Why #MerryChristmasStarbucks is Everything Wrong with American Christianity

A few days ago, former pastor Joshua Feuerstein posted a video announcing a campaign against Starbucks due to their switch from festive holiday cups in previous years to a new plain red look for the 2015 holiday season. In the video, Feuerstein claims that Starbucks wanted to “take Christ and Christmas off of their brand new cups” because, […]

https://nathanielscottlake.wordpress.com/2015/11/08/why-merrychristmasstarbucks-is-everything-wrong-with-american-christianity/

An open letter to lawmakers

To those who govern and those who make legislation,

What purpose does it serve you to discriminate against those whom you are sworn to serve? Or to encourage and support those who would do so?

First of all, your oaths of office are to serve your states, counties, countries, cities … not select portions of it, but all of it. Seems to me, you’ve an obligation to all of them, minority or not, rich or poor, LGBTQIA+ or not, it doesn’t matter.

Then there’s the simple fun fact that you’re an elected official. Seems to me that running on a platform of hatred, oppression, discrimination, etc. may help in the short run, if you can stir up enough of one crowd and hope more of them can get to the polls (or somehow discourage the rest from making it to them) than those whom you’ve just campaigned to alienate. Once in office you have to hope your vitriolic efforts don’t push too far and alienate even those who once supported you.

Most importantly, it’s just self destructive. What good is it to legislate or govern a state that is destitute? What worthwhile businesses will a state, city, county, country, or what have you attract if that place is doing all it can to tell people they aren’t welcome here? Worse, what businesses will want to be beholden to the laws of a place that might be so two-faced as to claim to be welcoming but then is exclusionary in practice?

Businesses want the best and brightest. Most have learnt that this means accepting people for who they are so that they aren’t missing out on some brilliant individual who will help them to turn over that almighty profit. They won’t find their best and brightest in a place that drives them off, that discourages them moving there in the first place, and so on.

Alabama and other states fighting so hard to block marriage equality? You might want to stop and realise how foolish you look.

Georgia, Texas, and others trying to pass “right to discriminate” laws? Oh, you’ll attract some businesses with that, but not the kind you’re liable to be terribly proud of: places that’ll be in constant litigation over wage theft and other labour abuses looking for one less thing they can get sued for.

Uganda and other places trying to actually criminalise people being themselves? Newsflash, this isn’t the Dark Ages; we’ve broken the sound barrier and walked on the moon! Can’t we get over such archaic lunacy? Certainly not too many companies are liable to want to do business somewhere that is stuck in the 10th century.

It doesn’t just have to be sexuality or gender identity. How about women? The poor? True, if no one is treating a demographic well then you’ve nothing to worry about; but that’s not the case. When every Carolinian who can is headed to California, Vermont … or Americans headed for Switzerland, Norway …

Taxes! Your money. Where will it come from? You want people to want to stay, and to want to come. You want people to have jobs that pay them well. Conservative politicians may not have realised it, but the 19th century is over, and with it the viability of a system ruled and owned by a small elite over an enslaved majority. That can work in agrarian societies, feudalism or its analogues, but today that just won’t fly. What makes money isn’t pigs and corn, chickens and beets … it’s money, it’s commerce. Industry, even, in the end is commerce.

Commerce doesn’t work if people haven’t jobs. Jobs are worthless if there’s no money. Do you really think it wise to encourage unemployment by acting rashly?

Yes, you have constituents who believe a woman’s place is in the home and by an extension of “logic” that is more than a little meandering shouldn’t earn the same as men (and which has apparently, blissfully, started not to be argued … now it’s sticking to weird political slants), that marriage is defined thus, that [race] are God’s special ones … you’ve also constituents who believe their sofa talks to them. All of them have the right to believe that – in most democracies, anyhow, and it’s a good idea to push for it in places that don’t – but the rest of us have the right not to be subject to that by the same freedoms. I mean, barring ones where being non-Muslim is illegal, even Islamic states with the Quran enshrined in their constitution draw a line where non-Muslims aren’t subject to that holy book except where ideas overlap (e.g. No Stealin’!!). Just as you would not seriously pass legislation that sofas are citizens with rights et al you shouldn’t take seriously those who, no matter their numbers, would argue beliefs as law.

