Tuesday, December 20, 2005

commenting on the comments

Well here I go, commenting on the comments. Something I hate to do.

Islamic extremists' goal is the annihilation of an entire way of life but Christian extremists' isn’t? Really? I’d go much further than that. I’d say most Americans, let alone Christians, would like to annihilate certain ways of life. The following is a short list: socialism, communism, any religious forms of government outside of Christianity, and homosexuality. I think to believe otherwise is to be walking through life with blinders on. And while the difference between right-wing extremists and Christian conservatives may need to be better defined, I think most Americans I know would fit more comfortably in the right-wing category than whatever Larry’s (a good friend) definition of a Christian conservative may be. I have to admit, I’m not sure I know the difference anymore. Based on the fact that the “Moral Majority” define themselves as both Christian conservatives and as members of the right-wing, I’m not sure I see a difference.

And, in case I’ve been misunderstood, I also DEFINITELY believe that Christians should be involved in politics. The problem is that we only seem to be involved in politics that make life easier for us (the church) rather than politics that look out for the vulnerable. The fact that much of the American church is supporting a government right now who is attempting to pass a budget that cuts food stamps and medical coverage for the poor and gives, yet more, tax cuts for the richest Americans is evidence of that. For more information on this, check out this article from the Sojourners website.

Finally Bill, I agree with much of what you’ve said. The church has a long history, and still today pushes a gospel that says “you can have Jesus, but only if you look like us”. For more on this, check out George C. Hunter’s book The Celtic Way of Evangelism: How Christianity Can Reach the West…Again. If you check out my right column, you can read the first chapter of this book.

By the way, I watched Oprah's My Favorite Things show this afternoon. BIG mistake!

I also saw a bumper sticker that said "God is not spelled G.O.P." He's not??? That's not what I've been told.

Comments on "commenting on the comments"


Blogger surrendered said ... (7:47 AM) : 

what is this post? the democratic party talking points? :) i think it's very easy and "hip" to bash Christians in America and use double-speak to equate their actions with terrorists...

i probably should have better clarified my distinction between right-wing Christian extremists and fundamental Muslim extremists. westernization of countries isn't on my agenda. democratization of countries, however, is a different matter. i think every individual in every country of the face of the earth should be afforded the freedom to choose, in some way, how their country operates. call me crazy, but I don't think that falls under the category of "annihilation" of a way of life.

on the other hand, you have totalitarian regimes whose stated purpose is to wipe Israel off of the map and create, by force, an Islamic state from Spain all the way to Iran and beyond.

i know some right-wingers, Tim. I grew up in a family of them. and there are many "right-wingers" who are all for freedom of speech and for allowing anyone to pursue any political agenda they want, be it inspired by socialism, communism, or even homosexuality. that doesn't mean they aren't allowed to combat all three of those agendas with their mouths and with their votes. what I haven't seen yet, that you don't mention, is a Christian suicide-bomber travelling to the Middle East to blow themselves up in the middle of an innocent wedding party, all in the name of Jesus.

there are differences. and there are Iraqis and many other Muslims in other countries that want a democratic way of life, a peaceful way of life, a life without mass graves filled by murderous dictators.


unfortunately, I have to look around me and on TV to see that there are people seriously misrepresenting Christ. (and I have to make sure the plank's not in my eye.) i just don't think we should so easily lump all of one group of people into one category. i.e. not all Muslims are terrorists, not all Christian conservatives are right-wing nutjobs.

much love.


Blogger Mel Reynolds said ... (2:22 PM) : 

I have nothing to say about Christianity and Islam. There are always exceptions and generalising is kinda what got us here in the first place so I tread lightly on this subject. Not avoiding it, but just doing my best to try and show some sort of authenticity in my own life.

What I really want to comment on is Oprah. Estelle got her box set dvd the other day (when she was in the States) and I have been watching it like it ain't no thing. My favourite things is probably my dream come true (in a material sense) but after watching a lot of her and hearing her explain some of the things that she has done, I have a huge respect for her.

So much so, that I might even post about it....

Miss you guys, hope you're having fun.


