Archive for October, 2011

Calling My Thinking, Feeling, Reasonable Friends And Readers!

Saturday, October 29th, 2011

Can anyone in Moscow tell me when and where the next Occupy/99 Percenter rally is scheduled? I missed the first couple because of this nasty, seemingly interminable bronchitis, but whether I feel better or not, I want to be a part of the Voice. Let me know at kjajmix1@msn.com (that’s a “one,” not an “l,” before the “@”) if you’re up on things, and thanks.

Still Sick. Still Feisty.

Tuesday, October 25th, 2011

Still sick. So I have a lot of time to wander through the Internet, and, of course, my interests these days are sharply focused on the Occupy Wall Street movement. As I said, I’m a 99 Percenter, and I stand with the protesters. Or pray for them and cheer them on from my bed. Whatever.

From Michael Moore’s website — yep, he’s obviously a liberal, and he has an agenda, but I would welcome anyone who can factually refute the information below:

“Contrary to Republican claims, the United States is one of the lowest-tax countries in the world– U.S. corporations and wealthy citizens pay far less in taxes than other developed nations. Since 1950, capital gains taxes have dropped 10 percent, tax rates for million-dollar households have decreased 10 percent since the mid-nineties, and the estate tax has virtually disappeared for those with the largest fortunes since the onset of the Bush presidency. Four simple solutions would close that $4 trillion budget gap in the next decade, without even touching Social Security or Medicare.

By passing laws like Sen. Carl Levin’s Stop Tax Haven Abuse Act, we could generate over $100 billion in new revenue from closing loopholes that allow corporations to shift profits to overseas bank accounts. Through modest taxation of speculative Wall Street trading, we could bring in another $150 billion per year. With higher income tax brackets for households earning over $1 million annually, as Rep. Jan Schakowsky has proposed, we would gain another $100 billion. And progressively taxing estates worth $5 million or more would mean an extra $45 billion in tax revenue…”

The writer refers to the GOP lawmakers as “terrorists,” and perhaps he’s not far off, if the definition of “holding a country — and its economy — hostage” through coercion and corruption applies. Certainly the GOP and those Democrats who refuse to stand up and act like Democrats have instilled tremendous fear in the body politic, and while they haven’t done it with guns, they’ve done it with legislation. More people die from bad social policy than do from gunfire, and I unabashedly believe that communities beset with violence such as gunfire are victimized by past and current social inequalities that give rise to despair, anger, restlessness and poor impulse control. Terrorists or despots, those who perpetuate the gap between the one percent who benefit from their cushy legislative largesse and the 99 who get shafted have done tremendous damage — damage that the God of the GOP will demand an accounting for.

Pray that hearts change from the top before that great and terrifying Day . . .

And Speaking Of Church …

Monday, October 24th, 2011

This morning was Sue’s turn to give the message, and she said something from the pulpit that sent my pen scratching in the margins of my Bible — words undeniable in their simplicity and almost unfathomable in their truth.

“Jesus came so that we didn’t have to fear the Father any more.”

That, sisters and brothers, is the essence of the Gospel.

Aaaacccckkkkk! So Many Typos …

Monday, October 24th, 2011

I make a habit to re-read the previous post before I write a new one, and because I haven’t been feeling well at all for the last week, it seemed wise to go back and review the last few.

My goodness. I must have been sick a bit earlier and a touch worse than I realized.

I’ve gone back and corrected some errors in spelling, some stray commas, and other imperfections that escaped initial notice, and I beg your understanding. I think the degree of sinus pressure and the aches/chills/fever I was experiencing torqued my eyesight and made me lightheaded, and as I get my strength back, I hope also to reacquaint myself with the standards of common grammar, style, usage, and punctuation I’ve loved lo these many years. Because if I were a student of mine, the red pencil would’ve been worn to a nub from tonight’s corrective efforts of last week’s work.

Yikes. But I suppose anything that humbles, as long as it doesn’t come from sin, works good in our souls. I just grew up believing that typos and such WERE sinful, so perhaps I ought to receive humility from other, more usual, places . . . like when a visitor to our church cringes when I sing in worship. That, I’m comfortable with . . .

