Dems Pushing Their Chips to the Gay Side of the Table

This is in my front yard.

After years of trying to have it both way with LGBT voters — “We support you, but we can’t do it publicly because we’ll never win if we say it out loud” — it seems that the Democrats are going all in on the pro-LGBT vote. Last night was a coming out party of sorts for the DNC:

If there’s one group in the Democratic coalition that can definitely say the past four years have improved its lot, it’s LGBT voters, whose mood was triumphant at the start of the convention. Beyond the affirmation of marriage equality, the repeal of “don’t ask, don’t tell” and the passage of the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act, the Obama White House has made a host of executive changes on everything from providing benefits to the same-sex partners of federal employees to lifting the travel and immigration ban for people with HIV.

“I remember us being good Democrats … and the party telling us, not yet. Right?” Randi Weingarten, the openly gay president of the American Federation of Teachers, told the crowd as they murmured in agreement. “Well, ‘yet’ has come!” she said to roaring applause.

This is just another sign that the tipping point has been reached. And it is yet again up to congregations and denominations and plain old Christians to decide whether they want to be on the right side or the wrong side of history.

Why This Christian Will Always Own a Gun

My friend Bruce Reyes-Chow has proclaimed that he will never own a gun, and he’s encouraged all fellow Christians to sign a petition against gun violence. I won’t sign it, because I don’t sign petitions. Well, I do sign silly petitions. I don’t sign real petitions, because they’re silly. They don’t do anything. And Christian leaders are real fond of them.

But that aside, I own a gun now, and I plan to own one until I’m too old to take to the field and hunt. 

Bruce makes a half-hearted exception for “those who have grown up in a culture of hunting.” But that does not include me. I did not grow up in a hunting family. My love of hunting is my own, and I do love hunting. I started hunting in my 20′s, and I took it upon myself to apprentice under a friend from church who is an experienced hunter. He taught me several lessons that stay with me to this day.

- My gun has a trigger lock.
- My gun is stored in a locked safe.
- My shells are kept in a different place from my gun.
- My children do not know where the shells or either of the keys are.

Also, when I’m hunting, I am absolutely militant about hunting safely — minding my muzzle, unloading before approaching a road or coming back to the truck to take a break — and I will only hunt with others who practice gun safety.

But, of course, this isn’t what Bruce is writing about. He’s writing about gun violence in our society. And in that I agree with him, even as I sit in a Sri Lankan hotel and watch BBC coverage of yet another shooting in America, this time at a shopping mall in New Jersey.

Bruce is writing about people who use guns, not to hunt, but for self-defense. He writes,

[Read more...]

Crazy Preacher Todd Bentley Refused Entry to the UK

If you follow the lunatic fringes of Pentecostal-evangelicalism, you’ve heard of Todd Bentley. A former child molester, Bentley is a YouTube star for screaming on stage, claiming to cure cancer, and claiming to cure that cancer by bashing old ladies’ heads on stage.

An evangelist preacher who has claimed he can cure people of their illnesses by hitting and kicking them has been banned from entering the UK by the Home Office.

Todd Bentley, a controversial revivalist healer based in the United States, had been due to hold a series of gatherings in England, Wales and Northern Ireland in the next few weeks. But the Home Office said Bentley, a Canadian citizen, was subject to an exclusion order and would not be permitted entry to the country.

“We can confirm that Mr Bentley has been excluded from the UK. The government makes no apologies for refusing people access to the UK if we believe they are not conducive to the public good. Coming here is a privilege that we refuse to extend to those who might seek to undermine our society,” the Home Office said.

Bentley, a 36-year-old former drug addict who at the age of 13 sexually assaulted a minor, reacted angrily to the decision, writing on his church’s Facebook page: “What about all the other celebrities, musicians and others with a more colorful past than me that are permitted into the UK for shows … Is this really about my past and fear of potential violence or Freedom of Religion and attack on Faith, God & Healing?” [via Revivalist preacher Todd Bentley refused entry to UK | World news | The Guardian]

So, kudos to our brothers and sisters in Great Britain for showing some common sense.

Do Theology Before — Not After — Your Decision

Todd Littleton thinks. That’s right, he thinks.

One of the things that most bugs me about the way that my coreligionists talk about the activity of God is that they almost alway see that activity ex post facto. That is, they make a decision, or something happens to them, and then they say something like, “The Lord’s hand was really in that.”

Todd Littleton pretty much calls bullshit on that in a great post about thinking theologically before and in the midst of decisions, not just after. He uses his family’s choices of where to live as the example that drives the post. Here’s a snippet:

Theology done in prospect takes Divine possibility into account first, not last. For instance, it did not specifically occur to us when we turned down Tyler a house might possibly await.

In the course of God-talk, theology in prospect calls attention to what God might do, the way God might act. Our church owns a bit of property. We have batted around the idea of selling a small parcel. During a recent discussion, Cary contended that from his perspective we might be putting an end to possibility if we sell. Who knows what growth might occur, what ministry might make use of the land, or other act where we might consider the Spirit leading.

Imagine these two sorts of conversations occurring around the same event. We Evangelicals tend to be schooled in both. We know when to employ retrospect. And, we know when to suggest prospect. It is when these two collide that we face the interpretive battle. Whose interpretation? Whose meaning? And, how could God-talk divide us.

What we need is a good dose of deconstruction. But, too many immediately consider this destruction. Religious pundits spout accusations of relativizing the truth. They spend much more time assessing the cultural implications often associated with postmodernism than the deeper philosophical turn that helps through the maze created when well meaning people face God-talk over the same event requiring a decision as retrospect or prospect.

He goes on to write that this kind of consideration of God-talk inevitably leads to ambiguity, paradox, and even conflict. But, he argues, that’s inherent to being a Christian.

Read the rest of Todd’s post: God-talk In Conflict or, When Retrospect and Prospect Collide | The Edge of the Inside.