Perhaps on some level American politics has always had its share of game strategy. Maybe it's a myth that our so-called "founding fathers" set aside their own interests to form a new nation, and maybe all the key elements of the U.S. Constitution really just came from one influential leader trying to trick or embarrass a political enemy and that's the only way we actually have a freedom to assemble, for example. Seems unlikely, Even if such claims were true, we still have a major issue today with the poor quality of game being played.

Different Drummer: Dwight Eisenhower

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I was pulled over the other day for a violation related to my vehicle registration. I have no doubt that I was uneasy. From what I believe was mild food poisoning, I had left work before lunch and had serious concerns about making it to the bathroom in my home on time. I was sweating, distracted, worried, and impatient.

I challenged the officer from a nearby sheriff's department, questioning his facts and his approach. 

The good news: despite having my car towed, needing a family member to pick me up, and struggling to fully note the "popcorn trail through a dark maze" of steps that needed to be followed to pay late fees and get my car back ... I didn't lose my shit on the spot. I mean that literally. Delaying the inevitable diarrhea as long as I did was arguably a miracle.

The better news: I didn't die that day or a few days later in the custody of law enforcement officials. 

I have seen the Eric Garner video last year from New York City. A case could be made that I should have been strangled to death last week. I know too many people who have tried to justify the police actions because he was "uncooperative" or resisted arrest. If failing to be perfectly cooperative when you think the police are confused or making a mistake is a death-penalty offense, then it is definitely a miracle that I am alive today.

I have read the more recent accounts about Sandra Bland's arrest, which seems to have led to her death. Based on evidence, we should be investigating whether she died at the hands of law enforcement officials or by others through their indifference to protecting people in their custody. It is also possible, though less likely, that she committed suicide after being traumatized by her encounter with police. 
Again, if "nature called" and forced a (to be fair, very patient) law enforcement officer to deal with that mess, could I have mysteriously breathed my last breath that afternoon? 

I've described myself before as the kind of person that the American political majority is inclined to be patient with: white, married, family man, politically moderate (until people figure out what that means), deeply religious, very comfortably middle class or above average in that regard, steadily and gainfully employed, etc. 

Did this officer's patience, which I mentioned above, have more to do with me than with him? 
Did I get lucky by being pulled over by this man at that point in time? 
Or would I always be lucky for reasons that society is calling "privilege" on several levels that fall outside the legal dictionary?

And, I wonder, what would have happened if I had been unable to immediately pay more than $250 to get my car back? Surely, the choice would be "pay day loan" (so-called legal loan sharking in the opinion of some, which I cannot corroborate as it's outside of my experience) or loss of job due to loss of reliable transportation.

It's a game of inches, to use a sports analogy.
 A piece of mail delivered or not.
 A neighbor putting that official document back into the postal system, if mis-delivered, or not.
 Keeping my cool in a stressful situation, or literally losing my shit.
 Or simply the fact that my stress level was perceived as the concerns of a responsible citizen, while the same physiological response from someone else -- of a different age, race, gender, economic stability level, etc. -- might be perceived as deeply suspicious, disrespectful toward "the badge" or even criminal. 

I do not believe that I committed the crime of "resisting arrest" in this situation and clearly neither did the sheriff's officer. For me, this only further underscores how subjective that criminal charge clearly is and how wary we should be when it is used as an excuse for using too-often deadly force.

"If only she had shown more respect, then Bland would be alive today," I've heard commentators say about the recent Texas case. Sorry, once again this makes "attitudes" like impatience and distrust a death penalty offense. Even in Texas, such "attitudes" are not a crime, and even in Texas assault of a police officer or resisting arrest are not grounds for execution.
Or they shouldn't be.

You can almost divide Christianity into two camps. One group, including the Apostle Paul, believes that Jesus of Nazareth fulfilled all of the Jewish Law. There are details, of course. Did this happen through his life, at the crucifixion, through the resurrection, only completely at the point of ascension or even afterward, at Pentecost?  Details, details. The point is that Jesus gave us two commandments that fulfill all of the law: love God and love your neighbor (Luke 10: 25-28). Loving your neighbor as you love yourself fulfills “all the law” meaning not just 10 Commandments but hundreds more (Romans 13: 8-10).

The other group believes that Jesus did not fulfill all of the law, despite what Paul and others have taught. Using an extra-Biblical concept of “civil and ceremonial” laws versus other commands found in what Christians call the Old Testament, only some of those laws were fulfilled. This group of believers is not interested in the idea that loving God and neighbor covers all of the “moral law” ground, as Paul explicitly taught the Roman church.

