsewhere
And logged a million miles or so,
The Air Force flew her everywhere
To meet big shots...stay on the go;
State Secretaries mostly do
What presidents see fit to cite,
So...in her case she mostly flew...
And in that way stayed out of sight.

Would Clinton be Obama-lite,
Disciple of “Goddam us” Wright,
Urge men in marriage to unite,
With Wall Street buddies be quite tight,
Bring back Whitewater's weird clambake
With new interns so circumspect?
“What difference does it now make?”
...Is that the motto to expect?

Some say that it is now her turn,
She is a woman, after all,
Though lied about Benghazi's burn
But just four died...a deal too small
To even give a second thought
Like e-mails just erased for good,
The country's secrets...sold and bought –
She “Gruber-thinks” folks' brains are wood.

And so it goes.
Jim Clark

Tuesday, April 07, 2015

Islam, ISIS & the Mahdi

The atrocities being committed by ISIS forces, primarily the butchering and/or beheading of Christians, besides being the “way” of jihad, probably has another more important purpose, to wit, making nations angry enough to wage war beginning in the Middle East but spreading throughout the world. Much has been made of the ISIS-announced objective—inculcation of the final world-ruling caliphate—but it may go deeper than that.

According to the brand of Shi'ite theology championed by former Iranian president Ahmadinejad, there has to be a worldwide conflagration in order for the final result to be enjoined...absolutely necessary as the Muslim bad guy known as the Dajjal takes up the fight, is victorious with his followers, and hands the world over to the Twelfth Imam, also known as the Mahdi, who will dispatch the Dajjal and rule for an infinitely long time, during which the infidels called dhimmis will either convert or be taxed (enslaved) or killed, with all Jews given no choice but killed.

This concept was hijacked by Mohammad from the scriptural allusions to Anti-Christ a few hundred years after the canonization of the Bible and a few more hundred years after the original manuscripts were produced. The great battle to be waged and won by the Dajjal is the equivalent of the scriptural Armageddon, with the Mahdi as the replacement of Jesus Christ, scriptural ruler for a thousand years of peace at the end of Armageddon, with Christ disposing of Anti-Christ and the his henchman, the False Prophet.

Dajjal will be a one-eyed man with a horrible scar on his forehead and a blind eye appearing as a swollen globule. He will arise more or less on his own, probably claim to be the Mahdi, raise his army and make war. The nearest thing to Dajjal currently is Mullah Omar, head of the Taliban, who was blinded in one eye and received a tremendous head scar in the Soviet-Afghanistan war of the 1980s. Omar has also been designated as the “Commander of the Faithful,” the first such in a thousand years, or the second caliph, or “Amirul Mu’mineen,” presumably the top Muslim in the world. Problem: Omar is a Sunni.

Ahmadinejad has already prepared the “throne” for the Mahdi, the Jamkaran mosque on the outskirts of Qom, a virtual Shi'ite holy city some 92 miles south of Tehran. The government set aside $120 million to upgrade it in 2005. What he desperately needs in order to bring on the Dajjal is, of course, a candidate for the job, and a setting in which the great conflagration can take place. He understands that the earliest Muslim operator (hopefully himself) to bring on the final destruction will get the prize not of being Dajjal but of fulfilling his destiny as the enabler and therefore in line presumably to be the Mahdi's top dog in the glorious reign. Problem: Ahmadinejad is Shi'ite.

The thing Shi'ites have going for them at present in the interest of fomenting the needed conflagration to bring on the Mahdi is the widespread Muslim chaos throughout the Middle East and Near-East North African countries. As the peoples rise up against their governments they kill each other but also vent their spleens upon the West and provide the atmosphere collectively conducive for attempting to wipe out Israel, the object of their greatest hate and the entity Iran (Ayatollah Khameini) has sworn to “erase.” Such an action could plunge the entire world into war.

