Archive for May, 2013

On Poverty

Monday, May 27th, 2013

Oh, for a political and social culture that recognized the truth of these words and constructed public policy that acknowledged the relationship:

“Poverty is the parent of revolution and crime”

Aristotle

When Parents Freak Out And Justice Falls By The Wayside

Saturday, May 25th, 2013

Her’s the setup, although you should check out the link below:

Parents are aware that their 14-year-old daughter is in a same-sex relationship with a 17-year-old girl.  In Florida, as in most states, the age of sexual consent is 18 years.  And in Florida, as in every state, millions of teenagers, both hetero- and homosexual, have sex when both are under that age.

The younger girl’s parents don’t like that their daughter is in a relationship with another girl.  So, when her girlfriend turns 18, as she recently did, they get the police to file felony child sex abuse charges against her because she is now an “of-age” adult having sexual relations with an underage child.  After all, no one should ever think they’re bad parents by trying to understand their daughter or offer her a modicum of respect or anything — no, they’re going to make their point, and now an 18-year-old young woman faces either accepting a plea deal on felony sex crime charges that would require that she register as a sex offender, or risks going to trial.

The older girl rejects the plea deal.  Her parents, wiser, more mature, and infinitely more reasonable than the younger girl’s parents, take to the Internet to protest what they and their attorney — and anybody who’s not a foaming-at-the-mouth homophobe — knows is a particularly ugly example of selective prosecution.  The case stirs up a storm, as it should, even after the older girl offers to cease all contact with her girlfriend and move out of the state.

I live in a town where a young man confessed to one charge of the grossest kind of sexual contact with a preschool-aged girl, acknowledged similar contact with as many as 70 more children, and served just under a year in jail.  He went on to participate in a set-up marriage two years ago with one of Doug Wilson’s New Saint Andrews students — he, also, was an NSA scholar and was involved in Christ Church and its various ministries — and, as a lifelong parolee, will forever be barred from spending time alone, ever, with even his own children if he should ever have them.

He is someone for whom sex-crimes laws were made.  The man who raped me 32 years ago was someone for whom sex-crimes laws were made.  Anybody who engages in sex with anyone, ever, under any circumstance, without that person’s consent is someone who should be the focus of sex-crimes legislation, and any adult who, as an adult, trolls for someone younger than the age of consent AND is more than, say, a four-year high school age difference from his or her partner should be dealt with through sex-crimes legislation.

But untold millions of 17- and 18-year-old men have sex with their 14-, 15-, and 16-year-old girlfriends, and while there might be lots of reasons why that’s lamentable, most people recognize that bad judgment and teenage passion are not the same thing as a sex crime.  And while I’m sure many parents are confused and upset that their teenage lesbian daughter is having sex with her just-out-of-teenage partner, they turn to counselors, pastors, friends, and other supportive people to help them understand who their daughter is and what it is she’s doing.  They may set limits, they may restrict contact, and they may — or may not — try to get to know their daughter.

They don’t turn their hatred of homosexuality into a sex-crimes billy club to hammer their daughter’s girlfriend.   They don’t involve the courts in attempting to confirm their fear, anger, and hysteria, and they don’t draft the State into their war against common-sense application of sex-crimes laws that are designed to protect true victims.

I pray that if the older young woman goes to trial — which I find mind-boggling just on the face of it — she’s found not guilty.  I hope the parents face the opprobation and disdain of their community.  And I eagerly await the day that law isn’t used to confirm the worst prejudices and fears of those who, while offended, are not victims of anything other than their own unwillingness to take a deep breath, love their daughter, and find ways to support her as she grows up.

Sadly, there’s nothing on the books that addresses that.  It’s a pity.

 

http://thinkprogress.org/lgbt/2013/05/24/2061561/florida-teen-rejects-plea-deal-on-felony-charges-for-same-sex-relationship/

Fingers Nimble, Facts Gathered, Passion Re-Ignited, Laptop Booted Up — Prevailing Winds Are Blowing Again!

Thursday, May 23rd, 2013

After being out of town on my third trip to Western Washington since April 1, and then suffering the fatigue-and-pain consequences in the days since my return, I’m finally on top of things — depending on how you define “on top of” — and ready to write.

And what better subject to tackle than the example of lousy hermeneutics, bad character, and stupid public policy featured below?
 
