My friend and fellow blogger James Pate will like this. In his review of Michael Camp’s 31 Reasons for Being Post Evangelical, here’s James with his approach to U.S. presidential canidate Rick Perry: He has a certain charm, but he exemplifies so many things that I hate about evangelicals. His whining about persecution for his faith comes to mind. And I don’t care what his apologists say: he was hosting that prayer rally to get evangelical votes. I mean, he announced his Presidential run not long after it. Not a bad assessment. Also I do have a bone to pick with Rick Perry’s wife who sometime ago was lamenting that her husband was being “persecuted” by the media because of his “evangelical” faith. Reality check. There is a difference between ridiculed and being persecuted. The media is ridiculing him, what happened in Egypt where Muslim tensions against Coptic Christians not too long ago is persecution. Being crushed like a cockroach by a millitary tank because of your faith is far more serious than being taunted by an obnoxious media. Any sane person will prefer to be taunted as opposed to be squashed to one’s death mercilessly. Though both are not desirable, with being taunted by a media, you live another day (and if you got steel in your spine you can fight back verbally—where in other parts of the world fighting back verbally can mean you can also lose your life). So when some American Evangelicals cry “persecution”—-it makes you wonder are they just complaining that their long held “entitlements” that they are been long accustomed to are being challenged—or have they been actually arrested, beaten,raped, tortured by the state or a powerful opressive religion? Make no mistake, I am proud of the Judeo-Christian heritage North America has but I think it’s time Evangelicals recognize that the Judeo-Christian heritage also extends beyond it’s Evangelical ghetto. Let me hold back no further and show a clip via You Tube of two sane, reasonable and intelligent ladies giving their two cents about the Perry candicacy and offer for him to use his spirituality to unite America as opposed to polarize America. America has had enough of the latter, it’s time for an approach from the former.
About last year I took a survey on the social networking site of Facebook which focused on what kind of Protestant you were. Strangely, for me, it concluded that I was “Liberal Protestant”. I was (and still am to some degree) disturbed at that notion. Former Ambassador Watch (now Otagosh) blogger Gavin Rumney declared, that I should be “Liberal and proud!” I would actually like to start another post about my objections. They are very real concerns. At age 40, I have outgrown and have absolutely no use for fundamentalism—that ship has sailed! With evangelicalism, it has had it’s problems and frankly has developed into another form of fundamentalism and yes, legalism (ie. the “Christian sidehug” for starters). That might upset some people but I think I need to speak from the heart as opposed to being under the “tyranny of nice”. Liberal Protestantism has it’s good points with regards to social justice and standing up for the downtrodden but theologically it makes God into some kind grandfather who is powerless to do anything on earth. While Liberal Protestantism or Christianity does not entirely do away with the supernatural and the immaterial world, they in effect minimize it. This, as I see it, has definately has a domino effect when it comes to the ressurection of Jesus Christ. Famous Liberal theologian Bishop Spong believes that the ressurection of Jesus is not a literal ressurection from the dead but believes it is metaphoric in the terms of a ressurection of “our hearts”. I simply cannot in anyway come to terms with that concept. Even the Early Church in it’s inception had no issue with a literal ressurection of the dead with Jesus Christ as it’s firstborn. Take away a literal ressurection, you do not have the good news. A metaphorical ressurection in it’s place, is simply nebulous and fluffy to say the least. As I said, I hope to write about my objections of being labelled a “Liberal Protestant” in depth in another post.
But in this clip, form FORA TV, Attorney and Unitarian minister Reverend Scotty McLennan would agree with Gavin Rumney that there is no shame in being called a Liberal Protestant or Christian. Wherever you are in the theo-political spectrum, everybody should watch and listen to this clip. Forget about what religious right wants you to believe about Liberal Christian Theology. Yes, you can have objections but slandering them as “ungodly” does no one any good. Speaking about Unitarianism, James Pate as of recent said he was considering to attend a Unitarian church. Everybody knows James is the “arch-conservative” when it comes to religion and politics. I can only conclude again, the American Evangelical Christianity is in trouble (unpopular as that may sound but tough). At least with Liberal Christianity, they are at least a little more pro-intellectual and maybe that’s a reason (but definately not the only one) why James may be attracted in attending a Unitarian Church.
