Colorado GOP “Reaches Out” to Women Who Subsequently Overreact Which is Why They Make Less Money Even with Better GPAs (or something like that)

Yesterday the all male GOP candidates for Governor of Colorado decided to have a debate geared toward addressing women’s issues. What could possibly go wrong? Here’s a hint: If you want women to think you see them as equals, you might want to avoid patronizing them by calling them “ornamental” and setting up your Q & A panel in the format of The Dating Game, complete with theme song. Clearly these men are in touch with what women want.  In addition, you may want to actually talk about the issues where the GOP has alienated women.  But as Rebecca Leber pointed out in her article on ThinkProgress.org,

…little of the gubernatorial debate’s substance had anything to do with issues where Republicans have alienated women. Republicans typically find themselves on thin ice when discussing things like birth control, abortion bans, sexual assault prevention, equal pay, and maternity leave. Instead, there were questions about which women they admire (excluding their wives and mothers), creating jobs, and even about oil drilling. 

John Tomasic of the Colorado Independent said in his assessment of the debate that:

…the three candidates — former Congressman Bob Beauprez, former state Senate Minority Leader Mike Kopp and Secretary of State Scott Gessler — had no specific policy proposals regarding women’s issues and barely mentioned women…

In ColPols.com’s live blogging of the event:

This was billed as a debate centered around “Women and Colorado’s Future,” and it was about as insulting to women as you could get. It would have been difficult to make this look less genuine, though it would have helped — a lot — to not play the theme song of “The Dating Game” after every break. It’s hard to explain how uncomfortable it was in the room every time that song came up and the candidates tried to chuckle about it. What a disaster.

They also included some of the questions and answers:

Next question: How would you deal with Democrats accusing Republicans of waging a “war on women?”

Beauprez: Says 1/3rd of our kids can’t read at a third-grade level. Don’t know what that has to do with this question.

Gessler: “I think we have to take that head-on.” Says Barack Obama and Mark Udall clearly discriminate against women. Says the New York Times just fired a woman as editor in chief. Why those two items are connected is not clear.

Kopp: Brings up Ronald Reagan for the 10th time. If you wonder why Republicans have trouble attracting young voters, it doesn’t help that candidates like Kopp keep bringing up a President who left office in 1988 and has been dead for 10 years.

Or how about this doozie?

“Name a woman you admire, not including your wife or mother.” The fact that the questioner thought this qualifier was needed tells you everything you need to know about this “Women and Colorado’s Future” shtick.

Beauprez: A woman who worked in his bank.

Kopp: There is a woman in this audience (whose name he butchers). Kopp says she is an immigrant from Colombia. Says he calls her “The Colombian Hurricane.”

Gessler: “Helen Keller and Susan B. Anthony.” This could not get any more ridiculous. Asked to name a woman he admires, Gessler can’t even come up with someone who is actually alive today.

Enter this meme posted by a friend today on Facebook:

 

newton

Do you see how maddening this is? If you are a woman and do not laugh these things off, or if you respond to it in a negative way at all, you will be labeled as an “overreacting female” and they will say, “See? This meme is truth.” Arrrrg. No, this meme is misogynistic hogwash. This time the meme in question was posted by a male friend of mine. However, I have seen very similar ones posted by WOMEN in my feed. DO NOT EVEN GET ME STARTED. These women are akin to the women who agreed to take part in a panel that treated them like they couldn’t relate to a panel discussion unless it was set up as A DATING SHOW. But wait, maybe I am just OVERREACTING to the clear efforts of these fine gentlemen to make politics more fun and understandable for us lady folks    .

Perhaps all this overreacting explains the article I read yesterday. Clearly this is the reason women who earn 4.0 GPAs in high school earn roughly the same amount of money as men who earned 2.25 GPAs in high school.

GPA-Earnings-Chart-600x310

 

Please tell me again how there is no pay gap or war on women and how exactly I am overreacting?

 

Why is This Kiss News?

controversial_kisses_trek

 

Oh wait, that’s not the picture everyone was talking about? Nope, it isn’t. But it might as well have been. More about that later… Yesterday, someone (or rather, many someones) asked the above question on the interwebz beneath a picture of Michael Sam kissing his boyfriend when he was selected by the Rams. “Why is this news?” The collective cry went up on social media. People called it all the usual descriptors “disgusting” and “abomination” being among the favorites. Some people lamented that “There are children watching.” Some wondered, “Why would ESPN would show such a thing?” And again many asked, “Why is this kiss news?”

 

jackie-robinson-e1399921380815Why is it news you ask? I’ll tell you why it’s news. First, it is news for the same reason Captain Kirk kissing Lieutenant Uhura was news; it makes people uncomfortable. It makes people uncomfortable now the same way it made people uncomfortable when Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier in baseball. People say the same things: it will ruin team chemistry; it will make the locker room awkward; it just isn’t natural. As far as the first two go, if you have played a sport or participated in gym class or belonged to a health club, you have already shared a locker room with LGBT people. Get over it. If you are worried about it, here is the link to a very handy article published by The Huffington Post a while back called, How to Behave Around Your Gay Teammate in the Locker Room. As for the last one, “it isn’t natural”, tell that to the 9 million people in the U.S. who identify as LGBT and the 1,500 species of animals that exhibit homosexual behaviors.

