The Least, First

Monte Asbury's blog

Archive for May 2008

No points for passwords [Readings for June 1, 2008]

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“Did you pray X? And what did God say he would do if you prayed X? Then what has he done for you here tonight?”

Modernism leaves us no peace unless everything is black or white, one way or the other. Red or Blue. Pro-choice or pro-life. For us or against us. Government assistance or “up by your own bootstraps.”

Either-or thinking has its problems. For one, it’s usually fiction. I’d be reluctant to trust someone who could see no value in any of the positions above; they all, at their best, bring elements of the nature of Jesus to a discussion.  Can you see him there, in each place?

And either-or thinking has brought us to a place in evangelicalism where, because the next world matters, it can be all that matters. Or where because faith matters, the life I live doesn’t matter. Or where the Bible says X, X is wooden truth in every instance.

Fortunately, Jesus Christ is wonderfully pre-modern. Watch him look beyond such artificial divisions, into the complexities of the heart, in this Matthew reading.

Proper 4 (9); June 1, 2008

Genesis 6:9-22;7:24;8:14-19; Psalm 46; Romans 1:16-17; 3:22b-28, (29-31);

Matthew 7:21-29

21-23″Knowing the correct password-saying ‘Master, Master,’ for instance- isn’t going to get you anywhere with me. What is required is serious obedience-doing what my Father wills. I can see it now-at the Final Judgment thousands strutting up to me and saying, ‘Master, we preached the Message, we bashed the demons, our God-sponsored projects had everyone talking.’ And do you know what I am going to say? Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Monte

May 29, 2008 at 5:47 pm

Posted in Politics

Oh, No! Ku Klux Klan Won’t Endorse Obama!

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KKK meets St Peter Huffpo’s Michael Gene Sullivan has spun the funniest satire I’ve seen in a long time. It’s a classic political humor piece at a moment in history that has us tearing out our hair in frustration at the bizarre nonsense that’s passed off with a straight face (eg., Bill Clinton claims the media have covered up the real chances Hillary has of winning).

Go check it out – save it for your grandkids. Here’s just a tiny bit:

In a surprising move, which some are calling a deathblow to his candidacy, the Ku Klux Klan today decided to not endorse Senator Barack Obama in his bid for the Presidency of the United States. […]

At his armed camp outside of Shepherdstown, West Virginia, Imperial Grand Wizard Gomer Bath explained […] “for myself it really came down to health care.” […]

From his National Headquarters/Mother’s Knitting Room in Kudzu, Alabama, Intergalactic Majestic Dragon, and two-time winner of the “Hit a Black Man with a Stick When He’s Not Looking and Run Away” Championship, Chester Podgorney agrees. “Obama’s rhetoric and speeches of Hope and Understanding have not won the hearts and minds of my vast Army of Fearless Race Warriors.” […]

“Senator Obama’s representation of armed, unemployed fanatically religious small town racists as bitter is exactly the sort of out of touch comment we’ve come to expect from his kind. Of politician.” […]

Noting her strength with the broad swaths of people who have no intention of actually voting for her, Senator Clinton also feels Obama’s weakness with people who hate both of them with a passion should give unpledged superdelegates pause. […]

Ah, what delight. Sink into my mind, O sensible Satire! Remind me again: foolishness looks like foolishness because it’s foolishness.

Cheers!


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Written by Monte

May 27, 2008 at 11:17 pm

Posted in humor, News, Politics, Race

JFK: What Kind of Peace?

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clipped from www.shirley08.com
“What kind of peace do we seek? John F KennedyNot a PAX Americana enforced on the world by American weapons of war. Not the peace of the grave or the security of the slave.

I am talking about genuine peace, the kind of peace that makes life on earth worth living, the kind that enables men and nations to grow and to hope and to build a better life for their children — not merely peace for Americans but peace for all men and women — not merely peace in our time but peace for all time.” – John F. Kennedy (1963)

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Beautiful and true, these words come from the website of Shirley Golub (www.shirley08.com), who’s taking on Rep. Nancy Pelosi in San Francisco, over Pelosi’s refusal to begin impeachment proceedings against the President.


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Written by Monte

May 27, 2008 at 6:33 pm

Catonsville Nine: “think less of the law, and more of justice”

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Catonsville NineJesus goes so often to the essence of things, rather than the appearance of them. Sometimes, his followers do, as well.

Forty years ago [May 17, 1968], nine committed followers of Christ entered the Selective Service Office in Catonsville. They moved past three surprised office workers, who questioned what they were doing but did not stop them. The nine quickly gathered 378 1-A draft files in wire baskets, then took them to the parking lot and immolated them with a homemade version of napalm. They prayed quietly over the burning papers until the police arrested them 15 minutes later. […]

The catalyst for this, of course, was the unbelievably brutal war in Vietnam.

