Nov. 25-26, 2006, weekend
November 25, 2006
My former Kansas City Star colleague Matt Scofield reports from Turkey that Muslims there aren't especially hopeful about the pope's upcoming visit. Should they be?
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NAMING NAMES OF RELIGIOUS OPPRESSORS
Uzbekistan says it should not be on an official U.S. list of countries that are intolerant of religious freedom. Well, maybe, but I'm thinking the U.S. is right in this case. When I was in Uzbekistan in 2002, Western diplomatic sources told me and other journalists that the country had about 6,500 people in prison primarily for being too religious -- that is, giving public expression to conservative religious (mostly Islamic) traditions. Some of those 6,500 were, of course, simply bad guys, terrorists who are part of the fanatic Islamic movement. But a Human Rights Watch worker told us that most of them are imprisoned wrongly. At the same time, however, we discovered Christian missionaries from Korea at work in Uzbekistan seeking converts.
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PAYING ATTENTION AS WINTER NEARS
The Buddhists tell us to be mindful.
It's wonderful advice, but it's hard to practice all the time.
We forget to look around us, forget to taste what we're eating, to notice the texture of the world around us.
We just live, just survive.
So from time to time, I like to wander around my yard and my neighborhood and simply notice things, simply practice being mindful. Every religious tradition urges adherents to pay attention to -- and care for -- the creation.
But that's not easy to do if you aren't mindful of what's in the creation.
So today, I simply give you some photos of what I was mindful of as I took a walk the other day, and I urge you to be mindful of the beauty all around you, even as we move toward a season of death, a season of slowing down and renewing ourselves for what the new year and its spring will offer to us.
To read my latest Kansas City Star work, click here.
Today''s religious holidays: Christ the King (Christian, 26th); Day of the Covenant (Baha'i, 26th)
Re: Religious Oppressors
Kettle (USA) calling Teapot (others) Black.
Until our Government removes "In God We Trust" on our money. Until our Government removes "Under God" from our Pledge. Until our Government acknowledges that placing the Creche, the Cross, the Menorrah on public grounds is an affront to religious sensibilities. Until the mosques of this country are no longer under Government surveillance. Until the Government ceases to abuse its powers (the IRS) in attempting to limit or censure religious thought or teachings. Only THEN can we lay claim to the title of Religious Freedom...and thusly capable of judging others.
Posted by: D.A. | November 25, 2006 at 07:01 AM
And Thank You for the lovely pictures! My wife and I frequently go on photo shoots - she's a very good photographer, I'm "lucky"!
Our philosophy has become shoot what you find, not what you're looking for.
Posted by: D.A. | November 25, 2006 at 07:03 AM
Bill, you wrote a nice column about Haggard and his homosexuality. Hope he can adjust his Lifestyle to his sexuality.
In the 1980s when Homosexuals were coming out of the closet, Art Hoppe wrote a humorous column in a So. KC. paper. He visioned Asexuals coming out of the closet, with A bars, A motels, etc.
When he stated a question, can an Asexual succeed in his profession, the answer was "Is the Pope Catholic?"
There are Asexuals today and some have web sites.
Jesus and others at his time were Asexuals, even though they had body birth. They tried to set up a new Lifestyle for Humans, with Equality and Equal Sharing for All.
When is Asexuality going to be acknowledged as a sexual category for Humans, instead of celibate? Many monks and nuns could be in this category.
I think this would help Old Maid Aunts and Old Batchelor Uncles, that were not homosexuals, and not wanting to marry, have a better Lifestyle, and not be thought of as weird.
Adam and Eve were Asexual Humans, they were not reproduced by Body Birth.
They became Heterosexuals when they reproduced Cain and Abel, and all the sexual categories were a result of Body Birth. Also killers, abusers, pedifiles, etc., were geneticly mis-born also.
Now we are up to reproducing without the Heterosexual sex act, making a fetus in a dish and removing some genetic defects, and putting it in the female womb. So we know there is a High Tech Science Way of reproducing, like Adam and Eve were made.
Supernatural in the Bible and Myth is High Tech Science.
It time for society to acknowledge there is an Asexual cateogry for Humans as well as all the other categories beside Heterosexual, that are a result of Body Birth. Asexuality tendencies in marriage also causes problems.
Bill, Hope in time you could write a column about Asexuality. You seem to be able to explain things and make them easily understood.
Peace and Jesus' Asexual Agape Love.
