Friday, June 03, 2005

Walk With the Least of These

A birthday present fromAgape Press:
...[T]he vast majority of conservative Christians have disregarded that truth and the hundreds of other Scriptures that deal with the poor, the disenfranchised, the widows and the orphans. Dr. Diane Leclerc of Northwest Nazarene University pushes us further. It's not just that we intellectually disregard such scriptural teaching, she suggested recently at an academic conference; it is that we do so practically. Ask a Christian whether he loves the poor and he knows the correct response -- 'Sure.' Go a step further and ask for the names of the poor he has loved ... well, you may well get a steamy silence.

Republicans and the many conservative Christians that make up a good portion of that party need to face up to the teachings on compassion in Scripture. That doesn't mean, as [Howard] Dean would preach to us, that government ought to take more responsibility (although reasonable people can disagree on that one without calling each other hypocrites). And, frankly, without name-calling, I disagree with him and his party on a whole host of political concerns whether taxation, abortion, education, welfare, defense, etc.

But what we should all be able to do is this -- answer: 'What are the names of the poor people in whom I invest personal relationship, time, energy and money each week?' Howard Dean should be able to answer that adequately. As should Matt Friedeman. As should you.


If all the recent partisan bickering that has been going on among (and around) Christians leads to more of us committing ourselves to serving the poor, then that bickering will have been worth it.

Read this article, if for no other reason than it will probably be the last time you see Emma Goldman namechecked on this reliably conservative site.


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God--bless them...

Reuters:
The name of the Lord may no longer be taken in vain in the Dutch village of Staphorst.

Staphorst, in the so-called Dutch 'bible belt' of eastern towns where religion holds sway, approved a ban on swearing by 13-4 council votes.

But the caveat that swearing is not banned when it is an expression of the constitutional freedom of speech may make it difficult to punish offenders.

'A ban on swearing can be seen as a signal,' the council's proposal said, adding a change in moral values was needed to address the underlying problem."


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Dangit

The Guardian:
A hospital trust is considering removing Bibles from patients' bedsides for fear that they may be spreading the superbug MRSA, it emerged today.

The University Hospitals of Leicester NHS trust is meeting on Friday to discuss the health risks from copies of Gideon Bibles provided in patient lockers in Leicester's three main hospitals.
The trust wants to consult on the whether the books could increase the risk of spreading MRSA if they become contaminated with body fluids.

Gideons International, which distributes the Bibles widely in hospitals, hotels, cruise liners and prisons, said their removal would be 'outrageous'.


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Thursday, June 02, 2005

Take Action

From the United Church of Christ Justice and Peace Network:
The Bush Administration has renewed efforts to develop a "bunker busting" nuclear bomb that would penetrate the ground before exploding in order to destroy underground targets. Two committees of the House of Representatives have blocked the Bush Administration's plans to fund development of the "bunker buster" bomb. The Senate is now slated to take up the Administration's $4 million funding request for the "bunker buster" weapon as part of the defense reauthorization debate beginning next week.

The Robust Nuclear Earth Penetrator, or "bunker buster" bomb is a reconfigured nuclear bomb that would burrow into the ground to destroy deep bunkers. It would have an explosive capacity approximating 70 Hiroshima-sized bombs. Because it explodes deep in the ground, it would generate a huge amount of long-lasting radioactive fallout.

Pusuing development of the "bunker buster" nuclear bomb could well undermine U.S. efforts to convince other countries not to develop nuclear weapons. The United States has strongly criticized Iran and North Korea for moving to obtain equipment to produce weapons-grade nuclear materials and the ability to deliver them as nuclear bombs. There is real danger that in restarting a nuclear arms race by pursuing the development of new nuclear weapons, the United States will lose its credibility and leadership in the already struggling international efforts to halt the spread of nuclear weapons.

Contact your senators and urge them to oppose funding for the "bunker buster" weapon.

To send a fax or e-mail message to your senators, click http://www.ucctakeaction.org/ctt.asp?u=3735004&l=95342


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A Response to Atrios (Moral Polemic in 4 Easy Steps)

Dear Duncan:


The other day, you asked us to show you how to turn progressive issues into moral ones. If you have a minute, I'd like to take you up on your offer.


A couple of preliminaries before we begin: first of all, despite my handle, I don't lead a congregation, other than the "congregation" on Daily Kos. So I'm not going to talk very much about educating the people in the pews, since I can't actually, er, practice what I preach on that score.


