Weekly Ponderings

Here are some other people’s thoughts that made me think this week. Remember inclusion does not mean I fully agree with everything in each article or the site they’re linked to.  (Anything in the quotes below that are in bold was added by me)  Caution: some ideas or content might be considered offensive but my point in this weekly segment is to combine a list of other’s writings that made me think (and most likely challenged me beyond my current knowledge of something) regardless of whether I agreed with them. Though the last one I just added for its humor.

“…when you start with a God-given identity, you begin to see the complexity of our conflicting convictions. Because there are people made in the image of God who have arrived at different conclusions than you have, whose real beliefs have stemmed from a real place of hope and principle, uncertainty and worry…

I am not going to buy into a group think narrative. There are obvious rights and obvious wrongs, but one political party does not corner the market on all of them. Neither does one presidential era or march. We are operating in a complex world attempting to force us into a simplified system. It doesn’t work that way. And if we find ourselves fitting too easily into one or the other, it’s possible we’ve been had.


I’m just speaking as someone who feels like she doesn’t fit anymore. Who is wary of political labels and promises and feeling isolated in my neglect to pick a “team.”

Inauguration Day, the Women’s March and the Lonely in Between by Sarah Anderson

“…In fact, in right-wing conservatism, it’s almost considered a religious duty and moral obligation to speak out in opposition to anyone who isn’t on board with the right-wing vision for America. It’s “speaking the truth in love,” so they say. In fact, those who don’t speak out, or perhaps take a more reasonable nuanced approached, are often accused of being complicit with very evils they claim to oppose.

But now that Donald Trump is president?

Well, now that Trump is president “speaking out” is rather frowned upon.
Instead, we’re told that it’s time to “get behind the president,” that it is “time for us to unify together,” and that we must support our new president. After years of non-stop criticism we’re told that now we’re supposed to shut up and unite.

Folks on the right like Franklin Graham have never actually believed that we should “get behind the president” because they just spent eight years doing the precise opposite. They don’t actually believe we should be quiet, stop speaking out, and that we should avoid being divisive– they just want those who disagree with them to do that.

Few things in the world have the ability to unveil a hypocrite as much as the allure of political power…”

How Conservatives All Of A Sudden Became Against “Divisiveness” by Dr. Benjamin L. Corey

“When all else fails, though–and let’s be clear here, all else is in fact failing and doing so catastrophically–Christian leaders have begun teaching a new morality that has subtly altered forever their followers’ perceptions: The ends justify the means.

In other words, whatever they have to do is okay as long as it gets them what they want…

Those of us who were totally baffled by how a group that claims to have a lock on objective morality could ever support someone who categorically defies the very notion of morality and constantly flaunts his rejection of morality might find some illumination from the other questions on the survey, however. A lot of it dealt with how Americans grapple with the problem of hypocritical politicians.

Americans generally are a lot less likely these days to say that personal moral transgressions ought to disqualify politicians from serving in office…

So that’s … Republican voters–who are overwhelmingly Christian–who think it’s okay to be a total hypocrite on a personal level as long as someone’s pursuing their agenda in office…”

Needs Must When the Culture War Drives. by Captain Cassidy

“Finally, one friend asked “Which rights don’t I have that I’m supposed to be marching for?” and that’s when it finally crystallized for me what the people I know aren’t understanding about the Women’s March…

The Women’s March is many of the women of this country declaring a culture war on misogyny, hatred, bigotry, racism, ableism, transphobia, homophobia, femmephobia, and one Party’s intent to destroy not women’s “Rights,” but all of our freedoms: The freedom of the press, the freedom of speech, the freedom to peaceably assemble. It’s not just our Bill of Rights that are under a war of attrition, either. Women marched this past Saturday because our realities are not all the same, and we have to protect each other.”

The Women’s March is a Culture War by Samantha  Field

“What happened in Nebraska raises the question: If there were no consequences, how many of us would give up our kids? After all, child abandonment is nothing new and it’s certainly not rare in the United States. Over 400,000 children are in the foster care system waiting to be placed in homes, thousands of parents relinquish their children every year…

American culture can’t accept the reality of a woman who does not want to be a mother. It goes against everything we’ve been taught to think about women and how desperately they want babies. If we’re to believe the media and pop culture, women — even teen girls — are forever desperate for a baby. It’s our greatest desire…

If policymakers and people who care about children want to reduce the number of abandoned kids, they need to address the systemic issues: poverty, maternity leave, access to resources, and health care…

There also needs to be some sort of acknowledgement that not everyone should parent — when parenting is a given, it’s not fully considered or thought out, and it gives way too easily to parental ambivalence and unhappiness.”

