Tag Archives: Old Testament

Roy Moore would bring a scary element to U.S. Senate

I don’t have a vote in Alabama. Whatever I say about that state’s U.S. Senate race is worth, well, damn near nothing to the voters there.

But if Roy Moore gets elected to that state’s Senate seat, then he’s going to be involved in legislation that affects citizens far beyond the Alabama state line.

Moore is the Republican nominee. He beat a sitting senator, Luther Strange, in the Republican primary this week. Strange was appointed to the seat after Jeff Sessions left the Senate to become U.S. attorney general. Moore now is going to run against Democratic nominee Doug Jones, a former federal prosecutor.

Why does Moore give me the heebie-jeebies? He’s a religious zealot, that’s why.

He says homosexuality is an abomination and goes against God’s will. He once said that “homosexual activity” should be made illegal. He operates under the premise that “God’s law” takes precedence over the law of the land. He has said that Muslims should not be allowed to serve in the U.S. Congress; he made that assertion specifically about Rep. Keith Ellison, D-Minn., one of two Muslims now serving in the U.S. House.

He was removed twice as chief justice of the Alabama Supreme Court. The first time was because he removed a Ten Commandments monument from the court’s grounds; the second time was when he refused to obey a U.S. Supreme Court ruling that made gay marriage legal in the United States.

His reasons for both actions? Fealty to the Old Testament.

Moore went to law school, so he knows what the U.S. Constitution says about religion. It declares, among other things, that there shall be “no religious test” required of anyone seeking public office.

If he’s elected to the Senate this fall, he will be required to take an oath that commits him to obeying and defending the Constitution. I feel the need, therefore, to remind Judge Moore that the Constitution is a secular document. 

***

Here’s what I wrote about Moore earlier this year:

‘Ayatollah of Alabama’ seeks U.S. Senate seat

 

Bible gives POTUS authority to blow up the world?

One of the many wonderful aspects of the Bible is that it can be interpreted in countless ways.

My understanding of the Bible I’ve read since childhood is that no one is entirely right or entirely wrong … if they believe in what they are interpreting.

So, when a preacher says that the Bible gives the president of the United States all the authority he needs to blow another nation to bits, well, that’s the preacher’s belief. It doesn’t have to be mine.

The Rev. Robert Jeffress is an avid Donald Trump supporter who went on “Fox and Friends” — the president’s favorite TV show — to proclaim that Romans 13 gives the president justification for attacking North Korea in the wake of that country’s threats to the United States.

I looked up Romans 13 in the Bible on my desk. I scoured through it and I don’t read anything of the sort. Then again, I’m not a biblical scholar. I’ll give Jeffress credit for studying the Bible more than I have. But as I noted already, we ultimately are left to our own value systems to interpret words written thousands of years ago. Believers can differ in their understanding of the holy word.

Some of them take the words literally; others — such as yours truly — take a more interpretive view of its contents. I won’t challenge Rev. Jeffress’s faith. I’ll just stand by a different view of the Bible’s contents.

The Bible I’ve read tells me Jesus Christ preached love and tolerance. I don’t know where he says it’s all right to destroy thousands of human lives because of a political dispute.

Is it in there? Somewhere? I don’t believe it is.

Manmade or cyclical climate change? Doesn’t matter!

Let’s set aside for a moment the debate over whether Earth’s changing climate is the result of human activity or it’s just part of the epochal cycle the planet goes through every few thousand millennia.

I happen to think human beings do play a big part in it. That’s just me.

The bigger issue of the day is this: It doesn’t matter one damn bit!

Whether the planet’s climate is warming because of carbon emissions or deforestation or whether it’s part of Earth’s life cycle, human beings need to do something about it.

Now! Although it might too late.

The Trump administration has just informed the United Nations that the United States is formally withdrawing from the Paris climate accord, joining those two other stalwart nations that didn’t sign the accords in the first place: Nicaragua and Syria.

Earth’s temperature is rising. Sea levels are rising, too. Indeed, the levels will rise even more once a glacier the size of Delaware melts into the ocean; the iceberg broke off of Antarctica recently.

