"I wish there was a way to know you're in the good old days before you've actually left them." Andy Bernard
Shows like The Office have an appeal because they capture something real about our daily lives and our hopes and frustrations and what we are all wanting: relationships. We, as a people want to be known and loved and we want to know others. The characters in The Office, much like the show that it reminds me of the most in its diverse ensemble cast, Cheers, do not have much in common other than the fact that they work for the Dunder-Mifflin Paper Company. They share cubicles and tasks and projects and meetings in the conference room and office parties, but other than that, they go home to their own lives. But, over the course of many years and trials and triumphs, diverse people with nothing in common become friends - and then they become family.
I will not make some kind of allusion to God here, even though my blog is usually theological in tone. God was not a character in The Office. There was no real redemptive quality. Marriages happened (Jim & Pam/Dwight & Angela) and marriages broke up (Stanley, Angela and The Senator). People came and went and there was success and failure. Michael Scott, the original main character, dreamed of a wife and children and he finally found it and then moved to Colorado. While it was not religious/spiritual in any sense, the coming together of people who were very different but found joy in their relationships with each other does remind me of what happens in the church - or, what is supposed to happen. We end up journeying through life together with people that we do not always have much in common with. We learn to love people who are difficult to love sometimes and find that we are also loved when we cannot even love ourselves. Day after day, week after week, we go through life and share birthdays and weddings and holidays and children's classes and potluck dinners and sickness and sorrow and prayer and Scripture and hope, and ultimately, salvation.
Eugene Peterson once said that we do not go to church to hang out with our friends - with the people that we would choose. We go to church to hang out with God's friends, with the people that he chooses. When I was watching The Office, I thought about that and thought about how the relationships that I saw on a TV show that were not real and that were full of both joy and anger, generosity and pettiness, were riveting because they reminded me so much of real life and the characters that you face in your own office, or neighborhood, or family - or in your church. I was reminded of how much we need people - people different from us who will walk through life with us and who will show us and help us see the beauty of ordinary things.
We spend so much time looking for the spectacular and hoping for something great to happen to lift us out of our boredom that we miss the beauty of ordinary things right in front of us. Stanley had his pretzel day once a year. Dwight got excited about being safety officer. Michael loved the office parties and the conference room meetings and for all his quirky oddness, he knew how to lead an office to success. Jim always wanted to leave and go on to greater things but, in the end he found what he always wanted and needed in that dingy office. Everyone had a role both in the company and in each other's lives. It was nice.
In writing about this, I am simply saying that a longing for community and friendship and relationship in the midst of our daily lives is at the core of who we are as people. The longing for it and the receiving of love from others is part of what makes us human. There was a lot of failure and brokenness evident in The Office and it was not all pretty, but the message conveyed is one that is fairly surprising in America in 2013. People matter, even the people you don't like and that you find odd and who are nothing like you at all - and, those people can become your family because there is something that unites us all down deep - a longing for love and relationships and community - that we all keep trying to get to beneath the clutter and noise and our own struggles.
Maybe God put it there.
Every year for Mother's Day, we take time to honor our mothers and to say thank you for loving us and for a job well done. This year, I really wanted to see things from a mother's point of view, so I went to the one place where I could get the inside scoop: Pinterest. Through the modern satirical communication tool of Someecards written by moms themselves, I present to you a little retrospective I like to call, "Yes, we love our kids, but can we get a break, please?" As a father of four, I can relate to many of these myself. At least they gave me a laugh:
And, finally, this one doesn't have anything to do with Mother's Day, but I ran across it looking for the others, thought it made a good point and it is something that we have actually talked about in our house (and it made me laugh), so I'll just leave this one right here . . .
“It’s almost everything. That’s why we hire good-looking people in our stores. Because good-looking people attract other good-looking people, and we want to market to cool, good-looking people. We don’t market to anyone other than that,” Jeffries said.
Jeffries also told Salon that he wasn't bothered by excluding some customers.
“In every school there are the cool and popular kids, and then there are the not-so-cool kids,” he told the site. “Candidly, we go after the cool kids. We go after the attractive all-American kid with a great attitude and a lot of friends. A lot of people don’t belong [in our clothes], and they can’t belong. Are we exclusionary? Absolutely."
He had come for the express purpose of bringing peace to the enemies of God.
So Christians, too, belong not in the seclusion of a cloistered life but in the midst of enemies.
There they find their mission, their work.
