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Recovering Stone-Chucker   8 comments

Feb 18, 2019

What was your best drop the mic moment?

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I guess it depends on how you define a “mic drop moment.”

Those who have followed my discussions on Facebook know that I don’t advocate for shutting down conversations, so quite often, when I could have a “mic drop”, I choose to let it go. I think mic drops are (mostly) arrogantly executed by people who believe they’re right and are unwilling to hear any evidence to the contrary. That’s not me (most of the time). I do believe I know some things a lot of people don’t know (and, I’ve tested that theory a bunch, so I have evidence to support my suspicion I’m right), but I like seeing a broad range of discussions and points of view. Sometimes they change my mind, mostly I’m hoping I can change their minds. If I do a mic drop, I’m shutting down that conversation and that rarely, if ever, changes anyone’s mind.

But I do have them occasionally. Often it’s not intentional. I’m a quippy person in my everyday life and I’ve gotten into some verbal sword-play and I’ve said something that caused the other person to go – “hmm, I can’t think of a comeback”. Since it’s not intentional, I don’t keep track. I don’t glory in it. I kind of think it was a failure because it stopped the discussion. A few times, though, I’ve had that person come back to me and say “You had a point and I changed my mind.” Good, but half the time, I can’t even remember what I said.

I had one to share with people on gun control (it really was a glory moment), but I changed my mind this morning after my pastor’s sermon mic-dropped a bunch of people in the congregation and I thought, yeah, there’s my topic.

The Bible is unequivocally clear that Christians aren’t supposed to participate in sin and I try to live my life accordingly. It’s been 27 years ago in December since I’ve drunk alcohol – not because I have a problem with alcohol. I’ve always been able to stop at one beer, wine, whatever and I’ve never really needed it to have a good time. But I take seriously that if I cause my brother (or husband) to stumble, I am as guilty of his sin as he is, and so, I chose to give it up and I don’t regret that. I don’t judge anyone for their ability to handle an adult beverage or two, it’s just that someone in my household can’t, so I judge myself accordingly. It certainly wasn’t a sin when Jesus turned water in REALLY GOOD wine, but it would be a sin for me to drink it because it stands a good chance of dragging my husband into what is truly a sin for him.

I also don’t cheat on my husband and that includes reading (or writing) books that have detailed sexual encounters in them because I take seriously Jesus’ admonition that if you commit a sin in your head, you’re as guilty as if you committed it with your body. I don’t judge you if you can read (or write) such books and feel fine in your marriage. It would be a sin for me. It might not be a sin for you. If you’re worried about it, consult your Maker, not me.

Lest you think I’m as pure as the fresh-driven snow, I’m not, and I don’t pretend to be. I slammed a lot of caffeine before writing this article, for example, and my heartrate informs me that is not treating the temple of God (my body) with the respect it deserves. I also still have some weight I’m trying to lose and that too is a desolation of God’s temple (my body). My lack of self-control assures me I am a sinner just like everyone else. My sins are just more socially acceptable than some people’s sins, but God isn’t a socialite, so I am without excuse.

Romans 2:1-11 is an interesting passage – I won’t post the whole thing here because it’s long, but it basically says (after talking about non-Christians in Chapter 1) – “Christians, you are sinners too, and you have no excuse for judging those who are non-Christians because God doesn’t see shades of grey when it comes to sin. And you will be judged if you treat non-Christians as if you are better than them because you’re not.”

My overindulgence in caffeine is not better than my husband’s past overindulgence in alcohol … just as an example. The teller of “white lies” is as much a sinner as the murderer. In God’s eyes, we’re the same, sinners one and all. The only thing that separates Christian sinners from non-Christian sinners is that Christians have accepted Jesus’ sacrifice on our behalf as salvation. He bought out our slave contract, in essence. WE didn’t do that. He did and He did it for the whole world, we’re just the ones who have accepted it. Anyone else wanting to join us is welcome … by me anways and certainly by Jesus … but more on that in subsequent paragraphs.

Now, understand, paired with other passages of the Bible, this passage is not saying Christians are supposed to join the non-Christians in their sin. No, we absolutely are called to be a counter-cultural movement within society. But we are absolutely wrong if we think that makes us better than those who compose the cultural tide we’re swimming against. We’re all wading through the same cesspool, it’s just Christians have heard that rescue is upstream, not down.

