Love Thy Neighbor, Yeah Right?

I guess for some who claim to be Christian, Matthew 22:37-39 is one of those conditional commandments that only apply to other Christians and not to everyone.

Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself.” – Matthew 22:37-39

It has been my understanding that love thy neighbor applies to everyone, not just your Christian neighbor.

This is what I believe many of my fellow Christians continue to misrepresent Christ, because they often use God, Jesus and the Bible to either damn people to a living hell of torment while using God, Jesus or the Bible as a proxy for their discrimination, bigotry and intolerance towards others.

Jesus did not waste his time discerning ethnicity, culture or religious beliefs in his ministry. He loved everyone the same, even when they did not love or demonstrate that love to or for him. As I know there are some who will point out an instance of Matthew 15:23 as a counter argument, but I look at their motives in making this argument while ignoring the counter arguments to their counter argument. This is often where we both get side tracked and entangled in conversations based on individual biases and preferences. So we miss the point.

Why Do I Care About Muslims?

I take this point up not to agitate or to apologize to anyone. I take this point up, because underneath the surface of this debate is an unconscious undertone of religious bigotry at work against the Islamic Center.

Some may ask the question, “As a Christian, why do I or should I care about Muslims, Islam or a building?

I care because it is my understanding and belief as a Christian that I am to love my neighbor as I love myself. I care because I still have not found a logical or spiritual reason why I should discriminate against someone.

Unfortunately many who claims to practice Christianity as are those who claims to practice Islam has perverted the faith by distorting what is true. This is the case within any spiritual belief. There will always be some faction who may claim to be fundamentalist of the tradition, but fail to practice the fundamentals of the tradition. That is essential mutual respect of one another.

Why should I care?

I care because I know when you have had the opportunity to interact with many persons who practice Islam on an ongoing basis that interaction develops into a friendship and friendship into a kinship. That only occurs when both practice mutual respect towards each other. That’s why I care. Why don’t you should be the question?

Walk By Faith

What motivates me to speak as a Christian in defense of Muslims is first my adherence to my faith in where I sincerely strive to practice it in truth, not in perception of it or having truth. This puts another meaning to II Corinthians 5:7, because if you walk by faith and not by sight you are not concerned about being perceived to be right, true or spiritual, because it will be seen in your actions. What you defend, what you cherish, what you practice. In essence, whether you walk by faith or just concerned by being seen as walking by faith.

The Beloved Community?

Another reason why the opposition to the Islamic Center of Murfressboro attracted by attention is has nothing to do with the proxy of zoning issues that are waged, but the undertone of religious intolerance at work.

I’m not saying one side’s opinion is infallible and the other’s opinion is fallible, because both sides should be heard, but if this was a Christian organization seeking the same property in the same manner there may be similar zoning related questions or obstacles to be accounted for, but the public opposition would not be comparable if any at all. I’m sure some may not be honest enough to admit that probability, but this is why I harp on being considerate of others beyond your own understanding.

There’s a history of religious intolerance directed towards the Islamic Center of Murfreesboro. January of this year the sign that read “Future Home of the Islamic Center of Murfreesboro” was vandalized with the words, “Not Welcomed”. That’s a fine example of the “Love Thy Neighbor.”

So the sudden opposition demonstrated by some should not be a big surprise, nor should the claims of zoning or legalities should be considered without suspicion of bias.

Conclusion

If America is ever going to be true to its words, then we must adhere to those words we claim to cherish. We the people may be the beginning of the preamble of the constitution of the United States, but when that statement was first written and the document was complete, ‘We’ did not included ‘Me’. The same continues to be true each time we don’t consider others and fall into the comforts of only thinking about me.

Many people who say they love America only want to focus on the good of America. We cling to our guns and religion like a 2nd Amendment militias. If we are to celebrate our religious freedoms, then stop opposing the right to religious freedom. Just because someone doesn’t believe what you believe doesn’t give you the right to oppose them for wanting to lawfully and respectfully practice what they believe.

References & Inspirations
WSMV: Nashville – 18 January 2010 “Murfreesboro Islamic Center Sign Vandalized
Daily News Journal – 18 June 2010 “Mosque’s Approval Draws Residents’ Ire
Daily News Journal – 17 June 2010 “Mosque Faces Challenge
Daily News Journal – 17 June 2010 “Letter to Editor: Debate Needed on Islamic Center
Religious Tolerance “Thomas Jefferson’s 1777 Draft of a Bill for Religious Freedom
Religious Tolerance “An Act for Establishing Religious Freedom in Virginia 1786
The Holy Bible (NIV) “Matthew 22” Specifically verses 23 until the end of the chapter
Islamic Center of Murfreesboro “Official Website

Human Rights First – “2008 Hate Crime Survey Results: Violence Against Muslims

Justice is Color Blind

Didn’t we just discuss this for two weeks?

http://timvalentine.wordpress.com/2009/10/09/racistconversation5/
http://timvalentine.wordpress.com/2009/10/12/racistconversation6/

Oh I forgot, “I’m not a racist because I have Black friends” defense.

Can someone say it with me? UNCONSCIOUS RACISM

You should always be aware of the person who says, “I’m not a racist”. If you’re not a racist you don’t have to say it. Your actions will speak for you.

Summary

OK, so this is the story. A few days ago a Judge in New Orleans denied an interracial couple a marriage license on the grounds of his belief the marriage would not work, he does not believe in “the mixing of the races” and his lack of self-acknowledgement that he would be one of the people who would discriminate against any children they may have.

Details

In New Orleans, Louisiana a justice of the peace said he refused to issue a marriage license to an interracial couple out of concern for any children the couple might have.

