Monday, November 28, 2005

Progressive Christians are Right

Wouldn't it be wonderful if life was all about peace, love and feeding and caring for the poor of the world?

I'd like nothing more than to just retreat into my own surroundings, make life as perfect as I can for those I love in my life and to spend all my political energy in making the world a better place through purely humanitarian efforts. Wouldn't that be nice?

That seems to be the agenda of Progressive Christians. Feed the world's hungry, provide life saving medicines to the world's diseased-poor, making sure every American has free (tax payer sponsored) health care, however, many seem to be of the mistaken view that if a Christian spends any of their time fighting for moral issues which could effect the future of all Americans and have potentially great impact on our every day lives in America, that they are somehow less "holy" than those who want to focus on love, peace, nutrition, the environment and health. They make that position clear each and every time they sneer at a Conservative or evangelical Christian who opposes certain legislation based on moral reasons as though they are judging others and refusing them God's grace.

If those of us who believe in the Republic of the United States of America, look away from the political ramifications of some of the policies which activists in this country would like to implement then we will be at risk of losing the very Republic, the very United States of America that we love.

Progressive Christians hearts may be in the right place. That is why I can be sympathetic to them. That is why I can agree with them on some levels. Progressive Christians are, in many cases, promoting a beneficial Christian service to the greater community, though their position is somewhat naive if they believe they can do that solely on the issues of their choice, while being totally disinterested in other pressing moral issues. Helping the poor is a moral issue, feeding the hungry is a moral issue, showing God's grace and love is a moral issue, but isn't safeguarding our heritage a moral issue, too, when that very heritage is based and founded on Christian principles?

This week the United States Supreme Court has before it a case which will determine whether parents have the right to know when their minor daughter is going to undergo the invasive medical procedure known as abortion. They will be reviewing a lower court ruling which had struck down New Hampshire's Parental Notification Laws. The previous law had required that parents must be notified of an under 18 year old child's abortion plans, either in person or by certified mail, a full 48 hours before the abortion procedure could proceed. The excuse for disallowing parental notification has to do with "health exceptions" for the health of the minor. My question would be, if a minor child has health reasons to get an abortion the parents should have a right to notification of those health issues, as well. This is about who your children belong they belong to you or do they belong to the State or Federal Government? The idea that the State or Federal government should have the authority to bar you from knowing whether your minor daughter is going to have an abortion, or has a health risk which requires an abortion, is reprehensible and should be reprehensible to every parent.

Next, gay marriage. Progressive Christians would like to reduce the argument to being one of love, tolerance and acceptance, grace, if you will, of individual gay persons. Certainly, I agree that we should show love, and grace to ALL people, not only homosexuals, and I have no problem with doing so. What I cannot tolerate is the undermining of the institution of marriage, which was established by God, Himself, by granting gays the special right to marry based upon their sexual orientation. I've said enough about this issue in the past, no need to re-hash it again, but I cannot discuss issues in the political arena which are opposed by Conservative Christians and seem to be supported by Progressive Christians without mentioning it here.

The broader issue of abortion. Conservative Christians generally oppose abortion on demand. Progressive Christians appear to be quite torn by this issue. They seem to feel that if they deny a woman the right to murder a child in their womb, for the reason of convenience, that they might be seen as being less than loving, tolerant and accepting of that person. They leave the voiceless child out of the argument, all together, because science cannot conclude exactly when life begins.

I am a CSI fan. A few weeks ago there was an episode on CSI wherein "Gil Grissam" tells "Katherine" that a spiritual argument can be made that blood represents life and that until life-blood is present in a fetus there is no life. I found that intriguing. In WHEN DOES LIFE BECOME HUMAN LIFE?, found at they make this statement:

"We assume that blood first appears at the time that the human embryo's heart begins to beat. (We are confident that we will receive a flood of Emails correcting us if this is not true.) This occurs at about 18 to 21 days after conception -- before the embryo develops limbs, a head, a brain, etc. It is about 1/12" long, the size of a pencil point. It most closely resembles a worm - long and thin and with a segmented end."