Last week, I wrote a post declaring that there were, in fact, rational arguments against Gay Marriage and that the Christian/Biblical position on the subject was in fact, an expression of rationality and reason. I wrote in response to a Slate.com article by Erica Friedman stating that the only arguments against Gay Marriage were basically religious arguments and that those arguments were irrational and necessarily homophobic. I ended up in a really good discussion with a friend of mine on this on Facebook and it got me thinking deeper about the subject. First off, I want to say that one can be FOR the Biblical definition of marriage (which is the position I want to maintain) without being against Homosexuals. My guess is that Gay Marriage is going to be legalized in America and I have accepted that. I am not really interested in bemoaning that or taking a position against Homosexuals. I am much more interested in finding a way to maintain a traditional Christian position in this changing environment that is both rational and respectful of others, but that also maintains Biblical faithfulness and the ability to cordially disagree with the majority position. The way forward for Christians is not to try and forcefully control politics or the government, but to provide a faithful witness as to how a life with Christ that is guided by the Scriptures would shape and form us in believing communities in a world that is rejecting Biblical morality.
I have said many times before that while I believe Homosexuality to be sin, there are lots of sins and we are all sinners and we all need a Savior - no one is any different in that regard. So, this is less about the particular stance of Homosexuality and it is more about how we have these conversations and maintain differing positions in society and still respect and get along with one another. So, with all of those disclaimers, let me dive in.
The argument is that the only argument against Gay Marriage is a religious argument and that religous arguments are, by nature, irrational because they do not appeal to Reason but instead, they appeal to Faith. Faith is irrational because it cannot be proven. It must be accepted as an act of, well, faith. So, since it cannot be proven to be true, any argument from faith must be rejected from public discourse as irrelevant. Like I said, I addressed this fallacy in the previous post.
But, here is the problem with that line of thinking in regard to Gay Rights and the Gay Marriage debate. You might be able to use that argument with the physical sciences (might) because the physical or hard sciences are related to what is observable, testable, and provable. That is what the Gay Rights advocates are doing in this situation. They are unthinkingly lifting an argument that atheistic scientists have used against religion and are applying it to the their argument. But, you cannot apply that line of thinking (that all arguments from faith are by nature invalid) to the social sciences. The social sciences (history, economics, psychology, sociology, political science/civics, anthropology, cultural studies, etc.) are directly influenced and shaped by religion and faith claims and how we structure society and culture is fully intertwined with religious arguments. As in the old game of Jenga, if you pull out the block of religion in trying to gain understanding, the whole tower can easily teeter and fall. That is what is being attempted here and it is a false argument.
The argument for Gay Marriage is an argument based on equality and freedom and human dignity, or so the argument goes. The idea is that since hetero couples can be married, how is it just and fair for gay couples to not enjoy the same rights and benefits. Christians, traditionalists, and religious people often argue from a perspective on what is moral and what God approves of and those arguments are declared invalid because they come from faith. But, here is the question: Where do arguments of equality, freedom, and human dignity come from? Of course, those concepts are embedded in Western political and social thought and do not require God to be believed. Or, do they?
The Declaration of Independence written by Thomas Jefferson says, "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness." Jefferson was a Deist, but he was reflecting Christian thought and heritage here. Truths that are self-evident. All men "created" equal. Endowed by their Creator. Unalienable Rights. That is religious talk that was co-opted by the Enlightenment. In other words, the very foundation upon which Gay Marriage advocates are making their stand is a religious/spiritual/Christian foundation. They could not make the arguments for human equality and freedom if they had not previously benefitted from centuries of Christian thought on the nature of human dignity, rights, and equality. None of this developed in a vacuum.
Rodney Stark, who was an agnostic when he wrote The Victory of Reason: How Christianity Led to Freedom, Capitalism, and Western Success (2005) wrote about the Western development of rationality/reason, freedom, and capitalism:
"Freedom was also essential for the development of capitalism. This raises another matter: why has freedom so seldom existed in most of the world, and how was it nurtured in some medieval European states? This too was a victory of reason. Before any medieval European state actually attempted rule by an elected council, Christian theologians had long been theorizing about the nature of equality and individual rights - indeed, the later work of such 'secular' eighteenth-century political theorists as John Locke explicitly rested on egalitarian axioms derived by church scholars."