Second, it is news for the same reason as it is news when any other public figure (and sometimes regular folks) kisses…9 times out of 10 they are celebrating something. Think about it. People kiss when wars end. People kiss when their team wins. People kiss when they win anything: awards, games, elections, promotions…anything. People kiss when they have a baby and when they get married. People even kiss on the cheek to greet friends or when they are introduced at a party. People also kiss for weird reasons and make the news: when there are riots, when they start college or when they set world records. People kiss. It makes the news. It happens, literally literally (just for you Josh Mitchell) every day. Just most of the time people don’t notice because it doesn’t make them uncomfortable. I am hoping someday soon the picture of Michael Sam and his boyfriend kissing will seem as normal as these pictures of other athletes celebrating their victories…

 

kel brookSanyaRichardsRoss:aaron ross St. Louis Cardinals first baseman Pujols kisses his wife Deidre after the Cardinals defeated the Texas Rangers to win MLB's World Series baseball championship in St. Louis Chris Bosch Short Track Speed Skating - Winter Olympics Day 3 kyle busch bubbawatson Elway

Or these politicians…

inaugral ball mitt romneyLauraPresKiss

Or these entertainers…

SJP and MB at Oscars Perry:brand grammys brad and angie SAG awards jayz-and-beyonce-pda-kiss-grammy-awards-2014-lead matthew mcconaughey best actor oscar

Or these everyday people…

Vancouver_riot_kissing_couple vj

Listen lovelies, people like kissing (we even like pictures of animals “kissing”). They like to kiss and be kissed. And yes, many even like to see other people kiss. I have a theory as to why. Kissing is an outward sign that love still exists. Kissing means there is still hope for humanity; there is still hope that we can love and be loved. It is a sign that there are still things worth celebrating. And in times of uncertainty and fear, kissing is a sign that love can still win. For me that is what the Michael Sam kiss and all these other kisses represent. And that my friends is why kissing and this specific kiss are news. Good news.  http://www.slate.com/blogs/the_slatest/2014/05/10/michael_sam_kiss_the_st_louis_rams_pick_the_openly_gay_missouri_star_in.html

My Privilege

Screen Shot 2014-04-18 at 12.49.31 PM

You may have seen a Buzzfeed quiz going around lately titled “How Privileged Are You?” Well, I took it and above you can see my results.  ^^^

Funny thing about privilege, growing up I didn’t know I had it. Now, however, I understand that by virtue of the color of my skin, my sexual orientation and my family history, I have benefitted tremendously from the simple circumstances of my birth.

Don’t believe in privilege or simply don’t believe it has that much of an effect on life? I humbly submit that you may be more privileged than you think. That is the thing about privilege, it is a filter through which one sees every facet of life, and it is a filter that is inborn. It is only through education and relationships with others who do not experience the benefits our privileges provide that we are able to begin to see the need for change.

A quick note: I am by no means an expert in this area and it is really only in the last few years that I have begun to be educated on this topic, even having been raised by parents who taught me that men and women, rich and poor, black, white, Hispanic, Asian, etc., were all equal in the eyes of God.

Another quick note: you can be privileged in one area and completely not privileged in another. I think of it kind of like a continuum. That is why I kind of appreciated the BuzzFeed quiz, as non-scientific as it is. Yes I am white but I am also female. Yes I have money now, but I didn’t always. Here’s the thing though, the statement above is pretty right on. I have had a few struggles in my life, but I have also had many, many advantages that had ZERO to do with me and everything to do with who, where, when, and to whom I was born.

I would now like to share with you an excerpt from The President’s Devotional by Joshua DuBois,

NOVEMBER 5 – KEEPING WATCH

Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be courageous; be strong. – 1 Corinthians 16:13 (NIV)

As nightfall does not come all at once, neither does oppression. In both instances, there is a twilight when everything remains seemingly unchanged. And it is in such twilight that we must be most aware of the change in the air –however slight– lest we become unwitting victims of the darkness.  –Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglass, letter to the Young Lawyers Section of the Washington State Bar Association

Let’s keep watch. Let’s perceive the slow creep of oppression, wherever it might move. Let’s be aware of the darkness in our world–or even in our own soul–that seeks, like fungus to grow.

When we see it, or feel it, we pray that Christ would come into it and strike it out, making us new. We will not be victims. Nor will we be oppressors. No–today, we will keep watch.

Dear God, open my eyes not just to blessings but also to the potential of evil in the world. And when I perceive it, help me move against it. Amen.

We read this installment with our kids a few weeks ago and I was reminded of a Facebook post by my friend Markeetia McKinnis, which I shared with my children and husband on the spot at the breakfast table. As I read it aloud again, I couldn’t make it through without choking back tears. You see, this post helped me be more aware of my own inborn privilege and that of my children. Sharing it with them and with you is a small way in which I can strike out the slow creep of oppression:

As I wind down on this last day in Black History month, I reflect on how far the world has changed from when I was little black girl growing up in Mississippi to now a black mother of three residing in Texas. Some changes for the better….progress. Some changes for the worse. BUT, It is true, we are a different world. We have become a better people. We can now all drink from the same fountains. Attend the same schools. Aim for the same goals. Play the same sports….Through the worlds view, we are better. Even through this black mothers view, I feel on the majority of days, we are better. AND then there are those days when you’re driving with your husband and you’re stopped and the white officer calls him a boy in front of your kids. Or the day when the black President is re-elected and your kid comes home from school with tears in his eyes because he’s heard the N word for the first time. [her children attend school with my children at a private Christian school].Or the day you have date night with the hubby and you walk into Neiman’s and you’re followed around the store. OR the day when you’re out with your husband and people keep stopping you, because they think he’s a ball player. OR the day when you’re sitting during your kids American program feeling proud and then you realize that NOT ONE single black person was characterized during Black History Month. OR you realize that schools don’t even celebrate black history month anymore AND…..these are the days when you realize that despite how hard you’ve tried…this is your reality and you MUST educate your children…your black children. Because the reality is they are not only Americans….They are BLACK Americans. And unfortunately, they have a past that will follow them to heaven. So, you brace yourself for the why’s and the tears and the pain in their eyes….knowing that you can’t change their past. It is very much who they are. And unless we do them an injustice, we as their parents have to educate them on a world we as black people did not choose, but found ourselves being thrust in. A world that says it sees no color, but for the Black American that is so NOT our reality. I have had many tasks thrust upon me, but being a black mom is by far the most challenging. How much do you share? What EXACTLY do you say? I still have not quite figured that one out yet, SO I take it day by day and lesson by lesson. Allowing God to guide my heart and speech….Lately, I have taught them that they are who God says they are, not man. They are more than a color. That’s offensive, not cute. They are not brown, they are black. There history is more than just Martin Luther King Jr. and Rosa Parks. They are walking on the backs of some of the greatest inventors and scientists in the world. They are more than just basketball players and runners, they are leaders and world changers. They are not projects, they are humans with hearts and desires. In the same breathe….as age appropriate as possible, I have taught them that they are the kid in the store with the hoodie on. They can’t do what everyone else does and get away with it. They cannot go everywhere, with everyone…even if all of there friends go. The same rules just don’t always apply. They are not rap music and slang talk -don’t allow people to disrespect you by assuming as much. They are not a statistic or JUST an athlete. They are the HEAD and not the TAIL. They are kings and queens. They are worthy….. I am slowly teaching them to “respect the struggle”….day by day…. #momminute #blackhistory #raisingblackkids#myworld

