RSS

Tag Archives: current events

My Thoughts Post-Orlando Tragedy

lovehate1

Every terrorist attack or case of mass violence (and I’m sure I buy into the idea that calling an act terrorism makes it different… was Sandy Hook less terrorism/terrifying? To me, it is a distinction without a difference) leads to a collective sense of pain, loss, frustration and sadness.

But when the attack is targeted at a group you identify with, it also leads to a fear that produces anger.

I am more sensitive when I hear of shooting of pastors or at churches; anti-Semitic incidents hurt more than others. Boston and 9/11 struck more because of geographic proximity — I knew people in both that were at “ground zero”.

People who know me know that I’m not a club scene kind of guy. Just not in my DNA. However, I do occasionally go to gay clubs or gay bars. And a few times a year I’ll go to a gay happy hour event or gay networking event. And I have friends who are regulars at gay clubs, gay bars, play on gay softball teams, sing in gay choruses. I have friends who work in these clubs and bars — as dancers, hosts, bartenders. And I’m part of a church that is explicitly and positively supportive of the entire LGBT community. Today, it strikes me that all of those places — places and spaces we go to because they are safe — are potential targets for those who hate us.

All day I have been sadder than usual about today’s tragedy and haven’t been sure why. This one feels more personal and, though I am not a fearful person, makes you think twice about where you go, how you identify, who you date, where you might hold hands or hug or kiss… and that makes me sadder than usual. For myself and all my LGBT friends, brothers and sisters.

It will be tempting in the coming days to use this incident and its anti-gay motivation to divide us even more as Americans. We should not allow it to do so.

We are one community. We can disagree politically and theologically. We can shout and scream and yell and argue. We can be at odds in so many ways… but we are a we. Let’s not let hate divide us anymore.

And on a more personal note… I am a deeply spiritual and religious man who endeavors to follow the way of Jesus every day. To borrow language from today’s sermon, daily I commit to Christ, to His Community and His Cause in the world. I am Jewish by birth and life (still am, always will be!) and Christian by new birth and life (have been for 24 years and will be for eternity). I am also gay.

There are extreme elements within both Judaism and Christianity that reject the LGBT community. At the very extremes, there are those who call for death for LGBT people in the name of God. In both cases, these extremists find justification for their position in a particular interpretation of an ancient text (a text I love!); in both cases, these extremists find justification in the “tradition” of their faith (and who are we to challenge 2000 years of tradition?); in both cases these extremists claim justification in that they once held the majority view within their faith. But let’s be clear: these extremists do not speak for God (nor do I) nor do they represent all Jews or all Christians or the best of what Christianity and Judaism bring to the table.

The same is true of Islam. Fundamentalist Islam, like fundamentalist Judaism and fundamentalist Christianity, is violently anti-gay. But not all Muslims share this view. As there is diversity among Jews and Christians, there is also great diversity within Islam. Our issue is not with religion — Judaism, Christianity, Islam or any other — but with extremism and fundamentalism. Please let us not confuse the issues.

If we wrongly identify our enemy, we will fight the wrong war. Islam is not our enemy. And we must resist the temptation to exchange homophobia for Islamophobia.

Praying for Peace in our World,

Which I believe is only possible by the Prince of Peace,

Imho,

Amen.

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on June 13, 2016 in Uncategorized

 

Tags: , ,

Rick Warren is Being Disingenuous

Image

I like Rick Warren a lot.

I have a ton of respect for his ministry, integrity and character.

I have learned a ton from him, consider him a mentor-from-a-distance, and will usually defend him against critics.  

My experiences with him have demonstrated that he is genuine, loving, passionate, compassionate, and simply put — the real deal.

That said, in this recent interview about homosexuality and gay marriage, Rick is being disingenuous. In the interview, Warren is quoted as saying:

“I fear the disapproval of God more than I fear your disapproval or the disapproval of society”

in response to a question about his opposition to gay marriage.

It is no surprise and nothing new that Warren believes all homosexual behavior is sinful and that gay marriage is wrong.  While I disagree with Warren on these issues — and believe he is both on the wrong side of history as well as faithful exegesis — I respect him enough to not dismiss him because of this disagreement.

But here is where is gets disingenuous: he implies that his position is the only one that God would approve and that anyone who disagrees or has a different position (a) is outside the bounds of God’s approval and (b) hold their position because they value societal approval more than Gods.

The truth of the matter is that there are faithful, committed, intelligent Christ followers on both sides of this issue — and Rick Warren knows it.  Those who disagree with him do so out of conviction and from their understanding of scripture and Jesus. We can disagree on how to read and apply the scriptures without having to lower ourselves to imply that those who disagree with us are less faithful and less committed to the scriptures and to following Jesus than we are.

