Category Archives: Politics

Andrei Rublev (c. 1360–c. 1430): The Hospitality of Abraham

Unity and Relationship

Andrei Rublev (c. 1360–c. 1430): The Hospitality of Abraham
Andrei Rublev (c. 1360–c. 1430): The Hospitality of Abraham

Passover just ended, it is Eastertide, and Ramadan just started. The three Abrahamic religions celebrate Spring differently, but with similar gratitude and hope. Yet we are divided and sometimes violently so.

Perhaps the biggest issue that keeps the Abrahamic religions divided is their seemingly incompatible answers to the question of the nature of God (that is our unique Theologies).

The post-Exilic priests in Jerusalem who invented monotheism in the first place (Isaiah and Jeremiah), made it clear that we can’t answer the Theological question.

Yahweh/Allah/Deus (aka “the Divine Other”) is and must be transcendent (or else we invent God, and whatever we invent can’t be God).

Jews (still) believe that even giving God a name violates the 2nd Commandment and is Idolatry. Early Christians struggled to defy and oppose Roman Emperor Worship, so imbued Christ with the attributes of the anti-Emperor (God, Son of God). Preaching to a very polytheistic culture, Muhammad and his followers stressed that Allah is One / El La, The One.

Early theological thinkers applied adjectives that we can invent; creative, provident, merciful, wise, graceful, just, omnipotent, omnipresent, and so forth. Be careful, however, because it’s almost impossible not to project your own psychological needs and cultural biases.

Early Christians were Jews. They worshipped One Lord. So how did their Trinity idea (a symbol for unity and relationship) become so divisive?

Politics.

By the 4th Century, Jesus, rather than representing non-violent resistance to Roman power, had replaced the Caesar at the top of the power pyramid… or just above it with a direct connection to the man at the top. Not long after that, Islam quickly became the state religion of the Caliphate. Both religions were corrupted to justify terrible violence and murder and theft. Jews were cast in the scapegoat role. However they are just as capable of inhumanity when they are in power.

So where does that leave us today?

Are we freed from the Pharoah or still in Exile? Is it still Lent or Easter? Is Muhammad in Mecca or Medina?

Here’s an icon from the Eastern Church (not influenced by Rome) from before Islam existed. It’s a painting of the Three Angels that visited Abraham and Sarah, hospitality, a shared meal a blessing and a promise. It’s a key moment in the history of all three of our religions.

In this icon, one man/angel is wearing Gold (a symbol for The Creator). One of them is wearing Blue (symbol for the suffering Messiah) and one is in Green (symbol for the Spirit/Advocate/Lord of Life). In those three, Sarah saw the One Lord. This icon omits her laughter. What is important in this old icon is the gesture. One (The Spirit) is inviting the viewer to sit at the Table of Blessing and Promise. Originally there was a mirror attached so you could see your own face in it.

Around a table graciously provided with the hospitality to share everything, there is no divide. Yesterday we took Holy Communion. This month, Linn and I will attend a seminar on resisting anti-Semitism. The Seder is over. We will share at least one Iftar meal with Muslim friends. We are not God but are in Relationship with the Divine and each other, there is just One Author of Love. The gesture to sit at the table is real. The empty place is for you.

Mike

April 30, 2016

My thoughts as I read “Left Wing Jesus” by Rev. Rich Lang:

Historical terms

“Left Wing Jesus?”

Left Wing” and “Right Wing” came into our vocabulary from just before the French Revolution in the late 18th Century. The National Assembly in Paris was divided into supporters of King Louis XVI and the “Ancient Regime,” men who sat to the president’s right. The supporters of the revolution were thus forced to sit to on the left. The Catholic Church supported the status quo and the Divine Right of Kings. The Deists and Protestants supported the French Revolution.

Right Wing” has thus taken on “conservative” and “support the old system” and “back the elites of power and wealth” associations. Those people honestly believe we already have the system that’s best for everyone and it should not be changed.

Left wing” as taken on “liberal” and “enlightened” and “back the people against economic oppression” connotations. Those people honestly believe that our system is corrupt and unjust and that things need to change.

American Political terms

The groups considered to be “Right Wing” are Fascists, Capitalists, Conservatives (both social and fiscal), Nationalists, Neoconservatives, Neoliberals, Reactionaries, Imperialists, Monarchists Libertarians, Authoritarians, and Religious Fundamentalists. These tend to gravitate into the Republican Party.

The “Left Wing” includes Anarchists, Communists, Socialists, Religious Progressives, Populists, Democratic Socialists, Social Liberals, and Green Party / Ecological Conservationists. These tend to associate with the Democratic Party.

Oddly, Conservationists are considered “Left Wing” but they are trying to conserve the planet. To do that they must challenge the political and economic system, thus leftists. Libertarians self-associate with the “Right Wing” even though they espouse Anarchy. They are Anarchists who have read Ayn Rand so want to be called Conservatives (they’re not), thus righties.