My Comment: It’s always about sex isn’t it.

Keith Bardwell, justice of the peace in Tangipahoa Parish, says it is his experience that most interracial marriages do not last long.

“I’m not a racist. I just don’t believe in mixing the races that way,” Bardwell told the Associated Press on Thursday.

My Comment: Of course not, you just have issues with race.

“I have piles and piles of black friends. They come to my home, I marry them, they use my bathroom. I treat them just like everyone else.”

My Comment: WHAT! You’re kidding me, right?

Bardwell said he asks everyone who calls about marriage if they are a mixed race couple. If they are, he does not marry them, he said.

My Comment: Oh, well then. That’s not racist. Just because you refuse to do your job, because of race doesn’t mean you’re racist. Come on now.
Bardwell said he has discussed the topic with blacks and whites, along with witnessing some interracial marriages. He came to the conclusion that most of black society does not readily accept offspring of such relationships, and neither does white society, he said.

My Comment: Oh, so you talked about with Black people. So that doesn’t make you racist. Seriously, don’t validate your argument on the myth that Black people can’t be racist, because they can. Racism isn’t racist, because anyone can be one.

“There is a problem with both groups accepting a child from such a marriage,” Bardwell said. “I think those children suffer and I won’t help put them through it.”

My Comment: This is a lie. It’s only a problem among racist.

If he did an interracial marriage for one couple, he must do the same for all, he said.

“I try to treat everyone equally.”

My Comment: OK, I’m trying not to laugh at this one. How in the Hell do you say that with a straight face? As my sister would say, For Real Dude? You’ve got to be kidding me. I’m being Punk’d right now, right? OK. You try to treat everyone equally, so you demonstrate your non-racist attitude by marrying people who are of the same race, but not marrying people who are not. I bet you do this on a Bible too. Besides disobeying the law, you’re going against the word of God. Unless your Bible reads “God is a respecter of persons”.

You’ve got to read the rest of this story for yourself. No one is forcing you to get married to someone because of social perceptions, but you shouldn’t be denied the right to get married to someone because of social perceptions.
http://www.blackamericaweb.com/?q=articles/news/the_state_of_black_america_news/13496
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2009/10/15/interracial-couple-denied_n_322784.html
*An eyebrow should be raised, but I’ll let you think about this before I get into it any further. But it’s coming. So don’t asking me, because I’m not telling.  Just keep reading. :)

The sad thing is that I have run across people just like this on this very blog. No matter how much you try to explain it to them, they still don’t get it.

God Hates What?

According to Advocate of the Social Gospel, September 1948 – March 1963 of The Papers of Martin Luther King, Jr., Dr. King wrote that the Christian church was “the greatest preserver of the status quo” and, thereby, “one of the chief exponents of racial bigotry.” He concluded that “the church, in its present state, is not the hope of the world. I believe that nothing has so persistently and effectively blocked the way of salvation as the church.”

Now if YouTube, FOX News or certain talk radio programs were around while Dr. King was living you would have certain people who would be calling him a racist. Heaven forbid let there be someone in the church who was running for a political office, because then his/her connection to Dr. King would have been used as a political diversion to gather votes. But I will go into detail another day, because I use this as jumping off point to discuss an incident with what I call so-called Christians.

Today many Christians today appear to want a play-doh Jesus; a Jesus that they can mold and conform into whatever they want him to be to fit their chosen ideology. We’re more content with making Jesus acceptable to us instead of making ourselves acceptable to him.

Dr. King also said that “it’s appalling that the most segregated hour of Christian America is eleven o’clock on Sunday morning.

So how much have things changed?

I can go down the line with countless references and examples of racism, discrimination, hypocrisy, bigotry, intolerance and discrimination in ALL CHURCHES. Yes, that is including yours and mine, regardless of how righteous you pretend to be. If we were comfortable in our beliefs we would be confront the church, instead many of us choose to conform to it as it continues to conform to the world it’s in.

Before I continue allow me to add that I can only speak to the Christian church. But I submit that the same level of racism, bigotry, discrimination and intolerance is found in other religious organizations too.

Now there will be those who will immediately be offended and get defensive towards such an aggressive line of accusations aimed at the church. The Church itself is not the problem, nor is Christ. It’s those within the church and proclaim to be followers of Christ where the problem lives. I’m not questioning Christ, but those who say they follow Christ and discriminate against their fellow man or woman.

Why is the church so segregated?

Even in theology its segregated. One believing they are they are the only way and all others will go to Hell. Well if that is true, why don’t you invite that church to your church or visit them. How can you say that I’m going to Hell if you won’t talk to me or if I don’t agree with you. Who’s to say that we both aren’t going to Hell because we refuse to fellowship with one another?

I already know I’m going to hear something from this one, but someone has to address the division in the church, the division in our minds. So often many people just go to church without realizing that they are the church.

There are so many examples to choose from I had a difficult time selecting a few to illustrate the point, but the folks at Westboro Baptist Church in Kansas provided me with a good starting point with their latest righteous indignation that they call a protest.

What are we teaching our kids?

OK, before I begin I must ask “What in Hell are these people teaching their kids?” I’m not cussing, because Hell is the only place I can think of that could persuade a so-called church to use children as sympathetic instruments for promoting hate filled propaganda.

After reading this article, one that I strongly recommend you to take a peak at, I have no apologies or apprehensions about standing with my Jewish friends both known and unknown against this type of hateful propaganda promoted by the Westboro Baptist Church and those who agree with their philosophy.