A Possible Answer …

Friday, October 21st, 2011

… to Wilson’s “When The Dirt Hit Hegel’s Coffin” post today on Blog and Mablog, in which he laments that Christians play a game they’re guaranteed to win as though that’s a nice idea and all, but then they don’t actually play in a way that they CAN win. He ties this to a “pre-pre” eschatology, but I have a different idea.

Perhaps it’s because we achieve victory not by might, not by power, not by cleverness, not by hostile engagement, not by literal woodenness in reading the Bible, not by seeking prosperity, not by classical education, not by serrated edges and faux intellectualism, not even by the Westminster Confession, but by the Spirit of the LORD.

Because until the Lord Jesus returns again and draws us to him, and until he transforms the world by his final proclamation of victory, we’re just strangers and aliens, passing through and hoping to be worshipers and servants. It’s not as gratifying to the masculinist psyche, but it’s gratifying to the Savior.

Caring only about that brings true victory, in the soul and in the world.

God Bless The Occupiers, And May The Church Listen

Friday, October 21st, 2011

It’s so clear that the GOP/Tea Party “grassroots” is devious and dangerous, and thank God the last month has brought about a true groundswell of dissent — dissent that speaks for the marginalized and refutes the pernicious cynicism of the Right.

Where were these “deficit hawks” during the eight-year orgy of waste and spending that was the Bush administration — an administration that inherited a surplus and bequeathed to the nation, and its Presidential successor, unprecedented debt? They only came out when Barack Obama came into office. I find that telling, and you should as well.

The evil of the Iraq war and the wrong-headed military approach in Afghanistan, which drained funds for social services and infrastructure maintenance, were funded on the backs of the poor and middle class — while the rich enjoyed enormous tax cuts unfathomable in time of war. Those tax cuts remain; the richest Americans currently pay taxes at Eisenhower-era levels that serve as a complement to government favor bestowed on them and their corporations. The rich have lobbyists; winning their tax cuts from their pals in the Bush White House and Congress was a breeze.

Meanwhile, those of us who aren’t making a quarter-million a year or more shoulder the burden, and those jobs that pay us wages that, adjusted for inflation, are no greater — and sometimes less than — 70s-era workers’ pay. Housing is often out of the reach of the middle class, and so are college educations for their kids. Retirement investments are trapped in a turbulent economy, their kids’ schools are being stripped to a bare-bones shell of “the basics,” and jobs are drying up, or changing shape to temp, consulting, or contract work that don’t come with benefits. The United States has, undeniably, the most advanced medical system in the world — but all of the technological possibilities in the world mean nothing if its country’s poor and middle class can’t even access it. And very often, they can’t, and so people die from diseases that likely could have been successfully treated if access were available. It isn’t.

The rich have lobbyists; winning their tax cuts from their pals in the Bush White House and Congress was as easy as cajoling candy from a rich uncle. The Democratic Party, which should honor its legacy of being the voice of the disenfranchised, has gone impotent, and organizations that have long championed the cause of the poor and middle class, the disenfranchised and marginalized — the NAACP, the Childrens’ Defense Fund, Common Cause, and other public interest groups have been demonized by a right-tumbling media and left disabled by shrinking donations from those they seek to help.

Most tragically, the Church has deserted the poor and hopped into a bed softened by the cushy pillows and sweet, soft sheets of “ministry to family,” “pro-Americanism,” “anti-immigration,” “family values,” and other relatively safe topics that please the Pharisees of culture and heap disdain on the poor. You can slap “Jesus” or “Christian” on something, but it doesn’t make it Christlike.

Speaking out for “the least of these” isn’t popular and isn’t profitable, and the toxic rhetoric of the day has even those whose welfare is the focus of an organization’s efforts questioning if they really are, after all, “un-American,” or “pro-death,” or “criminal,” or otherwise nefarious and suspicious. So people, fed on a diet of lies, suspicions, and pandering to their fears and dislikes, flock to things like the Tea Party, hoping to be heard. They’re heard, certainly, and the chorus they raise is pleasing to the very people whose policies and practices harm those in the ragged, misinformed, and angry choir. It’s a desperate and pitiable song, but it pleases those in power. That must look a lot like support and succor to the throng.