Economic terms like “Fascism” (big businesses and the wealthy run the government) or “Communism” (the workers own the means of production) are often misused, a legacy of World War II’s propaganda. Any of these positions can devolve into Totalitarianism due to Fundamentalist thinking (being sure you are the only one who has things perfectly correct and it’s your duty to force it on everyone and that those who oppose you are evil).

Religious terms

“Who Was Jesus?” How do we read the Bible and try to understand the answers given (always politically charged) by the authors and translators and scholars over the centuries to that question? Would Jesus sit on the Right or the Left in the French Assembly?

My pastor gave me an essay entitled “Left Wing Jesus” by Rev. Rich Lang. I’ve read it 1.5 times now. I wish he didn’t use the term “Fascist” in this context. Overall, I think he’s saying that we need to respect each other and value both “Right Wing” and “Left Wing” views of Jesus.

He’s up against Fundamentalism and “Right Wing Jesus” however. He should know about that imbalance of power. He’s the clergyman who stood with the Occupy Seattle folks and ended up getting pepper sprayed. His gentle words and thoughts, alone, are not going to rescue Coexist Jesus, no matter how important he is to the world we all occupy together.

Rev Rich Lang, author of Left Wing Jesus

No duaas in Coolidge

12000917_10207805403916413_8381081115954741162_oI’ve been to Coolidge Arizona, between Phoenix and Tucson on the old Butterfield Stage route. It’s south of the Gila River, mostly dry now. Once canals irrigated the crops of the Anasazi community, builders of Casa Grande, still-standing rock and mud building, an accurate solar calendar. Old West Coolidge was the site of Arizona’s first power plant and envisioned itself equal to the Old Pueblo and the new State Capital rising to the north.

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Disappointed in the Church.

Gay MarriageI love and care for my LGBT family members and LGBT friends and am very upset about the way modern American Evangelical Christianity is homophobic in the name of Jesus… It has almost made me not want to go to church… and certainly made me very angry at the homophobic Bible bangers and all the damage they do. They preach that all Scripture is God-breathed, then go straight into forcing their personal prejudices into mistranslations and misinterpretations.
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The American Taliban

U.S. Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) (L) gives a thumbs-up after introducing former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin (R-AK) to speak to the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in National Harbor, Maryland, March 16, 2013. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst (UNITED STATES - Tags: POLITICS) - RTR3F2ZKBefore September 2001, Americans mostly ignored the Taliban. A few noticed when they blew up two colossal statues of the Buddha in Bamiyan province, but otherwise we used them to weaken the Soviet Union.

There’s a similar religious organization in the US. The destruction of religious and cultural objects is one aspect of its agenda called “strategic level spiritual warfare” (SLSW).

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Ecclesia semper reformanda est

ML95The German theologian, Karl Barth, first declared “the church is always to be reformed” in 1947, but the idea goes back to the great Reformers; The Wesleys in the middle 1700s… Luther and others in the 1500s following the availability of printed Bibles. I, too, believe the Church needs to be constantly reforming itself back to First Principles and constantly adjusting itself to the dynamic world. Semper Reformanda Est.

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Random Causes

11407116_10206986064073429_2789644011656026944_n“Hail the size of grapefruit, heavy rainfall, and multiple tornadoes caused damage and flooding across …”

Weather news is always followed by clear examples of the human need to pretend we know cause-and-effect. Some decry Global Climate Disruption. Some preach a modern version of Ba’al who punishes nations with storms if they don’t conform to ancient moral standards. Some point a distrusting finger at Government, the military, or blame the greedy for paving Paradise to put up a parking lot.

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New Pledge of Allegiance?

Some politics were discussed at the social gathering last night, some disgusts with our politics were expressed, too. Everyone acts as if the US Government is far more important and powerful than I observe it to be. Multinational Corporations have become the new mega-power. They have a huge influence on governments at all levels and everywhere in the world. The US taxpayer funds a military force to primarily defend corporate resources and trade routes, oil wells and pipelines, water and mineral rights. National economic policies are distorted to provide a workforce willing to accept low wages and poor working conditions. The need to deal with various laws and governments is a huge and expensive nuisance, thus these international Trade Partnerships basically rewrite national laws and provide a new one-world court system.

I didn’t bring any of that up last night. I had my hands full with good people over-influenced by Fox News. No, President Obama is not coming to take our guns nor destroy the US Constitution. He’s not to blame for ruining the middle class either.

The far right has warned about a New World Order for some time and I certainly see things evolving in that direction, too. Our political process is theater to distract us from the inexorable roll of corporatism like a giant steam roller over national identities and freedoms.

I hope a world run by major corporations will be better than we all fear. Maybe there will be less war. Maybe the manipulated “news” will inspire happiness and pride instead of fear and distrust. Maybe Americans will get used to lower consumption, more expensive water and Chinese stir-fried Peruvian Lomo Saltado made with Australian beef over Japanese rice.
TPP-Map