August 19, 2005

Preaching Politics

Call me crazy, but when I go to church, I want to hear preaching based on the bible. I want to learn more about taking God's word and applying it to my daily life. I want to feel more of the Holy Spirit and draw closer to God and be a better servant.

I DON'T go to learn how someone thinks I am supposed to vote, but I feel more and more like that puts me in a shrinking minority. Here is a story about what was organized as a rally to support Supreme Court nominee John Roberts in churches acorss the country. After it was revealed that Roberts had once provided legal advice to a LGBT group that helped them win a civil rights case, the tone was changed into just a basic gay-bashing rally.

The story quotes a spokesman for Focus on the Family as saying Roberts' work with the LGBT group is "raising alarm bells."

Someone that has James Dobson's undies in a bunch can't be all bad.

August 17, 2005

Catholocism and the Gay Community

My name is Jim, and I’m a recovering Catholic.

Hi Jim!

I didn’t need a 12-step program to move away from Catholicism. In fact, for a while, it was very good to me. I converted from being a Southern Baptist in 1994, a year after marrying another converted Catholic.

I was, and still am, horribly disillusioned by the right-wing policies the Baptists adopted and have worked very hard to have adopted as the laws of the land. They have been disturbingly successful with this effort and stand to gain even more of a foothold as the character of the Supreme Court changes in the next few years.

The Roman Catholic Church is hardly noted for its liberalism. Rather, its attitudes toward women in the ministry and priests not marrying hearken back to the dark ages. I think what appealed to me in 1994 and for a number of years following was the structure and history of the Church. They were hardly making up the rules as they went along and there were very clear lines of authority. No preachers were running amok on a power trip with their hand out shaking people down for money.

Ultimately, though, what both my wife and I found lacking in the Catholic Church was passion. She had been indoctrinated into a very spiritual parish in Illinois, but we never found one in Maryland that came close to equaling it. Gradually we drifted away from the church and were readying ourselves to look for a new church home. I think she would like where Brenda and I are now, a small, spirit-filled church where the policies of exclusion are denounced and inclusion are practiced.

This all came to mind when I was perusing, a news service focused on gay issues. One of their stories reported on a priest at the famous St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York, Monsignor Eugene Clark. He had recently resigned after being named as "the other man" in a divorce suit involving his former secretary and her husband. I can’t help but think that at least some Catholics’ first reaction was, "at least he wasn’t doing anything with a little boy." It’s not an easy time to be in the Roman Catholic Church.

The story is relevant in this forum because Clark was known for his repeated attacks on gays. reported that in 1999, Clark told a Catholic Radio audience that gays are "The enemy of Christian marriage." It seems that Clark himself was the enemy of at least one marriage himself. How often have you noticed that, regardless of the issue, the people who are the loudest at condemning people are often covering for some sin or shortcoming themselves?

Can Catholicism actually be good for gays? Columnist Michelangelo Signorile at asks that question and says in some ways it is. He points out that that when a gay Catholic comes out, families tend to be more accepting and work on keeping the family unit together in part because of the teaching of the church.

Signorile also writes that in predominantly Catholic countries like Spain, Poland, and much of South America, gays are gaining more visibility and benefits than many people believed possible. Agree or disagree, this is one of those pieces that will make you thoughtfully rub your chin and go "hmmmm."

Hopefully the Catholic Church will get some new blood in their leadership that will take it to a more open and accepting policy, but I doubt many of us will live long enough to see any significant change. There will always be some common ground with other Christians and Catholics. We all love God and are trying to serve him. That’s not a bad place to start.

August 14, 2005

Too Much Understanding, Not Enough Faith

In this, the information age, our society tries to understand TOO much. How is that possible? When we try to explain the unexplainable, usually by diminishing it to a level where mere humans can make sense out of it.

You see, the whole concept of faith, especially faith in God, is belief in things unseen. When a child is very young, his understanding of the world is very limited. Inevitably there are important things that his parents tell him that they are not able to rationalize. In those cases, parents usually say something like, "trust me, it’s for your own good," or "you know I would never tell you anything that would hurt you."

Some of us were fortunate enough to have loving, caring parents as small children, and others were not. We all have our Father in heaven who will love us, through his Son Jesus Christ, regardless of how much money we possess, what type of job we have, the color of our skin, or yes, even our sexual orientation. He tells us many times in the Bible that the most blessed of us will come to him like children.

We can ALL trust our Father when he tells us that if we love him, accept Jesus Christ as our Savior, and seek forgiveness of our sins (repent) we will receive eternal glory in heaven. I don’t understand how that is all possible, and how we will eventually rise up again and walk the earth. Thankfully, I don’t have to; I just need to have the faith to accept that it will all work out as God has promised us.

Another of the many things I don’t understand about this world is why some people are straight and others are homosexual. I won’t even offer any theories as to why God does that; I’m smart enough to know when I’m out of my depth.

Unfortunately, many pious religious leaders do not exercise that type of discretion. Instead, they have determined that, since they do not believe homosexuality is acceptable it must be a sin. They’ve even twisted the interpretation of several scriptures to "prove" their point.

Taking that "logic" a step further, they can’t exactly preach that God made people with a natural inclination to sin. Therefore, it must be an individual’s "choice" to act as a homosexual, and any choice, like that of drinking alcohol or using drugs, can be changed with enough prayer, therapy, rehabilitation, and a little condemnation thrown in for good measure.

By preaching this message as the gospel truth, those who practice it are becoming a major divisive force in this country. That’s okay with them, however, because they can explain, rationalize, justify and use any other logical method to tell you why they are right and everyone who has a different view is wrong.

From where I sit, I think the Religious Right needs to do less "understanding" and more believing in the message of Jesus Christ, the message of love and inclusion.

God says many times in the Bible that His ways surpass all understanding. So it is okay not to know everything, filling in the holes with faith in his promises to us, the children he loves so much.