Climate change deniers — led by the current head of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency — insist that there’s nothing we can, or should, do to abate those changes. We have members of our Congress who suggest that since human activity isn’t the cause that human beings shouldn’t be held responsible to slow it down, if not stop it altogether.

The president of the United States calls climate change/global warming a “hoax” perpetrated by China and other great powers seeking to intimidate the U.S. fossil fuel industry.

I keep coming back to a simple, fundamental point: Whatever the cause — cyclical or at human hands — we human beings are the dominant life form on Planet Earth. Old Testament scripture instructs us to “fill the Earth and govern it.”

So, are we going to govern it or are we going to just sit back and let nature’s forces have their way?

Yes, I know that human beings cannot match nature’s power. I know we cannot change the flow of the rivers, or stem the tides that will rise no matter what we do to prevent it.

Human beings, though, can insist we stop decimating our forests, depriving the planet of vegetation that oxygenates our atmosphere; without it, the air fills with CO2 and, by design, grows warmer. It’s that simple.

Will any of that prevent Earth’s climate from changing? Probably not. However, it is better to seek to do something than to do nothing at all. That’s what good stewards of the world we inherited must do.

Yes, pray for the president

perdue

David Perdue is a U.S. senator from Georgia.

I don’t know much about him, other than he’s a Republican and — perhaps because he’s a Southern Republican — he’s probably quite conservative and devout in his faith.

He spoke today to the Faith and Freedom Coalition conference in which he was talking about how we should pray for those in leadership. He mentioned the president, Barack Obama.

“We should pray for the president,” Sen. Perdue said.

Then he mentioned an Old Testament passage to illustrate his point.

“May his days be few,” Perdue said in quoting Psalms 109:8, drawing some cheers and applause from the GOP-friendly audience. It’s a nice passage and, taken by itself, has a light-hearted political twinge to it, which is one of the more fascinating elements of the Bible; one can put many passages into whatever secular context you want.

But wait! This particular Psalm says much more. Here’s what verses 9 through 12 tell us:

“May his children be fatherless and his wife a widow.

“May his children wander about and beg, seeking food far from the ruins they inhabit!

“May the creditor seize all that he has; may strangers plunder the fruits of his toil.

“Let there be none to extend kindness to him, nor any to pity his fatherless children.”

Hmmm. It kind of loses its light-heartedness. Yes?

Secular can mix with the holy

bible-Sunlight

I had an interesting conversation this morning with a young friend, who told me about someone with whom she is close who doesn’t allow her children to celebrate Christmas in a secular fashion.

Why? Well, my friend said, this other person and her husband are devout Christians and want to respect the holy nature of the holiday, which is to celebrate the birth of Jesus. She said they believe allowing the children to climb onto Santa’s lap at the mall and ask him for Christmas gifts takes away from the holiday’s spiritual meaning.

Fine, I said. “But I don’t believe there’s any exclusivity involved here,” I added. My friend agreed.

“You can celebrate both,” I said. Again, she agreed.

I’ll add here that I also believe in both the biblical version of the world’s creation and in evolution. Moreover, the Bible tells us that God created humankind through Adam and Eve, who then produced two sons. As far as I can tell, the Old Testament doesn’t specify that he created only Adam, Eve, Cain and Abel — and left it at that.

My friend did add, though, a rather ironic twist to the tale, which is that the family she mentioned celebrates Halloween, allowing the kids to dress up in costume and go scarf up all the candy they can carry.

I’ll add this thought.

The Jesus I’ve read about in the Bible cherished children and wanted nothing but happiness for them. My sense is that he would approve of a Santa Claus-based celebration — as long as Mom and Dad made sure they understood as well the real intent of the holiday. He might even approve of Halloween and, oh yes, the Easter Bunny.

I am now open to any comments you might have on this subject.

Feel free to weigh in.

 

Pastor speaks out about Trump

Donald-Trump_3372655b

Max Lucado said the following when asked why he has chosen to speak ill of the leading Republican Party presidential candidate.

The pastor said: “In this case, it’s not so much a question about particular policies or strategies about government or even particular opinions. It’s a case of public derision of people. It’s belittling people publicly. It would be none of my business, I would have absolutely no right to speak up except that he repeatedly brandishes the Bible and calls himself a Christian.”

