Opinions expressed here are my own and do not represent the views of the congregation I joyfully serve. But my congregation loves me!

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Thankful for Pacifica Radio Network

On Thanksgiving I am thankful for independent, volunteer-powered community radio.  More than ever we need citizen journalists and independent media outlets to report on the stories that do not simply contribute to the profits of networks and their advertisers.


I am thankful for KBOO, 90.7 in Portland for airing my show, Beloved Community, every second Friday from 9-10 a.m.  This show is politically oriented and provides resources for activists.

I also host a weekly radio show/podcast that airs on several stations and is produced at KBOO.  Progressive Spirit talks about values, spirituality, social justice, and religion in society.

sprouts

My programs got a boost this week.  The Pacifica Radio Network has featured my interview with Matthew Fox on Sprouts!   As many as 40 stations or more will air it this week.   As a special shout out to them, I am linking to their websites on this post.






You can hear that Sprouts broadcast here.

matthew



You can hear the full 60 minute interview with Fox that aired on KBOO here.







Please support your neighborhood community, college, or public radio station.   

Now is the time for citizens to stand up against neo-facism.  
We need all institutions in the public sphere to rise up and resist.

I am grateful to the stations that carry my show on a regular basis:

KBOO/Portland, Oregon,
WETS/Johnson City, Tennessee,
WEHC/Emory, Virginia,
WPVM/Asheville, North Carolina,
KZAX/Bellingham, WA,
*KCEI/Taos, New Mexico.

Gratitude to those stations that carry Progressive Spirit and/or Beloved Community when they have space in their programming schedule:

Cottage Grove, Oregon, KSOW 106.7
Florence, Oregon, KXCR, 90.7
*Lincoln County, Oregon, KYAQ 91.7
Jeffersonville, New York, WJFF 90.5
Norman, Oklahoma, KVOY 104.5
Goldendale, Washington, KVGD 100.1
Chicago, Illinois, WZRD, 88.3
Carrboro, North Carolina, WCOM 103.5
LanChester, Pennsylvania, WLRI 92.9
Round Mountain, California, KKRN, 88.5
*Houston, Texas, KPFT 90.1
*Moscow, Idaho, KRFP 90.3
*Middletown, Connecticut, WESU 88.1
*Kansas City, Missouri, KKFI 90.1
*Ames, Iowa, KHOI 89.1
Kahului, Hawaii, KAKU 88.5
Two Harbors, Minnesota, KTWH 99.5

*Also carrying my show this week on Sprouts.

Gratitude for all stations who have carried my show for the first time through Sprouts this week!

Phoenix, Arizona, RadioPhoenix
Berkeley, California, KPFA, 94.1
Redway, California, KMUD
Santa Cruz, California, FreeRadio, 101.3
Boulder, Colorado, KGNU, 88.5
Sarasota, Florida, WSLR, 96.5
Greenville, Illinois, WGRN, 89.5
Peoria, Illinois, WAZU, 90.7
Acra, New York, WGXC, 90.7
Ithaca, New York, WRFI, 88.1
Palenville, New York, WLPP, 102.9
Columbus, Ohio, WGRN, 94.1
Ashland, Oregon, KSKQ, 89.5
Knoxville & Tri-Cities, Tennessee, Detour.us
Plainfield, Vermont, WGDR, 91.1
Mount Vernon, Washington, KSVR, 91.7
Olympia, Washington, KOAS, 89.3
Olympia, Washington, KOWA, 106.5
Spokane, Washington, KYRS, 88.1/92.3
Madison, Wisconsin, WMUU, 102.9
Viroqua, Wisconsin, WDRT, 91.9
Global Community Radio, global communityradio.blogspot
Work Force Rising Radio, workforcerising.com

Wednesday, November 09, 2016

Put Not Your Trust in Princes

We will start looking for, and being, the helpers...

