Archive for August, 2019

Some things we can all agree on about God.

For example, we all know that He/She loves the rich and privileged people of the world.

We all know that God despises the poor and powerless. This is because they are a drag on society. They don’t have the initiative that God gives all human beings to pull themselves up by the bootstraps and make something of themselves by making all the money they can and piling up all the consumer goods they can possibly accumulate.

God’s will is for human beings to be nothing less than well-to-do, to have spacious houses with two- or three-car garages, nice cars, lots of car-wash coupons, swimming pools, ridiculously green, shady, bug-free, manicured lawns, and lavish birthday parties for the children and grandchildren.

Once a person has succeeded in making good money and having lots of great stuff, that person is expected by God to go for more, to attain all the wealth possible.

God wants us to aim high, to seek to be Uber-rich! To be so tax-relieved by our wealth as to not pay any taxes whatsoever!

God knows that paying taxes is for suckers! It’s for losers.

And if there is anything God hates, it’s losers.

And we all know that the poor are losers, by-God — lazy and shiftless and living like rats in rat nests.

We know these things about God because, as the Bible says, “God helps those who help themselves!”***

And so, ask yourself today this question:

Is there something I’m not doing that I could do starting today, starting right now, to make more money to buy more cool stuff?

Remember, God loves the rich. And the richer you get, the more God will love you.


***TRUTH ALERT HERE: Contrary to the popular belief of so many Christians who talk about the Bible and read only the parts they like, nowhere in the Holy Book is it writ that God helps those who help themselves. It is good for people to take responsibility for themselves to the extent that they can, of course; but the truth is that God expects the haves to help the have-nots, not only with material help but by treating them with the common dignity that all human beings deserve. As Dr. King said, “It’s a cruel thing to tell a man to lift himself up by the bootstraps when he has no boots.”

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Art by Angel Valdez for The Houston Catholic Worker at http://www.cjd.org

Back when Jesus walked, children were definitely kept in their place, seen and not heard.

They did not get sweets and presents for their birthdays. (In the big scheme of things historical, birthday celebrations are relatively new.)

People in New Testament times were eager to welcome and rub elbows with people of high social status in order to raise their own status. Even the disciples were prone to this. (See here.)

So when Jesus embraced children against the protests of his disciples — when he said that one had to be like a powerless little child to enter the kingdom of God — he shocked people out of their socks.

He was always good at going for the shock effect.

This Guatemalan girl, who became congested and very ill with a 104-degree fever, was never properly treated before her release from custody in the ICE detention center in Dilly, TX. She died shortly after her release. This was before the current flu outbreak that has caused three deaths of children.

“The Gospel of life is at the heart of Jesus’ message.”

So wrote Pope John Paul II in a document in which he contrasted the Gospel of life with the world’s culture of death and destruction.

“And how can we fail to consider the violence against life done to millions of human beings, especially children [my italics for emphasis], who are forced into poverty, malnutrition and hunger because of an unjust distribution of resources between peoples and between social classes?

We are living in shocking times in America, a time when the leader of the free world (and “King of Israel”) seems to go out of his way every hour to spin our heads around with his shocking words and actions. Me, I’m still trying to get over the shock of something that happened in Donald J. Trump’s America a couple of weeks ago.

In these United States, where we supposedly cherish liberty and justice for all, it took a federal appeals court ruling to ensure that powerless children with brown skin have enough edible food, clean drinking water, sanitary bathrooms and sleeping conditions.

Not to mention soap and toothpaste.

Think about that, people (and especially you who are fine with Donald J. Trump and his treatment of powerless children and their families). It took a federal court order for vulnerable children — who now are being denied flu shots in the wake of three child deaths from the flu — to be treated as Jesus would have them treated.

Jesus was always on the side of life and that which gives life. He was a life giver, a carpenter-turned-construction worker for life.

Denying children soap and toothpaste and reasonably healthy food and clean water runs counter to what Pope John Paul II said was at the heart of Jesus’ message.