The right answer for Warren would be: “I believe X. Many of my brothers and sisters believe -X. As I hope they respect me, I respect them. This is an issue of hermeneutics and exegesis. We all agree that God’s love is for all people and all people are created in the image of God. That is the important stuff…”

I have heard Warren plea for more civility in these kinds of conversations, especially within the church. That cannot and will not happen until leaders like Warren stop mis-characterizing anyone who disagrees with their particular interpretation of a passage as being “less faithful”.  As a church community at-large, we must be humble enough to listen first, seek common ground, and always lead with respect and civility.  

Most of the time, Warren models and leads in this area well.  This time, he failed.

 
10 Comments

Posted by on December 14, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

Tags: , ,

Thoughts on Jason Collins

ImageNBA player Jason Collins became the first athlete from a major men’s professional sport to come out while still playing in the league.  You can read his story in his own words here in Sports Illustrated.

I think this is significant for a number of reasons.  Sports has always been an arena that push’s the boundaries of social progress and reform.  It also influences culture in very strong ways.

I also think this is significant in that it helps address some of the fears people have about gay people.  Truth be told, much of the anti-gay sentiment (especially among men) is based less on moral or theological conviction, than some weird discomfort “ick factor” about homosexuality.  This, of course, is totally irrational and says more about the individual than it does about the morality or acceptance of homosexuality.  I appreciate that Collins addresses this issue head on:

I’ve been asked how other players will respond to my announcement. The simple answer is, I have no idea. I’m a pragmatist. I hope for the best, but plan for the worst. The biggest concern seems to be that gay players will behave unprofessionally in the locker room. Believe me, I’ve taken plenty of showers in 12 seasons. My behavior wasn’t an issue before, and it won’t be one now. My conduct won’t change. I still abide by the adage, “What happens in the locker room stays in the locker room.” I’m still a model of discretion.

Read More: http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/magazine/news/20130429/jason-collins-gay-nba-player/#ixzz2RuQRBA3m

One of the really encouraging things today has been the positive reaction and support Collins has gotten from teammates and others.  Of course, not all of the responses have been positive (like here).

The other thing that struck me about this story is how much I could relate to Jason’s story.  Normally, I have very little in common with professional basketball players. But Jason is coming out at the same age I was outed, and many of his words truly resonate with my experience and the experience of friends I know:

By its nature, my double life has kept me from getting close to any of my teammates. Early in my career I worked hard at acting straight, but as I got more comfortable in my straight mask it required less effort… No one wants to live in fear. I’ve always been scared of saying the wrong thing. I don’t sleep well. I never have. But each time I tell another person, I feel stronger and sleep a little more soundly. It takes an enormous amount of energy to guard such a big secret. I’ve endured years of misery and gone to enormous lengths to live a lie. I was certain that my world would fall apart if anyone knew. And yet when I acknowledged my sexuality I felt whole for the first time. I still had the same sense of humor, I still had the same mannerisms and my friends still had my back.

Read More: http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/magazine/news/20130429/jason-collins-gay-nba-player/#ixzz2RuRk8fuo

My final thought on Jason Collins is that I am surprised at how emotional I got reading his account.  And I am surprised at how much I care that an active NBA player has come out.  Why does it matter to me? Because it is another story of hope and redemption.  It is another step towards a world where people won’t need to hide who they are in order to excel and live a great life.  And because in his words I can hear both his pain and new found joy… and I totally get both. And because it will help gay teens and gay athletes take their next step towards authenticity, openness and freedom — and that is a really good thing.

WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS?

 

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on April 30, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

Tags: , , ,

“Dear Dzhokhar, I Can’t Hate You”

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/mobileweb/rev-mr-michael-rogers-sj/dear-dzhokhar-i-cant-hate-you_b_3128805.html

This should be our prayer… not just for him, but for us.  There is already too much hate in the world. As His disciples, we are called to love… even our enemies.

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on April 23, 2013 in link

 

Tags:

Video

Obama Speech from the Boston Memorial Service

This is really an amazing speech/sermon from President Obama… quite remarkable simply as a speech… pitch-perfect for what was needed today.

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on April 18, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

Tags: , , ,

A Prayer for Boston: Lord Have Mercy

Image

LORD ALMIGHTY, Maker of Heaven and Earth, we lift up our prayers to you:

WE PRAY for the people of Boston. LORD HAVE MERCY.

WE PRAY for those injured. CHRIST HAVE MERCY.

WE PRAY for those lost, and their families and friends. LORD HAVE MERCY.

WE PRAY for all the first responders, doctors, nurses, firefighters and police officers. CHRIST HAVE MERCY.

WE PRAY for our Governor, President and Government Leaders, as they investigate and respond. LORD HAVE MERCY.