At our election eve service that happened to receive a lot of media attention, Portland Tribune/KOIN, KGW, KATU, Kansas City Star (and others), one of the texts was from Psalm 146:
Praise the Lord! Praise the Lord, O my soul!
I will praise the Lord as long as I live;
I will sing praises to my God all my life long.
Put not your trust in princes, in mortals, in whom there is no help.
When their breath departs, they return to the earth;
on that very day their plans perish.
Happy are those whose help is the God of Jacob,
whose hope is in the Lord their God,
who made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them;
who keeps faith forever;
who executes justice for the oppressed;
who gives food to the hungry.
The Lord sets the prisoners free.
The Lord opens the eyes of the blind.
The Lord lifts up those who are bowed down.
The Lord loves the righteous.
The Lord watches over the strangers.
S/he upholds the orphan and the widow,
but the way of the wicked s/he brings to ruin.
The Lord will reign forever, your God, O Zion, for all generations.
Praise the Lord!
This psalm comes from longing.  Despite the language of praise, I hear in it profound disappointment, despair, and a realization that the "princes" are not to be trusted.  They will not do the work that needs to be done.   They may even work against the work that needs doing,
justice for the oppressed,
food for the hungry
freedom for the imprisoned,
sight for the blind,
dignity for those brought down,
love for the righteous,
protection of the stranger,
justice for the orphan and the widow,
justice, too, for the wicked, for those who cause harm...
This psalm speaks to me on Wednesday morning more than it did Monday night.
Put not your trust in princes.
But don't despair over the princes, either.
Put not your trust in princes, in mortals, in whom there is no help.When their breath departs, they return to the earth; on that very day their plans perish.
The princes never can be trusted, even the good ones, to carry out this work.  It is up to someone with greater depth and with a longer history.   The psalmist longs for "the Lord."  I, too, long for the Lord.

I don't exactly know what to make of what or who "the Lord" might be.   While I don't think there is any supernatural being or personality out there, I do think there is a reality to which this symbol points.   That reality is not "out there" but within and especially among.

I like to think of "the Lord" as the human aspiration for what is good and just.   Not an abstract ideal of the good or the just, but goodness and justice as it is done and has been done and will be done in the lives of human beings.   Goodness and justice incarnated in the bodies of those who feed, care, march, build, weep, encourage, liberate, and love.  
We will start looking for, and being, the helpers...
A member at Southminster, Chris, posted that on my Facebook page.  It caught me up short.  Of course.  We will.   We will look for and we will be the helpers.  

This Lord is what Mark Lewis Taylor calls "The Executed God."
The executed Jesus of Nazareth is not in himself some executed God, as readers might first think from this book’s title. No, the God who is executed, suffering imperial, state-sanctioned crucifixion, is presented in this book as a whole life force, a greater power, if you will, that is made up of three dynamics that were crucial to Jesus’ way of the cross: (1) being politically adversarial to religiously backed imperial power, (2) performing creative and dramatic instances of resistance to imperial power, and (3) organizing movements that can continue resistance and flourish even after imperial executioners do their worst. The executed God is a force of life that is greater than all imperial powers and thus can foment the resistance and hope that all suffering peoples need.
The other day I posted a transcription of an interview with Professor Taylor, "The Beloved Community Vs. Today's Clintonian Neoliberalsim."  We talked about this day, Wednesday after the election.  What do we do now?  Both of us assumed, I think, that Clinton would win.  Now that Trump has won, the same tasks might seem clearer.   Perhaps the scales will fall from our eyes, now, that the image of America, known by so many suffering people throughout the world as a ruthless, narcissistic, imperial bully, an image that has been sustained by neoliberal policies enacted by the Clintons, is now real for Americans in the figure of Donald Trump.

Trump is the ugly face of who we really are.

On this Wednesday, I think we do a couple of things.  First, we clarify the placement of trust.  Trust in any kind of prince, Democrat or Republican is misplaced.   Our trust needs to be in "the Lord" the "executed God" that moves us toward liberation.   This Lord is found in the movements of resistance to all oppressive regimes, including our own.

Second, we follow the lead of the "radically unloved" as Mark Taylor said:
With neoliberalism the agendas for change, for “development,” are set largely by the elites of the global North and their proxies across the global South. It is top down development that usually leaves those most economically and politically impacted without voice and without an empowerment that makes for equality and the flourishing of life. 
In contrast, King’s vision of the Beloved Community works from the other direction. As Cornel West stresses in his book The Radical King, the beloved community starts not with any top-down community dynamic, nor simply with a call to build community with everyone (“Can’t we all just get along?”) No, King’s vision of a just and beloved community starts with, as West emphasizes, with love for the “radically unloved” in society. In other words, beloved community proceeds from, with and for those in socially-imposed suffering, but also in resistance as the dispossessed peoples of our time. Being transformed with and by those dispossessed by the neoliberal regimes today is the way we build beloved community. Beloved community rises from a solidarity with the movements for the radically unloved. Clintonian liberalism does not do that. Yet, there is a powerful force here that can erode empires’ power through the deep and wide working power of resolute and creative peoples. The “radically unloved” mark the suffering of the beloved community but also bring the power of resistance and liberating change that all society needs.
Thus we follow the way of "the executed God."   We start looking for and being the helpers, that begins with those who are most fearful today of what a Trump presidency will mean for them.  Now on this Wednesday we renew our commitment to be in solidarity with suffering people around the world and at home.