I agree with Rabbi Sharon Kleinbaum’s response because the voice of hate, regardless of how illogical it is, is still a voice. If we are to be true to who we are as people of faith and/or goodwill despite our beliefs and non-beliefs we should consider the voices of hate. Consider and address it with caution, concern, hope, love and truth. As Rabbi Kleinbaum said, “I personally believe it’s a mistake just to ignore them. We have to stand up to evil now, and we have to do so in a way that’s creative and focused and non-violent.”

This is so true and one of the reasons why I’m writing these series of posts, because it must be addressed. Far too often the church has spoken timid or is virtually silent on issues it needs to speak aggressively upon. As I’ve previously mentioned, I can only speak for the Christian church, but can assume that others can relate to what I’m saying. Many Christians are content with sitting and waiting for Jesus to return, while doing nothing in terms of the gospel.

Many people are simply more content with life as it is instead of how it can, should and will be. The truth is that many Christians, yes Black and White, Republican and Democrats hide behind the Cross and seek cover for our bigotry in scriptures instead of doing what we are called to do and be. Many will get upset when someone points out what it is that they are doing as if the intentions are to condemn. Condemnation is what you may want to do, but is not the point of my criticism of some Christians. Perhaps we should start calling them Play-Doh Christians, because they have conformed to what’s popular or satisfies their selfish, bigoted and prejudice means.

As long as fear is tolerated, faith in contaminated. The fear that is supported by this one church in Topeka, Kansas is only one location of hundreds if not even more of the prevailing opinion that has been conditioned into the church. If no one is willing to counter the built in bias, bigotry and intolerance that has found comfort with many Christians, then why call yourself a church or Christian.

References & Inspirations
The Jewish Daily Forward – 10/06/09 “How To Handle Hate
San Diego News Network – 10/06/09 “Westboro Baptist Chruch plans San Diego Protests at 29 Locations
Professor James C. Klagge  “The Most Segregated Hour in America


The Gopsel of Hate

Just when you begin to gain hope that race, politics and religion can some how find reconciliation as illustrated in my previous post you have someone who will always work to keep things how they are, divided. If you pay attention you will see someone who will exemplify this truthfulness of this fact.

What’s the image you initially see in your head when you hear of someone speaking death for President Obama? I don’t even have to say it, but what if I said that it was a minister who was saying it, what’s your view of that person in your head now?

As a Christian and a son, great-grandson, great-nephew and cousin of ministers who were bold in their ministries and teaching the word of God. It has been my experience that much of the problems within the Christian church is not exclusively caused by the non-Christians, but primarily by Christians themselves. People, who proclaim to be representative of Christ, but act more as a liaison for an Anti-Christ.

You would assume that a Christian minister would at least abide by the Greatest Commandment; Love. But I guess that’s too much to ask for someone people, even the pastor of Faithful Word Baptist Church in Tempe, Arizona. This Southern Baptist minister delivered a message of why he hates Barack Obama.

OK, you can dislike the president for whatever your reasons may be. You hate Democrats, fine. You hate Black Democrats if that makes you feel better, cool. Oh, that’s right it’s not about race, but politics. That’s right. Hate whomever you please, but think about what you’re doing when you do that and more importantly what your actions are suggesting.

Wouldn’t it have been be easier to just say, “That _______ scares me”. Seriously, if just for the sake of honesty, because that’s what we’re seeing. Scared people, but what are you really afraid of? I bet you can’t be truthful about it, because the truth will reveal something ugly within your soul that you do not know how to properly deal with, so you revert to what’s comfortable, hate, fear and anger.

You can say whatever you want to say about me, you know this is the unspoken issue; hate.

Now this is not just some right-wing nut case to add to the collection, but a supposed minister of the gospel. I’m just waiting for him to say God Damn America next, but I forgot that level of condemnation only applies for certain people. This is a so-called minister of the gospel. I wonder what his positions are on racism, but I don’t want to make him feel any more uncomfortable than he already is.

But it’s only fair for Pastor Steve Anderson to speak for himself.

Remember what was said at the beginning of this as you read and view this and observe any responses. Look at their heart.

Finally, I ask ministers who say they live by the words of God to speak out against this sort of lawlessness within the Christian church today. This is not some isolated incident, because you have seen it within your own church.

Rhetorically speaking, does the church have to revisit a Birmingham Jail again to get the point? I strongly disagreed with the previous administration, but I never wished for their death or remain silent when I heard of others who did. This challenge is for you.

References & Inspirations
Christian Broadcasting Network – 08/31/09 “A Hateful Sermon Against President Obama
The Moderate Voice – 08/31/09 “Arizona Pastor Repeats Wish for Barack Obama’s Death
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. – “Why We Can’t Wait”
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. – 11/04/1956 “Paul’s Letter to the Christian Church

Black & White Church Merger in Louisville

For most of this year and on occasion last year I have strive to develop a clear and easily message that can be incorporated into everyday practice; Consider Others. It’s been difficult at times and finds my patience being tested by some brash, self-centered, inconsiderate and intolerable individuals. Although I may want to belittle them and illustrate how unsocialized and uncivilized they are, I have to pull away from it. I don’t always succeed at it, but I do try not to be as verbally vicious as I would like to be at times. I try to consider others, even when I strongly disagree with the position they’ve taken.

If people just would make a genuine effort to consider others instead of themselves only perhaps the world wouldn’t be so bad. Many people are more willing to lie to themselves about how tolerant and inclusive and my favorite “colorblind” they are, but do nothing to back up those claims. It’s just words without meaning.

I say this, because this story about two Baptist Churches in Louisville, KY (a city in which I’m somewhat familiar with) one in which was predominately Black and the other White had the mind to merge. This is just one of the things I’ve been harping on forever about. I absolutely love this story. This is what it’s all about.  When you listen to this interview, you got to listen to what is not being said to get the depth of the story behind all of this.

