Weekly Ponderings

Here are some things I read this week. Inclusion does not mean I fully endorse everything in each article or the sites they are linked to. You can read each post in its entirety by clicking on the title beneath each excerpt. 

“We tend to think that we would have seen what was happening and stopped it…When would we have stopped? When would you have punched a Nazi? When Hitler was making nationalistic speeches? When the government demonized Jews like the far right demonizes Muslims? When the movies and the media put on a propaganda campaign that would have put Milo to shame? When the “lying press” was getting shut down? Would you really have spoken up by the time Auschwitz was set up, 7 years in, after being primed to hate that much? Really? Or would you be like the millions who didn’t even put the pieces together to know their were gas chambers and stop what was going on?

Here’s the deal: We KNOW that the Nazi message is effective. We know it can spread a cancer through our society, that people will latch onto it, that if you start from certain premises it is a logically sound position that is virtually unassailable from the standpoint of pure reason. We know that science cannot defeat it, and can instead enhance it to come up with more effective, crueler methods for the realization of its darkest capaibilities. We know that the humanities cannot defeat it, but that the artists and the writers and the moviemakers and even the philosophers became part of one of the greatest propaganda campaigns of all time.

The only time we stamped out the virus of Nazism wholly and thoroughly, to the point where most today think it an abomination, was through choking the life out of it.
This reality shows me that there may be some places in society where free speech is not an option, where it is intolerable, where the debate ends — where, indeed, if you allow the debate to continue, you will lose, and humanity will lose, to a crueller, harsher view of who we are.”

When to Start Punching: Notes on Defending Social Justice by Martin Hughes

“Johnson, the former 11-year-old unwitting bride who is now fighting for Florida to set a minimum marriage age (there is none now), says that her family attended a conservative Pentecostal church and that other girls of a similar age periodically also married. Often, she says, this was to hide rapes by church elders…

“It was a terrible life,” Johnson recalls, recounting her years as a child raising children. She missed school and remembers spending her days changing diapers, arguing with her husband and struggling to pay expenses. She ended up with pregnancy after pregnancy — nine children in all — while her husband periodically abandoned her.

“They took the handcuffs from handcuffing him,” she says, referring to the risk he faced of arrest for rape, “to handcuffing me, by marrying me without me knowing what I was doing.”

“You can’t get a job, you can’t get a car, you can’t get a license, you can’t sign a lease,” she adds, “so why allow someone to marry when they’re still so young?”

11 Years Old, a Mom, and Pushed to Marry Her Rapist in Florida by Nicholas Kristof

“The worst part of what happened to this young woman is that she learned about a false Christ – a Jesus who shames sinners, who turns an angry and harsh face on those who confess and repent, who demands his pound of flesh before he offers peace. She was taught that Jesus first ridicules and gleefully watches us weep before he grudgingly offers forgiveness. She was taught that even after she goes through all of that, Jesus is still ashamed to be seen in public with her. She was taught that Jesus was ashamed to be her God, ashamed of her and her baby!”

How Shame Drives Us From Christ by Sam Powell

“You should try reading the Bible and asking God to reveal the truth to you.”—as if these are things I’d never considered…

My reply is always the same: “Reading the Bible and praying over it—is precisely how I became Progressive.”

None of us has the market cornered on the Truth, and we all bring the same things to our study and prayer and to our religion—we bring ourselves. We bring the sum total of the families we’ve lived in and the place we were born and the faith tradition we were raised in. We carry the teachers and pastors and writers who inspired us, the experiences we’ve had, and even our specific personalities. In other words: we all find our way—in the way we find our way.

When another Christian instructs someone else to “read the Bible,” or “take it to prayer,” or to “ask God to reveal the truth to you,” they usually mean, “Do all of these things until you get it right—until you agree with me.” They are assuming their version of study and reflection are more valid than another’s…

Christian, the next time your tempted to flippantly tell someone who doesn’t share your religious convictions or mirror your theology, that they should “try reading the Bible and going to God,” it might be helpful to seek a humility about your own beliefs and a respect of theirs; to entertain the idea that maybe their reading of the Bible and their prayerful life surrounding it—are the very reason they now hold those beliefs…”

“The Bible and Prayer” Won’t Fix My Progressive Theology—They Created it. by John Pavlovitz

“And on top of it all, the ultimate kick in the gut: We wouldn’t even see her alive. I struggled with the idea of Eva’s existence and her humanity all along, whether a terminal diagnosis made her dead already. I clung to knowing her humanity would be validated to me when I saw her as a living, breathing human being. I would hold my daughter and be her daddy. I wanted to watch her die, because that would mean that I got to watch her live. Think about that one for a second. Now it was all gone. I longed for just five minutes with her, heck, five seconds with her. All of that practical stuff about organ donation was irrelevant to me now. I just wanted to hold my baby girl and see her chest move up and down. I just wanted to be her daddy, if only for a few seconds…”

We spent months bracing and preparing for the death of our daughter. But guess what? We weren’t ready. by Royce Young

“But if you think Medicaid is evil government bureaucracy and your church could do better, then I’ve got a few questions for you. Have you already met with your pastor to talk about chairing your church’s capital campaign to build a free health clinic? How many doctors, nurses, social workers, and counselors will need to be hired for this health clinic and which church staff do you think can be let go to make this substitution? How many thousands of dollars are you willing to take away from your retirement and/or your kids’ college tuition to pay for this health clinic? How many weekly hours are you planning to volunteer at this health clinic? Have you talked to your boss about the time you would need to take off work in order to take this on?

Ideology is so much easier when you don’t have to deal with the details.”

Is your church going to replace Medicaid? by Morgan Guyton

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