So, here is the thing, if you are a man you are privileged in some ways that women are not, no matter what race you are. If you are white you are privileged in some ways that minorities are not, even if you grew up poor. If you were born in the United States you are privileged in ways most of the world is not, no matter what other disadvantages you have had. There are so many more ways in which to be born privileged. I have been trying lately to examine my own filters. I think the quiz above can help you get started. Another thing you can try is if you are a man, ask some of the women in your life to tell you about all the times they have been harassed, molested or discriminated against for being a woman. If you are white, ask some of your friends who are not white to tell you about all the times they have been harassed, molested or discriminated against for being a person of color. If you are straight, ask some of the LGBT people in your life to tell you about all the times they have been harassed, molested or discriminated against for being LGBT. Then listen, and believe what they tell you. You might be surprised at what they have to say. It isn’t a lot, but it is a start.

For some other good educational reading on this topic…

On Tom Delay, AR-15 Jesus and Killing All the Liberals

This is an actual truck my kids and I saw on the way to school this morning. Yes, really.

There is just too much crazy going around lately. Seriously. Too. Much.

[I’m lookin’ at you Tom Delay, Jerry Boykin & Crazy Conservative Truck Couple]

Seriously, y’all just gotta cut it out.

This morning I woke up to the news that a former Senator’s assertion that God wrote the Constitution of the United States AND that a Former U.S. General said that Jesus is going to come back as Rambo in a robe, covered in the blood of his enemies and carrying an AR-15. Not only that, but he asserted that the second amendment came from Jesus, “Now I want you to think about this: where did the Second Amendment come from? … From the Founding Fathers, it’s in the Constitution. Well, yeah, I know that. But where did the whole concept come from? It came from Jesus…the sword today is an AR-15, so if you don’t have one, go get one. You’re supposed to have one. It’s biblical.”

First, let’s address the fact that God did not write the Constitution or any other part of the law of the United States. (If you missed what Tom Delay said you can listen to it here). It is hard for me to believe that is something that actually needs to be said but apparently it does. Is there Judeo-Christian influence present in our laws? Of course. Were any of our laws or our Constitution authored by God directly or indirectly? Hell, no. As Benjamin Corey said on his blog today,

What’s scary about this [Delay’s statement], is that people functionally believe it. Perhaps not many are dumb enough to actually believe that it’s true, but after having it drilled into their heads repeatedly that God is somehow connected with the constitution, people functionally operate as if this document came from God and cannot be questioned. Obviously it’s not– my children are not less of a person because of the color of their skin, God isn’t the one who killed Native Americans in order to set up shop here, God isn’t the one who built our wealth on the backs of slaves… the US constitution did NOT come from God.

Mr. Delay’s statements bring up all sorts of questions, such as, “If God wrote the Constitution did he also write the Second Amendment to the Constitution? Retired General Jerry Boykin, who is now working for the Family Research Council, says yes. In a seemingly unrelated and yet shockingly parallel universe, a recording came to light yesterday of General Boykin discussing what Jesus will be like when he returns. You can listen to it here:

Yes folks you heard that right, but if you’d like to read it again, here you go…

“The Lord is a warrior and in Revelation 19 it says when he comes back, he’s coming back as what? A warrior. A mighty warrior leading a mighty army, riding a white horse with a blood-stained white robe … I believe that blood on that robe is the blood of his enemies ’cause he’s coming back as a warrior carrying a sword.

And I believe now – I’ve checked this out – I believe that sword he’ll be carrying when he comes back is an AR-15.

Now I want you to think about this: where did the Second Amendment come from? … From the Founding Fathers, it’s in the Constitution. Well, yeah, I know that. But where did the whole concept come from? It came from Jesus when he said to his disciples ‘now, if you don’t have a sword, sell your cloak and buy one.’

I know, everybody says that was a metaphor. IT WAS NOT A METAPHOR! He was saying in building my kingdom, you’re going to have to fight at times. You won’t build my kingdom with a sword, but you’re going to have to defend yourself. And that was the beginning of the Second Amendment, that’s where the whole thing came from. I can’t prove that historically and David [Barton] will counsel me when this is over, but I know that’s where it came from. And the sword today is an AR-15, so if you don’t have one, go get one. You’re supposed to have one. It’s biblical.”

Okay, first off, “that blood on that robe is the blood of his enemies”? Oh is it now? So much for all that love your enemies stuff that Jesus said. I don’t know about you but I believe that the blood on his robe is his own blood. I also believe that blood is symbolic. I believe it is symbolic of our sins being forgiven and “not just our sins, but the sins of the whole world” (1 John 2:2). But sadly for Gen. Boykin his image is of Jesus in a robe stained by the blood of his own enemies because he just mowed them down with an AR-15. I guess the folks in the truck I saw this morning agree that this is what loving ones enemies looks like. For the life of me I don’t know how these folks get from Jesus laying down his life for others because of his great love to this Jesus. Oh wouldn’t the world be a better place if we could just kill all the people we disagree with. Holy Hannah! What kind of love is that?