Congressman’s Misuse Of Bible Verse Belies Bad Theology And Ideology On Food Stamps

Because I live in the Northwest home of the Young Reformed/Hyper-Calvinist movement that’s lamentably experiencing a resurgence in the Church,  I’m accustomed to earnest young classical scholars, nurtured on a steady diet of dubious theology and others-be-damned Calvinist preferentialism, explaining their perspective on poverty — which always goes something like, “Well, Jesus SAID the poor would always be with us, so he obviously didn’t think it was such a big deal.” 

Nothing I could say in response will undo years of conditioning — an upbringing of Calvinist theology that suggests that God actively hates some people, who are never “their people,” and the reaped benefits of generations of privilege.  Still, every such error is worth correcting, because it reveals the kind of ignorance and indifference that too often propels Christian men into politics, where their ignorance and indifference is reinforced, lauded, and rewarded by colleagues and constituents.

The critics’ observation is correct: Paul’s admonishment that the one who doesn’t work shall not eat is in the context of abandoning one’s responsibilities in the belief that Christ’s imminent return requires diligence that disallows work and providing for one’s family.  It’s heartbreaking that any Christian who’s a public figure would say something so irredeemably stupid.  It’s even more devastating that such an idiotic understanding of Christian concern for the poor would be met with such minimal reaction from the GOP-seduced Religious Right — although, thankfully, more reasoned Christians have been quick to point out the error. 

The ultimate devastation, though, is that men like Rep. Fincher are in a position to effect social change and public policy in the first place.  Undoubtedly elected on a platform that emphasized his Christian faith and strong moral character, he assumed a degree of credibility as a “Christian Congressman” that makes his every pronouncement — whether invoking Scripture in defense of a political stand or not — a Gospel message.  He may not realize the importance of the things he says as a self-styled ambassador for the Church; indeed, the thoughtlessness of his comment indicates a worldview so thoroughly entrenched that its seepage appears almost un-self-conscious, like the fish so used to the waters of bad public policy and worse theology that he doesn’t even understand that he’s all wet.

It’s not likely he’ll ever learn.  The self-congratulating, fawning embrace of his GOP colleagues, ever eager to embrace someone who disdains the poor, will ensure that Fincher continues his Congressional career shielded from any Christian influence that doesn’t come from the GOP-approved amen corner.  If his pastor, family, colleagues, and constituents are followers of that Jesus so foreign to the Scriptures but so carefully crafted by the Religious Right, one who values individual liberty and initiative over care for one’s neighbor and a humility-based approached to economics, Fincher’s unlikely to ever be taught a better way.  There’s no incentive for him to; the convicting, instructive voice of the Holy Spirit is easily lost in the din of circled wagons.

If the Church really were led by the Spirit and conformed to the Person and message of Jesus Christ, it would be inconceivable that a prominent Christian would use the Bible to defend a $1.4 billion cut in services to the poor — either because that Christian would be seen as sadly out of step with Scripture and would never be in a position of influence, or because no Christ-follower would dare attach His Word to an argument that actively harms poor people. But the American Church, conformed as it is to the image of the GOP and led more often than not by the Bael of power, has instead followed men like Fincher, men for whom a roster of conservative beliefs cloaked in religious language is sufficient testimony to become a Christian statesman. 

The Canon of GOP conservatism has become the plumb line of practice and belief for too much of the Church.  By that standard, Fincher has done well.  But by the standard of the Word of God and the teaching of Jesus Christ, he has revealed himself to be a lost and misguided soul desperately in need of the reforming, correcting, guiding voice of the Spirit of God.  Time will tell if he listens to that voice or the cacophany that is the spirit of the GOP.

There Is No "Holy Neutral"

Monday, May 13th, 2013

“We must always take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented.”

Elie Weisel

Dear readers, I’m getting back on top of things and offer this as a reminder of why the Prevailing Winds blow . . . Moscow, Idaho, is the base from which a great deal of torment and oppression pours forth, and while I’ve had a sick mom, a post-surgical mom-in-law, and a 7-lb. dog recovering from an accidental poisoning, all in the last month, things are looking up and I’ll be back behind the keyboard within a few days. 

God is faithful.  In responding to oppression and torment from the Church, I hope to be found faithful as well.