The very thing that Gay Rights advocates appeal to (freedom, equality, individual rights) actually finds its origin in Christian thought and theology. Where else do we see perspectives on equality and human dignity arise? I would posit that this view of Equality before the Creator was birthed into Western Culture on a Cross in Palestine 2000 years ago. The Greeks didn't give it to us, despite our misunderstandings of their democratic philosophies - they were largely elitists. The Romans didn't either. Neither did the Barbarians or Germanic Tribes or Hindus, Muslims, or Buddhists. Notions of human dignity and equality for all - including women, children, people of all races and tribes, slaves, the unborn, the poor, the sick, and those in prison, and yes, sinners of every kind - found their most powerful expression in the teachings of Jesus and His followers (see Gal. 3:26-29, Eph. 2:11-22, Col. 3:11, etc.) and these teachings radically affected Western Civilization. But, the same Bible that teaches that people are equal before God and that "God so loved the world" to send His Son to save it, also teaches that some activities and lifestyles are not how we are created and are not to be celebrated. They reflect our brokenness and not our original intent and Western Civilization has, up to this point, recognized this as well and has done so quite rationally.
Because I am a Christian, I will defend the equality of every person and will oppose oppression, injustice, and discrimination. If I see a gay person being abused or persecuted, it is my faith that tells me that I am to throw myself in harms way and protect the innocent, even at peril to myself. Secular Reason doesn't establish that. But, also as a Christian I recognize that some behaviors and lifestyles are right and some are wrong and that we are all sinners and need a Savior. It is interesting to me how notions of equality found originally in the person/teachings/work of Jesus have been accepted, while concepts of sin and salvation similarly found in the person/teachings/work of Jesus have been rejected.
Truthfully, it is not that Gay Marriage advocates do not accept Christian arguments or ideas that come from the Bible about how we are to live. The problem is that they accept some Christian ideas and not others. They accept ideas about equality, human dignity, justice, freedom, and the rights of man. They reject ideas about certain behaviors that they approve of being sin. Both are Biblical perspectives. They advanced their perspective to this point by saying that all views and persepctives are valid and should be accepted and gain a hearing, but now that they are moving into ascendency, they are saying that the views that oppose them are irrational and should not be heard or accepted as valid, but should be seen as oppressive and harmful to society. The irony of ironies is that they can only make these claims by standing upon the arguments of Christians who derived their perspective from the Bible.
They can only say that the Bible cannot be used by using arguments from the Bible. Again, irony.
What a world we live in. I think that, just like the Enlightenment and the Civil War, we are actually in a theological battle and we haven't even really realized it.
"This righteousness is given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference between Jew and Gentile, 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus."
Sin and brokenness are everywhere.
Death is at work.
We have all sinned.
We all continue to fall short of God's glory.
We all deserve death because of our sin.
There is no one righteous, no not one.
We are without hope in the world.
Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners - to seek and save the lost - to come for the sinner and not the righteous.
Jesus Christ is full of grace and truth.
Where sin abounds, grace abounds all the more.
Mercy triumphs over judgement.
God demonstrates His love for us in this, while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
The grace of God teaches us to say no to ungodliness.
Jesus is the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.
Eternal life is in knowing God and Jesus, who He sent.
We are new creations in Christ - the old is gone and the new is come.
Behold, He is making all things new.
The world is being reconciled back to God through Christ.
Creation groans, waiting in eager expectation for the Sons of God to be revealed.
The people of God are aliens and strangers in this world.
We can't love the world and love God at the same time.
In this world we will have trouble - but fear not, Jesus has overcome the world.
We will be hated because of Him.
In the same way that they persecuted Jesus, they will persecute us.
We need grace.
Mercy triumphs over judgement.
Without faith it is impossible to believe God.
Blessed are we for believing without seeing.
Maranatha! Come, Lord Jesus.
I was reading recently about how segregated American cities are according to race. Liberal/Progressive cities like New York, Chicago, New Orleans, Washington, DC, and Boston are still incredibly segregated according to race. They might talk a good game about racial diversity, but when it comes to where people choose to live, they have largely separated themselves out. Their philosophy of diversity is not actually playing out wherever people have choices. It makes one wonder if the dream of full integration is even possible?
