Which Saddleback response was MORE Biblical?

In the Saddleback Civil Forum on the Presidency on August 16th, I found one section interesting (I haven’t listened to/read the whole thing), and that was when Rick Warren asked about how to approach evil in the world.  I have Warren’s questions and the candidates’ answers in full.  So I’d like to pose the question without giving my own perspective for whoever might want to interact:  which candidate’s response was more deeply Biblical, in your view?

Rick Warren interviewing Barack Obama:

Warren:  Does evil exist and if it does, do we ignore it, do we negotiate with it, do we contain it, or do we defeat it?

Obama:  Evil does exist.  I mean, we see evil all the time.  We see evil in Darfur, we see evil sadly on the streets of our cities.  We see evil in parents who have viciously abused their children and I think it has to be confronted.  It has to be confronted squarely and one of the things that I strongly believe is that we are not going to, as individuals, be able to erase evil from the world.  That is God’s task.  But we can be soldiers in that process and we can confront it when we see it.  Now, the one thing that I think is very important is for us to have some humility in how we approach the issue of confronting evil, but you know a lot of evil has been perpetrated based on the claim that we were trying to confront evil.

Warren:  In the name of good?

Obama:  In the name of good.  And I think one thing that’s very important is having some humility in recognizing that just because we think our intentions are good doesn’t always mean that we’re going to be doing good.


Rick Warren interviewing John McCain:

Warren:  How about the issue of evil? Does evil exist and if it does, do we ignore it, do we negotiate with it, do we contain it, or do we defeat it?

McCain:  Defeat it.  Couple points.  One, if I’m President of the United States, my friends, if I have to follow him to the gates of hell, I will get Osama bin Laden and bring him to justice.  I will do that and I know how to do that.  I will get that done.  No one should be allowed to take thousands of American, innocent American lives. 

Of course evil must be defeated.  My friends, we are facing the transcendent challenge of the 21st century; radical Islamic extremists.  Not long ago in Baghdad, al-Qaeda took two young men who were mentally disabled and put suicide vests on them, sent them into a marketplace and by remote control detonated those suicide vests.  If that isn’t evil, you have to tell me what is; and we’re going to defeat this evil and the central battleground according to David Petraeus and Osama bin Laden is the battles of Baghdad, Mosul, and Iraq, and we are winning and we are succeeding, and our troops will come home with honor and victory and not in defeat and that’s what’s happening.  We have, and we face this threat throughout the world.  It’s not just in Iraq.  It’s not just in Afghanistan.  Our intelligence people tell us al-Qaeda continues to try to establish cells here in the United States of America.

My friends, we must face this challenge.  We can face this challenge and we must totally defeat it and we’re in a long struggle, but when I’m around the young men and women who are serving this nation in uniform will do it.   I have no doubt.  None.


That’s my boy!

jimmy carter

I don’t know if you had caught this developing story today or not, but Jimmy Carter (a man I look up to very very much) is working hard for progress in the Palestinian/Israeli peace process.  Today, he met with senior Hamas officials in Cairo in the hopes that some common bond could be built.  What made me say, “Attaboy Jimmy!” was the first couple lines from the article,

Former President Carter met with senior Hamas officials in the Egyptian capital today, rankling the Israeli and US governments, which say it runs counter to their policies of not negotiating with terrorists.

Later in the article, the same thing stuck out to me.

During his stop in Israel, most officials- including Prime Minister Ehud Olmert- refused to meet with Carter, angry over his insistence that Israel should talk to Hamas, which is considered a terrorist organization by Israel, the United States, and the European Union.

I hope you don’t misinterpret my “Attaboy!” for a blank check endorsement of Hamas as a legitimate governing authority, because that’s not my intent at all. In fact, Hamas has done a tremendous amount of violence and evil on its part over the years that have burned bridges with Israeli people and deeply set back the Israel/Palestine peace process.

My attaboy really has two main dimensions;
1) Jimmy Carter’s got some serious stones to do what he’s doing now

Bigger ones than Ehud Olmert, Khalid Meshaal, or George Bush, at least. Either these “leaders” are so completely blinded to the complex issues that surround seeking peace in this area or are continuing to willfully play off others’ fears, because there’s been plenty of black/white simplistic answers coming from these parties.Jimmy’s in pursuit of solutions and healing, and he’s willing to ask hard questions and meet with the unmeetable because he knows peoples’ lives (both Palestinian and Israeli) hang in the balance. And peoples’ lives are always, ALWAYS more important than the wounded pride and ego of choosing to embrace those you have hated so long you almost don’t remember why.

2) Jimmy Carter’s smart enough to know “terrorist” is just a label that all kinds of organizations throw around, usually to demonize the opposing party in the hopes that your folks will come off smelling like roses, all righteous and stuff. Terrorism is in the eyes of the beholder.

I wrote a few posts awhile back highlighting this fact.

1) One post focused on the reports early in March of a Tomahawk cruise missile attack on an al-Qaeda operative in Somalia.

The Pentagon confirmed that the U.S. military struck a target against a known al-Qaeda terrorist, and I’m sure this was the point at which your average story-reader (especially American) stopped reading. But buried at the bottom of the article, we’re told that the strike destroyed two houses, killed three women, three children, and wounded another twenty people. Now in the bigger scheme of things (beyond the Pentagon thinking they rode in on their white horse, accomplished justice, and rode back out again), how much do you think that missile strike affected that town of Dhoobley? The families of the killed? The injured? The memories that will remain for generations in that small town? The (justified) hatred that Tomahawk will inspire in them? Who comes off as a terrorist organization for the people in Dhoobley? I’ll let you handle that one yourself.

2) Another post focused on a story that emerged April 1 also related to the American government. The story, reporting on a Justice Department memo to Bush, stated

The president’s wartime power as commander in chief would not be limited by the U.N. treaties against torture. Legal counsel John Yoo wrote, “Our previous opinions make clear that customary international law is not federal law and that the president is free to override it at his discretion.”

What would be the definition of a terrorist organization? Maybe one that openly flaunts international law and does what it decides is right, with the good of all over-ridden by their own interests? The U.S. fits the description in this case.

3) And the third post had to do with the very Israeli/Palestinian relationship Carter is addressing right now.

It seems Hamas got a sweet whiff of what might bring lasting positive change in the shattered relationship by choosing not to suicide bomb a marketplace, but instead mobilize the people of Palestine in non-violent protest against the unjust security wall Israel has been building. Israel caught a whiff of this plan, and here was their response;

The army intends to prevent the marchers from advancing on the fence when they are still inside the Strip, using various means for crowd dispersal according to a ring system: The closer the marchers get to the fence, the harsher the response.The army plans to fire at open areas near the demonstrators with artillery that the Artillery Corps has been moving to the area over the past couple of days. If the marchers continue and cross into the next ring, they will face tear gas. If they persist, snipers could be ordered to aim for the marchers’ legs as they approach the fence.

It’s not an un-related point that Israel has been building the security walls inside the borders of the West Bank and Gaza Strip, while acquiring land for settlements by driving Palestinian farmers off the land, refusing to let them back on, and squatting on the land until they declare it “unoccupied” and thus free for illegal settlers to move on.

It is Israel’s handling of this situation that led to Desmond Tutu calling the Israeli treatment of the Palestinians “apartheid.” I think Desmond Tutu would know. It also led to Jimmy Carter writing a book entitled “Peace not Apartheid.” Both men have been charged with anti-Semitism, a challenge that carries baggage since the Holocaust happened only 70 years ago. In this situation though (with both men being followers of Jesus) Jimmy and Desmond weren’t spitting hatred but speaking truth to power, and thinking of the long-term good of both Israelis and Palestinians.

A good example of what not to do, of simplistic and close-minded thinking came from Condolezza Rice (who could’ve been working on this relationship for three and a half years already), who said she found it “hard to understand what is going to be gained by having discussions with Hamas about peace when Hamas is in fact the impediment to peace.” Well, Condi, Hamas plays a role in the problem, yes. But so does Israel in their state terror on the Palestinian people. And so does the United States in giving a blank check to Israel of support. You’re the Secretary of State of the United States of America, and that’s all you can come up with?

*UPDATE TO ADD* Carter made a speech today (4/21/08 ) as a result of his talks in the region that (surprise surprise) includes concessions Hamas would be willing to make as a result of direct talks. Here’s a quote

Carter urged Israel to engage in direct negotiations with Hamas, saying failure to do so was hampering peace efforts.

“We do not believe that peace is likely and certainly that peace is not sustainable unless a way is found to bring Hamas into the discussions in some way,” he said. “The present strategy of excluding Hamas and excluding Syria is just not working.”

Nate Myers gets very frustrated and works hard for a solid response.

I’ve been getting these emails recently, you see, that frustrate me.  Here’s the text for one of them;

The Bible warns us of Barack Obama!
Body: The Bible warns us of Barack Obama! Please Read All!
Body: The Bible has warned us that ‘A man will come from the East that will be charismatic in nature and have proposed solutions for all our problems and his rhetoric will attract many supporters!’

When will our pathetic Nation quit turning their back on God and understand that this man is ‘A Muslim’….First, Last and always….and we are AT WAR with the Muslim Nation, whether our bleeding-heart, secular, Liberal friends believe it or not. This man fits every description from the Bible of the ‘Anti-Christ’!

I’m just glad to know that there are others that are frightened by this man!

Who is Barack Obama?

Very interesting and something that should be considered in your choice.

If you do not ever forward anything else, please forward this to all your contacts…this is very scary to think of what lies ahead of us here in our own United States…better heed this and pray about it and share it.

snopes.com ..’ confirms this is factual. Check for yourself.

Who is Barack Obama?

Probable U. S. presidential candidate, Barack Hussein Obama was born in Honolulu, Hawaii, to Barack Hussein Obama, Sr., a black MUSLIM from Nyangoma-Kogel, Kenya and Ann Dunham, a white ATHEIST from Wichita , Kansas. Obama’s parents met at the University of Hawaii. When Obama was two years old, his parents divorced. His father returned to Kenya. His mother then married Lolo Soetoro, a RADICAL Muslim from Indonesia. When Obama was 6 years old, the family relocated to Indonesia. Obama attended a MUSLIM school in Jakarta. He also spent two years in a Catholic school.

Obama takes great care to conceal the fact that he is a Muslim. He is quick to point out that, ‘He was once a Muslim, but that he also attended Catholic school.’ Obama’s political handlers are attempting to make it appear that that he is not a radical.
Obama’s introduction to Islam came via his father, and that this influence was temporary at best. In reality, the senior Obama returned to Kenya soon after the divorce, and never again had any direct influence over his son’s education.

Lolo Soetoro, the second husband of Obama’s mother, Ann Dunham, introduced his stepson to Islam. Obama was enrolled in a Wahabi school in Jakarta.
Wahabism is the RADICAL teaching that is followed by the Muslim terrorists who are now waging Jihad against the western world. Since it is politically expedient to be a CHRISTIAN when seeking major public office in the United States, Barack Hussein Obama has joined the United Church of Christ in an attempt to downplay his Muslim background. ALSO, keep in mind that when he was sworn into office he DID NOT use the Holy Bible, but instead the Koran.

Barack Hussein Obama will NOT recite the Pledge of Allegiance nor will he show any reverence for our flag. While others place their hands over their hearts, Obama turns his back to the flag and slouches. Do you want someone like this as your PRESIDENT? Let us all remain alert concerning Obama’s expected presidential candidacy.

The Muslims have said they plan on destroying the US from the inside out, what better way to start than at the highest level – through the President of the United States, one of their own!

Please forward to everyone you know. Would you want this man leading our country?…… NOT ME!

Needless to say, I was frustrated from this email forward, so decided to write back, and here’s my response;

To whom it may concern;

Be very, very careful about the sources we get our “news” from. Snopes.com, the supposed source for this “factually correct” myth on Barack Obama, noticed this email was getting publicity and took time to completely refute it themselves. Here’s the link to their refutation, where they say themselves,

“One version of the email in circulation claims ‘We were told this checked out on snopes.com. It is factual. Check for yourself,’ and includes a link to this website. It is our guess that whoever included that bit was counting on folks to not check, as our article says the opposite, that the polemic is not factual but rather false.”

I get innumerable amounts of emails from my friends and others around that usually start off with something designed to instill fear in us like “The Bible warns us of _____________” or “It is clear the evil emenating from ________________ is from Satan,” or a bunch of different intros. I would urge all my friends and acquaintances to look beyond the fear-mongering and stop, look at a variety of different sources, read up on the issue, talk to your friends, and ask whoever sends us the email where they believe the Bible warns of _________________, and ask them why they think it talks about this person. A good question might be,

“You say _______ fits every description of the Anti-Christ. I’d love to hear your description of the anti-Christ and we can talk.”

If we don’t have time to stop and read up on whatever the issue is, I would urge us (I try to make it a practice of mine) NOT to forward the email.

Regarding this email, first off, if we deeply value the Scriptures, we should be a bit put off right at the beginning by someone claiming that we are “at war with the Muslim Nation.” Biblically speaking, the people of God are at war against the powers of evil and chaos in this world, and those very powers exist just as much within us as in some people or place across the globe. I won’t eagerly jump to the defense of the Muslim religion because I think there is much that is twisted and wrong in it, but I DO realize Muslims are human beings made in the image of God who are important enough for Christians to give our lives for. Remember, “God so loved the WORLD” in John 3:16, not “God so loved EVERYONE LIKE ME.” So no, “we” (Christians who care about Scripture and how it forms our lives) are NOT at war with the Muslim Nation.

Secondly, I certainly don’t think Barack Obama is the savior of the world, but he’s certainly far from the anti-Christ. Vote for whomever you will, but we should know the facts, not a chain propoganda email sent around to make folks afraid.

Barack is an American citizen who was born in the United States, and while he DID live in Indonesia for awhile and attend a “Muslim” school for a bit, it was not a Wahabi Madrassa as this email seeks to state. In fact, after FOX News ran with the rumor that he attended such a school on their broadcasting without doing the work to either go to or research the school itself, CNN did just that. CNN dispatched their senior international correspondent John Vause directly to Jakarta to investigate, and he went to the school which, it turns out, is a public school. Hardi Priyono, the school headmaster, said, “This is a public school. We don’t focus on religion. In our daily lives, we try to respect religion, but we don’t give preferential treatment.” One of Obama’s classmates, Bandug Winadijanto, was interviewed, and he said “It is not an Islamic school. It’s general. There is a lot of Christians, Buddhist, also Confucian…so that’s a mixed school.” Link to the story here.

It should be noted, and I will bold this section for emphasis, that the Fox News show (Fox and Friends) that broadcast this rumor backtracked on the story the following week, while still repeatedly citing the article from conservative site Insight that started the whole rumor. In our search for news that can be trusted, will we err on the side of the news organization that actually tracked down the radical Muslim rumor (CNN) or the news organization that cited an anonymous source (Insight, then Fox News)? I think I know which one I’ll be more likely to trust.

The reality is that as a child, Obama spent four years in Indonesia with his step-father, a non-practicing Muslim, and his mother. Between ages 6 and 8, Obama attended a local Muslim school in Jakarta; after that, he was enrolled in a Roman Catholic school. In his book Dreams Of My Father (p.142), Obama writes:

In Indonesia, I’d spent 2 years at a Muslim school, 2 years at a Catholic school. In the Muslim school, the teacher wrote to tell mother I made faces during Koranic studies. In the Catholic school, when it came time to pray, I’d pretend to close my eyes, then peek around the room. Nothing happened. No angels descended.

In his more recent book, The Audacity of Hope, Obama writes (p.274), “Without the money to go to the international school that most expatriate children attended, I went to local Indonesian schools and ran the streets with the children of farmers, servants, tailors, and clerks.”