Second: I'm going to use this situation in Ohio as a case study. I'm assuming you've heard about it, but for the folks who are too lazy to follow the link, a conservative group is trying to politicize evangelical congregations, apparently to help Republicans generally and Ken Blackwell specifically. To my untrained eye, they're not breaking any laws, but they're sure bending the heck out of them.


Okay, so let's get down to it.


Start with the obvious: if you're going to make this a moral issue, you have to identify some kind of principle at stake. This is an area where being partisan won't cut it. "My team got screwed" is not a moral issue. Nobody with a brain in their head will hear it as a moral issue. This is dead as a moral issue. We need another angle.


The angle needs to give voice to a value that most or all Americans could agree with. That means it has to be oversimplified, to give it the broadest possible appeal. We're laying the groundwork here, and a lot of sophistimicated columbojumbo won't cut it. So "we keep politics and religion separate in this country" is good. But here's one that's even better: "it's not fair to use churches for politics. It hurts our politics, but more important, it hurts the people in our churches."


Now, before the secular crowd jumps on me for this one, let me explain why this works. It's true, for one thing: the separation clause is for everyone's benefit. But by framing it in those terms, we can tap into an even more deeply-rooted American value: it's not fair to screw the little guy. For better or worse, Americans think of politics and politicians as Fat Cats, and churches and church people as Regular Folks. That's not always the case these days, but it's the society's perception, and it'll win out over the facts. We might as well use it to our advantage.


So what's our moral issue? "It's not fair to use churches for politics. It damages the roots of our government, and it corrupts our faith. People come together to church, to the synagogue, to the temple, to worship in unity, not to be divided by partisan politics." (Notice how I'm working in the bit about division as well.)


Now, the right-wingers have thought this far ahead, and they have a response ready: "Oh, we're not doing partisan politics. We're just trying to live out our values. Why do you hate our values?" At this point, you may be tempted to slash one of them with a samurai sword while leaving the other in the hands of an angry, shotgun-wielding Ving Rhames. You must resist this temptation, as it does not help build a moral case.


Instead, you will need to apply the abstract principle to the specific details. If you've chosen your principle carefully, this shouldn't be too difficult. And in fact, if you look at the Ohio Restoration Project's examples of "Spiritual Warfare", you should be able to do this pretty quickly:

  • Teaching creation in our public schools has become a federal lawsuit.

  • Biblical definitions of marriage are being tragically altered by some judges who think they are smarter than God and begin to legislate secular dogma from the bench.

  • American universities have become the arteries of spiritual toxic waste.

  • "Homosexual marriages" are being paraded in 50 states

  • In some cities, abortions nearly outnumber births

  • HIV and sexually transmitted diseases will kill more Americans than every war this country has ever fought.

  • Secularists have hijacked our culture--one year at a time.

  • Denominational bigotry, division within the Body of Christ, and apostasy have weakened the voice of Biblical reason.

  • Around the globe, ministers of the Gospel are being threatened with "hate crimes" legislation.


Notice the same thing I do? Of nine bullet points, seven are connected to government activity in one form or another. Not one of them even attempts to discern what God is calling people to do. Not one cites a Biblical text. Nor is it difficult to discern which political party most closely represents these "values." This is less a list of values than it is the Republican party platform, coded negatively to fit the format. So if people disagree with these principles--which is to say, if they disagree with Republican social policy--then they are going to be told that they are not "really Christian." We've already seen it happen once; what's to say it's not going to happen again and again in Ohio? It's not nice to bully people in the pews with politics, and when you force them to take sides on government policy, that's exactly what you're doing.


Next, you need to throw in something about where you're coming from in particular. This is almost a paradox: in order to defend a universal principle, you have to talk about how you see it from anything but a universal perspective. But at the same time, you can't give it too individualistic a twist, because then you're just bloviating. What people want to hear is that you have the best interests of a particular group at heart.


For me, that's pretty easy. As a Christian pastor, I'm comfortable with reminding these folks of the lesson of the Hebrew prophets: that God's will may indeed be expressed through political faction or alliance, but that when it is, it always comes in the form of a concern for the poor, the powerless, and the vulnerable in society. And I see nothing in the list above that makes the life of the widow or the orphan any easier. Until they can come up with something that does that, I'm going to see this as nothing more than partisanship infiltrating the church.


