How to Fight for Change Without Being Mean

I’ve been thinking about this question a lot lately, as I do more and more writing on this page, as I try to do more and more advocacy, AND as we prepare to launch a progressive community site for the city. There are some truths that I operate from, that seem to be at odds with each other:

  • Silence is not an option.
  • Bad ideas, policies, and actions must be challenged.
  • Change only happens when either the leaders decree it (top-down) or when enough people want it (bottom-up).
  • Evil must be challenged. (And yes, there are “evil” acts and other things in the world.*)
  • People themselves are not evil.
  • Satire and snark are sometimes the best way to call out bad ideas, bad policies, and bad actions.
  • We are all part of the human race, and brothers and sisters because of that.
  • You don’t mistreat your brothers and sisters.
  • Hate is not an option.

So, on the one hand, we have to be active in the fight against the bad, willing to call out others and take unpopular stands, hoping to win enough people over to our side to effect change from the bottom-up. On the other hand, we must do it in such a way that we do not hate, we must not turn those we oppose into the Other, and we must remember that ultimately we are one family.

This is hard. To do this well and consistently is really, really hard.

But we must find a way.

So, here are some guidelines I’m adopting for myself, and possibly for this new site I’m helping launch:

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Matt Bevin Asks the State To “Accommodate” Discrimination

I really don’t get what is so hard to understand: the First Amendment gives you the right to practice your own religion, but not to harm or discriminate against others. As I pointed out in this earlier post, using a “religious freedom” argument in this way is both incorrect and ultimately harmful to religion itself.

And yet, Matt Bevin doesn’t get it. He somehow believes that being a Christian gives you the right to pick and choose which legal requests you will accept. Years ago it was inter-racial marriage; now it’s gay marriage. In both cases, though, the real word is simple: discrimination.

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This Use of Religious Freedom Is Wrong … and Dangerous

We’re all aware of the recent attempts by many across the country to use “religious freedom” as an argument for various actions. Whether it is denying service to certain people at retail establishments, or refusing to fill prescriptions for contraceptives at a pharmacy, or turning away couples wishing to get marriage licenses, the argument has … Read more

Tying the Hands of God

If you grew up going to some sort of church Bible class, you probably remember getting old enough to ask those questions that drive the teacher crazy: Could God make something so big he couldn’t pick it up? If God can do anything, could he destroy himself? Nothing blows up a class faster than a good paradox, and we certainly enjoyed our paradoxes (paradi?).

This week, though, we come to one of the more puzzling, and ultimately one of the saddest, questions like this in the New Testament: If God is the All-Powerful, can a group of humans tie God’s hands? And the answer, surprisingly, is Yes.

Lection Reflection: Is God a Communist?

Who said this?

Nothing left over to the one with the most,
Nothing lacking to the one with the least.

Are you sitting there, saying to yourself “wow, that sure sounds like Marx. Didn’t I read that in college?”
Well, sort of, but not exactly. Here is the Karl Marx quote:

From each according to his ability, to each according to his need.

So, if Marx didn’t say our opening quote, who did?

Tall People and God

I’m a big fan of the early Saturday Night Live sketches (perhaps because I’m old enough to have watched them the first time they aired!). One of the great catch-phrases of those first seasons was the opening of the Weekend Update with Chevy Chase dead-panning, “I’m Chevy Chase … and you’re not.”

In this week’s lections, we come across a scripture that seems as if God is saying to some of us, “I’m God … and you’re not.” And according to the Psalmist, one of the main targets of God’s catch-phrase is … tall people.

“Brother, Are You Saved?”

If you were to ask most church members the most well-known verse in the Bible, they would immediately respond “John 3:16.” A high percentage of them could surely quote it, as well:

For God so loved the world, that He gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but should have eternal life.

If you were to then ask them what this verse is about, many would use the word “saved” in their answer: “It’s about getting saved!” Saved from what? “Why, from hell, of course!”

Here’s a thought: what happens if you use a different helping verb? Could this verse be about “becoming saved” instead? And what does “saved” really mean, anyway? In this week’s Reflection on the Lections, let’s take a look at the use of the word “saved” in the New Testament, and see if it can inform our study of John 3.

Historic Day at a Baptist Church

Memorial Day Sunday 2012 was a historic day at our church, Highland Baptist of Louisville.

Why? We ordained someone to the ministry.

“So what?” you say. “Churches do that all the time.”

True, they do. This was a little different, though. A local advocacy group (not the church) issued a press release; perhaps the headline will capture why it was historic:

“Highland Baptist Church Ordains Openly Gay Minister”

Yes we did, and gladly. Make the jump to learn more, and to celebrate with us.

Reflection on the Lections: Amos 8:4-7

One of this Sunday’s lections — Amos 8:4-7:

Hear this, you that trample on the needy, and bring to ruin the poor of the land, saying, “When will the new moon be over so that we may sell grain; and the sabbath, so that we may offer wheat for sale? We will make the ephah small and the shekel great, and practice deceit with false balances, buying the poor for silver and the needy for a pair of sandals, and selling the sweepings of the wheat.” The LORD has sworn by the pride of Jacob: Surely I will never forget any of their deeds.

Amos sure lays it on the line, doesn’t he? Pretty blunt — when it comes to entities that trample on the needy, he says that the Lord will never forget their deeds.

So who are these people or insititutions that trample on the needy? Here’s the bullet list:

Fight Fire with Love: Baptist Church READS Koran

Glad to share THIS news:

A Kentucky Baptist church will be host for an interfaith service Sept. 11 billed as a “peaceful, positive alternative” to a Quran-burning ceremony scheduled the same day in Florida.

The “Honoring Sacred Texts” service is scheduled at 11:30 a.m. Saturday at Highland Baptist Church in Louisville. The service is offered by Interfaith Paths to Peace, a Louisville-based non-profit organization that promotes inter-religious understanding, in partnership with Highland Baptist Church and the Kentucky Baptist Fellowship.

Other sponsors include various local Christian and non-Christian faith groups. The service will include a display of sacred texts from Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, the Baha’i faith and other religions. The gathering will also include non-sectarian music and readings from the sacred texts by representatives of the world’s major religions on topics related to peace, cooperation and mutual understanding.

More below the fold …