The long version of this is here.
Here’s one for my fellow Fiddler On The Roof Fan.
Each person must decide for himself whether or not he’ll seek God. I can’t force an atheist to do so. If other Christians embrace apologetics as their ministry, then I encourage them to go for it! Christian apologetics don’t always convince me, mind you, but, if someone can make them work, my response is “Great!” All I’m saying is that I’m going to hold onto my faith regardless of anyone who argues against it. If people don’t like that, tough! It’s my personal relationship with God, and no one can take it away from me (at least not without my consent).
—James Pate stands boldly firm in his personal belief in God, standing in outright defiance to critics who wish he would believe otherwise in his latest splendid-as-usual blog post “More MacDonald on Witnessing”
James Pate (as always) GETS it! I really enjoy in his blog on his tirades against clap-happy evangelicalism, cold Calvinism and dares to duke it out with God over the injustice in the world—especially the injustice on good people while the wicked continue their party and as a consequence other people of faith urge him just to shut his mouth, dummy up,leave his brain at the door and just simply have “faith” in the most shallowly nebulous way and in turn defies their demands. He says, the prophets were angry at God—why should I? Why the difference? Why is there a NEED for a difference? Does the New Testament tell us to shut up and the prophets had somehow permission? Isn’t God the same, yesterday, today and forever—or they are “just words”—or “living active words”?! Those who demand and scream “cookie cutter”, “neatly packaged”, “smiley, smiley” answers (I think these type of people have the flu bug of the “tyranny of niceness” than anything else)—James again defies them! Here is an excerpt from his post on his blog on March 18th titled Malachi Reflections:
“You have spoken harsh words against me, says the LORD. Yet you say, ‘How have we spoken against you?’ You have said, ‘It is vain to serve God. What do we profit by keeping his command or by going about as mourners before the LORD of hosts? Now we count the arrogant happy; evildoers not only prosper, but when they put God to the test they escape.'”Incidentally, this passage has also been used to club me over the head. One time, I was getting into a debate with a Calvinist lady. I was struggling with the problem of evil and the Calvinist portrayal of God, which doesn’t exactly present him as all that loving (in my opinion). She replied that Malachi 3:16 applies to people like me: those who question God. She seemed to imply that I should stop asking questions and just have faith.I then pointed out that there are godly people in the Bible who question God and wrestle with the way he does things. God was about to wipe out Sodom, and Abraham questioned if God would be just to destroy the righteous with the wicked. When God threatened to annihilate Israel because of the Golden Calf incident, Moses disagreed with him. The Psalmist often complains about God’s failure to stop evildoers. Don’t question? Apparently, there were biblical figures who never heard of that rule.Bravo again James and I will also tell you this as well, “Kick ass!” Read the usually intelligible words of Jame Pate at http://jamesbradfordpate.blogspot.com/2008/03/reflections-on-malachi.html.
I’ve often heard that I should be honest with God, even if that involves expressing my problems with him. When I was growing up in the Armstrongite movement, one preacher I really enjoyed was Ron Dart. He said, “One thing you can say about the Psalmist, it is that his prayer was honest. If you hate God, then you’d might as well tell him, because he already knows.” And that is the sort of advice that I’m getting from Philip Yancey’s Prayer: Does It Make a Difference?
But here’s my struggle: There are times when people in the Bible do question God, and they get punished as a result. For example, in Numbers 13-14, the Israelites weep because there are giants in the land of Canaan and they are reluctant to conquer it. God punishes them with forty years in the wilderness and the promise that they will never see the land. “But not everybody has strong faith,” I thought. “I’d be scared too! What was wrong with them being honest with God about their fears? Aren’t we supposed to be honest?”
And, in Malachi, God expresses clear disapproval with what many Israelites are saying. “God doesn’t love me.” “There’s no point to serving God.” “God gives the wicked a free ride.” But weren’t they just being honest, like the Psalmist? Not everyone has pious thoughts and feelings.