Not Wanting Kids Is Entirely Normal by Jessica Valenti

“Yes. I know. Horrible things happen to women all over the world. I also ache for their oppression, their abuse, their poverty, their lack of schools and clean water. But that’s a whole different conversation. In case I haven’t made myself clear yet, there’s a lot of women right here, in this country, who need things they aren’t getting, and they deserve their own conversation.

Which brings me to The Women’s March.

I didn’t march because I personally feel marginalized. I marched because I can. I marched because a lot of women can’t, even if you don’t see them…”

To Christy on Facebook, who doesn’t need the Women’s March by Susan Speer

“Nothing that has ever happened or will ever happen was as great as Donald Trump’s inauguration.

The crowd was magnificent and huge, bigger than any crowd had ever been before!

Everyone in the world had come there at great expense. They sold all their possessions — their homes, their “Hamilton” tickets, which were worthless to them — to raise money to come and see this great sight. They could not believe that a perfect being such as Donald Trump even existed. They thought that he was a myth or a legend or a decades-long series of fabrications.

But then they saw him, and their doubts fell away…”

The true, correct story of what happened at Donald Trump’s inauguration by Alexandra Petri




“Justice didn’t compensate for the loss of human life. Justice was an intellectual concept, inevitably trumped by emotion. Justice was the word we used when we couldn’t have what we really wanted, which was everything back the way it was. Justice was only a consolation prize.”
– Lisa Scottoline

Some thoughts on abortion

This is not even remotely close to being comprehensive but these are some questions and observations I have had over the years having grown up pro-life. And while still holding to the value of every life I have come to understand more why people push for a woman’s right to maintain bodily autonomy and doing whatever she thinks may be best in whatever situation she may be facing in her life (and the life of the child). Try to be honest if you’re bothering to answer any of these questions.

If you had to keep your rapist in your life and in the life of your child  (that he fathered) would you not at least consider an abortion?

When you know (as I do) far too many women who have had irresponsible, lazy and negligent men who don’t stick around once their child/children are born or don’t help in any way to support them financially, emotionally, ect. would you not at understand why other women who observe this would consider abortion?

If you were in an abusive relationship and knew the situation your child would be born into would you really say getting an abortion wouldn’t cross your mind? (And try actually educating yourself about the dynamics of abusive relationships before flippantly assuming the woman should “just” get out).

If you were a young woman or teenager who finds herself unable to bear the potential shame, embarrassment and sure judgement she will receive from some (knowing the man will likely be completely free of these ramifications) would you not understand why she might consider an abortion?

And if you’re thinking well the woman should be responsible for keeping herself safe, fighting back, showing self control, and so on then why don’t you hear the equivalency of these judgements directed towards men and holding them accountable for their choices and actions? Society’s laws and attitudes still don’t even come close to keeping men responsible for their choices in the bedroom, or in committing crimes like rape, or in the life of a child they helped create.

Now as someone who was adopted I take it a bit personally that some people downplay the ramifications of the message that abortion should always be available and ‘on demand’. I don’t appreciate anyone insisting I should be dead because my biological mother didn’t want me (or couldn’t take care of me). I wish more people in society (but especially Christians) would lift up the hopeful alternative of adoption and talk about it at least as much as we talk about abortion. And I also wish more Christians who feel so strongly against abortion would do more to offer long term, loving support to a woman who has chosen to have her child despite serious challenges or hostility (like some of the scenarios listed above).

Yet despite my personal feelings and belief that every pregnant woman carries a life within her I am beginning to see better now why so many people say just getting a child born isn’t enough. Yes life is sacred and should be valued and protected. But until we seek to extend this belief and practice to all people no matter their age or life situation we will always face the reality that women will seek abortions.

So when will people who claim to be pro-life do more to see all the various angles and situations that contribute to why abortions are sought? Or does this not even register as important? Its not enough to just say “this is bad… so stop it.” Life is far more complicated and as the old saying goes ‘ don’t judge anyone until you’ve walked a mile in their shoes.’

And for those who will never have to worry about pregnancy, risk of injury or death from childbirth, or experiencing making a decision to have an abortion done to their body I would like to know what they have to offer besides moral outrage to women who seek them or have had one already ?

So I guess I’m really just wondering when will we truly believe and put into practice the idea that life, no matter a person’s situation or choices, is truly worth loving, protecting and fighting for at all stages of development and maturity?

Weekly Ponderings

Here are some of the ideas that made me think this past week. Though I link to the full article under each excerpt that does not mean that I fully agree with everything in the post or its site. (Additional warning some posts contain language some might consider offensive).

