I thought of Karl Rove in church last night. Now understand - I do not relish this, nor am I proud that in an intimate time with a community and God, my thoughts turned to a man referred to by his employer as "turd blossom".
Maybe some context will help. The sermon included this verse from Romans 8:
15For you have not received a spirit of slavery leading to fear again, but you have received a spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry out, " Abba! Father!"
A slave is:
A person who was owned and treated as property by another person.
An individual who is wholly under the control and or power of another individual
In my opinion, Karl Rove fancies himself the slaveholder of a majority of the country I live in. He & his employers use fear as the chains to shackle us, providing a relatively cheap source of labor every 2 years when election time rolls around. Over the last 5 years, the repeated floggings these salveholders have used has served to make the hard work of democracy something people did if they were forced to do it,
rather than a necessary part of self-improvement and advancement.
Mr. Rove & his employers know better than the slave class - they know how dangerous the world outside the plantation is, they know how lucky we are to have them watch out for us, they know that savages like us were not meant to run free. When push comes to shove, all the talk of compassion and faith-based work are just the bells rung to remind the slave class of the "Christian" justification for the bonds of slavery.
We'd talk of hope, that feeling that some desire will be fulfilled. Hope is passion for good things we do not have yet, but which we believe are possible. Hope never enslaves, it always frees people from the people and powers that hold them down. After civilizations were disseminated, after terror and violence were used as weapons of enslavement, after violence begets violence - hope abides. Stronger than the manipulations or mistakes of man, hope is a sort of reverse kryptonite - it frees us from anything or anyone that holds us down.
All this as a result of hearing the words of man named Paul writing to some friends in Rome more than 2,000 years ago. You never know what will happen when you are in the midst of a church.
The right wing in America likes to think that the United States government was, at its inception, highly religious, specifically highly Christian, and even more specifically highly biblical. That was not true of that government or any later government—until 2000, when the fiction of the past became the reality of the present.
It's outrageous to line your pockets off the misery of the poor.
Outrageous the crime some human beings must endure.
It's a blessing to wash your face in the summer solstice rain.
It's outrageous a man like me stand here and complain.
It's Friday and I have a confession to make - I hate organ music.
As I tell my 10 year old daughter "hate is a big word so be careful with it, you might hurt yourself or someone else". I have evaluated my emotions against the Wikipedia definition of hate:
generally attributed to cause a desire to avoid, restrict, remove, or destroy the hated object
and I am able to confirm that what I feel about organs and the music they are rumored to make is indeed hatred.
There - I said it. That confession revokes my membership in both the wingnut right wing re-asserters and the heretical left wing re-appraisers in my denominational tribe. It is ironic that the type of cultural colonialism that is organ worship is a place that unites folks who fight like mad about same-sex attraction and scriptural authority, but join together to often wax on and on about the transcendant beauty of organ music and traditional choral music.
This realization, something my therapist will be so proud to hear that I have voiced publicly, came about after I visited one of my fav echo chambers - T1:9, a site that is lovingly maintained by Kendall Harmon & a volunteer team around the globe. A thread today on U2charist, a worship gathering I have been a part of & commented on before, reminded me that so much of the flailing around of my tribe is the death spiral of an "empire" enthralled with the sound of it's own fury.
The decline of that "empire" can be better understood in the context that Jared Diamond has laid out:
Diamond tells the stories of a few past civilizations that collapsed and rapidly disappeared -- the Maya of the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico; the Polynesian societies on Henderson and Pitcairn islands in the tropical Pacific Ocean; the Anasazi in the American southwest; the ancient societies of the Fertile Crescent; the Khmer at Angkor Wat; and the Moche society of Peru, among others.
Diamond then offers a long list of other societies that followed a different trajectory and survived for very long periods in Japan, Tonga, Tikopia, the New Guinea Highlands, and Central and Northwest Europe, among others. So collapse is not inevitable. Collapse is the result of choices.