My church member, Chris, also posted this.   It is a good place to start:







Friday, November 04, 2016

Brain Food This Weekend

You need this.

The election drama?  You don't need that.

What else you got going this weekend?  Nothing.  If you had something better to do, you wouldn't be reading my blog.

So come to the Jesus Seminar on the Road at Southminster tonight at 7:30 and you will then want to come tomorrow, too.  85 people have already registered.  You will meet some fellow travelers.  There is plenty of room for you.

This is the end of religion as we know it.   David Galston and Joseph Bessler are talking about ways to think and talk and make community not around supernatural beliefs or creeds or dogmas, but imagine theology as art, as permission to make meaning, to draw from the wealth of our cultural heritage and change it, shape it, explore it without having to submit to someone else's view of what is "true."

Walk-ins welcome.   To get a flavor for what we will discuss, listen to my interview with one of the presenters, David Galston.





Check out what will happen this weekend!


Christianity, God, and the Future of Religion

November 4–5, 2016
Beaverton, Oregon

  • What value, if any, does God have for human life?
  • What distinguishes theologies about Jesus from the theology of Jesus?
  • Why did the Church separate itself from study of the historical Jesus?
Instead of asking whether or not God exists, modern scholarship focuses on the human Jesus, the church’s transformation of Jesus into a divine being, and the fate of religion in the future. David Galston and Joe Bessler guide us through centuries of Christian thought and ask, what is God’s human future?

Wednesday, November 02, 2016

The Best Democracy Money Can Buy

Several of us watched Greg Palast's new film, The Best Democracy Money Can Buy:  A Tale of Billionaires and Ballot Bandits.   This is a great film.  A must see.  It will make you angry but it will also inspire you to fight for democracy, especially for the rights of the poor and people of color.
When Donald Trump says, “This election is rigged”—he should know. His buddies are rigging it. 
Rolling Stone investigative reporter Greg Palast busted Jeb Bush for stealing the 2000 election by purging Black voters from Florida’s electoral rolls. Now Palast is back to take a deep dive into the Republicans’ dark operation, Crosscheck, designed to steal a million votes by November. 
Crosscheck is controlled by a Trump henchman, Kris Kobach, Kansas Secretary of State who claims his computer program has identified 7.2 million people in 29 states who may have voted twice in the same election–a felony crime. The catch? Most of these “suspects” are minorities—in other words, mainly Democratic voters. Yet the lists and the evidence remain “confidential”. 
Palast and his investigative side-kick Badpenny do what it takes to get their hands on the data, analyze it and go find some of these 7.2 million Americans tagged “suspects” and “potential duplicate voters” whose votes are threatened this November. 
They hunt down and confront Kobach with the evidence of his “lynching by laptop.” Then they are off to find the billionaires behind this voting scam. The search takes Palast from Kansas to the Arctic, the Congo, and to a swanky Hamptons dinner party held by Trump’s sugar-daddy, John Paulson, a.k.a. “JP The Foreclosure King.” 
Palast and Badpenny stake out top GOP donors, the billionaire known as “The Vulture” and the Koch brothers, whom Palast nails with a damning tape recording. 
This real life detective story is told in a film noir style with cartoon animations, secret documents, hidden cameras, and a little help from Law & Order: Special Victims Unit detectives, Ice-T and Richard Belzer, Shailene Woodley, Rosario Dawson, Willie Nelson and Ed Asner, Palast and his associates expose the darkest plans of the uber-rich to steal America’s democracy.
Voter repression and voter suppression is a reality and Palast lays it out for us.    Here is an article he wrote about it for the Rolling Stone.   We learn about caging, purging, and what he calls the death star, interstate crosscheck.  All of these methods are removing people from the voter rolls or not counting their votes when cast.   It is ugly.  It's illegal.  It's nasty and according to Palast, it is why Bush "won" twice.  It is happening now.

See this film and show this film (we chose the $50 license fee option) wherever you can before next Tuesday.

Get active.  Here are Palast's seven ways to beat the ballot bandits.


Watch the trailer.


Monday, October 31, 2016

Why I Am Voting Yes On Measure 97

UPDATE:  Here are some places and times to knock on doors or make some calls.   It is actually fun! Go here to find out how to help.

Beaverton Office:  20450 NW Amberwood Dr #125. 
Door Knocking
Wednesday, November 2nd, 4:00-6:00 p.m. neighborhood canvass at Ridgewood Elementary
Saturday November 5, from 10am-1pm, at Beaverton office
Saturday November 5, from 10am-1pm, at McMenamin's Grand Lodge, in the Ironwork Grill
Sunday November 6, from 10am-1pm, at Beaverton office 
Phone Calling
November 2, from 4-6pm or 6-8pm at Beaverton office
November 3, from 4-6pm or 6-8pm at Beaverton office
November 4, from 4-6pm or 6-8pm at Beaverton office
November 7, from 4-6pm or 6-8pm at Beaverton office 
Portland office:  917 Lloyd Center anytime between 10AM and 9PM from now until the election!