WE PRAY for an end to violence, terror and hatred.  CHRIST HAVE MERCY.

WE PRAY, too, for our enemies — for you have commanded us to do so. LORD HAVE MERCY.

WE PRAY for peace — an everlasting peace that only comes from the Prince of Peace. CHRIST HAVE MERCY.

WE PRAY for our own hearts. LORD HAVE MERCY.

And we pray these things, as we can only pray:

In the name of the Father, Son & Holy Spirit.

LORD HAVE MERCY.

Amen.

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on April 16, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

Tags: , ,

Praying for Rick & Kay Warren

Image

Matthew Warren

I was very sad to hear of the loss of Rick & Kay Warren’s youngest son, Matthew (age 27).  As the Warren’s shared in an email to the Saddleback staff that was also made public, Matthew took his own life and had been battling the mental illness of depression his entire life.

I love Rick and Kay and am deeply thankful for their ministry, model and faith.  Pastor Rick has been a resource, challenge, mentor and teacher to me through his preaching, conferences and writings.  While I have only met him a few times (both at Saddleback conferences), I am big fan of his and deeply thankful for him.

Together, let us continue to lift Rick and Kay, as well as the Saddleback family, in prayer.  These prayers were shared on Scot McKnight’s blog:

Grant, O Lord, to all who are bereaved the spirit of faith and courage, that they may have strength to meet the days to come with steadfastness and patience; not sorrowing as those without hope, but in thankful remembrance of your great goodness, and in the joyful expectation of eternal life with those they love.  And this we ask in the Name of Jesus Christ our Savior.  Amen.

Almighty God, Father of mercies and giver of comfort: Deal graciously, we pray, with all who mourn; that, casting all their care on you, they may know the consolation of your love; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Pastor Greg Laurie, who lost a son in an accident, shared these good words that are worth passing along:

“I too have had a son die, so I have a sense of the pain Rick and Kay are facing. But their circumstances are different and my heart goes out to them. At times like these, there really are no words, but there is the Word. There is no manual, but there is Emmanuel. God is with us. I know the Lord will be there for all of the Warren family and Saddleback Church as they grieve together. Looking forward to that day when God will ‘Restore all things.’ (Acts 3:21)”

Read more here

 
1 Comment

Posted by on April 7, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

Tags:

Why Rob Bell Matters

ImageFrom reports out today, Rob Bell has come out publicly in favor of marriage equality and the full inclusion of LGBT folks in the life of the church.

Rob is the former megachurch rockstar pastor of Mars Hill Church in Grand Rapids, MI.  He is also the creator of the very popular Nooma video series, has written several best-selling books, and has hosted several sold out speaking tours.  I put Rob in the same category of people like Erwin McManus — that is, a critical prophetic voice within evangelicalism who has a message that goes far beyond the walls of evangelicalism; who also happens to be (a) brilliant; and (b) a tremendously gifted speaker/communicator/artist.

In addition to his own ministry, books and speaking tours, Rob has been a pretty regular guest preacher at Willow Creek, has spoken at Catalyst, and was part of the bonified evangelical conference speaker circuit for a while.

Rob became very controversial after his book “Love Wins” came out.  In it, he dares to question the traditional theology of enternal damnation.  But he has remained popular and influential among his network and with younger evangelicals.

So why does Rob’s embrace of marriage equality and welcome for LGBT people matter?

First, because of all I noted above.  Love him or hate him, he is a big voice within the broader evangelical sub-culture.

Second, he is a gifted communicator and is super media-savvy.  If he decides to become an advocate on this issue, it will have an impact among many evangelicals — especially those “closeted” evangelicals who are already “closeted” supporters of the LGBT community. 

Third, I think Rob’s “coming out” will encourage other big names to do the same over the coming months and years.  Maybe an Andy Stanley?  Bill Hybels?  Louie Giglio?  Who knows…

Fourth, Rob is really thoughtful, faithful and smart.  As the dialogue continues, he will bring a welcome and important voice to the table.

Those are my thoughts… WHAT ARE YOURS?

 
1 Comment

Posted by on March 19, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

Tags: ,

If I Were a GOP Candidate for President…

There have been several deeply disturbing moments in recent GOP debates among the candidates for their party’s nomination.  Each of these incidents happened because of audience reaction — in one, the audience cheers for the death penalty and execution of people; in another, when one candidate was asked what should happen to the uninsured, shouts of “let them die” rang out; and in the third, a gay soldier who was asking a question was booed.

The most shocking aspect of all three of these incidents is that not one candidate stepped up and spoke up to say that these reactions were wrong.  There was silence from the candidates… and tacit support, it would seem.