Next, we have Jesus coming up with the second amendment when he tells the guys to sell their cloaks and buy a couple swords (or AR-15s, you say potato…). To quote Benjamin Corey from Formerly Fundie again,

That passage is found in Luke 22, and is just before Jesus is arrested:

“He said to them, “But now if you have a purse, take it, and also a bag; and if you don’t have a sword, sell your cloak and buy one. It is written: ‘And he was numbered with the transgressors’; and I tell you that this must be fulfilled in me. Yes, what is written about me is reaching its fulfillment. The disciples said, “See, Lord, here are two swords.” “That’s enough!” he replied.”

Those who quote this verse to support the idea that Jesus endorses violence have to quote just the first part without the whole context. What’s neat about this passage is that it doesn’t leave you wondering what it’s about– Jesus clearly tells us. By citing an OT prophesy of being “numbered with transgressors” Jesus tells them to bring two swords to the garden. The reason, Jesus tells us, is that so he could be counted and arrested as an armed criminal. We know that Jesus didn’t intend the swords for violent reasons because (a) He tells them that 2 were plenty, which they weren’t if it were for self defense (b) when the disciples actually use them for self-defense in the garden (Peter) he rebukes him with another command for nonviolence: “No more of this! He who lives by the sword will die by the sword.”

There is nothing in this passage that indicates Jesus approved of violence, only the contrary.

All this Jesus as Rambo stuff caused my friend Josh to opine on a Facebook discussion today, “Isn’t that what they thought he would be like the first time?” You would think we would learn.

Sadly men like Delay and Boykin have so blurred the lines between their religion and their patriotism that they have begun to think of our founding documents as scripture and to believe that scripture (specifically their interpretation of it) should be the law of our land. *shudder* God help us all. I wrote a blog post about that very concept last year when I heard a guy on the radio say that the Bible trumps the law of the United States. Oh really now? I need only ask one question to illustrate why this is such a bad idea: Whose version of the Bible? Whose interpretation of it? Theirs? or (heaven help them), mine? Maybe the Pope’s or Rob Bell’s? Doesn’t this eventually lead to a Supreme Court of sorts to determine what is Biblical and what isn’t? Isn’t that just a Christian version of Sharia law? And how about this? If you believe the Constitution is God breathed why did it need so many amendments? And if it was these guy’s God who wrote it, why didn’t it already have a clause in there about marriage being between one man and one woman? Why didn’t it ban homosexuality? Things that make you say hmmm.

The Myth that the Church Alone Can and Should Take Care of the Poor

Tuesday Jesse Graston, the South Carolina Coordinator of the John Birch Society, stood on the steps of the South Carolina Statehouse and called on Americans to nullify the Affordable Care Act and replace it with charity from churches. Frankly this is a sentiment I have heard for years. The government should get out of the “charity business) i.e. welfare, medicare, medicaid and Social Security and let the churches do their job. Well, I have news for you. That is just flat-out never going to happen. Not only because it wouldn’t work and people would be missed but also because they simply do not have the resources to carry out the task. Follow the math with me for a second.
(If math makes you queasy look for the statements in BOLD)

The federal budget expenditures from the year 2011 (the most recent year data is available) for these programs is as follows:

  • 746 billion for welfare programs (283 billion is also contributed to these programs by the states for a total of 1.3 trillion)
  • 725 billion for Social Security
  • 480 billion for Medicare

The grand total of these expenditures is 2.505 trillion dollars per year. There are about 338,000 Christian congregations any given year that works out to $7,411,242.60 per church.

Now let’s look at  Christian church budgets in the United States.

In a survey performed by the Evangelical Christian Credit Union this is how churches responded that they spend their money:

Chart

Let’s look at a few line items…

  • Total average spending on personnel, buildings and administration is 85%
  • Total average spending on local/national/international benevolence 3%.
  • Yes, you read that right THREE FREAKING PERCENT!

If a nonprofit had this kind of percentage going to the actual people they were serving you would never give your money there. As an example, according to the Christian Science Monitor here are the percentage of total expenses spent on programs for a few well-known non-profits:

  • American Red Cross 92.2%
  • United Way 90.6%
  • Feeding America 97.2%
  • Habitat for Humanity 83.7%

If you do the math this works out to $8,270.00 average allotted in each congregation’s budget for benevolence. Do you remember the amount each congregation would have to provide to cover federal and state spending on these programs? $7,411,242.60.

I think we are a little short.

[Don’t even get me started on church debt.  According to Church Finance Today, “68% of churches in the West-South Central U.S., and 64% of churches in the East-South Central U.S. have expenses exceeding income. These are the best regions in the country.”]

All of this assumes that the numbers stay the same you say. Ok,  think about this…

  • Even if we threw 100% of church revenue at it we would still be over 7.4 million short per congregation. EVERY YEAR.
  • Even if giving doubled because taxes were cut, you cut spending in half and threw it all at benevolence, we would still be over 3.6 million dollars PER CONGREGATION SHORT. EVERY. YEAR.

All that to say, it is mathematically impossible.

Also, if only the Christian Churches, as Mr. Graston and many others assert, are charged with caring for the poor, they would have to give 100% of their annual income. And it STILL wouldn’t be enough.

How’s that for a tax increase?

According to World Christian Trends AD 30-AD 2000: Interpreting the Annual Christian Megacensus, in the year 2000, total Christian income in the United States was $5.2 trillion annually and according to the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities, median income for working-age households slid 12.4 percent from 2000 to 2011. But for the sake of argument let’s say that number stayed the same. Church members would have to give a little less than 50% of their income to cover for it all and that wouldn’t include the remaining taxes they would still owe the government to pay for defense, infrastructure and education.

Talk about a tax hike.