And meanwhile, oh by the way, millions of impressionable American children are being brainwashed into believing that owning weapons made for war, and not for sport or even for protection, is a God-given right.

Whatever heart that America once had — an American nation that we’re constantly told was founded on Judeo-Christian values — is suffering from a near-fatal coronary attack.

I am praying every day that the nation I love will be able to repair her damaged heart back to good, holistic health.

Pray, and then put prayer into action in order to advance the kingdom on earth.

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A sick leader who has posted violent fantasy videos of him knocking down Hillary Clinton and pummeling a CNN reporter may not be the best to decry violence in America.

Click here to see Donald Trump beating a CNN reporter in a fantasy video: https://www.dailydot.com/layer8/donald-trump-cnn-wwe-gif/

Back in September 2017, President Donald J. Trump retweeted a doctored GIF of him knocking down Hillary Clinton — long after he defeated her — with a golf ball.

The sickening and violent GIF (which is a sort of video) created so much outrage he deleted it. (See documentation here.)

This is the same President Trump who believes violent games and movies are one of the main causes of mass murders by American nationalists.

But that’s not all.

There was that violent, fantasy tweet I linked above that he posted of his pummeling a CNN reporter.

This might be the wrong leader to be decrying all the violence in games and creative arts these days.

A man as sick as he is has no moral authority to speak out against any violence or hatred.

That I can tell you.

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A picture taken way and very faraway, outside of the beautiful, peaceful and hospitable city of El Paso in the County of El Paso.

So happens I spent a night at this church in a far-flung part of the county, with mostly Spanish-speaking, charismatic Christian believers, in 2004.

My thoughts and prayers have truly been with those wonderful people way out in the most underrated and peaceful city in Texas, El Paso — as well as those in Dayton, Ohio.

I can’t imagine the contagion of pain and suffering the victims of gun-idolatry are struggling to cope with in El Paso, Dayton and a long, long list of cities.

El Paso County, TX, c. 2004

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So this morning I was reading the book of Philippians, always one of my favorite epistles, in The Message — the Bible translation that the late, great Eugene Peterson gave us.

The late Eugene Peterson, who left us many great books that included his colorful translation of the Bible (The Message)

Peterson went all in with colorful language that makes for easy, breezy Bible reading and study — language so colorful that I often catch myself grinning as I read.

Take, for example, these verses from Philippians 3, which put me in mind of today’s preachers and TV evangelists who fly to and from their fine mansions in their fine private jets with their bellies full of fine food and drink.

    7-19 Stick with me, friends. Keep track of those you see running this same course, headed for this same goal. There are many out there taking other paths, choosing other goals, and trying to get you to go along with them.

    I’ve warned you of them many times; sadly, I’m having to do it again.

    All they want is easy street. They hate Christ’s Cross.

    But easy street is a dead-end street. Those who live there make their bellies their gods; belches are their praise; all they can think of is their appetites.

    20-21 But there’s far more to life for us. We’re citizens of high heaven! We’re waiting the arrival of the Savior, the Master, Jesus Christ, who will transform our earthy bodies into glorious bodies like his own. He’ll make us beautiful and whole with the same powerful skill by which he is putting everything as it should be, under and around him.

Peterson was no fan at all of any megachurches, and a blistering, plainspoken critic of the rich preachers who live on easy street while pushing the “prosperity gospel.”

    “Well, I think it’s a lie,” he said in an interview of the prosperity gospel. “I think it’s just a downright rotten lie. It’s nowhere in Christian tradition, so how does this get going in our culture?

    “It’s greed is what it is. It’s greed given a spiritual name: God will bless you. I want to ask these prosperity gospel people, do your people ever die? Do the people in your church ever die? What do you do when they die? Where’s the prosperity in that? I don’t have much patience with them, to tell you the truth, because I think they’re defrauding people.”

Read the whole interview with Peterson here, with the the former PBS broadcaster and fabulous host of “Religion & Ethics Newsweekly” Bob Abernathy.

Abernathy’s program ran from 1997-2017 and I think I speak for a lot of Christians who miss it — and Pastor Peterson — a lot.

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