A Bigot in Ferguson

“We’ve got something in this territory known as the Missouri boat ride.” Josey Wales

Josey WalesFerguson is big, really big. The loss of a young man’s life is tragic and the feud-frilled destruction of property abhorring (now taking stage nationally). I think though that there is something much deeper going on, interrogating, “What brings us to the place where a people are willing to burn their own city?”

That ‘bigot of ask me’ has as usual submitted a proposal worth considering, Dear Ferguson Protestor, seeking a root cause for the violence and destruction, lending it back to something much more basic than the scapegoat ‘racism.’ Hers is a heartfelt plea to reexamine the importance of a stabile home where children are raised by both a mother and a father.

Askme‘ admittedly informs, “You have suffered a grave, systemic, institutionalized injustice,” but then cautions, “It’s not The Man and it’s not racism. I do not deny the existence of racism but the color of your skin is not at the heart of this matter. The problem is more powerful and profoundly wounding to your souls.”

“You are suffering the outcome of the disappearance of committed fathers in your community.”

To these who protest, she advises, “Desperate to blame someone?  Don’t blame “’the system.’”

  • Blame your father who should have loved you and your mother enough to stick around.
  • Blame those who teach and promote sex-without-consequences.
  • Blame the sexual revolution which divorced commitment from sex.
  • Blame any form of feminism that suggests men are unnecessary or disposable.

This author’s relational association of a dad-less young man’s interpretation of the authority of the law is epic.

I hope that many will read this article (linked above), and seriously consider the consequences of a careless society that shuns the importance of family in favor of blaming anyone and anything else.

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Journaling in an Angry Nation

Sleep ended three-ish for me this morning; a bit earlier than normal. Possum, in from the cold, did his collar rattle so I made my way to the front door to let him out. He merely stared at the opening into the brisk night showing no desire or need of the tree in our front yard. He’s been known to sound false alarms.

Fully awake, I opened my reader to the parables of lost stuff; a sheep, a coin, and a couple of sons. Nudged by a memory what should have been long-forgotten lyrics, “Playin’ solitaire till dawn with a deck of fifty one,” my mind in its should still be a’ sleeping state sought to trace these stories of Myst with a dash of modernity; I don’t suggest you follow suit by the way. There’s a card missing… remember?

Inappropriately, I try to play this jack-short hand against a nation seemingly to have lost something, something that leaves us in a divided plethora of mayhem.

What have we lost? Some make suggestions, but if you’ve taken notice, there’s a great gulf of contradictive responses. Some suggest morality and a remembrance of our roots while others compassion and charity.

Our President reminds us that we all came from somewhere else and the hypocrisy of denying others the same acceptance, while his adversaries advise we shut down our borders, warning of threats of illness and terrorism. The debacle is that both have sound reasoning for their stances.

On one hand, everyone I think will want to continue to feel we live in a relatively secure nation, free from the acts of anger perpetrated by radical thugs. On the other though, most of us have now become acquainted with, even friends with, those illegally living here, and see the agony they endure living in the shadows, as victims of an abusive and unfair system that we citizens have no part in.

What concerns me a lot is that I have lost most confidence, should I have ever had any, in our people of governing, and their ability to do what is right for all. Maybe Nathanael might have asked, “Can anything good come out of Washington?” One thing is for certain, it was a celebratory day when a sheep, a coin, and a son were all found. But then, there was a great seeking and yearning prior to the finding. There was an admission that something was lost. I wonder do we recognize that something is missing, lost? I would love to hear what you say it may be… and as I exit stage-left, I remind for thought, there were two sons. Anyone have an extra one-eyed hook?

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A Moment of Sheer Honesty

SWIWhy parables? No, not why did Jesus speak so often in parables, as my friend Joe will admit, “Everybody knows that,” but why my of-a-sudden interest in them, and further still, why drag you, the faithful reading few, through them with me?

I promised you a moment of honesty; sheer even. I would hope I can produce more than a moment’s worth, but that will suffice for now I reckon.

KGJI have reached an impasse, a place where I no longer pretend that black and white are always constants in the faith of Christianity. This is not to say that there may be none such in the habitat of the transcendent, but in my world, where contradictions can be argued reasonably well by both sides, gray seems more often to take stage.

Since more than three-quarters of Jesus’ recorded words are spoken in parable, and those reflecting often ‘life in the kingdom,’ I want to hear his truth from him personally, and hopefully with a little help from more adept students of the Word than myself.

Enter… some mysterious stories; Enter… the parables.

