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Getting The Message Out


leah
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So I imagine that many users of this site are just as dismayed as I am that the Christian Right has become the voice of Christianity. How do we as progressive Christians counter this trend? How do we help articulate an alternative vision of religion in America that will appeal to folks in "middle America"? I guess I'm not willing to retreat into a shell... not yet.

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Hi!

 

I have not posted here in a while, but I have stopped in to read. I have not been able to put into words how I feel about the outcome of the election, so I thought it was best to remain silent. To say that I am disappointed would be a gross understatement. I prayed that God would open the hearts, minds, eyes, and ears of Christians all over this country to the truth. I have heard from some Christians over the past few months who have read my posts here and elsewhere and feel as I do. The Christian right is horribly wrong! For many of them it was like waking up from a deep sleep, looking around and saying, "Where did my Church go?" There are Christians out there who realize that we need to do something, but now one knows what. We need organization, and someone to step up and say, "Not all Christians are full of intolerance and hate!"

 

The cornerstone of my faith is Jesus Christ, so I look to the Gospels for guidance. If I want to call myself a Christian, I should want to emulate Him. When asked, He said that the greatest commandment was to love the Lord our God with everything in us! I feel like many "Christians" have thrown off the mantle of Christ, wrapped themselves in an American flag, and taken on the agenda of a political party. That is contrary to Jesus example and leads people to focus on something other than their God. He also said that the second greatest commandment was to love our neighbor as ourself. That is why I vote Democratic. My family has problems, but I know there are millions out there who are much worse off than we are, and I don't think God wants us to turn our back on them. When we deliberately place our vote so that it hurts our "neighbor", I believe it is against what God wants.

 

I do not agree with abortion or gay marriage, but I do not believe that what should certainly be issues during election time should end up being the ONLY issues upon which Christians vote.

 

One of the saddest outcomes of this entire mess, is that my husband and I feel funny about attending our Churches. I am Southern Baptist and he is Catholic, and for twenty plus years we have attended both. When you do not feel welcome in God's Church, you have to wonder, "Is it God's Church anymore?"

 

Thanks for letting me rant.

 

God Bless,

TammyJo58

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TammyJo:

 

I agree and appreciate what you write, but want to add to one of your paragraphs:

 

Tammy Jo: I do not agree with abortion or gay marriage, but I do not believe that what should certainly be issues during election time should end up being the ONLY issues upon which Christians vote."

 

I don't agree with abortion either, but I don't want to have abortion illegal again. Making

it illegal won't prevent abortions, and we will return to the unmedical procedures done in back streets and alleys. We should work to help limit any abortion. We have all heard of the stories of abortion horrors when it was illegal.

 

Gay Marriage? Why not, we have gay people, and why deny gay couples what we want?

Scripture is full of images of marriage between God and Israel, Christ and Church and relationships other than male and female. If not marriage, then let us call it legal union or civil unions with the same benefits as marriage. We are progressive! We need to include not exclude.

 

gary743

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Gary743,

 

I am pro-choice also, much to the consternation of my Christian friends.

 

I am not in favor of same sex marriage because I think the Bible is pretty clear regarding homoexuality. I have also had some experience, as a teacher, with middle school aged students of same sex couples. The individuals in these relationships brought children into the relationship much like a man and a woman would attempt to "blend" into a family children from other partners. In the rural community where I live, you can imagine the reaction of others to that couple and their children. The children had trouble making friends, they spent a lot of time in the guidance department, one of the young ladies even wanted out of the home. To middle school aged children everything get magnified of course. It was not a pleasant situation to watch, because you were really helpless, you just had to be there for the mothers when they needed to talk about their children's progress, and you had to be there for the children to support them in any way possible. I really always ended up feeling like I wasn't helping anyone very much.

 

My point in my previous post was that even if people have strong feelings about abortion and gay marriage, they should not let these two issue overwhelm other issues that I believe are "moral" issues also - the plight of the poor, the homeless, the helpless, the sick, the jobless, the hungry, etc. I believe that if we live Christ's example, these issues far outweigh any others.