The mic drop here is that many many conservative Christians are judgmental stone-chuckers and I’m not really innocent of this charge. I’m a recovering stone-chucker. It’s taken me a long time to get to the point where I can look at people who commit sins, clearly know that they are committing sins, commit to not joining them, and just say “Yeah, your choice, I’ll pray for you.” This doesn’t mean I condone their sins by any stretch of the imagination. Just as I am still working on learning not to make excuses for my own failures, I am not going to white-wash the world around me. There is a lot of crap in my culture that I know makes God’s heart bleed for my fellow humans and so I (try to) refrain from those activities because I don’t want to embarrass my Heavenly Father, but there were a lot of people in the congregation this morning who walked out trying to justify their own stone-chucker behavior. I could see it in their eyes. They were a little pissed at the pastor, but in reality, they were more than a little pissed at the word of God, and that’s on them – that’s their sin and I’m called to not join my fellow Christians in their immorality either.

So, I didn’t do that. It was done to me and to the people sitting around me by a man (our pastor) with an incredibly tender heart and a son sitting in SuperMax lockup. Do I think my pastor might be a recovering stone-chucker? Oh, yeah! And, I know people in my congregation who are WAY bigger stone-chuckers than I am (some of them have recently written letters to the editor so that we know how judgmental they are) — but God doesn’t see it that way. In His eyes, my little tiny pebbles of judgment are the same as the meteors some of my fellow church-goers hail down on secular society. There is a fine line between recognizing that something is a sin that Christians shouldn’t participate in (and choosing not to participate even when there are big consequences for our refusal to comply) and using that knowledge as a bludgeon against an unbelieving world. I AM CALLED to NOT PARTICIPATE in the world’s folly, but I am NOT called to try to make the world conform to my morality. I’m supposed to be a spiritual salmon, swimming upriver, but not trying to change the river’s course. Let the river go where it will. I know my destination.

So, the mic got dropped on me this morning and I am without excuse. And, as with all mic drops, now that I’ve been rendered without defense, I get to decide what I’m going to do about it. Not “What am I going to do to other people about it”. Judgment of others is always the temptation, right? No, I must decide “What am I myself going to do with this knowledge?”

Posted February 18, 2019 by aurorawatcherak in Blog Hop

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Define “conservative”   Leave a comment

Another conversation on Facebook – Define “conservative”

The Conversation Continues   Leave a comment

Christian AnarchyYou know how it is. Sometimes your day just gets busy. Hang on for Thom Stark.

Allure of Power with Becky Akers   5 comments

Christian AnarchyLELA: Becky Akers has returned for more discussion on how Christianity aligns with anarchism, which is not a mainstream notion among Christians, although you will find elements of it in anabaptist traditions. Welcome back, Becky.

BECKY: Thanks, Lela. Last time we closed on a note that should utterly damn the State for every Christian: our arch-enemy, the one who mocks our Lord and gloated over His agony on the cross, who accuses us to God while seeking our destruction and eternal damnation, is the driving force behind political government. Satan owns the State. And he not only brags about that, but our merciful God recorded the conversation for us. Clearly, He wishes us to understand the State’s true nature lest political slavery ensnare us, as it has so many Christians over the centuries.

LELA: I think I know where you’re headed with this.

BECKY [smiles]: And here I consider myself a woman of mystery.

Political power is very, very alluring. Any power is, of course: strength, influence, the ability to get things done—all immensely flatter our fallen natures. “Look what I can do!” we say, whether it’s bench-pressing 500 pounds, chairing a meeting, or forcing people to do things our way. That last is particularly intoxicating, and I think it explains the State’s appeal, not only for politicians and bureaucrats but for their multitudes of victims who admire and, worse yet, cheer their depravity.

The Biblical prescription for changing the world relies on persuasion, reasoning, setting a Christian example, and, above all, waiting on the Holy Spirit to work, one heart at a time. This is slow, tedious effort. It’s often overlooked, usually unappreciated, and hardly glamorous. We don’t make headlines when we tell the cashier, “Here, you gave me back a dollar too much in change.” We don’t earn a Nobel Prize for remaining faithful to our spouse. Visiting shut-ins and prisoners, caring for widows and orphans, doesn’t make for scintillating press conferences. And the results of such patient example-setting, persuading, etc., are frequently obscure or, when noticed, disappointing. You teach boys in Sunday School for 15 years; you don’t know that one of them would have died of AIDS, three would not have attended seminary, and another 14 would have divorced but for the Scriptural precepts they studied with you. But you do learn that the kid who mouthed off in class any time his family bothered attending church becomes a serial killer when his mug-shot stares at you from Newsmax.

LELA: Christian work is a slow, labor-intensive process of loving rather than forcing. And it is a very voluntary process, with all the difficulties associated with a volunteer process.

BECKY: Exactly. Contrast that dissatisfying, boring method with the dramatic results that government—i.e., organized, physical force—achieves. Politicians pass a law, and bingo, behavior changes overnight. Bureaucrats begin regulating a new industry and entrepreneurs ten times cleverer than they must now obey them. A cop stops you at a checkpoint; you smile nervously and kowtow because the consequences of his displeasure can ruin your day or even your life.

