Saturday, December 18, 2010

Lessons from Mr. Bonhoeffer

Politics are not the task of a Christian. -Dietrich Bonhoeffer

There's no way to sugarcoat it, so I'm just going to come out and say it: I cannot stand Sarah Palin. Whew, that feels so much better.

I liked her at one point in time, back when she was McCain's running mate in the '08 election. She caught a lot of flak, but I stood hopeful that she would knock them all dead and prove herself worthy of an executive position, because, even though my opinions have changed drastically since then, I thought she had more executive experience than Barack Obama.

But now, as of 2010, I cannot stand her. A book about how awesome she is and a show that makes too many references to the "Russia" pun from SNL has quickly lowered my respect for her.

I cannot stand Sarah Palin.

Is this opinion important? No, because, as Mr. Bonhoeffer stated, it's not my job as a Christian to get deep into politics, which is what I see so many Christians doing. As proven many times over, it ruins our reputation, seeing as how we cling to the Republican Party as the savior of our nation and tell everyone else where they can go.

New flash: God loves Democrats, too. The GOP is not God's hand-picked race. When He looks at us, he doesn't see our blue t-shirts or red ties. He sees us as what we really are: helpless lambs in need of a Shepherd. He doesn't choose by political party, so why do we make it seem that way?

Honestly, if Jesus were here in these times and he saw how the Republicans acted and claimed Him in all of it, He'd find some more tables to turn over.

And if the Right had interaction with Jesus today, they would shun Him, just like the Pharisees did, because he hung out with the "liberals" of that time. And you know how contagious and ungodly those dadgum liberals are.

Jim Wallis had an excellent point. Here's an excerpt from the introduction of his book, God's Politics:

God is not partisan: God is not a Republican or a Democrat. When either party tries to politicize God, or co-opt religious communities for their political agendas, they make a terrible mistake. The best contribution of religion is precisely not to be ideologically predictable nor loyally partisan. Both parties, and the nation, must let the prophetic voice of religion be heard. Faith must be free to challenge both right and left from a consistent moral ground.

"Voting based on morals" is a joke. Find me one moral person on Capitol Hill and I'll be the first to cast my vote for them. Until then, I'll be here at my politically apathetic stand, waiting for prophecy to unfold.

When it comes to this, I'm with Bonhoeffer. It's not my place to get involved in one of the most corrupt professions in the world. I'm here to be a light for Him.

I still don't care for Palin, but what does it matter? My goal to do His work, not waste my time and breath fighting a senseless battle.

And back into my liberal hole I go.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Default Unchanged

If you'll take a moment to look at my Facebook profile picture, you'll see me on the left, standing at a podium, and my brother, Nick, standing off to the right. The story behind this picture took place a couple months ago at a Missionary Kid retreat where my brother and I participated in a talent show in which we performed a skit where I acted as a professor for Dating 101 and my brother was the teacher's aide. In this skit, I gave my lecture while Nick acted out the various things I was talking about. Hilarity ensued.

My reason for explaining the story behind my profile pic? It's what everyone's been doing on Facebook for the past couple of days. Nearly every one of my Facebook friends have been switching their defaults to a cartoon characters in honor of victims of child abuse. The idea is to remember what childhood was like, thus coming to the revelation of how awful it is to have it ruined.

Basically, if you are a good person and you hate child abuse, you WILL switch your default. Because it would be a travesty if you didn't.

Well, I plan on going against the fad and leaving the memorable moment of my brother and I wowing the masses with our comedic skills up for all to see.

Does this mean I am condoning violence against children and excusing pedophilia? Am I saying that I don't care about one of the biggest social issues in our country by not participating in a newly found internet meme?

Absolutely not. In fact, I am just as distraught as you are about this issue.

So why am I not doing this? It's ineffective. I'm not going to save children from having their innocence taken away by putting Bugs Bunny as my default. I can flood your news feed with statuses about how terrible child abuse is and beg you to copy and paste it if you feel the same way. I can even go the spiritual route and update about my God who is more powerful than any child rapist, but that would be a waste of Facebook space.

Like I said, this is an issue that I find horrifying. And yes. I do wish that no child would ever have to go through anything like that.

Now, don't go switch your default back to the original pic on my account. What you want to do with your profile is none of my concern.

