Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Southern Baptists' Albert Mohler Sides with LaBouf in Woman Teacher Dismissal

The Southern Baptists, whose campaign against women teaching, preaching, being missionaries on the field, or having mutuality relationships in marriage continues unabated, praised mainline American Baptist pastor Tim LaBouf of Waterton, New York, for doing likewise. LaBouf and his board recently fired Mary Lambert, a Sunday School teacher who'd taught there fifty-four years, for being female.

As it turned out, LaBouf really got rid of her for other reasons, as was made clear in various interviews he did as well as this church statement posted on their website. At one point, LaBouf claims that the gender issues was merely a "small aspect" of why she was dismissed.

That didn't stop Southern Baptist president Albert Mohler from turning American Baptist LaBouf into a poster boy for their own gender jihad. Mohler's recent August 24 radio program featured LaBouf, who reiterated his belief that women shouldn't be allowed to teach adult Sunday school (just why it is alright to teach children's Sunday School wasn't explained).

"I believe that Satan had infiltrated and taken the first Baptist church off course," LaBouf said. "The world frankly can't see it."

Both LaBouf and Mohler then turned their ire on the secular media, always a convenient whipping boy in matters having to do with inequality. From there, the two discussed how such unfortunate events as women ending up preaching and teaching occur.

"Things go wrong, number one, when men are unfaithful and do not lead," Mohler claimed. "The second problem comes when women begin to do things and assume responsiblity that is unbiblical."

Mohler called the Christians who disagree with him victims of an "equal opportunity God theory." Nice sound bite, if one happened to agree with Mohler. Empty rhetoric when one doesn't.

LaBouf, who continually seemed double-minded about whether or not to discuss the political intrigues behind Ms. Lambert's dismissal ("out of Christian charity, I won't mention....") did reference the fact that she was apparently part of a smaller group in the church unhappy with many of the changes LaBouf had instituted since becoming pastor. Yet, as I pointed out in my first posting on this mess, the dismissal letter sent to Ms. Lambert mentioned only the gender issue, proof-texting 1 Timothy as a Scriptural basis for her removal.

In short, LaBouf is caught on the horns of his own dilemma: was the dismissal because of internal dissension (a valid reason, I believe, for a dismissal in some situations), or was the dismissal because of a change in the church's beliefs regarding women as teachers? The American Baptist church normally does not hold to hierarchy teachings; that is a Southern Baptist distinctive. There seems to be more than a bit of waffling here as to just why all this happened.

At any rate, I for one find it instructive that the Southern Baptists' Mohler would grab hold of LaBouf as a brave, biblical pastor. What I would point to is the unintentional example both men set for us.

LaBouf and his board used gender as a means to get rid of someone they (rightly or wrongly) felt was troublesome and divisive. Using gender that way illustrates just how evil and pernicious hierarchal teachings are, and how they often seem to blind those who hold them to their own true motives.

Mohler and those who preceeded him in the fundamentalist takeover of the Southern Baptists some years back have systematically stripped women in their denomination of preaching, teaching, and even most missionary roles. Could it be that the women often also represented a more moderate, less strident, version of evangelical Christianity to which the fundamentalists were so bent on removing from positions of influence? I strongly suspect so. A post-modern critique of language as power-mongering ("biblical" defined as disempowering women) might be quite applicable in this scenario.

They call all this being true to Scripture. I call it being false. Not only to Scripture are they false... they are false even to their own stated beliefs. The true motivations for hierarchal teachings are too often dark, manipulative, and abusive. In this situation, an elderly woman's service to Christ has been dismissed as unbiblical by males so locked into the letter of the law that they lose the Spirit of the Law. In the Southern Baptists' case, people around the world and in the United States are deprived of the giftings of Southern Baptist women.

Nowhere in Scripture is it even mentioned that spiritual giftings are handed out by gender. As someone with not one, but two, female pastors, I can certainly say "Halleluia!" to that.

One more thing. Mohler emphasized that men are called to lead. Women, uh, have other callings. He has it half-right. Men are, in fact, called to lead. So are women. Each should lead according to gifting and calling. And one place we men can lead is in faithfully calling our sisters in Christ to fully exercise their own gifts so that both female and male members of His body will be full, robust, and powerful expressions of agape in a broken, hurting world.

Monday, August 28, 2006

A Silly Poem Inspired by a Friend's Pet Chewing on a Book I Lent Him

(Note: "Kierkegaard" is pronounced "Keerk-e-gore" and not "Keerk-e-guard" as Americans tend to do...)

The Solitary Bunny

Rabbit reading Kierkegaard
Existential herbivore
Rabbit knows nowhere is safe
And yet he makes the leap of faith

(c) 2006 Jon Trott

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Barf Bags Optional: Bob Larson "Exorcism" Pilot to Air on CBS

CBS, get a clue.

In what has to be one of the worst ideas I've seen in recent memory, "Joan of Arcadia" creator Barbara Hall has been given a pilot commitment for an "exorcism themed" program on CBS.
The program will be built, according to the Hollywood Reporter, on wanna-be radio shlock (er, shock) jock Bob Larson. Joe Roth, director of Exorcist III, will also be involved.

Bob and I, of course, go way back. We appeared a few years ago (discussing the Satanic Ritual Abuse controversy) on Larry King Live. My skeptical position then and now was that the SRA myths were being created by a strange mix of urban myth, psychological misbehavior by therapists, and widespread money-making by publishers and talk-show hosts both Christian and secular. Larson countered with dark tales of ritual abuse he assured both King and I were absolutely true. "I've got 'em in my files" he said.

Of course, no evidence emerged then or now from Larson's files. Which didn't stop him from making a career out of busting Satan's chops via exorcisms, many on-air. Larson came to the defense of fellow Satan buster (and alleged ex-satanist) Mike Warnke when fellow author Mike Hertenstein and I investigated Warnke's stories and found his testimony, especially the satanism portions, to be bogus.

I contended Larson was telling some tall tales. Later on, we in fact uncovered his original testimony -- that of having been rock and roller who subverted children into wild orgiastic misbehavior via the (his words) "jungle beat" -- as being pretty much untrue.