Blogger Tim said ... (4:15 PM) : 

Actually, this isn't a post of democratic party talking points. This is a post of New Testament talking points. But don't you think it's sad that you automatically assume that the minute somebody brings up social issues? Don't you think that we, the church, should be associated with social issues rather than non-Christians? Hasn't something gone horribly, horribly wrong there?

This isn't a post of democratic party talking points, these are posts that are meant to remind my Christian brothers and sisters that the party we've all been talked into believing was God's party, might not be doing to good of a job of representing. As a registered republican, I think it's high time we told "our" party to start doing the "godly" thing or start looking for votes elswhere.

Oh, and before we accuse islamic extremists of being the only ones out blowing people up, let's not forget our friends blowing up abortion clinics.

Just as much love.


Blogger Tim said ... (4:22 PM) : 

By the way...

"I think it's very easy and hip to bash Christians in America..."

Hip I'll give you, but if it's so easy, then maybe it's time we changed some things and made it not quite so easy. ???


Blogger surrendered said ... (9:10 PM) : 

we could go on and on, but let's put things in perspective with the amount of people killed by anti-abortion wackos and the amount of people killed by fundamentalist Muslim wackos.

that's the double-speak I'm talking about.

i'm only trying to give some balanced perspective...


Blogger Pete said ... (10:00 PM) : 

"..I also DEFINITELY believe that Christians should be involved in politics. The problem is that we only seem to be involved in politics that make life easier for us (the church) rather than politics that look out for the vulnerable."

Is this an accurate statement or is it just that this kind of "Christian" political activity is the most sensationalized?

I honestly do not know the answer to this and I'm wondering if you or anyone else has any stats or hard information to suggest that there isn't political movement by Christians in the US that indeed "looks out for the vulnerable".

For example, on Phil's post about the horrible problem of people trafficking, Larry comments - "..The Salvation Army has an office that works lobbying lawmakers and other countries to enact and enforce laws to protect the innocent. There are other organizations that have made it their mission. It is not enough though."

Agreed that this kind of work may be in the minority of "Christian political action", but I was not aware that this particular office existed and it makes me wonder what else is out there for me to support and be a part of.

I think if I were actively involved in lesser known (but all the more important) political action in the name of Christ, I might find your generalizations about American Christian politics to be offensive.

Maybe the point is that I should be more aware of what is happening in those areas and be more involved myself - and I am certainly convicted about that. However, I'd be willing to bet that there are more Christian activists that we are aware of, slugging it out daily in His name.

After all, I still have to explain to someone at least once a week that the social activism of the Salvation Army is motivated by our faith and done so in the name of Jesus Christ - a realization that dumbfounds the unaware listener.

Perhaps they thought we were a private off-shoot of the Democratic party??


Blogger Bill said ... (12:03 AM) : 

Out here in the west a few years ago to be a dem and a salvationists was a heretical offence in some eyes. The problem is that if you have been raised in a EVANGELICAL church (I make no distinction any more between evangelical and fundimentalist.) then you have been told to vote for Godly men (women?) and here is the voter guide (christian coalition or moral majority). After being told this we went and voted for the Christian ideals of freedom (being western or american) democracy (the right to vote for who we say) and wealth. God wants us to be rich and the poor are poor because they are lazy or better phrased "its thier fault." As a junior in college I asked a Menonite and an Episcopalian what to do. One said don't vote, the other said vote and do it loudly. I choose the latter and have always voted for the best option for the poor since. So, yes there are those who give a damn. But unfortunatly we are less in number and the evangelicals hold the money (those who give a damn usualy spend it on people).

"but let's put things in perspective with the amount of people killed by anti-abortion wackos and the amount of people killed by fundamentalist Muslim wackos."

Better perspective How many have been killed in Iraq by Bush II's Jihad? Many more are killed by tanks and bombs the suicide bombs. Besides the freedom fighters or terrorists (pick a name the winers always do) were not there before we invaded.


Blogger surrendered said ... (5:22 AM) : 

further clarification:

what I meant by annihilating a way of life - America is a democracy in which there are many different ways of life. islamic fundamentalists make no distinction between african-american or hispanic-american, or American Christians or American Buddhists. they make no distinction between Americans who vote democrat and those who vote republican (or communist or socialist, for that matter). their goal is the fall of America, the fall of Europe, the fall of any country or entity that is not Islamic.