Next Mr. Graston threw out this doozie about the difference between the way liberals and conservatives view taking care of the poor,

“They think it’s the duty of others to help them take care of the poor,” he remarked. “We believe that we shouldn’t take from others to help take care of the poor or to help ourself, but we follow Christ’s example.”

“He did not steal from his disciples to feed the hungry,” Graston continued. “No, he gave of his own substance to those that were in need, and I believe that as we’re saying no to the encroachments of the federal government, that we will have to stand up and the churches must take their place to take care of the needy. I’m asking as we push the government out of the way that we need to fill that vacuum and begin to see those that around us and take that initiative ourself.”

Let’s take what he said point by point, shall we?

#1. “They think it is the duty of others to help them take care of the poor.”

Last time I checked we (the citizens) are the government. The money the government spends on taking care of the least of these is money given to the government by we the people. The government is nothing else but the people we hire to steward our collective money. If we do not like the way they spend it we have recourse for that. It is called voting.

#2. “We believe that we shouldn’t take from others to help take care of the poor or to help ourself, but we follow Christ’s example.”

Hmm. When Jesus fed the 5,000 what did he start with? Loaves and fish from a person in the crowd. When Jesus made wine, what did he start with? Pots of water owned by the host of the party. Who was it who supported Jesus and provided him with the money to care for people? According to Luke 8, a group of women. As far as I can tell, Jesus used resources acquired from others to take care of people.

#3. “He did not steal from his disciples to feed the hungry. No, he gave of his own substance to those that were in need…”

Of course he did not steal from them. Neither is the government stealing from the people. We elect our representatives who then administer the finances. As the Declaration of Independence clearly states,

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, –That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.”

The government gets its power from who? From us. Humans set up governments to secure rights for all our citizens. Rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. We declared and continue to declare that all our citizens are created equal. This is what our government is for and that includes but is not limited to using our tax dollars to help ensure this. If you ask me this is a very practical way to take care of people. We the people have spoken and we have decided we want our government to help us carry out the commands to love our neighbor, to care for the poor, the widow and the orphan. If you don’t like the way they are doing it, or think you have a better way, the beauty of our system is  you have the right as a citizen to try to persuade people that you are right, you have a right to organize and vote and change things. 

#4. “…I believe that as we’re saying no to the encroachments of the federal government, that we will have to stand up and the churches must take their place to take care of the needy. I’m asking as we push the government out of the way that we need to fill that vacuum and begin to see those that around us and take that initiative ourself.”

Taking care of people is not an encroachment of the federal government. And, as fully detailed above, churches are actually not capable of taking care of all the needs.  [As a side note this is a major reason why at novitas church we have no paid staff and meet in a building we use for free. We do this so we can use all of our money to take care of people.] I actually agree with one part of his last line. We do need to “begin to see those around us and take the initiative ourself” to be part of the solution. I just don’t think we need to push the government out of the way to do that. I believe we need to come along side the government and encourage fiscal responsibility, cut waste and streamline so that we can take care of people more efficiently. Honestly this is part of the reason President Bush instituted The White House Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships which has been continued under President Obama, so that, according to ABC News to,

“coordinate with faith-based and community organizations on social service outreach and will work to utilize these organizations’ efforts to advance the administration’s policies, with a primary focus on poverty.”

Now that is a beautiful thing.

Related Articles:

This Mind Blowing Fact Proves That Christian Churches Cannot Provide For The Poor

Would you take dating advice from this man?

lookadoo

The Richardson Independent School District in north Dallas apparently thinks you should. Yesterday the  RISD brought in “motivational speaker” Justin Lookadoo to talk to its high school students about dating and relationships. In their defense, Justin is scheduled to speak at schools all over the United States and Canada this year. THIS IS ABSOLUTELY APPALLING.

You see, Justing has some very outdated, sexist advice for our young people.

Mr. Lookadoo is unabashedly christian (Not that there’s anything wrong with that. As you know if you have been here very long, I am a follower of Jesus) however he leaves Biblical references out of his public school presentations. If you go on the Texas Speaker’s Bureau and look up Mr. Lookadoo you will find this description:

  • Top Texas Student Speaker
  • A high-energy, relevant message for the A.D.D. Generation

Justin Lookadoo is a top Texas school speaker. He was a Juvenile Probation Officer, and spent nearly six years as a Crime Prevention Specialist.  He knows students have it rough, and understands where they are coming from.  Justin is bilingual, offering programs in Spanish and English. Justin loves to talk. Go figure! He has been speaking to groups since 1989 and is excellent at what he does. To date, he has given over 3,000 speeches nationally and internationally. Just like Michael Jordan has the gift of being a great athlete, Justin has the gift of being a great speaker. And he works hard at it too! He is always researching and finding the edge that will make his programs current and relevant. Justin is a #1 bestselling author for his book Dateable and has had three other studient-oriented self-help books on the bestseller lists. Two of his books have been nominated for the prestigious Gold Medallion Award and he has sold over 275,000 books nationwide. Not bad for a kid whose two worst subjects were reading and writing.

Judging from this description, as an administrator I would think, what’s not to like? After all, he is to public speaking what Michael Jordan is to basketball. (*eye roll alert*) HOWEVER all one needs to do to find out this is a potential disaster is to search The Google and  look up his books on Amazon.com. Without even reading the reviews you will find out on Amazon that the back cover of “Datable” has these fun facts:

Girls, did you know?
– Guys will lie to you to get what they want
– If he’ll do it for you, he’ll do it to you
– If he doesn’t call it doesn’t mean he hates you
– A guy will treat you like you are dressed
– You might be talking too much
– He doesn’t want sex with you because he loves you, he wants it ‘cuz you’re a girl and you’re willing
– Guys love a mystery

Guys, did you know?
– If you’re too scared to ask her, then you’re not man enough to go out with her
– Girls will lie to themselves to get what they want
– Girls love it when you plan things
– You control how far you go
– Girls have their own kind of porn
– You can be a “real man” without becoming a “bad boy”
– Girls don’t understand you

On the Google you will learn that Lookadoo has a website (which was made available to the students) called rudatable.com (are you datable?). There you will see that there is a second book called “The Datable Rules” in which guys will learn to “live the adventure and to risk it all for God” and girls will learn “the importance of mystery and the power of subtle beauty”. Oh great, once again the boys get to have adventures and excitement. They get to write the script. And girls get to learn how to keep quiet and not draw too much attention to themselves. At this point I have to ask WHY? Why in the world would any public school have a man in to teach the students about dating and relationships whose book comes down to, men are the architects of their own lives and women are the furnishings. Please excuse me while I bang my head against the wall.