I just would like to present to you a question: why exactly are you switching your default? Do you really have a passion to help prevent this horrible crime? Or is it because all the cool kids are doing it and you don't want to look like a stiff, uncaring jerk by not having Marvin the Martian up until Monday?

Well, here's a bit of good news: you don't have to switch your pic. I'm not and I can probably show you a couple of others who aren't either. It's NOT a big deal. And God won't smite you for not doing what's popular on Facebook right now.

The sad truth is that we cannot stop child abuse altogether. We can hide every kid and arrest and execute every pedophile we find, but we cannot stop this awful crime.

We can try to prevent it though. Churches and business can do background checks, more security measures, etc. There are many ways were you can get involved and do something to help the cause that Facebook is trying to promote.

I'm sure it was a good intention in the beginning. All I'm saying is don't switch your default just because everyone else is. If you truly are passionate about this and you want to make a difference, get involved. Don't go with the current fad and act as if you did your part.

That is all. Carry on.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

On the subject of socially acceptable phobias...

Recently a certain aspect of my personality was brought to my attention. Normally, I’m know to be a generally nice guy, but when this item is mentioned in my presence, a hatred that is almost unreal comes out of nowhere and manifests itself through yours truly.

The item in question? Koala bears.

It have been mentioned to me that I seem to have a morbid outlook on these seemingly cute and cuddly creations of the Almighty. They are docile and adorable that it is almost unimaginable they could cause one seemingly calm human being to turn into a heartless cretin.

This all has a reasonable explanation: they are conspiring against me.

You look at me like I’m crazy, but I’ll have you know it’s true. They want you to think I’m a crazy individuals who has some sort of vendetta against marsupials, but I tell you, my dear friends, it’s a façade; it’s what they do!

I was fifteen when the fateful incident occurred. What the outside world saw was a kind man approaching me, telling me I could make money by helping him promote his book. “10 dollars an hour” sounded so sweet coming from his mouth.

What happened next is what the masses didn’t see. The man’s thugs, a group of koalas, emerged from the ceiling and hauled me off to a location unbeknownst to me, seeing as how I was knocked unconscious. Once at their hideout, they forced me into what I thought was a stuffy box with a rickety fan inside and forced me back out into the public.

As I stepped into the open, the crowd was yelling, “Zoey Bear!”

I was never paid, and since then, the koalas have manifested many times to me, taunting me. I chase after them often, but those spawns of Satan are quick, leaving me to explain to confused bystanders that I was training for a marathon.

Then there was the time they surrounded me, prompting me to summon my knowledge of martial arts to take them down. However, due to their aforementioned thunderous speed, the public saw a crazy man pole vaulting in an alley.

You may think I’m crazy, but I will have you know that these freaks are not cute and cuddly. They are devilish fiends who will bring psychological grief!

Some of you are backing up slowly. It’s understandable. But I will have you know that I am NOT crazy. I am enlightened! And these little monsters will pay for it.

So next you’re at the zoo and you are passing these superficially cuddly marsupials, don’t buy into their lies. And if a man promising a hefty wage to help promote his book were to approach you, my best instruction is to kick him in the garden of good and evil and book it. It will be only a matter of time before his furry minions come after you.

Now if you’ll excuse, I must return to my jujitsu and karate training. My flying crane is going to knock those creatures into next Thursday.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

A Letter to Shakespeare

Dear Bill,

Many describe you as a multitude of things: Legendary. Groundbreaking. Innovative. Inspiring.

But as for me, I have THREE words to describe you, supposed legend: Time-Traveling Thief. (Technically that could be considered two words, if you count the hyphen.)

Are you so desperate for a good story that you have to warp the laws of time and gravity just to get one? Do you have to take every thing we knew and loved growing up and twist it for your own profit? So that in some weird retrospect, we think that it was YOU that started it all?

I saw The Lion King. And it was good. It made me laugh, made me cry, and even made me reevaluate my life. Since that time, I have chosen to at all times put myself in the place of that young lion cub who dealt with the betrayal of his own blood. All while befriending a wisecracking meerkat and a loving yet dim warthog, of course.

Then all of the sudden, people are like, "Oh, it's based on Hamlet by Shakespeare, also a story of betrayal! All bow at the feet of Shakespeare!"

I don't know how you did it, but I know you, Bill, you wily son of a gun. I know Hamlet is just a cheap knock-off of Simba. Why didn't you just steal Timon and Pumbaa while you were at it? Or would that just be rude, you hack?