For those who have regularly followed this blog should have an understanding by now that I have infinity for any serious conversation about race and religion. So when I learn about a story that speaks about both race and religion at the same time you usually will capture my attention.

I urge you to pay attention to the both of these interviews, because it tells a larger story and the significance of this merger. I can and will in another post in days to come go into brief detail about the role the church and in particular Christians have played in the separation of the church. I’m sure I will get some hate emails on that one, but few rebuking the facts. Until then I ask you to listen to these two interviews and get ready for an interesting conversation. :)

NPR: Tell Me More – 08/28/09 “Black & White Churches Merge in Louisville
NPR: Tell Me More – 08/28/09 “Southern Baptist Apologizes for Slavery Stance

Do Something Before It’s Too Late

One of the most scariest images is an ideologically confused, unsocialized person with a gun in one hand and the Bible and Constitution in the other. What is more scary are the people who enables them.

For weeks I’ve been writing about race, rage, religion and the right. Some has attributed all of this to one bloggers obsession with race and republicans. And your assumption would be wrong. Many people who are silent on these issues are so because they either sees the truth in what has been illustrated and/or they’re simply uncomfortable speaking with authority about any of these subjects.

As I’ve illustrated last week is that it’s not always about race, it’s not always republicans, but it is about race and the role republicans are playing in the rage against this President. Many choose not to accept the reality of that truth, but what other logical conclusion can you draw if it isn’t about race? Politics is just the proxy, not the problem.

I give up on the realistic relevance of the Republican Party these days. It doesn’t want anyone who will question its authority. It doesn’t want anyone who will demand discussion. It doesn’t want anyone who is progressive, moderate, Black, Latino, Muslim, Young or even female. If you’re White, Male and Southern you’re welcomed. As a southerner I know that’s not a fair assessment, but many polls are trending in that direction when it comes to the GOP. It’s trending higher to those groups. The Democratic Party is not infallible, but at least I’m welcomed.

The fringes of society, whether it is the Birthers, the Deathers, the outrageous 2nd Amendment folks and the Racists they are not ruining the GOP, they have ruined the GOP. Who’s talking about bringing guns, Hitler, Nazis and the socialists. It’s not all Republicans, but it is a Republican problem and an American issue.

I’m surprised about the silence of those Republicans who has previous criticized me on various issues. What is worse is the timid tendencies of Democrats confronting them. It’s not all Republicans, it’s not all Democrats, but when will we finally have a Conservative who will talk down the paranoia of Republicans to Republicans? When will we finally have Democrats speak critically towards the timidness of the Democrats to Democrats?

I have restrained myself from saying this for many months, but I simply give up any possibility of having a reasonable conversation with most Republicans on many of these issues. I will continue to push Democrats to speak up, but their time is coming too if they don’t start doing what needs to be done.

Comment, criticize if you please. I give up. Let the M.F. Burn. (Reference to a previous post)

If what happened in November of 1963, February of 1965 or April of 1968 happens in today I will be sad, but I would feel sorry for those who helped caused it, because the blood would be on their hands. The outrage of the right could not match the rage that would come from the left and in the unexpected corners of society. I don’t want any of this to happen and urge people to do something more than nod in agreement or disagreement, do something before something happens. Before it’s too late.

Perverted Christians

a2a_linkname=”Perverted Christians”;a2a_linkurl=”http://timvalentine.wordpress.com/2009/06/09/pervertedchristians/”;

Recently I was asked a question that was almost tailored-made for me or at least some of my significant interests. I believe it was asked because they knew I enjoy openly discussing what is taboo or controversial subject for many Christians. I simply believe you must be willing to speak openly with the attitude of sincerity and unbiased consideration of the experiences of others when you’re talking about what I call “Christian Taboos”.

Christian Taboos are subjects that people who proclaims to be a follower of Jesus Christ are either forbidden, restricted or even consider profane subjects. Often it is due to uninformed or even ignorant a perception that regards the subject to be dangerous, risky, untraditional or even makes some people uncomfortable. Many people are unwilling to engage in positive interaction with persons they do not understand, unfamiliar or have labeled as a sinner.

I will try to tackle most of the issues related to the question, but here’s the question that was asked. Can someone who tries not to be racist towards anyone still be considered prejudice and be a Christian too? If so, why?

Yes and this is why.

Christians are just like everyone else. Many have fooled themselves into believing that because they are a Christian they are no longer susceptible to the ills of the world. Many choose to ignore the symptoms that has infected the minds of many Christians and in some cases perpetuated the actions and mentality of sick individuals.

A person doesn’t have to be racist in order to be prejudice. Whether it be a charge of homophobia or even one that’s on the raise in the United States among certain constituencies; Islamophobia, it still amounts to an act of prejudice.

Conforming to taboos essentially suggests that you accept or willing to participate in exclusionary practices, which is a form of discrimination. It’s a form of discrimination, because it prevents objective consideration of an issue, situation or circumstance.

There are many people who say and believe that they are not racist, because racism has been explicitly intertwined with being prejudice. You may not be racist, but racism is not the only form of prejudice. We must consider the harsh discriminatory practices of Homophobia or even Islamophobia as two of the most popular and unfortunately socially accepted forms of discrimination among Christians and many other religious beliefs and cultures.

When Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. said that it is appalling that the most segregated hour of Christian America is eleven o’clock on Sunday morning during the heights of the Civil Rights Movement of the 1950’s & 60’s he was primarily referring to it in terms of race relations in the Christian church. I personally, belief it has not gotten much better today because we still can easily determine and often self-identify ourselves in terms of race in religious services. It’s gotten so bad that we can assume the racial demographics of the church by reading the name on the building, “First Presbyterian Church of…, Mt. Zion Missionary Baptist Church”. We’ve all gotten a little better, because you’ll see 1% of many of our churches have a member of color (Being a person of color does not exclude White. Last time I checked white was considered a color, unless Crayola changed something on me.)I know this is true and can easily document it, but do not want to focus on our religious racial bigotry just yet.

My focus is on the other ways we have allowed and accepted bigotry within many of our Christian churches. I can only speak about Christian churches; because that’s the center of religious/spiritual worship I attend and subscribe to. I can only assume that the same is true for other religious beliefs and cultures.

As I’ve written upon various aspects of this topic in the recent posts I must say that I am in no way casting any dispersion on Christianity itself or Jesus Christ. Christ isn’t the problem, we who have chosen to follow Christ are. Many of us have perverted the name in such an effective manner that we have somehow made hate acceptable in the name of Jesus.

You don’t know what I’m talking about?

We can begin by looking at recent events and activities of those who calls themselves Christians or organizations doing work in the name of Jesus.

Many Gay and Lesbians are pushed out of Christianity by Christians. It simply amazes me to see it and the amount of hatred I get when I speak out in defense of Gay and Lesbians who are seeking a church home. Many are understanding and see my attempts, but how can I effectively persuade anyone to just visit when they are greeted with the numerous signs of segregation in the sanctuary. I don’t care where you go or what church you belong to when someone who isn’t like the majority of the people within that church comes in there’s usually several people who ignores them or will smile in their face and talk behind their back when they sit down or get to their car. Just hypocrites. At least be honest about your bigotry and stop using God as a crutch to rest your justifications for discrimination upon. God is no respecter of persons.

As some would have it, I couldn’t be friends with anyone who isn’t like me. What a bleak existence that would be. I love myself and who I am, but I don’t want to be around people who think, acts and look like myself all of the time. This is why I absolutely love and respect my friends who are not Christian or Black or Democrat or male. I have something to learn from Muslims, I have something to learn from Republicans, I have something to learn from Atheists, I have something to learn from Non-Blacks, I have something to learn from Lesbians or Gay men and they have something to learn from me. If we refuse to talk to each other none of us learn anything except what ignorance is.

Christians must ask themselves the same questions Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. illustrated with such eloquence when he said, “On some positions, cowardice asks the question, is it expedient? And then expedience comes along and asks the question—is it politic? Vanity asks the question—is it popular? Conscience asks the question—is it right? There comes a time when one must take the position that is neither safe nor politic nor popular, but he must do it because conscience tells him it is right.

Bigotry, discrimination or prejudice is any form is not right and is not of God. To act, misrepresent or believe it does is a perversion of God. Isn’t that essentially another way of using the lord’s name in vain? This is easy, why would God hate? Or a better question would be what does God hate? If you find yourself doing what he hates shouldn’t that be an indicator that you need to make some changes?

I know there will be some who subscribes to a ridged interpretation of the Bible that we should only consider the interpretation of those who interpreted it. Wasn’t the Bible interpreted by a select few ordained by God? (Moses, Paul, John, David, etc…) Some interprets the Bible in a more fluid context. They consider it as a guide to help us understand the objective. Who’s correct and/or why can’t it be both?

I’m sure there will be more on this one, but will conclude here to open the door of criticism, damnation and the few who may agree with me.

References & Inspirations
Catherine Lawson – “The Most Segregated Hour in America: Protesting Segregation in the Church
NPR: Tell Me More – 06/05/09 “Groups of Black Clergy Rally to Support Gay Marriage
Religious Dispatches – 01/19/09 “King Dares Us to Imagine A Better World
NPR: Tell Me More – 05/15/09 “Gay Marriage Divides Black Religious Leaders

الرئيس أوباما يخاطب العالم الإسلامي من القاهرة A New Beginning

a2a_linkname=”الرئيس أوباما يخاطب العالم الإسلامي من القاهرة | A New Beginning”;a2a_linkurl=”http://timvalentine.wordpress.com/2009/06/05/الرئيس-أوباما-…الم-الإسلامي-م/”;
For those who know me or have followed this blog for awhile it would be fair to assume that I absolutely LOOOOVVVE the context of this speech given by President Barack Obama. This is why I like President Obama despite what those who oppose him and/or publicly & privately want him or his policies to fail think, believe or say. It’s difficult to dispute the principle of truths he’s saying in this speech.

Words along can not meet the needs of the people, action. This is what I’ve been talking about day after day, forgiveness, reconciliation, consideration, tolerance; a new beginning.  We can not become so captive to the pass or to a position or ideology that we can’t preserve a future of peace. We can not continue to be bound by hate, fear and intolerance in any form.

I will hold off for now, because I’m ready to go on this one. If this was delivered in a Pentecostal church I would be the one shouting “PREACH”. This is what I’m talking about. Well I will let you digest this 55 minute speech. Be sure that I have more to say about this soon.

If you can not view this video, please click here.

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Torture: What Would Jesus Do?

a2a_linkname=”Torture: What Would Jesus Do?”;a2a_linkurl=”http://timvalentine.wordpress.com/2009/05/17/torturewwjd/”;
I simply can not believe the blindness of this statement on the philosophical implications of torture in terms of what Jesus would do.