“… truth isn’t relative, but our perception of the truth is. It’s extremely relative. It changes based on what we know or don’t know. It varies depending on where and when we were born, what we experienced, what we didn’t experience, what our parents believed, what they rejected, what our culture accepts, denies, or ridicules.

All of those things shape a person’s perception, and our perception is all we have to go on when we study and seek.

…the evidence, the truth, the facts are out there, but we all view them differently. This levels the playing field. This should humble us. This should make us quick to listen and understand. This should be at the forefront of our minds when we talk to anyone different than us: Where are they coming from? Why? What do I have to learn from them?

It becomes not just an academic or scientific or intellectual discussion, but an exercise in empathy. We can’t truly understand what somebody is saying unless we understand from where they’re saying it. And we certainly won’t treat anybody with compassion or respect if we don’t recognize that if we were in their same shoes, we’d probably do the same.

And no matter how right you actually are, you’re still operating on the same level as anybody else — a person with five senses, a brain, a life partially lived, and all of that very, very finite.”

The Truth Isn’t Relative, But You Are by Baily

“Evangelicals worship at the altar of purity and put resources, time, and theologizing into protecting it without teaching is people how to be Christians of sexual integrity and Christlikeness.

I am not saying that first sexual encounters are not sacred. I am not saying that the way we engage with sexual purity doesn’t matter. I am not saying that Jesus doesn’t have standards for our sexual lives. I am simply concerned that when all is said and done that we have overlooked Jesus, the one who crossed barriers of stigma, isolation, and sexual history in order to bring people into the kingdom. Our worship of virginity has left that Jesus behind in favor of a God who instead of protecting a woman from having stones thrown at her, takes the first one and throws it himself.”

The Evangelical Social Construction of Virginity by Brandi Miller

“…I’m concerned that the bar for being a good dad is set so low that a dude can take a photo with his kids, post it online, and automatically become the “world’s greatest dad” in the eyes of some because of it.

…let’s talk about how there are literally millions of great dads across the globe that embrace fatherhood as much as I do.

Let’s talk about how they’re tired of shitty dads getting more press and publicity than the amazing dads like themselves. And most importantly, let’s talk about how these men are doing their part to illustrate how fatherhood is the coolest and most rewarding gig a man will ever have in his lifetime.”

When the Story Isn’t the Story by Doyin Richards

“…a successful business owner will learn from criticism and be grateful that someone took the time to be honest with them about their experiences. They’ll learn and grow from the feedback given, even if it was painful to hear, and move on in a way that incorporates their knowledge and tries to prevent those shortfalls from occurring again.

Not so, Christians. They can’t really engage with the criticism honestly and squarely because it involves huge changes to their entire business model of fear, hatred, exclusion, discrimination, bigotry, authoritarianism, and narcissism…

Told that it’s either fall into line with the rest of the troops or leave, a lot of people are going to say “well, okay,” and walk out the door. Others might fight against the culture war, trying to reform their religion from the inside, but eventually these kind and hardy souls get driven out by the outraged tribe. Insecure people need not only constant flattery and self-congratulation, but also ideological purity. We’re seeing a major drive for exactly that purity in toxic Christianity right now, with them circling up the wagons as the whole world reacts in shock and horror to their antics…

The one thing I don’t expect to see is culture warriors suddenly realizing just how much irreparable harm they are doing to themselves with their hatred. Change comes very hard for people like that, and introspection is even rarer.”

A Fragile Bubble: Criticism Avoidance by Captain Cassidy


“The truth is, many evangelicals long ago replaced the suffering servant of Christ with an image that more closely resembles Donald Trump than many would care to admit. They’ve traded a faith that privileges humility and elevates the least of these for one that derides gentleness as the province of wusses. Having replaced the Jesus of the gospels with an idol of machismo, it’s no wonder many have come to think of Trump himself as the nation’s savior.

Indeed, white evangelical support for Trump can be seen as the culmination of a decades-long embrace of militant masculinity, a masculinity that has enshrined patriarchal authority, condoned a callous display of power at home and abroad, and functioned as a linchpin in the political and social worldviews of conservative white evangelicals. In the end, many evangelicals did not vote for Trump despite their beliefs, but because of them.”

Donald Trump and Militant Evangelical Masculinity by Kristin Du Mez


“I sat by for the past 8 years listening to the easily-disprovable lies you bought into. President Obama was going to implement death panels, Sharia Law, FEMA concentration camps. He was going to take your guns and tax your bullets. He was planning to enact marshal law and raise our taxes through the roof. He’s not YOUR President, he’s not even a US citizen…

These are not obscure, never-heard-of conspiracy theories, you’ve repeated them to me over and over again. And you know what? Today is the day that you are proven to be gullible, and wrong. Wrong on every count.