*Article with color coded maps showing persisting segregation in major American cities:
Yesterday, I saw an article on Slate by Erica Friedman, who writes about lesbian themed Japanese animation and comics for Okazu. Erica was answering a question from a reader asking why people who were against gay marriage were considered homophobic and irrational. Here is Erica's response:
"Rationality is one of those things that is always relative. You can be anti-marriage equality and quite lovely otherwise, but unless you can come up with a non-religious, backed-up-by-facts reason why my wife and I should not be allowed to get the legal benefits assigned without question to drug addicts, child abusers, grifters, murderers, and politicians who happen to be in heterosexual relationships, you have no "rational" basis for your position. This is the crux of the matter. You are welcome to be against marriage equality, but chances are you have one of several reasons for your feelings and none of them are actually rational. The definition of marriage has changed many times over the years. It's not rational to believe it has not. In my lifetime it has changed, when interracial marriages were made legal federally. So there is no rationality in insisting that the definition has not changed for hundreds (much less thousands) of years. It's irrational to rely on the Bible as a guide, since men had multiple wives and slept with slaves in the pages of those books."
Jesus, Luke 6:24-36
"But to you who are listening I say: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. If someone slaps you on one cheek, turn to them the other also. If someone takes your coat, do not withhold your shirt from them. Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back. Do to others as you would have them do to you.
"If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners do that. And if you lend to those from whom you expect repayment, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, expecting to be repaid in full. But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful."
I have been advocating an approach to politics called "Prophetic vs. Political" for some time now. In this approach, I have said that we should praise what is right and good and condemn what is wrong in our government and society apart from political loyalties. In other words, if we see action that is right and virtuous and upholds the rule of law, we should affirm it. I am a conservative politically, but this means that if I see a Democrat do something that is praiseworthy, then I should say so and give credit where it is due. If I see a Republican do something worthy of rebuke, I should say so. As Christians, we need to stop picking teams and only praising our side and rebuking the other side. This approach by the Church actually diminishes a nation's capacity for righteous behavior and justice because it affirms political gamesmanship and cynical machinations.
Today, the Obama Administration did the right thing and decided to not charge Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, the Boston Marathon bombing suspect, as an enemy combatant but instead they charged him in a plot to kill Americans with a weapon of mass destruction as an American citizen, which means that he will be afforded due process under the law according the 5th and 14th Amendments of the U.S. Constitution. White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said,
"He will not be treated as an enemy combatant. We will prosecute this terrorist through our civilian system of justice. Under U.S. law, United States citizens can not be tried in military commissions. And it is important to remember that since 9/11 we have used the federal court system to convict and incarcerate hundreds of terrorists. The effective use of the criminal justice system has resulted in the interrogation, conviction and detention of both U.S. citizens and non-citizens for acts of terrorism committed inside the United States and around the world."
This time last week, I was writing profusely about the Kermit Gosnell case. This past week the news has been dominated by the Boston Marathon Bombings and at the moment of this writing, one suspect is at large after a raging gun battle through a Boston suburb last night that left the other suspect dead. So, these things are on my mind as I think about America this morning and wonder where we are headed. I join the rest of the nation in expressing shock and outrage at these senseless crimes and also pray for those so horribly affected by what has happened. In times like these, we see the best of America arise as acts of heroism and bravery and selflessness rise to the surface. We find out what kind of people we still are and recognize that there is much that is good, noble, and true left in our nation.
These virtues can be eroded or exchanged for lesser values, however, and must be maintained. Freedom is not free, as the old saying goes. It comes with a price. And, only a certain type of people can keep their freedom. Freedom comes from God and is first expressed within and cannot be secured by the power of government or through a security apparatus. Only a free people can live free. When we are enslaved to our own passions and lack self-control and live for our own desires and pleasures or when we give in to our fears, we have already exchanged our freedom for another form of bondage and the result is that we give over our liberties to a State that must then protect us - from ourselves. At times like this, we need to make sure that America is who we were created to be and that we do not give over our freedoms out of fear of what might happen in the future.
At the beginning of Os Guinness' A Free People's Suicide, he quotes several voices from the past as to how a free people must maintain their freedom. It is not guaranteed forever. Benjamin Franklin, after helping to develop the Constitution, was asked what kind of government we had formed. He replied, "We have given you a Republic, if you can keep it." Keeping what we have is the challenge. In the midst of all the bad news this week, I am seeing bravery and honor and concern for others and a fighting spirit rise up again in America telling us that it has been there all along. It is who we are. When I see individual Americans live out the values of the Republic like I have seen this past week in Boston, I am encouraged that we are still the land of the free and home of the brave, at least in our hearts. This character shows up in times of crisis and we should use these moments to make sure that we maintain and enhance the freedoms and virtues that we were bequeathed and not give in to fear and thus, give those freedoms away for some other form of comfort.