So no, Obama did not attend a radical Wahabi school and is not and never has been a Muslim. In fact, the man Obama’s mother married in fact was not a radical Muslim, but a non-practicing Muslim, which most Muslims in the world who value their faith would call no Muslim at all. And the quote from this forward that Obama supposedly said that he “was once a Muslim, but he also attended Catholic school” is patently false. I’d love to see the source for this quote.

In addition, Obama did not use the Koran when sworn into office (news source link here), the claim that he will not recite the Pledge of Allegiance (and in fact turns his back and slouches) is false, and he addressed a series of these claims in a presidential debate;

If the video embedding doesn’t work, the link to the video is here.

Again, Barack Obama is not and never has been Muslim, and describes himself as a Christian, as rooted in the Christian tradition, and his membership in the United Church of Christ began in the mid-1980s, long before he contemplated a political career.

Let the record state, however, that I, Nathan Myers, am not endorsing Obama as president, but I am mystified by the amount of fear-mongering and false propaganda surrounding this man, and so I decided to dig for myself and respond. I have my own issues with Barack Obama, and I question most politicians’ supposed “born again” or “Christian” labels, but that’s a whole ‘nother issue in itself.

Get educated, vote responsibly, and don’t expect a Savior from Republicans or Democrats, Americans, Brits, or Chinese.

Last I checked, there’s only one of those.



Ravings of a tired young man…is there more? is this all? melodramatic, I’m sure.

Just finished Crime and Punishment by Dostoevsky a couple hours ago. Whew!

And Wow! Dark, foreboding, intense, plodding yet purposeful, truthful, authentic, filled with stark reason yet surprising in emotion at the end.

Afterwards, I slept for twenty minutes, but my mind didn’t. It stewed and raged with the possibilities and the realities of Dostoevsky’s thought. He writes in 1865, yet world leaders live into the thought of Raskolnikov today; making the world simplistic, cut-and-dried, black-and-white, good-and-evil, drawing those who don’t want to think for themselves onto their coattails, stirring them to passionate action. that. is. sometimes. deadly. and. disgustingly. wrong. And yet they feel no remorse. And do not come to the brilliant realization of Raskolnikov, nor subject themselves to the great virtue of humility; their pride blinds them, destroys them, and shatters the world by extension through them.

We see this, and yet we are too lazy to emerge from the cycle. We claim certain emotions/reason/ethics/actions as “practical” and “necessary,” yet our emotions/reason/ethics/actions only perpetuate the brokenness, only maintain the darkness of a world of “necessity” without considering whether our actions driven by “necessity” are truly necessary at all. They’re often not.

Who will break the cycle? Can we break the cycle? Is God above and beyond Christianity and Judaism and Islam and Buddhism? Is the call of God transcendent? Built into every human being?

Do any systems of thought, any great persons offer a glimpse, a snapshot of the transcendent? And when they do, are we afraid? Are we too prideful to admit their honesty and their truthfulness? Do we indulge our cowardice of the truth while we hold our weapons that give us “comfort” and “safety” yet fill us with suspicion, questioning, and mistrust? Can those weapons both be physical and emotional; things we employ to give us distance from others for the sake of our own selfishness? Can we live free of this suspicion, questioning, and mistrust (short-term questioning that arises aside, can we be free over the long-term?)?

Is there nothing transcendent, with life being but a series of breathings, blinkings, eating, sleeping, copulating, and work under the thumb of a world already set, full of “laws” and “facts” already pre-determined for us by the confident assertions of those who have gone before us, those who have had “greater insight” into the machinations of our universe than us; insights that demand we knuckle under and passively follow?

Is life one damn “ought” after another, reality that which existed before us and will exist afterwards? One in which we do not matter; our lives either having no meaning, or a meaning and an effect that fades 5, 10, 50, 100 years later when our name falls from the lips and thoughts of those who remember us?