An excerpt from that article:

Sharla Turman Logan, who was keyboardist for Bob Larson's high school rock trio, the Rebels, was interviewed by World. Logan, who lives in Lincoln, Nebraska, listened as Cornerstone read her this 1974 quote from a Bob Larson book, Hell on Earth:
Bob Larson achieved fame at the age of thirteen when his first hit song was published. He had his own rock'n'roll band at fifteen, and performed on radio and television over the next years until his career took him to Convention Hall in Atlantic City.[2]
Logan's reaction is swift. "What?! I knew him at thirteen, and I never heard of any hit song." What about Atlantic City? "Convention Hall? Yes, we played there," Logan says. "But it was a Lions Club Convention, one song. We did a parody of `Charlie Brown.' You know, `He's a clown / Charlie Brown.'"

This is Bob Larson's account of the Rebels' effect upon their listeners, from his 1972 book, The Day the Music Died:
On Sunday morning it was a church, but on Saturday night the pews were removed, our musical equipment was placed on the platform, and beer was dispensed in the basement as teenagers danced in the sanctuary. It was especially popular because cars could be parked surrounding the building. This provided a convenient bed of immorality during intermission for the release of sex tensions stimulated by the dancing.[3]
Sharla Logan heard the same story years before Bob first published it. "I saw him preach in 1965 or 1966, when I was in college at Greeley, Colorado." Logan couldn't believe what she was hearing. "I was offended. I was hurt. None of us ever did anything sexually or even drank. My father went with us to the concerts as a chaperon, and he would have picked up on any sexual stuff. We played at pizza parlors, rodeos, and churches. Everyone came, from little knee-high kids to grandpas and grandmas. But Bob talked about us like we were a bunch of sluts, if you'll excuse me. I was crying, sitting there hoping people wouldn't look at me. At the next intermission, I left."

Others also investigated Larson on various grounds from financial to ethical and were not impressed with what they found.

I realize, of course, that the dollar will be the bottom line regarding TV programming. But CBS... if you go ahead with this one, maybe Christians concerned for reality will have to gather around your offices for a mass deliverance...


Hmmm. I wonder if that would work. Maybe I could start a deliverance ministry of my own?

Added: a few links for those who can't wait to read more about Bob's interesting universe...
Bob Larson Ministries (the official page)
Prof. Doug Cowan's Larson page
Canadianchristianity.com's take on Larson
KristianKooks, a site irritated by Larson's antics.

"Terrorist," "Cultist" and Other Terms Used by Terrorists and Cultists

Forgive the wry title. And forgive the rambling, unkempt nature of what follows. But what happened to the word "cult" in the 1980s has now also happened to the word "terrorist." Religious scholar Gordon Melton, I believe, once defined "cult" this way: "A cult is a religious group that we do not happen to like." I would suggest this: "A terrorist is a soldier we don't happen to like." (The corrolary to this: "A freedom fighter is a soldier we happen to like.")

This is easily illustrated in both words' cases.

Jews for Jesus, whom I have much respect for as a Christian (and whom we've gladly had teach at our Jesus People USA community), is labeled a "cult" by various Jewish organizations and even charged with brainwashing. Evangelicals would quickly object. Yet we in turn slap the term "cult" on groups such as the Mormons (see acquaintance John Smulo's blog for his critique on a specific example). I don't suggest that Christians are wrong to critique Mormonism; far from it. But the use of the word "cult" prevents any sort of mutually-engaging conversation, and practically assures those so labeled will respond with hostility.

As Smulo rather testily observes,

Is it not hypocritical that we would use confrontational tactics and hateful propaganda to preach a loving God!? Let me slap you in the face and then tell you about how loving our God is!!! Do you think anyone in their right mind would listen!?

If I were merely a cynical soul (well, sometimes I am, but we won't go there now), I would end with a biting comment. Instead, as a lover of Christ, I am forced to offer more than that.

I beg my fellow believers to take a long, hard look at language being used as a club. Particularly when one word is so emotionally loaded that it becomes literally an eraser -- a way of denying the humanity of those it allegedly describes -- that word is no longer useful to the Christian. I choose "useful" in the context of love, love first and foremost.

But what about a person or persons who teaches what is unchristian or does evil?

Why not, then, describe what they teach or what they do? For instance, the individuals who rammed two airplanes into the twin towers, another into the Pentagon, and another into a Pennsylvania field, could we not by simply describing what they did prove they did evil? Why must we shorten it into a cartoonish, non-descriptive word such as "terrorist"?

Psychologically, such illicit linguistic shortcuts offer us a way to explain evil. But such an explanation is in itself intrinsically evil, because it allows us to externalize evil onto the "other guy."

These ideas applied to the word "cult" are not new, and sociologists such as David Bromley, Anson Shupe, Dick Richardson and others have dealt with their religious / social ramifications. But as we watch and listen to the west's very dubious use of words such as "freedom" to describe the rationale for bombing Lebanon and invading Iraq, the term "terrorist" takes on an almost doubly sinister meaning. Namely, there are others standing in the rubble of what used to be "the Paris of the Middle East" and they have quite a different set of villians to call terrorists. The ruins of Beirut are, like the twin towers, evidence that seems to an unbiased observer the incontrovertible sign of evil.

I still remember the horror I felt when I first heard (then saw) the fall of the twin towers. It was indeed a successful blow against my, and our, self-identity as Americans. I was angry, I wept, I prayed agonizing imprecatory prayers!

In the end, we will have done to us what we do unto others. We, to them, are the terrorists. We, to them, are the cultists. Why? Because we threaten the very basis for their civilization, the basis of their own understanding. Is that the feeling we want to leave throughout entire regions of the world? (And I'm thinking of the Middle East in particular.) If we make no attempt to understand, to actually see through their eyes the world they (and we!) inhabit, how can we expect any more than vitriolic verbal attack or even violent assaults?

Will all human beings, no matter how bent on violence or at least willful deception for gain, respond to gentle and respectful attempts at dialogue? Absurd. They certainly will not. Yet this does not let us off the hook. We are Christians, after all. We are called to forgive "seventy times seven" and go the second mile and to love our enemies. How does that unpack in real life? Perhaps it ends with us imitating Christ in his sufferings past any point we ever thought we would or could. Perhaps not. But it certianly confronts us with our own lack of belief in what and who Jesus actually was.

The time has come to describe people as human, even when they do terrible things. That, too, is a definition of humanity we would rather wasn't universally true. Why? Because, despite our having a hard time grasping the fact, there's enough evil to go round.