This would be a good argument for Progressive Christians to take up, in defending their position, if they would like to see abortion limited to the first 18 to 21 days after conception, but they do not seem to want to limit abortion to that stage only. They use this argument for their supportive position on embryonic stem cell research. As far as I can tell they have no good argument for a pro-choice position other than they don't want to appear to be condemning of the mother who has had an abortion because they think it will make them appear to be less than loving, tolerant and accepting of that mother.

And that's another issue, embryonic stem cell research, Conservatives oppose it while many Progressives generally support it and look for arguments to back up that support. I don't know, to me, valuing an unborn baby's life less than an adult or an already born child just isn't right. Which baby would Jesus kill? (I only throw that in because Progressives like to ask us "who would Jesus kill" when it suits their purpose, and it suited mine).

I really don't mean to generalize about Progressives or about Conservatives, it's just that that is a very difficult thing not to do. I am fully aware that there are Progressives who are pro-life, just as I am sure there are Conservatives who are pro-choice, but for the sake of argument we have to start somewhere, don't we?

My overall point, and I have made it before, is that Progressives have a purpose just as Conservatives have a purpose. Each of us can make a contribution to the calling of Christ.

There is room for humanitarianism and there is room for the rebuking of those who would subvert normal and healthy lifestyles, kill babies in the womb on demand, in most cases simply because they are an inconvenience to the mother, those who would manufacture life only to destroy is to save other life, and those who would remove parent's authority over their children and give the ultimate authority to the State or Federal Government.

So, yeah, this is sort of on the theme of the body of Christ again, and another small effort on my part to bridge a gap of, what I consider, to be misunderstanding of goals of Conservative and Progressive Christians. Christians should have the same goals, not opposing goals. God is not double-minded, He doesn't change. He will not tell one Christian that abortion, for instance, is wrong and another Christian that it is acceptable, and before you ask, no, I certainly don't claim to know the mind of God. Do you?

Friday, November 25, 2005

Thanksgiving with Mom

It is the day after Thanksgiving and dubbed the biggest shopping day of the year. I must confess that I think people who get out the day after Thanksgiving and fight over special sales at stores which open their doors at 5:00 or 6:00 in the morning are insane. I know that it is a tradition among many people to do just that, and I don't doubt that there are many bargains for those who wish to spend their day that way.

For me, the day after Thanksgiving is a day I breathe a sigh of relief. Don't get me wrong, Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday of the year. I love Thanksgiving even more than Christmas because it is the day that we get to focus on thanking God for all of the blessings he has given us. It is a day that is filled with food and family without the intrusion of commercialism, without the stress of fighting traffic, buying gifts on a small budget, which I actually gave up years ago, opting to bake and prepare homemade Christmas trays of goodies instead, but even all the ingredients that go into those goodies come with a price tag.

This year I have something special to thank God for...

My Mother.

My Mother is one of the most giving people I know. She's never had much money because she isn't wise with money. She gets it, spends it, waits till she gets more, spends it and waits. That's just the way my Mother handles money, she always has handled it that way and I gave up trying to change it long ago. What makes me appreciate my Mother, though, is what she spends her money on when she does have it. Certainly, she has needs, like this year, my brother and sister-in-law gave her $100.00 to do something for herself. I advised her to hang on to it to buy herself some new contact lenses she needs, but as always, she found other uses for it. What? Making sure she had enough food to feed an army even though we were only feeding five people this year. In the past I tried to encourage her to cut back, but I gave up on trying to change that long ago, too. You see, that's what gives her joy. It isn't enough to have food "enough" to feed us, she has to spend an hour after the meal filling little tubs with giblet gravy, mashed potatoes, yams, green beans, her famous noodles, cranberry sauce, dressing and ziplock bags of turkey, light and dark, mind you, and ham to send home with everyone in attendance. This year she made six pumpkin pies for five people. She sent a whole pie home with each family and still had enough for another uncle and aunt to pick up a pie, each, along with their own containers filled with goodies. She worried about another uncle and wanted to send him a plate of food. That's my Mom. She's the same Mom who, when having $15.00 will end up spending $10.00 of it on other people, always finding some little something that "so and so" needs or would like.