For you, as a secular kind of guy, this might be a bit more difficult in that the angle isn't quite as obvious. But you can do it. Just keep in mind that whatever you say, it needs to be a.)true and b.)heartfelt. Don't pull any punches; do try to say something that helps build a bridge between you and your listener.


Because the last thing you're going to do is lay out an alternative vision. This is what makes Martin Luther King's rhetoric so captivating; he understood the need to give his listeners something positive to hold on to, after he made one of his withering critiques of the situation at hand. A moral issue is more than just a bitch session. In fact, that's one of the great shortcomings of Conservative Christianity these days: it's too focused on what other people are doing wrong, not enough on building a better world for everyone. So you've got to tell folks that you've got a better idea.


"I'd like to see all these preachers go jump in the lake" is a fine idea, and one I've heard many times before. Hell, I've even agreed with it sometimes. A better one might be "I'd like to see a country where churchgoers didn't feel like they had to toe the Republican party line to be people of faith." (I'm using that last phrase deliberately, as a way of recapturing the vocabulary.) Even better: "Ohio would be much better off if politicians would stop trying to corrupt churches to win votes." Or, if you want to throw another little twist in there: "Ohio would be much better off...win votes...Because elections aren't about values. They're about money, and those damn politicians will do anything to cover that up."


Let's put it all together:

It's not fair to use churches for politics. It hurts our political system, and it hurts the people in the pews. People come together to worship, not to be divided by politics, and that's exactly what happens when you force them to take sides on government policy. And as a pastor, I have to ask: where's the concern for the poor? For the powerless? For the vulnerable, for the widow and the orphan? It's not there. That's not faithful, not in the Christian tradition I know. So I have to say, I think this is a bad idea. I think Ohio would do a whole lot better if their politicians stopped trying to corrupt churches to win votes, and started trying to take care of people who have nothing to their names, and deserve a little help. Because isn't that what it's all about?


Well, someone can probably say it more eloquently than I can, but you get the idea. That's how you turn a progressive issue into a moral issue.


Hope that helps,

pastordan


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WTF?

Seriously. W. T. F.?

I hope all Texans will feel welcome Sunday at Calvary Cathedral.

Gov. Rick Perry is going to the church to sign bills restricting abortion and setting a vote on a definition-of-marriage constitutional amendment.

Sounds like this will have less to do with praise than with politics.

...

Asked about the choice of a church, he first said: "I try to go to church on Sunday."

He called Calvary Cathedral -- one of the largest churches in town, the home of the private-school Calvary Academy Conquerors -- a "great setting" for a bill signing and said he hopes for a "large and boisterous" crowd.

"Most Texans get it," he said, belittling the question. "The two issues talk about values. A church is an appropriate place to come together and celebrate a victory for the values of the people of Texas."


Ten-gallon hattip to jensequitur.


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Call Him Malcolm

Minister Hired By MN Church:
A 27-year-old minister, who had sex-change surgery from a woman to a man has been hired by a church in Minneapolis.

The Reverend Malcolm Himschoot, one of only a few transgendered clergy, will serve as an outreach minister at the 1800-member Plymouth Congregational Church. For the past year, Himschoot has been associate pastor at Denver Inner City Parish.

The transgendered minister, who's married to a woman, is the subject of the documentary 'Call Me Malcolm.' The film was produced by the United Church of Christ, which ordained Himschoot.

At Plymouth, Himschoot will work on affordable housing and at a center for the mentally ill, and will preside at weddings, funerals, baptisms and other church events.

One quibble, and it's one that even I fall into: one is "called" to a ministry, not "hired." God's the boss, is the idea.


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Jeers! to disappointment

Bitter, bitter disappointment:
"Their strategy is laced with contemporary humor and ageless pathos, but not always warmly received by all Christians. Why not?


For starters, their Web site is called, "XXXChurch.com--the No. 1 Christian porn site."


They titled their upcoming campaign, "National Porn Sunday," hoping 200 churches will simultaneously discuss from the pulpit pornography's evils, then invite parishioners back in the evening to see a documentary film explaining how Craig Gross and Mike Foster fashioned their Southern California ministry to rescue people from porn, offering love and, of course, accountability software, a 30-day confidential, "revolutionary new way to get help from pornography," books, CDs and T-shirts.



We were so hoping for Pope Benedict XVI pics.


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Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Patricia Owen's Church

Found this through one of those blog-chains that's almost impossible to describe.

So I won't.