The universal nature of human evil, after all, led to a certain incident near the city dump outside Jerusalem two thousand years ago. From a Christian perspective, one can really only use the term "terrorist" when applying it first and foremost to one's own self.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Woman Fired After Decades of Teaching Sunday School... for Being a Woman?

That, without the question mark, was ABC World News' television lead for its coverage of the firing of 81-year old Mary Lambert by the First Baptist Church of Waterton, New York.

The story seems pretty straightforward. Ms. Lambert got a letter from the Diaconate board of the church (it was shown on screen) consisting of but one paragraph. The first sentence told Mary Lambert that she had been dismissed by unanimous vote of the board. The rest of the paragraph was taken up with 1 Timothy 2:11-14 "A woman should learn in quietness and full submission. I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man; she must be silent. For Adam was formed first, then Eve. And Adam was not the one deceived; it was the woman who was deceived and became a sinner."

The letter gave no additional rationale for the dismissal.

I won't bother arguing with the bogus interpretation of the verses above by the church, or its board, or its Reverend Timothy Labouf. For that discussion, see Christians for Biblical Equality's website. Check the "free articles" section.

But as for what I could find out on my own in a few minutes, I discovered the story's more complex. For one thing, it turns out their pastor is a member of the Waterton city council. Even before ABC-News got hold of the story, it appears to have become a local hot potato for Rev. Labouf. In a lengthy letter posted on the Waterton Baptist Church website, Labouf noted the following:

As stated in the Board’s August 19th press release the reasons for this most recent decision was, “multifaceted and the scriptural rules concerning women teaching men in a church setting was only a small aspect of that decision. Christian courtesy motivates us to refrain from making any public accusations against her.”

But wait... isn't saying that basically making a public accusation against her, one which taints her reputation yet does not contain enough specificity to challenge? I can't see how either Rev. Labouf or the folks on his board would think a one paragraph letter -- most of which was a bible verse -- was good communication. But this longer letter seemingly makes things worse.

In the end, whatever political intrigues were or were not going on in the church, Ms. Lambert was dismissed for being a woman. Period. The letter sent to her by the Church board made this crystal clear in the most unambiguous terms possible. The fact that her gender was used as the basis for dismissing her is simply not acceptable.

Link (added): ABC posted the story on their website.

(ERRATA repaired: edited to add word "addtional" to sentence "The letter gave no additional rationale for the dismissal.")

Will There Be Sex in Heaven?

For those of us who adore how God made wife to fit so well with husband -- you know, the same group that reads Song of Songs as an erotic poem rather than a spiritual allegory -- the question "Will there be sex in heaven?" is important. But few sermons are preached on that topic, alas, so we're all left hanging.

Peter Kreeft (the Catholic convert I gave a hard time to a few posts back, even though it was in the process of bashing an anti-Catholic book) offers a provoking and at points poetic thought piece that should at least provide a springboard for further discussion. Will there be sex in heaven? See what you think.

On a lighter note, I years ago wrote a poem for my dearling on the topic:

There Will Be No Marriage in Heaven

Oh, my love, remember.
Christ said there'd be no marriage in heaven.
I know the thought is shocking
For God to take back what He's given
But think on this before you pout
Allow your darling to figure it out

Romance a gift, the best our Lord gave us
(Except for Himself and His Church)
Between us is ravishing love for a life
And desire's fast-found when we search

So imagine a heaven where sex is a bore!
The things God must have awaiting in store!
We'll still be true lovers, but in some new way
Where some great pleasure waits--who can say?
So think on this before you cry
Allow your darling to offer his why

You don't like my reasons and high-sounding talk?
You don't want to lose me to heavenly love?
Oh, darling, it was heaven who made of us one
And who made all our pleasures of touch so much fun
Heaven will be for eternity
My love is from you and for you from me

This theologian's at loss to not make you cross
So... lets make sweet love! Close the door!

(c) 1994, 2000 Jon Trott, from Trees and Roots and Growing Things, Cornerstone Press

Friday, August 18, 2006

Roe-Fidelity: The 77s Release 2 DVD Set

Weird that in three posts, I'll have talked music twice. That's not my main gig here. But The 77s (a.k.a., The Seventy Sevens) and their wired front man Mike Roe have always been dear to my heart; their new 2-DVD set of vintage MTV singles and concert footage (including a complete set from Cornerstone Festival) is a expertly-guided trip to a very pleasant place indeed. And since I'd just riffed* on Daniel Amos, another band rooted in the "new wave" era, why not talk about a second unknown 80s band that really deserved more notoriety than they got? So let's go.

How much better (as in campy?) can it get when you start off with Pat Boone introducing their inaugaural single on a TV show called "Gospel Gold"? The video, "A Different Kind of Light," is fairly wretched, really, the mix of Christian subculture and 80s new wave a sort of double-dose of things we'd like to forget. Well, not really... I still think Flock of Seagulls--never mind. But the song hints at the great things to come with its simultaneous pop sensibility and edgy rock feel.

The rest of the MTV stuff is fun -- and of varying quality video-wise. But musically it is easy to see a steady movement forward as well as outward, embracing a larger set of influences (as in the still new wave, but musically stellar "Ba Ba Ba Ba" and the "more Alice than Alice Cooper" blues/metal scorcher, "Snake" to name two examples). In fact, the 77s left new wave and big hair far behind as they embraced everything from fifties rockabilly to blues, fusion, folk, and metal in a journey which seems far from finished even now.

"The 77s will take you on a journey through the past, present, and future of rock & roll."
-- Rolling Stone

I must confess, though, that the 1997 Cornerstone Festival footage from disk one, where we get an entire concert, is probably my favorite portion of the set. The video (see above still) is ill-defined and grainy, true. But the sound quality (which must have been mixed direct from the board) is quite good to excellent, capturing the raw energy that is Roe & Company. The 77s are, above all, a band that has to be experienced live to be truly appreciated. And the Cstone '97 concert was a good night for Mike and the boys. What's really sad is that I think I was there for this concert, but after attending so many Cornerstones, and not a few 77s gigs at Cstone as well as elsewhere, it all tends to bleed together in my head. Ah, well. Play it loud.

Disk two nets various live concerts from festivals, including six or seven more cuts from Cornerstone '84 and '92, and from Warehouse Ministries of Sacramento where the band's original "Exit Records" label was based. As you might guess, I'm pretty high on this DVD set, which like the 77s themselves, defies easy categorization.

[*] A friend informs me I need to "put a moratorium on the use of the word 'riff'." Sigh... okay...

Cheap Shots 2: Pairing Darwin with Hitler

Uh, I'm not interested in going into a debate on evolution here. For one thing, I'm in enough hot water. For another thing, I'm not carrying that water in the first place--my existential angst lies in other directions. But I did have to at least note what looks like another bad idea emanating from D. James Kennedy and Coral Ridge Ministries. Apparently, they are about to air a program suggesting that Hitler couldn't have done what he did unless Charles Darwin preceeded him. The video preview starts right off with this statement:

"Morality is whatever you want to make it to be. That's really Darwin's legacy."

From there we are introduced (though without any tie-in to Charles Darwin himself, or his opinions on this idea) to "social Darwinism" and the legacy of Adolf Hitler. The punchline of course is that Hitler's Aryan mythology (and mass murder of "undesirables") is directly attributable to Darwin's concept of the survival of the fittest. It all sounds so plausible... but I question it.

My quick riff on this is... buyer beware. The quick, superficial linkage of ideas and persons has been done before by Christian spokespersons -- heck, it has also been done TO Christians by non-believers -- and it is neither ethical nor logical. An idea which is benign in its original form can be twisted into grotesque shapes and uses never dreamt of by its originator. To charge Darwin with Hitler's insane vision is the equivalent of charging Paul with the madness of the Inquisition...

In bluechristian's ever so 'umble opinion, anyway... and did I mention Ann Coulter appears in the video? Her comment sorta underscores my frustration: "[Hitler] was applying Darwinism. He thought the Aryans were the fittest and he was just hurrying natural selection along." If Ann says it, it must (not) be true...

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Daniel Amos and a "Moon like a Gong"

Hey, bluechristian here and it is time for a lyric. No, not one of mine (applause from audience). This one's a Terry Taylor / Daniel Amos original. If you don't know who Daniel Amos is... well where the heck were you in the 80s? Huh?!? Big hair, new wave, and... a band of Christians finding their creative way out of boxes and record company scandals and... well, along came this album, !Alarma!, and the opening cut. "Central Theme," a song that's been resonating in my head since before my first mohawk haircut. Mercy.

I can't really explain why the music and words of this work so well together. Daniel Amos (D. A. as they were later called) went with this album from being a band I didn't particularly care for to being a band that both lyrically and musically went somewhere peculiarly their own. And it happened to be a place where other peculiar folks, such as myself, found space.

Anyway, for a worship meets new wave meets William Blake lyric, circa 1981, here ya go...

Central Theme

from the album "¡Alarma!"

Words and Music by Terry Taylor
©1981 Paragon Music Corp./ASCAP

Central theme, the most important thing
Central theme, the tie that binds together
Central theme, every line is breathing
Central theme, another heart receiving
Shining in the center, my Lord in the center
Jesus in the center, revolving around Him
Always revolving around Him

Solar screams, I am nothing
Vibrations under the rings, how great you are
Moon like a gong, how great you are

Central theme, the object of affection
Central theme, the core of our perfection
Central theme, moving upward in direction
Central theme, changing musical conceptions
Shining in the center, my Lord in the center
Jesus in the center, revolving around Him
Always revolving around Him

Infinite space, I am nothing
Infant moves in the womb, how great you are
Wind and sea, I am nothing
Ghost of the heart, how great you are

Solar screams, I am nothing
Vibrations under the rings, how great you are
Moon like a gong, how great you are

Who is on the throne you find, the King of Kings
He's the one I have in mind, the central theme
Lord of Lords, Lord of lords, Lord of Lords...

Friday, August 11, 2006

Mother Jones & Evangelical Christian Sex

"The Way of All Flesh," an interesting post on evangelical Christians, appeared in Mother Jones recently... and I have to say that regarding marriage the MJ folks really don't get it.

Sure, The Marriage Bed (a website for Christian wives and husbands discussing sex) is a uh, well, wild ride for the uninitiated. All sorts of sexual practices are openly discussed and argued over, from what methods of birth control (if any) are biblical to what positions / practices in bed are moral / immoral. No doubt, it is an eyeful. I for one would say it is more constructive than not, though just where instruction ends and titillation begins is an issue each soul must work out for her / him self. (There are attempts to control how far conversations go, but some of even bluechristian's readers may be a bit, er, startled by TMB's content.)

But Mother Jones, a magazine one would think might find The Marriage Bed to be an example of enlightenment, really disappointed me. They focus on the alleged narrowness of Christian sex, even the (to my taste) overly liberated at times version reflected on TMB:

The Reverends Paul and Lori Byerly of Austin, Texas, established The Marriage Bed to rescue sex from the porn industry and the shame-mongers of their own faith. Although distinguished by its kaleidoscopic approach to people’s desires to express desire just so, theirs is a ministry shared by a vast array of Christian sex counselors, radio talk show hosts, authors, webmasters, itinerant healers, and entrepreneurs across the country. Like so many before, they have remade their God in their own image, to suit their own needs. Himself a voyeur of sorts, present in the bedchamber, seeing whether His creation is good, or not, this sex-friendly God has given an Eleventh Commandment: Christians, have more fun.

I guess belittling Christians for, well, being Christians sells magazines. I do not know the Byerlys, and would likely disagree with them on more than one issue. But the game of reducing their (and their posters') faith to "remaking God in their own image, to suit their own needs" is an act of reductionism reducing JoAnn Wypijewski, the MJ writer, more than subjects/targets. It also seems the writer has a small grasp on biblical texts. Whatever else one says about TMB, their so-called "voyeur" God is in fact the God of Song of Songs, the Pauline passages on marriage and sexual mutuality, the romantic story of Ruth and Boaz, and more. It is frustrating to read someone intent on reducing belief in order to mock it.

Is it true that discussions of marital sex would be enhanced by discussion on couples serving the poor, fighting for the dispossessed, witnessing to their faith and against the current darkness which seems to have our subculture in its grasp? Undeniably. But by saying the TMB folk are in effect creating their own deity, Ms. Wypijewski proves she, too, has a god.

In the end I was left wondering what Mother Jones' own agenda was in their coverage. And it didn't take long to find out:

In their embrace of oral and anal thrills, in their rejection of shame, they assume a vocabulary of desire that owes everything to gay liberation’s unlocking of sex even as they slam the door on the notion that gays and lesbians have any right to sexuality.

Ah. There it is. In short, the Byerlys and virtually all their posters believe that sexuality's proper sphere of fullest expression is in marriage, marriage defined biblically as being between one man and one woman. This offends the writer, who's accusation ("they slam the door on the notion that gays and lesbians have any right to sexuality") is a highly unfortunate oversimplification.

First, almost no thinking Christian would claim that some human beings have no right to sexuality. In fact, even the celebate person is sexual, has sexual feelings that are good and part of being a vital, living human being. The realm of sexuality goes far, far beyond the penis and clitoris, involving the entire human person.

What I suspect Mother Jones really was upset about here is the unwavering Christian response to homosexuality reflected on TMB and in Evangelical, Roman Catholic, Orthodox, and many independent denominations. Christians speak with an impressively unified voice (despite anomalies such as the Episcopal Church) that same-sex desires will not bring a person into her or his fullest humanity. The classic definition of sin is that which "misses the mark." And same-sex desire is not part of the Christian picture of marriage. When acted upon, it is sin. When struggled with, it is temptation just as heterosexual desires sans marriage can be temptation.

Stan Grenz and others have written about the need for Evangelicals to "welcome but not affirm" homosexuals. If that phrase sounds tortured -- and it probably does -- it is because we increasingly sense the pain, frustration, and (oftentimes) personal abuse heaped upon those struggling with same-sex desires. We need to go out of our way to assure those dealing with homosexuality in their own lives that our churches are not going to be places where they are abused or maligned. It is a thorny, difficult issue for all sides, and one we cannot and must not pretend is not problematic on many levels.

A long quote from Grenz makes this point clearer, perhaps, that I am making it:

“Even if we find such liaisons questionable, we might nevertheless assert that the church ought to minister to, and even provide a spiritual home for, homosexual persons. Regardless of the moral status of homosexual behavior, lesbians and gays are people whom God values, for whom Jesus died, and to whom the gospel must come. Further, the church is composed of sinners — redeemed sinners to be sure — but sinners nonetheless. It consists of people who are seeking to do God’s will in the midst of the brokenness of life. The church can only assist people to overcome sin and live in obedience to God if they receive the ministry of, and perhaps even participate in, the believing community. This is as true for gays and lesbians as for anyone else. . . .

"The church, therefore, ought not only to minister to all but also to welcome all into membership on the same basis. And this basis consists of personal reception of salvation by faith through Jesus Christ together with personal commitment to discipleship. At the same time, participation in the faith community involves a give-and-take. Discipleship demands that each member understand that he or she is accountable to the community in all dimensions of life, including the sexual. As one homosexual believer wrote to Richard Hays, ‘Anyone who joins such a community should know that it is a place of transformation, of discipline, of learning, and not merely a place to be comforted or indulged.’ Because it is a community of discipleship, the church in turn has a responsibility both to nurture and also to admonish and discipline the wayward in its midst, including those who are not living in sexual chastity, whatever the exact nature of the unchaste behavior may be.”

But back to TMB and Mother Jones. Is the assertion that TMB's openness regarding sexual matters is only possible due to "gay liberation"? Fascinating assertion, but it seems to appear as an assumption completely devoid of historical backing.

My own suspicion is that, perhaps due to some of the more... uh... graphic threads on TMB (which deal with various 'sex toys,' anal play, etc.) the MJ folks lept to a satisfying but incorrect conclusion. Sexual freedom or the lack thereof is not rooted in whether or not a couple uses a vibrator or oral sex or some other more exotic avenue of mutual pleasuring. Sexual freedom is not only suggested, but more or less mandated, in both the Old and New Testaments. An entire OT book (Song of Songs) offers abundant, and fairly explicit, guidance. Paul, though celibate himself, refers more than once to becoming one flesh as something beautiful, holy, and even a shadow of Christ's relationship to the Church. (How kinky is that!) Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 7:

1 Now concerning the matters about which you wrote: "It is well for a man not to touch a woman." 2 But because of cases of sexual immorality, each man should have his own wife and each woman her own husband. 3 The husband should give to his wife her conjugal rights, and likewise the wife to her husband. 4 For the wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does; likewise the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does. 5 Do not deprive one another except perhaps by agreement for a set time, to devote yourselves to prayer, and then come together again, so that Satan may not tempt you because of your lack of self-control. 6 This I say by way of concession, not of command. 7 I wish that all were as I myself am. But each has a particular gift from God, one having one kind and another a different kind.

What? No other instructions? None. The author of Hebrews (whether Paul or not) does say this in chapter 13:4 "Let marriage be held in honor by all, and let the marriage bed be kept undefiled; for God will judge fornicators and adulterers." (This verse, by the way, is the verse that the TMB folks apparently take their name from.)

So while Mother Jones doesn't always get it wrong (this is "blue"christian after all) they do get it wrong this time out. Just as the Pharisees and Saducees didn't understand Jesus' strange blend of absolute freedom and a purity of law beyond their own (see Matthew 5), I don't think many worldlings understand the astonishing grace Christian marriage affords. We are libertines, and should be. We are, if obedient, also keeping the marriage bed pure (free of anyone but that one man and wife). And that is a mystery.

Another bluechristian article mentioning Mother Jones magazine -- in a more positive light -- is in regard to prolific evangelical author Tim LaHaye.

A Different Take on "Eye for an Eye"

The moving story of a Jewish man donating his brother's eyes to a blind Arab is especially potent considering the brother (and a second brother as well) was killed by a Hezbollah missile fired into northern Israel. In some respects, the surviving brother's actions mirror Jesus' words in Matthew 5:

"You have heard that it was said,'An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth.'But I tell you, don't resist him who is evil; but whoever strikes you on your right cheek, turn to him the other also."

Thursday, August 10, 2006

New Book Takes Cheap Shots: "Answers to Questions Catholics Are Asking"

Catholics are all goin' ta hell. Right?

I recently recieved from Harvest House the new Tony Coffee book, Answers to Questions Catholics Ask. Hmm, I thought, maybe we can actually have an intelligent evangelical response to Catholic theology. After all, one does weary of evangelicals converting to Catholicism, then becoming more fundamentalist in their new enthusiasms than they were in their old ones. For a jaded soul like me, there are elements of the comic in formerly evangelical folk such as Peter Kreeft who explain -- straight-faced -- that it was the doctrine of the Eucharist that convinced them that Rome had it right.