(Can't say this authoritatively, but I believe their holy book, the Quran, even encourages this, by force).

i do think this is different from most right-wingers in the United States. they maybe against the policies of certain Muslim countries, but on the average I don't think you'll find most of them want to annihilate the entire population of non-Christian with bombs.

bill, anyone can throw out random half-fact liberal-speak. get me some numbers on innocent iraqi civilians actually killed by american troops since the war began. and be sure not to include those who were killed by the terrorist roadside bombs. (by the way, you're right that most terrorists weren't active before we got there - they were either loyal to Saddam, helping him fill his mass graves, or they've come from Syria or Iran.) how about some eyewitness accounts of the slaughter of innocent civilians by American troops?


number of murders and attempted murders at abortion clinics since 1989 - less than 30 (go here.

number of people worldwide killed by terrorist acts since Sept. 11, 2001: nearly 3,000 (and that doesn't include 9/11 itself)


i also know that the number of children that die of preventable diseases each year in Africa far exceeds these numbers, and that's a much bigger problem, and I, too, vote with that in mind. (Did you know that President Bush's agenda includes the most generous amount of foreign aid given to Africa, ever? hmmmm. not something you'll hear often on the nightly news.


Blogger Tim said ... (4:14 PM) : 

The thing that bothers me most about many of these comments is that they lean so heavily in one direction that they can’t be taken seriously. While Bill (and even I) are accused of quoting “democratic party lines” the same thing is absolutely true of the Bush apologist (who happens to be a friend) among us.

Let me be clear. I am not a Democrat. I am somebody who grew up as conservative/right-wing as anybody, and much more than most. I have also voted (almost exclusively) republican since I was eighteen years old.

Paul said that he was a greater Pharisee than most but that he had now come to call those Jewish leaders to account. As somebody who has come from the right slant, I am simply one more voice, standing up and saying “Uh guys, hold on here. I think we may have been duped. Do you realize that very little about this party we’ve adopted is Christian? Do you realize that the one Christian value that it has been promising us (the ending of abortion in America) for the last twenty-five years has yet to be followed through on. And do you realize that there policies and beliefs, especially as they relate to the poor, are the opposite of what Jesus taught?”

Throw phrases like “double speak” around all you want. Any man who would stand up and claim to be the leader of the church’s party, as well as a Christian himself, and then choose to spend his presidency passing laws that “annihilate” the poor may be the King of this very phrase you are abusing.

I am not telling anybody to stop voting republican and to start voting democrat. But I am, without hesitation, warning Christians that if we do not start holding ourselves and “our” politicians accountable, we are going to find ourselves standing on the opposite side of Jesus. And we may already be there.

As I’ve said before, the thing I don’t like about conservatives is that they are just as closed minded as liberals. Neither are willing to admit that maybe there are some things wrong with their party’s argument and that maybe it’s time to admit that and start being accountable to that.

Peter, I don’t disagree with you. When pointing out problems, it’s much more helpful when we can suggest solutions. But sometimes we’re just on the cusp of realizing there’s a problem and don’t yet have the solutions to suggest. In my case, I’m simply reaching out to a community here and saying, “hey guys, this doesn’t look very Christian to me”. My hope is that I, along with you, will begin to find the solutions together.


Blogger surrendered said ... (10:01 PM) : 

Tim, i'm completely with you on calling out misrepresentations of Christ. I agree that Republicans hijack Christianity just as Middle Eastern terrorists hijack Islam (although that analogy only works so far, I know).

"Republicans are as close-minded as liberals." No objection here.

The thing I don't like is when people say that Bush's policies suppress poor people, but they don't acutally look at the facts. Like the fact that his unemployment statistics are much better than the previous president. Like the fact that our GDP increased at an annual rate of 4.5% in the third quarter of 2005, largely due to his economic policies. Like the fact that President Bush's faith-based initiatives have given over $600 million to over 200 organizations to help Americans in need, over 2 million children at risk (those with one or more parents in prison), and over 100,000 adults with addictions to drugs. (And I've already mentioned the amount of aid he's enabled for Africa - praised by Bono himself, I might add.)