Gary Bauer, a former Republican presidential candidate affiliated with several Christian right groups over the years, said the discussion should not come down to…

Would Jesus torture? There are a lot of things Jesus wouldn’t do because he’s the son of God. I can’t imagine Jesus being a Marine or a policeman or a bank president, for that matter. The more appropriate question is what is a follower of Jesus permitted to do? I think if we believe the person we have can give us information to stop thousands of Americans from being killed, it would be morally suspect to not use harsh tactics to get that information– GARY BAUER

Seriously, this is unreal. Attack me if you wish, but I dare you to validate this statement with the teachings of Jesus Christ without perversion. Taking just a simple look at this statement would lead one to the assumption that Jesus would be against torture. Do I need to remind you of the act of crucifixion?

There were only 12 disciples, not 24. Jack Bauer wasn’t a disciple of Jesus, so why are you conforming to his gospel?

Allow me to make this easy enough for you to understand. If you are a follower of Jesus Christ wouldn’t you do what he does? Isn’t he the example?

Listen, God is no respecter of persons, this includes his son. The belief Jesus wouldn’t or couldn’t do something because he’s the Son of God would not be an acceptable excuse according to the Bible. That would mean that God is no respecter of persons that isn’t his son. (Romans 2:11)

Why should I engage in a public debate with Pharisees and Sadducees on the issue of torture when the answer to the question is simple and clear? How does the issue of torture align with what is know as the Greatest Commandment?

Torture contradicts the instructions, examples and teachings of love your neighbor as yourself. If you choose to become a follower of Jesus Christ, do what is written. Too often we as Christians act like the priest on that road from Jerusalem to Jericho and remain silent when we should speak. Many act as the Levite did when he saw the man who was robbed and left for dead and just pass to the other side of the road. I don’t want any trouble. I just go along to get along. I know some may not understand what I’m referencing, but I’m sure followers of Jesus Christ feel me. (Mark 12:28-31)

Even for my friends who may have historically viewed the story of the Good Samaritan as a religious heretic and/or an inferior race, I hope you have not continued to adopt discrimination in this or any circumstance today.

Who among us will act like the Samaritan when it comes to the issue of torture? This is the answer to what followers of Jesus are to do. Luke 10:25-37 is the information to stop thousands of Americans from being killed. It is morally suspect to use harsh tactics to get that information, when a better law has already been written and implemented.

You see this is the problem with Christian Extremism. Why adopt such a backwards thinking? And you’re surprised and/or upset by anyone who rejects Christianity? This sort of public example of the perverted beliefs placed upon Christianity, coupled with the systematic incorporation of theological bigotry and the denominational exclusionary practices in our segregated sanctuaries by those who proclaim to be followers of Jesus Christ is the problem and one of the real and factual arguments against Christianity.

Quit perverting Jesus to fit your own antiquated beliefs. Stop using Christ as your crutch of justification for your own illusions of morality and irrational conceptions.

References & Inspirations
Military.com – 05/13/09 “Evangelicals Wrestle with Torture Issue
The Washington Times – 05/14/09 “Torture Soul-Searching
Google/Associated Press – 05/13/09 “Torture Debate Prompts Evangelical Soul-Searching
The Holy Bible (New International Version)

*OK You Can Hate Me Now.

Is It A Choice?

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If you can view this video, please click here.

Very creative and good points were made. I’m sure some people will have something to say about this, but that’s why I want you to share what you think.

Learn To Love (Part 3)

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***IN CONTINUATION OF LEARN TO LOVE***

Back in the early 90’s I’ve actually had someone say these very words to me right after both of the girls parents said that I was the best boyfriend their daughter ever had. They told me they still believed that, “If God wanted the mixing of races he would have said it in the Bible.” The girl I was dating at the time was very embarrassed and was very ready to go after that. Her parents ask me why I was smiling. I politely responded with, “I thank you for sharing your opinions with me.”

Now the real reason why I smiled is because I know they didn’t hear what they just said. If so, we need to pray right now, because they have lost it. Now in interest of time I will not go into all of the occurrences here, but have provided a link in my References & Inspirations section below of where you can learn more about the topic.

If you choose to use this argument against someone just do it with someone who knows even less of the Bible that you proclaim you know. Maybe then you will win the argument. Understand that when you use this argument you are philosophically ostracizing yourself from what the Bible actually says regarding race and relationships. Don’t take my word for it look for yourself. (Link)

It seems once again we find ourselves prosecuting the Church and the Bible to pimp our prejudices. If you claim to have a passion for Christ stop treating him like a… and follow his greatest commandment. LOVE.

Learning to love can be difficult. We’ve all made mistakes in our relationships. We are often not given sound examples of what love is before we dive into it. If you never were shown love or feel loved how are you suppose to recognize it when it presents itself?

Throughout childhood, teenage years and adulthood we go through life seeking recognition and acknowledgment, as we fight against that jealous spirit and envious heart. That jealousy and envy may tempt you to try to keep up with someone who isn’t right for you or is holding you back, let’s remember to think about your first love, you. We often accept what’s left and second best. Some people are not happy, but stay in the relationship for various reasons. Accepting misery with a smile.

For some it leads to making some poor decisions, private regrets and bad relationships. We beat ourselves up for the rest of our lives or find ourselves struggling to get out of abusive relationships. Abuse isn’t always physical or emotional, but can be financial or spiritual.

***BUT YOU’RE GOING TO HAVE TO WAIT UNTIL TOMORROW TO READ THE NEXT PART***


References & Inspirations
The Washington Post – 02/13/05 “When Sexuality Undercuts a Family’s Ties
Christian Answers – Kevin James Bywater “Is Interracial Marriage Biblical?

My Easter Message

As many people flock on down to their church of choice this Easter, the one with the most cars in the parking lot, the one that Grandma or Uncle so and so goes to or even that person you’re interested in attends I wonder what Jesus would think about all of this?