That’s intoxicating stuff. Who doesn’t want results from his effort? Who doesn’t want all and sundry acknowledging his authority, even cringing at it? Compulsion achieves, and quickly. It succeeds where persuasion, reason and prayer fail, or seem to.

LELA: Which explains the rise of the Religious Right in the 1980s and onward … feeling like they were failing to influence society sufficiently by voluntary means, they sought the aid of government to achieve their goals.

BECKY: Yep. Like so many otherwise devout Christians, they fell into Satan’s trap of statism. Such believers tragically, inexplicably ignore the devil’s clear announcement of ownership in Matthew 4.

We’ve all heard or read this passage hundreds of times. Satan appears to a Jesus weary and weak from forty days of fasting in the wilderness. He famously tempts Him with three different ploys; let’s consider the final one:

 (Verse 8) Again, the devil taketh him up into an exceeding high mountain, and sheweth him all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them; (9) And saith unto him, All these things will I give thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship me.

Lela, when you offer to give me something, you must own it first, correct? Now of course, you could proffer your neighbor’s cat or his boat—but I’d certainly protest, “Hey, wait a minute, you can’t give me that! It isn’t yours!”

LELA: The old saw that the Brooklyn Bridge is for sale? Yeah, you would hope people wouldn’t fall for that … at least nobody rich enough to afford it.

BECKY: Ah, but notice that our Lord doesn’t contest Satan’s ability to “give” him the “kingdoms of the world” (and the word “kingdom” in the original Greek is the same one for “government” that was so conspicuously missing from the passage in Romans 13. Its root is “basileus,” meaning “king” alone, unlike our use of “kingdom” for a whole country, including the people over whom a king rules. Our vernacular would better translate it as “politicians” or “government.” Satan is referring here specifically to the various political rulers over the terrain he and the Creator are surveying).

LELA: Strong’s says it’s the authority to rule not the kingdom itself.

BECKY: Exactly. Christ here tacitly agrees that Satan reigns in and through the world’s governments when He refuses to buy them by worshipping the devil.

This isn’t our only proof of government’s Satanic overseer. Let me ask, Lela: who tortured our Lord to death?

LELA: We did.

BECKY: That’s right: our sins nailed Him to that cross. But what was the actual agency of His death? The Roman government. Indeed, the Gospels emphasize that only government had the requisite force and legal authority to commit this murder. The religious establishment, much as they hate Christ and crave His death, is impotent: it takes the State to torture and impale an innocent Man.

And as it does so, its utterly demonic, hellishly brutal nature is highlighted for anyone with eyes to see. Pilate admits that Jesus is entirely innocent—yet he condemns Him to flogging. The kangaroo trial, the ridicule and degradation, the unconscionable cruelty of forcing the condemned to carry his own cross: these reveal the State in its true form, stripped of the fancy rhetoric, the flag-waving and appeals to “patriotism,” that usually cloak its horror. (I further explore the Crucifixion’s testimony of the State’s Satanic possession here.)

Christians ought to despise political government solely for crucifying our Lord. My gracious, if the State falsely accused our child, our parent, or our spouse and then electrocuted him (a quick and merciful death, compared to crucifixion), we would loathe the politicians and bureaucrats responsible, would we not? Would we ever trust government again, let alone pledge it our allegiance? Yet we prattle about God’s “ordaining” government and our “Christian” duty to “honor” the State when it fiendishly tortured our Savior to death. Where is our loyalty? Where is our decency? Where is the love, let alone worship, we owe our God? What unspeakable ingrates most Christians are as they cede the adoration and obedience due Christ to the very entity that crucified Him.

Lela, the State violates the Golden Rule, flouts the Ten Commandments, and infuriates our Lord by preying on the poor. It savagely murdered the Son of God while its owner laughed; it is the devil’s dominion. We should long ago have declared eternal, relentless war against it. Instead, Christians venerate the satanic State. They justify their idolatry with faulty translations of two Scriptural passages while deliberately ignoring a host of others, preaching and practicing subservience despite “the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free.” Why?

LELA: Honestly, I think Christians like the idea of liberty, but we’re afraid of too much liberty. We know human nature is not a lovely thing since the Fall, so we believe that government is necessary to prevent human nature from riding society off the rails. It’s what James Madison said about “if men were angels, government would not be necessary.” I think we also realize that while many Christians could live under the authority of Jesus Christ and get along without government rules, many of our neighbors live outside the law of God and we fear they would take advantage of freedom to oppress those around them, including us. I admire anarchism for the message of liberty, but I hesitate to fully embrace it because I’ve seen the hearts of human beings. So I invite you to come back for more discussion on the subject.

