“Quoting Paul to defend exclusion is like quoting Tony Soprano to defend pacifism. Maybe you can find something Tony said that you can pluck out of context to make it sound like it might support that. And then you can ignore everything else Tony ever said or did and just elevate that one isolated phrase, repeating it over and over until you’ve convinced yourself that it means the opposite of everything Tony Soprano represents.”
Pope Francis is once again shaking things up in the Catholic Church. On Tuesday, he issued his first “apostolic exhortation,” declaring a new enemy for the Catholic Church: modern capitalism. “Some people continue to defend trickle-down theories which assume that economic growth, encouraged by a free market, will inevitably succeed in bringing about greater justice and inclusiveness in the world,” he wrote. “This opinion, which has never been confirmed by the facts, expresses a crude and naive trust in the goodness of those wielding economic power and in the sacralized workings of the prevailing economic system.”
He couldn’t be much clearer. The pope has taken a firm political stance against right-leaning, pro-free market economic policies, and his condemnation appears to be largely pointed at Europe and the United States.
Read more. [Image: Reuters]
Things are about to get really, really interesting in the world of politics and religion. Recently the Popiest Catholics and the most politically conservative Catholics have tightly overlapped. So have the most liberal and the most lapsed.
And now this.
First the Vatican sends out a survey to the Catholics of the world, taking the Church’s temperature on divorce, contraception, and homosexuality, in advance of a synod to be held in October of next year, and now this. I’m not a religious person, but Pope Francis has certainly caught my attention. It will be interesting to see what happens.
As Dudley explains, the evangelical position did not shift until much, much later. Dudley explains that abortion until the moment of quickening was legal in early America, and was not banned until the late 1800s when the medical establishment and prominent political leaders became concerned that the declining birth rate among Protestants meant the country was at risk of pending political takeover by prolific Catholic immigrants. Indeed, evangelical Christians were conspicuously absent from this campaign to criminalize abortion, preferring instead to devote themselves to the temperance movement with its desire to ban alcohol.
Beyond all this, Dudley reveals that in the late 1960s and early 1970s leading evangelical theologians were still arguing (in leading evangelical publications, no less) that, based on what the Bible says, the fetus was not a person with a soul. In fact, in 1968 an evangelical gathering hosted by leading evangelical publication Christianity Today called for the legality of abortion and in 1971 the Southern Baptist Convention formally called for abortion laws to be loosened so as to allow for abortion in the case of rape, incest, fetal deformity, and emotional, mental, or physical duress of the mother.
As Dudley carefully explicates, evangelicals argued that the fetus was not without value, and that its life should not be terminated without good reason, but they were unanimous in concluding that the fetus was not a person with a soul and that abortion was not murder. All of this changed in the late 1970s and early 1980s. By 1984, the previous accepted evangelical position that the fetus was not a person had become heretical and evangelicals began insisting that the Bible says that the soul is imparted at conception.
I like this passage quoted from the book:
In assessing evangelical thought on homosexuality, it is helpful to compare it to evangelicals’ thought on abortion, the other issue at the heart of their social agenda. The comparison reveals two different standards for deciding upon “the Christian position.” In the case of abortion, as we saw in the previous chapter, evangelicals have happily abandoned more traditional interpretations of the Bible and embraced creative reinterpretations of all kinds to claim the Bible teaches that life begins at the moment of conception. Even while evangelicals object to appeals made to broad themes in the bible to override the passages taken as condemning same-sex relations, they have appealed to broad themes in the Bible to override a strict construal of Exodus 21. Even while they have welcomed fallacious arguments from science to support new views on the beginning of life (claiming science proves life begins at conception, for example), they have objected to such arguments to support new views on homosexuality. Even while they object to emotional arguments from experience in the case of homosexuality, they have welcomed such arguments in the case of abortion.
White privilege is news outlets focusing on the differences between Sikhs and Muslims in their coverage of the Sikh Temple Shooting. As if that fucking makes all the difference.
