Dear elected official considering "legislative solutions" to reduce the abortion rate ... well, not really the rate because there is no indication you have thought that through at all, being more focused on passing laws that make it look like you are "doing something" about abortion when you are missing the point entirely ... yeah, you:
We are on the wrong course in our interactions with courts, the legislative process, and specifically the women in our society. Lowering the abortion rate to astonishingly low levels is possible, and it starts (STARTS) with ending the expensive and wasteful process of trying to force people into making the choice most of us want them to make. Let's do this the way Jesus demonstrated. Listen to people, love them as they are, intervene personally and directly; not with laws that attempt to control them without listening to them or even knowing who they really are (much less loving them as much as so many conservative Christians "say" they love the unborn child ... an anonymous and cheap form of "love" at best).
There is a simple test that we should apply when someone in a debate talks about "low levels" of pregnancy due to rape and incest or life-threatening situations like we've heard about in the past year from Ireland and elsewhere. (Think it couldn't happen here? I think it could in a rural part of states like Oklahoma, Mississippi, or others). None of that even includes women living with other sorts of threats, like domestic violence or health situations that could lead to serious consequences like sterility or conditions that would shorten life ... but just not drastically enough to satisfy the kinds of legislation being proposed by so-called conservatives. No the test here is really easy: whenever you call a number of women small, then your job is to pull out pen and paper and write down (you, personally, not a bunch of pages or interns) the names and phone numbers of all the women you have met for the first time in the past year. You see, the same women aren't typically pregnant from rape in consecutive years. For some women -- thankfully -- it is only a once in a lifetime experience if at all. But if you think it is a small number, go ahead and set a timer for an hour or two, and write down all your new female associates. It's a small number, right?
Of course, if it is physically impossible for you to write that many names (thousands of women each year) in a short span of time, then it isn't a small number at all. We should have the intellectual integrity to challenge people who use language so inappropriately. On the other hand, you also may have -- despite being in a position of power -- simply avoided meeting that many of your constituents, choosing instead to remain in a very narrow field of influence for some arguably political reasons. That would be a lack of ethics and/or moral integrity ... if we are serious about the use of terms like "small number" to refer to such a large and important part of our society.
Jesus would speak with those women. With the woman at the well in John 4 as an example, he would empower her or them to be his advocate with others in the community, not only other women. He would never adopt a "there there little lady, I know what's best for you" philosophy and he certainly wouldn't legislate such an approach through the power of human government. People who do that are not following Jesus; they are opposing his example. Please, don't empower the anti-Christ forces that you are forced to brush elbows with, whether they identify themselves as some sort of Christian voting bloc or moral majority or not. The only real "moral majority" is Jesus. Try doing things his way for a change, or take this prompting to challenge peers who are and have been taking the Lord's name in vain on this issue (and numerous others).
Sincerely and admittedly,
Someone who loves Jesus more than power (I'm not alone here, my fellow Christians, and you are welcome to join us)
Gameplan for upcoming Inappropriate Conversations
- Some things are worth fighting for, on a personal level
- I was a punk before you were a punk (and I don't consider that band "punk")
- Using documentaries to keep score on sports history
One of the ways I know that I lean toward introversion is my experience at reunions. In journals and poetry, I describe those events with both a longing and regret over what I might call invisibility. "Disappear Here" is the name of the poem. No doubt, it was inspired by the "people are afraid to merge" theme in Less Than Zero by Bret Easton Ellis. Some people are afraid to merge; at least, I know one.
I also answer the question: how do you know if you are a bigot?
Different Drummer: Ingmar Bergman
Some poems, like this one, work better visually. "Tithe" can be read in multiple ways -- two of them, crucially. You can read it directly, or as a hymn.
Jesus woke me up
I thanked him anyway,
He wished me well and
Sunday morning - much to my surprise.
Seeing that my sins
He told me that
Had been quite a burden.
Because He didn't want me
He died for my sins,
We talked about old times,
To build a church
In my shock, I did not
I guess for ten minutes
Or seek people who
Know what to say,
Would donate their money.
This relaxed me and
Convinced me that the
Times really don't change.
A great deal of what I want from fiction connects with The Sound And The Fury by William Faulkner, particularly the Quentin chapter ("June 2, 1910"). Despite the depressing narrative, I find hope in the connections between characters, including both flawed characters and flawed connections. There are moments in life that we always revisit, whether intentionally or not. I've had friends I haven't seen in years and may never see again, but on occasion it feels like I'm encountering them again through a new acquaintance. "Another Sean" is the expression I've used here, and I wonder if I've mentioned Sean before on the show. I doubt it. Such is the power of a chance encounter aligning itself with the subconscious.
To answer Quentin's question: I have had many sisters, more than I could name if put on the spot, and just a couple of them share the same parents as me.
Different Drummer: William Faulkner
I recall hearing in a Sociology course about a form of existentialism so dark that some people never accept they were alive until the moment of death itself. For most of us, even the slightest touch confirms what I'll jokingly call "our suspicion" that we actually exist. A handshake, pat on the back, or a hug can provide powerful validation. It's a mistake to take such an obvious thing for granted.
Different Drummer: Leo Buscaglia
For many years, the bulletin in my church would provide name and title for several people involved in worship services. Calling out the organist and lay reader, for example, is just as important as identifying the choir director and pastor. That list also had an entry for minister as "every member of the congregation." At least from a Protestant Christian perspective, all of us are ministers. The term is not a synonym for someone who pastors a local church.
I mention this to provide some context for a statement that I feel compelled to make. It might be obvious. Then again, maybe not. Among other things, Inappropriate Conversations is, for me, a ministry.
Am I "preaching" the notion that strict separation of politics, religion, and aspects of popular culture (including sexuality) has not served us well? Perhaps. If so, this post is not a signal that things are changing in any way. On the contrary, I anticipate the tone and approach remaining the same.
It may be enough to say, for now, that I am reaching out in several directions, intentionally.
- * I'm asking Christians to view Jesus as something more than a celebrity they follow with an "I like this" or even an "I'm like this" mentality.
- * I'm correcting or even rebuking those who seem to worship their Bible, whether they realize it or not, without actually having a full understanding of what it says.
- * I'm also reaching out to people who have left the church or bypassed it completely because they have been either marginalized or harmed by what I call "politically active Christianity" but is more commonly known by terms like "the religious right."
- * Finally, I'm delighted to know that I'm also speaking (literally, from a podcast perspective) with like-minded Christians. Almost without exception, these are followers of Christ who have felt the Holy Spirit move them, either in a completely different direction or simply out of complacency.
That last group describes me as well. Examples are sprinkled throughout these podcasts -- sporadically, by design, to avoid becoming preachy. Make no mistake, though, ministry can and does happen in a variety of ways. It doesn't require a worship service, and certainly not a sermon. Is there some risk in speaking up, in exercising my freedoms of religion and speech in this manner? There shouldn't be, politically, for reasons that go back to the founding of this country.
I believe there is greater risk in silence. Why, and what does that have to do with ministry or God? "It's far better to say something that should not be said, than not to say something that should be said." I attribute those words to the Holy Spirit at 1:37 a.m. CST on February 7, 1987. How would you remain willfully silent after hearing that? I haven't and I won't.