Since you are so easily tricked into believing so many easily-disprovable things, why would anyone believe what you have to say about your invisible God? Because you know He’s in your heart? Spare me, please.

When you read the reports of people leaving Christianity, you’ll know that you had a part in that. You’ve ceded any moral high-ground you ever thought you had.

Now you support a lying, cheating, womanizing man, Donald Trump. And these things have already been proven to be true. As far as I’m concerned, Donald Trump is now your Lord and Savior. You have sold your soul to support him. He is the face of your Christianity.”

To my Christian friends who voted for Donald Trump (Facebook post by Bruce Horst)



Timeless words about the fight for justice

I first read Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s letter from Birmingham Jail when I was in college and had to buy a copy for a dispute resolution class I was taking. It is the only thing from my undergraduate classes that I have kept and reread over the years. I share the following excerpts that have stood out to me whenever I read it (and bolded and/or underlined parts that seem especially relevant to these present times). Of course if anyone hasn’t read it in full I would highly recommend it. Its uncanny how these words could fit in addressing many kinds of injustice and it is why I consider these words timeless.

You deplore the demonstrations taking place in Birmingham. But your statement, I am sorry to say, fails to express a similar concern for the conditions that brought about the demonstrations. I am sure that none of you would want to rest content with the superficial kind of social analysis that deals merely with effects and does not grapple with underlying causes. It is unfortunate that demonstrations are taking place in Birmingham, but it is even more unfortunate that the city’s white power structure left the Negro community with no alternative…

Birmingham is probably the most thoroughly segregated city in the United States. Its ugly record of brutality is widely known. Negroes have experienced grossly unjust treatment in the courts. There have been more unsolved bombings of Negro homes and churches in Birmingham than in any other city in the nation. These are the hard, brutal facts of the case. On the basis of these conditions, Negro leaders sought to negotiate with the city fathers. But the latter consistently refused to engage in good faith negotiation…

My friends, I must say to you that we have not made a single gain in civil rights without determined legal and nonviolent pressure. Lamentably, it is an historical fact that privileged groups seldom give up their privileges voluntarily. Individuals may see the moral light and voluntarily give up their unjust posture; but, as Reinhold Niebuhr has reminded us, groups tend to be more immoral than individuals.

We know through painful experience that freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed. Frankly, I have yet to engage in a direct action campaign that was “well timed” in the view of those who have not suffered unduly from the disease of segregation. For years now I have heard the word “Wait!” It rings in the ear of every Negro with piercing familiarity. This “Wait” has almost always meant “Never.” We must come to see, with one of our distinguished jurists, that “justice too long delayed is justice denied.”

We have waited for more than 340 years for our constitutional and God given rights. The nations of Asia and Africa are moving with jetlike speed toward gaining political independence, but we still creep at horse and buggy pace toward gaining a cup of coffee at a lunch counter. Perhaps it is easy for those who have never felt the stinging darts of segregation to say, “Wait.” But when you have seen vicious mobs lynch your mothers and fathers at will and drown your sisters and brothers at whim; when you have seen hate filled policemen curse, kick and even kill your black brothers and sisters; when you see the vast majority of your twenty million Negro brothers smothering in an airtight cage of poverty in the midst of an affluent society; when you suddenly find your tongue twisted and your speech stammering as you seek to explain to your six year old daughter why she can’t go to the public amusement park that has just been advertised on television, and see tears welling up in her eyes when she is told that Funtown is closed to colored children, and see ominous clouds of inferiority beginning to form in her little mental sky, and see her beginning to distort her personality by developing an unconscious bitterness toward white people; when you have to concoct an answer for a five year old son who is asking: “Daddy, why do white people treat colored people so mean?”; when you take a cross county drive and find it necessary to sleep night after night in the uncomfortable corners of your automobile because no motel will accept you; when you are humiliated day in and day out by nagging signs reading “white” and “colored”; when your first name becomes “nigger,” your middle name becomes “boy” (however old you are) and your last name becomes “John,” and your wife and mother are never given the respected title “Mrs.”; when you are harried by day and haunted by night by the fact that you are a Negro, living constantly at tiptoe stance, never quite knowing what to expect next, and are plagued with inner fears and outer resentments; when you are forever fighting a degenerating sense of “nobodiness”–then you will understand why we find it difficult to wait. There comes a time when the cup of endurance runs over, and men are no longer willing to be plunged into the abyss of despair. I hope, sirs, you can understand our legitimate and unavoidable impatience…

One may well ask: “How can you advocate breaking some laws and obeying others?” The answer lies in the fact that there are two types of laws: just and unjust. I would be the first to advocate obeying just laws. One has not only a legal but a moral responsibility to obey just laws. Conversely, one has a moral responsibility to disobey unjust laws. I would agree with St. Augustine that “an unjust law is no law at all.”

