An Artist, a Writer and a Visionary sit down for a Chat: A talk with Frank Schaeffer. (I’ll let you decide which is which)

Sooooo, I had a chat with Frank Schaeffer and the Whiskey Preacher yesterday and it was magnificent. Sometimes the pieces of my personal universe come together and things just make sense. Ahh, thin spaces how I love you.

I hope you will enjoy this interview. I know I did.

There was a weird technical glitch and you could only see half my face in the skype recording so we decided to edit it to where you will only see Frank. It is still awesome!

Whi I High Res Front Cover

You can find Why I am an Atheist Who Believes in God on Amazon, or at your local Barnes & Noble.

You can find Frank Schaeffer at:
FrankSchaeffer.com
Twitter: @Frank_Schaeffer
Facebook: Frank Schaeffer
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You can find Phil Shepherd at:
Facebook: Whiskey Preacher
Twitter: @PhilShepherd
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You can find Novitas at:
novitaschurch.com
Twitter: @novitaschurch
Facbook: Novitas Church

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The Schaeffers are coming! The Schaeffers are coming!

Frank flyerHello lovelies! I am sorry it has been so long since we talked. Life in the Krabill house has been filled with life and activity which has meant less time and creativity spent on blogging. It sure is good to be back. I missed you all.

Anyway, this week something extra exciting is happening and I am thrilled to be sharing it with you! What is that you may ask? Well, I’ll tell you…

FRANK & GENIE SCHAEFFER ARE COMING TO VISIT!!!

Sorry for yelling y’all. I am just really excited.

Anyway, in light of the quickly approaching arrival of the Schaeffer’s, I thought I would share a series of excerpts from Frank’s latest book, Why I am an Atheist Who Believes in God: How to Give Love, Create Beauty and Find Peace. Tomorrow I will be recording a live interview with Frank and I am super excited to be sharing that with you this week as well. Fun times!

Without further ado, here is the first excerpt. It can be found on page 47:

Jesus certainly was not a “Bible believer,” as we use that term in the post Billy Graham era of American fundamentalist religiosity that’s used as a trade-marked product to sell religion. Jesus didn’t take the Jewish scriptures at face value. In fundamentalist terms, Jesus was a rule-breaking relativist who wasn’t even “saved,” according to evangelical standards. Evangelicals insist that you have to believe very specific interpretations of the Bible to be saved. Jesus didn’t. He undercut the scriptures.

The stories about Jesus that survived the bigots, opportunists and delusional fanatics who wrote the New Testament contain powerful and enlightened truths that would someday prove the undoing of the Church built in his name. Like a futurist vindicated by events as yet undreamed, Jesus’ message of love was far more powerful that the magical thinking of the writers of the book he is trapped in. In Jesus’ day the institutions of religion, state, misogyny and myth were so deeply ingrained that the ultimate dangerousness of his life example could not be imagined. For example his feminism, probably viewed as an eccentricity in his day, would prove transformational.

Jesus believed in God rather than in a book about God. The message of Jesus’ life is an intervention in and an acceleration of the evolution of empathy.

If you are anywhere close to the DFW area you can come see Frank and Genie speak at Eddie Deen’s Crossroads in Arlington (near Cowboy’s Stadium) Saturday, October 25th from 5-9. Tickets are $20 at the door ($15 with a student ID) and include All-you-can-eat BBQ, dessert and non-alcoholic beverages. There will be a cash bar available. There will be no childcare available. 

Bearable Lightness of Being

I sometimes wonder how I walked around in darkness so long thinking it was the light?

I mean, how is that possible?

How can one’s eyes be so accustomed to the dim room that they believe that is all the light that is available?

How it is that we can settle for guarding our little candle like Gollum’s Precious instead of flinging our light into the sky like fireworks over the water on a balmy summer night?
Why do we let the black holes dictate to us where our light can shine? Why do we insist that the light only be shone on those we deem worthy or at least worthy by means of admitting their unworthiness?

Why should we use a flashlight to bring a small beam to a dark house rather than ripping the roof off, breaking down the walls and allowing the light of the sun to invade every room and the flowers to bloom underfoot?
Why do we insist on making our circle so tight? Why do we light it on fire and like circus animals that have been beaten, force others to jump though it’s flames before we consider them? When we could be cutting off the chains of the prisoners, why do we instead point out the bars of their cage?

