True love is not the kind of thing you should turn down, don’t ever turn it down

Christians get it so wrong about marriage and the LGBTQ demographic.

2 people wanting to commit to each other and spend their lives together isn’t going to destroy marriage

Plenty of other things do that

A mother and father who decide not to get married. Their jobs don’t give them health benefits so they avoid being legally connected to keep state Medicaid benefits. And they both have to work to make ends meet. Just enough work mind you; not too much or they lose the benefits

That destroys the institution of marriage

Individuals treating their spouse like garbage. Beating them, degrading them, abusing them in every way conceivable. And then we as a society heap guilt on the spouse that chooses to leave that situation. Making them feel like a failure; like they’ve failed God.

That ruins the institution of marriage

Defending powerful politicians who have affairs or abandon their spouses. Politicians from any side of the aisle. Defending them out of fear that your side will lose its position of authority and influence if you become vocal and critical

That destroys the institution of marriage

Marriage is a manifestation of the greatest commandments

“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.” -Matthew 22:37-40

Marriage should be the most intimate example of that love

The clearest and most ideal model for us all to follow in our relationships with others

A relationship that is

Always uplifting
Never abusive
Always compassionate
Never cruel
Always forgiving
Never exploitative
Always restorative
Never disparaging
Always humble
Never arrogant

Show me a relationship like that and I’ll be looking at everything a marriage should be

I could care less
what the individuals look like
what the individuals’ sexual orientation is
what pronouns they use

I don’t care what kind of tree the fruit grows on, just that the fruit itself isn’t a poison to the people who grow it

I’m certain that God doesn’t care either

(the title of this post is from an Avett Brothers song)

Bearing fruit is a ridiculously common Christian metaphor. It’s in the Bible a lot, though I do think it gets overused.

Even so, it IS a good metaphor, so I’ll use it again.

When it comes to marriage and other relationships, you’ll here a lot of people talk about traditional marriage or maybe Godly marriage. I say, be critical of those who disguise their words in tradition and authority and ask yourself this; when you look at a relationship how does it effect the people in it? The people influenced by it? Does it bear good fruit? Or bad fruit?

Because every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit.

Ancestry: built on graves

I’ve come to the painfully obvious conclusion that most people don’t understand how DNA & ancestry work. The way you inherit genes can’t be expressed by fractions or percentages. That’s just not how your genes work.

For a brief breakdown check out these links

If you want a better understanding of the subject more broadly

I would recommend reading these books

Here’s the reason I have this on my mind

Because it’s currently a hot topic, I’d like to talk about Native American ancestry

My family genealogy records a First Nation ancestor born in the Mohawk Valley 8 generations ago. She married a Scottish immigrant on the Canadian side of my family. The side that were Imperial Loyalists during the Revolutionary War.

This small part of my family history gives me these specific takeaways:

First; I would never call myself Native American. Since this First Nation ancestor and Scottish ancestor had children they passed down a Scottish/British identity. Combine all my other European ancestry and you forge the identity I was raised with, which is thoroughly Euro-American. The experiences that Native Americans have struggled with affected that woman generations ago to some degree I’m sure. But not so much for her descendants. Definitely not for me.

Second; this ancestry isn’t meaningless. I’m glad I know about it and I should think about it. We should all think about where we came from and how we came to be in the circumstances we’re in.

And third; this part of my ancestry and the circumstances of my life have a dark connection. Thinking back on this woman and trying to imagine what she went through in her life is a powerful reminder that my comfortable and stable life is built on graves. All the advantages I’ve had as an American are the direct result of a long, slow ethnic cleansing.

My native ancestor should always motivate me to support the modern communities that my other ancestors oppressed

To support the communities still being devastated by the exploitations from which my stability derives

It’s true that my parents always worked hard for me and I appreciate that

Same with my grandparents

But I can never escape from the fact that all my advantages have an underlying foundation in exploitation.

I benefit from crimes against the First Nations of this continent

It’s important that I never forget that.

That none of us do.