TP GIWith little effort it is obvious to discern that these stories were misunderstood greatly by the audiences who first heard them. Except when he explained them, even his closest disciples couldn’t grasp their intent.

Two thousand years of history has not given us the ability to lock down their meaning either, at least not if one entertains the thoughts of a wide host of interpreting authors throughout the same time-span.

TSGBy means of a literal approach, spiritualizing, rhetoric, historic, and more, author after author submits meaning after meaning, so that I feel my head is swimming in a pool of mire.

When asked why he spoke so often in parable, Jesus responded that it was to limit the kingdom truths to the kingdom kids, as in some sort of code-language to keep outsiders outside. I wonder, do these masterful tales do the same today?

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5 Churchy Phrases That Are Scaring Off Millennials

5 Churchy Phrases by Addie ZiermanThis a very revealing article written by Addie Zierman at the “onfaith” site. The author, a recovering statistic herself of the great fall-away, prods us to examine our lingo, noting that this is not our granddaddy’s age, meaning, everyone (yes, everyone) has access to our every (yes, every) differing contention (it’s called search engines and social media).

The author examines our churchy phrases such as “The Bible Clearly Says, God Will Never Give You More Than You Can Handle, Love on…, those Black and White Quantifiers of the Faith, and God is in Control.”

By reading those subtitles many might protest, “But everyone of those are true.” While they may or may not be, it is worth the time to read the article and understand where the author is coming from with her points, for it appears a Millennial Exodus is underway.

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Unjustified and Loving Every Minute of It

For we write to you nothing but what you can read and understand; I hope you will understand fully, as you have understood in part. 2 Corinthians 1:13-14

JustifedYet then there is that unjust steward (Luke 16) who meets us by way of Jesus’ parables and has been a qualm of our faith for centuries. Are we to underhandedly and sneakily build the kingdom? Is Jesus teaching us that it is wise to take whatever actions necessary, even dishonest ones, to ensure our needs are met?

It appears the good doctor Luke, understanding the nature of men, strategically eliminated these options by following this parable with a word on our handling of mammon. So what is the message of the parable? Why was the steward considered wise, and the children of the kingdom encouraged to follow his lead?

In this story, a manager of a wealthy man’s properties is caught with his hand in the cookie jar, or at least mismanaging his loot. The master terminates his employee, who realizes he’s not cut out for manual labor and does not like the thought of begging, so he concocts a plan. He allows his master’s renters to get one over on their debt-holder, to pocket what should have been payment. It leads one to wonder why the master was such a softy in his handling of the firing of his steward.

His master could have possibly taken legal action or worse; but he didn’t. He could have demanded retribution; but he didn’t. It seems the master is even allowing the steward time to get his books in order, setting himself up for the folly that follows.

I think we are supposed to pick up on the fact that the steward does not defend himself. He hears the accusation, takes ownership of his guilt, then begins to plot. He strikes deals with those who owe his master by bridging a union of his own rapport with that of the wealthy landowner.

It probably sounded something like this, “Our good master has chosen to show compassion on you today, so break out your debt books and knock a decent percentage of what you owe off the top!” He has now linked himself with the master by being the bearer of joyful news to a band of farm-land renters. They will be able to keep and sell a greater portion of their crops.

So what will happen when the master finds out what the steward has done? What will be his response when the renters show up with a lesser payment? While the text clearly allows us to know the response, “You are one shrewd dude,” we are sort of left scratching our heads wondering why, and especially when Jesus joins in the high-fiving of this unjust steward by poking at we kingdom kids for not being just as wily.

I jested not when denoting that this parable has been a thorn in the paw of biblical scholars for a long, long time. Many have just sat it on the back burner and refused to get caught up in the speculation. Others take stabs at it, but still admit that being dogmatic is ill-advised. One author, Kenneth Bailey, offers these words.

Kenneth Bailey Parables“A summary of the theological cluster of this parable can be briefly stated as follows: God (the master) is a God of judgment and mercy. Because of his evil, man (the steward) is caught in the crisis of the coming of the kingdom. Excuses will avail the steward nothing. Man’s only option is to entrust everything to the unfailing mercy of his generous master who, he can be confident, will accept to pay the price for man’s salvation. This clever rascal was wise enough to place his total trust in the quality of mercy experienced at the beginning of the story. That trust was vindicated. Disciples need the same kind of wisdom.”

Is it possible that the manager of the master’s goods is merely being praised for wisely recognizing the merciful character of his master?

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