But those folks are merely an irritant, and in light of the mess we evangelicals are in these days, an understandable one. Even Kreeft's astonishing (at least to this skeptic) statement can be explained as one where someone with a creative artist's temperament conflates image (bread and wine) with reality (the Body of our Lord). It is a lovely error, and one easily forgiven if not easily understood. (I imagine Professor Kreeft smiling at that, or groaning at my superficiality.)

The bottom line is that we accept one another as
sisters and brothers in Christ.

The evangelical response to Catholicism has varied, but many (I hope most) evangelicals do view Catholics much as the Catholic Church officially views Protestants -- "separated bretheren" (and sisteren, too). That is, we know we don't agree on Papal infallibility, the nature of Scriptural authority vs. Church authority, Purgatory, praying to the saints, Mary's role and alleged immaculate conception. Less "central to the faith" issues such as birth control, divorce & remarriage, and clergy celibacy also divide us.

But the bottom line for many on both sides is that we accept one another as sisters and brothers in Christ.

Let me get personal here. I get more devotional and spiritual help from Catholic writers than Protestant ones. Jean Vanier, Henri Nouwen, Dorothy Day, Gabriel Marcel, Fenelon... heck, that's a short list. As far as fiction writers, Catholic vs. Protestant? Oh, my. Walker Percy, Francois Mauriac, Flannery O'Connor, the afore-mentioned Gabriel Marcel, George Bernanos, Graham Greene... you get the picture. Protestants? Sigh... the former Catholic Larry Wiowode, C. S. Lewis, and... uh... well... Tim LaHaye!? Scratch that last one and add George MacDonald. (Ah, and I mustn't forget the enigmatic Charles Williams and his strangely unique contribution.)

So back to my Harvest House book. Does Mr. Coffey think Catholics are Christians? That was my question before opening the book.

His answer, apparently, is "No." And by so saying, he creates a false dichotomy, an "either/or" where in reality many (including lil' ol' me) would assert it is "both/and" at least to some degree. In other words, just because the Catholic Church teaches some things I do not believe to be biblical, this does not mean the Catholic Church is not a Christian Church.

In fact, I have to put my hand over my mouth not to laugh, thinking about that. If the Catholic Church (which is historically the mother of Protestantism) is not Christian, then why would her children be Christian? She may be mistaken -- fair enough. But in these dark times I don't need to look as far as Rome to find error -- I only need to log on to John Hagee's (surreal!) pro-zionist website or Christianity Today's Weblog re various doctrinal and political ruckuses recorded there to find plenty of error. Or I can just take a few moments of silence, pray a bit, and ponder my own thoughts and actions over the past day or so... Nah!

A few quotes from Answers to Questions Catholics Ask:

"The gospel that frees us from our sins is not the gospel preached by the Roman Catholic Church.... And why would anyone who has been truly converted to Christ want to remain in a church whose doctrines undermine the glorious sacrifice of the Lord Jesus Christ?" - p. 111

Strange. I often ask myself that exact same question about Evangelicalism. How much have we undermined the glorious sacrifice of the Lord Jesus Christ?! I shudder to think. How's that old saying go? "Splinter. Meet Log."

"The model of the Roman Catholic Church is not one Jesus would endorse." - p. 17

Hmm. And you think the model of the American Evangelical Church is one he would endorse?

"How could their [the Roman Catholic] Church have provided protection for sex abusers?" - p. 24.

Welllll.... seems to me we Protestants have had more than a little trouble with "protecting" pastors involved in immorality of various kinds. I recall a book by Jerry Kirk years ago on Homosexuality and the (Protestant) Church. He spent half the book castigating evangelicals for the systemic protection they offered pastors involved in various adulterous affairs, often doing exactly what the Catholics were--moving the pastor from church to church.

I'm no apologist for the obtuseness of Catholic higher-ups re sexual abuse of children; it is a mess and those folks made it that way on a number of levels. But let's just say it smells funny when a guy starts a book by saying he wants to be reasonable and not beat up those in disagreement with him -- an intro that reads like an attempt at sounding emergent without being emergent -- but by page 18 is whipping up on Catholics for the child molestation scandal. Cheap shot. Oh, and it goes on about sexual abuse of kids for the next eight pages, ending this way:

"The Roman Catholic Church is like a wineskin that cannot contain the new wine of grace and truth. It's an old wineskin that has been shown to be corrupt in that it concealed the evil of pedophile priests while also providing them with repeated opportunities to abuse the innocent and justifying its inaction by its oath of silence. It has grown rich, powerful, and, in the process, corrupt."

Wow. Rich, powerful, corrupt. Now who does that sound like that we know? In fact, maybe the Catholics ought to adopt the corporate model we evangelicals have perfected. You know, the ultra-streamlined ministry / college / TV network with one guy who runs the whole thing like Bill Gates runs Microsoft? That way, these leaks of Church wrongdoing can be sealed up tight as a drum with "non-disclosure agreements" and such, preventing former employees from squealing. That's how evangelicals do it. Take a tip, Pope Benedict! As one Catholic wag once said, "We have one pope and you have a thousand of 'em."

I'm going to leave the book for Catholics to further thrash, and I suspect their careful analysis will do greater damage than my admittedly rant-and-rave treatment. There are moments I could find where I agreed with Mr. Coffey's critique, but not his overall "Rome isn't Christian" thrust.

Let me close with a story about my wife and I attending a Catholic mass two years ago Christmas Eve. Why were we attending a mass? Well, I guess we just wanted to see how the devil does it. No, seriously we were there with some friends who go every year and told us it was a wonderful place to meet Christ in worship. They were right.

Saint Mary's of the Lake Catholic Church is a neighborhood church near us in the poor Uptown community currently under attack by developers building condos and such. And as I worshipped, my wretched "observer within" clinically watched the priest, who's face struck me as both stern and sad. It struck me suddenly, forcefully, how the child abuse scandal must have hit rank and file priests and nuns who had been faithful to Christ in thier service. Now remember, I am Protestant, and don't believe in the idea of a forced celebacy for priests.

But as I watched him throughout the service, the thought of this one man, this single priest in his vocation, revolved in my head and heart. I was moved deeply. He, like me, was trying to do the will of Jesus Christ. And whether his premise was wrong or not, his sacrifice was real. His sexuality had been gifted to Christ. And here he was, serving this congregation while knowing many of us were looking at him while thinking about child abuse and evil men masquerading as servants of Christ. His own offering was, through the actions of others, thrown into doubt. And he must have felt our eyes collectively on him.