The Painful Truth, now under the domain John B (for some time now). A tough, no-nonsense type of guy who gets the job done. I also put the website where anyone can have their own personal download of The Ambassador Report by the late John Trechak put together in digital form by The Archivist. Those who are still trapped in the Armstrongist nonsense today can still find liberation and peace of mind (and sanity) that HWA was not God’s Apostle and God have nothing to do with the WCG (as an organization) in the first place—dispite that these archives of reports are at least 9 to 33 years after the fact.
I have mentioned Aggie’s Purplehymnal Weblog but have never got around putting on my list of links. Now it is. A note of caution: at this time she (Aggie) is taking a break from new posts until the Passover season (April 2oth). I believe she working on a project (called Weinland Watch) on exit counselling members and/or associates of Ron Weinland’s ultra-conservative fundamentalist XCG splinter at http://weinlandwatch.wordpress.com/. Note about Mr.Weinland, I heard him speak at the Feast of Tabernacles during my years in the WCG. For some reason, there was one sermon on “The Healing of The Mind” I couldn’t find inspiration (I even tried to listen to the tape for a second time and was still not inspired). Ironic that there are those who disagree. It is my hope and prayer that Aggie CAN convince these people otherwise.
There are a fair numbers of ex-WCGers (or ex-XCGers for that matter) that are now atheist. Don’t let anyone tell you that they are a monolithic group. Some are very kind, gentle and compassionate (I can think of “ex-believer”of Gary Scott’s defunct XCG blog). My friend Ron, who is atheist can teach me that religious people can be the biggest a–holes not just atheists and boy, you better believe he can be right! Others who believe that religion and atheism can and should co-exist in a secular pluralistic society (mythology is not bad it has moral lessons for everyone) but believe that ultra-literalism and fundamentalism in all religions must be battled and defeated. Of course there are others that are usually rude, vitrolic, humourless, manipulative (and trust me I have had my share of some, so I know where I speak). These significant “others” are “millitant” atheists (and of course, they dare you to label them “fundy” or “fundamentalist” atheist because the word fundamentalist has something to do with religion and ATHEISM is NOT a RELIGION!!!). They like Richard Dawkins (which I whom admired for telling off the creepy Ted Haggard), Christopher Hitchens and Sam Harris who are called “The New Atheists”. Do you feel that these type of people can make you feel small? Trust me—I have had the feeling. Never fear, there is a blog site called Atheism Sucks! According to the blog, they state, “We are students, activists, and independent thinkers who reject atheism. The purpose of this blog is to promote reason and intellectual responsibility; in doing so, we aim to counteract the manipulative, dishonest, and fallacious tactics of atheist apologists.” I also have a link where you download their book The Irrational Atheist by Vox Day for free, of course.
…and finally but in no means the least, a blog from a very unique but a very brilliant and insightful personality. Blunt, politically incorrect (thank God!) and most of paramount importance makes you think! This man’s name is James Pate, a Ph.D. student at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in Cincinnati, OH. In which he studies the History of Biblical Interpretation, which includes Jewish and Christian interpretations of the Hebrew Bible/Old Testament. He has grown up in a WCG background. Like myself, he has no patience (but probably a little more merciful than I am) of the “clap-happy-happy”, anti -intellectual variety of Evangelical Christianity. What is special about this guy that he openly states about his neurological disorder which Asperger’s syndrome which is considered a form of autism on the autistic disorder spectrum. As one who was diagnosed with a neurological disorder myself at a very young age (I am simply not ready nor I do not wish to go in details about it this time)I sympathize with James greatly and share a special bond with him. Let’s put it this way, your life can be like a war and there are people who do not have the compassion nor patience to understand you. It seems the outside world has the 24-7 non-stop olympic sport of simply misunderstanding you and this is the world that James and others like him face every single day of his life. I love James raw honesty that he feels a variety of emotions in his Christian walk: anger, sadness, passion, strong desire—yeah the emotions that “evangelical Christians” shouldn’t have. He takes on controversial issues like atheism,the faults of evangelicals,evolution vs. creationism,sex, politics–you name it. He gives you a piece of his mind on all of them and if you don’t like it, there is only two options: take it or leave it. You don’t know what your missing by not reading his blog and like J’s Shadows of WCG blog, I hope James’ blog is here for years and decades to come.