 

My husband and I are truly hungering for a congregation of believers that want to worship and serve God , and leave politics at the door. That is why I really wish there was more organization in the progressive Christian movement, so that then we could identify and meet with like minded Christians.

 

God Bless,

TammyJo58

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You know, kids of biracial parents used to have the same sorts of problems that kids of LGBT parents have today. What made it easier was when mixed-race marriages became more common, more widely known, and more socially acceptable. The only way I can think of to prevent kids from feeling the way you describe is to normalize LGBT relationships, and the institution of marriage would go a long way towards doing that.

 

Back in my childhood and teen years, adults used to tell me never to marry a black woman because our hypothetical kids would catch hell. Of course the only reason they'd catch hell is because more whites and blacks didn't marry. It's a catch-22, and now I see gays and lesbians in the same situation: That the best way to protect your kids' interests is not to have kids. Not sure that's the way we should be going about all this.

 

 

Cheers,

 

Tom

Edited by Tom Head
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I am very grateful to have found this TCPC website, and appreciate all the posts that have been written in response to leah's initial post. I suppose these posts are of particular interest to me because I am a progressive biracial pro-choice Catholic who supports gay marriage.

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I am very grateful to have found this TCPC website, and appreciate all the posts that have been written in response to leah's initial post. I suppose these posts are of particular interest to me because I am a progressive biracial pro-choice Catholic who supports gay marriage.

 

I can understand why Christians believe that homosexual activity is wrong, because of the passages in the bible that say so. I think that there are many Christians who think of homosexual behavior as a sin, but who still believe that gays and lesbians are loved by Jesus, as all sinners are loved by Jesus. We progressives should avoid concluding that all conservative or traditionally-minded Christians actually hate homosexuals. True, there are those that do. But there are also those who truly think that the behavior is a sin, in a similar way that they think of adultery or theft as a sin.

 

But I also think that they are wrong. Here are some reasons why I believe so:

 

1. The anti-homosexual laws in Leviticus are part of a body of laws that prohibit wearing clothing made of mixed fibers (Lev. 19:19), prohibits intercourse with a menstruating woman (Lev 18:19) and enforces dietary restrictions (Lev 18:22; 20: 13). Modern Christians generally feel free to ignore these laws, because these laws were written by an ancient people. These laws need to be seen from within that ancient culture's context, not blindly applied to our modern context.

 

2. The Sodom and Gomorrah story in Genesis 19 is not really about homosexuality per se but rather about rape--about violent force and not about sexual orientation. In this story and the similar passage in Judges 19, the point was to humiliate outsiders by treating them like women. (I've also found it interesting that not much is said about the sinfulness of Lot's plan to sacrifice his two virgin daughters to prevent gay gang-rape...)

 

3. There is no record of Jesus ever saying anything about homosexuality. But he did teach that we should love God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength, and that we should love our neighbors as ourselves. Moreover, Jesus continued the direction established in the Hebrew Bible by including those who were outcasts as part of God's people. The implication is that we should fully embrace our gay brothers and sisters and "love them as ourselves" by legalizing gay marriage.

 

Thanks again for all the thoughful posts and God bless--

 

curlytop

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Actually, the sins of Sodom were really primarily about their lack of hospitality and hesed (loving kindness) - and especially toward visitors to their community.

The attempted forced rape of two guests was really just the epitome of all of this, i.e. merely the icing on the cake/last straw, etc..

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Hmm... seems that link is out of date, at any rate, here's the article:

--------

 

"What's Mine is Yours"

Confessions of a former Sodomite

 

Angelic beings are rarely politically correct. The angels visiting Lot didn't wait around to file a sexual harassment lawsuit when the men of Sodom tried to pinch their booty.

 

They just struck the suckers blind. All of them. And they didn't even stop to check with God about it, either. Later God blew up the city. The Sodomites must have been very evil indeed, everyone agrees. But be forewarned. This story will come back to bite you.