Posted by: Dolores Lear | November 25, 2006 at 07:18 AM
Bill, while I doubt those who view homosexuality as one of mankind's greatest sins will be swayed, you have a wonderful column in this morning's paper.
Reading the State Department's report on Uzbekistan, I came across this: "The [Uzbek] Government's campaign against extremist Muslim groups resulted in numerous serious human rights abuses..." I thought that extermist Muslims were our enemy in Iraq, Afghanistan and in the "War on Terror," the reason we have Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo and secret prison facilities scattered thoughout the world.
Posted by: Keith | November 25, 2006 at 08:54 AM
Good morning, and great post, Dolores. Whether I agree or not, you always make me think. And usually smile at the little pearls you scatter in your writing.
Posted by: Keith | November 25, 2006 at 09:01 AM
Keith, thanks for pointing us to Bill's column on Ted Haggard. I would have missed it on this busy, tree-decorating Saturday. I like the way you phrased your hope that Haggard can "adjust his lifestyle to his sexuality."
I also liked Bill's phrase: "a gay man of faith." I hope that that can be said over and over and over again, until the public gets used to it.
Posted by: Dave Miller | November 25, 2006 at 09:48 AM
Oops again! It looks like that was you who originally pointed us to Bill's column, Dolores, and your phrase. Thank you!
Posted by: Dave Miller | November 25, 2006 at 09:49 AM
Thank you Bill for your column this morning. You always have a way of saying what I am thinking--only better. My first reaction to Haggard’s situation was that he needed to get counseling from Mel White. The last person who should be counseling him is James Dobson. But he was too busy. Isn't that interesting?
Posted by: Audrey | November 25, 2006 at 09:58 AM
I second (or third or forth?) the kudos on the Haggard commentary.
Bill's statement: "But what if Haggard is simply wrong about thinking that part of his life is “repulsive and dark”?" reminded me of an opinion piece in a recent USA Today. That piece - written by a Baptist minister - posed the question "What if Christian leaders are wrong about homosexuality?"
Among the author's points:
As a former "the Bible says it, I believe it, that settles it" kind of guy, I am sympathetic with any Christian who accepts the Bible at face value. But here's the catch. Leviticus is filled with laws imposing the death penalty for everything from eating catfish to sassing your parents. If you accept one as the absolute, unequivocal word of God, you must accept them all.
For many of gay America's loudest critics, the results are unthinkable. First, no more football. At least not without gloves. Handling a pig skin is an abomination. Second, no more Saturday games even if you can get a new ball. Violating the Sabbath is a capital offense according to Leviticus. For the over-40 crowd, approaching the altar of God with a defect in your sight is taboo, but you'll have plenty of company because those menstruating or with disabilities are also barred.
The truth is that mainstream religion has moved beyond animal sacrifice, slavery and the host of primitive rituals described in Leviticus centuries ago. Selectively hanging onto these ancient proscriptions for gays and lesbians exclusively is unfair according to anybody's standard of ethics. We lawyers call it "selective enforcement," and in civil affairs it's illegal.
The entire opinion piece is located here:
Posted by: kayceewolf | November 25, 2006 at 10:00 AM
Better yet, Dave, would be when Bill could write of Haggard, "a person of faith" and "man" and "gay" needn't be such defining characteristics.
I remember 30 years ago when Jimmy Carter gave the "I have lusted in my heart" interview to Playboy magazine. For the barrage of grief he got over that phrase, he was never called "a striaght man of faith." Then, too, I'm old enough to remember when "gay" meant happy. "I feel pretty/Oh, so pretty,/I feel pretty/And witty and gay!" Maybe it was because "straight man" was associated with Dean Martin?
Posted by: Keith | November 25, 2006 at 10:11 AM
Bill I like to print out the comments and they are not printing today, nor part of your remarks.
Thanks if they can be fixed.
Posted by: Dolores Lear | November 25, 2006 at 10:29 AM
Gee, I'm glad Buzz the Baptist minister got space in USA Today bring up the same old tired excuses about why those who believe homosexuality is wrong...are wrong.
Folks like Buzz can't understand why Christians don't follow the Jewish dietary laws.
Uh, Buzz, we're not Jewish!
One would think even a Baptist minister like Buzz should have figured that out by now. Buzz needs to go back to Bible school and study the New Testament.
People like Buzz love to trot out the Book of Leviticus and make fun of everything in it. I wonder how this makes Jewish people who still try to live under the Old Testament law feel?
Buzz evidently loves to mock and make fun of God with his smart-aleck, derisve remarks about pigskins and football, shellfish, etc. Hee, hee. Haw, haw.