Now despite my serious policy differences with the current GOP candidates, I don’t believe that all of them revel in state-sponsored executions, honestly believe that the answer to our health care predicament is to “let them die” or that any soldier should be booed for serving our country.

But all of them were silent. And as Martin Luther King, Jr has famously noted in his day (and I believe it still applies in our day), “History will have to record that the greatest tragedy of this period of social transition was not the strident clamor of the bad people, but the appalling silence of the good people.”

Silence from the candidates under these circumstances is shameful and unacceptable. I believe it also disqualfies each of them for the presidency.  Standing up and speaking out on principle is essential for our leaders.  By not speaking out, these candidates either signal that they agree with the crowds or lack the backbone and conviction to challenge their own supporters.  Either way, they should be ashamed and have no business running for president.

In case you missed the moments, here are the brief video clips, followed by, if I were one of the candidates advisors, I would have counseled them to say:

DEATH PENALTY


Response should have been:  “Let’s all just hold on here a second.  I understand the desire of the public for the death penalty.  Some crimes are so heinous that the death penalty must be used. But let us never cheer or celebrate the use of the death penalty.  Every time the state chooses to execute a criminal, it is a human tragedy. It is a human tragedy for the victims of their crime and their families.  It is a human tragedy for the broader community.  And it is a human tragedy even for the life being executed.  For we believe all life has infinite potential, and it is always tragedy when a life full of potential chooses a road of death, destruction and murder.  Yes, we will use the death penalty as needed — but never with joy, never with cheers and always with sense of humbleness andseriusness that befits the issue.  To cheer death is to violate our basic principles as a party committed to life — and we should never do it.”

MEDICAL INSURANCE

Response should have been: “These are very complicated issues, as you know. And I do not support Obamacare or individual mandates. But obviously, “let him die” is unacceptable public policy and inconsitent with our values as a party.  Whatever solution we do end up with — and I believe there are are solutions that will not bankrupt America, will not federalize our entire medical system, will not socialize our medicine — but whatever solution we do end up with will need to be one that values life, sustains life and improves life for all Americans. That is what it means to be a truly pro-life party… from conception to death.  So no, “let him die” is not acceptable social policy.”

DADT

Response should have been: “Hold on a second… I need to interject here. I don’t care what your politics are or where are stand on the issue of homosexuals serving openly in our military. No soldier who honorably serves our nation should ever be booed or disrespected the way I just saw happen here.  That is unacceptable.  As a nation, we are capable of having a civilized policy debate whithout dishonoring the men and women who serve in our military.  We are a party that supports and honors our troops — and as President I will make sure that all of our troops are supported and honored.”

Now please note, these are the answers I would have suggested a GOP candidate give.  These are not my own answers.  For the record, I oppose the death penalty 100% of the time, I support Obamacare and individual mandates, and I support the repeal of DADT.

But even if you are a conservative on these issues, there is a way to do so that is honorable and has integrity… and then there is a way that is shameful and embarrassing.  So far, we have only seen the shameful and embarrassing approach from the declared candidates… highlighted by their silence in response to these three incidents. 

 
1 Comment

Posted by on September 23, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

Tags: ,

Please Lord, Protect Us From Your Followers…

[WARNING… angry rant to follow…]

I am an EVANGELICAL CHRISTIAN.  I don’t deny it.  In fact, I have been an out-of-the-closet evangelical for 19 years.

I am not a FUNDAMENTALIST CHRISTIAN in any sense of the word. 

It is worth noting that almost all FUNDAMENTALIST CHRISTIANS would probably be considered EVANGELICALS, but ALL EVANGELICALS ARE NOT FUNDAMENTALISTS.

That said, you should know that I am deeply embarrassed by some of the bullshit crap that passes as teaching/theology/leadership out there these days.  In fact, I am not only embarrassed, I am angry.  I am angry because these kinds of people actually KEEP PEOPLE FROM JESUS.  Trust me, it is true.  Not only to they PREACH NONSENSE, but they MUDDY THE GOSPEL with their nonsense.

Most of the time I let this stuff just go.  I don’t make a big deal out of it and don’t publicly criticize it.  But sometimes I am pushed over the edge.  The rejection of these people and the false gospel they preach is not the result of an anti-Christian bias among the mainstream media as much as the fact that these people SOUND INSANE.

Let’s be clear… claiming that OPRAH WINFREY IS THE ANTI-CHRIST and TALKING ABOUT SEX WITH DEMONS… this is as crazy as claiming that the end of the world was to come this past May.

I don’t doubt these people love Jesus and are saved and will be at the heavenly banquet… I just wish they would shut up in the mean time.

If you don’t know what I am talking about, watch this video:

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

[End of Rant…]

 
1 Comment

Posted by on July 14, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

Tags: , ,

 
%d bloggers like this: