Time for dialogue

In my election post, I talked about how I think people are tired of the culture wars. It’s time to move past the polarization, time to stop flinging flaming arrows at each other and time to stop beating people over the head with the Bible simply because we may disagree on something. In short, it’s time for sanity. As a Christian and someone who is part of the LGBT community, the polarization over LGBT issues in this country and the way it’s framed as Christians on one side and gays on the other is particularly troublesome to me. It sets up a false dichotomy and creates division that doesn’t need to exist. The Gospel is about God’s overwhelming love and grace and that’s something that people are losing sight of amid the culture war skirmishes.  The reality is that no matter how many culture war battles are fought, LGBT people aren’t going to go away. Speaking to straight Christians, please, step back for a minute and try and understand that while this is academic for you, for us this is our lives that you’re talking about and debating. The only question is whether the reaction of the Church is going to bring people closer to God or drive them away altogether. Up to this point, much of evangelical Christendom has done a great job of driving gay people away from the Church, away from the message of the Gospel, and that’s something that not only doesn’t need to be the case, it shouldn’t be the case. Anyway, I’ve got too much work still to do on my copyright paper, so to draw this to a close, I have a book recommendation. The book, Torn: Rescuing the Gospel from the Gays-vs-Christians Debate by Justin Lee is new today, and while I haven’t had time[…]

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A few thoughts on the election

Now that it’s been a few days since President Obama won reelection and I’m no longer utterly sleep-deprived, I think it’s time for me to write up a few thoughts.  I’m new to the Democratic game, but I’ve been around politics for most of my life. Back in 1992, I did get-out-to-vote calls for George H. W. Bush and at 12 years old learned what it feels like to campaign for a presidential candidate and to have them lose. I remember thinking it was the end of the world, that Bill Clinton would destroy the country, and I remember everyone flipping out. Most people who threaten to leave the country when their guy loses never actually do, but I knew people who did. It all seems ridiculously silly now, especially given that Clinton governed from the middle, but that’s what it was like. To the people who are flipping out now, who think that Obama’s reelection is the end of the world, it really isn’t, just like Clinton’s election wasn’t. Twenty years on, I’m more than a little embarrassed at what my twelve year old self thought, but then again, I was twelve and just beginning to be fully aware of the nitty gritty of politics, I was supposed to be melodramatic. By the time I was 16 and saw how everything is dominated by money, I was totally cynical about the process, but that’s another story for another day. This was my first election as a registered Democrat and the reason that the Republican party lost me is, I think, the reason they’ve lost a lot of younger voters. They need to understand that we’re tired of the culture wars.  I grew up in the religious right, the culture wars were my bread and butter for as long as[…]

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Am I better off today than I was four years ago?

Am I better off now than I was four years ago?  Well, let’s see. At this time four years ago I was living in Hanoi watching the American economy implode while wondering what kind of country I’d be coming home to. Watching as the country inched towards the brink of a meltdown that would have taken the rest of the world with it. Four years later, it’s easy for people to forget just how close the country came to economic ruin, but I’ll never forget the feeling of standing on my roof in Hanoi looking across the city skyline to where the glowing red sign of the AIG building served as a constant reminder that halfway around the world my homeland’s economy was in a death spiral.  Are things perfect now? No. But it’s still a heck of a lot better than it was four years ago and I don’t particularly want to return to the same failed GOP policies that got us to where we were four years ago.

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You can never get home again

I went to a homeschool graduation tonight; someone I babysat for many years from the time she was a baby was graduating, which makes me feel incredibly old, though that is somewhat beside the point. Perhaps it was because it was the graduation put on by the homeschool support group that I never much cared to be involved with back when I was in high school, but despite having gone to a dozen or more of those events over the years, it felt odd. It’s a world where I no longer belong. That’s not to say anything about homeschooling itself, just that it’s like visiting a place that you once knew like the back of your hand and finding that while it may have stayed the same, you’re not the same person you used to be and it doesn’t fit anymore.

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The problem with going home a week before I skip the country…

…Is that I have to decide in advance what I want to bring with me, when I still can’t even decide what shoes I should take. So I end up way overpacking for going home, just so I have options to chose from when I’m only intending to bring a single carry-on to go to China. Oh well, considering that ¾ of what I own was made in China to begin with, if I need something I guess I can just buy it there.

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Pardon me if I seem to be in a bad mood…

…but I’m rather frustrated at the outcome of the North Carolina Amendment One vote. It’s always lovely to see that 61% of the voters in a state think you’re such a threat to civilization that they have to enshrine your inequality in their state constitution. I just love being reminded that I’m a second class citizen and that my rights are subject to the whims of a bunch of bigots who think that this country is a theocracy that should be governed by their ignorant twisting of scripture and their bad theology. You know what though? No matter how many laws you pass, now matter how much you try to enshrine our second class citizen status in state constitutions, you’re not going to magically make us disappear. 

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John Piper, tornadoes, and the effects of the Fall

John Piper’s blogging about tornadoes again. It’s not the first time he decided to venture into this territory. As a Calvinist, I understand the desire to cling to the belief in the sovereignty of God when disasters happen, but it feels to me like Piper has crossed a line into attributing motive to the almighty God of all the universe, as if mortal man can explain the mind of God. There’s something about his post that doesn’t set well with me, it just feels presumptuous.  Piper operates from the assumption that God somehow sent the tornadoes for some purpose, and then proceeds to consider several possibilities and reasons why God might have sent tornadoes to small-town America instead of big bad sinful Hollywood or Washington D.C. (I’m not going to even go into the fallacy that Hollywood or D.C. is somehow deserving of a natural disaster, or the assumption that small-town America is less sinful). While he may very well be theologically correct in the abstract, to suggest that any of those reasons explain the tragedy or offer any sort of comfort to people who have lost their loved ones reminds me of Job’s friends coming to offer theological platitudes to explain why he’d lost everything. I think Job 38-39, “Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation? Tell me, if you understand,” is really the only appropriate approach–trying to explain God’s actions presumes that we are capable of understanding. The reality is that we live in a fallen world, the effects of sin and the fall have permeated everything, including nature. In a fallen world, natural disasters happen, and it doesn’t have to be because of anybody’s sin, or because God is trying to send a message to anybody. The fall happened, and because of that, things can suck[…]

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On the right side of history and historical blind spots

I think that most of us like to imagine that when we’re faced with the choice of doing what is right, taking a stand on the important issue of our time even when no one around us is standing, that we’ll be on the right side of history. But the reality is that throughout history, most people choose comfort and social acceptance instead of taking a stand. Most people don’t act until there is a critical mass so that to stand no longer means standing alone, and some still cling to the comfort of the past and tradition even after history has passed them by. We smugly look at history’s past sins and proclaim that if we had been there, we would have done the right thing, but would we have? It’s easy to say we’d do the right thing when everyone agrees with us now, but social pressure isn’t easy to stand against, and going against what you’ve been taught all your life is easier said than done.  I’ve been thinking about this idea a lot, but I’m not sure how to tell if there’s some sort of massive historical/cultural blind spot that I’m missing. How do you step outside of your culture enough to be able to see whether you’re helping to perpetuate injustice? How can we be sure that our grandchildren won’t look back on our time and be appalled at some great injustice that we completely missed?

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