Submission from http://kickstones.tumblr.com/
yeah this really bothers me. on the one hand yay for people learning more about the Sikh religion—I’ve certainly learned more in the past three days than I ever knew before—but on the other hand NOBODY deserves to be massacred. they were innocent people just trying to go about their daily lives, and THAT is what matters, not what religion they were. the whole “oh but they’re not Muslims” reeks of “not like THOSE people” to me, as if they somehow would have deserved it if they had been Muslims. they were Americans, and they were shot by a fucking waste of a life who probably didn’t care what religion they were as long as they were brown and didn’t worship Jesus.
When Franklin Roosevelt announced his New Deal, religious leaders cheered. Indeed, many saw Roosevelt’s program as the realization of Christian ideals. As one Mississippi Methodist put it in 1933, “It is gratifying in the highest degree that our government is actually attempting to try out some of these things for which the Christian church has been contending for a quarter of a century.” What is striking about such fulsome praise is that it was widespread, and that clergy from a broad range of theological and political inclinations agreed that the New Deal was necessary—except the substantial number who instead protested that it did not go far enough. Certainly, dissenters spoke from the right as well, but their numbers were sparse in the early and mid-1930s.
Religious support for the New Deal boiled down to three key points. First, religious leaders recognized that the Great Depression had sapped their own ability to care for those in need. Second, many acknowledged that religious bodies had long struggled to provide adequate care even for the select few that they deemed both needy and deserving. Third, many saw the New Deal as the realization, rather than a refutation, of their Christian principles. They argued that only the state had the capacity to raise funds to support those in need. The government’s adoption of welfare and reform programs would allow churches to renew focus on their primary goal of evangelism, and the government’s emphasis on security for families and the elderly reflected the churches’ own priorities.
When Sean replaced his temple garments — the sacred underwear he’d promised to wear day and night — with boxers, I couldn’t take it anymore. It was too much betrayal. I called up a neighbor with a husband like mine and cried. But instead of empathy, she offered questions that stunned me into silence. Was Sean addicted to pornography? Watching R-rated movies? What sin had brought him to this terrible place?
My tears stopped. Her questions were so off-base that they seemed absurd. She was sincere, and trying to help, but she believed what the Church teaches — that a man would only leave because he’s disobeying the commandments. She couldn’t understand this was a rational inquiry. She saw everything as the result of sin.
“When the woman answered the door, she looked at my daughter and said, ‘We don’t support Girl Scouts because they support abortion, which kills babies.’”
“In the world of Christian scholarship, for example, to read the Bible literally is regarded as absurd. To call the words of the Bible “the Word of God” is more than naïve. No modern person can still believe that a star can wander through the sky so slowly that wise men can keep up with it, that God actually dictated the Ten Commandments — all three versions, no less — or that a multitude can be fed with five loaves and two fish. No modern person understanding genetics and reproduction can believe that virgins conceive, nor can those who understand what death does to the human body in a matter of just minutes still view the resurrection as the resuscitation of a deceased body after three days. Biblical scholars know that the accounts of the crucifixion read in Christian churches on Good Friday are not eye witness reports, but developed interpretations of Jesus’ death based on a series of Old Testament texts selected to convince fellow Jews that Jesus “fulfilled the scriptures” and thus really was the “messiah.” These issues and many others are assumed in the world of biblical scholars, but are viewed by many church-goers, together with the vast majority of television evangelists and radio preachers, as attacks on divine revelation that must be resisted in order to save Christianity. They thus, knowingly or unknowingly, join in a conspiracy of silence, ignoring truth when they feel they can and viewing biblical scholars, strangely enough, as the church’s ultimate enemy. At the same time secular critics attack what Christian scholars know is nonsensical about both the Bible and Christianity and act as if they have discovered something new.”
“You don’t get to advertise all the good that your religion does without first scrupulously subtracting all the harm it does and considering seriously the question of whether some other religion, or no religion at all, does better.”
For example, according to the National Priorities Project, for the price of America’s two wars, the U.S. could have paid the entire healthcare bill for 294 million people or 440 million children for one year; underwritten the cost of 7,779,092 affordable housing units; provided 1,035,282,468 homes with renewable electricity for a year; or provided the maximum Pell Grant award ($5,500) to all 19 million U.S. college and university students for the next nine years.
