Come in! Come in!

"If you are a dreamer, come in. If you are a dreamer, a wisher, a liar, a Hope-er, a Pray-er, a Magic Bean buyer; if you're a pretender, come sit by my fire. For we have some flax-golden tales to spin. Come in! Come in!" -- Shel Silverstein

Saturday, January 03, 2009

A new logo for 2009

Hat tip to VT Crone.

I'm liking this a whole lot.


David@Montreal said...

I love it!
Put the responsibility right where it belongs!


JCF said...

Do you think we can get Rick Warren to wear one on the Inaugural podium? [I know: "Yeah, right"]

Sara said...

I love the sentiment, but my friends in California, who supported Prop 8, will tell you that they don't hate. It's very frustrating. I don't know how to get the message through. Maybe it'll take another generation.

Doorman-Priest said...

I loved the sentiment too , but the "follow the ray" bit didn't work for me.

What might the alternatives have been?

Jim said...

I like it a lot. If it were not copy written, I would add it as a clip on my blog and maybe do a tapestry of it.


Robert Christian said...

Just in from MILK. Wow, almost made me cry. We've come a long way but we still have lots of Anita Bryants out there. I like the sticker "is hate a family value?"

Peace Bob

Hiram said...

I know that I open myself up to accusations of ignorance, prejudice, and/or blindness when I say this - but many of those who oppose assessing same-sex sexual activity as morally acceptable do NOT hate those who are sexually attracted to members of their own sex. We believe that all people have what have been called "besetting sins," areas in which they are especially tempted to disobey God's commands, and that for some people such areas of temptation include being sexually attracted to members of their own sex.

That a particular activity does not seem to hurt others or those who participate in it themselves does not mean that it does not. Those who lie to others, even if it is only occasionally, hurt those to whom they lie, they hurt the larger community by not living in truth, and they hurt their own souls by building up a habit of dishonesty that may in time utterly engulf them.

There is no culture that has embraced sexual activity without boundaries (and I mean objective boundaries, not such subjective ones as "commitment;" two people can be utterly, totally, permanently committed to each other - for five weeks) that has not fallen apart in a few generations. I have read things advocated by faculty and guest lecturers at Episcopal Divinity School, and they often have no boundaries or merely trivial ones.

I know htat there are those who do hate those who are attracted to members of their own sex. I wish it were not so, but it is.

But many of us do not hate those who practice same-sex sexual activity - but it seems that our opposition is often taken for hatred. We may misperceive reality - but then again, so may you.

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

Hiram, Your opposition to LGBT people received as 'hatred' in the same way, I suspect, you would receive it if the shoe were on the other foot. It's sort of like the parent who takes out the leather belt to "discipline" a child and says, "I'm doing this because I love you." Sure doesn't feel like love - because, well, it really isn't. It's meant as love, but love never intends harm in the name of love. That's just crazy making.

So, when I hear a good Christian person say, "No, of course you can't get married," and out of the same mouth say, "because everyone knows that LGBT people are promiscuous," well, I beg your pardon, but it's either stupidity, blindness, insensitivity or, yes, hate.

Try reversing the situation, Hiram, and see how it feels. Unless, of course, you can't, because you know you are "right".

Hiram said...

I am not proposing any sort of “discipline,” but rather saying that, according to God’s Word, God made the human race male and female and instituted and hallowed the union of husband and wife in marriage. He has set that relationship as the only proper venue for sexual intercourse. The less the human race respects God plan and provision, the more trouble the human race will have as a whole, even if any particular couple (or group) is blissfully happy. And the more closely we follow God’s plan, the more blessed and stable we will be, not only as individuals but as a society.

We are sinful, broken people. Even God’s people, the Israelites, did not follow his plan – and if you look at the polygamous families of the Old Testament, you can see how polygamy led to great pain and disorder. God tolerated polygamy, for it was better than a free for all – but God never commanded polygamy; he only tolerated it.