Now for the quotes. I find these instructive.
Marcus Tullius Cicero (Roman philosopher, On the Republic, 54-51 BC) on how Rome lost the virtues that made her great:
"But our age, having received the commonwealth as a finished picture of another century, but already beginning to fade through the lapse of years, has not only neglected to renew the colors of the original painting, but has not even cared to preserve its original form and prominent lineaments. For what now remains of those antique manners, of which the poet said that our commonwealth consisted? They have now become obsolete and forgotten, that they are not only cultivated, but they are not even known . . . For it is owning to our vices, rather than to any accident, that we have retained the name of republic when we have long lost the reality."
Augustine of Hippo - City of God, early 5th Century AD.
"Suppose we were to define what it means to be a people not in the usual way, but in a different fashion such as the following: a people is a multitudinous assemblage of rational beings united by concord regarding loved things held in common. Then, if we wished to discern the character of any given people, we would have to investigate what it loves . . . Surely it is a better or worse people as it is united in loving things that are better or worse." - Augustine speaks to our situation this week very well. Faced with crisis all over the nation, from Gosnell to Boston to West, Texas, people have come together to remember and fight for what is valuable, namely each other and a sense of justice. In this moment, as a nation, trivial things have been replaced by real things and we are remembering who we really are. In times when self and money and pleasure are most important, we cease to be good and we implode upon ourselves. So, our "goodness," or lack thereof, can be noted by our values and our affections. What do we love?
John Adams - Letter in 1826 on the outcome of 1776
"A memorable epoch in the annals of the human race destined in history to form the brightest or the blackest page, according to the use or abuse of those political institutions by which they shall in time come to be shaped by the human mind."
Adams also said in a letter to Massachusetts Militia in 1798 regarding who our Constitution that delineates and protects our liberties was made for:
". . . we have no government armed with power capable of contending with human passions unbridled by morality and religion. Avarice, ambition, revenge, or gallantry, would break the strongest cords of our Constitution as a whale goes through a net. Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other."
James Madison - The Federalist, 1787-88
"Liberty may be endangered by the abuses of liberty as well as the abuses of power."
Abraham Lincoln - "Address Before the Young Men's Lyceum," Springfield, Illinois, 1838
"At what point then is the approach of danger to be expected? I answer, if it ever reach us, it must spring up among us. It cannot come from abroad. If destruction be our lot, we must ourselves be its author and finisher. As a nation of freemen, we must live through all time, or die by suicide."
Theodore Roosevelt - Speech, July 4, 1886, North Dakota
"We must keep steadily in mind that no people were ever yet benefitted by riches if their prosperity corrupted their virtue."
This week, we are seeing America come together because of tragedy and because of a threat. Bravery, courage, self-sacrifice, concern for others, empathy, grief, humility, prayer to God, resolve, and a desire to protect and serve others and see justice take place has marked this week in American society. Our of tragedy and violence and injustice has arisen a severe mercy because, for a moment, we remember what it is to be human again. And, we are acting as a free people together.
How can we bring these values to bear upon our nation when we are out of this crisis? The Church has a role to play in living like this all the time as Jesus, our Savior, gave His life as a ransom for many. It is our job to be salt and light and demonstrate to a broken world what real life looks like and what it really means to be human. The distractions and cynicism will return - they are biting at our heels even now. But, can Grace overcome?
Praying for America today.
Over the past month or so, I have been studying apologetics and have been preaching a series on a defense of the Resurrection of Christ. I have studies and put forward arguments for the Resurrection that I think are compelling and that answer many of the objections of skeptics. But, I have been left wondering if we are not consistently doing this work on the playing field that skeptics have constructed themselves that is hardly neutral or unbiased. Is the very way that we engage in this kind of discussion fully influenced by the presuppositions of those who are inclined to disregard the very claims that are putting forward. Is the deck stacked against our arguments by the rules constructed by people who seek to dismiss the faith outright?