 

The truth is, you don't have to proposition an angel to be a Sodomite. Simply turning your back on the poor earns you that label, according to the wisdom of the ancient rabbis.

 

Now wait a minute, you're thinking. Isn't this line of reasoning just typical example of liberal obfuscation to blunt criticism of homosexuality? If only it were that simple, dear reader. (Obfuscation itself is illegal in several states, by the way).

 

Clearly, the account in Genesis tells how a group of Sodom's finest citizens thought nothing of trying to force Lot into turning over his angelic house guests for the crowd's sexual amusement. But that was just a reflection of a deeper and more widespread corruption, according to Talmudic commentary. (Yes, kids, its time for more Talmud stories.)

 

Sodom was infamous for being inhospitable, money-grubbing, prideful and selfish. And from God's point of view, there's a little bit of Sodom in all of us.

 

One sage describes four types of people:

 

"The one who says, 'What is mine is mine, and what is yours is yours.' This is the average person.

 

"The one who says, 'What is mine is yours, and what is yours is mine.' This is the simpleton {and most of The Door's readership--Editor}.

 

"The one who says, 'What is mine is yours, and what is yours is yours.' This is the saintly person.

 

"The one who says ' What is mine is mine and what is yours is mine.' This is the wicked person."

 

But then, incredibly, one rabbi offers an opinion regarding the first example, the average man. "This one is the Sodomite." (see Mishnah, Avot 5:10)

 

Why the average man, and not the wicked person? His slogan could be taken directly from America's corporate mission statement--"What is mine is mine and what is yours is yours." An even playing field for entrepreneurship, democracy and civic cooperation. What could be bad about that?

 

Jesus' words in the Book of Revelation gave us a hint why such an attitude is so corrupt: "I would thou wert hot or cold."

 

The Sodomite slogan allows us to separate ourselves from community, use people, dismiss those in need, and abdicate any responsibility for being our brother's keeper.

 

As a recovering Sodomite, I know.

 

I ran for the Texas Legislature back in the '60s as a conservative Republican with practically no compassion for the poor. I despised them. I believed their problems were caused by laziness or some other uncorrectable character flaw. I justified my own greed with the "trickle-down" theory. Later, in a more compassionate mood, I served on the board of directors of the War on Poverty.

 

But I found the problems of the poor defied all the political solutions.

 

After I became a believer, our Christian community adopted a vow of poverty that echoes the attitude of the saint described in the Talmud. "Whatever I own that you need to own, you can have. Whatever you need that I don't have, I'll help you get."

 

The attributes of Sodom are described in Ezekiel 16:49: "...pride, fullness of bread and idleness, neither did she strengthen the hand of the poor." Whenever the church abandons the poor, she turns into Sodom, and invokes God's wrath. That's why Jesus said "The poor you will always have with you." Without a place to give, we would be sucked into the black hole of self-seeking.

 

Sodom was the most beautiful of cities, populated by successful people, the best of the best. That's why Lot chose to live there. It could have been any gated community in any American suburb. It probably had a great school system. It offered the most promising future for his children. It was safe. In Sodom, what's mine is mine, and what's yours is yours.

 

One poignant Talmud story captures the failure of political solutions to poverty with surprising clarity. Charity was forbidden in Sodom because they believed it encouraged the proliferation of beggars. One day a beggar entered Sodom and approached a shopkeeper. He gave the beggar a small bar of gold, but first inscribed his name on it. The next person did the same. But no one would sell the beggar any food. They only gave him more gold bars inscribed with their names. The beggar finally died, loaded down with a bag of gold he couldn't use. When his death became known, each Sodomite retrieved his own gold bar from the beggar's bag. In that way they experienced the "joy of giving" without the cost.

 

The poor don't need our money, they need us to share our lives with them, our time, our homes, our skills and energies. Instead we give them money that buys nothing of real value.

 

Another story especially speaks to those of us who are tempted to deal with the homeless and the needy as "clients" of a professional charitable organization.