What about us? What about us? How about let’s make our circle ever expanding like the universe? Let’s cast our hopes up over our heads as we laugh with abandon and run through the grass yelling to the kids sitting in the dark, staring at the screens to “Come out! Come out and play!” The chains you thought were holding you? They are gone. The night you thought was eternal is being pierced by the dawn. The tiny stars that were the pinpoints of light on your moonless night are being drowned out by the loud, burning all encompassing sunshine of a new day. The air is bright and fresh. Breathe it deep. Fill your lungs. Life is beckoning. Love is calling. Peace is begging to be released.
When I was young I used to lie in bed when I had a bad dream and repeat over and over,
“God is peace. God is love. God is light.”
“God is peace. God is love. God is light.”
“God is peace. God is love. God is light.”
I would say until the night didn’t seem so dark. Until my nightmares didn’t seem so real. Until my heartbeat would slow and I could face my dreams again head on.”
At a certain point we have to lay down the thoughts we thrust upward to block out the light.
We have to choose to lay down the sticks that we use to draw our lines in the sand.
We desperately need to stop treating life like a school yard pick that divides into us and them and instead all play on the same team.
Don’t you want to push off the sleep mask that covers your eyes and dream all the dreams with your eyes wide open and your heart ablaze with light? We can do that you know. I can. You can. And together we can.

We can choose to be like God who is peace, who is love, who is light.

We can choose peace.
You are a peacemaker.
Bring peace.
We can choose love.
You are a lover.
Love with no unless.
We can choose to be light.
You are the light.
Be the light.

What’s love got to do (got to do) with it?

1_corinthians_13_4_8_by_yods-d4r0d51There is lots of talk about loving your neighbor going around. There are a lot of thoughts about loving your enemy. There are questions about how we can love members of ISIS, megachurch pastors and even that relative you secretly dread spending time with.

So I got to thinking, is there anything to be learned in scripture about loving well or what loving someone actually, practically looks like? One famous passage immediately springs to mind, 1 Corinthians 13. You may have heard it before. It goes something like this:

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.  It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

Love never fails.

If we assume this to be true and an accurate depiction of love, what does that say about who God is seeing as the scriptures tell us that God is love? Let’s sub in God for the word love in the 1 Cor. passage and see what we get:

God is patient, God is kind. God does not envy, God does not boast, God is not proud. God does not dishonor others, God is not self-seeking, God is not easily angered, God keeps no record of wrongs. God does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. God always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

God’s love never fails.

That phrase “is not self-seeking” is also translated “does not insist on its own way”.  Can you imagine? God does not insist on his own way. BOOM. WOW. INSANITY.  I don’t know about you but that was a revelation to me this week.

What about us? How does that help us? Does this have direct application that helps us love the specific people mentioned earlier? Let’s see. I’ll try it with myself. (I don’t know about you but this is actually one I have done before).

Michelle is patient, Michelle is kind. Michelle does not envy, Michelle does not boast, Michelle is not proud. Michelle does not dishonor others, Michelle is not self-seeking, Michelle is not easily angered, Michelle keeps no record of wrongs. Michelle does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. Michelle always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

Michelle’s love never fails.

If you want you can take it a step further by inserting the person(s) you aren’t sure if you’re loving. Can I confidently say:

Michelle is patient, Michelle is kind toward her enemies. Michelle does not envy her neighbor, Michelle does not boast to her frustrating family member, Michelle is not proud when someone offers advice. Michelle does not dishonor he enemies, Michelle is not self-seeking, Michelle is not easily angered with her children or spouse, Michelle keeps no record of wrongs. Michelle does not delight in the megachurch pastor’s wrongdoing but rejoices with the truth that allows healing to begin. Michelle always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

Michelle’s love never fails?

Honestly, sometimes I can say those things and sometimes I can’t.

However, I can confidently say, this is the kind of love I aspire to. This is the kind of person I want to be. And for real, wouldn’t the world be a better place if we were all these kind of people?

In the end, what’s love got to do with it? Absolutely everything.

 

 

Doing it all for others (at least some of the time) & the #genuinequotient [*props to James Michael Devitt*]

0genuine-stamp-1Yesterday a friend of mine posted a video of Victoria Osteen on Facebook. In it she said, “When you worship (and obey) God, we’re not doing it for God, we’re doing it for ourself, because that’s what makes God happy!” The comment section was predictable and contained the usual comments saying things like:

Yeah, there’s just really not much that comes from that man that’s biblical… if we’re to take God’s word literally, that guy’s gonna have some ‘splainin’ to do when he leaves this earth.