Lately, I have been rethinking the conventional wisdom behind how Christians should engage culture. I am wondering if we have been doing it wrong. Over the past hundred years or so, Western society has labored under the assumption that Faith is a private affair and that any participation in the common culture should only be on a neutral basis. This is the Secular Myth that neutrality actually exists. As time has gone by, however, and as the neutral secular approach has been used to push religion out of the public square as much as possible, we have not come to the promised place of a grand tolerance for all views. Rather, what has replaced a Christian consensus in society is a blatantly anti-Christian perspective that considers faith claims to be absurd. Frederic Baue, working off the thesis of the ideational phases of cultural shifts put forward by sociologist Pitirim Sorokin, predicted perfectly what would happen in 2001 in his book, The Spiritual Society: What Lurks Beyond Postmodernism?
Today is the 50th Anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr's Letter From a Birmingham Jail written to 8 white clergymen in Birmingham who were calling upon him to wait and settle down and not push for too much change too fast. King saw their comments in the Birmingham paper and sat down to write a defense of his actions to advocate for justice and to call upon all Christians everywhere, including self-styled white moderate Christians, to support the goals of the Civil Rights Movement and their work in Birmingham.
I have contended for some time that you cannot rightly assess the spiritual state of America today and the weakness of the Christian church in society here without going back to the 1950's and 60's and recognizing how much being wrong on the racial segregation issue affected our witness in the South and across the nation. Never was the Evangelical church more powerful than in Alabama and Mississippi in 1960-1965. Never did we have more ability to change the culture and influence people for good. And, never have we been more wrong in how we treated other people and in what we DID NOT speak against than during that time. Ignorance was not an excuse as we had people like Martin Luther King calling us to repentance. But, so often, we were unwilling to listen. I wonder what America would be like today if Evangelical Christians would have been laying their lives down to see justice come to African Americans, many of whom were also Christians.
Dr. King prophesied dark days ahead for the church that would stand on the wrong side of history and of God's justice in his Letter to the 8 white clergy:
"There was a time when the church was very powerful--in the time when the early Christians rejoiced at being deemed worthy to suffer for what they believed. In those days the church was not merely a thermometer that recorded the ideas and principles of popular opinion; it was a thermostat that transformed the mores of society. Whenever the early Christians entered a town, the people in power became disturbed and immediately sought to convict the Christians for being "disturbers of the peace" and "outside agitators."' But the Christians pressed on, in the conviction that they were "a colony of heaven," called to obey God rather than man. Small in number, they were big in commitment. They were too God-intoxicated to be "astronomically intimidated." By their effort and example they brought an end to such ancient evils as infanticide and gladiatorial contests. Things are different now. So often the contemporary church is a weak, ineffectual voice with an uncertain sound. So often it is an archdefender of the status quo. Far from being disturbed by the presence of the church, the power structure of the average community is consoled by the church's silent--and often even vocal--sanction of things as they are."But the judgment of God is upon the church as never before. If today's church does not recapture the sacrificial spirit of the early church, it will lose its authenticity, forfeit the loyalty of millions, and be dismissed as an irrelevant social club with no meaning for the twentieth century. Every day I meet young people whose disappointment with the church has turned into outright disgust." http://www.africa.upenn.edu/Articles_Gen/Letter_Birmingham.html
That loss and forfeiture is exactly what happened. We should not wonder why America has turned away from the influence of the church. In many cases, we have ourselves to blame. However, the truth also remains that many who claimed to be Christians then were not and they sullied the witness of the church as well. Those who were true Christians did not have the discernment that they needed to understand or rightly respond to the delusion that they were under as they took the wrong side on the biggest human rights issue of the 20th century. Our witness has not recovered from this and 50 years later, I must admit that Dr. King was right. How can we reclaim our witness? Simply by laying down our lives in service to God and others every day. When we see someone in need, help them. Be agents of reconciliation. Care more about the welfare of others than we do about ourselves. Put others ahead of ourselves. Find out where people are hurting and step in with healing. Love sacrificially. Let our deeds speak louder than our denunciations. Love loud and let our words and actions be gospel saturated together. As we lay down our rights and are willing to suffer, then our witness will be restored because we will look more like Jesus who did the same for the glory of God and love for people. Dr. King told us that our witness to Christ was off base. We should listen, even today.
Montgomery had its 20th murder of 2013 last Friday night. According to my calculations, at the current rate for the year, if this continues, Montgomery will have a murder rate of 33.3 per 100,000 citizens, which would rank it #6 in the nation according to 2012 numbers. For a comparison, New York City had a murder rate of around 4.75 per 100,000 citizens last year. Chicago, highlighted recently for the rise in gun violence, had a murder rate of around 18 per 100,000 citizens. New Orleans had a murder rate of 53 per 100,000 citizens.