Presently, Iran is the greatest Shi'ite fomenter of terrorism in the world, with its Sunni counterpart being ISIS. As Iranian Shi'ites have joined the Iraqi Shi'ites—actually taking over the Iraqi army—in liberating Tikrit, it has declared its own war against the ISIS Sunnis, who have taken over much of Iraq and northern Syria. Iran is already fighting Sunni Saudi Arabia in Yemen by proxy, with the Saudis siding with Sunni Egypt in an inevitable showdown with both Iran and ISIS.

So the stage is set for the Mahdi. Add to this the fact that the only way to stop Iran from getting the bomb—never mind the president's deal—is destruction of everything connected to the project, just as the Israelis destroyed Saddam's nuclear facility in 1981 on the day before it was to go on line. This would mean more violence leading to war.

And so it goes.
Jim Clark

Friday, April 03, 2015

USA & ISIS

There's a certain sadness connected to the recent flaps concerning the RFRA laws enacted in Indiana and Arkansas. It has little or nothing to do with an alleged mistreatment of homosexuals, who though attempting be some sort of “protected species,” are just people whose freedom has not and will not be threatened by people of faith who choose not to participate in activity that violates their Christian beliefs. The homosexuality is not the issue. One can't tell by looking who is and is not homosexual, so entrepreneurs do business with homosexuals routinely and would even if a capital “H” were sewn on the homosexual's lapel.

The problem rises only with respect to homosexual symbols and same-sex marriage, not even, for the most part, with same-sex unions, which are recognized routinely by being awarded the same perks, both governmental and private, as traditional and legal marriage-unions. To participate in constructing homosexual symbols, such as in printing clothing, or in same-sex marriage activities, such as producing a he-and-he wedding cake, is to the Christian a violation of scripture and consequent belief-system.

In ISIS in the Middle East, a person rejects his Christianity and conforms to Islam or loses his head at the hands of Muslims but not Muslim governments. In the U.S., a person rejects his Christianity and conforms to the homosexual mandate or loses in court or in business by fiat/actions not of homosexuals but of government. In both cases, the injured actually had no rights, the former because of private operators but the latter because of the U.S. government favoring one segment of society over another.

The problem is exacerbated by involving the freedom of religion as a practicing matter and the prohibition of the freedom of religion as a practicing matter. This is a First Amendment matter disallowing the government to establish or recognize religion but also disallowing the government to prohibit the exercise of religion. The RFRA is designed to address the latter, i.e., to guarantee that homosexuals not be favored at the price of denying believers their freedom through government intervention.

The government is involved only if there's a COMPELLING interest. There are many establishments willing to print most anything on a T-shirt so there's no compelling interest for the government to lean on the one business that because of religious beliefs refuses to do that. There are many bakeries that will construct any kind of wedding cake and many photographers who crave any kind of business so there's no compelling interest unless perhaps there's only one baker or one photographer in town for same-sex people to approach. Even then, prohibiting the exercise of faith is questionable at best since no actual harm occurs if there's no wedding cake or pictures or flowers or whatever.

Would it be too much to ask same-sexers to make some extra effort to satisfy their desires? How long does it take to phone a few establishments or preachers and find precisely what's needed? Not long, of course...so why all the disruption? There can be only one answer, to wit, a premeditated plan to hurt somebody or some business.

In Lexington, Ky., in 2012, an LGBTQ group was denied T-shirt monogramming service by a business for religious reasons. At no extra cost, the printing was done by another provider but the homosexuals, though suffering no harm, made the usual noises/actions just because they could. The “Hobby Lobby” Supreme Court decision settled the matter but not until 2014 and not until the business had to hire lawyers for both a commission action and court action, though it was not bankrupted through loss of business and paying expensive legal counsel, the obvious intent of the LGBTQ gang, which, of course, had nothing to lose and doubtlessly had fun in the bargain. Free legal services abound for the LGBTQ folks.