I wonder who will have the last laugh...Buzz or God?
Buzz really should not mock God and His word, for
"It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God." Hebrews 10:31
Posted by: Ron | November 25, 2006 at 11:19 AM
"People like Buzz love to trot out the Book of Leviticus and make fun of everything in it."
But one of Buzz's asute points is that no one was trotting out Leviticus until the anti-gay crowd latched on to a "proof text" there. He writes: "The truth is that mainstream religion has moved beyond animal sacrifice, slavery and the host of primitive rituals described in Leviticus centuries ago."
In fact, I would argue that Jesus moves beyond Leviticus.
But the problem for the proof-texters is that verse in Leviticus can't be trotted out without trotting out the whole thing. As Buzz points out, it's the proof-texters who are "The Bible says it, I believe it, and that settles it" kinda people.
Well...the Bible says lots of things, including things that made Gallileo look wrong. Does that settle it?
Posted by: Dave Miller | November 25, 2006 at 12:04 PM
Ron, what portions of the Bible do you feel support the position that homosexuality is wrong?
Posted by: openmind | November 25, 2006 at 12:18 PM
Society has determined that sex between two adults who don't happen to be married to anyone at the time is not wrong.
Society has determined that masturbation is healthy and natural, and not wrong.
Society has determined that living together outside of marriage is not wrong.
Society has determined that having a baby "out-of-wedlock" to use the old-fashioned phrase, is not wrong.
Society has determined that senior citizens living together outside of marriage in order to maximize their social security income is not wrong.
Society has determined that homosexual sex is not wrong.
What does the Bible say about these things? Does anyone see a trend here?
Posted by: Ron | November 25, 2006 at 12:31 PM
Dave, I'm really not that familiar with Leviticus. As you probably know, many consider it bad form to base a doctrine solely on an Old Testament verse. I agree with that. I don't like "proof-texting." Knowing all that you know about God, do you really believe homosexual sex is a blessing from God? For what purpose would God have created homosexual sex and declared it "good."
Posted by: Ron | November 25, 2006 at 01:06 PM
"Knowing all that you know about God..."
I'm flattered that you said that, Ron...but of course God is as great a mystery to me as to you. With you, I believe God is revealed most clearly to us in the form of a human being: Jesus Christ (as we are about to celebrate at Christmas). That is an essential distinction from Islam, which holds that God's highest revelation is in the form of a book (if I understand it correctly).
"...do you really believe homosexual sex is a blessing from God?" I believe homosexuality is the same gift from God which heterosexuality is. Our sexuality is a kind of God-given "magnet" which attracts us to another person. It is the relationship between two people which becomes blessed or sacred.
In Christianity (and perhaps in Judaism, too...I don't know) the life-long commitment between two people is seen as a visible sign of the relationship between God and God's people. God chose Abraham and blessed him to be a blessing to others. God established a covenant: "I will be your God, and you will be my people." Abraham entered into this covenant with God. Although Israel broke the covenant again and again, God remained faithful to Israel, as this history unfolds from Abraham on, in the Hebrew Scriptures.
The act of having sex--whether homosexual or heterosexual--is "sin" when its sole purpose is "using another person" in the service of erotic, self-serving pleasure. It becomes a blessing when it subserves higher, enduring values which mirror the relationship between God and God's people.
I hope that responds adequately to your question, Ron. If not, please let me know...
Posted by: Dave Miller | November 25, 2006 at 04:10 PM
The list you gave of things not considered wrong today are the fruits of Heterosexual Mis-bred Body Birth. Now I come along and say Body Birth reproduction is also wrong, and give Heterosexual something else to be upset about. All these other sins you listed are the result of Body Birth, plus Killing.
Heterosexual is not the best category of Humans. High Tech Pure-bred Asexual is.
Psalm 51:5. KJV. Behold, I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me."
1John 3:8-9. KJV. "He that committeth sin is of the devil; for the devil sinneth from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil. Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for his seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God."
Withour High Tech Science knowledge these verses could not be understood, as reproduction sex was the only way to reproduce.
But the rules to control the male seed was not followed, and pleasure sex took over.
In the last 100 years, Man has 'evolved' up to the High Tech Science Knowledge of Colonization of a planet and the High Tech reproduction of a person and also had a population explosion.
So far, we make a fetus in a dish, take out some of the inherited genetic traits, and put it in the female.
Now we need to 'evolve' up to the High Tech Womb, that was used to make Adam and Eve. We are descendents from the God(s) that looked like Humans. They were Higher 'Beings' because of High Tech Science.
The way we are re-finding out about a High Tech Society, is knowing Earth was Colonized and Man was reproduced in a High Tech Womb in the Garden of Eden.
When the Bible is translated with High Tech it will prove that High Tech was on Earth in the beginning, and the Man Gods and Angels were our HTA.
It is prophecied that Man will know this before they blow up their Home planet with their Nuclear weapons, at 'Arm'ageddon.
I still do not understand with our High Tech Science, why Man does not want to Share the resources of Earth Equally, and insists on Killing their Brothers/Sisters of Life.
Hope we start following the Prince of Peace soon.
Peace and Jesus' Asexual Agape Love.
Posted by: Dolores Lear | November 25, 2006 at 05:14 PM
"I believe homosexuality is the same gift from God which heterosexuality is. Our sexuality is a kind of God-given "magnet" which attracts us to another person. It is the relationship between two people which becomes blessed or sacred."
Dave, I guess my question can be narrowed down to this: God created man and woman. He created the sexual attraction between them primarily for procreation purposes (Of course, it is not wrong for a man and a woman to enjoy their sexual relationship). This is obvious and supportable in the Bible.
Those who believe homosexual relationships
are not wrong want to equate it to heterosexual relationships, just as you did. Instead of saying "man and a woman," they say, as you did, "between two people." Is there anyplace in the Bible that you can point to that indicates God holds in high esteem and places great import on a lifetime commitment and bond between two people of the same sex, as he obviously does between a man and a woman? What interest would God have in insuring that two men or two women were bonded together for a lifetime in the same way he has an interest in insuring that a man and a woman are bonded together for a lifetime?
Is there anyplace in the Bible you can point to that indicates it's just as important to God that two men or two women bond together sexually and for a lifetime, as it is important for a man and a woman to bond together sexually?
It seems to me that people who argue homosexuality is exactly the same as, and on a par with, heterosexuality insofar as God is concerned, are making an argument that can't be supported theologically.
"...Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, 'Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh'?
You asked me, "what portions of the Bible do you feel support the position that homosexuality is wrong?" There are a number of them in both the Old Testament and the New Testament. What portions of the Bible do you believe support the position that homosexuality is equal to heterosexulity in the sight of God?
Posted by: Ron | November 25, 2006 at 07:59 PM
The two flesh that become one is the child, in Heterosexual sex, not the male and female.
When we can accept High Tech Pure-bred reproduction, each male and female has their own clone, and there is no closer relationship than that.
We are up to the High Tech Science to see the possibilities of a perfect soul mate, like Adam and Eve were in the beginning. Eve was cloned from Adam's rib. With Eternal Physical Life they are always One.
The only difference on a High Tech Planet there is no family set up like on Earth. Each Perfect Pair of the population never die, and so All are Soul Mates and Equal Brothers/Sisters.
They are always compatable. not like on Earth where the different genetic makeup causes problems, and differences.
Peace and Jesus' Asexual Agape Love
Posted by: Dolores Lear | November 25, 2006 at 08:14 PM
Hi, Ron. You wrote: “Dave, I guess my question can be narrowed down to this:”
To what, please, Ron? You say you’re “narrowing it down.” Please do. I’ll do my best to answer the expanded questions you asked...but if you had to be succinct, what would the question be, please?
“God created man and woman. He created the sexual attraction between them primarily for procreation purposes”
Really? I don’t see anything at all about sexual attraction in Genesis 1. I do see, as you said, God’s command to “be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it.”
Interestingly, this issue came up during the reformation. The reformers argued that a celibate priesthood went against God’s command to “be fruitful and multiply.” But the Catholics argued, five hundred years ago, that God’s command to “fill the earth and subdue it” had already been fulfilled, so no longer applied. That was five hundred years ago, when the population of the earth was a fraction of what it is now...which is nearly six billion people. Six billion people! Would anyone argue today that the command has not already been fulfilled?
“(Of course, it is not wrong for a man and a woman to enjoy their sexual relationship). This is obvious and supportable in the Bible.”
I agree with you, Ron, but I hope you realize that not every Christian does. St. Paul, for example, advised that “it is good for a man not to touch a woman” (1 Cor. 7:1). So why should only heterosexuals enjoy their sexual relationship, and not homosexuals?
Another issue, as you well know, is that more than one marriage is not supportable in the Bible. Yet Christian heterosexuals have found a way to accomodate to our real, fallen world, so that companionship and sexuality can be enjoyed, even though the ideal of a single, life-long marriage cannot be achieved.