Can that suggested transcendence suggested of before enliven our human emotions/reason/ethics/thoughts/actions with something beyond us, something that ripples out into eternity whether we live five minutes or a century? Can our active role in living into that transcendent reality create deeper and more forceful ripples than passively or dispassionately living? Can my ripples( if healing) neutralize the ripples ( if destructive) of others perpetuating the cycle? Somehow provide a glimpse of the transcendent in the midst of reality that is often drudgery and brokenness? Am I capable of the opposite action, the destructive kind, the ripples of fragmentation, enslavement, and mistrust?

What if the transcendent breaks through in a shocking, miraculous, intensely physical way now…not because of my ability or giftedness but because of the transcendent working through my willingness, my fidelity, my passion? Is that what happened with Jesus? Can the transcendent be deeply transcendent, deeply “other,” yet also deeply personal and relational? Can it (or He, or She) seek me, aggressively pursue me, love me in my brokenness? Is it possible?

All these, and more, flash through my head as I must settle down to the drudgery of finishing my semester. I compartmentalize my emotions, my thoughts, and place them in the recesses of my mind for the sake of necessity. They cannot/should not disturb what “needs to be done” right now.

What if I never return to these thoughts? What if I always shove them away, trivialize them for the sake of necessity, of “what needs to be done right now”? Will I have wasted my life, salted away my minutes, my days, and years for the sake of what is “necessary” only to find the “necessary” has enslaved me?

How can I balance what “needs to be done” (the practical) with what “deserves to be thought about,” what compels me to “consider reality beyond the drudgery of daily reality”(the theoretical)? Will that balance ever be perfect? I think not. Will the pursuit of that balance send me careening either into emotionless duty or deeply emotional existential panic? I think so. Is it worth it to spit on the felt need to occupy one extreme or the other and to choose to struggle? To find myself erring on either side? To have friends honest enough to keep me accountable? Friends who will give me room to explore, to doubt, to laugh, to vent, to read, to feel ecstasy, to feel shattered?

All this, and more, rages in my mind right now. I didn’t intend to be melodramatic, and I personally don’t care if I came off that way. This was stream of consciousness; bare, raw feelings that spun off in response to this incredible book. I lay it before the world, because I’m finished hiding, finished knuckling under to what it supposedly necessary…or at least I claim I am. Until, five minutes from now, I return to segmenting sections of my life away from others because I am afraid of what they’ll think or how they’ll react…continuing to leave parts of my life in shadows…crippling myself before others can seek to listen and enter in. My life is mystifying, human existence is mystifying, and because I can sit down and in an hour experience these deep, visceral emotions and thoughts because of words printed on a page, I must consider the possibility of a reality bigger than myself that gave me the complex, creative ability to respond to another’s complex, creative ability…the hungering for life beyond the drudgery of the day-to-day, the struggle of progress, the giving-in and slow attrition of laziness, and the commitment to actions of fragmentation, calling twisted temptations “natural” and choosing to regress.

It is in that regress that the only thing that separates me and Cho-Seung Hui is a difference of degree of evil. I am a walking wounded, and my continuance in such a wounded state without the pursuit of healing wounds others by extension as we rub shoulders and they move on to rub shoulders with others, touched by me in ways they (nor I) understand. I do not have the cold metal of the Walther and the Glock in my hands, dispassionately erasing the lives of others with cold efficiency, but I do have the cold reality of self-centeredness, of cynicism, of all the “oughts” that enslave me; and they do kill (maybe physically someday). But for now they kill insidiously and incrementally, in my cold, suspicious looks, in my desire and commitment for my own way, in my self-righteous exaltation of myself over the “disgusting, inhumane, evil” acts of Cho as if I am not capable of the same, in my laughter at the failures of others, in my hatred of those who hate and/or kill those closest to me without considering that they may hate/kill because those most like me hated/killed first. Do I have the right to hold court over them, then, knowing that even if I do not carry out an evil act with my own two hands, I can be just as complicit when I stand idly by and do nothing while evil is carried out? But I have to do what is “necessary,” don’t I? I have to busy myself with what I “need” to do, love or some other transcendent emotion or action only goes so far before I must put my foot down, must assert my individuality and right to fullness of life over others?