Side Note: Now there may be someone reading this who may want to challenge my use of the phrase ‘church of choice’. Allow me to say that I respect, understand and acknowledge your argument.

I use the word ‘choice’ as an inclusive word that I believe Christianity to be. I also use the word ‘choice’ as to steer clear from promoting denominationalism. The argument from within The Church of what name should be on the building or what we call ourselves, Christ or God or something else is one I feel maybe too innate of a discussion for what I’m getting at with this post.

Perhaps I have a macro view of that argument instead of a micro one, but I only make this note to acknowledge that I know of the argument that springs up when someone uses the phrase ‘church of your choice’. So I respectfully ask of those who seek the fundamentals to refrain from this argument for another day.

For some it’s one of three times within the year they’ll even find themselves in a church. You know the E.M.C. Christians, the Easter, Mother’s Day & Christmas folks. :) Fear not, I’m not going to be too hard on you today; I’m glad that you’re in a church. You’re always welcome. You’re welcomed once, you’re welcomed twice, you’re welcoming in the name of OK OK let me get serious.

First I would like to offer some friendly advice for those who qualify as an E.M.C. Christian. Do not be wooed or intimidated by all the people with their freshly purchased clothes outfits on today. Many of them may call themselves a Christian, but they only go to church for entertainment, fashion, the hook-up or to satisfy some superiority complex anyway.

Now if you’re serious, pay attention to the ones who talk with you and not to you. They tend to not judge you for only strolling up in the church 3 times a year, but are happy that you are there on that day. The ones you have to watch out for are the ones who look at you walking in and whisper to the person beside them or are more concerned about the Easter Egg Hunt and taking pictures in their clothes than what the minister has to say.

Some may misunderstand what I’m about to say, but it’s not just about the death, burial and resurrection, but why and what it was all for.

What my man Frank of http://afrankangle.wordpress.com comments on Beyond Belief (Part 2) offered was a wise assessment of Christianity when he said “…being Christian is easy – very easy because the expectations are simple … it’s being human that makes it difficult as human nature and behaviors act in the self-interest that is contrary to Christian ideals.”

Those who honestly strive to live up to true Christian ideals are often blindsided by those who use Christianity as some anesthetizing sanctuary of being identified with the majority or what’s socially expedient at the time.

The church is not an entertainment center, a club or the place for a weekly fashion shows. It’s alright to dress your best, but who are you trying to impress? God is not concerned with what you have on the outside, but what’s in the inside. Who you are and not what you are?

So as you ponder what suit or dress to wear to church this Easter, think about what you’re projecting and more importantly what your actions are professing about what you believe.

References & Inspirations
Thoughts, Ideas & Suggestions – 04/08/09 “Beyond Belief (Part 2)
A Frank Angle – http://afrankangle.wordpress.com

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Bloody Liberals

Here we go with this yahoo, Jim David Adkisson. This is the idiot who was inspired by Bernard Goldberg’s list featured on The O’Reilly Factor with Bill O’Reilly last year. So Mr. Adkisson decided to shoot up people attending church because he knew he couldn’t get to the people on Mr. Goldberg’s list.

Now I will be the first to admit that there are extremist or how John McCain said during his 2008 Presidential Campaign, ‘fringe people’ on both sides of the political spectrum. This is why you should always be aware of what you present and who you may be unintentionally influencing. It’s one thing to be passionate about an issue, but realize where you should make your distinction between passion and paranoia. We all are extremist by some measure, but what sort of extremist would you rather be?

Allow me to clearly say that I am absolutely no fan of FOX News or Bill O’Reilly. To borrow a phrase that is use disingenuously by a certain news organization, I will try to be ‘fair and balance’ with my assertions in the analysis of this next point. Although there is a bias on my part towards Bill O’Reilly, I simply place him in the same category as Dick Cheney, Karl Rove and Rush Limbaugh.

When I hear of someone like Bill O’Reilly promotes a list of someone who was the motivation for Mr. Adkisson’s killing spree that occurred in an East Tennessee church. You have to ask both Bill O’Reilly and Bernard Goldberg what level of responsibility do you have in the broadcasting and approval of a message that now has been implicated as a killer’s motivation for his killing spree? What lunatic will be inspired by your latest representation of a liberal hit list that was produced, promoted and aired by Mr. O’Reilly’s guest this past Monday (03/16/09), Bernard Goldberg?

The standard message of many people on the far right, they will have you believe that liberals are destroying the fabric of society and have ruin the world. I guess the situation we find ourselves in was all caused by liberals too. The conservative philosophy and all other Republican virtues are immune and must be found completely innocent. I know its ridiculous, but that’s the message many want you to believe.

Progressive & Liberal Democrats are not the problem, although they are not immune either. But it makes me wonder who taught them to promote such a narrow-minded point-of-view?

Let’s pray that there isn’t another person listening to Bill O’Reilly & Bernard Goldberg this week that get the crazy idea to act on this list or better yet decides to follow the philosophy of Mr. Adkisson.

When Mr. Adkisson entered the Unitarian Universalist Church with 50 shotgun cartridges he told police that he planned to kill every adult in the sanctuary, but would spare the children because they also were “victims.” Then he came down with misguided patriotism and added that he “regret that I have but one life to give for my country; I hope I start a movement.”

Well Mr. Adkisson, that movement was started hundreds of years ago, some can even say thousands if you take the concept globally. Many have died by the hands of ignorance, hate and fear by inadequate, morally bankrupt individuals with the same delusional messianic complex you possess.