McClintock. One of the great John Wayne westerns. Definitely in my top three of all time. There's comedy, yet enough drama and tension to balance it all out. There's even a great mud fight scene that I continually rewind during each viewing.

And all of the sudden, here come SMART, WITTY BILL with "The Taming of the Shrew."

Are you serious!? How low of you to take a classic (and of all classics, a John Wayne classic!) and turn it into a boring comedy THAT'S NOT EVEN FUNNY! All the pratfalls, misogyny, and drunken fools have some kind of smart joke in jacked-up English that I don't get. The least you could do is make it entertaining, you stuffy, British kook!

I was willing to let you slide. People plagiarize all the time (except for me, though it would seem that way, for my writing sometimes appears to bear resemblance to the format of a college textbook), so I was going to let you go, Bill. Give you a second chance to reevaluate your position, much like yours truly after drying my eyes after watching The Lion King for the first time.

But then you did the unthinkable. You took yet another classic, maybe the greatest movie of all times, and did your worst.


A heartbreaking drama starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Claire Danes. Untouchable, or so I THOUGHT! YOU COPIED IT WORD FOR WORD AND TWISTED IT, YOU SICK FREAK!

I cried at the end of that movie like a child who's discovered that Santa Claus is just a creepy old man who lives in his mother's basement. But when I read your version, I wanna run to the bathroom and throw up like it's New Year's Day and I've been partying all night long.

Like I said, I would've let you go had you just cheapened it into a different yet similar version, but you had to take this forbidden romance and slap your name on it like it was your own. You make me SICK!

I don't like you, Bill. I don't like you one bit. I love you, in the love of Christ, but in the love of me, there's a list, with the likes of Cher and parachute pants present. AND YOU'RE NOT ON IT. (Actually, you are, but I only put you there so I could cross you out, just to make the effect more long-lasting.)

You can play dead, you coward, but one of these days, I WILL find you. (I probably won't kill you, due to legal implications, but I might pinch your ear, thus causing slight discomfort and temporary irritation, and say something mean about your mother, like, "Hey, my mom makes better meat loaf than your mom. Take that, Mrs. S!")

You've been warned. Plan accordingly, because like a ninja, you won't see me when I'm coming. There is absolutely no retaliation against your sly acts, so I will be the first to find you. Prepare to have your time-warping world BUH-LOWN TO BITS!

Love (but not really),

Thursday, October 28, 2010

"God, I pray for President Obama..."

"'What is Something I Would Never Hear a Fellow Christian Utter in His/Her Prayer Closet' for 500, Alex."

I think that would be my response if I ever heard anyone in the Pentecostal movement say this. It's like a monkey driving a car; not something you see every day.

I watched an interview on The Daily Show on the devil box last night. The one being interviewed? Barack Obama.

Though I stand the risk of making many people angry and causing their heads to explode, I'm venturing out to say that I was impressed. He let America know that the aforementioned "hope and change" wasn't something that was going to happen overnight. It was going to take time and the cooperation of America.

Right now, there are probably fellow brethren of the faith that are travailing because the words escaping my lips and making their way to the screen will doom me to an eternity with Beelzebub.

Know how to bring the absolute devil out of almost any God-fearing Christian?

Bring up politics.

Say the name Barack Obama or make a passing reference to the Democratic Party and you just might see a normally kind-hearted person turn into a grotesque, vile monster. The things I have heard from some of these people have made me cringe. Hate speech is an understatement.

It's funny. If I were to post a hateful diatribe on Facebook or Twitter against a spiritual authority, the amount of trouble I would get in could not be described in enough words. Yet, strangely, putting something absolutely wretched and nearly inhumane about the Commander-in-Chief is hailed as patriotic.

The rebuttal, of course, is usually, "Well, they talk bad about us, but we can't talk bad about them?"

Forget turning the other cheek. We don't do that anymore. It's overrated.

I might have missed the memo, but when did God become a Republican? When did that solitary political party become the official party for all Christians, namely Pentecostals? If so, do I have a say in this at all?

Apparently not. Because not being Republican or conservative makes you a flaming liberal. Which apparently is the only way to go?

Could they have ever considered that I've never really left their side, but in honor for the man who eventually won the final election, chose to show him the respect that is due?