If you haven't yet sent in your ballot, you may be undecided about measure 97. I am hoping to encourage you to fill in the oval "Yes."

We have been in Oregon nearly two years.  My wife and I moved from Tennessee.  Full disclosure--she is a music teacher in the Beaverton school district.   It was pretty amazing that she found a job.  We really couldn't believe it when we heard that music programs and teachers had been cut for budgeting reasons many years ago.    Oregonians do know that music isn't just singing campfire songs for fun, right?  When schools lack education in music and the arts, our children are crippled intellectually.   No music?  Seriously?  Tennessee is no shining star but it has music.     Oregon's philosophy seems to be,  "if you don't have money in the budget, make the kids pay" by slashing music, art, physical education, and vocational education.

If you still need to save money, keep the kids home.   We were appalled to discover that Oregon students will have completed a full year less than their Washington state counterparts by the time they graduate.   That is, if they graduate.   Oregon ranks dead last in the graduation rate.  In 2013 only 68.7% of Oregon students graduated high school, lower than any other state.   When they do attend they are packed in to crowded classrooms because even as enrollment has increased, Oregon has 2,000 less teachers now then in 2008 and it has the some of the nation's largest class sizes.  

This is a problem.  And it will get worse unless we change.

Here is the good news.  We can change it.  We can change it this week.


In addition to having one of poorest funded education systems in the nation, Oregon also has the lowest corporate tax rate.   That means large and out of state corporations take a lot of money out of Oregon but give little in return in terms of taxes.

Measure 97 is the elegant answer for Oregon.   With measure 97, after the first $25 million in sales, the tax rate goes up  to 2.5% on these corporations like Comcast.    This is not a sales tax that consumers pay.  This is not a sales tax on small businesses.  This is a tax on the biggest corporations who pay less tax in Oregon than in any other state.

You have heard and seen the ads funded by these corporations.   They are spending millions on misinformation and scare tactics such as these three statements in bold:

1)  Costs will be passed on to consumers.  No.  Prices are set nationally.  If Comcast could charge you more now, it would.  It doesn't because of competition.  The corporations will pay this tax, not the consumers.

2)  Businesses will move out of state.  That wouldn't be very smart.  They will simply lose on sales.  Many of these huge corporations are out of state already.  This tax is on sales made in Oregon.   Corporations have a sweet deal in Oregon.  It is time for them to pay their fair share.

3)  The legislature will spend the money on other things.  It says clearly in the measure itself, that this will be spent on education, healthcare and senior services:
All of the revenue generated from the increase in the tax created by this 2016 Act shall be used to provide additional funding for: public early childhood and kindergarten through twelfth grade education; healthcare; and, services for senior citizens. Revenue distributed pursuant to this section shall be in addition to other funds distributed for: public early childhood and kindergarten through twelfth grade education; healthcare; and, services for senior citizens. 
It will be the law.  Black and white.  We will all be watching that the state complies with the voters' mandate.

Objections to 97 are red herrings and actually hysteria.   Large and out of state corporations don't want to pay it.   They have enjoyed this free ride.  They will do everything they can to try to convince you that up is down and good is bad.

Measure 97 will generate three billion dollars for our children, our seniors, and for the sick, the most vulnerable in our society.  This will help make Oregon sustainable.  This is an issue of social justice.  That is why I along with many other clergy have endorsed measure 97.

I even preached a sermon about it.

Here is an interview I had with Otto Schell, legislative director of the Oregon Parent Teachers Association on KBOO.  This is a great interview to send to friends and family and post on social media.


Yes.  97.  It is right for Oregon.




Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Christian Atheists, Your Light Has Come

Here is an excellent article on the Gretta Vosper fiasco, "Unsuitable" Gretta Vosper is Why Mainline Denominations Are Dying by Christian Chiakulus.  

Christian is a Christian Atheist.

Despite the fact that people do not want Christian Atheists to exist, they do.  There are more of us than you may think.   There is no school of Christian Atheism or denominational hierarchy.  Christian Chiakulus said he came to the label by himself:

When I first took the label of “Christian atheist” for myself last year, I felt at once liberated and nervous.  Liberated because I finally found a phrase that seemed to encapsulate who I am and what I believe, and nervous because I wasn’t sure how the Progressive Christian community I had been trying to join would react.  Would I be accepted?  Ignored?  Laughed at?  Puzzled over? 
A part of my uncertainty had to do with the fact that I had come to this label on my own, not following the lead of any theologian or clergy before me.  While I eventually did learn of people like Thomas Alter, William Hamilton, and Gretta Vosper, their writings had no influence over my initial “conversion,” if you will.