The most difficult thing a liberal can do is lend the same open mindedness towards individuals such as Mr. Adkisson, O’Reilly and Goldberg, but I guess liberalism isn’t so bad, because these individuals still have the freedom to ambitiously promote their propaganda for how we all should be.

References & Inspirations
The Jackson Sun – 03/13/09 “TN Church Shooter Hoped To Inspire More Terror
Guardian.co.uk – 07/28/08 “Tennessee man cites Unitarian Universalists’ liberal values as reason for church shooting
The Daily Censored – 03/17/09 “Bill O’Reilly and Bernard Goldberg Name the Five Worst Liberals in the World
National Review Online – 07/18/05 “100 People Who Are Screwing Up America

Using The Lords Name in Vain

I found this program that aired a year ago to be bring out some very good points about how we talk to each other. They framed some of this in relation to Christianity, but it can be applied in other areas too.

An easy message to those who proclaim to be a Christian is actually very simple. Instead of always promoting what being a Christian isn’t, try promoting what it is?

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. once asked the question, “What are you doing for others?

I believe he asks a good question when you think about it and how it relates to Christianity. When you are about to damn someone to an eternity in Hell stop to think about what you are doing and what you have already said. Then direct those words to yourself. Can someone use your words to damn you to an eternity in Hell?

When you protest against homosexuality, think about what you are saying and the message you are representing, even if you protest in silence. Is the message come across in love or is it filled with hate and contempt. When you point your finger of blame at someone does it represent the same message Jesus would deliver?

When you use the Bible to support your position lets be honest about it and address the contradictions we can find to your argument in the same Bible.

Just like the hateful speech we hear involving race, so we hear directed towards many others things. Far too often we use the Bible to provide substance to what is a substance less argument if you read that same Bible. The disingenuous spirituality of many Christians is what is turning so many away from embracing it. In essence we continue to see and hear Christians use the Lords’ name in vain. They do so not with profanity, but with the cursing of others with hateful speech.

References & Inspirations
The Blog of Lon – 12/12/07 “How many Christians Understand Jesus’ Teachings
Beyond Today – 02/25/08 “Hate Speech

Just As Good If Not Better (Part 1)

Introduction

This month of Black History I tried to write about race, but in a way that just didn’t reflect on just Black people in history, but how others have contribute to it regardless of race. Black History is all of our history.

During this month we have seen history that involves Black people, discussed Black people and residue of how some people who are still culturally unaware when it comes to race. From the election of the first Black chairman of the Republican Party, the tough call to better communication by the first Black Attorney General, the continued work to make America live up to its definition by the first Black President to the culturally unaware cartoon and Photoshop created depictions that highlighted age old Black stereotypes.

I’m personally glad that much of this stuff is coming out, because we are FINALLY getting into a mindset of becoming aware of what we do and what we say. Not in a way that it must be politically correct all the time, but what it says about us as a person. It’s quickly no longer socially acceptable to be culturally unaware. We must get out of the gated communities of our own associations and experience others.

After all of the conversations related to race this month I started to think about the people who helped shaped my opinion of self. Although I do not remember the names of all of them, I want to thank them for the role they played making me who I am. Some may criticize them for it, but I appreciate them. They are Black, White, Kurdish, Christian, Muslim, Jewish, Republican and Democrat.

So in my personal efforts to conclude this month of deliberate emphasis on race relations I want to use the last two days to thank those who let me know that I was ‘just as good if not better’ than anyone else.

First Realized Encounter with Racism

I slightly rephrase the story of Author Amy Vanderbilt when she tells of a personal story race.

While traveling on a bus with one of her son’s, I noticed my son kept looking back and smiling to someone I couldn’t see. When we got off the bus and the person he was smiling at got off to. It was an elderly Negro woman. She said to me, ‘your son seems to not see a difference in us at all, how is that?’ I replied with, the grown-ups around him never taught him that there is a difference.” - Amy Vanderbilt

I loved this story, because I could relate to it. I’ve been blessed to have the unique opportunity to have come of age in diverse environments. Although I had plenty of opportunity to be bitter and to be suspicious of a specific group of people my parents didn’t teach me that. My suspicions today are not based around race, class or religion, but affiliations.

Of course my parents had their reservations as I got older and started to like girls, but they cautiously taught me about history, but still allowed me to experience life for myself. I can’t be more thankful for that.

This is something that I strive towards today with my son. When children are uncoached by the adults around them to embrace a negative understanding regarding class & racial differences they tend to openly accept and enjoy people both despite and because of their differences. As they get older society begins to work to ‘set them straight’ and to ‘know their place’.

My first realized encounter of this hypocrisy was when I was only five years old. I remember asking a girl in my class does she want to play basketball with me. I was 5, what kind of basketball was I going to play. Just a series of double dribbling, walking and bricks. Before she could even say yes or no her father came running towards us and told me that ‘his daughter (Cindy) doesn’t want to play with you’. Which was confusing to me then, because I was only one of two Black kids in the class, they played with me before when he wasn’t around.

Thirty-one years later I still remember that first brush with someone trying to tell me to basically stay in my place. If it wasn’t for the confrontation of the mother of the only other Black child in this class to this idiot and to me this could have scared me in a negative way. Because far too often children accept this ridiculous and unwarranted assessment of ‘their place’ without question, thus shutting themselves off to the warm and open experiences with those just like themselves.

The lady’s son was one of my childhood best friend until 1997 when he was shot and killed helping a friend fix his car. I appreciated our friendship throughout the years and thank his mother for intervening at a critical time in my young mind. Thank you for telling me that I am just as good if not better than those who may say or believe otherwise.

Thank you.