My opinions haven't changed. I still voice them upon being asked about them. But when we are asked to respect our leaders, I choose to assume that the leader of our country is included. Because, whether we like it or not, what he says goes.

News flash: being in disagreement with the values of the President is not a license to call him whatever comes to your mind (most of it being regurgitation from conservative talk shows). The phrase "You can't be a Christian and vote for Obama" is one of the most ignorant things I have heard in a while. Comparing him to a terrorist with a homonymous (if that's not a word, I just made it one) name and praying that he gets kicked out of office or even assassinated is not the attitude a professed Christian should possess.

What happened to praying for our leaders? Let's think hypothetically: what if the reason for our country's condition is due to the fact that instead of using our words to bring blessings on Obama, we are choosing to slander and curse him with them? Shouldn't we be backing our leaders instead of stabbing them with our venomous rants?

More importantly, how can we teach the younger generation to respect our leaders if we can’t even respect some of our own?

If I’m wrong, feel free to tell me where I can go. But I don’t think I am. Maybe we need to stop and think.

We believe in the power of prayer. Is it quite possible that we can actually puh-puh-puh….puh-prray for the President? Maybe instead of hurling ethnic slurs and slamming his character (which he has more of than some people I know [Yes. That just happened.]), we could ask that God provide him with discernment and wisdom to make pending important decisions?*

Anyhoo, that is all. I will return to my liberal, postmodern hole until something else enters my mind.

*If you’re a firm believer that God cannot speak to or use secular leaders, look at Cyrus the Great, King of Persia (Isaiah 45:1-3). To continue the overuse of a popular phrase: just sayin’.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

So Silly (Stolen from a Friend)

I’m doing something different this time. Instead of putting up something by yours truly, I’m posting something written by a friend for whom I have a great deal of respect. In this post, he challenges us to look at our supposed perfection and realize that it’s all a lie, a façade. (Kind of reminds me of Elihu’s response in the book of Job to the other friends who criticized Job.)

So enjoy. Hopefully this will provide some food for thought.

I want to know, does my emancipation not fit your equation? Does freedom not quite squish into that tiny little box you have made? Do all the numbers not add up? It's probably because you can't count. So why are you always trying to grab hold of what you can't control? Trying to push things where they don't belong. Putting words in the mouth of God. Are you a Pharisee? A bloodthirsty Jezebel? Oh wait... you're a Christ ian? And yet you are always trying to stamp out those who disagree with you.

And you’re acting as if just because I am young then I must be stupid; "Oh, he is just idealistic and foolish." But you're acting as if you’ve actually created something new. Ha! All you're doing is duplicating what has been done a million times! That's called regurgitation. Don't you remember that the Word says there is nothing new under the sun? So don't think that I am naïve because of my age. Tricks and fakery are easy to spot anywhere , be it in the tropical islands or the frozen arctic.

Yet somehow, even though I am quite the "ignorant baby," you're the one losing your cool... kind of ironic. It's as if a tiny, insignificant nation making the World Powers tremble. Are you really that threatened by someone so small? Achilles' heel? Joan of Arc? American Revolution? Really? I haven't even really done anything. You know that I try to live peacefully with everyone. You've seen me doodling hearts. You've heard me talk about nonviolence. You know I read Dr King's work. You know my room is decked in peace signs and flowers. I just refuse to participate in your propaganda. Who enjoys injustice or likes playing by those messed up rules? I will not bend to your graven idols and worship the image you have created. That's simple enough… and I’ve been this way the whole time.

The best part is that you knew the truth since the start! Actually you were fighting for me to join your team yesterday, but today you are scrambling to separate yourself. Isn't it strange how arrogance and pride completely change situations? That money is allowed to blind those who are in control. And that miscommunications only lead to further complications. Were you upfront with me? Are you even honest with yourself? Because now you are trying you're best to make me seem like the illegitimate one. Running my name in the mud, trying to tarnish my reputation in any way possible. What the heck? Why me? What is your problem? As if you have any right to challenge anyone; you're no champion. You've won nothing in your selfish, self-seeking, self-loving game. In fact… you just lost one. Silly.

Wait. Wait. Wait.