You also said, “Is there anyplace in the Bible you can point to that indicates it's just as important to God that two men or two women bond together sexually and for a lifetime, as it is important for a man and a woman to bond together sexually?”
No. But as I’ve said many times on this blog, “homosexuality” was not even identified until the 19th century. So we can’t expect the biblical writers to address something which would have been foreign to their audience.
The bottom line, Ron, is that if you wish it, you can find justification to oppose the normalization of homosexual relationships. But why wish it? Why not be as inclusive and welcoming as Jesus was? Given that our sexual orientation is "a given," why do you wish to exclude persons who have no choice but to choose what they have been given?
You can, of course, choose to reject committed, loving homosexual realtionships. But it seems to me that doing so "in the name of Christ" is an oxymoron.
Posted by: Dave Miller | November 25, 2006 at 09:10 PM
"What does the Bible say about these things? Does anyone see a trend here?"
Ron, the trend I see is that as our knowledge of sexual issues increases, the "logic" for many of the archaic biblical rules decreases.
Take masturbation, for example. We now know that conception requires not just the sperm from a man, but the egg from a woman as well. In biblical times it was believed that a man's sperm contained a tiny version of a person. He only needed to "plant" this tiny person in a woman's womb for it to develop into a baby. For that reason, masturbation was looked upon with the same horror pro-life groups view abortion. Both were considering considering "killing babies."
Even if you cite the storyof Onan who "spilled his seed upon the ground," does that mean God smote him for masturbation, engaging in coitus interuptus ... or was God angry that Onan disobeyed his instructions?
Likewise our understanding of homosexuality has changed. It's now generally accepted that it is an innate orientation, not just a specific behavior. In biblical times there was not concept of homosexuality. It was assumed that all people were heterosexual and to behave otherwise was a matter of choice.
Why view some portions of biblical text as a literal enduring truth, but revise other views based on new learning and discoveries(ie. the heliocentric universe, the immorality of slavery, or even stoning disobedient children)?
Posted by: kayceewolf | November 25, 2006 at 11:08 PM
I don't think you give God enough credit. He's smarter than you think He is.
You act as though the Bible is an out-of-date textbook or something.
Masturbation, fornication, and other sexual sin is a product of lust. Lust is the same today as it was 2,000 years ago. Nothing's changed. Everything is the same for us as it was for them.
God does not change. He's the same yesterday, today, and forever.
Posted by: Ron | November 26, 2006 at 01:11 AM
Ron, I have to envy the adamance of your faith sometimes.
I seem to repeatedly be wrestling with reconciling my faith with ALS, cerebral palsy, Tay-Sach's Alzheimer's, blindness, deafness, etc., not to mention common human behavior. Jonah and platitudes fail to soothe my mind or my heart.
Why, oh Lord, why?
In a world so plagued with random afflictions and variations from the "norm," why would or should I see homosexuality as any different? If we are all God's creation, why is THIS creation a sin? Is the child of God that knows, pre-puberty, he or she is attracted to the same sex a sinner, while the sufferer of cystic fibrosis a saint? Does one have more control than the other?
The faith of some seems to decree so. My experience and knowledge of gays and lesbians refutes that. Why is your lust and desire for a woman acceptable while my friend Steve's identical feelings a man worthy of condemnation?
Why is homosexuality anathema but sickle cell anemia isn't? After all, homosexuality is by definition self-limiting.
I pity Rev. Haggard, apparently soon to become a "Pavlov's dog" with behavior modification training in the name of God. To think the Inquisition is just an old historical event seems rather simplistic.
Posted by: Keith | November 26, 2006 at 06:27 AM
For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who supress the truth in unrighteousness, because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it eveident to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse. For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing to be wise, they became fools, and echanged the glory of the incorruptible God for an image in the form of corruptible man and of the birds and four footed animals and crawling creatures.
Therefore God gave them over in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, so that their bodies would be dishonrered among them. For they exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen.
And just as they did not see fit to acknowledge God any longer, God gave them over to a depraved mind, to do those things which are not proper, being filled with all unrighteousness, wickedness, greed, evil; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, malice; they are gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, arrogant, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, without understanding, untrustworthy, unloving, unmerciful; and although they know the ordanance of God, that those who practice such things are worthy of death, they not only do the same, but also give hearty approval to those who practice them.
Posted by: Michael | November 26, 2006 at 06:54 AM