Diamond asserts that collapse results from 5 inter-woven factors:
- The damage that people have inflicted on their environment;
- Climate change;
- Changes in friendly trading partners;
- Society's political, economic, and social responses to those shifts.
It is hard not to review those 5 factors and sense that the decline of the Episcopal church in America is probably 20 years into it's descent. An interesting choice - are we Tikopia or the Anasazi ? My own experience is that rather than engage, our plan seems to be to deny decline, deny death and find shiny objects to fight over as the organs play in our gorgeous buildings, all too often empty of live humans, but filled with history.One of the dominant threads of modernity is the denial of death, something Ernest Becker wrote about in his book The Denial of Death. Becker suggests that the denial of death is that most human activity, ultimately concerning the denial of one's mortality. The full realization of one's own mortality is mostly unbearable, absolutely terrifying and horrific.
There is tremendous irony to me that a community who view as central to their faith story the idea of resurrection, a people whose identity is forged on "re-living," a "renewal", or a" rising again" from the dead - that this entity can invest so much in denying death.
For me, the sound of the Episcopal "empire" in decline and death, once considered the "elite at prayer", is the wheezing air and empty hum of an organ. And I truly hate it.
Ragdoll Swinging Game
A Brother's Rage
Smart people are making cool things
Save Tara Reid!
I Cannot Possibly Buy Girl Scout Cookies From Your Daughter at This Time
Area Minister Has Spiritually Awkward Encounter
Jeffrey Zeldman Presents : Web 2.0 Thinking Game
neuroscience of how we change
Grand Theft Auto: Vice City 3 trailer
Martha Stewart's Roast Turkey Costume
Astronauts cannot belch – there is no gravity to separate liquid from gas in their stomachs
The first is fear.
The fear that you'll have to implement whatever you dream up.
The fear that you will fail.
The fear that you will do something stupid and be ridiculed by your peers for decades.
The fear that you'll get fired.
The fear that there will be an unanticipated backlash associated with your idea.
The fear of change.
The fear of missing out on the thing you won't be able to do if you do this.
The second is a lack of imagination.
I believe that every single person I've met in this profession is capable of astounding creativity. That you, and everyone else for that matter, is able to dream up something radical and viral and yes, remarkable. So why doesn't it happen more often? Sure, fear is a big part, but it's also a lack of imagination.
Basically, most people don't believe something better can occur. They believe that the status quo is also the best they can do. So they don't look. They don't push. They don't ask, "what else?" and "what now?" They settle.
Fear is an emotion and it's impossible to counter an emotion with logic. So you need to mount emotional arguments for why your fear of the new is the thing you truly need to fear.
As for the second issue, just knowing it exists ought to be enough. Once you realize you're settling, it may just be enough to get you wondering... wondering whether maybe, just maybe, something better is behind curtain number 2.
If I had a magic wand, I'd force the rest of the institutional chucrh (whatever that is) to act & live more like youth ministry. Instead, the institutional church so often thinks of youth ministry as some kind of gateway drug, hoping to habituate young people to weekly fixes (or small group fixes). ***my word, that sounds cynical when I read what I just typed***
From arny johanns
What gives me so much hope is the passion and transformation that young people are bringing to the world. If you do not belive me - believe USATODAY (OK that did not come out right). Their article yesterday entitled The GOOD Generation really resonated with my own experience with my daughters' friends - also take a look at an article on how young people are expressing their passion for various issues and organizing online.
From What What
Rather than try to recreate my own youth ministry experiences or habituate people, the best an old fart like me can do is get out of the way and if asked forcefully give my permission and support. The word permission comes from the Middle English word permittere, which literally meant to let go through, give leave. Let go through - somehow that seems like the calling we all have as members of the beloved community that Dr. King loved to talk and preach about.
The reality is that we do not have magic wands, but we do have souls to pray with. I lift my prayers along with the words of a Tasmanian bishop (now that was fun to type):
In permission-giving churches it’s okay to make mistakes. In the words of Nancy Bird Walton, pioneering Australian aviatrix, ‘Whatever you can do or dream, begin it.’