By 1968, the Vietnam War was ripping America apart. Our actions seemed insane, our rationales ever shifting, our goal never clear. The impact on Vietnamese society as well as on our troops was confusing, demoralizing and deadly. What was clear, however, was that we were dropping more than 9 million tons of bombs on Indochina’s military and civilian populations. We were dropping 72 million liters of biochemical poisons on the land and its people. And, of course, there was hell’s fire: napalm. We used 400,000 tons of it.

By May 1968, the Catonsville Nine had enough. They chose to directly confront the state, to protest where the nation’s leaders had taken us. […]

Controversial? Of course. These are hard and costly decisions. But some of their argument is persuasively Christ-like:

In a play written by another of the nine, the Rev. Daniel Berrigan, and based upon the trial transcripts of their conviction, his brother Philip argued: “Let lawmakers, judges and lawyers think less of the law, and more of justice; less of legal ritual, more of human rights. To our bishops and superiors, we say: Learn something about the gospel and something about illegitimate power. When you do, you will liquidate your investments, take a house in the slums, or even join us in jail.” […]

Less of the law and more of justice. Less of legal ritual, more of human rights. So relevant today. Such a deeply Christian sentiment, correcting the self-righteousness questions of legality that infect our dialog about so many issues.

Yes, that could be the voice of Jesus.


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Can’t worship God and Money (readings for May 25, 08)

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Pawnshop from WikipediaHere I sit in the richest nation on earth. Perhaps it should be no surprise, then, that the conflicts over which we Americans fuss most (Iraq, immigration, health care) are about our own wealth.

The question that’s ever before us goes something like this: Do we address these issues to protect the poorest or to protect ourselves alone?

One way follows the example of Jesus. But only one. Read on.

Proper 3 (8)

May 25, 2008 (Because of the early Easter, the readings from Epiphany 8 are used.)

Isaiah 49:8-16a; Psalm 131; 1 Corinthians 4:1-5; Matthew 6:24-34

Matthew 6:24-34

24″You can’t worship two gods at once. Loving one god, you’ll end up hating the other. Adoration of one feeds contempt for the other. You can’t worship God and Money both. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Monte

May 22, 2008 at 5:37 pm

Posted in Politics

Juan Cole: Straight Talk Express derailed [and Iran update]

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As the battle for political truth plunges into the general election season, Prof. Juan Cole recommends this 3 minute video clip of John McCain. It’ll remind you of Clinton’s Tuszla landing, for here’s McCain saying on film what he says he doesn’t say. [UPDATE: See a stunner of McCain talking about Iran, just below]

[UPDATE #2: Huffington Post is reporting that this video, since its release last Sunday, has become the #1 most viewed video on YouTube, and the #2 story on the Digg election page! It’s been viewed over a million times, giving it “an audience that most cable news shows only dream of.” Some are hoping the corporate media will be shocked into a return to investigative journalism, abandoned during the Bush years out of fear of being labeled “liberal media.”]

clipped from www.juancole.com
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Whether these backtracks represent confusion or dishonesty, I can’t tell. Sen. McCain certainly seems like a likable guy, and was unquestionably brave 35 years ago.

But putting his finger on the nuclear trigger strikes me as a mighty risky enterprise. I want someone in the Oval Office who’s not this mixed up.

UPDATE: It’s worse than I thought.

Joe Klein of Time Magazine calls McCain on his misunderstanding of Ahmadinejad’s role in Iranian foreign policy (as Think Progress notes: “Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, and Iran’s National Security Council set Iran’s foreign policy.” The Iranian President is not the Commander-in-Chief.)

McCain’s response (with a smirk): “I think if you asked any average American who the leader of Iran is, I think they’d know.” Watch it:

Yow! He really doesn’t know! And he smiles wisely at the reporter’s ignorance!

Oh, boy.


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Written by Monte

May 20, 2008 at 1:55 pm

Posted in Iraq, Politics

I.C.E. raids Postville meat-packer; United Methodist Bishop responds

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From the Des Moines Register:

Agriprocessors plantPostville, Ia. – The phone calls started at 5 a.m. They carried the same message: Immigration was coming.[…] Twelve hours later, Hispanic businesses in downtown Postville were shuttered.[…]

The Immigration and Customs Enforcement raid at the Agriprocessors Inc. plant scattered the Hispanics of Postville. About 400 found their way to St. Bridget’s Catholic Church, waiting for information. Some filled out G-28 forms that allow a lawyer to represent their detained children or minors in their care.

A woman who would identify herself only as Judy said she and her husband work at Agriprocessors. The last time she saw him was before his shift Monday, about 5:30 a.m. “No, I don’t know where he is,” she said in Spanish.

Judy said she and her husband came from Mexico illegally. Like many others at St. Bridget’s, they regard the church as a haven from law enforcement. Asked whether the church would indeed be a safe place, Sister Mary McCauley of St. Bridget’s said, “That is our belief and hope.” […]

And from Bishop Palmer of the Iowa United Methodist Church, this rather brave— Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Monte

May 15, 2008 at 3:46 pm