Archive for April, 2013

The Corruption Of Worldy Success, Ecclesiastical Version

Saturday, April 27th, 2013

From Alive Now! Magazine, March/April 2010, by Eli Fisher:

“The fundamental concerns of Christianity . . . lie with the oppressed and not the oppressors, with the marginalized and not the powerful.  Bit its very success as a movement has carried with it the seeds of its own corruption.  Once it becomes the dominant religion (or the religion of the dominant) its focus, message and intent invariably shift.” 

Good words.  Will the Church let the Spirit guide us into the Body of the risen Christ who opened the doors of faith and nurture to the poor, or a club full of people who in His name work to maintain a status quo that’s as foreign to the Kingdom of God as Mick Jagger at an abstinence-only convention.

The Casual Malice Of A Putative Pastor

Monday, April 22nd, 2013

I probably hit “post” a bit earlier than I intended yesterday, commenting on His Haughtiness’ Doug Wilson’s comment that there was NO shock at all to the fact that the Boston Bombers appear to be “devout” Muslims.  But timeliness mattered.

Yeah, I found it offensive.  There’s something wrong if you don’t.

Douglas Wilson is the most influential pastor in the Inland Northwest.  That his influence would extend beyond his dog is lamentable and a blot on both Moscow and the Christian Reformed circles that embrace him.  Nonetheless, he has an audience in the hundreds of thousands, a huge empire in Moscow, and a podium he neither deserves nor serves well.  He is a Christian pastor.  I served as a Christian pastor.  We both embrace the five or six classic, orthodox, foundational doctrines of our faith. We both claim Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.  But I choose to vocally and actively distance myself from Wilson and his beliefs, and he certainly chooses to distance himself from the “feminist bed-wetting” and “ugly-women, sentimental liberalism” I hold to. 

Why the quotes?  Because he actually says and writes these things.  You have my assurance that no matter how hard you search your memory for those archetypical pastors of your youth, you won’t find one who reminds you of Doug Wilson.  He is to the pastorate what I am to the Metropolitan Opera, minus the shame of hopeless incompetence and grievous grandstanding in the name of Jesus Christ.

Anyway, we both identify ourselves as Christians.  So do a lot of truly evil people — including those who malign entire faiths because of the crimes of some of their adherents.  Wilson has proved that to be true in his commentaries on the bombings in Boston.

And so, besides reminding Wilson that the older brother, Tamerlan Tsarnaev, appears to be the “devout” Muslim and that, prior to this, Dzhokhar appears to have been devout only in his pursuit of the life of a young college student, I’d like to also point out that until we know the elder brother was motivated BY his faith, we, as people of faith, ought to be especially opposed to presuming that bad people are motivated by religion.  I long for the day when being a Muslim, or being a Christian, isn’t considered an indicator of criminality.  That’s so tepid, so faint in its revolutionary zeal, that it’s especially obscene these days even to have to write it.

Let me put it another way:  Christians should be the last people who stereotype others because of their faith.  While it’s true that I expect Wilson to do just that, because when the choice is between rank bigotry and reasonable restraint, the safe money is on him to embrace the former, I never give up hope that he’ll act, in even the vaguest way, like the Savior whose Gospel he says he proclaims.

But Wilson is a hateful man who, in dabbling in history and social commentary to buttress his positions — which are virtually always odious and without scholarly support — readily evinces ignorance of his own.

Does he remember the Atlanta Olympic bombings, courtesy of “devout” Christian Eric Rudolph, who also knocked down a gay bar or two because of his noxious take on our Scriptures?  White cultist David Koresh engineered the deaths of fourscore adults and children, including those he proudly molested — and engaged in a weeks-long standoff with the government Koresh hated and Wilson disdains.  White Protestant Timothy McVeigh commemorated that day, April 19, in 1993 by bombing the hell out of the Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City, killing more than 200 and maiming hundreds of others in what is still the second-worse terrorist attack on American soil in the past century.  He knows the former pastor of abortion provider assassin Paul Hill, who, like the killer of Dr. George Tennant, was yet another white man who claimed to be a Christian. The man who tried to kill Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, a dear friend of my late father’s, and killed six others, including her aid and a Federal judge, in my hometown in 2011 was a sick man influenced by anti-government crazies from the far Right.  He looked, prior to shaving his head, like my own cousin at that age.  My cousin, not surprisingly, is a white guy, a Catholic, from the “Anglo-Celtic homeland” of the American South so beloved by Wilson and his paleo- and neo-Confederate pals. 

And, expanding the definition of “terrorism” to something other than “dark-skinned men with foreign names using bombs,” our local Bishop of Bloviation  would do well to remember the phenomenon of mass shootings.  Every school shooting in the United States since “school shootings” became part of our national vernacular, save the Virginia Tech shooter, a South Korean man who, it’s worth noting, also wasn’t a Muslim, has been committed by a white man.  So was the Aurora, Colorado, shooting. 

It must annoy the hell out Wilson that Pearl Harbor wasn’t the product of “radical Islamists.”

His comment on the lack of surprise about the religious faith of the older brother was a throw-away remark imbedded in a long blog post about the abortion provider in Kansas whose office and practice was found to be a chamber of horrors medically and criminally.  His point seems to be that the Kansas doctor is a rapacious killer, a terrorist to the unborn, and a man whose crimes are worthy of greater coverage.  Those comments can be made without maligning Muslims.  Indeed, it’s hard to imagine how even the most determined bigot could link the two.  But the “throw-away” comments are no less offensive, no less dangerous, for being buried.