I never said “everyone knows that LGBT people are promiscuous." There are indeed same-sex couples who are stable and absolutely faithful to each other. There are same-sex couples who show love to each other far more completely and faithfully than heterosexual couples, as anybody with an eye and an ear can tell. Even so, there are studies (some done by the Centers for Disease Control) that, while there may indeed be faithful same-sex couples, there are also many couples whose time together is only a few years and who allow each other sexual encounters outside the relationship – and some, particularly men, with same-sex attraction have hundreds of sexual partners over the course of their lifetimes.

It is not promiscuity per se that is the argument against same-sex sexual activity, but rather God’s Word and the reality that sexual activity, while it certainly has other purposes, is clearly designed to produce offspring – indeed, to a great extent, those other purposes are part of what create a stable environment for the rearing of children from infancy to responsible adulthood. Again, we are sinful and broken people, and even the best families have deficiencies – and some families are scenes of greater horror than Hollywood has yet dreamed of. But while there may be some same-sex couples who provide a better environment for raising children than some heterosexual couples, a monogamous marriage of a man and a woman is still the best environment and society needs to encourage and support such marriages, as has been shown in some long-term studies.

Saying, “No, marriage is at its essence a relationship of a man and a woman, and therefore we cannot and will not support same-sex ‘marriage’” is not standing over those who are attracted to members of their own sex and whaling at them with a belt. It is more along the line of a doctor telling a patient, “You can smoke if you want to, and eat whatever you like, as much as you like – but if you do, you will not like the results.” A doctor, of course, cannot force a patient to eat properly or to avoid tobacco, while society can and does choose its own laws – but legislation cannot create reality or make the likely results of a dangerous choice less dangerous.

Even at that, I will say that given the trajectory of social thought in the West, we probably will have same-sex marriages allowed over the next two decades. Those of us who continue to resist the tide of “free love” (I use this term since we do not see same-sex sexual activities as the only taboo, but also pre-marital and extra-marital sexual activity) will become the despised and marginalized, and will be hated and vilified. If that is the case ten or twenty years from now – sooner – so be it.

We do not hate you, and we are not ignorant. We see things from a different perspective – and it is a perspective that is logically opposed to your perspective. We may both be wrong, but we cannot both be right.

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

Hello, Hiram, and thanks for stopping by with your usual passion and clarity. I did not say that YOU said anything about LGBT people being promiscuous. I said that's the usual argument given as to why LGBT people can't marry.

That, and "it's God's will." Well, scriptures were not written by God. They were written by men of a certain age and with a certain social consciousness about building up their community. They did not have advanced scientific knowledge about homosexuality. In fact, it was not known as a classification of people. It was known as a 'behavior' - not a sexual orientation. And, it was part of a Levitical code of purity, designed to keep the newly forming nation of people who had been in exile from engendering God's wrath and to build up their population and nation. "No wasted seed" - in any circumstance.

And, I must say, heterosexual marriage has become a joke. Think Brittany Spears. Elizabeth Taylor. Michael Jackson.

Okay, they are crazy artisan types. Look around your community. Do you really see people living marriage as a "God ordained" style of life? Marriage has become a social, legal contract. Period, end of sentence.

Not allowing LGBT people to marry as an antidote to that is not the solution. Allowing ALL people who are serious about entering marriage as a sacred, holy, life-long commitment is.

Instead of asking, "Why should we allow LGBT people to marry?" we should be asking "What is God doing by bringing forward all these same-sex people who want to marry?"

If we started asking THAT question, we might get closer to actually living the God-inspired value of fidelity and mutual love we read about in scripture.

At least, that's the way I see it. Not both wrong nor both right. Just asking the wrong question, is all.

Hiram said...

I am sorry to be so long in replying – a sermon and the funeral of a dear friend took some time away. In spite of some things we have in common, such as a love of the Episcopal Church, a devotion to Volkswagens (I own or have owned 13 of them), a love of Rehoboth, and being fans of the Red Sox, there is one thing that we do not have in common, and as long as we do not, we will disagree strongly about many things dealing with the Christian faith in general, and the expression of that faith in the Episcopal Church in particular.