Bleh. I’m done for now. Back to the “necessary.” I’ve already spent too much time in the theoretical, and that is dangerous, both for my academic life and the leaders who depend on my unthinking obedience to their expectations in order to maintain order in society…

Truth. Speaking. Is. Unpopular.

Excerpt from video below in this post, “One of the things that ‘s always perturbed me…as we come to celebrate the life and living of Martin Luther King Jr, one of the things we can say with alarm since the legalization of the holiday is that Dr King has been reduced to the syrupy sweet Hallmark Card where he is no longer prophetic and he no longer speaks to the nation and he no longer causes us to speak to the nation in ways that shake the foundation of this nation’s immorality…”

All my friends who are not Christfollowers do not need to listen to the following flash video. Feel free, but this message is mainly a convicting reminder that those of us who dare to claim that we are disciples of Jesus are expected to be peacemakers.


And that’s not peacemaking as defined by Nathan Myers, or Jane Doe, or whoever else. It’s peacemaking as defined by Jesus.

What was his example? What did his life scream to us about how to confront evil as a faithful disciple? How did his disciples live this out?

If you are a Christfollower, you and I don’t have a choice with whether we “want” to be a peacemakers or not. We don’t. Oh, we justify it…we say this and that….define peacemaking like this or that…in short, interpret peacemaking the way we do much of the Bible…seize onto the “For I know the plans I have for you” and “fearfully and wonderfully made” and “I call you my friends” passages while ignoring the “love your enemies” and “those who seek to protect their life will lose it” and “he was faithful to the point of the death, even death on a cross” and “for our battle is NOT against flesh and blood, but against powers and principalities” passages because they challenge us too much.

As I watched this simple little flash from a simple speech, I was deeply convicted and tears welled up in my eyes as I thought about how often I shrink back from clear statements on truth when I’m around my fellow Christfollowers in church because I’m afraid they’ll leave or reject me or hate me for that position. My friends that don’t know Christ are begging to see me live like I love them and will give my life, my finances, my energy, and my prayers for them no matter what…they’re CRYING out! And I’m often a shuddering, emasculated Christian who’s ok with false unity in church in the name of comfort and “family” and all the easy Scripture; and I say I don’t, but I really DO want you to look like me, dress like me, like the same things I like, hate the same things I hate…or at least PRETEND you do so our relationship doesn’t challenge me. I’d rather not be called to take most of what I’ve learned in my life and unlearn it through pain and struggle and cyclical addictions to various things. I’d rather be comfortably numb in my self-centeredness, thank you very much.

But, MLK, for all his struggles, was a man who spoke truth…he would not let us sit in our seats and just nod along and afterwards say, “Good speech. Good delivery. Your voice intonation was tremendous.” *pat on the back* “See you next week, Marty.” Wouldn’t let us do it. He chose to say what he said and live like he did and give himself like he did. He knew his life was in danger, and he wasn’t afraid to confront the status quo and whoever stood to continue reaping the rewards from it. And for that, I am grateful. Because the status quo was and is continuing to rip us apart as humanity.

“Have we not come to such an impasse in the modern world that we must love our enemies – or else? The chain reaction of evil – hate begetting hate, wars producing more wars – must be broken, or else we shall be plunged into the dark abyss of annihilation…He who passively accepts evil is as much involved in it as he who helps to perpetrate it. He who accepts evil without protesting against it is really cooperating with it. ” -MLK Jr.

I’m tired of cooperating. I’m tired of my smarmy proof-text-quoting-Scripture-life that exists because I’m not disciplined enough to grow beyond it and don’t have the stones to challenge my friends and church family and neighbors to take that step with me. But still I settle for recycling the same verses, saying the same prayers, and talking about the same issues I did a week ago…all the while, I’m spinning my tires and going nowhere! I’m TIRED of that life. I want MORE. There has to be MORE than where I am now. And we are now. And I don’t really care that the beginning of this video has a strong message about Bush. Watch it all the way through. Give it a fair shake. Sit back and think a little about what it means to follow Jesus the way he told us to…no matter what.