If you are so bold as to continue on at rudatable.com you will find that you are invited to take a quiz to see how datable you are. Apparently if you buy the book you can actually determine your datability rating on a scale of 1 to 5 stars! Justin himself has a 4 and a half star rating. If you make it through the silly true/false quiz and come out datable on the other side you will be encouraged to commit to “the list”. What list? I’m glad you asked. It is the same for both genders: 1. Be respectful at all times. 2. Treat your date like you want to be treated. 3. No means no.  Oh wait. Snap. Wrong list.

The girls list says: (my comments in parenthesis after)

As a Dateable girl I will:
1. Shut up and be mysterious (in other words STFU, no one cares what you have to say or if you want to say it, no one like a girl who talks to much…sorry this one hits a little close to home)
2. Not lie to myself (I learned the rest of this is “girls lie to themselves to get what they want”)
3. Keep it covered up (What is it? Where is the line? What if I don’t? See my many previous posts.)
4. Remember that I’m not one of the guys (What the hell? What is wrong with being “one of the guys”?)
5. Know that it will not last (What won’t last? This one just confuses me.)
Write your prayer below: (Dear God please help me stifle who I am to get a man. Goodness knows no one will like me for who I am or if I have too strong/too many opinions. Amen.)

The boys list says:

As a Dateable guy I will:
1. Stand up and be a real man (WTH does this mean? Who sets the definition? I am sure he will tell me in the book.)
2. Not lie to you or for you (Guys, he says, lie to you to get what they want. Also, girls apparently will want you to lie for them. Why? I’m not sure.)
3. Control how far we go (So it is up to the guy alone to determine how far things go physically? Hmm. Shouldn’t that really be a shared responsibility? Also see “no means no” above.)
4. Open doors and pull out chairs (Nice gesture.)
Write your prayer below: (Dear God, Please help me be a “real man” even though I am not sure what that means. Amen)

A few more nuggets of wisdom I learned with minimal research:

“Men of God are wild, not domesticated.  They don’t live by the rules of the opposite sex. ”

“Datable girls know when to shut up.”

Datable guys know…”They know they are stronger, more dangerous, and more adventurous and that’s okay.”

“Please, PLEASE don’t tease us. To show us your hot little body and then tell us we can’t touch it is being a tease.”

“Dateable girls know that guys need to be needed. A Dateable girl isn’t Miss Independent.”

Accept your girly-ness. You’re a girl. Be proud of all that means. You are soft, you are gentle, you are a woman. Don’t try to be a guy. Guys like you because you are different from them. So let your girly-ness soar.”

I think this whole line of thinking is damaging not just to girls but also to boys. I cannot for the life of me figure out why schools (and before you say, oh well Michelle, you live in Texas blah, blah, blah… This dude speaks all over the country. In public schools. At camps. At Juvenile detention facilities. ) would ever dream of inviting this guy in to speak. Don’t even get me started on what kind of message this sends to LGBT youth.

Sadly, it takes the students themselves to tell it like it is. Wednesday in Richardson #lookadouche was trending on twitter (today it is trending everywhere).  Here are a few tweets from the students of the RISD:

@jkredmon
A man gets to tell us what women can and can’t do. I don’t think so. Not at RHS. #lookadouche

@InGodsArmy
Either the best prank ever or the best attempt at reverse psychology to unite an entire student body. Regardless, fire ignited. #lookadouche

@emisccaffetti7
#lookadouche has many problems in the head.
@BmanToler23h
Don’t let some random guy who spoke at school with no ethos determine how you feel about yourself or objectify you. #rhs #lookadouche
@GreenEyedLilo
As a woman w/food allergies, I love that Justin Lookadoo thinks we should suffer in restaurants instead of telling our dates.
@irishfries13
still shocked at @JustinLookadoo ‘s presentation, gender stereotypes all around #lookadouche
@NateBeer
At this rate, our speaker on Friday will be Ritchie Incognito
@Megeramarie
I love that RISD has a no tolerance on bullying and they brought in a bully to motivate us.
These few tweets represent many many more which you can find for yourself on twitter at #lookadouche. These young men and women have renewed my hope that the tide against this kind of thinking is growing and that young people are beginning to recognize that this type of thinking helps no one and in fact hurts us all. Way to go Richardson Eagles. You guys rock. Way to stand up and speak out. #ROAR

Painting the Stars Review, Part 1: “We are moving!”

pierre-teilhard-de-chardin-firePierre Teilhard de Chardin (May 1, 1881 – April 10, 1955) was a French philosopher and Jesuit priest who was also a trained paleontologist and geologist.

He was the first truly evolutionary theologian. He publicly sought to reunite science and religion. What has become embraced by many was first lauded by this man, and like most geniuses, he was not understood and was even ridiculed at the time. I have just learned of him today and I am utterly mesmerized. Consider this:

The conflict dates from the day when one man, flying in the face of appearance, perceived that the forces of nature are no more unalterably fixed in their orbits than the stars themselves. But that their serene arrangements around us depicts the flow of a tremendous tide. The day in which the first voice rang out, crying to mankind peacefully slumbering on the raft of earth, “We are moving! We are going forward.” It is a pleasant and dramatic spectacle, that of mankind divided to its very depths into two irrevocably opposed camps, one looking toward the horizon and proclaiming with all its newfound faith, “We are moving!” and the other without shifting its position obstinately maintaining, “Nothing changes. We are not moving at all.”