The Revealer:

Blogger Too Beautiful catches an important omission in a Fort Worth Star-Telegram profile of controversial Bush judicial nominee Priscilla Owen. In what appears to be an attempt to humanize the widely-feared nominee, reporter Dave Montgomery notes Owens' involvement in her church's Sunday school. Fine. But should Montgomery have also noted that the church is as much in the fray as Owens? Too Beautiful did his homework and discovered that Owens' congregation left the Episcopal Church last year in protest of homosexual ordination. Seems like a salient detail, and one that the paper overlooked not because they were whitewashing it, but because reporters and editors likely file "church" under one catchall, feel-good category.



More here.


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Whaddya mean Belafonte's already on the Enemies List?

Talking Donkeys:

quote of the day

Bono when asked if he liked George W:

"Yes. As a man, I believed him when he said he was moved to also do something about the Aids pandemic. I believed him. Listen, I couldn't come from a more different place, politically, socially, geographically. I had to make a leap of faith to sit there. He didn't have to have me there at all. But you don't have to be harmonious on everything -- just one thing -- to get along with someone.

Harry Belafonte, one of my great heroes, an old-school leftist, told me a story about Bobby Kennedy, which changed my life -- indeed, pointed me in the direction I am going now politically.

Harry remembered a meeting with Martin Luther King when the civil rights movement had hit a wall in the early Sixties: "I tell you it was a depressing moment when Bobby Kennedy was made attorney-general. It was a very bad day for the civil rights movement.

"Bobby Kennedy was Irish. Those Irish were real racists; they didn't like the black man. They were just one step above the black man on the social ladder, and they made us feel it. They were all the police, they were the people who broke our balls on a daily basis.

"Bobby at that time was famously not interested in the civil rights movement. We knew we were in deep trouble. We were crestfallen, in despair, talking to Martin, moaning and groaning about the turn of events, when Dr King slammed his hand down and ordered us to stop the bitchin'.

"'Enough of this,' he said. 'Is there nobody here who's got something good to say about Bobby Kennedy?'

"We said: 'Martin, that's what we're telling ya! There is no one. There is nothing good to say about him. The guy's an Irish Catholic conservative badass, he's bad news.'

"To which Martin replied: 'Well, then, let's call this meeting to a close. We will re-adjourn when somebody has found one thing redeeming to say about Bobby Kennedy, because that, my friends, is the door through which our movement will pass'."

Well, it turned out that Bobby was very close with his bishop. So they befriended the one man who could get through to Bobby's soul and turned him into their Trojan horse.

Harry became emotional at the end of this tale: "When Bobby Kennedy lay dead on a Los Angeles pavement, there was no greater friend to the civil rights movement. There was no one we owed more of our progress to than that man."

Whether he was exaggerating or not, that was a great lesson for me, because what Dr King was saying was: Don't respond to caricature -- the left, the right, the progressives, the reactionary. Don't take people on rumour. Find the light in them, because that will further your cause."


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They have faith, too

Thanks to Carlos Stauffer for catching this:

E. J. Dionne Jr. writes:

The Catholics Reese's magazine spoke to, and often for, are loyal to their tradition but also understand, as the philosopher Michael Walzer has put it, that "traditions are sites for arguments." Traditions stay alive by nurturing a spirit that is at once loving and critical. If every question is kept open, there are no answers. But if too many questions are closed, the answers the tradition offers become steadily less compelling, less fresh and less persuasive.

"Tradition is the living faith of the dead," wrote the great religious historian Jaroslav Pelikan. "Traditionalism is the dead faith of the living." Father Reese stands for a living faith serene enough to argue with itself. I worry that's why he was asked to leave his post.


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Nice of you to come--now sign this!

Religious News Service:
Washington, June 1 - As Congress gears up for another go at expanding the Bush administration's faith-based initiative, dozens of mostly conservative black ministers have signed on to a statement endorsing the bill's controversial "charitable choice" provision, long a point of contention for Democrats.

Staffers from the White House Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives circulated the letter for signatures in advance of and during a private May 23 meeting between the black ministers and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. The meeting's topic was ways the faith-based initiative could be expanded to aid Africans victimized by the spread of HIV.

But some critics say the letter, which endorses a domestic provision allowing American charities to discriminate based on a job applicant's religious beliefs, was the real point of the meeting.

...

Circulation of the letter at the Rice meeting helped the administration gather more signatures and drum up more support among black pastors.