Foot note: I will mention that my aunt, who is amazing, is primarily responsible for the research into that part of my family genealogy. I can’t say that I’ve done the research myself. I am relying on her efforts. I don’t know why she would lie and I believe. But for the sake of being transparent the facts of my family history are not something I can claim as being certain.

Cultures

Biology is the story that nature tells us about ourselves

Culture is the story that we tell about ourselves

True that we often attribute our cultural story to some other force

A deity
Or deities
Sometimes our ansestors

But ultimately we ourselves are the ones who pass on those stories

That’s why they’re so variable from group to group

Even groups like Christians who have a book that records their story can’t agree on how to tell the story

And as a result you get versions of the story so different that it becomes difficult or even impossible to see them as one

We tell our story
We create our culture and renew it
We tell ourselves who we are

I want to make sure I am proud of the story I tell myself
I want to make sure the story I tell others about myself is a story in which I actually want to be a character

As a Christian
As a man
As an American

And not only the story of who I am
But also the story of who I want to be
The story of who I strive to be

Be sure to tell your story well

A stone that makes them stumble, and a rock that makes them fall

I’m not Catholic

And I probably never could be, regardless any changes made to their ideology or institutions

Though I do REALLY like the Maronites

Compelling history

Worth learning about

But I do have a suggestion that would change some of my feelings towards the catholic institution

Maybe even heal the bitter divides that the current and long running abuse scandals have created

One of the clear instructions that Jesus gave was disestablishment of institutions

He definitely did not like the idea of humans creating institutions and investing them with power

Did not like humans building their own traditions and claiming authority through that tradition

He believed in communities

Communities where the individuals look to each other’s strength to keep the community together, instead of power invested in one person or one office

Communities where the individuals tended to each other’s weaknesses so that everyone had the means to overcome them, instead of relying on authoritative positions and offices that have sole authority to render judgement

Lifting up the broken instead of casting them out

Supportive them in their struggle

Binding the community through compassion and forgiveness

Not institutional authority

In the catholic church the institution is old and running strong

But it’s a mess

The priests that run the institution are a mess

If they want to enact change; take the priests from power and put the sisters in charge

At least for a while

It may not make a difference I guess

More of an experiment

But at least it would be an attempt at something different

Since they’ve not been the agents of institutional authority

Maybe they will be able to institute the

Just look at the ongoing scandals and it’s clear

The current institution is not regulating itself

And new leadership is desperately needed.

That’s my advice

My informed opinion from the cross-sectional religious perspective

Put the sisters in charge

It would upend millennia of church teaching…which is why I could probably never be Catholic: I don’t mind upheaval

But maybe an upheaval like that would be what the institution would need to transform itself

Maybe under that new leadership it would become the community it should be

Community of self sacrifice
Community that lifts up without judgement
Community where the leadership takes responsibility for it’s failures

This is where I got all that junk I said about Jesus and institutions

Mark 7

Matthew 23

Luke 11

The Viral Culture

Unformed Thoughts

What does this tell us about the way fame effects us?

What does this tell us about the impact of reach?

The more pervasive someone’s influence, the more than seem to believe it

I trust that my beliefs are true
My fans trust my beliefs to be true
What I believe must be true
Or why would everyone believe me?

Are we building a viral culture, where the further a concept spreads, the deeper it’s roots, the stronger it’s grasp…

Do those that sell their beliefs as a product, come to believe in the product themselves?

Does the viral culture infect them too?

OZ

When we believe there must be something more than what is obvious
Because obvious is bland
Because obvious is holds no magic?
Because we wish there were a Santa somewhere, lurking, ready to rescue our childhood

Do we want that so badly,
That we dissociate

Do we become the host
And accept the virus

To feel magic is possible again?

Ignorance and the cure for violence against Truth

Kanye West isn’t a bad person. He’s not an evil person, he’s not even a stupid person.

He is an ignorant person.

I’ve watched this whole video and rewatched several parts of it.

It’s clear that he is speaking from a place of ignorance of facts of history and modernity. Intelligence leads nowhere if it’s coupled with ignorance.

Kanye says that black Americans don’t care about violent crime amongst black communities.

