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Persistence and Resistance

14 Feb

We will not be silent
We won’t turn away
We won’t believe lies
We’ll check what they say

When people hate others
We’ll take on the risk
And refuse to be silent
And with love, we’ll resist

 

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We’ll march with Lady Liberty
As she fights the insanity
Of misogyny and bigotry
We’ll rise up with humanity.

Rise up patriots
Protect the laws of the land
Rise up Christians
And lend a helping hand

Do justly, love mercy
Walk humbly with God
With love and truth, we can win
Let’s make America kind again!

Love–not hate, is what makes America great!

Things That Matter

13 Feb

My last blog seems to have struck a nerve. People keep writing to tell me that God has a plan and this new administration is okay because Ben Carson is helping the powers that be. And most important—I should be careful what I say about this because it might mislead other people. If I am misleading other people into loving their Muslim, gay or brown skinned neighbors, then my job is done and I can finally drop the mic, but it hasn’t happened yet.

When I hear people use the simplistic platitude, “God has a plan” and ascribe God to the reason for anyone being in power, I can’t agree. This sounds like Calvinistic thinking and I do not ascribe to predestination. When they say God sets up kings, how do they account for all the wars since the dawn of history? Has God just played a giant game of chess with all of us? The God I know is much more loving than to merely use people as his pawns. It’s true God allows kings, but I don’t believe He designates evil and corrupt rulers. Even Saul in the Bible was not God’s original plan, but God gave the people what they wanted. In this election, when we review the rise of authoritarianism, we can see how once again, God has given the people what they wanted.

While I believe God is ultimately in control of the outcome of this horrible sin experiment, there are millions of things that have happened and which are happening right now that I would hate to ascribe to God from Hitler’s murdering six million Jews, to millions of abortions, to millions of rapes, to millions of children starving and of course the millions killed in wars of every form.

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I mention Carson by name because I believe he is well-meaning–although possibly misguided. Ben was once a hero of mine. He has always seemed like a soft spoken, kind man and I have no reason to think he’s changed. What removed him from hero status in my eyes was his choice to run for president. After reading the Myth of the Christian Nation a few years ago, I began to realize no politician is going to be able to fix our nation’s problems. I’ve also read other inspired writings which discouraged me from focusing on any government of this world.

That said, I had literally no interest to write about politics until this current administration headed toward winning the election. I watched this video on the rise of Authoritarianism and later discovered how the marketing for this campaign was drawn from our social media posts—allowing different people to hear whatever they wanted from this candidate. This is not a conspiracy theory, it is our current reality and the very same technique swung the Brexit vote in Britain.

I am not under the impression that any US president has been spotless–however none has shown such contempt and disrespect across the board for people of color, women, other-abled people and the press. No one else has lied so blatantly and brought such obvious racists into their cabinet. And the separation of church and state is now becoming an issue. This administration is not bringing the nation together but dividing it and the rest of the educated world is watching in horror at what is happening while American Christians are high fiving each other and throwing parties.

Many seem to feel if Ben Carson approves of this administration, then it’s okay, but has God given Ben to do our thinking for us? I had forgotten Ben Carson is a member of this cabinet when I said they are filling the swamp with vipers. The truth is Ben did not come to mind, but despite his noble bearing and plans to do good (and who am I to say he can’t do some good?) it will take much more than one well intentioned man to alleviate the damage. My fear is Carson was the Trojan horse which made a lot of Christians imagine this is a Christian administration when in fact it goes against nearly everything Jesus lived and taught.

Timothy Snyder is a professor of history at Yale University and the author of numerous books of European history. Allow me to repost from an interview with him:

“I can only say that Mr. Trump’s inaugural address was extremely ideological. During the campaign he used the slogan “America First” and then was informed that this was the name of a movement that tried to prevent the United States from fighting Nazi Germany and was associated with nativists and white supremacists. He claimed then not to have known that.  But in the inaugural address he made “America First” his central them, and now he can’t say that he doesn’t know what it means. And of course Bannon knows what it means. America First is precisely the conjuration of this alternative America of the 1930s where Charles Lindbergh is the hero. This inaugural address reeked of the 1930s.”

When Bannon calls himself a “Leninist”, do Americans know what is he talking about?

“No, they usually have no idea. It is a good question. Americans have this idea that comes from Jefferson and the American Revolution that you have to rebel every so often. And they sometimes don’t make the distinction between a rebellion against injustice and the extinction of the whole political system, which is what Bannon says that he is after. The American Revolution actually preserved ideas from Britain: the rule of law being the most important.  The whole justification of the American Revolution was that the British were not living up to their own principles, were not including Americans in their own system.  In a broad way that that was also the argument of the civil rights movement: the system fails itself when it does not extend equal rights to all citizens.  So there can be resistance and even revolution which is about meeting standards rather than about simple destruction. What Bannon says correctly about the Bolsheviks was that they aimed to completely destroy an old regime.  We can slip from one to the other very easily, from rebelliousness to a complete negation of the system.  Most Americans had a rule of law state for most of their lives, African Americans are an exception, and so most Americans think this will be there forever.  They don’t get that a “disruption” can actually destroy much of what they take for granted.  They have no notion what it means to destroy the state and how their lives would look like if the rule of law would no longer exist. I find it frightening that people who talk about the destruction of the American state are now in charge of the American state.”

On Facebook there are a lot of countdowns: 3 years, 11 months, 1 week until President Trump’s first term is over. How is your mood, do you see hope? 