 

"Every visitor who came to Sodom was thrown into a bed. If he was tall, they put him on a small bed and hacked off his protruding feet. If he was short, they put him in a big bed and stretched his limbs out from head to feet until the dismembered body filled it up."

 

The temptation is to judge the needy, try to fix them, force them into a mold, constrain them with superfluous rules or make them fit the agenda we plan for them. But that is the way of Sodom. Taken to the extreme, it leads to ethnic cleansing and a holocaust for those who don't meet our standards.

 

The Talmud says Sodom's final outrage was when a young girl was caught giving bread to a hungry stranger. She was tried and found guilty, stripped naked, daubed with honey and hung on a parapet of the city, where the bees consumed her. Her cry reached up to heaven, and God determined to destroy Sodom and its inhabitants.

 

"Although the people of Sodom were guilty of all the sins, their fate was sealed against them only because they refused to give alms to the poor."

 

If Abraham had been able to find just 10 righteous men, Sodom would have been spared. Repentance is possible even in the cities of wickedness where we dwell. But the genuineness of our faith is determined by how we respond to those in need.

--------------

 

(I also recommend taking a look at pp.473-477 in Volume I (Genesis) of the New Interpreter’s Bible (Abingdon Press).

 

In Christ, BrotherRog

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Jim Hightower offers a letter from Homer Simpson to President Bush asking for guidance on applying a variety of Biblical laws. Why do some Christians take certain verses so literally and completely dismiss other verses?

 

Homer Simpson's letter to President Bush

 

Jim Hightower's Blog

 

love-mystictrek

The Abundancetrek Blog

Edited by mystictrek
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+ Have you seen this yet?

 

A DAY IN THE LIFE OF JOE REPUBLICAN

- author unknown

 

Joe gets up at 6 a.m. and fills his coffeepot with water to prepare his morning coffee. The water is clean and good because some tree-hugging liberal fought for minimum water-quality standards. With his first swallow of water, he takes his daily medication. His medications are safe to take because some stupid commie liberal fought to ensure their safety and that they work as advertised.

 

All but $10 of his medications are paid for by his employer's medical plan because some liberal union workers fought their employers for paid medical insurance - now Joe gets it too.

 

He prepares his morning breakfast, bacon and eggs. Joe's bacon is safe to eat because some girly-man liberal fought for laws to regulate the meat packing industry.

 

In the morning shower, Joe reaches for his shampoo. His bottle is properly labeled with each ingredient and its amount in the total contents because some crybaby liberal fought for his right to know what he was putting on his body and how much it contained.

 

Joe dresses, walks outside and takes a deep breath. The air he breathes is clean because some environmentalist wacko liberal fought for the laws to stop industries from polluting our air.

 

He walks on the government-provided sidewalk to subway station for his government-subsidized ride to work. It saves him considerable money in parking and transportation fees because some fancy-pants liberal fought for affordable public transportation, which gives everyone the opportunity to be a contributor.

 

Joe begins his work day. He has a good job with excellent pay, medical benefits, retirement, paid holidays and vacation because some lazy liberal union members fought and died for these working standards. Joe's employer pays these standards because Joe's employer doesn't want his employees to call the union.

 

If Joe is hurt on the job or becomes unemployed, he'll get a worker compensation or unemployment check because some stupid liberal didn't think he should lose his home because of his temporary misfortune.

 

It is noontime and Joe needs to make a bank deposit so he can pay some bills. Joe's deposit is federally insured by the FSLIC because some godless liberal wanted to protect Joe's money from unscrupulous bankers who ruined the banking system before the Great Depression.

 

Joe has to pay his Fannie Mae-underwritten mortgage and his below-market federal student loan because some elitist liberal decided that Joe and the government would be better off if he was educated and earned more money over his lifetime. Joe also forgets that in addition to his federally subsidized student loans, he attended a state funded university.