For this second group, Jesus’ statement in the Sermon On The Mount (Matthew 5: 17-18) about “not one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled” (King James Version) means that The Law must still be in effect. For them, Jesus saying “It is accomplished” from the cross just prior to his death had nothing to do with those laws.

One little problem, though: those “civil and ceremonial laws” are absolutely jots and tittles, dots and iotas, the smallest letter, the least stroke of a pen, the least point, the smallest detail. Jesus cannot be saying that such things will not pass from The Law if the interpretation of the second group is valid.

From a New Testament perspective, at least through the letters of Paul, Christians are under no obligation to bear the burden of The Law. The entire letter to Galatians hammers this point home repeatedly. What about those who choose instead to embrace the non-Biblical concept of “some laws still being in effect”? Jesus is pretty clear. Every jot and tittle applies, and Christianity has long failed – intentionally failed – to measure up to that standard.

Of course, the Sermon On The Mount in context doesn’t expect us to walk that line. That yolk doesn’t come from Christ. It comes from Christians who clearly love The Law more than The Lord.

Jots, tittles, dots, iotas.

Whether a sense of patriotism invalidates the separation of church and state or similar founding principles in the United States of America?

"O Master, Let Me Walk With Thee" (Washington Gladden, H. Percy Smith)

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Strident Christian views about homosexuality have compromised any defense of infallibility, causing some to question the existence of God. Certainly there is justification for denying the validity of their anti-LGBTQ worldview. After all, in less than a decade “religious right” speakers presuming to represent Christianity have moved from there is no such thing as sexual orientation to homosexuality is just a choice to maybe it isn’t a choice but there can’t be anything inherent to it to if it is inherent in some way it still cannot possibly by “natural” to either way it’s just a behavior that represents a rebellion against God to those people can attend church but they can never be members of our congregation to perhaps they can join us in Christian fellowship but only if they take a vow of involuntary celibacy to perhaps it is inevitable that some of them will live together but we don’t want to know what that intimacy entails to God can forgive all sins but not the sin of those people wanting to get married. Frankly, it is dizzying how many times a perfect and never-changing God has put a completely different idea, or strategy, into the mouths of those who purport to speak on behalf of deity. This Inappropriate Conversation is going to give the soapbox to a totally different group, gay Christians. "Why worship a God of love if doing so means denying the possibility of experiencing love?" (N.T., Australia). What do we do if some Christians don’t want LGBTQ people worshiping God in the first place? Where do we find either the Great Commission or the Great Commandments in that Christian worldview? Perhaps, the Spirit of the living God is pointing us in a different direction. We should listen.

Different Drummer: John Shore

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I have never “re-blogged” before, so I cannot say if I’m even doing this correctly. A friend I knew from a previous church has given me permission to share her words, so I will. I have taken one subtle step to make things anonymous. I’m not using her name, for example. Having said that, I found her words too powerful to ignore.

As a Christian, I am passionate about witnessing. “Tell me what the Lord is doing in your life” is, for me, the heart and soul of any sermon. Too often, church members are unwilling to hear the witness of anyone they find to be “too different” as if xenophobia has replaced agape within many Christian fellowships. Well, I’m listening to someone whose experiences are totally different from my own. I hope you will, too.
-IC_Greg

Sooo, I am just going to say this. It is long, I warn you.

Firstly, I want to thank and honor all who have given their blood, sweat, tears, and for some, their lives for this. We would not be here if not for you. Deeply, I thank you.

Yet, I realize that there are some out there who are very upset, disturbed, and saddened over the recent ruling from SCOTUS. I want to say, I get it, I really do. I was with you once upon a time. I felt that my religious convictions lead me to an understanding that marriage as we know it today was only by God's design to be between a man and a woman. I felt that it was totally unnatural and completely morally wrong to do anything otherwise. I admit, and those of you who have known me my whole life know that I was quite a zealot back in the day. I was pretty hardline. And so, for people to say to me now that I am not seeing "their" side, is completely false. I WAS on your 'side'. I argued it, heavily. Then I got to a point where I could 'understand' where it would be more comfortable to be with the same sex, but I still did not agree at all that it was in God's design, my religion taught me that.

But, as you go through life, you grow and you learn, and sometimes you have people in your life who gently point out some things you may not have thought of before.

I had no idea what I was really saying back then. I had no clue what it all really meant. I knew people who were gay, and they were a bit of a novelty to me growing up in the small town that I did, I loved them, but I didn't agree.

And then, one day, a dear friend’s mother and I had a very, very long talk about the whole issue. She pointed out things I had never even considered. She pretty much gave me a taste of my own bible beating medicine, but in a totally and completely loving way, something I hadn't particularly learned quite yet called tact.