To quote my friend Steven Baxter, “Holy shit you guys!” This is amazing. It makes me want to go out in the street and yell, “We are moving!” It is a revelation and a truth that stirs my soul. This is not how it ends. The beginning was just that the beginning and the whole of humanity and creation and time and space is moving. Isn’t that exciting? We started out moving and we are still moving. Lovelies, as Martin Luther King Jr. said, “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.” I think our new friend might even take that a step further and say, “The arc of the entire [moral, spiritual, relational, emotional, physical] universe is long and it moves toward justice [all things made right].” I believe this with all my heart. It makes me feel alive.

I was having a talk with my friend Josh Mitchell the other day about tattoos and we were saying how if either of us were to get a tattoo that it would have to be words. Words that meant something. Words that were personal. Words we didn’t want to forget. Today, if I had to pick, I might choose, “We are moving!”

Jesus was continually pointing people toward the future. He called it, “The Kingdom of Heaven“. The teaching carried with it the idea of already but not yet. Jesus had come, history and evolution and movement had brought people to the moment of being brought face to face with Jesus. Both man and God, he declared that the Kingdom of heaven was at hand and that also it was yet to come. More movement, more evolution, was and is required.

 

But I am getting ahead of myself.

This post is part one of a review series I am starting. I will be reviewing Painting the Stars: Science, Religion and an Evolving Faith. Each of the 7 sessions is 20 minutes long, and I will be writing one post about each session. After viewing session 1, I am very excited to be sharing this experience with you. The makers of the series, Living the Questions, produced the series in order to celebrate and explore the promise of evolutionary Christian spirituality.

The first session begins with the suggestion that like tectonic plates, the realms of evolution, religion and science often butt up against each other causing philosophical earthquakes, tsunamis and dramatic changes in the intellectual and spiritual landscape. Ironically, this is an evolution all its own. When some new reality in science collides with our beliefs about God, religion and the origins of the world, “something must eventually give way or merge” in order for a new landscape to emerge.

Evolution. What immediately comes to mind when you hear that word? Biology? Survival of the fittest? Charles Darwin? The big bang? What about personal, psychological, emotional, relational, culture, language, belief systems, political and economic systems? When we think about these areas, we find evolution is simply a fundamental universal reality.

This video series proposes to address how people of faith can engage difficult questions about science and faith in ways that decrease conflict and may even benefit us with new and challenging understandings. Questions like:

How are Christians who work in the disciplines of the sciences and technology able to accommodate and even embrace evolution?

Is the voice of the Scriptures somehow diminished by descriptions of a cosmology that no longer serves?

Is the Genesis story of creation voided by descriptions of a creation no longer seen as complete but rather driven by evolutionary processes that embody randomness and mortality, mutation and adaptation?  Or is the Genesis story deepened each time we discover more and more about our universe, about the amazing complexity of species and life that live on this planet?

How can people of faith engage such questions in ways that decrease conflict and even may benefit by new and challenging understandings?

The session titles are:

  1. Toward Healing the Rift
  2. A Renaissance of Wonder
  3. Getting Genesis Wrong
  4. An Evolving Faith
  5. Evolutionary Christianity
  6. Imagining a Future
  7. An Evolving Spirituality: Mysticism

The DVD series features over a dozen leading theologians and progressive thinkers including:

To learn more about Living the Questions, Painting the Stars or to purchase the DVD, click here.

The Universal Right to Be Human

Copyright ZenPencils.com

Today is Blog Action Day and this year’s theme is HUMAN RIGHTS.

According to the ZenPencils website, who designed the above poster:

After the horror of World War II, the United Nations was formed in 1945. The UN charter’s main two objectives are ‘to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war’ and ‘to reaffirm faith in fundamental human rights.’ In 1946, the UN Commission on Human Rights was established. Chaired by Eleanor Roosevelt, the commission drafted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and it was adopted by the General Assembly in 1948 ‘as a common standard of achievement for all people and nations’. Today, it is the job of the Human Rights Council, an important body of the United Nations, to promote and protect people’s human rights around the world.

When I read the rights enumerated in the Declaration, It strikes me as sad that it is called a “Universal Declaration” rather than a Universal Statement of the Obvious. Sadly, in the world today. I don’t know of any country, including the United States, where all of these rights are fully embraced.  What is perhaps even more overwhelming is that even in countries where most if not all of these rights are embraced, many people who will claim these rights for themselves, deny them to others in their heart.

I would like to propose that these rights, listed above, represent the famous line from the Lord’s Prayer, “Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.”
In the scriptures it says in Ephesians 1:

In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that he lavished on us. With all wisdom and understanding, he made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ, to be put into effect when the times reach their fulfillment—to bring unity to all things in heaven and on earth under Christ.

This passage says that because of God’s grace, he makes known to us his will, which is to bring everything into unity with himself. When we embrace the rights enumerated in this declaration, we participate in God’s plan to bring peace, love and hope to every corner of humanity.

Today I embrace what I like to call the Universal Right to Be Human. Isn’t that really the core of the issue? We each have a right to be human. To be seen by the other as equal. And isn’t that where the breakdown occurs? When people see the other as less human, less valuable, less equal than themselves? When you see someone else as less human/equal than you, it is much easier to mistreat them or deny them the same rights you enjoy. You and I have a right to be fully human and to embrace the freedom that comes with these rights. And, as we all know from Eleanor Roosevelt, “With great freedom, comes great responsibility.” You and I also have the responsibility to see that these rights are afforded to everyone we come in contact with; personally, locally, federally, globally and universally.