One who breaks an unjust law must do so openly, lovingly, and with a willingness to accept the penalty. I submit that an individual who breaks a law that conscience tells him is unjust, and who willingly accepts the penalty of imprisonment in order to arouse the conscience of the community over its injustice, is in reality expressing the highest respect for law.

Of course, there is nothing new about this kind of civil disobedience. It was evidenced sublimely in the refusal of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego to obey the laws of Nebuchadnezzar, on the ground that a higher moral law was at stake. It was practiced superbly by the early Christians, who were willing to face hungry lions and the excruciating pain of chopping blocks rather than submit to certain unjust laws of the Roman Empire. To a degree, academic freedom is a reality today because Socrates practiced civil disobedience. In our own nation, the Boston Tea Party represented a massive act of civil disobedience.

We should never forget that everything Adolf Hitler did in Germany was “legal” and everything the Hungarian freedom fighters did in Hungary was “illegal.” It was “illegal” to aid and comfort a Jew in Hitler’s Germany. Even so, I am sure that, had I lived in Germany at the time, I would have aided and comforted my Jewish brothers. If today I lived in a Communist country where certain principles dear to the Christian faith are suppressed, I would openly advocate disobeying that country’s antireligious laws.

I must make two honest confessions to you, my Christian and Jewish brothers. First, I must confess that over the past few years I have been gravely disappointed with the white moderate. I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro’s great stumbling block in his stride toward freedom is not the White Citizen’s Counciler or the Ku Klux Klanner, but the white moderate, who is more devoted to “order” than to justice; who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice; who constantly says: “I agree with you in the goal you seek, but I cannot agree with your methods of direct action”; who paternalistically believes he can set the timetable for another man’s freedom; who lives by a mythical concept of time and who constantly advises the Negro to wait for a “more convenient season.” Shallow understanding from people of good will is more frustrating than absolute misunderstanding from people of ill will. Lukewarm acceptance is much more bewildering than outright rejection…

We will have to repent in this generation not merely for the hateful words and actions of the bad people but for the appalling silence of the good people. Human progress never rolls in on wheels of inevitability; it comes through the tireless efforts of men willing to be co workers with God, and without this hard work, time itself becomes an ally of the forces of social stagnation. We must use time creatively, in the knowledge that the time is always ripe to do right. Now is the time to make real the promise of democracy and transform our pending national elegy into a creative psalm of brotherhood. Now is the time to lift our national policy from the quicksand of racial injustice to the solid rock of human dignity…

Oppressed people cannot remain oppressed forever. The yearning for freedom eventually manifests itself, and that is what has happened to the American Negro. Something within has reminded him of his birthright of freedom, and something without has reminded him that it can be gained…

But though I was initially disappointed at being categorized as an extremist, as I continued to think about the matter I gradually gained a measure of satisfaction from the label. Was not Jesus an extremist for love: “Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you.” Was not Amos an extremist for justice: “Let justice roll down like waters and righteousness like an ever flowing stream.” Was not Paul an extremist for the Christian gospel: “I bear in my body the marks of the Lord Jesus.” Was not Martin Luther an extremist: “Here I stand; I cannot do otherwise, so help me God.” And John Bunyan: “I will stay in jail to the end of my days before I make a butchery of my conscience.” And Abraham Lincoln: “This nation cannot survive half slave and half free.” And Thomas Jefferson: “We hold these truths to be self evident, that all men are created equal . . .” So the question is not whether we will be extremists, but what kind of extremists we will be. Will we be extremists for hate or for love? Will we be extremists for the preservation of injustice or for the extension of justice?..

I had hoped that the white moderate would see this need. Perhaps I was too optimistic; perhaps I expected too much. I suppose I should have realized that few members of the oppressor race can understand the deep groans and passionate yearnings of the oppressed race, and still fewer have the vision to see that injustice must be rooted out by strong, persistent and determined action. I am thankful, however, that some of our white brothers in the South have grasped the meaning of this social revolution and committed themselves to it. They are still all too few in quantity, but they are big in quality…

Let me take note of my other major disappointment. I have been so greatly disappointed with the white church and its leadership. Of course, there are some notable exceptions. I am not unmindful of the fact that each of you has taken some significant stands on this issue…

But despite these notable exceptions, I must honestly reiterate that I have been disappointed with the church. I do not say this as one of those negative critics who can always find something wrong with the church. I say this as a minister of the gospel, who loves the church; who was nurtured in its bosom; who has been sustained by its spiritual blessings and who will remain true to it as long as the cord of life shall lengthen…