The saddest aspect of the whole business is seen in the fact that the government's imprimatur is on same-sex marriage, anathema to not only scriptures and Christians but to Nature itself, a perverse violation biologically and mentally of the human body/mind. It bespeaks a society rotting from the inside out, just as did ancient Greece and Rome.

And so it goes.
Jim Clark

Wednesday, April 01, 2015

Indiana RFRA

Lately, it has become a “fun thing,” not to mention potentially profitable, for homosexuals whose application for services is turned down by folks who consider such services a violation of their faith to bring lawsuits, either for money or spite or both. The best result, it seems, is to run the accused out of business. The highest profile such case in Lexington, Ky., had to do with a sweater-engraving business refusing to accommodate the local LGBTQ crowd. It's still in business after a court ruling in its favor.

I surfed over to the ABC Sunday morning show of 29 March in time to see ABC biggie George Stephanopoulos, former chief gofer for the Clintons, haranguing Indiana Governor Mike Pence over the law he had just signed disallowing an abridgment of religious freedom when business-people are attacked by the LGBTQ crowd for not conforming to their demands whether they like it or not. Little George kept using the term “discrimination,” the favorite of the ultra-liberals for tarnishing people. The governor did a good job of burying Little George, who was obviously in a fit of pique, just short of a temper tantrum.

Discrimination is a two-edged sword, of course. The governor had the high ground in that to abridge the alleged freedom of the Stephanopoulos crowd was to abridge the religious freedom of—discriminate against—people of faith. The U.S. Constitution guarantees against this, stating unequivocally in the first amendment that the state cannot prohibit the free exercise of religion, which is what the LGBTQ crowd demands, unless, of course, a religious action threatens public safety, which is not an issue in this matter.

The Supreme Court ruled (Hobby Lobby, June 2014) that people of faith can refuse actions violating their beliefs, obviously absent a public safety issue. This also exonerated Hands On Originals in Lexington, Ky., from liability locally in June 2012 for refusing to prepare clothing engraved with symbols violating its beliefs. The U.S. Court of Appeals, 6th Circuit, ruled in 2009 that a Kentucky Baptist children’s home, Sunrise Children’s Services, did not violate state or federal laws when it dismissed an employee engaging in homosexual conduct.

The homosexuals/lesbians/transgenders/whatever have attempted to make their position the same as that of racial minorities, a “protected group,” an obviously silly approach. They are just people who claim an aberrant lifestyle, sort of like alcoholics, who do not comprise a “protected” species. No business can be made to employ an alcoholic so why should a business be made to hire a homosexual? No apartment-owner can be made to rent to an alcoholic so why should he be made to rent to a homosexual who, he suspects, will contaminate his property with lewd and filthy homosexual practices such as anal sex?

Anyone can claim to be homosexual while racial ethnics, ipso facto, are recognizably what they claim to be but all of them are just people. The Constitution guarantees their civil rights but it especially guards their religious rights, which government cannot infringe upon, the substance of the Indiana law. Religious rights trump civil rights vis-a-vis Constitutional protection unless public safety is an issue.

If homosexuals had no other recourse for services, they might have a case. For instance, if only one doctor was available in a town he would be compelled (a compelling government issue concerning welfare) to treat everyone. This is not the case in this country. The sweater issue mentioned above was easily handled since at no extra cost the sweaters were produced by another supplier.

On April 28, 1967, boxing champion Muhammad Ali refused to be inducted into the U.S. Army, citing religious reasons. Born Cassius Marcellus Clay, Jr., in 1942, he changed his name to Muhammad Ali in 1964 after converting to Islam. He was also convicted of draft evasion but was later cleared by the Supreme Court. In other words, someone else had to take Ali's place and possibly go to Vietnam and possibly be killed there. Who suffered the discrimination? The Indiana case is no different. Ali had the right to tell the federal government NO for religious reasons, just as folks whose beliefs are violated by enhancing homosexuality have the right to say NO to homosexuals.