And challenge me. Forgive me. Let me rant like this from time to time. Help me to love more, give more, forgive more, expect more, pursue more.

And if I’m going to hold the leaders of the United States to a high standard of truth-telling as I am by endorsing this flash video, I sure as heck better be pursuing it myself, or I’m a flat hypocrite.

Click on play, lower left corner.

ht on video: Ariah

Real life American History X, and thoughts on redemption…

‘Evil’ teen jailed for savage party beating

POSTED: 8:08 a.m. EST, November 18, 2006

HOUSTON, Texas (AP) — A teenager described as a white supremacist was sentenced Friday to life in prison for savagely beating and sodomizing a Hispanic boy at a drug-fueled party…

…Defense attorney Chuck Hinton appealed to the jury’s religious faith, saying that Jesus would show Tuck mercy.

“I know that justice has to be done. I know a terrible thing happened. Justice needs to be done, but with mercy,” Hinton said.

He also said Tuck had an abusive, absent father and was raised by a single working mother. His only role model, Hinton said, was his older brother, a skinhead who is in jail.

Read the rest here.

What do I think this situation says?
1)Hatred has consequences, and our thoughts and actions have an effect on others…this boy’s brother dropped the ball. When I was in high school and my sister saw me living two lives: one image I gave my parents and church folks, and the other image I gave to my peers…I dropped the ball too. I regret that. This boy’s brother should too…his decisions almost killed someone by proxy.

2)This boy is not inherently evil or any different than you or me. He’s a kid caught in the web of the system…evil has twisted him, but he is NOT beyond redemption. Somewhere deep inside this boy is the spark God placed in him at creation…who in this town of Houston will choose to love him and invest their life in him?

3) That defense attorney has no shame…using Jesus as a emotional ploy for this kid’s defense. Shameless and dead wrong. I try to avoid stereotypes, but this proves to me ever more that a “successful” defense attorney cannot be a follower of Jesus. You simply cannot. You will either defend those along the way you know are guilty and will numb your conscience, or you will refuse to defend those who are guilty and will never get a case because firms can’t depend on you to be a “company man or woman” when it comes to getting things done.

Looking beyond the face of this evil, I read a Donald Miller quote today that is simply amazing.

I was raised to believe that the quality of a man’s life would greatly increase, not with the gain of status or success, not by his heart’s knowing romance or by prosperity in industry or schooling, but by his nearness to God. It confuses me that Christian living is not simpler. The gospel…is simple, but this is the gate, the trailhead. Ironing out faithless creases is toilsome labor.

God bestows three blessings on man: to feed him like birds, dress him like flowers, and befriend him as a confidant. Too many take the first two and neglect the last. Sooner or later we figure out, if we’re seeking, that life is constructed specifically and brilliantly to squeeze us into association with the Owner of Heaven. It is a struggle, with labor pains and thorny landscape, bloody hands and a sweaty brow, our head in our hands, moments of severe loneliness and questioning, moments of ache and desire. All this should lead us to God.

Life is a dance toward God, I begin to think. And the dance is not so graceful as we might want. While we glide and swing our practiced sway, God crowds our feet, bumps our toes, and scuffs our shoes. So we learn to dance with the One who made us. And it is a difficult dance to learn, because its steps are foreign…the first few lessons leave us feeling clunky and awkward, but soon they give way to a kind of graceful sway…

Donald Miller “Through Painted Deserts: 90-91

Implied in that quote from Don (beyond the scattered metaphors at times here) is the necessary truth that in order to dance the way we have created to dance, we must display a constant commitment to dancing in midst of joyous times (when the dance seems to flow in perfect rhythm) and when we think we will never get it…or the practice required is too hard andthe dance too foreign. We cannot justify our self-centered approach by claiming we know better than God. We commit to dance His way because we were created to. We find that God’s screwed up way of dancing is really right-side up…we realize we’re the ones looking like a white country boy dancing at a hip-hop bar…so to speak. 🙂