There were other reports that the Marathon runners who were turned away from the finish line just a mile away kept running to local hospitals to give their own blood to help those in need. Think of it. Runners who had already run 25 miles, upon hearing the bombs and the carnage and knowing that people that they did not know were wounded and dying, ran further and gave their own blood to help save them.
What a horrible day in Boston. Evil broke in again and shocked us all, although at this point, I don't know why we should be surprised. The Aurora theatre shooting. Sandy Hook. Dr. Gosnell's House of Horrors. Now, the Boston Marathon Bombings. Today, we all grieved with those in Boston and could not help but think back to 9/11.
But, there was another story being told today in Boston. When the bombs went off, people ran TO the victims to help instead of running away to save themselves. Howard Fineman of The Huffington Post writes:
"Today, rescuers were running toward the wounded on Boylston Street in acts of true heroism -- running toward the sounds of the screams. In the end the terrorists will fail because Bostonians did not turn from their fellow man -- they turned toward them. And that is the real music of mankind."
President Obama is well known to weigh in on legal matters throughout the nation from the Trayvon Martin case to the Supreme Court considering gay marriage laws to the Court's deliberations over ObamaCare. Everyone knows that, right? Well, apparently Obama's press secretary, Jay Carney thinks that we do not know. Politico reports:
White House press secretary Jay Carney declined to comment Monday on the murder trial of Kermit Gosnell, a doctor who performed abortions in Philadelphia.
"The president does not and cannot take a position on an ongoing trial, so I won't as well," Carney told reporters, responding to a question from Fox News Channel's Ed Henry.
President Obama is "aware" of the case and, without weighing in on it, Carney added: "Certainly, the things that you hear and read about this case are unsettling."
When pressed by Henry, Carney again declined to comment. "The president's position on choice is very clear. His position on the basic principle that, as President Clinton said, abortions ought to be 'safe, legal and rare' is very clear," the press secretary said.
Ok. Let's unpack this "non-statement."
1. The President has taken positions on ongoing investigations before and in court cases. When did this new standard arise?
2. The question should have involved President Obama's opposition to the Born Alive Infant Protection Act of 2003 as I wrote about this morning. The question should have been something like, "Does something like what happened in the Gosnell case affect President Obama's view on the Born Alive Infant Protection Act that he voted against four times while a State Senator in Illinois?"
3. I am glad that President Obama thinks that over 100 babies who had their spinal columns cut and their feet put in jars is "unsettling." I wonder how he would define "horrific"?
4. "The president's position on choice is very clear." What does "Choice" have to do with Dr. Kermit Gosnell murdering babies? Once a baby is born, it is no longer an abortion but infanticide, which is illegal everywhere. Why bring up Choice? Shouldn't BOTH pro-choice and pro-life advocates be completely against and horrified by what happened? Is Jay Carney conflating "Choice" with what Gosnell did?
5. "His position on the basic principle that, as President Clinton said, abortions ought to be 'safe, legal and rare' is very clear." Um, no it isn't, Jay. Remember the Democratic Convention last year? That position was changed and the word "rare" was noticably removed. Interesting that he would appeal back to the previous platform's language. From the Democratic Platform of 2012:
"The Democratic Party strongly and unequivocally supports Roe v. Wade and a woman's right to make decisions regarding her pregnancy, including a safe and legal abortion, regardless of ability to pay. We oppose any and all efforts to weaken or undermine that right. Abortion is an intensely personal decision between a woman, her family, her doctor, and her clergy; there is no place for politicians or government to get in the way."
What happened in Gosnell's clinic was neither "safe" nor "legal." Why not speak to that? President Obama could have brought the nation together by condemning the outrageous, illegal, murderous acts of Dr. Kermit Gosnell. Who would not condemn something like this? Who would not say, "If the accusations are true, this is horrible and disgusting and we need to make sure it never, ever happens again to anyone?" Carney said that it was "unsettling." Also, he could not even speak to it without bringing up the language of "choice" to pacify abortion-on-demand advocates. A statement like this from a man who opposed 4 times enhancing protections for babies-born-alive from failed abortions in the face of the Gosnell crimes should cause our entire nation to recoil in horror.
Of course, President Obama and Vice President Biden and many others have had no problem speaking about gun violence recently. Are the lives of the babies killed in the Gosnell Clinic worth less than others killed in gun violence? If so, how is that determined?
I feel like I am living in an alternate universe or something.