So who speaks for the poor these days?

The Occupiers, the 99 Percenters, and those protesters and demonstrators who don’t believe the lies of the GOP, refused to be co-opted by the media, and realize that the string-pullers of the Tea Party have precious little interest in actually crafting policies that would help them. They’ve seen the whoring and the seduction, and in my mind, the tremendous majority of them are the movement from the Left-Center this nation has needed for decades. God bless them and keep them from the cops who’ve been told to find them dangerous. They’re largely on the side of truth, and truth is, indeed, a very dangerous proposition. May the roots and foundations of un-Godly power structures begin to crumble under the voice of the Occupiers.

Still Sick, Still Astonished And Angry At The GOP

Friday, October 21st, 2011

As you know, I prefer that every word on my blog be written by, well, me. But I’m still in the grip of flu and, now, bronchitis, so I’m going to honor others who have good things to say until I get better.

“Every Senate Republican voted to block a bill that would help middle class families and keep hundreds of thousands of firefighters on the job, police officers on the streets, and teachers in the classroom when our kids need them most. Those Americans deserve an explanation as to why they don’t deserve those jobs.” — President Obama on the Senate’s vote last night on a component of the American Jobs Act.

If this isn’t proof that the oars steering the GOP these days are “defeat whatever the bastard proposes, just because it’s him” and “keep feeding the middle class the lies that keep them in the dark,” I don’t know what is. The AJA wasn’t anything that any reasonable Republican or Democrat — or hermit crab, for that matter — ought to have opposed.

But it was “him” who proposed it, and it’s “them” it would help. And how the most viciously insular political movement in recent history has the gall to label itself “populist” is ample evidence that Satan has, indeed, sent a cloud of blindness and hardness of heart over this country.

The Church — largely white, male, prosperous and privileged — has made a virtual cottage industry of formulating a hermeneutic that somehow elevates platitudinous proof-texting from the Proverbs to a cogent, Christlike response to poverty and injustice and heaps indifference on the warnings of the Old Testament prophets and subverts the clear message of the New. We see it here in Moscow, where Doug Wilson’s primary wrestlings with Scripture appear to be in the service of justifying his mocking, sneering, utterly unloving judgment of the poor, the middle class, and those who try to speak up for them.

Our God is not amused, either by the Church’s embrace of those institutions that harm the poor, or by those who minister in his name by making fun of their plight. I’m torn over who most needs my prayers for God’s mercy: The poor, or those who hold them and their defenders in disdain. Fortunately, the Defender of the poor is the one I pray to and worship, and I offer those to him on behalf of both.

I’m a 99-Percenter, And Wilson Is, God Be Thanked, One Of A Kind

Tuesday, October 11th, 2011

As the GOP waxes fearful about what House Majority Leader Eric Cantor of Virginia calls “the mobs” he believes are threatening the very fabric of the United States as we know it, and as New York Congressman Pete King compares them to those awful activists of the 1960s whose civil rights, women’s rights, and anti-war sentiments actually — horror of horrors — became law, it’s clear that the 99-Percent/Occupy Wall Street rallies over the last three weeks have struck a nerve.

Thank God they have.

I was beginning to think that the middle class had turned over its mind, self-interest, and voice to the Tea Party, which has succeeded in taking over the GOP and its corporate whoremongering in the name of “the common man.” It’s a testimony to electoral ignorance, or the “under-informed” voter, that the Tea Party would presume to represent the hard-working American shouldering Bush-era debt while the rich continue to smirk and to shirk their share of the social contract thanks, again, to George W. Bush’s tax cuts.

If, as Doug Wilson has said, the poor — even those in his congregation who need help — who avail themselves of Medicaid, food stamps, and any other social aid program are “piglets suckling at the teat” of government, the Tea Party’s GOP favors aggressive corporate hogs who trample the runt, take over the porcine nursery, and suck dry the teats of a government all too willing to let them feed with alacrity. It’s time that the middle class and the poor join together, not to “attack other Americans,” but to attack those policies that harm them, their children, and their hope of a reasonably comfortable American lifestyle.

If any one group in America is attacking another, it’s the rich who reap untold fortune at the expense of the middle class and the poor. There’s definitely a war going on against the have-nots.