When I was suddenly catapulted into the leadership of the bus protest in Montgomery, Alabama, a few years ago, I felt we would be supported by the white church. I felt that the white ministers, priests and rabbis of the South would be among our strongest allies. Instead, some have been outright opponents, refusing to understand the freedom movement and misrepresenting its leaders; all too many others have been more cautious than courageous and have remained silent behind the anesthetizing security of stained glass windows…

I have heard numerous southern religious leaders admonish their worshipers to comply with a desegregation decision because it is the law, but I have longed to hear white ministers declare: “Follow this decree because integration is morally right and because the Negro is your brother.” In the midst of blatant injustices inflicted upon the Negro, I have watched white churchmen stand on the sideline and mouth pious irrelevancies and sanctimonious trivialities. In the midst of a mighty struggle to rid our nation of racial and economic injustice, I have heard many ministers say: “Those are social issues, with which the gospel has no real concern.”

In deep disappointment I have wept over the laxity of the church. But be assured that my tears have been tears of love. There can be no deep disappointment where there is not deep love. Yes, I love the church. How could I do otherwise? I am in the rather unique position of being the son, the grandson and the great grandson of preachers. Yes, I see the church as the body of Christ. But, oh! How we have blemished and scarred that body through social neglect and through fear of being nonconformists.

…So often the contemporary church is a weak, ineffectual voice with an uncertain sound. So often it is an archdefender of the status quo. Far from being disturbed by the presence of the church, the power structure of the average community is consoled by the church’s silent–and often even vocal–sanction of things as they are.

But the judgment of God is upon the church as never before. If today’s church does not recapture the sacrificial spirit of the early church, it will lose its authenticity, forfeit the loyalty of millions, and be dismissed as an irrelevant social club with no meaning for the twentieth century. Every day I meet young people whose disappointment with the church has turned into outright disgust.

Perhaps I have once again been too optimistic. Is organized religion too inextricably bound to the status quo to save our nation and the world?..

I hope the church as a whole will meet the challenge of this decisive hour. But even if the church does not come to the aid of justice, I have no despair about the future. I have no fear about the outcome of our struggle in Birmingham, even if our motives are at present misunderstood. We will reach the goal of freedom in Birmingham and all over the nation, because the goal of America is freedom. Abused and scorned though we may be, our destiny is tied up with America’s destiny. Before the pilgrims landed at Plymouth, we were here. Before the pen of Jefferson etched the majestic words of the Declaration of Independence across the pages of history, we were here. For more than two centuries our forebears labored in this country without wages; they made cotton king; they built the homes of their masters while suffering gross injustice and shameful humiliation -and yet out of a bottomless vitality they continued to thrive and develop. If the inexpressible cruelties of slavery could not stop us, the opposition we now face will surely fail. We will win our freedom because the sacred heritage of our nation and the eternal will of God are embodied in our echoing demands…

Over the past few years I have consistently preached that nonviolence demands that the means we use must be as pure as the ends we seek. I have tried to make clear that it is wrong to use immoral means to attain moral ends. But now I must affirm that it is just as wrong, or perhaps even more so, to use moral means to preserve immoral ends…

I wish you had commended the Negro sit inners and demonstrators of Birmingham for their sublime courage, their willingness to suffer and their amazing discipline in the midst of great provocation. One day the South will recognize its real heroes…

One day the South will know that when these disinherited children of God sat down at lunch counters, they were in reality standing up for what is best in the American dream and for the most sacred values in our Judaeo Christian heritage, thereby bringing our nation back to those great wells of democracy which were dug deep by the founding fathers in their formulation of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence.

…I hope this letter finds you strong in the faith. I also hope that circumstances will soon make it possible for me to meet each of you, not as an integrationist or a civil-rights leader but as a fellow clergyman and a Christian brother. Let us all hope that the dark clouds of racial prejudice will soon pass away and the deep fog of misunderstanding will be lifted from our fear drenched communities, and in some not too distant tomorrow the radiant stars of love and brotherhood will shine over our great nation with all their scintillating beauty.

Yours for the cause of Peace and Brotherhood,

Martin Luther King, Jr.

Weekly Ponderings

Here are some of the ideas I came across these last couple weeks that made me think.  You can read each article in full by clicking on the title under each excerpt. Inclusion does not mean full endorsement (of the whole post or the site where it is linked).

“God’s complaint here also shows why passages like this can be bewildering…“Who asked this from your hand?” the Lord God Almighty says of burnt offerings, incense, Sabbath convocations, appointed festivals and solemn assemblies.