 

Joe is home from work. He plans to visit his father this evening at his farm home in the country. He gets in his car for the drive. His car is among the safest in the world because some America-hating liberal fought for car safety standards to go along with the tax-payer funded roads.

 

He arrives at his boyhood home. His was the third generation to live in the house financed by Farmers' Home Administration because bankers didn't want to make rural loans.

 

The house didn't have electricity until some big-government liberal stuck his nose where it didn't belong and demanded rural electrification.

 

He is happy to see his father, who is now retired. His father lives on Social Security and a union pension because some wine-drinking, cheese-eating liberal made sure he could take care of himself so Joe wouldn't have to.

 

Joe gets back in his car for the ride home, and turns on a radio talk show. The radio host keeps saying that liberals are bad and conservatives are good. He doesn't mention that the beloved Republicans have fought against every protection and benefit Joe enjoys throughout his day. Joe agrees: "We don't need those big-government liberals ruining our lives! After all, I'm a self-made man who believes everyone should take care of themselves, just like I have."

 

love-mystictrek

The Abundancetrek Blog

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+ Here's an excerpt from a WaPo article cited in the November 10 post of the Liberal Christians blog:

 

Battling the notion that "values voters" swept President Bush to victory because of opposition to gay marriage and abortion, three liberal groups released a post-election poll in which 33 percent of voters said the nation's most urgent moral problem was "greed and materialism" and 31 percent said it was "poverty and economic justice." Sixteen percent cited abortion, and 12 percent named same-sex marriage.

 

love-mystictrek

The Abundancetrek Blog

Edited by mystictrek
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What do we do as progressive christians to carry on?

I don't know. I honestly feel I've been beat with a stick after this election.

All I can do is keep going to church. Keep showing up. keep posting, keep writing letters.

I worry a lot. I worry that my cousin will lose her husband in Iraq.

I worry the government will take even more of my civil liberties because I am such a dangerous, evil godless sodomite (according to some).

I worry the air and water quality will go bad because of bad environmental policy.

I worry about a lot of things.

Jesus told us not to worry. That's my sin, worrying about stuff. That's what I do that Jesus told me not to do.

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  • 3 weeks later...
So I imagine that many users of this site are just as dismayed as I am that the Christian Right has become the voice of Christianity. How do we as progressive Christians counter this trend? How do we help articulate an alternative vision of religion in America that will appeal to folks in "middle America"? I guess I'm not willing to retreat into a shell... not yet.

So I imagine that many users of this site are just as dismayed as I am that the Christian Right has become the voice of Christianity.  How do we as progressive Christians  counter this trend?  How do we help articulate an alternative vision of religion in America that will appeal to folks in "middle America"?  I guess I'm not willing to retreat into a shell... not yet.

 

I do regret you have this picture, the Christian Right cannot be "the voice of christianity" for some reasons..

 

Basically, in Europe and America we have common roots , we have had to deal with the same problems , persecution of non-conformists was one..

 

All the european middle ages is rooted in the notion of "christianity", a mix beween civil religion and christian religion..

 

Early , in 18th centuries , Baptists , (and Mennonites) have challenged this view, churches and religion must be separate from the government..

 

Separation of Church and State, in order to protect the churches and the believers from the influence of the government (state religion), or to protect the citizens from the influence of an all-powerful religion group..

 

Christianity, in its european sub-modalities, has supported separation of Church and State , even if some people are more conservative, or more liberal, or social-democrats , or ecologist..

 

In order to protect the civil liberties, european evangelicals christians (baptists, methodists, free churches) have no nostalgy thinking to the middle-ages.. And all the times they have been persecuted by the "christian " politically admitted religion..

 

In 380 AD Emperor Theodosius has produced a decree ("Christianity had to be the sole religion of the Empire"),

The results have been, persecution of heathens, persecution of reformers, so much problems..

 

Leading people to leave their country to have a new life..

 

Laicity, the word comes from "laos" (the people) , and the church is not "laos", the church in greek is "ekklesia" - those who are called outside..

 

For what reason , i could suggest "to be an example " , in compassion, in social justice..