Whether wrong or not, his sacrifice was real.
His sexuality had been gifted to Christ.

Sure, I may have been projecting my own impressions onto the man. Perhaps he was deep in worship, lost in the service himself. Or perhaps he was not at all, and was thinking about a TV show or what he was going to eat or where he was going for Christmas.

But I looked at him, and felt a terrible sadness for him, so much so that I had the momentary urge to offer him words of comfort and support. "But what would you say that wouldn't be misunderstood?" the observer within chided. I chickened out, gutless wonder that I am.

Yet I think of him there, at the front of this church, holding up the chalice and bread and holding within his faith and doubts just like me. By their fruits you will know them. Not all who claim the name Christian are Christian, no matter whether Catholic or Protestant. But all of us can pray for one another, continue our occasional wrestling matches over issues from papal infallibility to birth control, and most of all attempt to exhibit love. After all, that is the fruit Christ says will identify us to the watching world.

So, are Catholics goin' ta hell?

I guess I'd rather ask, Are we?

Monday, August 07, 2006

Keep Israel Lethal: The abortion cooperative continues its work on Christians and Muslims

In light of Israel's bombing today of largely Christian sectors of Beruit, I thought a few more pictoral representations of the Keep Israel Lethal (KIL) abortion cooperative ought to be shown to my fellow American Christians. Remember, though many Democrats also support American weapons and money going to the KIL abortion providers, it is the Republican administration most wholeheartedly in support of the continued export of American instruments of abortion worldwide.

Interestingly, new abortion techniques developed by American geniuses and utilized by KIL in their current Lebanon efforts make difficult operations on pregnant women unnecessary. Both mother and child are aborted with minimal fuss or bother... other than the verbal flatulence necessary from KIL leaders capable of apologizing for killing civilians in one breath, then escalating the bombing of those same civilians in the next breath.

Christian pro-KIL writers such as Tim LaHaye, Jerry Falwell, John Hagee, Gary Bauer and many others should be proud of their support of the ultra-modern abortion techniques now being used on Lebanese pre-born and post-born infants. (Just a suggestion, but wouldn't an End-Times novel featuring KIL as the good guys be a real block-buster?)

Here are more aborted babies from the KIL Abortionists working in Lebanon and their providers in Washington who pay for KIL's state of the art tools. Isn't it wonderful to see the American left and right working together to further the abortion industry worldwide?

Occasionally, as in the above photo, KIL technology can still lead to a botched abortion surviving.
But for those exposed to KIL technology, the more usual result is the above.

Makes one proud to be a KIL funder. Doesn't it?

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Late Term: A Poem for Those Sending Arms to Israel

(Child victim of U.S.-manufactured bombs dropped by Israel on Lebanon.)

Late Term
(or, Why There Is a Hell)

You say “pro life”
Gifting weaponry of death
To others who, like you,
Are in the abortion industry.

Lord have mercy,
Christ have mercy,
Lord have mercy.

I tire of your tirades
Pro-choice for multinationals
City for eye, Country for tooth
Butcher for Gawd.

Lord have mercy,
Christ have mercy,
Lord have mercy.

Beyond all hope
The baby’s body aborted
Late term--too late for human pity
To cry out in remonstrance.

Lord have mercy,
Christ have mercy,
Lord have mercy.

But why should He?
You fold your blood-stained hands
Leave her breasts full of milk
And her heart bereft of life.


What Jesus has to say:

"Then he will say to those on his left, 'Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.'

"They also will answer, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?'

"He will reply, 'Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.'

"Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life."

Matthew 25:41-46, TNIV

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Inconvenient Christians: Al Gore's Movie for Free

Whoa, Nellie! Want to see Al Gore's movie, "Inconvenient Truth," on global warming... tickets for free? Restoring Eden, a group of environmentally concerned Christians, want to help their sisters and brothers see this flick at selected theatres. You gotta love the web page moniker: Inconvenient Christians. Makes me want to start a band.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

A Christian Voice from Lebanon: "Israel was Waiting for an Opportunity"

What is it like to be a Christian in Lebanon, involved in ministry and watching the destruction of the people to whom Christ has sent you? Here is a letter that came into my possession from a Lebanese believer who lived in a westernized nation for a time, but is now back in Lebanon serving Christ. His name and some details are removed for his emotional well being (in light of what happened to another letter-writer who's missive I posted here, I think it a good idea).

Greetings from us here in Lebanon. I knew that this summer was going to be hot but I did not think it was going to be this hot. Nevertheless we are all well, praise God, and in good spirit. But we would appreciate your prayers at this time for Lebanon and the safety of its people as the country is crippled in many ways and in so much danger, not just from Israel but from internal fighting as a result of this war.

Some of you back home have asked what I think of the war. Many of us here feel that Lebanon was taken hostage by Hezbollah who decided to do this on their own bat; this has really hurt the government and many Lebanese who had no say and no desire for war. At the same time many Lebanese feel Israel's great hatred by their overreaction. As I reflect on Israel's overreaction I wish I could remind them of God's word in the O.T. that says "an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth." [1] Hezbollah took an eye by taking the two soldiers but Israel has taken not just the whole body but the whole nation. We know that Israel was waiting for an opportunity and needed an excuse to attack.

What is also funny is all that talk about Israel having the right to defend itself by destroying a whole nation over two soldiers. Have they forgotten what it feels like to be destroyed by Hitler?! Israel was supposed to be a blessing to the nations may it not become a curse. For all the nations must give an account. Our hearts break over the death of hundreds of innocent civilians and to see Lebanon become rubble... this is very unjust.

"Israel was waiting for an opportunity and
needed an excuse to attack."

It is so good to hear from so many of you by phones and emails. We thank you so much for your prayers and encouragement. My wife and the kids are doing fine but cannot wait for the war to stop so they can go places and have some fun before the school holiday finishes. One night we were holding hands to pray as a family for Lebanon and it was my young son’s turn to lead in prayer. He is nearly five, and he prayed this prayer, "Lord please stop the war, I had enough."

The situation here is very uncertain and right now the war looks like taking time and getting much worse. The last ship sent to evacuate us [*] left on Tuesday; we are not going anywhere at this stage because we would like to stay on as long as possible so that we can share Christ with others and encourage those who are fearful (so far we don't feel that there an immediate danger on us where we live). The Lord is opening many doors to share the gospel with others and that is exciting.