That seems to be a rhetorical question, but it seems reasonable that both Isaiah’s original readers/listeners and contemporary religious folk would try to answer it. “Who asked for this?” Well, God, You did. And You didn’t just ask, You commanded all of this stuff. You gave us a whole set of books full of commandments demanding this from our hand.

That’s a fair point. I mean, it seems strange that God should spend so much time explicitly telling us “thou shalt … thou shalt … thou shalt … thou must” only to turn around later and be all, like, “Where did you people get the idea that any of this was something I wanted?”

But the prophets are very clear about the difference here. They don’t leave any room for confusion about the difference between worship and assemblies that delight God as a sweet-smelling form of obedience and worship and assemblies that offend and sicken God as a despicable, wearying burden.

The difference is justice. Justice is the necessary ingredient without which no worship, prayer, assembly, offering or other form of religious expression will be regarded as legitimate by God Almighty. Injustice delegitimizes all religion. It turns that which God has commanded into something that God detests — something that God detests in language harsher and angrier than anything even Frederick Douglass could muster.”

Go and learn what this means — the bad-faith ‘biblical’ defense of injustice (part 4) by Fred Clark

“…there is another dynamic at work that needs to be mentioned. This goes back to my childhood where I was regaled with missionaries-on-furlough telling stories of missionary work, and a number of our missionaries were single women. On the mission field women got to teach, got to preach, got to plant churches, and got to exercise gifts not permitted to be exercised in the home field of the USA.”

“I’m a Single Lady” (Missionary) and John Piper by Scot McKnight

“Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character give him power.”

“I think one look back at 2016 would confirm that. Power, it would seem, as much as we may want it, sometimes turns us into people we never thought we would be.

History tells us this is true…

The people wanted power.

And Jesus wouldn’t give it to them. He wasn’t interested in being a political Messiah or a governing Savior. And when the people tried to make Him that, He recoiled. He withdrew…

The people wanted nothing to do with such a powerless leader. So they killed him.
Jesus shows us power’s temptations aren’t new. Its promises aren’t unique. And real power looks far different than we can imagine.

Like nearly everything He said, it’s a paradox. Power is best used in serving. Greatness is found in humility. The last shall be first. And on and on it goes, making no sense to the rulers of this world–or those aspiring to be the rulers of this world.
Power is most pure and most helpful when it’s given away.

We will hold loosely to what promises power offers, and we will use what power we do have to love, to serve, and to build our character, even against all odds.

We may not be on the platform this January 20th, but we are in as good a position as any to learn to practice power–both the acquiring of it and the loss of it–well. Let Jesus show you how. Give some away. Serve all you can. Love all you come across. And believe there is a better end than power at the end of the day. There is dignity. Integrity. And character.”

Power Play: What You Can Do Inauguration Day by Sarah Anderson

“Most millennials I know struggle with mental illness to some degree. Anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, and more. I wonder how much of that anxiety comes from being told that wanting a living wage, affordable college, or adequate healthcare means that you’re being a spoiled entitled brat. It really doesn’t. The generations before us HAD a living wage, affordable college, and adequate healthcare. But now, inflation has far surpassed the minimum wage, college tuition and loan interest rates are through the proverbial roof, and medical bills are the top cause of bankruptcy in America.

These things were not caused by millennials, but after being raised on a steady diet of “you’re entitled,” we don’t even need to hear it from other people. We believe it about ourselves. As a society, we now romanticize struggle, busy-ness, and “the hustle.” If you’re not losing sleep and working two or three jobs, you must not want it enough…

The millennial generation has been tasked with fixing the broken system we inherited and chastised for not doing it right or for daring to suggest improvements.

If you think we’re doing a bad job, ask yourself how it got this way in the first place.”


“Values are fragile. Because the values of human rights depend foremost on the ability to empathize with others — to recognize the importance of treating others the way we would want to be treated — they are especially vulnerable to the demagogue’s exclusionary appeal. A society’s culture of respect for human rights needs regular tending, lest the fears of the moment sweep away the wisdom that built democratic rule…”

We Are on the Verge of Darkness by Kenneth Roth

“This is not about deceit. It’s about privacy.

When you are surrounded by people who will not honor your being honest with them, but instead are likely to penalize you, possibly severely, in unfair, unrelated, and irrational ways, you do not owe them your honesty. As an adult, whether you should be honest about particular topics depends on the context of the relationship that you have with each person. You’re not a “liar” if you decide to keep the details of your sex life, your political opinions, or your religious views private from your family if that will preserve the best aspects of that relationship, and if indulging yourself in openness is simply not worth the cost. You are the one who decides if that is any of their business. If they will not be able handle the truth, if their reaction will be immature and destructive to themselves, to you, and to the relationship, then it’s really okay to respect your own boundaries and preserve your own privacy.”