Ultimately, there is no way to square Obama’s role as a war-maker with the teachings of Jesus, who preached against the use of violence — war, of course, being organized, systematic violence. One can only imagine that Jesus would be horrified. After all, many who strive to follow Jesus’ teachings find it impossible to participate in war. In fact, leaders in the early church adopted Jesus’ attitude of nonviolence. Tertullian (born about AD 160), one of the giants of the early church, stated very clearly that confessing “Jesus as Lord” means taking the teachings of Jesus seriously. Just as Caesar commanded men to kill their enemies, Jesus commanded them to love their enemies. Caesar made use of killing, maiming and torture, in much the same way as modern governments do today. Jesus, on the other hand, taught the need to forgive and to sacrifice power for servanthood.
In fact, Tertullian had pithy advice for soldiers who converted to Christianity: quit the army or be martyred for refusing to fight. Tertullian was not alone in his thinking. “For three centuries,” writes biblical scholar Walter Wink in The Powers That Be, “no Christian author to our knowledge approved of Christian participation in battle.” This, of course, changed in the third century when the church was institutionalized and became an integral part of the warring Roman Empire.
Jesus’ apostles never advocated violence. Rather, they urged their followers to suffer, forgive and trust God for the outcome rather than take matters into their own hands. And while they may have talked about warfare and fighting, it was not through the use of conventional weapons. For example, the Apostle Paul wrote: “For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world.”
Christ’s crucifixion was a radical repudiation of the use of violent force. And the cross, which was the Roman tool of execution, was reserved especially for leaders of rebellions. “Anyone proclaiming a rival kingdom to the kingdom of Caesar would be a prime candidate for crucifixion,” writes Brian McLaren in The Secret Message of Jesus. “This is exactly what Jesus proclaimed, and this is exactly what he offered.” But Jesus’ kingdom was one of peace. Among other things, he proclaimed, “Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, and pray for those who spitefully use you. To him who strikes you on the one cheek, offer the other also.” Consequently, Jesus ordered Peter not to use the sword, even to protect him.
The so-called Roman peace (Pax Romana) was made possible by the cross. That is, people so feared crucifixion that many opted not to challenge the emperor rather than face the possibility of death on the cross. Why then would early Christians choose the cross — an instrument of torture, domination, fear, intimidation and death — as their primary symbol? What could this possibly mean?
For early Christians, “it apparently meant that the kingdom of God would triumph not by inflicting violence but by enduring it,” notes McLaren, “not by making others suffer but by willingly enduring suffering for the sake of justice — not by coercing or humiliating others but by enduring their humiliation with gentle dignity.” Jesus, they believed, had taken the empire’s instrument of torture and transformed it into God’s symbol of the repudiation of violence. The message? Love, not violence, is the most powerful force in the universe.
Not surprisingly, the early Christians were not crusaders or warriors but martyrs — men and women with the faith and courage to face the lions. Like Jesus, they chose to suffer rather than inflict violence.
“Thus we have Poe’s Law, which states, “Without a winking smiley or other blatant display of humor, it is impossible to create a parody of fundamentalism that someone won’t mistake for the real thing.” The Internet provides dozens of illustrations of this, Web sites that come to function, simultaneously, as parodies and as earnest expressions of the beliefs of extremists. The intent of those sites’ creators may not even matter because, if the satirist is doing her job well, she will wind up at precisely the same point further along the trajectory at which the extremist will, sooner or later, arrive. Or vice versa. To paraphrase Flannery O’Connor, all that descends into absurdity must converge.”
“Think of it like a movie. The Torah is the first one, and the New Testament the sequel. Then the Qu’ran comes out, and it retcons the last one like it never happened. There’s still Jesus, but he’s not the main character anymore, and the messiah hasn’t shown up yet. Jews like the first movie but ignored the sequels. Christians think you need to watch the first two, but the third movie doesn’t count. The Moslems think the third one was the best, and Mormons liked the second one so much, they started writing fanfiction that doesn’t fit with ANY of the series canon.”