Monday, November 27, 2006

Dan Savage Speaks Truth

This morning, over my coffee and toast I stopped by “Slog” to read Dan Savages blog and stumbled on this little gem.

“A lot of letters explaining that Jesus is laying in wait, ready to pounce, and change me from gay to straight came in after I threatened in a recent column to bitch-slap the next fundie douche who sent me a note about Jesus flipping my switch. Jesus is ready to work a miracle in my life, they tell me, even if he can’t be bothered to work on in Haggard’s. (Having seen my boyfriend in Speedo, I’d say Jesus already worked a miracle in my life.) The arrival of these letters can only mean one thing: there are a lot fundies out there who want to be slapped around by fags…”

I’m sure many of you would love to be outraged, but the reality is the dude is right. In fact I’m ready to slap the next Christian who makes the same mistake as these boneheads have. I’ve said it a million times and I hope sooner or later someone will listen. The world doesn’t hate God they hate his followers. They hate us because we still think the world gives a sh#t about our faith.

WAKE UP!!! We live in a post-Christian, post-western world folks and the reality is, so much damage has been done in the name of Jesus that the world has a very hard time disassociating Jesus from Christianity. When we throw around the name of Jesus in this manner we do nothing but create resentment and animosity.

We’ve all heard it said, “People don’t care how much you know till they know how much you care.” It’s cliché, but true. The Christian faith was built on a revolutionary named Jesus who changed the world through his commitment and focus on love, hope, and faith. People were drawn to Jesus because he loved unconditionally, and understood that an unbelieving world did not share his passion for the kingdom of God.

I have homosexual friends who I cherish. I love them and they love me. Why? The answer is simple, people can disagree, passionately at times, but if there is love in the mix it ends with a hug and a smile.
They know that I don’t condone homosexuality (probably not for the reasons you expect), but they also know I do condone people. People of every shape, size and lifestyle. Why? Because Jesus did. If you want to have the opportunity to share your faith you have got to earn the right to be heard, and once you’ve been heard you have to accept the fact that many won’t agree. If they don’t agree, so what. Read your bible, It’s not your job to convert the people, you’re job is to love people, pray for people and share your faith when the opportunity arises. If God wants a conversion out of the mix nothings going to stop Him.

Writing letters to people you don’t agree with and throwing the name of Jesus around is both stupid and ineffective. God doesn’t judge homosexuality any differently than he judges your self righteous judgment. God is after our hearts. That includes your heart, my heart and Mr. Savage’s heart, and when he finds that heart I don’t think he could care less if it’s in a homosexual, or a heterosexual.

Your convictions are rooted in your faith. Stop expecting that those who don’t share your faith to share your convictions. Live your faith, and if your faith is rooted in something real (and I believe it is) people will be drawn to it. Just like Jesus.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Ted Haggard

I’ve tried to ignore this whole matter, but due to the onslaught of questions concerning it, I’ll respond quickly.

The day I heard about Ted Haggard (The Colorado pastor caught in a homosexual relationship) I felt as though I’d been kicked in the gut. It wasn’t the affair or the homosexual nature of the issue; it was the fact that once again the name of our savior took a slap in the face. The slap didn’t originate from Ted Haggards pants, and it wasn’t the leftist haters circling like buzzards, it was the response of the “Christian” community.
The moment the news broke, evangelical leaders across the country started disassociating themselves from Haggard as quickly as they could get the coverage. As soon as the word “homosexual” was mentioned Christian leaders nation wide ran for the big red button on the wall to engage the emergency damage control center.

Haggard is a man, which means Haggard deals with sin. Sin is a reality of life and each of us is guilty of failing to live up to the Holy standards of our creator. The problem we are facing in America is the “Classification of Sin.” In other words, Christians have decided amongst ourselves that some sins are greater than others. In the case of “lesser” sin we band together as brothers and sister and support the sinner into beautiful and peaceful reconciliation. However, in the case of the “greater” sins we run for the hills like fourth grade school girls and deny any association. We’re cowards!

Ted Haggard pulled a stupid, but homosexual, heterosexual, or anything in between, or beyond has been covered by the price Christ paid on the cross. As a pastor Mr. Haggard submitted himself to a public position and subsequently public scrutiny. His actions were not becoming of a man in his position of responsibility or his office as pastor and he should be relieved of his position for a season (as determined by God) to evaluate himself, and to reconcile with his wife, family, church family, and God. Both He and his family deserve our prayers of love and support.

“For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Rain is God's Way...

Rain is God's way of cleaning the alleys. A strange statement to some, but to those who live in the urban core a well known truth. The other day as I left our Belltown apartment from the rear fire escape/alley exit, I was greeted by a "Kenny pile." Kenney is our resident homeless man whose world exists within the boundaries of first and Second Avenue, between Stewart and Virginia Street. At night, Kenny, a rather large black man complete with matted beard and what will soon be dreadlocks, sneaks into a parking garage on our block and stays out of the rain. During the days Kenny guards the phone booth on the corner like Fort Knox. Frequently he can be found talking quietly to himself, or humming a tune from the Deep South, but one thing you can count on, Kenny won't ask for money.

On this morning, Kenny had used the back steps of our fire escape as a toilet and I nearly stepped in it. I really like Kenny, I find him fascinating, but I really can do without the piles. I took a super wide step over the pile and went about running my errands. When I returned the rain was coming down in sheets. As I ran for the fire escape, I noticed that Kenny's pile had been washed away by the rain and all that remained was wet cobblestone.