It’s all about positive thinking with them and happiness and bunny rabbits and lollipops when people need to hear good old fashion hell, fire and brimstone again!

That’s all America needs is an ‘excuse’ to be selfish bc we don’t have enough of that already… And I think they have the largest congregation in America.
How about do it bc u want to – please God. Surely that’s what she ‘meant to say’ – sigh…

Today in the car all of this came back to mind and I started examining what I believe about this and what my motivation is when I do the things I do. Here is what I came up with…

The good that I do, the love that I share, I don’t do that “for God”. God and I are already cool. Because he loves me no matter what (and before I did anything good or bad) he sent his son, not to condemn me but to save me and everyone else. I also don’t do it “for myself”. Sorry Victoria, for me loving people often isn’t easy and/or doesn’t make me happy. The good that I do (when my motives are right) I do for others. Jesus gave us two commandments; love God and love each other. Paul later distills these two down to one, “For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” When we do this one thing we fulfil all the law including loving God. After all, how does God say people will know that we are his followers? By all the stuff we do “for him”? Nope. By how happy we are? Nope. He says followers of Jesus will be known by one thing. L-O-V-E. So how is that going?

This week I was party to a Facebook conversation in which the term “genuine quotient” was thrown out as a compliment. Kent and I thought it was an excellent and very descriptive term so I am totally advocating that we, lovelies, make it a thing. Here is my attempt at defining “genuine quotient.” “Genuine” means authentic or sincere, what something or someone truly is. “Quotient” is the degree or the magnitude of a specified characteristic or quality. If we put these together we have:

Genuine Quotient – The degree or magnitude to which someone is genuine or sincere.

It is my contention that people have a pretty good bullshit meter when it comes to the #GQ (catchy, huh?). People know when my motivation is love and care for others vs. doing something to make myself happy or look good to someone else vs. doing something “for God” (as if God needed me to “do something” for him) either to earn his approval or stay out of hell. When we do things out of obligation or selfishness we will never be known by our love even if our actions seem good on the surface. Like I said, b.s. meters yada yada. However, it is my contention that when my motivation is love for my neighbor, I raise my genuine quotient. And isn’t that a good thing?

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Women’s Equality Day: Texas Voting Edition

Tswift feministThat’s right T-Swift, being a feminist isn’t about hating men at all. Being a feminist is about days like today where we stand up and say that the voice of a woman and the vote of a woman are equal. Today is a very important day. Today is Women’s Equality Day in the United States which commemorates the day that the 19th Amendment was certified as law, giving women the vote. Shockingly (or not so shockingly) women (and their male allies) fought for the right to vote in the US for 70+ years before it became a reality in 1920. 70+ years.

In light of this fight, and the ongoing fight to secure the full equality of women in the United States and around the world I call on the women of Texas and the men who support our right to full equality to vote in the upcoming election this November. Yesterday someone sent me an article about the 2014 Best And Worst States for Women’s Equality conducted by the personal finance website Wallethub. Any guesses where Texas ranks on the list? 47th. The researchers looked at the following factors in determining ranking:

image

  • Workplace Environment

    • Pay (Median Weekly Earnings)
    • Number of Executives
    • Average Work Hours (for Full-Time Workers)
    • Number of Minimum-Wage Workers
    • Unemployment Rate

    Education and Health

    • Number of Residents Aged 25+ with a Bachelor’s Degree or Higher
    • Life Expectancy at Age 65

    Political Empowerment

    • Number of Lawmakers in U.S. Senate
    • Number of Lawmakers in U.S. House of Representatives
    • Number of Lawmakers in State Legislature

47th? Really people of Texas, we can do better. After reading the study and the articles about it I was left to wonder, “Why in the world would any woman would vote for Greg Abbott or Dan Patrick in the upcoming election?” Why would we as citizens of the great state of Texas settle for anything less than the equal treatment of all our citizens; Not just male and female but gay or straight or black or white or latino or asian or christian or muslim or jew or rich or poor or any other distinction you want to make?