I hear over and over that his policies are only good for the upper class. Well, I'm not upper class by any means, and I sure enjoyed that tax break for my family last year. And I'm sure looking forward to the same thing this year, especially with a child to care for (which I think gives me even more money back).

We see it all the time portrayed by the media and bashed into our subconscious that Republicans are the party that cares for the rich and Democrats are the party that cares for the poor. There's just one problem. It hasn't been that way since JFK. If you want to generalize, let's just make sure we say that there are both Republicans and Democrats who aren't really doing much for the poor. I just happen to believe - and I think the numbers back me up - that the President isn't really doing that crap of a job that most people say he is.


Blogger Larry said ... (7:29 PM) : 

Wow and they will know we are Christians by our....

I see many of these comments as sweeping generalizations. Always a problem when we generalize and stereotype. I did send Tim a link to the article of idea of conservative Christians vs. right wing moralists. Did you read it. If everyone goes to http://theooze.com and then follow links to next wave ezine, you will see the article.

Being a conservative is not the same as being right wing or republican. Some of the most conservative people I know are life-long Democrats. Did anyone know that Billy Graham is a life long dem? I know liberal Republicans.

Bill, your comments hold truth and some bomb throwing at the same time. I do know that there are some who would say to be a dem is against Salvationist ethic. Those people are as wrong as those who would suggest that the this war in Iraq, as sad as it is, is a Jihad by Bush. I am not sure you completely understand the term if you use it in this way. If you do please know that even though I do not support war, what you suggest could not be further from what actually is happening.

Phil rightly states some facts about economic growth under Bush. This administration has also spent a higher percentage of money on education than any other administration in the past, with the bulk of money going to inner city schools. A bill co-sponsored with the President by Ted Kennedy.
How does that point to someone who is annihilating the poor?

No doubt this guy has made some mistakes; big ones No doubt his predecessor did as well. All of us need to hold people accountable.

I am not sure where to start on some of this stuff. I guess I would say this, we have let the political process on both sides be hijacked and the debate formed by a few who think they speak for the many. Both sides spin truth to make it fit their side of the debate. I think even good Christian dems and republicans are taken into the debate thinking that moralism is Christianity.

Should we be about the political process as Christians? Absolutely!!! It starts by us forming an agenda not debating an old one that is awash in corruption on both sides. That's why I like what Bono has done. He has formed the argument. That's why I like what NHQ has done in the trafficking issue. They have formed the debate.

I am really tired of the bomb throwing. It offers no solutions. Tim we may be on the cusp of seeing the problem. If we see just a bit of the problem, where do we start to solve it? So pick your issue and try to solve it.


Blogger Bill said ... (8:19 PM) : 

Well, yes I use generalizations. And yes to be honest neither party in America gives a damn about anything but power. I am against the war in Iraq for the same reason I oppose the death penalty and abortion I could not pull the trigger. I just pray for the day when wars will stop and peace will reign. Until then I vote for health care, anti poverty, and anti death. So as you can see I screwed. I have spent my entire life in evangelical churches. I have been told how to vote many times. Maybe my Mennonite professor was right. But here is my question, Shouldn't the church be different? And should that difference be attractive? For many that walk through the doors of Harborlight the church is only condemning. Thus their church becomes AA, NA, or CA. So blessings to you all on this christmas.


Blogger Cari said ... (6:49 PM) : 

Wow! There's a can of worms for ya...know what I think? People who blow up abortion clinics are not Christians and they certainly aren't our "friends." I'd quicker befriend (in fact have) one who'd had an abortion. They will make an account. I would lump islamic extremists and abortion clinic bombers in the same group. By the way, come see some of the great things our church is doing for the community while you're here. It isn't the same church you left. I can promise you that.

As far as the whole "right wing", I think we do need to get up off our tails and start behaving less like Pharisees and more like Christ. I was up til 3am talking to my grandparents about this. But we have to stop arguing among ourselves. We need to become the church James had in mind, and not only pray but act. But, of course, it starts with me. God bless! See you soon??


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