 

For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven.
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I am also a Progressive Christian who does not support abortion. On the topic of gays....I once talked to this gay man who also considered himself Progressive Christian and he shared with me that his view was that God was not against people of the same sex being attracted to each other but rather came to the belief that God was against the act of anal sex..whether between two men or a str8 man and women and this is also the highest way AIDS is spread.

 

I don't push my views off on anyone but I personally concure with this. I am a str8 gal who has two great gay guy friends and one is my my nephew. I asked them what they taught of this guy's idea and they said they agree. I have not completed by view on what i think of homosexuality. I think it does not work and is not fair to try and make gays be attracted to the opposite....but I think I agree with this one gay guy's view. The guy's said he was very concerned that liberal churches were not educating awareness on this topic and that he felt by them being silent on the topic that in a sense they were encouraging people's risk to get and spread AIDs. I don;t know..what do you think about this?

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In my experience, liberal churches are far more likely to cover safe sex matters and STD prevention in their youth sexuality workshops than conservative churches are.

 

I agree with this ,my union of churches is conservative , and the programs do cover the safe sex matter and STD prevention , basically , a church cannot do less than the educational program do in high school.

 

Should I suggest there are more and more young people in conservative churches than in liberal churches..

 

Basically liberal churches are seen as "growing older and older" while conservative renew their members (picking young people from other churches for example..)

The same problem met by mainstream denominational churches, challenged by evangelical or fundamentalist group ..

 

Why do you go to the "evangelical " church ? Because the music is good and i dislike the incense fragrance ..

Edited by Oak
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Oak: "I agree with this ,my union of churches is conservative , and the programs do cover the safe sex matter and STD prevention , basically , a church cannot do less than the educational program do in high school."

 

I am very glad to hear this..cause I did not know if they did or not. But I am very glad to hear they do

 

"Should I suggest there are more and more young people in conservative churches than in liberal churches..."

 

Yes, yes! This IS precisley it. Something needs to be done about this!

 

"Basically liberal churches are seen as "growing older and older" while conservative renew their members (picking young people from other churches for example..)"

 

Yes and thus they are breeding the future generations of fundamentalists but only dressed more cool.

 

"Why do you go to the "evangelical " church ? Because the music is good and i dislike the incense fragrance .."

 

I LOVE the contemporary good sounding music of the mega contemporary Evangelical churches...but I surley do NOt love the sexism and "Left Behind" sermons.

 

From what I have seen, and mind you I am purely speaking about what "I" have seen in 'MY' city, Ventura (Which our city's paper confirmed as by large red and NOT blue) is that all the people in the liberal/ Progressive churches here like Disciples of Christ Church and United Methodists are 50 to 90's. Infact, 'I' have NEVER seen a person my age, 35 or younger ever, and the little I have listened to these older liberals/progressive Christians and talked to them..they do not seem very excited/stoked about trying very hard to reach about to the contemporary youth culture. Yet, the most far right fundamental bracnhes of Evangelical protestant churches ARE and thus the youth culture is flocking to THEM and embracing EVERYTHING withOUT question. They looked up to these Fundamental youth pastors with awe. I have been talking to some of these young adults in the Christian Surfer's Associations. They are Fundamental and when I try and get their input on Progressive views...the Fundamental churches have convinced them that moderate and Progressive versions of Christianity are false.

 

When i have spoken to Pastors and congeration members of liberal/Progressive churches in Ventura about this program they merely sigh and agree that it is a shame but they offer no suggestions on how to try and reverse this trend. You have to stop and realize that ALL Christian coffee houses, Christian Surf clubs, and basically all youth culture forms of Christianity are woned SOULEY by the Fundamentalists.

 

Instead of sighing about this..the Progressive Christians need to actually DO something. It seems to me that everything the 60's Civil Rights movement fought for and everything that geberations youths fought against has been completely erased from the minds of todays youth thanks to the majority known as the Far Right or the fundamental collective churches.

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