Anyway, this year...this year, my Mom is 70 years old. This year my Mom is using a walker and we think her Wegener's Granulomatosis is coming out of remission, my brother and sister-in-law couldn't be with us and I had the blessing of doing all the cooking, except for her mouthwatering pumpkin pies. You know, I'm tired, but more than tired, this year, I'm blessed that I got to be her hands in the kitchen. I was blessed when I stood at the table, leaning over, allowing her to examine the amount of brown sugar I had measured for the candied yams, blessed to stir the flour and milk thickening mixture, which she had prepared for me, into her gravy and put just the right amount of yellow food coloring into her noodles and gravy for her while she sat on a chair in the kitchen. This day, the day after Thanksgiving, I am thankful for my Mom, the giver, thankful for the opportunity to spend a special day with her, making everything just so, and just loving her.

I think that's why I've been teary-eyed all morning. Things are year my brother and sister-in-law will be back for Thanksgiving and I'll be glad because I missed them, but today? Today, I am thankful for a day that I got to serve my Mother by being her hands in the kitchen, and you know, even though I did all the cooking, at the end of the day, that gravy, those noodles, those yams...everything we had, were my Mother's dishes, they tasted just like they have tasted every year, for as long as I can remember, but this year there was just a little "bitter-sweetness" to go along with every bite. While my heart is in my throat, while my eyes are full of tears I know, in my heart of hearts that I will look back on this Thanksgiving, 2005, as one of the precious memories that will never fade.

So, thank you, God, for my Mother.

Monday, November 21, 2005

Sun in Rain

In the close

In the damp

I feel you

The rain framing your hooded head
like a halo

It is night
the moon lights your face
your breath just visible


so close.

I saw you first in a doorway

I saw you fleetingly
as you were looking for someone else
on that day

years ago

Now, nearly ten years later
you are still like the sun
on a night


in damp rain

Monday, November 14, 2005

A Part of the Body

I have been involved in two different ongoing debates on Progressive Christian blogsites. One on homosexuality at I am a Christian Too under the title Response to Mohler re: Homosexuality, Pt 2 and one at From the Salmon under the title Jesus Is So First Century . I enjoy these debates but they are tiring for all involved.

I believe the reason they are so tiring is because of all the preconceived notions Progressive Christians have about Conservative Christians and vice versa.

From I am a Christian Too:

Mohler Anti-Gay Rant
Filed under:
Gays in the Church— Bob @ 9:27 am

"Al Mohler, President of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, has a rant against gays that spans three of his columns on the SBC Baptist Press here, here and here. This is hate-filled stuff, and not hate-the-sin-but-love-the-sinner type hate, but good old-fashioned bigotry type hate."

Upon reading the three articles which Bob at IAACT linked to, I found his judgement of Al Mohler to be harsh and self-serving. There appears to be a desire on the part of many Progressive Christians to believe that all Conservative Christians have no reason to oppose gay marriage other than a hatred of gays or a fear of them. I believe I have proven this is not the case in my recent post titled "It's About Our Children, Stupid!" However, the case I made in that post is certainly not the only valid reason people may oppose gay marriage, it just happens to be the primary reason that I, personally, oppose it. To suggest that Mohler, who merely points out that he believes that all scripture is God-breathed and inerrant and that it identifies homosexuality as a sin, somehow reduces him to a hate-filled bigot is simply ridiculous. For those of us, who do believe in the inerrancy of scripture, to have Progressive Christians who do not believe in the sin of homosexuality to pretend that we have "poor theology" because we believe what, historically, has been believed about homosexuality is true is an insult to our intelligence. It is not disagreement with which I have a problem, it is the total lack of respect which I and other Conservative Christians face wherein we are painted as haters because we believe the inerrancy of scripture. Likewise, Progressives are treated as harbingers of apostasy for suggesting otherwise.