From then on I really started questioning and researching and asking people and talking with people. Not just accepting what I was being told, but really digging into my own life and the lives of those around me, and searching my own soul. I still wasn't sure about the whole thing, but I started seeing people as people. And love as well, love, and just because I didn't care for it in particular, that didn't mean they were scary or bad people, and did I really have a right to say whether or not they can love who they love?

Somewhere in this time I had written out a list, and sent it out to the universe, to God, to bring into my life a person with certain attributes. The things that were really important to me. I did this as part of a book I had been reading about being a single christian. Irony....

Then I met K.

This was out of left field for me. I had no idea that I even could like another woman, let alone fall in love with one. Before I even knew it, my friends and family members had their eyebrows raised in wonder. And one day, I realized that I had completely fallen in love with a woman.

Some say that God does not condone this sort of 'behavior'. I was one of those people. Well, let me tell you how I see it now. Not only do I believe that God perfectly created this woman for me, I believe that God placed her directly in my path. Period. And, do you know that she just so happened to embody that entire laundry list of what a suitable, Godly mate would look like that I made so long before. Every. Last. Word. My best friend pointed this out to me. I never even asked God for a gender. I was looking for the important things....same beliefs, same interests, likes me for me etc.

And, now, before I start hearing, oh but you're being deceived by the devil (yeah, we struggled through that one together, being that we both come from very religious backgrounds.) Let me tell you this. I have grown more as a person, and most importantly, more in my faith and spirituality and have drawn closer to God in the time that I have known K., than I ever had in my life previously. Why on earth would a 'devil' want to put me directly in the path of someone who would challenge me to pray more, be closer to God, to dig deeper into the bible, to learn more about my own self and spirituality? That seems quite counterproductive to me.

And one of the biggest things I have learned is that love and commitment are so not what I thought. It is so much deeper, amazing, and sometimes downright freaking harder than I ever imagined. And I know that people are saying, well, why use the word 'marriage'? Why take a christian sanctioned word and change it. Well, I challenge you to look deep into the history of that word. I challenge you to look at what the idea of it means throughout the world. Because, I sure was surprised.

It has evolved over time, influenced by culture, religion, and force of power. It has been used and abused in many ways. But when we get down to brass tacks, I think we all know that what this particular word means today, here, now is about basic rights of two people who love each other and want to be afforded the same things their male/female counterparts are afforded. Good and bad.

It isn't the final step. We have so much farther to go. I would like to see a time when I don't have to be nervous about who knows what in a job situation, for fear of being fired. I already know what it feels like to have people be in that awkward uncomfortableness at work when I overhear very demeaning things said about people 'like me'. I know how it feels to have people pity me because I was such a nice girl. (I hope that hasn't changed?!) I already know what it feels like to wonder if we are going to make it out of a restaurant in a rural town in a different state without being harmed. I have lost friends, I have lost respect. I have strained relations with some because I am not equal in their eyes. But I am lucky. There are many, throughout time and to this very day who have been beaten, killed, discriminated against, and some have even taken their lives just because they happen to be attracted to the same sex. So yeah, I am pretty damn lucky that I have only endured a fraction of what others have. And so I will keep moving forward until we can all be so lucky.

So, if you don't want to be friends with me, fine. If you still think I/we are trying to push some sort of political agenda, fine. I am not here to change your mind, we are all on our own journey. I had to come here on my own, with the help of some loving friends, and the help of an ever loving Creator God, who nudges me every damn day to act in love. I am only here to share my view on this whole thing, from where I stand. Because, quite frankly, I am tired of seeing the hatred. I am tired of seeing the subtle, subversive ways that people are covering their distaste. And I am tired of the words I am hearing that I used to say to people, just like me, once upon a time.

There aren't “sides” folks. We are all human beings. We are all in this thing called life together on this planet we call earth. And I for one, am for love. I was created in love. And I want to be a beacon of love. For it is the most powerful thing on earth.
-J.

 

On June 22, 1633,  Galileo was sentenced by the Roman Inquisition for being "vehemently suspect of heresy." He had told the truth, that the earth revolved around the sun according to astronomical evidence, but he was forced to recant that truth. There is a great deal of scientific knowledge we either would not have today, or would have obtained in very different ways, if Galileo had chosen a different course, if he had been "silenced" by more violent means. Speaking truth to power, as the saying goes, is rarely as clear as it sounds. Sometimes it doesn't require formal speech at all. A simple smartphone video can have the same impact today.

Different Drummer: Galileo Galilei

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