That is a lie

Or at least he’s ignorant of the fact that there is advocacy against exactly that violence

But instead of taking them time to know the community activism and advocacy that does exist he speaks from his place of ignorance.

Furthering the lie
Furthering misinformation

All the while he has a position of influence
Of authority

He could use that position to bring more attention to groups like cureviolence.org

He could help spread the truth that so many people live out trying to improve their communities. That exposure could bring them more allies, more awareness, and the attention that the mainstream ignores.

And this isn’t my truth
This isn’t my story

All it takes to know these stories is to listen

To hear the stories others have to tell
To read those stories
To absorb them and let them inform your actions and attitudes

He could help

Even though he’s not bad or evil or stupid, his ignorance doesn’t help

And using the national platform he’s been given to spread ignorance hurts

Convergence of Evidence

Rough Draft

Important to the process of scientific investigation is convergence. You’ll see articles “this study says choclate is Healthy! Wine is healthy! Then a few months later “new study says wine is NOT health for you or chocolate is not healthy!”
 
These articles are making a mistake when it comes to how science determines something to be true or false. You’re not meant to read a single study and assume that it represents the whole truth. You’re meant to look at multiple studies, let evidence accumlate, examine the entire body of observations and experiments, THEN draw conclusions.

Conclusions based on the convergence of evidence
 
where all evidece is compared, examined contextually, that is where truth emerges. The convergeance of evidence is more important than any single piece of evidence can be alone.
 
now I I turn to the Bible. The Hebrew Bible, the Old Testament
 
The 5 books of the Pentateuch , which do have a few different authors and perspectives, when you come to the end of the Pentateuch or the Torah, you can have a fairly clear idea of the God they are trying to describe.
 
Then as you move into the writings and the prophets, you see something different. The authors begin questioning, characters in narratives question and authors of poetry and prophecy question and challenge the picture of God that’s been described. If the God of the Torah loves us protects us provides for us WHY did this event happen? Are we being punished? Tested? Rebuked? Abandoned?
 
They also begin to question their leaders. Our leaders have been tellin gus to do this, but I’m hearing a call from God that the way those leader act, they way they tell us to act is wrong. It is not in accord with the truth God wished for us to arrive at. I thought God appointed our leaders? Why do our leaders fail?
 
So here is the question I have. I pose it to you but I also continue to pose it for myself:
 
If the authors of the five books of the Torah describe God in a particular way that later authors question and try to redefine, does that constitute an ERROR? Same amongst the later attempts to clarify, when the authors challenge one another. Are we r adding a contradictory collection of books that is ridilled with errors and inconsistencies?
 
Is it an error to expand a definition, to clarify, and apply new terms or contexts?
 
Is there a convergence on truth in the bible instead of plain statements of immutable truth?

Are we meant to follow the accumulation of the collected bibilical writings to arrive at the truth?
 
Is that what Jesus represents to those who identify as Christian?
That Jesus is the culmination, where the truth finally converges on the most exact understandning of who God is, what God wants from us, and why things happen to us the way they do?
 
Is that what it means to fulfill the law? Fulfill the writings and the Prophets?

I’ve heard it argued many times: the Bible cannot contradict itself, it cannot contain errors.

If it does then we couldn’t trust it
If it does then it could lead us astray

I’ve come to believe that it clearly contains errors and contradictions and counter arguments.

Because it is a collection of writings by different authors, offering their own revelation from God. Bringing new perspective. Redefining to compensate for human bias and ignorance that inevitably found its way into God’s attempts to guide us.

And it makes me trust the Bible more. Because the collection is our context. The different books accumulate into a whole to be defined by their language, their history, their genre, and so on. We are to examine them all. Look at the entire body of arguments put before us. Consider them, they way the convergence.

And

through that convergence draw our conclusions

Through the convergence find the truth

I can’t say what conclusions you’ll draw if you read the Bible in the way I describe

But the more I read in this manner the more certain I am of the conclusion.

The convergence of evidence leads me to Jesus as the final truth. The truth God has always wanted us to cling to

Love God with the whole of your being

Love your neighbor as yourself

All the Torah and the Writings and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.