You said in your comment of Jan 9, “Well, scriptures were not written by God. They were written by men of a certain age and with a certain social consciousness about building up their community. They did not have advanced scientific knowledge about homosexuality. In fact, it was not known as a classification of people. It was known as a 'behavior' - not a sexual orientation.”

I have in my library a book by JI Packer that was first published in 1955. He titled it ”Fundamentalism” and the Word of God. (“Fundamentalism” in England was what we call Evangelicalism; it was not the dispensationalist, “King James” only camp.) That was over fifty years ago, and the dispute in the Church over the nature and authority of the Bible was about 100 years old even then. In fact, it has been an almost constant discussion, with skeptics arising in every century. But the historic Christian position has been that (to use a phrase from Dr Packer), “What the Bible says, God says.” As Jesus said, “Man does not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.” That is only one reference of a good number of places where Jesus asserts the authority and reliability of Scripture as having its ultimate author in God. I will accept Jesus’ assessment of the Bible. If he was wrong there, where else may he be wrong?

If God calls a behavior wrong, it does not matter where the inclination to participate in that behavior comes from – the behavior is wrong. Some people are congenital liars and could not tell the truth and only the truth for 24 hours if their lives depended on it. Are we therefore to decide that that is the way God made them, and so lying can be blessed and celebrated? Sexual “orientation” is not set in stone. The first man I met who was open about his same-sex sexual activity was Alan Medinger, the founder of Regeneration, an Ex-gay ministry that is part of the Exodus family of ministries. His orientation has changed, and he can testify to hundreds whose orientation has changed through Regeneration.

I will admit that heterosexual marriage is in tatters in our culture. That is not the fault of the historic Christian conviction about marriage. Rather, it is due to the sexual revolution of the 60’s and 70’s, the selfishness that has burgeoned throughout our culture, and a general sense that “I deserve to be happy, and if you don’t make me happy, good-bye!” When sexual activity becomes casual recreation, its power to unify is lost. People enjoy sex, but the true joy of sex is not the physical pleasure but the “one flesh” aspect, of being joined heart-to-heart and soul to soul as well as body to body. People may engage in lots of sex, but they leave spiritual pieces of themselves all over, and they will never be satisfied merely by more physical unions.

Furthermore, the Church has lost sight of the spiritual resources we have in Christ, to forgive, to transform, and to empower. It is all too easy for people –conservative and “progressives” alike – to think that once they know what God wants done, they can just do it. But the reality of the matter is that only when we do the hard work of searching our hearts, opening them up to the penetrating gaze of the Holy Spirit through his Word, and only when we agree with God that we are helpless and in need of forgiveness and of his resurrection power, that we are able to grow and change in ways that honor him and conform to his revealed standards and plans.

Yes, things are a mess – and they will only get messier, unless our culture returns in heart to God’s basic plan for marriage. And that plan is not merely the subjective elements of “fidelity and mutual love,” but also the objective elements of one man and one woman. If the Bible is wrong about the latter, how do we know it can be relied on for the former?

You said, “Instead of asking, ‘Why should we allow LGBT people to marry?’ we should be asking ‘What is God doing by bringing forward all these same-sex people who want to marry?’”

When I read that second question, the one you propose as the proper question, I thought of Rom. 1:18, which speaks of intentional blindness to the things of God. I also thought of Jesus’ words in the Sermon on the Mount, “Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.” (Mt 7:13 & 14) And Phil. 3:19 also came to mind: “Their end is destruction, their god is their belly, and they glory in their shame, with minds set on earthly things.” In the days of Jeremiah, there were many religious leaders who said that Judah’s troubles were not serious: “They dress the wound of my people as though it were not serious. ‘Peace, peace,’ they say, when there is no peace. Are they not ashamed of their loathsome conduct? No, they do not even know how to blush.” (Jer 6:14, 15)

I do not believe that it is the holy and triune God who is “bringing forward all these same-sex people who want to marry.” I believe that God is weeping as his Gospel of grace is used to justify licentiousness and as his Word is reduced to mere ponderings on spiritual experience.