“The marches were very encouraging. These were quite possibly the largest demonstrations in the history of the US, just in sheer numbers on one single day. That sort of initiative has to continue.  The constitution is worth saving, the rule of law is worth saving, democracy is worth saving, but these things can and will be lost if everyone waits around for someone else. If we want encouragement out of the Oval Office, we will not get it. We are not getting encouragement thus far from Republicans. They have good reasons to defend the republic but thus far they are not doing so, with a few exceptions.  You want to end on a positive note, I know; but I think things have tightened up very fast, we have at most a year to defend the Republic, perhaps less.  What happens in the next few weeks is very important.”

Not all Christians support the current administration. Many are appalled and looking for ways to stop this from happening. Someone just sent me this message:

“I think that if one can support a narcissist, misogynist, racist, bigot, sexist, controlling dictator like the current president, one has lost the overall goal of what the USA is all about, AND what God and Christianity is all about. I have never been into politics much–but this one is over the top disconcerting.”

The time has come for each of us to do our own thinking rather than follow any leader–unless they are aligned with the message and lifestyle of Jesus. The Religious Right has made Christianity a joke through their corrupt choices. Preserving life in the womb alone does not excuse the violations of freedom and dignity that are the inalienable rights of every citizen–we should have these rights over all other freedoms.

This current administration is doing all they can to tear down the United States as we know it. It’s time to join the resistance friends! It’s up to each of us to speak up and speak out. We are not speaking against the constitution, we are speaking against those who have designs to change it and our way of life forever. Be strong and of courage!

Ezer Kenegdo Still Rising

19 Jan

The situation of women’s rights is coming to a head. It’s time to stand up for women everywhere. As we say goodbye to a president who affirms and supports strong women, we are now going to be under a man who uses women. It appears the crowds for the Women’s March will far out number the inauguration. This is an indicator that men will not always have the last word about women. I am proud for all of my sisters who are marching.

This brings me to spiritual women’s issue at hand. The Seventh-day Adventist General Conference President (the church I grew up in and feel ashamed of since Wilson took over as president) summoned the North American Division to discuss what some believe is the GC President’s way of seeking to punish some for ordaining women.

Punishing people for treating women with equality should never be an issue in God’s church, my friends. Never. I will say it again because it’s true. The subjugation of women, the mistreatments of women, the unfair promotional track for women is sometimes expected in the world, but this should never be the case in a church which claims to represent God’s character.

If you have a disagreement about Women’s Rights, please don’t take it up with me—I’ve heard all the stale arguments against it that don’t hold water. Take it up with Jesus. Fortunately we are under the headship of one man–Jesus. There is ample evidence in the gospels of how Jesus treats women. If our leaders claim to be Christian and do not reflect this mindset, we can be sure they have gone off course.

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So women all around our country and world are waiting, praying and marching. There are many Adventist women marching this weekend.  They are doing this on the Sabbath and they are more concerned about the Spirit of the Sabbath than they are about the legal ramifications of breaking a holy day. In the words of Jesus paraphrased by me: “Woman was not made for the Sabbath, but the Sabbath was made for Woman.”

Where do we get such gall? God said let us make humankind our image. Eve was made in the image of God just as much as Adam.  Not only was she made in God’s image, she was made from Adam’s rib which gave her equality as in Adam’s own words flesh of his flesh.

While some say man should have headship over women because he was created first and had more time with God. But God put Adam to sleep while he created Eve, so Eve had her own thing going on with God before she met Adam. This is a reminder to all of us women that we do not need a man to be our priest, we can go directly to our heavenly Father and Jesus.

Woman is meant to be part of Man, but she is the feminine image of God. Many scholars like to remind us that Woman was made as the crowning act of creation. All of creation gets better and better each day. Eve was the climax. And when we say Eve was the climax, we are not putting down men, we are simply stating God’s natural order of creation according the Genesis poem.

What is even more important than the creation order is the name God gave for Eve. Many times the name given to Eve by God Ezer Kenegdo (Gen 2:18) is mis-translated “help mate” as if she was only there to carry his water bucket or cook dinner for him. This false assumption has led to the subjugation and abuse of women for centuries. I have copied someone else’s words because I am not a scholar:

“The original text does not denote a subordinate helper or assistant. It is most often God Himself who is called ēzer (“helper”) (Exod 18:4; Deut 33:7, 26; Ps 33:20; 70:5; 115:9, 10, 11). The phrase ēzerk’negdô in Gen 2 means no less than an equal counterpart, a “partner” (Gen 2:18, 22 NEB) (see Jacques Doukhan, The Genesis Creation Story [Berrien Springs, MI: Andrews University Press, 1978], 46-47). Adam does not name Eve till after the Fall (Gen 3:20).”

There are some who say we should not opt for women to be treated equally but keep this as an administrative issue and allow conferences around the world to continue subjugating women wherever it is a matter of culture, but does this represent the true character of the God we serve? I think not.

Within the churches, across our country and around the world, women as Ezer Kenegdos are still rising. They are rising to take the original place God gave Women and intended for them to have all along. We know we are wrestling in this broken world, but it would be nice if we didn’t have to wrestle within the church.

In the long run, it won’t really matter what either of the current presidents think–no matter how dysfunctional they are–whether leading the country or the church, Jesus will ultimately have the last word. And we can rest assured Jesus is a God who loves women, who always treats them with respect.