Ask Richard: Atheist Student Struggles with Ethics Around Coming Out to the Family by Richard Wade


“The common objection to this characterization of privilege is the age-old “bootstrap” comeback that says, “I got everything I have by my own hard work.”

Respectfully: no, you didn’t.

I’m not devaluing your hard work at all, it certainly matters a great deal, but there are others who do not enjoy your privileged status in society that have worked both quantitatively and qualitatively harder than you have, yet still they are not successful. The opposite is also true: there are others who have put in virtually no work, but because they enjoy a more privileged position in society than you do, are more successful than you, despite your hard work.

Look, if “hard work” was actually the currency of success, women in sub-Saharan Africa would likely be the most successful, prosperous demographic in the world… 

…and politicians would be the least successful. 

Neither of those is the case.

That should tell us something about the interaction between hard work and privilege.”

On Platforms, Privilege, Controversy and Conversation  by Luke Harms

The problem of collateral damage

The problem of evil in our world in light of a creator who is good has been written about many times and than some over the centuries. But for my own personal records I am going to share some of my thoughts on this (random and scattered though they may be).

One of the biggest obstacles to my ability to completely and fully trust in God is what I call the problem of collateral damage. Essentially I find it difficult if not completely impossible to reconcile a God who cares, loves, and was willing to die for this world with a God who will watch ( and choose not to stop) the suffering of every human whose existed and then toss the majority of those people onto the garbage heap of eternity (also know as hell).

And I know the typical Christian response is that man did this to himself and is suffering the consequences of sinning against God. My issue with that is the fact that (based on my understanding thus far) God created the world knowing exactly what would happen. Yet His hands are completely clean of the whole mess and mankind (along with Satan) is left holding the bag so to speak for everything thats gone wrong in the world. Convenient…for God anyway.

And the typical response here, that I have usually heard, is that God is God and He can do what He wants and who are we to question Him? Well some problems with that is the fact that He claims to be loving. (1 Cor. 13, 1 John, ect.) And from what I see of this world and from my understanding of eternity  (according to the  protestant churches I grew up in) is that God doesn’t really care about people. Not really. Not if we must go with the idea that God’s people are always in the minority and we should just be content that He saved any of us. I have a rather significant problem with the mindset that we shouldn’t really care about those poor suckers who don’t come to Christ. And even if we do care lucky for us we will stop caring once we’re in heaven so in the end just trust that eternally torturing most people who have ever lived is not a deal breaker when it comes to trusting God. And by  deal breaker I mean not something that makes most people even consider that there could be anything wrong with this view of the world, humanity, eternal destinies and so on.

Ultimately I wonder why are we (most Christians) so okay with the fact that many if not most people will suffer in many ways in this life and most of those people will simply move on to an eternity where the sufferings of this world will (apparently) pale in comparison? And for all eternity God’s people will live happily ever after while most of humanity, including no doubt many loved ones, will be suffering never ending pain somewhere in the realm of God’s domain? (Really makes me wonder if I’m meant to become more like Christ ( loving, selfless, compassionate, merciful ect.) and I’m guessing I will be more fully these things once I’m before His throne … why will I be indifferent to the pain of billions of my fellow human beings for all of eternity?)

One criticism I expect to get for thinking these things is that I am just making God into what I want Him to be. Though I might deal with this more in another post I would simply say there isn’t anyone who isn’t somewhat guilty of this. (The more I’ve thought on this the more hell seems like its much more a reflection of sinful man’s love of vengeance and violence than God’s). And the more Christians I see who are ok with a God who is sadistic and suffers from multiple personality disorder the more I realize maybe my issues aren’t really with God to begin with. I think I’m just learning to untangle the unhealthy and even evil views people have made up about Him over the course of history.

In the end I guess it is sometimes just too hard to believe that so much collateral damage is worth whatever glory God is supposed to be getting from all of it.

A look back in time (aka thoughts we should remember from history)

“By the later 1930s, most U.S. journalists realized their mistake in underestimating Hitler or failing to imagine just how bad things could get…Dorothy Thompson, who judged Hitler a man of “startling insignificance” in 1928, realized her mistake by mid-decade when she, like Mowrer, began raising the alarm.

No people ever recognize their dictator in advance,” she reflected in 1935. “He never stands for election on the platform of dictatorship. He always represents himself as the instrument [of] the Incorporated National Will.” Applying the lesson to the U.S., she wrote, “When our dictator turns up you can depend on it that he will be one of the boys, and he will stand for everything traditionally American.

source: Normalizing fascists