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

Wait, wait, wait. You tell me of one theologian with a particular perspective says something that convinces HIM of how God wrote the scriptures and that's IT? That's the basis for the entire rest of your argument?

I can quote you several evanglical / fundamentalist / conservative theologians - some of whom agree and others of whom disagree with that. Or, at least question that position.

Please, Hiram. If you want to believe that the earth is flat, you can make a rock solid case using scripture.

Same thing with leprosy being a curse from God, left-handed people being sinister, why women should be subservient to men, and slavery being okay.

In fact, you can make a more solid case for any of the above than you can regarding homosexual people.

Sorry, Hiram. If you want to believe what you believe, that's fine. God bless you. But, please, don't insult your own intelligence by using this very weak argument.

I'm less impressed by your intellect than I am by what's in your heart.

I believe God is, too.

Hiram said...

I was using Packer as a representative scholar - there are many more, including many Anglicans, who believe that God stands behind Scripture and that it can be relied on being HIS Word. Individuals wrote it, and they addressed particular communities with particular situations and particular problems, but God used their insights to say what he wanted said. The process was not one of dictation, and some of the authors of Scripture probably had no clue that what they wrote was God's Word - but the Holy Spirit was at work, so that God's message was conveyed.

And who might some of these "conservative" scholars be who do not believe that all the Bible is God's Word?

Slavery, like polygamy, is a product of the Fall into sin. God regulated it among his people to prevent it from becoming as bad as it might be - and there is no place in Scripture where God commands anyone to own slaves. The letters of Paul give principles for Christians regarding slaves that undercut the whole idea of slavery; Philemon is an excellent case in point. Some Christians in America developed arguments for slavery - but they had to use the same sort of Scripture-twisting tactics that are used to justify the goodness of same-sex sexual activity.

Hiram said...

In case you did not know, JI Packer is one of the best Evangelical theologians of the last sixty years, and he has written several books on Scripture, both popular and formal theology. He was ordained in the Church of England shortly after WWII, and has served in England and Canada. He and John Stott have written vast amounts of material upholding classic orthodoxy in the face of modernist and skeptical theologies. And again, he is far from alone. I thought that you would recognize the name and the stature; I guess I was wrong.

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

Of course I know Packer. I've read him and John Stott - well, as much as I could tolerate. There's only so much of that stuff I can take. I do have my limits.

You are perfectly free to insult your own intelligence; please don't insult mine.

You are amazing! Slavery is due to the Fall???? We had no choice in it - it's just cause we were perfectly made and then we sinned?

And abolition was all in God's plan? Humankind (human intelligence, human compassion) had no choice in the matter?

Well, that story might have played in ancient Israel, but don't try telling the descendants of slaves that 400 years of torture and bondage was part of God's plan for them. No modern Jewish scholar believes that their bondage in Egypt was either their fault or God's plan.

Why should African Americans?

Why should I believe that "God's plan" for LGBT people is what you and Stott and Packer say it is, when there are many theologians who can argue from the other perspective - I won't insult your intelligence by naming them.

So, wait - the one instance of Philemon wipes out all of the Hebrew Scripture's enthusiastic embrace of slavery, which even Jesus seems to support, but the Christians who argued to abolish slavery - what did you say? - "had to use the same sort of Scripture-twisting tactics that are used to justify the goodness of same-sex sexual activity."

????????????????? Oh man, don't say that out loud in front of Al Sharpton, Jesse Jackson, or Barak Obama.

No, Hiram. The one quote that finally brought an end to slavery is the same one that will bring an end to the denial of civil rights to LGBT people. In the words of Jesus: "Love one another as I have loved you."

The argument was that you couldn't keep people in slavery and follow this "new commandment" of Jesus.

The same is being said of denying the civil rights of LGBT people.

You really think your case is air tight, don't you? Is that evidence of intellectual conviction or intellectual arrogance. And, how do you distinguish the two?