The other day the Lord blessed me with a man who was visiting a neighbor of ours. The neighbor called me to come down to his place to encourage this guy who was really struggling with the situation in Lebanon. After a few hours of listening to him I shared the gospel and he made a real commitment to Christ. Now that encouraged and comforted my heart more than anything else in this war.

What great opportunities are always available to the disciples of Jesus who are half awake to the Spirit of missions. God gives a high that is much higher than any ecstasy pill to the one engaged in missional warfare and who sees the captives set free. The Israelis have very powerful bombs that are destroying buildings and turning them into powder. But we have a much more powerful weapon called the gospel which destroys the works of the devil and gives eternal life not death.

We also had a second youth rally about 3 weeks ago and it took place in the south of Lebanon where all the bombing is going on right now close to the Israeli boarder. This was the first time we go there and we got away with it praise God. It is a different place than the city with a very small Christian community and a strong Muslim area.

The Israelis have very powerful bombs... But we have a much more powerful weapon called the gospel which destroys the works of the devil and gives eternal life not death.
We knew there was not going to be a huge turn out because not many people know us and plus it has a small population. But because it is such a neglected area with no gospel outreach I thought it would be good to begin a work there, of encouraging the few little churches and together with them reach out to others.

The outreach went well and we declared the gospel through music and word. About two hundred people turned out with many non-churched people which was more than we expected. I gave a clear salvation message and asked people to pray if they wanted to receive Christ.

We feel a good number of people responded and committed their lives to the Lord. So it was a great start and the people thanked us so much for having Youth Alive there. God willing we will go back there again some other time when it is safe to do so. Regarding the bible college we are on holidays at the moment. We have about eighty displaced people living on our campus at the moment. They are both from Christian and Muslim backgrounds.

We were going to have another Youth Alive rally, this time in the Bekaa valley, but had to cancel it due the heavy bombing in that area. I was also booked to go to Singapore and lecture in evangelism at Haggai Institute but I had to cancel it as well as other speaking engagements in a number of church camps due to the war situation.

Please pray:

1. For the peace of Lebanon, for a cease fire, the displaced and Lebanon's restoration

2. For the Gospel to reach thousands at this time who would not normally listen

3. For our bible college to be effective in reaching those on our campus.

4. For our safety and well being as a family. Yesterday when Israel bombed Beirut we were 15 mins down from our place visiting, and the home we were in shook big time, the sound was the loudest we have ever heard and it was very scary.Once again thank you for all you care. Be all that our Lord has made you for and do not be satisfied with anything less.

Best regards
Your friend in Lebanon

(Foot notes added by bluechristian)
* - The writer is not American, but is a Westerner.
[1] Exo 21:24; Lev 24:20, Deut. 19:21 (and for context) Matt 5:38.

For another good representation of Lebanese Christian, see Christianity Today's "Evangelical Blindness" article.

This article was edited due to an error in the introduction suggesting the letter writer was a westerner; this was untrue and the intro is changed to reflect that fact.

Mel, Anti-Semitism, and Alcohol

Mel Gibson has released a second statement regarding the anti-semitic statements he made during a DUI arrest near Los Angeles. While I can't say he could or should be able to undo the damage done to both his finished work (notably "The Passion of the Christ) and his ongoing ability to make art, (ABC has apparently dropped his planned TV-movie on the Holocaust), Gibson's apparent willingness to go the extra step and meet with Jewish leaders sure can't hurt.

I did have a chat with a friend about the whole thing. His assertion was that Mel was drunk, and that alcohol, not actual anti-semitism, was the cause of Mel's outburst. While it isn't my job to pass judgement on why or how another human being does things (I figure that's God's role), I do believe personally that drunkenness explains only part of why anyone would say such things. The human heart is a place where racial hatred always seems to find fertile soil, whether it is much of the western world's historical abuse of Jews or whether it is current Israeli abuse of Lebanese. Alcohol may allow the genie out of the bottle, but it did have to be there in the first place.

Perhaps one reason I've always feared alcohol myself is the lack of control it creates. Research done years ago for an article on alcohol in Cornerstone magazine, "Liberty, License, and Liquor," further convinced me that alcohol consumption has almost no up side to it. While I cannot (as the article indicates) say drinking is unbiblical, I do believe any Christian who indulges in alcohol consumption should be aware of the risks, public example set for others, and familial example / effects.

I suppose the two lessons I walk away with are these:

1. Continually scour my own heart for signs of any person or class of persons I have begun to revile, disdain, blame, name-call, or dismiss as worthless / less than human. Then fall on my face and repent if I find one/any.

2. Avoid alcohol or other substances which might lead to me not only abusing myself but also abusing (verbally, physically, or via accidents of various kinds) others.

Lord bless Mel in his recovery. And Lord bless the Jews who, not unreasonably, feel the sting of those old anti-semitic ghosts once again.

Here's what Gibson said today in a press release:

There is no excuse, nor should there be any tolerance, for anyone who thinks or expresses any kind of anti-Semitic remark. I want to apologize specifically to everyone in the Jewish community for the vitriolic and harmful words that I said to a law enforcement officer the night I was arrested on a DUI charge.

I am a public person, and when I say something, either articulated and thought out, or blurted out in a moment of insanity, my words carry weight in the public arena. As a result, I must assume personal responsibility for my words and apologize directly to those who have been hurt and offended by those words.

The tenets of what I profess to believe necessitate that I exercise charity and tolerance as a way of life. Every human being is God's child, and if I wish to honor my God I have to honor his children. But please know from my heart that I am not an anti-Semite. I am not a bigot. Hatred of any kind goes against my faith.

I'm not just asking for forgiveness. I would like to take it one step further, and meet with leaders in the Jewish community, with whom I can have a one on one discussion to discern the appropriate path for healing.

I have begun an ongoing program of recovery and what I am now realizing is that I cannot do it alone. I am in the process of understanding where those vicious words came from during that drunken display, and I am asking the Jewish community, whom I have personally offended, to help me on my journey through recovery. Again, I am reaching out to the Jewish community for its help.

I know there will be many in that community who will want nothing to do with me, and that would be understandable. But I pray that that door is not forever closed.

This is not about a film. Nor is it about artistic license. This is about real life and recognizing the consequences hurtful words can have. Its about existing in harmony in a world that seems to have gone mad.