Don't ask me how, but for some reason I saw a bit of truth in that pile of shit. As disgusting as it was, all it took was a little rain to clean things up again. Maybe I have a low self image, but I saw a piece of my life in that pile. Parts of me that are nasty, that stink, that no one would ever want to see. Parts of my character that shame me, and remind me of my need for a savior.

I was able to look past the poop on my steps because I like Kenny. I was able to see his need and understand why a private place like our fire escape would be a suitable bathroom for a modest homeless man. I was able to laugh about it as I pictured Kenny peeking over the dumpsters making sure no one was approaching. It's still amazing to me how love can overlook even the most detestable things, and I can't help believe that my sin is no less detestable to God. Yet, because of his overwhelming love for me he's able to look past the shit and see my need.

God's grace is the rain that cleans the copplestone of my life. It washes the alleys that remain unseen and cleanses the parts of me no one wants to know about. I will forever be grateful for the grace of my savior that cleanses the reality of who I am.

Good Man

Is there anything to be said for being a good man? Last night I sat with a couple of people and a conversation about marriage started. My wife went on and on about what a good guy I am, and how lucky she is to be married to me, etc, etc, etc. In that moment I realized that I have officially been domesticated!

As my wife spoke I began to flash back, and as the memories flooded my brain I was humbled by the reality of who I am. My wife only knows me a man who has learned how to love; she never experienced the man that I was only a couple of years before our marriage. An angry man, a violent man, a manipulator, arrogant, shallow, self-absorbed, and so on.

She never knew me as the man who was paid to intimidate, and physically hurt people. She never knew me as the arrogant young man who went through women like socks. She has never seen the capacity of my rage. My wife knows a man who doesn't speak much anymore and who has learned the value of family, compassion, and a gentle spirit. What she doesn't see is the constant battle with the guilt of my past demons.
I've come to know my demons. I know their names and from time to time they return. They remind me of days filled with activities I used to think made me a man. Things that even to this day are still attractive. I begin to ask questions about my life. I look at the nicely decorated house, the child asleep in the next room, the smell of scented candles in the kitchen, the neatly made beds, and I ask, "What the hell am I doing here?" What happened to the adrenaline of a good fight, the nights of guiltless sex, the mornings of waking up in a strange place? "How did I get here?"
Then it hits me; there's something to be said for being a good man. There's something to be said for reading your child to sleep. There's something to be said for coming home every night. Hell, there's might even be something to be said for scented candles! The reality is it takes twice the man to be a father. It takes twice the man to be a husband.

There's something to be said for being a good man. Tonight I'll go home to a clean house, a beautiful wife, a kid who adores me, and the smell of scented candles. I'll sit down take a cigar from my humidor, sip a screwdriver, and listen to my wife tell me about her day. That's right, I'm domesticated, and even with the little hand soaps in the bathroom, the placemats on the table, the poodle with the bow in his hair, and the freshly pressed shirts in my closet; I still pack a hell of a right hook.

Ready for a Refill?

Are you ever surprised by your own stupidity? Do you ever forget who you really are? Well, at times I do, and today was a perfect example. Just before noon I decided to stop by good ol' Jack in the Box to get the best hamburger $.99 can buy. Where else can you get a full size burger with lettuce, tomato, pickles, onions and all for $.99? No Where! Anyway.....

As I sat at the table going over some paperwork a young Hispanic couple came in with their young daughter. I took notice because 1.) Their daughter was loud, 2.) They didn't speak a lick of English, 3.) I had been listening to talk radio in the car and immigration was the issue. I have to admit that I was a little irritated by their presence. Why? Because sometimes I'm surprised by my stupidity!

After they had ordered their food they sat down at the table to eat. Their daughter was screaming something in Spanish, and I couldn't concentrate. To make matters worse, their daughter spilled her bladder buster sized drink all over the table, chairs, and floor causing a huge scene. Her dad simply reached out and tosseled her hair as if to say, "It happens baby girl, no tears." Of course I missed that gentle gesture until much later. Why? Because sometimes I'm surprised by stupidity!

The clean-up and subsequent conversation was all in Spanish, and my mind kept wandering to talk radio as I pondered how much it was costing me in tax dollars to fund their little lunch. Why, because sometimes I'm surprised by my stupidity.

After the floor and table had been cleaned by mom with countless napkins, dad got up to refill her cup. As he headed for the pop machine I started to think, "That bum isn't even going to pay the refill charge." "Isn't it bad enough I have to pay for his lunch; now he's going to leach off good ol' Jack?" As he got closer I noticed that no one was looking and that he might just get away with it. I was furious! In my minds eye I was sprinting across the isle and tackling him before he could refill his Coke. Why? Because sometimes I'm surprised by my own stupidity!
Just as he was about to reach the pop machine I noticed him reaching into his pocket. A GUN? A KNIFE? A POCKET BOMB? ....................Who knows with these filthy illegal, they're capable of anything! Right?

Just then he reached into his pocket and pulled out some change. Carefully counting it out he waited quietly at the counter for several minute before someone noticed he was there. He couldn't speak English, so he handed the cashier the change, held up his cup, and pointed to the pop machine. The cashier waived off the change and motioned for the man to simply go ahead and fill his cup. As she turned away the young father look at the change in his hand and gently placed it on the counter next to the register before turning to fill the cup.

I was moved. I was angry with myself. I wanted to run across the room and hug the man, to shake his hand. I can't remember the last time I saw such integrity and gentleness. At that moment I was overcome with just how stupid I can be, and once again I heard the gentle voice of God whisper in my ear, "how about you son, ready for a refill?"

Just for the record, I would have refilled without paying. Why? Well, you know....