Look, Hiram, we're getting nowhere fast in this conversation. That's because we come at this from very different starting points and perspectives.

You start with The Fall and it all goes downhill from there. Mankind (and, here's where I'm happy to give you your exclusive language) is sinful, wretched, weak.

I start with Original Blessing and it all goes up from there. Humankind is unconditionally loved by God and saved by grace.

I am happy to be in the same church as you and have you believe whatever you are going to believe. I believe you are wrong, but, then again, you think I am wrong.

Let's work and live out our understandings of the gospel in our own lives of faith and leave that judgment to God.

Hiram said...

Elizabeth, thank you for being so patient and for continuing a conversation on a thread long off the main page. One reason I come here is to try to understand the perspective and thinking of progressives.

Let me quote you for a moment: “the Christians who argued to abolish slavery - what did you say? – ‘had to use the same sort of Scripture-twisting tactics that are used to justify the goodness of same-sex sexual activity.’”

I wonder if your whole response is colored by a misunderstanding of what I actually said, which was: “Some Christians in America developed arguments for slavery - but they had to use the same sort of Scripture-twisting tactics that are used to justify the goodness of same-sex sexual activity.” I was not talking about the arguments of abolitionists against slavery, but about those who sought to justify the slavery found in America. I am a Southerner by birth and by affection, but even when I heard arguments justifying segregation (and by extension, slavery) as a teen, I could tell that those making them were taking statements out of context and were making huge, unwarranted assumptions.

I can tell that we differ hugely not only in what we believe the Bible to be, but in what the nature and effects of sin are. How would you define sin? According to classic Christian doctrine, sin is not only doing what God forbids or failing to do what God commands, but is (at an even deeper level) a rebellion of creature against creator, a huge cry of “NO!” in the face of God. As sinners, we human beings claim the right to be the ultimate authority of what is right and wrong, good and bad. If our assessment happens to agree with what God has said, well and good – but if it does not, too bad for God; we will do what we please. This is the teaching of the Christian Church in general and of the Church of England in particular: see Articles IX through XVIII of the XXXIX Articles. (I have been told that I cannot be a good Episcopalian because I believe the Articles, which always leaves me puzzled…)

You also said, “You are amazing! Slavery is due to the Fall???? We had no choice in it - it's just cause we were perfectly made and then we sinned?

Slavery is a natural consequence of the Fall into sin – not a necessary one. From my perspective, given the nature of sin, slavery would be inevitable, but given that we indeed can make choices, bringing slavery into existence was not inherent in the Fall.

We human beings have the ability to choose anything we want to choose. But then – what do we want? Sin limits us because it imprisons our desires and we do not want what we most truly need to be or to do. We are still free to do whatever we want. It is because of God’s mercy upon all humanity (“He makes the sun to shine upon the just and the unjust”) that many, even those who do not believe in God, want things that are good according to God.

Two more things: First, in your earlier comment on Wednesday, you had said, “I can quote you several evanglical / fundamentalist / conservative theologians - some of whom agree and others of whom disagree with that. Or, at least question that position.”

I asked you who, because, while I know of Spong, Countryman, and some others on the progressive end of the spectrum, I do not know of any conservative theologians, who would assert the complete authority and reliability of Scripture and who also question the idea that same-sex sexual activity is wrong.

Secondly, where do you get the idea of “Original blessing”? I would agree with you that humanity is unconditionally loved by God and that our relationship to him comes out of his mercy and not our merit – but that unconditional love and mercy is even more astonishing because it is given to those who are in rebellion against him, not simply to those who are puzzled, ignorant, or somehow neutral. As Paul says in Rom 5:8, “God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinner, Christ died for us. We were indeed blessed to begin with – and then we turned our back on God’s blessing, and he still loves us and initiated a plan (dreadful word, no doubt!) to redeem us from rebellion and estrangement. What could be more wonderful than that?