I have had a better experience at From the Salmon. Generally the commenters and blog owner of From the Salmon have been more receptive to a thoughtful, respectful, legitimate exchange of ideas. They have, or seem to have been, willing to accept that Conservatives are not merely opposed to aiding the poor but have differing views on how best to do so. That has been refreshing. While I do believe zalm, the owner of From the Salmon, was a bit heavy-handed in his initial critique of Pastor Ted Haggard when he said:

"The dark side of capitalism is that there will always be economic losers. The dark side of being pro-business is that a certain level of poverty is good for the profit margins. Let’s not pretend otherwise. And let’s certainly not sanctify it and sell it as Christian duty.

Look, the market is such a dynamic economic engine because it runs on the idea that people are most interested in maximizing their own pleasures and gains. We’re selfish creatures, and harnessing that selfishness holds tremendous power."

...because I, while not looking extensively into Haggard's work, don't think he is suggesting that "Free Market Christianity" is the only remedy for aiding the poor, I think he does have a point that it can be helpful in aiding the poor. I also admitted to zalm that I don't know that I agree on him espousing capitalism from the pulpit, but shouldn't we, as Christians, do all we can to aid the poor, and if capitalistic tools can help in this goal shouldn't we utilize them also?

It is easy for us to take on an either/or mentality. It would be easy to say that capitalism or a free market approach is the only way to ease economic need or to say that the only way to aid the poor is through supplying their needs without helping them to create a way to meet their own needs but the point is that, and zalm admits this, it isn't that simple. I believe that Progressives can bring something to this discussion and that Conservatives can bring something to this discussion, as well. Working together and not being so quick to discount the other's reasons for their beliefs of how best to address this issue is an important quest. zalm admits that the government isn't a perfect deliverer of effective aid for the poor then chastises the church for not being the perfect deliverer of effective aid either, in my opinion both are not entirely effective but the church will come closer to delivering aid in the compassionate, loving and caring way which Jesus examples than the government can ever dream or hope of delivering it.

Progressive Christians exist and have some legitimate complaints, Conservative Christians exist and have some legitimate complaints. We could all use a lesson in respect for our fellow Christian brothers and sisters in Christ. If we can only put aside our partisan political opinions and work together toward a solution that is fair and equitable to all, that shows mutual respect, I believe we might go far toward finding solutions to some of these problems. As far as helping the poor? Government has some responsibility but, conservatively speaking, I believe that the body of Christ has more responsibility than the government to help those in need. But, my goodness, there is certainly room for debate. I would recommend anyone to read the blog From the Salmon and weigh in on the discussion, weigh in at I am a Christian Too , also. Let's have a constructive dialog, after all, Jesus calls the Body of Christ together, why shouldn't we? We are all a part of the Body.

Monday, November 07, 2005

First Impressions

I don't consider myself to be a rash person, but sometimes I have my moments. :)

Like when I first visted a particular blog and generalized all the commenters there as though they all thought the same thing. It's a common human mistake. I honesty think all of us are guilty of generalizing groups of people. People label themselves into these little groups and identify with one another and then they are surprised that they are not each viewed as an individual. It happens to me all the time. So, I'm guilty of it too. I have always made an effort not to generalize people and to come to my own conclusions about a person individually, taking things others say about them with a "grain of salt" until I get to know a person. It's always interesting to find myself doing something I hate to do and hate to have done to me.

It humbles me.

Forgiveness, many preach it. Tolerance, many talk about it, but when we come eye to eye with a person and their eyes are flashing red how forgiving are we, how tolerant are we of those whose viewpoints vary from ours? If we disagree with a person, are we still able to love that person? I have found I can usually rise to that ocassion and that's interesting in itself. I believe that in every single person on this earth there is some glint of something in their personality which is worthy of love, I seem to have less trouble at spotting that glint than some people do.

That's okay, though. It takes all kinds.

God bless all who read my blog.