And so it goes.
Jim Clark

Sunday, March 29, 2015

PALM SUNDAY 1865

Lee

At Appomattox, Palm Sunday,
He donned his best but not to pray,
Oh no…respects he had to pay
To one who fought him all the way
From Pennsylvania to the bay,
From Appalachia, grim and gray,
To Sherman’s march, that grim foray…
To Appomattox…Palm Sunday.

His army, starving, poorly shod,
Had put its thousands under sod,
But even now made prayer to God
To bless them as they still would plod;
For some, they knew why they were there,
For others, mostly unaware,
For others, still, just on a dare,
For all of them, they were nowhere.

The battle had been lost a while,
Surrender, though, was not his style,
Was there in him some profound guile
That led men to this final mile?
Perhaps he knew, perhaps knew not…
He surely saw the total rot
That on the South had stamped a blot
Of misery – its sorry lot.

Ignominy – surrendered sword –
Was something generals abhorred…
But then his men could ill afford
Alternatives that were untoward;
Therefore, a flag of truce was flown
And carried to where it was shown
By aides who would not him disown,
Who would yet die when charge was blown.

And so he mounted up and rode
To where his enemy bestrode
The land which once he had bestrode
To plead that mercy be bestowed,
And mercy was allowed full sway,
And fittingly on Palm Sunday
As symbolized in just the way
Christ promised life on Easter Day.

Grant

It was a strange and mournful time, at best,
For those who were the victims of conquest,
But as he took his rest this Palm Sunday,
He led the victor…not to church to pray…
Oh no, he led an army poised to prey
Upon a hapless foe in disarray
For want of sustenance and ammo, arms,
Reduced to foraging the friendly farms.

A failure at most everything he tried,
He nonetheless successfully had vied
With generals whose minds were sharp as swords –
Their armies killed each other by the hordes;
He was unkempt this hallowed day in camp,
Mud-splattered in late winter’s cold and damp,
At Appomattox, though, there was but gall,
He meant to kill the foe for once and all.

And then the rider came with flag of truce,
Already he had messaged to induce
Surrender of his foe to save their men
From useless death – Palm Sunday’s sad amen;
For four long years, the bloody war he waged,
To see it end with no more fights engaged
Was almost more than any man could hope –
No matter, though, he knew that he could cope.

Ignominy – surrendered sword abhorred –
A thing that generals could ill afford,
He wondered if his foe was far too vain
To give it up, no matter all the slain,
He wondered, too, if he could do the same,
Admitted sometimes war a daring game
Where winners did not take it to the bank
And losers lost their lives or lost their rank.

And so he mounted up that Palm Sunday
And rode to hear his enemy’s parlay,
He knew his president’s discomfiture
With vengeance that a soldier must endure –
His own mindset and also honor-bound…
He thought of all his men now in the ground,
Refused the sword his enemy now bore…
Showed mercy, sent them home for war no more.

Palm Sunday

It was Palm Sunday – sixty-five…
No battle yet upon that morn
For army yearning to survive
Beneath a burden long since borne;
Four years of bloodshed till this day
At Appamattox – war now lost –
A beaten army – disarray,
And all for nothing…with great cost.

And on that day in blood inured
The other army camped nearby
With victory all but secured,
Prepared again to fight and die
But held the hope that finally
Some common sense would enter in
And that no battle would it see –
The smell of death…putrid as sin.

It was a clear day, springtime warm,
When churches reenact Christ’s ride
Upon an ass, where foes would swarm,
Where crucifixion would betide;
At Appamattox two men rode
Fine horses to their meeting-place—
Opposing armies they bestrode
But met to end this war’s disgrace.

And so surrender was complete,
Commanders putting peace in place,
The guns all stacked in rows quite neat
But years of dying not erase;
The soldiers leaving – soon or late –
Might make it home by Sunday next,
Christ’s resurrection celebrate
And put their battles in context.

And so it goes.
Jim Clark