The protesters are not engaging in “class warfare,” and they’re not simply demonstrating “the sin of envy.” The former is the secular GOP’s tired, predictable, and impotent response to a group of people, in the most American and patriotic of traditions, who gather to object to policies that in some cases have literally killed those in their midst. The latter charge — that “envy” motivates those who advocate for the poor and object to their marginalization — is the classic rhetoric of the “Christian” who searches the Proverbs for verses condemning sloth and slumber while blithely skipping over the Old Testament’s defense of and protection for the poor and the New Testament’s message of reconciliation and equality. It works only among the Biblically illiterate and the irrepressibly smug; it’s the message not of Christ, but of political privilege. Period.

In Genesis 41, the Yahweh-worshiping Joseph, working under a Yahweh-indifferent ruler, addresses the impending seven-year famine by appropriating the grain produced by the people, storing it, and then re-distributing it — again, as part of and in the name of Pharaoh’s government — to save the lives of the people under his rule. Until someone, perhaps a classically-trained rhetoricist, can explain to me how that’s NOT a Biblically-sanctioned government sanctioned social safety net, then I’ll continue to believe that government has a God-ordained role in providing for the needs of his people. Not his Communion of Reformed Evangelical Churches people, or his Calvinist people, or even just his Christ-confessing people, but all of the people created in his image. And the God who delights in those created in his image abhors discrimination, racism, classism, inequality, and — especially — the embrace of those things in his name.

It’s not, therefore, that far off for Christian social activist Jim Wallis to say that the protesters are “standing with Jesus.” (Ps. 82:3) That might not be the intention of all of the demonstrators, but they’re standing for the right things nonetheless. God cares little for — in fact, likely despises — our patriarchal “free enterprise” system. He does care for the poor. And that’s true whether Doug Wilson likes it or not.

I mention this because of the October 10 Blog and Mablog post Wilson wrote regarding the 99 Percenters. I expected Wilson to side with the rich; I expected Wilson to show serrated disdain for the demonstrators. But I didn’t expect this, and if it doesn’t sicken you, you need to check your heart.

“As I have thought about how best to respond to this Occupy Wall St. business, it seems to me that it really should be treated with the seriousness it deserves. It is not every day that the body politic gets covered with economically illiterate pustules. We are trying to make out their demands — for are we not profoundly interested? — but unfortunately their peculiar articulation of economic theory indicates that they apparently don’t have a roof in their mouths. I can’t quite decipher . . . But Jim Wallis has said that the protesters are “standing with Jesus.” That, all by itself, is enough to make any right-minded citizen want to scurry up a tree and start throwing coconuts.” (Blog and Mablog, Oct. 10, 2011)

“Economically illiterate PUSTULES?”

There’s a reason that I would never call someone an asshole. It’s not because it means that I think they are equal to a certain ugly part of the body — it’s because, although it’s not a literal pejorative, it’s damned disgusting. Calling God’s created people, standing for justice for the poor and opposing the unjust favoring of the rich, “pustules” is so beyond the pale for anyone, much less a Christian minister, that I’m without words. Almost.

Calling human beings “pustules” while describing them as stupid and deluded, and doing so while mocking their concerns, is an act and an attitude so breathtakingly hateful that God will damn those who continue it. Contempt for the poor in Scripture is equal to contempt for God (Proverbs 14:31). Wilson’s mockery of their plight and his hate for their defenders more than illustrates contempt for God.

Until he repents of that contempt, his presence at the Communion table is wrong, and his position as a “Christian minister” makes a mockery both of Christ and of ministry. I believe his soul is in danger, and I pray for his repentance.

Back Home, Unpacked, And Ready To Go . . . Tomorrow

Tuesday, October 11th, 2011

I spent last week in Western Washington, visiting our son and my in-laws and eating way too many restaurant meals, then zipping up to Spokane to see a friend I haven’t seen for 25 years. It’s nice that we still like each other! But now I’m home, and I plan to stay home as much as I can this week.

When I’m home, I either cook, clean, or write. And Lord knows there’s a lot to write about, both here and nationally. It’s been hard to keep quiet . . .