Bingo, preacher!

The San Antonio pastor has written a blistering critique of Donald J. Trump’s candidacy, telling folks that the leading GOP candidate lacks basic decency.

http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2016/february-web-only/why-max-lucado-broke-his-political-silence-for-trump.html?share=8Wdo/u7n2vsdeS8lu12vTFcmUyD6zK//

Trump’s  insults, name-calling, juvenile behavior and utter contempt for others’ sensitivity disqualifies him holding the highest office in the land, Lucado said.

Here is Lucado’s article.

Trump’s fans keep contending that their man “tells it like it is.” They admire his alleged contempt for “political correctness.” They say the political world needs to be shaken up and that, by golly, their guy is the one to do it.

Even if you take away Trump’s acknowledged extramarital affairs, the man is morally unfit for public office, let alone for the office he is seeking.

He denigrates others with cheap shots and snide remarks.

And all the while, he proclaims himself to be a “good Christian.”

Someone needs to guide Trump to the passage in Scripture that talks about the Golden Rule, the one that directs God’s children to treat others they way they would want to be treated.

He would find it in the Old Testament: “You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge against your kinsfolk. Love your neighbor as yourself: I am the Lord.” (Leviticus 19:18)

Basic decency, man.

 

Evolution, Bible not mutually exclusive

What is it with politicians who cannot answer a simple question: Do you believe in evolution?

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, one of a thundering herd of Republicans considering a run for the presidency in 2016, got asked that question in Great Britain.

He punted on it. Actually, he choked on it. Neither result is surprising given that he needs to curry favor with the evangelical wing of his political party.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/the-fix/wp/2015/02/12/scott-walker-dodged-a-question-on-evolution-that-was-dumb-but-not-for-the-reason-you-think/

Actually, I’ve never quite gotten the notion that evolution and the biblical theory of creation are mutually exclusive.

I long have held the view that one can believe in both ideas: that the world evolved over billions of years and that God orchestrated its evolution.

The Book of Genesis talks about how God created the world in six days and then rested on the seventh day. As one who believes in the presence of God, I’ve never quite bought the notion that the “days” mentioned in the Bible are days as we’ve come to know them as human beings. I long have held the view that biblical “days” can be measured in almost any increment we choose.

I get that the Bible doesn’t acknowledge the existence of prehistoric creatures or the existence of human beings in any form other than what is mentioned in Genesis or any of the books that follow through the Old and New testaments.

From my standpoint, that doesn’t discount the existence of those creatures or of prehistoric hominids.

So, Gov. Walker cannot answer the question about evolution because he fears some backlash by evangelicals? Come on. You can believe in both elements of creation. The way I read Scripture, they aren’t mutually exclusive.

 

Let's not cherry-pick Scripture

Read this editorial carefully. It’s a brief but brilliant lecture on how politicians shouldn’t selectively quote Scripture to make a cheap political point.

http://www.beaumontenterprise.com/opinions/editorials/article/Gov-Perry-s-view-reflects-poorly-on-all-of-us-5974944.php

The target of this opinion from the Beaumont Enterprise is the lame-duck Texas governor, Rick Perry, who told the Washington Post that Scripture tells us there always will be poor folks. As the Enterprise noted, Perry’s comment to the Post is just another way of saying “What’s the use?” in helping the poor.

The editorial also notes that Jesus possibly was referring to an Old Testament reference that calls on us to reach out and help the poor whenever possible.

Conservatives and liberals alike have this annoying habit of turning to the Holy Word and cherry-picking passages, taking them out context, and turning them into their political ammunition to fire at their adversaries. Conservatives use the Bible to argue against gay rights, abortion rights and whether to teach evolution in public schools. Liberals use the Bible to argue for helping the poor.

I’ve always been leery of those who keep citing Scripture — Old and New Testament alike. It’s always good to examine all of what Jesus told his followers or what the prophets were saying many centuries before Jesus Christ’s birth.

Gov. Perry’s misuse of a biblical statement is just one more example that we must not follow.