You want to legislate holy books? How about “judge not”? How about charity? How about hospitality? How about Man was made to be the stewards of this world? All of those come from the Christian Bible that so many who are fond of legislating intolerance seem inclined to cite … funny how the same ones legislate against social aid programs, environmental protections, equality, immigration … then again, those same voices do all they can to defund education; funny, the American South tried banning slaves being literate, even for a time before that tried to not let the slaves be Christian at all in order to keep them knowing about things like the book of Exodus. I suppose shouting the Old Testament to people who can’t make heads nor tails of the New Testament works, but to what purpose?

Have you a plan for what to do with these people? Certainly not hire them, even the good straight Christians are now illiterate & useless as employees beyond the most menial tasks. Not have them in your cities; you’ve done all you can to criminalise being broke and/or homeless … even if you regressed things to an Antebellum society, are you ready to live in an age of outhouses, woodstoves, gas lamps, and horsedrawn buggies? Today’s society was built by, for, and with a middle class enjoying freedom and economy for leisure … they sent their children to colleges, bought cars and computer, they watched movies, listened to radios …

No sirs, madams, and others … conservatives who want to maintain a status quo that no longer exists must, therefore, push for regression; and regression is always harmful. History teaches us this; the Dark Ages didn’t get their name from a candles shortage or some solar calamity. They were a regression from a time of high literacy, education that permitted the building and maintaining of such things as flushing toilets, hot & cold running water, widespread international (and intercontinental) trade, effective medicines and surgeries, and more. Put bluntly: for a few centuries, most of Europe had lost the fork.

Conservativism has a place. It’s good for society to have a voice that says “hold on, now, is this change good? Or is it just change for the sake of change?” Fiscal conservativism doubly so, except today’s fiscal conservatives less often ask “General/President/Congressman, just where in Hell do you expect to find the money for this idea?” and, instead, are more inclined to cut specific spending, but hand blank cheques over to other sorts … often much more expensive sorts.

It’s all related. Is it worth spending so much to defend state laws & amendments that should never have been taken seriously enough to have made it to a ballot in the first place? Defending it costs money. It’s bad press: businesses looking askance at your environment & thinking they can attract better talent elsewhere (whoops, there goes various tax & license funds). It’s that much less work for existing business (more marriages means more caterers and florists get work!). It’s that much more spent on welfare to take care of children waiting to be adopted. It’s lost spending by people who leave, never move to, or never want to visit.

It is said that evil carries the seed of its own downfall. What can be more evil than hatred, whether you choose to dress it in fancy clothes and call it discrimination or not, it is what it is. And denial of rights or denial that what is being withheld is a right is intolance, discrimination, in a word: hate.  Look at World War II Germany … perhaps, if the Nazis hadn’t been so eager to round up Jews, gays, and others it would have been they who had the first atom bombs; it was more than a few of their scientists who helped the US invent the thing, after all.

Simple point of note: history remembers Lincoln freeing the slaves, and that Lyndon Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act. No one knows the names of those who put the slaves in their chains, and in the Biblical story of Moses the oppressor was a villain and liberator a hero. Who is recalled more kindly? Dr Martin Luther King or Chancellor Adolf Hitler? Ghandi or Genghis Khan?

Your place in history was recorded the day people took to the polls. What role will you play in history’s narrative? Hero or villain? Saint or sinner? Healer or murderer? Bringer of peace or of war?

Maybe it’s time to look around and see that there’s a bigger world, a bigger picture, than your campaign podium and your biggest contributers, because shortsightedness could cost you personally, will almost certainly affect your children, is all but guaranteed to affect their children, and their children have no choice but to face the consequences of our actions today. Remember that Reconstruction, after the American Civil War, was a slew of rash decisions that came to a head almost exactly 100 years later.

Good day.
Ms Jaye Edgecliff

Happy New Year

Buddha in Sarnath Museum (Dhammajak Mutra) Loc...

Buddha in Sarnath Museum (Dhammajak Mutra) Location:Sarnath Museum, India. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Well, unless I’m doing bad math, I’m pretty sure it is now 2015 across the entire surface of the Earth.

I don’t know about where you’re from, but here there’s a tradition to make New Year’s Resolutions.  I don’t really know why, because it’s also pretty traditional to never actually meet any of these lofty goals.

Still I’m going to make a realistic approach to it:

1) I will get book 3 finished, get started on its editing, and hopefully make a go at book 4 before 2016
2) I will spend more time at the lake staring out over the water thinking about absolutely nothing whatsoever.
3) I will make headway on this 50lbs I really should lose if I want to be able to wear more of the styles of clothes I actually like.

There. That about does it.

While we’re at it, though, I think we ought to all look back at 2014 and the tragedies it held and make a resolution, as a species, to prevent such things from ever happening again.