But the Rev. Timothy McDonald, chair of the Washington-based African American Ministers in Action and minister at First Iconium Baptist Church in Atlanta, said the administration had been dishonest about the real reason for the meeting with Rice, and the fine print of the letter.

"What angers me is the whole way they called the meeting talking about Africa and HIV and then they just sprung the letter on them," McDonald said. "The way it's being promoted is that you'll be able to get more money for your church to help with their programs, but they're not being told that they're signing something that condones discrimination."

McDonald said the letter had not been released to the public because many of the ministers had not known what they had signed.

"That's why they're keeping it so private, because they know once it goes public they won't be able to use them," he asserted. A similar thing happened, he said, when the Bush administration sought black support for government vouchers that could pay for religious education.

Towey said the letter had been circulating for about six weeks and had collected signatures from more than 30 prominent African-American pastors. He said his office would probably release the statement later this month because staff members were still trying to get more signatures.


I think I'll be very interested to see what that letter has to say.

Ve-e-e-ry interested.


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Take a chill pill

I don't know that I entirely agree with this CT Weblog post, but it's cute, and it does have a point:
Those worried that evangelicals' participation in politics may produce a theocracy may take comfort from Western Europe, where church and state have mingled for centuries. The closer church and state get, the more the church looks like the state.
Almost two years ago, a Danish minister said, "There is no heavenly God, there is no eternal life, there is no resurrection." After making the statement in an interview, Thorkild Grosboell was suspended by his bishop. But because the Evangelical Lutheran Church is the state church of Denmark, the bishop could not fire the disbelieving pastor. Only the government can do that, and "the government refused, saying he should be given another chance to explain himself to Jan Lindhardt, a regional bishop who has been one of his few defenders," according to the Associated Press. "Lindhardt has said that although he disagrees with Grosboell's views, there should be room for him in Denmark's state church."

On Sunday, Grosboell returned to his pulpit in Taarbaek. Grosboell recently renewed his ministry vows, but said his views about God have not changed.
In England, the intricacies of church/state relations have produced a strange requirement for gay clergy who are now allowed to register for civil unions. "The new law leaves [church officials] little choice but to accept the right of gay clergy to have civil partners," says the London Times. Despite the legal requirement, the church still requires gay clergy to remain celibate.

So the church compromised. "Homosexual priests in the Church of England will be allowed to 'marry' their boyfriends under a proposal drawn up by senior bishops, led by Rowan Williams, the archbishop of Canterbury... They will, however, have to give an assurance to their diocesan bishop that they will abstain from sex."

That's far from the Puritan requirement that a marriage be consummated before it is official.

Though the requirements may be changed before a final draft is approved by the House of Bishops, some bishops are already uncomfortable with them. "We all have clergy in gay partnerships in our dioceses, and there is a genuine reluctance on the part of a number of us to make their lives more difficult," said one bishop.

It seems those fearing theocracy have little to worry about.

Blending church and state has a tendency to defang one of those players. And when one of them slides off in an unexpected direction, things get interesting. (CT doesn't mention it, but the Greek Orthodox church has managed to tie the government in some pretty decent knots with one corruption scandal after another.)

Still, I'm not sure that I'd be willing to place money on the Dobson-Perkins-Robertson-Falwell-crowd losing their bite overnight. And given the kind of corruption that Ralph Reed has shown a propensity for getting into, neither am I confident that mere moralism is the issue here.

But ain't those Danes wacky?


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Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Have You Ever Read Walt Whitman?

It's Walt Whitman's birthday today, and The Writer's Almanac excerpts "Crossing Brookyn Ferry" in his honor:
It avails not, time nor place-distance avails not,
I am with you, you men and women of a generation, or ever
so many generations hence,
Just as you feel when you look on the river and sky, so I felt,
Just as any of you is one of a living crowd, I was one of a
crowd,
Just as you are refresh'd by the gladness of the river and the
bright flow, I was refresh'd,
Just as you stand and lean on the rail, yet hurry with the
swift current, I stood yet was hurried,
Just as you look on the numberless masts of ships and the
thick-stemm'd pipes of steamboats, I look'd.

...

What is it, then, between us?
What is the count of the scores or hundreds of years
between us?