I know it is a big ass job. I know that sometimes it seems like an impossible task. But I for one am willing to use whatever voice I have, including this blog, to further these rights. As I said in a previous post, where I likened the dawn of change to the unfurling of a giant flag at the Olympic Opening Ceremonies where people grab a loop and run across the field revealing the banner:

Now, imagine all of us, men and women, young and old with Jesus in the middle, our hands on the loops of the terminator of history running like hell for the horizon pulling the light of the new dawn across the whole surface of the earth. Do you hear us? Shouting and singing and proclaiming justice for the oppressed and freedom for the captives? C’mon. Grab a loop and run with us. And look! He is making all things new.

Whether you are a follower of Jesus or not, I invite you to stand with me as we proclaim the right to be human in every corner of the world. For me my faith compels me to speak justice, to love mercy, to proclaim forgiveness, hope and freedom. If we pray his will be done and then do nothing to see it happen, what good is that? Are we not his hands and feet?

First Ever Interview: Living in Chronic Pain with the Whiskey Preacher

“Every time I look for God amid sorrow, I always find Jesus at the cross, in death and resurrection. This is our God. Not a distant judge, nor a sadist. But a God who weeps. A God who suffers not only for us but with us. Nowhere is the presence of God more salient than on the cross. Therefore, what can I do but confess that this is not a God who causes suffering. This is a God who bears suffering. I need to believe that God does not initiate suffering. God transforms it.”   – Nadia Bolz-Webber from Pastrix

Recently I was invited by Phil Shepherd aka The Whiskey Preacher to be the subject of an interview for his blog.  Turn about being fair play, I asked if I could interview him for Word of a Woman.

In the last couple months Phil has been diagnosed with an auto-immune disease and is living with chronic pain.

Following is our discussion on living with that pain…

In the next day or two I will be posting the flip side of this video in which Phil talks to me about my personal evolution to becoming an LGBTQ ally.

Please look up Phil at:

Outlaw Theology on Patheos

On Facebook

On Twitter

The Eucatastrophe

Phil’s personal webpage

Well cut my hair and call me apostate! *to be said in your best Texas accent*

apostate

This week Attorney Matt Barber, president of Liberty Counsel Action, had anti-gay activist Peter LaBarbera as his guest on his “Faith and Freedom” webcast. Their topic? John Shore & Dan Savage’s NALT Christians Project. The gist of their hate fueled ramblings is this:

“To have vile, anti-Christian bigots, who are pushing a radical, dangerous sexual anarchist agenda, presuming to lecture Christians, and have people — self-identified Christians, liberal so-called Christians — upload videos about how they support something that God calls an abomination — there’s no other word for it — it’s apostasy when you have self-described Christians do it.”

This week I was also a guest on a web interview blog…Outlaw Theology with The Whiskey Preacher on Patheos.com (I will be posting links as soon as they are up!!). Full disclosure: you will not be seeing either Peter LaBarbera or Matt Barber interviewed there anytime soon. Although, I am sure Phil (aka The Whiskey Preacher) would have lots of great questions for them. 🙂 Funny thing is, my interview was actually about my personal evolution in becoming a welcoming and affirming christian/pastor/blogger. When we were done, Phil was also kind enough to help me make my very own NALT video (Which will also be up soon!!!!). I am sure Mr. Barber and Mr. LaBarbera will be very disappointed with what I had to say.  But that’s okay because I am very disappointed with what they had to say. They are upset that we NALT (not all like that) christians are making videos supporting something the Scriptures call an abomination.  Well, I have news for them, I support several things the Bible calls an abomination and some it just says are wrong. GASP! Say it isn’t so!!! (I bet my friends from the beginning of the article probably also support some of these given I have seen their sideburns). That’s right lovelies, along with fully supporting my LGBTQ brothers and sisters, I also support:

  • Eating shellfish
  • Having sex with a woman (you are married to) who is on her period (if she is consenting, OBVIOUSLY)
  • The menswear look for ladies (hello, Diane Keaton)
  • Kilts for the dudes
  • Cutting your sideburns
  • Re-marrying someone you divorced (I have known several couples who have done this)
  • Marrying someone new after you get divorced
  • I am decidedly pro bacon, pepperoni, honeybaked ham, carnitas and pork chops.
  • Wearing clothing with more than one type of fiber
  • I am down with crop rotation (I come from several generations of farmers)
  • There is a bunch of stuff the Bible says you can’t touch, some are kind of gross but I am cool with you touching them (for instance I am for you touching a dead pig for the purposes of playing football)
  • Tattoos, even though I don’t have any
  • Long hair for men and short hair for women
  • Women praying with their heads uncovered
  • Women teaching men and/or boys and/or other women/girls (yes, even in church)
  • Women NOT being property of either father or husband or brother or dead husband’s brother
  • I am cool with it if you don’t want to marry your rapist
  • If your husband is getting mugged and you think you can stop things by grabbing the guys junk really hard…I promise I won’t cut off your hand
  • I won’t be mad if you don’t stone your kid for dishonoring you
  • I am even good with you working on Saturday or Sunday or even paying someone else to work by serving you lunch after church (I know I do)

Here is the thing, these two guys do not follow every instruction given in the Bible. They. Just. Don’t. They interpret. They pick and they choose. And I am sure they use all sorts of things to support their beliefs. So do I. So do I. I don’t know about you but when I read scripture, some things are crystal clear, some are blurry and some are downright opaque. The clearest thing I can find is that I am supposed to love God and love people, ALL PEOPLE. No if. No until. No unless. I just don’t think Jesus gives me another option.

BONUS: DID YOU NOTICE APOSTATE LITERALLY MEANS “RUNAWAY SLAVE” IN THE GREEK. I KIND OF LIKE THAT.

If you would like to know what I do with any of the “clobber passages” you can check out the series I did awhile back. I addressed them all. or If you would rather watch a video check out Matthew Vines. He rocks.
You can also see the response of the creators of the NALT Christians Projects here.