Archive for August, 2008

Quote of the Day

Wednesday, August 27th, 2008

It will be a great day when our schools get all the money they need and the Air Force has to hold a bake sale to buy a bomber.”
Anonymous

Taxes, Theft, and Locking Up The Silver

Wednesday, August 27th, 2008

In a bid to reach a trifecta of indifference to the poor, commitment to free-market worship, and a Christianity unrecognizable to its founder, many who identify themselves as Christians have taken a page from the Libertarian playbook and have begun referring to taxation as “theft.” For them, the likelihood of Barack Obama’s win in November means that it’s time, as a certain local pastor blogged, to lock up the silver — an Obama presidency can mean nothing more than highway robbery skidding to an end in your very driveway.

To be fair, these folks decry, generally, the massive spending of the Bush administration’s war in Iraq, and most understand the absurdity of cutting taxes during an infectiously expensive war. Still, their vitriol seems to be not just for taxation in general, but for taxation to aid those who, it’s safe to say, would fall under Jesus’ description as “the least of these,” or even “the rest of us” next door.

The common sense, common decency, and commonness-in-community of Americana used to assume that Christians would lead the way in supporting the funding of schools, parks, community centers and libraries; they certainly understood the necessity of maintaining roads, bridges, and tunnels that they and everyone else traveled on. It made sense, at a very recent point in U.S. history, that the church-going and Bible-quoting would be seen as decent, fair, civic-minded neighbors who could be counted on to understand that better public schools made for better communities, and that a fairly simple manifestation of their faith would evidence itself in cheerfully paying taxes to benefit everyone’s children and elderly, not just their own. To be a Christian was to be a good neighbor, a responsible citizen, and an advocate for the betterment of their communities. Those things weren’t salvific, but they were simple. If you were in government, especially in the public schools, you wouldn’t, in times past, even think of having to dread interaction with the churched, or fear the furor of their opposition.

But that was then and this is now, and it turns out that devotion to God really isn’t that simple; that “all for one, we’re in it together” spirit of community was an example of the Church gone astray, simple people simply wrong. The new “Christo-Libertarian” approach to government and taxation is really, it’s said, a return to the Law, and it’s remarkably simple to the arbiters thereof. In fact, it takes a pretzel-logic approach to exegesis and doctrine as well as a determination to chill the heart, but as we see in Moscow, it can be done — and it’s being done pretty damned effectively.

It grieves me to read a pastor’s bitter humor that suggests that an Obama presidency will result in the need for a lockdown of Christian purses and wallets — a “hiding the silver” mentality of contempt, selfishness, and false security. The lockdown, the “hiding of the silver,” is the hardening and closing of our hearts, not just the resolve to keep our wallets shut. We’re together on this Earth and in this community, and there is no greater apostasy than a Christian Church resolutely set on becoming the enemy of the poor, a closed door to its neighbors, and a slanderer of the governmental leadership given us by God.

Pot Calling Kettle, Line 1

Wednesday, August 27th, 2008

In a spark of skylarking genius, the irrepressible Doug Wilson has decided to market some shirts and mugs with a monk-robed Barack Obama pictured as The Dalai Bama, mystically assuring folks that “We are the stardust we have been waiting for.” OOOOHHHHHH . . . Clearly, our puckish pastor doesn’t find Obama to be a man of real substance — just a whisperer of dreamy, fuzzy, nonsensical platitudes with a name that invites adolescent cleverness.

Wilson’s on a roll, warning his readers about “homo slowmo pomo,” or the slippery slope of homosexuality playing out in a post-modern world, and then castigates the post-modernist’s framing of the Gospel as “story” instead of doctrine. (This from a man who deflects criticisms of his Federal Vision theology with his own appeal to “the story” of God’s covenant people over what he sees as the “Hellenistic” influence of systematic theology. On the other hand, his recent indulgence in gastronomic theology seem to make consistency in cake batter more of a concern than consistency in argument). So, after skewing Obama as an empty suit (empty robe?), and after his brilliantly pastoral “homo slowmo pomo” wordplay, he hits us again. A few “Blog and Mablog” posts down, as part of his recurrent obsession with rich food, diets, and the “father-hungry” who worry over them, he notes the following quote from one of his favorite sources:

“It is in strudel dough that the glutinous properties of flour enter the new Jerusalem in a triumph of elasticity” (Robert Farrar Capon, The Supper of the Lamb, p. 118).

Well, duh.

I mean, I can’t really disagree with Bob here; no one can. This sterling example of rhetoric and substance dulls even the genius of “homo slowmo pomo” by comparison, and it sure beats the heck out of the silliness, the “dreaminess and stardust,” of uttering the words “hope” and “change” on the Presidential campaign trail. The clarity and wisdom revealed in “homo slowmo pomo,” the crystal-clear analysis of strudel dough and Jerusalem . . . yeah, that Obama guy IS a real nutcase. Glad to have Moscow’s most well-known pastor make the case for us. In the mind-boggling catalogue of Things Doug Wilson Is An Expert On, I’m happy to add “mindless, immature discourse.”

She Did It!