For me, a vote for Abbott and Patrick is a vote for the status quo in Texas. And not only the status quo but a move even further into Ted Cruz Tea Party territory. When I looked on the Wendy Davis Campaign’s web site to learn her stance on women’s issues this is what I found:

Working for Women

  • Fighting Against Closure of Women’s Health Centers

Wendy Davis stood for nearly 13 hours to fight against Austin insiders trying to close 60 health centers across Texas that once provided hundreds of thousands of women with care they can’t get elsewhere.

  • Empowering Rape Survivors, Cracking Down on Rapists

Wendy Davis authored the second law in U.S. history to focus on eradicating the state’s backlog of thousands of untested rape kits to ensure sexual predators are brought to justice.

  • Ending Sexual Violence

Wendy Davis has also passed laws to make certain that survivors of sexual assault can be treated and have their evidence collected at almost any hospital with an ER and be kept up to date on the status of their case.

  • Fighting for Equal Pay

Wendy Davis passed a bipartisan equal pay for equal work bill in 2013, which would have conformed Texas law with federal law and allowed victims of wage discrimination to pursue their case in state court. Governor Perry vetoed the bill. Texas is one of only four states that does not have equal pay for equal work protections.

In Texas, the median pay for a woman working full time, year-round is $33,689 per year, while the median yearly pay for a man is $42,044. When broken down, full-time, year-round Texas women are paid about 82 cents for every dollar paid to men, amounting to a yearly gap of $7,859 between men and women.

When I went to Greg Abbott’s website, I could find nothing on any of these issues. NOTHING.

In Texas the Lieutenant Governor is in some ways a more powerful position than Governor. This is because in the Lt. Governor is not only part of the executive branch but also part of the legislative branch as he or she:

…controls the work of the Texas Senate and controls the budgeting process as a leader of the Legislative Budget Board.

Under the provisions of the Texas Constitution, the Lieutenant Governor is President of the Texas Senate. By the rules of the Senate, the Lieutenant Governor establishes all special and standing committees, appoints all chairpersons and members, and assigns all Senate legislation to the committee of his choice. The Lieutenant Governor decides all questions of parliamentary procedure in the Senate. He or she also has broad discretion in following Senate procedural rules.

The Lieutenant Governor is an ex officio member of several statutory bodies. These include the Legislative Budget Board, the Legislative Council, the Legislative Audit Committee, the Legislative Board and Legislative Council, which have considerable sway over state programs, the budget and policy. The Lieutenant Governor is also a member of the Legislative Redistricting Board (together with the Speaker of the House, Attorney General, Comptroller, and Land Commissioner), which is charged with adopting a redistricting plan for the Texas House of Representatives, Texas Senate, or U.S. House of Representatives after the decennial census if the Legislature fails to do so.

This November you have a choice between Leticia Van de Putte and Dan Patrick for Lt. Governor. If you go to Dan Patrick’s site, again you will find NOTHING on these issues. The statement on the Van de Putte site says:

WOMEN: TRUSTING WOMEN

As a proud Latina, Leticia believes Texans trust women to make their own health care choices. She knows respecting women means passing equal pay for equal work and that trusting women means letting them make their own family decisions.

As Lieutenant Governor, Leticia will listen to women and make sure that women’s voices are heard.

Listen up Texas, we actually have a real choice to make about the direction our state will take this November. Please, on this day set aside to celebrate the day women were given a say in their own governance, let us pledge to educate ourselves on the issues, register and vote. Too many women and men sacrificed for too long to give us this privilege for us to squander it on the altar of apathy or inconvenience.

Side note: There are so many more issues on the line in this year’s gubernatorial election. I hope you will take the time to read about what the candidates and the party platforms actually say about the issues and then vote your conscience. 

More Resources:

Pathways to Equality 

Texas League of Women Voters

North Texas Tea Party Voter Guide

Vote Texas

Texas GOP Platform

Texas Democrat Platform

R*E*S*P*E*C*T find out what it means to me.

A friend my husband attended law school with posted an article on Facebook this morning. He was lamenting the fact that people from the liberal side of the marriage equality debate did not treat people who disagree with them with respect. He was disappointed that civil discourse seemed impossible.

The article he posted appeared on The Daily Signal and was called, My Exchange with Two New York Times Writers on Marriage Equality and Civility by Ryan T. Anderson. In the article Mr. Anderson opens with this:

Can people respect each other and treat one another civilly even while disagreeing about marriage? No, according to New York Times domestic correspondent Josh Barro. As The Daily Signal reported, on viewpoints that Barro considers “anti-LGBT”, he thinks that “we need to stamp them out, ruthlessly.”