The United Church of Canada is tone deaf to what people really think and has circled its wagons around beliefs and theology.   Christian writes:

At the end of the day, their concerns are over language and belief, which are really just methods of control.  Vosper dislikes using the term “God” because she feels that for some people it may act as a barrier between themselves and the type of universal love God actually stands for.  The Conference is ultimately missing the forest for the trees.
To illustrate, a commenter on one of my Facebook posts wrote:

As I get older, I understand less and less about the need for religions/churches to adhere to labeling. "I am a Christian, does that make me good? I am a Muslim, does that make me bad?" If I have to define myself, I guess it would be a seeker. Seeking what? Peace and calm for myself and helping humankind in any way I can. Where can I go to learn this - Christianity, Islam, Native American beliefs, Buddhism, Dr. Seuss, Monet, Bach, Pink Floyd, Atheism, and so much more.  I think if you really need to label, go to Office Depot, they have one on sale for $24.99.



Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Violator of Facebook Community Standards

Yes, that would be me.



Oh what has he done?! Gasp!

He posted this piece on the atheist from Canada, Gretta Vosper.  

She's a violator of community standards, too.  

When I try to post a link to my blog on Facebook, I see blue:


In my inbox of love notes from Facebook, it was because of the above post.    I guess I abused Canada.

So it goes.

Tell your friends that Shuck and Jive is back and in violation!

Update:  Facebook has removed the ban.






Monday, September 12, 2016

Deja Vu All Over Again

I served my first congregation as a minister from 1992 to 2000 in upstate New York.   The 90s were intense regarding debates and disciplinary actions against LGBT clergy.  It was in 1996 that our Book of Order had official discrimination written into it.

I was new in the ministry.  On more than one occasion I would give my annual "Sex" sermon then promptly go on vacation.   It was at my second church that I started to be more forthcoming about my views.   It was about 15 years ago, I guess, that I stated from the pulpit that I was in complete solidarity with LGBTQ clergy and with those denied ordination or stripped of ordination.  

I felt similarly yesterday.

During Sunday's sermon, I declared my stance with Gretta Vosper that I, too, am an "atheist" minister.   I put "atheist" in quotes, because I am probably more of a "non-theist" or "post-theist" perhaps even a "pantheist" or what not, but the term "atheist" is where the fire rages.  

If you asked me what the precise differences are between a non-theist, post-theist, or atheist, I'm not sure I could satisfy the question.   I just know that people get squeamish when they hear the word atheist.  They get nervous.  They put clergy on church trials even if they really have a similar philosophy.  

What is an atheist?  As I mentioned in the sermon,
You know what an atheist is? An atheist is 28-year-old law student, Nazimuddin Samad. He was hacked to death with a machete in Bangladesh in April.
He was killed for being an atheist, not a non-theist or a post-theist.

It seems pretty obvious where I need to take a side, doesn't it?

That is why Gretta (also probably a non-theist or post-theist) has declared herself an atheist in solidarity with atheists.  She has done so since 2013.    (Her theological journey resonates with many.   It would make for a good group study).

Deja vu.  I felt the same thing Sunday that I felt 15 years ago.   The same fluttering in the stomach.  The same feeling of warmth in my cheeks.  The same concern and the same hope that my congregation would understand.  

I, too, am an atheist minister.

I stood (and still stand) with my queer colleagues because I felt it was the right thing to do.

I stand with my Clergy Project colleagues (some out, some not, some in the church, some not) because I feel it is the right thing to do.  

No, the atheist movement, or whatever it is called is not the LGBTQ Movement.  It is not the Civil Rights Movement.  It is not Women's Suffrage.  It is not the Labor Movement.   It is not the Peace Movement.  Each of these movements is distinct with its own history and context.

From my vantage point, it sure feels similar.

The pushback sounds the same:

  • disciplinary action regarding a development far larger than one individual 
  • theological quibbling over correct belief and authority
  • worry over losing members
  • rush to judgment about who is in or out
  • disinterest in really learning what people are saying and experiencing
  • discomfort with the ambiguity 

And so it goes.

++++

P.S.
Facebook won't allow my blog to be posted on its site.  When I try, I receive the following message:

Warning this message contains blocked content:
Your message couldn't be sent because it includes content that other people on Facebook have reported as abusive.

Hi ho.