Tuesday, September 14, 2010

A Valedictory of Sorts

This is going to be the final post for a while, at least the final post that deals in any way with politics. Our social fabric is too frayed from the personal animus that seems to grow more bitter every day. Even though I have voiced strong opinions in the past, I refuse to take any further part in the noisy mob that is tearing our country apart. So, with that said, here is where I'm leaving things for a time.

I intend to continue posting on topics that directly bear on personal faith, the practice of seeking the Divine and relating that to our lives on this small, lovely planet. I will not be addressing that practice in the political realm. You can expect to read future posts about finding time to pray, seeking solitude, and making faith real by incarnating it into good works. I will write about appreciation for simple acts of kindness, about opportunities to serve others, and about finding a path of quiet through the noise that always tries to divert our attention from the truly important.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

A Modest Proposal

I have a suggestion for all those people who are so exercised about the Islamic Cultural Center two blocks from Ground Zero.

Instead of bitching and moaning and getting all hateful about how the sanctity of the site is being violated, try doing something positive.

How about finding a Christian congregation that wants to build a church two blocks from Ground Zero? How about locating a Jewish congregation that wants to place a synagogue in the same vicinity? What about an ashram? Or a Buddhist temple?

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

All God's People

There's a demon stalking the land...

And God is being put to the test.

Several events have been happening in America that give an absolute lie to any notions we have about our religious liberty.

First, is Barack Obama a Muslim?

He says he's a Christian. Many of his opponents say he's not. They say he's not even a native-born American. Franklin Graham says he was born a Muslim, because the seed of Islam is passed through the father, but that he's renounced the Prophet and professed Christianity as his faith. Glenn Beck says he's a racist.

All these pronouncements betray a deep skepticism about President Obama being who he says he is.

During the Presidential campaign, he was blasted because of incendiary remarks made by his former pastor. This was a pastor at a Christian church. What kind of Muslim would go to a Christian church? Obama distanced himself from his former pastor, and in the process gave an eloquent speech about the current and past state of race relations in this country.

Nothing said has dissuaded the "Obama is a Muslim" devotees from their beliefs.

So - is the President a Christian, a Muslim, or something else?

I think he's a Christian. I take him at his word. And it doesn't matter one bit. Read the following to see why.

Here's what our country's Constitution says:

Article VI - Debts, Supremacy, Oaths

"... The Senators and Representatives before mentioned, and the Members of the several State Legislatures, and all executive and judicial Officers, both of the United States and of the several States, shall be bound by Oath or Affirmation, to support this Constitution; but no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States."


Barack Obama could be an atheist, and it wouldn't matter. Religious affiliation is not a requirement for the office of President of the United States. That's in the Constitution. End of discussion.

All his opponents, all those screaming about this, have one and only one option. Shut up - you are out of order.

And here's another thing slinking around our country - a huge controversy right now in New York City about the construction of an Islamic Cultural Center two blocks from Ground Zero. The organization wanting to build the Center already has the support of many prominent Americans, including the Mayor of New York, Michael Bloomberg. Many people agree that they have the right to build where they want to, but that they should re-evaluate their current location. The opponents to the Center at the current planned location say it desecrates the sacred site of Ground Zero.

In what way is the site of Ground Zero sacred? Who is it sacred to? Is it only sacred to Jews and Christians?

Here's what I know. Members of many faiths died when the towers fell. Christians. Jews. Muslims. Buddhists. Taoists. Atheists. Who's death carries the most weight when the sacredness of this site is established? Is it more sacred to Allah than to Yahweh? Why?

It's a sacred site, no doubt about it. It's sacred to Americans, because of the wound that we suffered when the attack took place. The wound afflicts us all, to this day, and it shows no signs of healing. As long as we act as if it's only sacred to members of one or two faiths, that wound is a festering nastiness that threatens to poison our entire nation. Those who have such virulent hatred of Islam, the most vocal opponents to the Center, and to Islam in general, do not speak for America. They are not patriots. They are haters. Who is their God?

And finally, we have the pastor and his church in Florida that are going to celebrate the 9/11 attacks this year with "International Burn a Quran Day."

General Petraeus says this one act will endanger Americans in Afghanistan, and our mission there and elsewhere in the Muslim world. He says it will serve only to provide material for recruiting new members for the Taliban and for Al Qaeda. His statement is having no impact on the pastor.

Plenty of other people and organizations have come out against this act. Angelina Jolie. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Attorney General Eric Holder. Rabbi Steve Gutow of the Jewish Council for Public Affairs. The Vatican. And the list continues to grow. These voices of opposition are having no effect on deterring the pastor.

I'm a Christian. I bow to Jesus my Savior, and try to love all my fellow men, whether they be Christian, Jewish, Muslim, or atheist. It's not always easy. It's particularly not easy to even claim association with Terry Jones and his Dove World Outreach Center in Gainesville, Florida. He claims to be a Christian, but he no more resembles what I know as the Christian faith than does Fred Phelps in Topeka. These people claim to be Christian, but they spit in my face with what they do. They defile my faith. I must speak out. They do godless things and fly in the face of Jesus' commandment to pray for their enemies, and forgive them, even as they don't know what they do. And so must I - I have no other options. But it's very hard to do, and I must pray for strength to do so.

These are the faces of the demon that's skulking through our land. These are the hateful nasties that can not exist in the sharp light of revelation. These poisonous spirits contaminate our country, and threaten to completely overrun us if we don't oppose them.

If you read this, and feel as I do, then please, comment.

If you think that all this hate is just fine... Then, may God have mercy on your soul.