Wednesday, August 27th, 2008

I was on pins and needles, wondering how Hillary Rodham Clinton would handle giving the most important speech at an event not about her. My disgust of Bill is at an all-time high, and I was edgy wondering if Hillary would clamor to be the bride at this and every other wedding. While I never bought into the “who suffered more, Blacks or women?” paradigm the media seemed to need us all to, I was deeply touched by her campaign, as I remain touched by Obama’s. I was originally an Edwards or Richardson supporter, and I’m glad Obama beat Hillary, because I think he has the better chance of winning. Still, I’m not immune to tearing up a bit because of the significance, historical and personal, of a woman coming so close to her party’s nomination for the presidency, and I hoped she would handle her time well tonight.

She did.

Her question — not rhetorical — to her supporters was, “Were you in it just for me?” And I think every die-hard Hillary zealot there had to examine themselves to see if the importance of her campaign, now over, trumped the importance of Democratic Party positions on health care, the war in Iraq, education, and other issues. Hillary Rodham Clinton confirmed tonight that it’s no longer about her, and perhaps not even about Obama. It’s about a better way of life, a better America, a better hope. I am one who believes that government, ordained as it is by a sovereign God, can be a force for tremendous good or for tremendous evil. We’ve had the latter in George W. Bush. I think Barack Obama can usher in an America that honestly strives to make life better for those on the margins, making use of the very best that the U.S. has to offer — guts, determination, intelligence, common sense, and decency. No need to “lock up the silver,” Mr. Wilson — all of us are safer if Obama is elected, and if the revolution comes, it won’t be your silver that protects you.

Quote of the Day

Wednesday, August 27th, 2008

“Truth is justice’s handmaid, freedom is its child, peace is its companion, safety walks in its steps, victory follows in its train.”
Sydney Smith

Quote of the Day

Monday, August 25th, 2008

“God looks at the clean hands, not the full ones.”
Publilius Syrus

Welcome Home, Perry!

Monday, August 25th, 2008

This really isn’t a “lifestyle” blog wherein I regale you with neat things happening in my life, but I do want to announce the arrival of our 10-week-old toy poodle/chihuahua mix, Perry, who spent his first night with us both defeating the forces of evil contained in his purple-and-orange fluffy giraffe toy and managing to not poop in his crate. He’s three lbs. of absolute joy for which I thank God. All of His creation is good, very good, but there’s something about the dogs. Thank you, Lord, for little Perry, and may I always be as wonderful as he thinks I am.

Feasts and Freegans

Monday, August 25th, 2008

May we all acknowledge, first of all, that butter does, indeed, make for a richer, more flavorful sauce?

That seems to have been worth a post on Blog and Mablog last week as part of the Bishop of Moscow’s recent treatises on “father hunger” and food caution, body image and food origins, feasting and all things both gustatorial and ecclesiastic. Sumptuous Sabbath feasts, with rich sauces, hearty wines, and decadent chocolates, are an important part of Wilson’s theology of covenant and right living, an embrace of pleasure and plenty that extends to his assertion that Christmas presents are absolutely good and necessary for the proper celebration of our Savior’s birth. (I presume this rules out gift-giving through, say, the Heifer Project, since Heifer doesn’t provide for ribbons, wrapping, and fudge). I can’t imagine being a vegetarian, vegan, or food-allergy sufferer whose pastor equates concern over healthy diet with father hunger, and who calls for The Eating Of Big Food as a spiritual discipline. Even as a non-congregant, I struggled with how to respond to his theology of cholesterol-as-divine-unction.

But then I read about Aaron Weiss.

Aaron is the lead singer of an alternative band called Me Without You. He identifies as a Christ-follower. And he has a “theology of food” radically different from the prevailing notion that no Sabbath fellowship is complete without kitchen frenzy, tables full of calorie-laden pot roasts and fricasees, and happy, hungry Christians loosening their belt buckles as preparation for celebration. Aaron Weiss is a “freegan,” or someone who, usually for economic or political reasons, chooses to procure his food from dumpsters, discarded restaurant meals, and other sources off the economic grid. Freegans generally believe that food is a necessity and not merely an economic commodity; opting out of the retail purchasing system is viewed as a statement against food’s existence merely as a market commodity that restricts its availability to the poor.

Now, I haven’t ever Dumpster-dived for my meals, and I buy food just like everyone else, although like most of you I try to buy and eat responsibly. But it’s refreshing to see these young Christian ascetics battling against the bloated affluence and misguided embrace of the material as their statement of solidarity with the poor. I don’t know to what degree Aaron Weiss suffers from “father hunger” — I suspect he’s just fine, really — but I applaud the fervor with which he strives to identify with the have-nots in a world, a Church, full of well-fed, unexamined fat souls. Poor kid. He may grow out of his radicalism, or not, but he’s likely to not proclaim the balm of Gilead as a butter-based salve for his soul and tummy.

I applaud brothers like Aaron Weiss, and I lament that he’ll never have the pulpit of a big, far-reaching web of ministry to stir the Church to a more reflective, responsible, Christ-honoring view of food and feasting. Christian liberty is not a license to mindlessly consume food and disregard common sense in diet and common decency in procurement, and Moscow’s Governors of Gluttony should see in Aaron Weiss a corrective straight from the Spirit.

Quote of the Day

Sunday, August 24th, 2008

“It’s a terrible thing to see, yet have no vision.” Helen Keller

Quote of the Day

Saturday, August 23rd, 2008

” . . . free those who are wrongly imprisoned and to stop oppressing those who work for you. Treat them fairly and give them what they earn. I want you to share your food with the hungry and to welcome poor wanderers into your homes. Give clothes to those who need them, and do not hide from relatives who need your help.” Isaiah 58:6,7, New Living Translation