Things like Leelah Alcorn’s suicide, the mess in Uganda, anything related to LGBT & Russia, various wars and invasions that took place (didn’t Russia invade Poland for some reason?  There’s the whole thing with ISIL, etc.), I could keep going but how about we just sum it up that maybe now that it’s the year we’re supposed to have Mr Fusion, flying DeLoreans, and self fitting clothing … maybe now would be a good time to get around to listening to the likes of Jesus, Buddha, and others who all said “Be excellent to each other”.

Maybe today is a good time to remember some things …

I can think of few religions that don’t highly value kindness, compassion, hospitality, and other words that boil down to:  be a decent person.

Oh, true, the ancient religions didn’t always preclude the ideas of raping and pillaging those you conquered, but they were generally supposed to be nice to each other, which is not a great start, but it’s a start.

Today is, ostensibly, the birthday of Jesus, a man who legend tells us was nailed to a cross for saying “Why don’t we try being nice to each other for a change?”  So what if scholars say he was probably born in the spring or summer, or that he was probably tried and convicted of political dissonance (fancy talk for trying to incite a riot on political grounds), and that there’s a curious lack of historical records that the Romans executed him?  Jesus may have lived or not, may have done all that’s said in the Bible or not, and He may or may not be a fictional character meant to prove a point.  Who cares, a good point is a good point (Matthew 22:36-40, KJV):

36 “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”

37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’[a]38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’[b] 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

While I do hope we all got what we wished for, and I do hope we are all surrounded by those we love and about to enjoy a fine big meal, let us remember in our hearts and prayers that some are denied, still, their wish:  to love as they love and to be left to do it in peace; to marry and tell the world that they love, and are committed in heart and soul to one another; and those in places like Russia and Uganda who can denied life or freedom just for who they love.

Two wonderful posts from Rachel Held Evans blog:

If my son or daughter were gay…

Content Warning: intense depictions of bullying, suicide 

So someone shared this short film with me last week and I haven’t been able to get it out of my mind.

The creative premise is a world in which homosexuality is the norm and heterosexual people are bullied and marginalized. I’m not sure the film even needs such a premise to be effective, (in fact, it may distract from the main point a bit…and I hate to think there are people who need it to be reversed in order to empathize), for what really moved me was its depiction of bullying, which is based on real reports from LGBT kids.

(continued @ http://rachelheldevans.com/blog/son-daughter-gay)

And

Everyone’s a Biblical Literalist Until You Bring Up Gluttony

…Or divorce, or gossip, or slavery, or head coverings, or Jesus’ teachings on nonviolence, or the “abomination” of eating shellfish and the hell-worthy sin of calling other people idiots.

Then we need a little context.

Then we need a little grace.

Then we need a little room to disagree.

I got to thinking about this after I was criticized last week for my post about loving gay kids unconditionally. Some folks were very upset that I had the audacity write an entire blog post about putting a stop to LGBT bullying without including a Bible-based condemnation of LGBT people, or at least a theological discussion around the issue of homosexuality and Scripture.

Bible verses were quoted.  Open letters were written. End Times predictions were made.  Pillows in my home were thrown record distances.

(continued at http://rachelheldevans.com/blog/literalist-gluttony)

Whether you follow Christ or Buddha, Muhammad or Isis, Brahma or Ahura Mazda, Aine or Freya … even if you only believe in the power of the human spirit, don’t forget that every now and then we ought to remember to send our thoughts and our hopes for those who are less fortunate than ourselves.  The poor, the downtrodden, the oppressed, the persecuted … Sometimes, if we look around at what suffering others face, it might turn out that we’re better off than we believed.

Happy Christmas & New Year

chirstmas twinkle

chirstmas twinkle (Photo credit: jewell willett)

Editing of Love or Lust has slowed due to the holidays.  It should pick back up after New Years.

Writing of Ready or Not has slowed because of chaos at work and home and some of it’s the holidays.  I’m typing it, though, which is good.  I’d more than doubled the word count without typing a single syllable of it.

Well, peace, love and good wishes to all until next year!

God in Heaven! Progress?!

Well, as can be seen the blog shows signs of being worked on.
I’m, frankly, rather proud of myself. It’s amazing what gets accomplished when we stop sitting around not wanting to do them and praying they’ll just do themselves.

Now & Forever‘s first book, Love or Lust, has been given to my editor. If she can do this one quickly it could be out as early as July, or as late (in theory) as December.