You no longer have anything to say? Your big mouth is finally shut? Why is it that all of your talking has turn into forgotten leftovers? Surely you have something you can say in your infinite wisdom. Especially considering you own the world, right? After all you purchased it, and it only cost you your soul. Wow! Look at how beautiful you are now; "What a sight to behold!" Ha! That's a joke! And shame on you because you actually buy into this. Come on, even the Proverbs declare that wisdom is better than silver and gold.

Just like you I was hopeless, but now I'm on hope road! And it's so important, but then again you probably don't want to hear anything that I have to say. But then again I don't care. Because there are so many paths but you must choose one. Only one! So until you do right, everything that you do will go wrong and be wrong… tainted by your nasty attitude. And if you don't change then the rain is going to come! And because it will we all need to get down on our knees and repent. Because even though we try to appear straight and perfect, our attitude has bent and misshapen every aspect of our person.

And isn’t it funny how hypocrites always want to play innocent, making it seem as if their intentions are pure and holy. They try to pretend like their word is their bond, but those evil chains aren't made strong at all. They’re cheap; shriveling up and breaking when confronted with the truth. And reality is that they never want to face the truth to begin with! They don’t want to be around when it's time for the punishment they have inevitably earned for themselves. In fact they only want to act as if they're exempt from it. Slithering around the problems they cause just like that serpent in the garden. Bad news though… none of them will be able to slick talk their way out of this one; the Day of Judgment. This isn’t a coincidence; it’s the consequence they’ve earned.

What? You're acting like this isn't commonly seen in nature. It's seen everywhere! And in all of your knowledge you don't even understand universal truths? Whatever you throw out will come back to you like a boomerang, and it will hit you hard if you aren't careful. Wasn't it Paul that said you reap what you sow? So don't ever underestimate those who you scar, those who you tease, ridicule, and attack. Don't think that you've gotten away with murder, friend, because I've got one word for you: karma.

Now some of you reading this are probably mistaking it for just some simple little blog, while others will never ever get it. But hopefully while some stand shunning and condemning these words, maybe someone will listen and learn. And for those of you to whom this is written, those of you who have reached the pentacle of perfection, look at yourself. Look at what you have become. Weigh your heart and reflect, reflect, reflect.

So just like I said before, you lost this one. In your attempts to achieve whatever it is that you are after, you lost. And in the end, what did you really gain from all of this? From what you've done? Really ask yourself… It’s so silly.

How come?

This is my interpretation and expansion of the Lauryn Hill song “Lost Ones” off of her classic LP The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

From the Desk of a Liberally Conservative Democratic Republican.

Are you going liberal?


That's the answer I give every time. Personally, I think such an observation is based on perspective, because it depends on the angle from which you're observing me.

But in our [Pentecostal] movement, it is my general assumption that venturing beyond the thirty-eighth verse of the second chapter of Acts makes you a flaming, tree-hugging liberal. So if that's the case, then yes, paint me liberal.

I believe a quick disclaimer is in order: I still believe in the plan of salvation found in Acts 2:38, which entails that baptism by immersion and receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost through the evidence of speaking in other tongues are essential to salvation.

But since when has that become the only Scripture in the Bible? Because every time we witness or talk to somebody about our beliefs, we slam them with that one Scripture over and over until they eventually concede and come to church, where we preach apocalyptic messages that make a second visit highly unlikely.

I'm not saying dilute the message. I'm asking that the people that have accused me of doing so follow their own advice and preach what the rest of the Bible says.

Because, and this may come as a surprise, there is more beyond Acts and Revelation. In fact, along with the strong message of coming events (which I hold in very high esteem), there is a message of a loving Saviour who paid for our transgressions so we wouldn't have to. And with a world filled with hurting people, this is a message they need to hear. Because before they can fully grasp the coming events, they need to know that perfection isn't demanded, which is the vibe Pentecostalism gives off.

So are ya liberal? Sure. Free-lovin' hippie? Okay. Post-modern Democrat? (which apparently is a grave insult) Why not?

All I know is that before Peter got up on the Day of Pentecost, there was a God who gave His only begotten Son, so that whoever believed in Him would not perish, but have eternal life.

Peter wasn't exempt from this. As a matter of fact, Peter was just as bad as us. But God looked past that and used him, just like He can use us, imperfections and all. I guess what I'm getting at is that we need to remember that it's God's will we follow, not Peter's.

Peter preached an incredible message and it is something we should remember and apply in our lives, but with all due respect, I worship God. Not Peter.