The NSA, the End of DOMA, Filibusters, and Don Draper

Protesters In Texas Statehouse Block Texas Lawmakers From Passing Abortion BillWe have all sorts of stuff to discuss this week, and with Amy sidelined due to carousing, Christian and I tackled it all alone.

Okay, not entirely alone. We bring back Mike Collins, the hacker extraordinaire who explained Bitcoin a few months ago, to discuss Edward Snowden, the intelligence analyst who’s currently hiding out from the feds in Moscow. Mike gives us insight into why Snowden is viewed as a heroic whistleblower by so many Americans, and why the whole government monitoring program wasn’t particularly surprising.

Later, on a long Echo Chamber sequence, we discuss the Supreme Court’s recent rulings on the Defense of Marriage Act, and why everyone loves filibusters (assuming you side with certain politics). We also discuss abortion, which is obviously a thorny subject. After that, I was really excited to discuss the bizarre Mad Men‘s Season 6 finale. If you don’t want to hear spoilers, skip everything from the 48 minute mark to around 59:15.

And finally Amy emerges from the shadows to discuss the utter horror of sending her son on a trip alone.

Jay Bakker, Exodus International, and Twitter Wars Between Patton Oswalt and a Youth Pastor

We don’t usually drink while recording the podcast since it’s usually morning. But this was late afternoon this time, so we all sipped some Great Divide Oak-Aged Yeti and some Fire Mountain Summer IPA. Things…get a little sloppy. I won’t give too much away, but some violence ensued, and it’s all captured on tape. You will not be disappointed.

Christian also had to interview Jay Bakker alone, which maybe he should do more often, because it was awesome. Jay opens up about his new book, Faith/Doubt, and Other Lines I’ve Crossed, his life and evolving theology, and why Exodus International once brought him in to speak without knowing his stance on homosexuality. Jay weighs in on their recent apology before we discuss it further in the Echo Chamber.

So, yeah, we talk about about Exodus International. And then, the violence occur in all its terrible, terrible glory.

Then, in a conversation where I get a little rambly, I try and explain the bizarre Twitter war waged on @ProdigalSam, a South Carolina youth pastor who drew fire from the likes of Patton Oswalt for plagiarizing tweets. I won’t get into it here, because I talked about it far too long in the podcast.

Then, to close things out, Christian and Amy talk about seeing Patty Griffin the night before, and two super-secret surprise guests stop in! (SPOILER ALERT: It’s my wife and daughter.)

(DISCLAIMER: At the end of the episode, I make some remarks about my daughter, Lana, talking like a baby. I just want to be clear that I’m not being nearly as mean to my three year-old as it seems. She sometimes talks like a baby to tease me. Just wanted to make that clear.)

Homosexuality: the difference between TV and Greek Tragedy

bible wedding

Blogging is a fascinating way to interact with people over an issue or topic.

Once in while a blog will unexpectedly come back to life after months of lying dormant. It usually happens when A) somebody references it month later B) when the topic hits the news again. The dying embers leap back to life in flame! 

This week my old post on and Evangelical approach to same-sex marriage has fired back up – for obvious reasons. I’m not going to link there because I just can’t wade into the 195 comments without getting lost.  I did, however, want to report about a most interesting exchange that came out of it.

Someone who disagreed with my saying that ‘homosexual’ as we currently understand and conceive of the term, never existed until the 19th century. Some people keep wanting to argue about sexual acts and missing that there are broader issues of orientation and identity that were not addressed in Greco-Roman culture or the greek language of the New Testament.

One such person – let’s call him TM – engaged the issue this way: 

For example, the statement “The Bible (the inspired written word of God) is not talking about homosexuality. It didn’t exist.” seems somewhat confusing, even if we only focused on the Roman era of indulgences of the First Century. Are you suggesting that homosexuality didn’t exist in this era… simply because they may have called it something else?

This is along the lines of your attempt to make a point about television – in one sense, it didn’t exist; and yet in another, it did – as plays/theater. Are you suggesting that simply because the presentation was different that there weren’t actors and actresses who presented drama, comedy, tragedy and more to a mass audience? Are you really going to argue that because a word didn’t exist that means the concept didn’t exist?

Do you see the how the analogy works? This is really important to see because those who sincerely believe that they are being faithful to the scriptures are often mashing contemporary experiences into ancient writings in a way that is … how should I say this?
Let’s try it a different way: when your faith is constructed in such a way that you need your sacred text to speak to every area of your life – then you will, by necessity, fit your modern data into the provided molds.

My response to TM included 3 points of departure:

“TV is indeed different from ancient theatre.

1) One can sit alone in a house and watch TV, absent of the social connection and crowd interaction.

2) One can also change the channel when it gets boring. You can not do that at the theatre.

3) Plays also so do not have commercials which deeply influence us.

In those three ways I would say that one can not simply say “TV and theatre are the same” as you have.

You are comfortable mashing modern categories onto the ancient & calling them the same. This willingness to mash is why you are frustrated that the Bible isn’t talking about what we are talking about.  TV is a different medium than ancient theatre – I hope that you can see that.”

It seems like a great example of the where the ‘two’ sides are missing each other in this debate.

It reminds me a great deal of the ongoing issues of conservatives ‘starting in the middle’ that I am perpetually having to point out.

That is where Ray Comfort takes the highly refined and cultivated modern banana and reads meaning, design, and intention back into it by the ‘creator’ – even going as far as it’s fit to the human hand, its easy pull tab opening, and its built-in disposal wrapping.

Maybe it would be easier for us to talk about TV & theatre in a categorical way before we wade into the elevated hostilities of the same-sex debate.

Day 7: Sodom’s Sin Wasn’t Sexual

iI am blogging my way through Neighbors & Wisemen for Lent. Today we are in chapter 7. Neighbors & Wisemen

The final sentence hits you hard.

“True hospitality pushes past what we can afford to give up and makes deposits in accounts we can never lose.”

It is truly humbling, and a bit disturbing, to be in a hospitality culture. When you ,as a visitor, are given the first, the best, the most  – even though you know there was great sacrifice in oder to provide it – it can be upsetting.

What was eye opening for me when I began to travel internationally was to see this kind of hospitality and to recognize that this foreign hospitality was far more like what I read about in the Bible than the customs of my U.S. American culture.

The irony is that we were bringing the gospel to them. That felt weird at some level.

The line that hit me the hardest in this chapter was not about hospitality however. It was

“How could I possibly compete with the threat of eternal damnation?”

Which is a really good question.

How can you compete with the threat of eternal damnation?

The answer is that you can’t. It is a trump card of sorts. It holds great power in our imagination.

 

Give Me That Old Time Religion

I love the Bible. Or at least I thought I did until I began to study it.

Take hospitality for instance. When most people hear Sodom & Gomorrah then think of a sexual act.  But there are two interesting things in the Bible about Sodom – one is in the story itself and one comes much later.

In the story itself, you see that the whole scenario is set up by a lack of hospitality. Lot will not leave the visitors in the town center as the sun sets. Lot insists that these strangers come to his home.

This sort of thing is shadowed in the New Testament when Jesus famously talks about the sheep & the goats of the final judgement. I needed a place to stay and you gave me one. You took me in. 

So I ask myself a simple question: am I like Lot going into the city center to see if anyone needs a place to stay?
The answer, unfortunately, is no.

Then there is the other part of the Bible where the prophet – speaking for God – explains what God’s problem with Sodom & Gomorrah was.

Ezekiel 16:49 says

“Now this was the sin of your sister Sodom: She and her daughters were arrogant, overfed and unconcerned; they did not help the poor and needy.”

Ouch.

But wait… I thought their sin was … ya know…  

That’s the odd part of the story. That night the men of the village surround Lot’s house and threaten to violate his guests. He is SO hospitable that he even offers his own daughters in order to protect these visitors. This is a kind of hospitality I have no frame of reference for.

So I have to ask myself a second question:
Am I, as Ezekiel 16:3 outlines,

  • arrogant?
  • overfed?
  • unconcerned?
  • not helping the poor and needy?

Unfortunately the answer to all four of these is yes.  I have Sodom’s sin problem.

I thought Sodom’s sin problem was … ya know …

No. It turns out that homosexuality is not Sodom’s sin.  Well that is convenient!  Are you telling me that in the richest country the has ever existed – where we have an obesity problem … and a Bible in every hotel room … that Christian preachers are more concerned with something that never happened that with what the Bible says was the real problem?

Yes. We make Sodom’s sin one of sex that never happened rather than the lack of hospitality and care that we as affluent Americans so often imitate.

At least we are going to heaven. After all, we have the gospel and we take it to them. 

 

No, unfortunately something odd has happened where our gospel has so often not compelled up to go out in the city center and make sure that everyone has a place to sleep – but instead we put our energy into

A) preaching against others’ sin and

B) going to another country to tell them why they should believe what we do.

 

It is an interesting little knot we have tied for ourselves.

 

TNT: Bible Bash with Brueggemann and Fretheim

Bo and Tripp riff off of Terence Fretheim and Walter Brueggemann answering the same set of questions. These two legends of Biblical Theology give us their best take on passages to preach when controversial subjects come up.  Topics include:TNT Version3

  • Economy
  • Ecology
  • Homosexuality
  • Immigration
  • Other Religions
  • Bible Stories for Kids

You can hear the original HomeBrewed interviews for Fretheim and Brueggemann at these links.
Remember: Easter comes early this year so Lent starts on February 13. Bo will be blogging through the book Neighbors and Wisemen every weekday through the Lenten Journey.  Come and join the conversation!

Sign up for the Subverting the Norm Conference 2 in Springfield Missouri April 5th and 6th. Thanks to both Drury University and Phillips Theological Seminary for sponsoring the conference and making it the most affordable two-day event of the year.

*** If you enjoy all the Homebrewed Christianity Podcasts then consider sending us a donation via paypal. We got bandwidth to buy & audiological goodness to dispense. We will also get a percentage of your Amazon purchase through this link OR you can send us a few and get us a pint!***


Subscribe on iTunes Here!

Subscribe on iTunes!

Subscribe on iTunes Here!

Moving Toward Multiplicity

Listening to Howard Zinn (author of the classic A People’s History of the United States) at a town hall meeting style presentation recorded in 2007 (you can get it on Itunes from  WGBH Politics) I was struck by the need to recognize the sheer complexity of issues and multiplicity of perspectives.

To state it as simply as possible: Not everything is the same. When we attempt to represent EVERYthing as if it were represented by ONE thing, we often neglect the complexity and multiplicity involved in the matter.

I will use two examples that Howard Zinn illustrated well at the community forum, then address the issues that it seemed relevant to connect to.

 Zinn takes on the idea of “Family values”. Some conservative political interest say that they represent ‘family values’. But he asks “Which family?” I think it is a valid question. There are families with single moms and multiple kids, divorced dads raising a family, there are foster families, adoptive families, multi-generational families living in the same house. There are lesbian couples with no kids and gay couples with kids. My wife are were D.I.N.K.s (double income – no kids) hen she lost her job while were trying to adopt (which fell through recently) and every permeation you can imagine.

Which family is represented by Focus on the Family’s values?  It is erroneous to act as if there is one kind of family and that you represent their values.

That is, unless you are saying that you value only one type of family.

That would be fair enough but you would have to stop using the phrase ‘family values’. Some families value making money or achieving success. Some value conformity. Some value religious adherence above all else.  Some value military service while others value independent thinking or even civil disobedience.

 Zinn says the same thing about the ‘National interest’. I am a big fan of Paul Kahn’s Political Theology and both he and Zinn talk about President’s ability to declare war or even launch the nuclear codes should the President deem it ‘in the national interest’.

But which of the many National interests? The Nation is not interested in only one thing. There are hundreds or thousands of interests. Unfortunately the reductive mono-speak is code. These buzz-words become code-words for an assume-unstated single issue that clouds the true complexity behind the language.

Zinn touched another example which has been showing up in a lot of my reading lately. The phrase ‘We the people’ is a magnificent ideal. I admire the phase and the idea behind it so much. But I think that it is worth noting that when it was written – we the people were not in the room. At the time of it’s writing, not every ‘we’ was represented.

There were no native americans in the room, no women, no blacks, no commoners. Just land-owning white males. But they had an idea – and it is that idea that we love!

I actually think that this is the exact type of trajectory mentality that we see in a progressive reading of the New Testament. When Paul says in Galatians 3:28 that “There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” He is doing this exact thing. He wrote in prophetic expectation using the 3 categories employed in his day were being broken with resurrection power. Barriers between nationality (or race), legal status and gender were being dissolved. My assertion is that it was not for the purpose of homogenization but for multiplicity! The former containers can not contain what it being poured out and welling up in Christ’s new life.

This is why I don’t sweat the fact that Paul appears to by anti-gay (though I argue that he was not anti-gay in the same way that those who quote him today are). You have to read Paul on a trajectory. Within the fruit of the Spirit of God is seed of liberation and transformation. So like ‘We the people’ – it looks forward to a greater reality than was present at it’s writing. Contained within the words is an ideal not yet realized. That is part of why I don’t want to conserve the reality of the time of it’s writing, but spring board off of it to be propelled to a greater one.

We can get caught up in reductive views that ignore the inherent complexity that we are dealing with. For instance, “Is the world essentially good or bad?” or “Are humans inherently evil or innately good?”   That kind of simplicity is blind to the multiplicity of factors that we are dealing with in any conversation and allowing the conversation to be framed that way almost ensured that no progress will be made.

Good people still do bad things or even do good things with poor motivation. People who do bad things often love their own families.

We do ourselves a great disservice when we allow our media to talk about ‘the evangelical vote’ or even ‘the black perspective’ as if those parameters only mean one thing or as if everyone within designations voted the same way or believe all the same things, hold all the same values and act in unison. It is fictitious, deceptive and paralyzing.

You can’t even say ‘gun owners’ and mean one thing! Our language (and the dualism behind it) is crippling our culture.

There has been a great “De-centering” that has happened to humanity in the past 500 years. If you just look at the effect starting with Copernicus and continue to Darwin, the earth is not the center of the universe and neither are humans.

It would do us well to move from a reductive mentality (center/ order) to a dynamic interplay of emergent elements. When we recognize the complexity and multiplicity involved in the reality behind our ‘code words’, we will begin to access the real issues that face us.