Whatever it is, it avails not-distance avails not, and place
avails not,
I too lived, Brooklyn of ample hills was mine,
I too walk'd the streets of Manhattan island, and bathed in
the waters around it,
I too felt the curious abrupt questionings stir within me,
In the day among crowds of people sometimes they came upon me,
In my walks home late at night, or as I lay in my bed, they came
upon me,
I too had been struck from the float forever held in solution,
I too had receiv'd identity by my body,
That I was I knew was of my body, and what I should be I
knew I should be of my body."

Happy 186th, you crazy old coot, wherever you are.


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Guardian: Strawberry fields not forever

According to the Guardian, the Strawberry Fields children's home is closing:
A spokeswoman said the building was shutting because it was now preferable for children to be cared for by a foster family or in a small group home, rather than within large residential institutions.

It's hard to argue with that logic; I agree with the principle of placing children in the least restrictive environment.

Still, it's a bit hard to take. I dunno about you, but when I was a kid, I thought Sgt. Pepper's was a children's album, same as Peter, Paul and Mommy.

So what can you say? Thanks for the memories, for all the good work, and God bless the children.


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Ah, but do they have to sing in the choir?

CNN.com:
LONDON, Kentucky (AP) -- A Kentucky judge has been offering some drug and alcohol offenders the option of attending worship services instead of going to jail or rehab -- a practice some say violates the separation of church and state.
District Judge Michael Caperton, 50, a devout Christian, said his goal is to "help people and their families."
"I don't think there's a church-state issue, because it's not mandatory and I say worship services instead of church," he said.

Trust me, there are some choir directors who would be happy to pick up members this way, particularly if they could sing alto.


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Monday, May 30, 2005

Surfacing

I've been gone so long I hardly remember why I left in the first place.

It's a blur now: there was the Affirmation Project, which I failed to get off the ground in the way I intended. There was the Spiritual Progressives Online Conference at the Rockridge Institute, which actually worked out rather well. And there was the day job, and a couple of weeks of back problems (I still have to have four weeks of physical therapy for that), another week of allergies, a Daily Kos meetup in Harper's Ferry, and a general desire to have some kind of life.

By which I mean, of course, work in the yard.

So I'm going to blame it on the wild strawberry, and whatever other creeping vines have invaded my lawn. It's not their fault, but they were the last things to aggravate me, and they do make handy scapegoats. It's the least the little bastards can do, after all the time I've spent uprooting them.

In any case, I'm back. I apologize to the folks who tried to help with the Affirmation Project, and if there are any folks out there still reading this, I promise you some exciting things ahead. But not tomorrow, maybe. I still have to finish the office payroll.

To wrap up the Affirmation Project, it seems appropriate to hear from the Big Man Himself, an affirmation transcribed by "Wahoo":

My name is Jesus.
I believe the poor in spirit shall inherit the Kingdom of God.
I believe the meek shall possess the land.
I believe those who mourn shall be comforted.
I believe those who hunger and thirst after justice shall have their fill.
I believe the merciful shall themselves obtain mercy.
I believe the clean of heart shall see God.
I believe the peacemakers will be called the children of God.
I believe those that suffer persecution for justice' sake have obtained the kingdom of heaven.
I believe one should love one's neighbor as oneself.
I believe that what one does to the least among us is done to me.
I believe I already made this pretty clear. Can someone explain to me the confusion?


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Scott M.

My name is Scott Mitchell and I live in Everett, WA. I am an Episcopalian whose father and uncle are both priests and both Republicans. I am a progressive Democrat who believes that violence and aggression is wrong and contrary to the teachings of Jesus Christ. I am an advocate for the homeless.

My belief in Jesus and my attempt to conform to his teaching requires that I put feeding the hungry and housing the homeless before amassing wealth and achieving social status.

I believe God is entirely capable of working in other people's lives to achieve His aim without my interference. I also believe God is immensely larger than I can imagine and that He gave His son as sacrifice for everyone's sin and wrongdoing. I believe God loves Hindus, Muslims, etc. no less than He loves me.

I believe my faith makes me a better citizen even though many of the views I hold distress my father. I believe in equal rights for every man, woman, and child in this nation I hold dear, regardless of their sexual identity, color, or choice of religion.

I believe we are heading towards a fascist theocracy that is contrary to the spirit of inclusiveness exemplified by God's desire to enter into a loving and healing relationship with each person on this earth.

As the earliest believers refused to be silenced by political and religious oppression, so do I refuse to be silenced by the oppression of those in this nation who seek to require submission to their own narrow and exclusive view of God.

I believe that people and nations reap what they sow, and because of that I pray for God's mercy on America.


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