 

Becky Akers is a free-lance writer and historian who has written two novels about the American Revolution, Halestorm and Abducting Arnold.

Stay Tuned for Christian Anarchy   Leave a comment

Becky Akers and I continue our conversation about how anarchism and Christianity reconcile.

Tune in tomorrow for the next installment.

https://aurorawatcherak.wordpress.com/conversation-with-an-anarchist/

Thom Stark on Centrism   2 comments

In our continuing conversation, Thom Stark and I are discussing what radical centrism means and our view of politics and Plato’s Republic. See last week’s installment here.

My ending volley was: So which type of centricism are we talking about here?

Thom StarkLet’s start with my objection to The Republic. It isn’t its elitism to which I object as much as it is its advocacy of repression as a routine tool to stifle dissent and individuality. In that, it’s much more like the Soviet model of Marxism than Marxism, pura. (I doubt most people have read The Communist Manifesto, or that they know enough about the history of the Soviet Union to understand how far that top-down system of government by an elite political class was from the “spontaneous revolution of the proletariat” that Marx and Engels envisioned.) The elitist notion that philosophers, of all people, are inherently wise enough to rule benevolently is, for me, belied by the very system that Plato proposes: one predicated on ruthless suppression of dissent, the death penalty for non-conformism, a rigid caste system, and a ubiquitous secret police force spying on every citizen.

Yech.

I’m less of an idealist than I am a pragmatist, but I’m also very much a student of history. It seems clear to me that any system of government that relies on repression and fear to maintain itself in power is doomed in any but the short term, because all such systems are essentially designed to foment dissatisfaction and unrest – not to mention corruption, careerism, and intrigue among the elites.

When I say I believe elected politicians have a duty to protect the rights of the minority, I mean “against the tyranny of the majority.” You’re concerned about minority groups ganging up to impose their will on those who are not members of their coalition. I’m not, because, once such coalitions achieve sufficient voting power to advantage themselves against the remainder of the population, the principle of protecting minority rights should kick in to even the playing field.

Mind you, I’m not talking about a legal duty here. Rather I mean there’s a moral obligation on the part of elected officials to ensure that the laws they make deal fairly with everyone, rather than favoring the powerful and entrenched interests. As an example, the USA began as a slaveholding nation. The law favored the interests of slaveholders over those of their chattels. That changed after the Civil War, not for economic or political reasons, but for moral ones. Holding that all men were created equal and simultaneously blessing the ownership of a significant number of men and women by others was always the very rankest kind of hypocrisy. One or the other precept had to go – and I, for one, am glad it was the former that triumphed.

As for calling myself a “radical centrist”, that’s actually a bit of snark on my part. As I define the terms, a centrist is one who believes that the political solutions that benefit the greatest number of one’s fellow citizens usually emanate from the center of the debate, rather than from its fringes. Meanwhile, a radical centrist is one who’s convinced that public discourse would benefit enormously if the loudest, most hysterical voices on both extremes were lined up against a wall and shot.

Note: I don’t in any way advocate or approve of the use of summary execution to stifle dissent. It’s just my way of calling attention to the fact that the public debate in this country has devolved into a pointless, partisan shouting match – and only the biggest mouths benefit from that.

Bill Clinton is, in fact, a political centrist. Otherwise, for instance, he would never have signed the 1999 repeal of the Glass-Steagall Act. I thought it was a mistake for him to do so at the time, and the events of 2008 proved I was correct about that – which only goes to show that we centrists aren’t some lock-step monolith. There’s as much room for disagreement between us as there is between the extremes. We’d just rather focus on solving common problems than on waving our arms and shouting.

To me, the purpose of government, economically speaking, is to do the things private investment will not do – mostly because they are not immediately profitable enough to attract investment on their own. The interstate highway system is a classic example. It radically changed American life for the better, but it could never have been constructed by private capital. The military is another. Without it, Philip K. Dick’s The Man In the High Castle would have been history, not fiction. But the financial barons would never have spent their money to raise, train, equip, and supply a global, four-year military effort to defeat hegemonic totalitarianism. It took a powerful central government to do that.

Lela Markham Davidson Ditch CorrectedI think it’s the job of the government – of all three branches of our particular government – to protect human rights. That’s another task that’s simply beyond the purview of capitalism to accomplish. There’s no profit to be made (no short-term profit, at least) in combating slavery, protecting speech, or ensuring religious liberty, so the monied class won’t do any of those things. There are roads to be maintained, crime to be suppressed, traffic to be managed, and so on, and none of those things is best done by private interests. I think making potholes, parking, and policing the province of government is the least undesireable solution to those needs.

My reply next week!

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