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

Hiram, I fear your notes always leave me exhausted even before I begin. I confess that, when I get into these conversations with conservatives, I always feel an overwhelming sense of futility. I want to say, "Look, let's just say that it's not surprising that we end up in different places - we start from completely different places," and leave it at that.

I'm probably a fool for doing this, but I'll say this much: I do believe that there is sin, but I don't see the sense in arguing over a myth that has been enshrined in our scripture as "The Fall." It was simply a way that our primitive ancestors tried to make sense of how to understand God, and sin, and the role of humanity in the world.

We, for our part, will be seen in future generations as someone's 'primitive ancestors'. As Luther said, "All is being perfected."

Sin, in my view is "missing the mark" - not because we are wretched sinners, but because we're human, not God. That's pretty classic Pauline theology, near as I can figure it.

And, as one of the church's early theologians once said, "The glory of God is (Hu)man(kid) fully alive." I believe God loves us, even when we 'miss the mark'.

Not that we should sin, by no means!, as St. Paul reminds us, it sets the stage for grace to abound. Or, as Luther said, "Sin boldly, but love more boldly still."

I am also a solid Liberation Theologian, which has respectable roots in Process Theology. I begin with a hermeneutic of suspicion and curiosity. I not only want to know about the author, but what archeology and history and modern science have to say when applied to the text. I want to know who isn't in the story and why. Who is writing the story and why. Who was in the original audience and who wasn't there and, of course, why. What this reveals about God's ongoing love of and concern for and continued action in the world.

"Original Blessing" is a term first coined by Matthew Fox in his book by that title. Matthew was an RC priest when he wrote the book and was prohibited by Rome for it. He eventually left Rome and is now an Episcopal Priest. He is also, no surprise, a Liberation Theologian.

Just to be clear, when I use the term 'Liberation Theology" I am including womanist, feminist, muerista, and asian theologies.

None of these theological perspectives intends to impose anything on anyone. Instead, they try to explain God from their own perspective a men and women of color and different ethnicity.

On the other hand, my experience of conservative, systematic theologies is that they are written from the narrow perspective of privileged, mostly Western European men and those women and people of color who see this as the dominant paradigm of social, political, ideological, spiritual and theological thought which wishes to impose these beliefs on others in a uniform, monochrome application.

As a Liberation Theologian, I fervently and passionately reject this dominance and work unashamedly to subvert it by narrative which, we feel, is the on-going revelation of God's continued love of and action and presence in the world.

I think what drives me right round the bend most of the time is the smugness of those on the right that they have it 'right'. Despite the enthusiasm of the evangelical perspective, it always smacks of the smart alec kid in the sixth grade who had just discovered the principles of logic.

Most evangelicals I know are much more concerned with being right - wait, that's not exactly true. It's very important that they are right and everyone else has it wrong. The arrogance dressed up as faith, and I must say, inherent narcisism all dressed up as piety are much more than I can often bear.

I'm not accusing you of that, Hiram. I'm sure most feminists and progressives and Liberal Theologians are more than you can usually bear in one sitting.

So, there it is. That's where I come from. But, I suspect you already knew all of this, Hiram. I'm curious as to why you want me to get this all written down. Yeah, I admit it. I'm suspicious. I fully expect this to appear sometime in the future in a post over at Viagraland. Not that you would post it, of course. But, I can easily imagine that, say, oh, you'll one day just be trying to explain something to someone, and the story will be repeated and OOPS! I'll get quoted out of context.

So, I have tried to be careful. That really won't make much difference to those who want the dominance of their perspective to prevail like some junior high school theological ball game.

It's the set up for 'winners and losers' that I find most odious.

This is also my way of saying that I no longer wish to have this conversation with you - IN PRINT. I'm happy to meet with you or to have a phone conversation. This is simply a most unsatisfactory way to converse.

Bottom line: We're both representative of points along the Anglican "Big Tent" spectrum. We both love Jesus. We both try living out the Gospel in a way that has integrity with our beliefs.

I wish you well. I wish you peace. I wish you God's blessing.