The problem is that much of what Barro considers “anti-LGBT” is simply pro-marriage and pro-common-good.

This was my response.

I think what ires people so much on the pro marriage equality side is that no one is asking the people on the other side to give up what they already have but merely to extend to others the benefits and responsibilities that come with marriage. What I think people on the pro traditional marriage side fail to recognize is that in supporting that position they are effectively denying that LGBT persons are equal to them and that their love for and commitment to their spouse is just as valid. I humbly submit that if someone told me that my marriage was somehow less valid than someone else’s and decided to purposely fight against allowing me to enjoy the rights and responsibilities that go along with it that I would not exactly be in the mood to extend to them the respect they “deserve”.

I for one always try to treat those I am debating with dignity and respect and try to disagree agreeably. However, do we think the slaves owe respectful dialog to masters? Do we think interracial couples owe respect to KKK members? Do we think Jews owed respectful dialog to the Nazis? Do we think abused persons owe respectful dialog to their abusers? When an LGBT person is denied the right to be in the hospital with their spouse, when they cannot be buried next to one another at a national cemetery, when they can be fired in many states just for being gay. When they are constantly told by people who fight against their right to marry or to live their lives with the same freedoms, rights and responsibilities of heterosexual americans. I think after a while you get tired of having “respectful” dialog. According to the dictionary respect means:

“a feeling of deep admiration for someone or something elicited by their abilities, qualities, or achievements.”
synonyms: esteem, regard, high opinion, admiration, reverence

Although I think treating someone with respect even when you disagree is honorable, asking someone to treat the person who sees them as less human and worthy of fewer rights with esteem is a tall order. What I find interesting is that the very people whose position is one of disrespect are the ones demanding that their position be respected.

It reminds me of this recent article on Formerly Fundie
http://www.patheos.com/…/so-listen-its-not-religious…/

The article on Formerly Fundie is called, So Listen– It’s Not Religious Discrimination Just Because You Can’t Discriminate. And in the article Benjamin L. Corey states,

“It’s not discrimination when we are prevented from doing the discriminating. It’s not persecution when we are prevented from doing the persecuting. It’s not bullying when we’re told that we can’t bully others.”

I would take that one step further and say in this case, it is ironic that people want LGBT persons and their allies to treat them with respect while debating an issue that on its face is disrespectful to LGBT people. No one on the pro marriage equality side is saying that anyone on the pro traditional marriage side has to change their position, merely that they must afford the same rights to every citizen of the United States. Time after time, courts are ruling in favor of marriage equality. They are doing it because that is what our Constitution demands. 

How can you respect my opinion if you believe I am wrong? You can’t. How can I respect your opinion if I believe you are wrong? I can’t. What I can respect is your right to your thoughts and beliefs given to you by the Constitution.  When people demand to be respected it is often because they are upset that the other person believes their position to not merit that respect. If you do not think my arguments or opinions have any merit I do not expect you to respect them. If you think I am wrong I expect you to try and convince me. I think what people actually mean when they demand respectful dialog is that they want you to agree that their position carries equal weight. I’ve got news for you. I do not believe all positions are equal. If you’re being honest, you don’t either. I think that is why debates on these topics get so heated. All positions are not equal. Some things are right and some things are wrong. We may disagree about what those are. But one thing is for sure, if we are being truthful, none of us truly respects an argument we believe is oppressive to ourselves or others. That is really what is at stake here. We have two sides who believe their rights are being infringed. 

To quote rob bell from part 44 of his What is the Bible series on tumblr,

“…this freedom works both ways. We’re free to affirm truth wherever we find it, and we’re also free to deny that which needs to be denied. If it’s wrong or unjust or twisted, we call it whatever it is. This includes religious things, pastors, and of course things that go on in churches under the name of Jesus.

 

(Some people are crazy and they make no sense. They don’t help you grow and they spread all kinds of hate and they’re toxic. Don’t listen to them.)

 

Some things that are labeled Christian aren’t true, and some things that aren’t labeled Christian are true. Some atheists say lots of things that are true, and some Christians are full of shit.”

One last thought, demanding respect (a feeling of deep admiration for someone or something elicited by their abilities, qualities, or achievements) from someone who adamantly believes you are trying to deny them human rights equal to your own seems a bit brazen.