Indeed, burying prejudice among other rhetoric makes it stand out all the more, both to those who agree and those who vigorously disagree.  That can trigger strong reactions, especially in linking disparate events and perspectives and weaving them into a single unfortunate narrative.  There’s a flood of lamentable rhetoric washing over this country.  An extraordinarily high amount of it comes from “Christian” pulpits.

My prayer is that someday Wilson and his cohorts will someday find that as shocking as he ought to.  Until then, he could help stanch the flow by repenting of his reckless disdain for people not like him and, instead of joining in the conventional wisdom of the stupid, reject it for something different.

Something, perhaps, that vaguely calls to mind the nature, message, and methods of Jesus Christ.

I’m Shocked! Just SHOCKED!

Monday, April 22nd, 2013

For weeks, Doug Wilson has been bending over backwards to convince us that, “Southern Slavery As It Was” be damned, he’s really not a bigot, not a racist, and not a guy given to rash snarkiness in outlining his views on race and culture, no matter what his critics say.

And his critics are many, having in common not only that they don’t work for him, but also availing themselves of the kind of common sense that tells them that when a privileged white man dabbles in history and then proudly declares that his people’s violence to and bondage of Black people held by them as chattel wasn’t all THAT bad, it’s not only beyond stupid and inexcusably bigoted, it also allows for a consensus that perhaps he’s a bit of an ass.

But perhaps he’s not just a bit of an ass who with distressing frequency says distressing things that spew out of him like a Veg-0-Matic with a broken lid.  More and more, though, it looks like he actually sets out to offend, to ejaculate his virile verbosity with sheer delight and gusto unparalleled.  I mean, I KNEW that, but I had hoped that his recent attempts at convincing us that he’s a sincere and thoughtful man — which he’s not — would at least result in some restraint.

Nah.

Here’s his take on the capture of the surviving brother alleged to have bombed the Boston Marathon and shot up Watertown, Massachusetts, last week.  Note his exquisite care in offering a fair, judicious, and tempered take on the identity of the suspects:

From Blog and Mablog, April 21, 2013:

” … One of the reasons we can be grateful that the Boston bombers were caught, and that they turned out to be radical Muslims (what a shock), is that if the perpetrators had been white guys with a cousin who had gone to a Tea Party rally once a couple years ago, they would have ensured that the bombing story would just blow (another story) out of the headlines for good.”

Yep. Doug Wilson. fanning the flames of bigotry, speaking recklessly, sprinkling a volatile situation with hate, and generally acting with the restraint of a Jr. High School bully with a belly.

Indeed.  What a shock.

Lord, have mercy …

A Temporary Lull In The Winds (Again)

Friday, April 19th, 2013

Readers, I’ve missed writing for you all . . . have you missed me?

(crickets chirping)

Nevertheless, the last three weeks have been full of a whole lotta life, much of it in the “life is hard” category, and I’ve frankly just been swamped.  We could go with “exhausted.”  “Worn out” might work, as would my grandmother’s favorite, “busier than a one-armed paper-hanger.”

I’m looking in the dictionary to see if I yet qualify for “overwhelmed,” but I bet there’s more gray woven through my lovely auburn tresses than there was a month ago.  Stress, for me, results in weight loss and gray hair.  Sadly, there’s little likelihood that at the end I’ll end up looking like Emmylou Harris.  It hardly seems fair.

In all seriousness, while I will not under any circumstances be suspending Prevailing Winds, I will likely be posting less over the next month or so as we travel again to Western Washington, where I was two weeks ago in a frenzy of cooking to prepare for my mother-in-law’s surgery and where we’ll be heading next week to spell my sisters-in-law in their care for her.  Mom is recovering slowly but steadily, God be praised, but it’ll be a long haul.  We’ll make yet another trip May 17; between those visits, we’ll be helping my younger son move either to Woodinville or Bellingham — or not — and I’ll be visiting a dear friend stricken with an aggressive cancer that has doctors baffled.  If you’re inclined, please pray for M.E., whose trust in the Lord during this both humbles and amazes me. 

Life happens.  Lately, it’s been happening in hyperspeed.

So stay with me, check in, and expect the Winds to resume, slowly at first and then gaining speed.  As long as bigots, buffoons, and bullies bellow, barb, and battle in the name of the Lord Jesus, I’ll write.  I hope you’ll keep reading, and it’s my prayer that every one of you is doing well and walking in the grace and peace of our loving Savior.

The Winds Have Stopped Blowing For Awhile

Monday, April 8th, 2013

I haven’t posted to Prevailing Winds for well over a week, and it’ll be a few days before I will have a chance to get back to writing.

A member of our family back in Washington has been quite ill with heart problems, and I drove over April 1 to cook and clean for her and generally just be around in case she needed anything.  I plan to be back in Moscow tomorrow, but it’ll take me a few days to get my bearings and spoil the dog and the kitten sufficiently.

I suspect I’ll be making more-frequent trips over the mountains until we get to the bottom of this, and I appreciate your prayers for me and for this wonderful Christian woman.