The Least, First

Monte Asbury's blog

Archive for the ‘Jesus’ Category

Palestinian Loss of Land and American Manifest Destiny

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If it were, say, Iowa, and Century Farmers had been evicted at gunpoint since WWII by more recent immigrants, things would look mighty different. (h/t Clipmarks friend Jimbo1000)
clipped from www.ifamericansknew.org

Palestinian Loss of Land 1946-2005

four maps of shrinking Palestine
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Native Americans flee from the allegorical rep...
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Tragically, Israelis may owe much to an American model. Their expansion so reminds me of the American doctrine called Manifest Destiny. It assumed all the territory that would become the USA was divinely given to white people. MD was used to justify the moving, killing, containment and lasting impoverishment of Native Americans. Indeed, westward expansion’s completion and total dominance of the indigenous people of the contiguous United States (not to mention Hawaii and Alaska) was only thirty years old at Israel’s birth in 1946: about as recent in American memory as the Vietnam conflict is today.

I would guess that the writings of the Hebrew Bible were used to encourage westward expansion in the USA; they are still, of course, the claim some Zionists stake (and some evangelicals support) to all the territory in and around Israel.

Such dominance—in either American or Israeli history—is starkly at odds with the ways of Jesus Christ, of course.


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The baptism of Jesus

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[This sermon was first posted in January of 2007. Rick Reilly’s comment reminded me that many may be working on something similar, so it seemed good to update and re-post it.  Best wishes!  – Monte]
I have often thought of Jesus as pretty uncertainty-free: so totally God that humanity is just a minor irritation. So certain, so unsurprise-able, so un-swayed by what’s up.

For instance, I might think of his baptism like so: I imagine he becomes off-to-on aware that it’s time (click!), appears on the banks of the Jordan (click!), where the crowds part and everybody understands the obvious (click!), and he all but comes up out of the water with one finger extended for the dove’s perch. Of course he knows it all before it happens.

Doesn’t he?

We’ve been talking about the three audiences to the events of the Bible, especially regarding the gospel of Luke. Remember them?
1. The A.D. 30 Jews, who see it all first-hand.
2. The A.D. 80 or so Jews and Gentiles who first read Luke’s gospel.
3. And us. Now. Read the rest of this entry »

American Drug War Economics – Vol.1

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Marijuana
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When I was a college kid in the 1970s, buying pot was easier than buying cigarettes (though, to be honest, I don’t remember ever buying either!)

Probably, it hasn’t changed. But here’s what has:  I didn’t know of one single person who’d gone to prison over it.  It’s a whole lot easier to end up in prison today.

Kids,  just like kids of my generation, act like kids.  But “get tough” laws are on the books now.  They rip kids’ futures away, and give them instead a bed in the most violent, gang-dominated, drug-permeated neighborhoods in America:  our prisons.

When they get out, they’re marked. Getting a job is tough.  Getting scholarships is nearly impossible (“get-tough” legislators having pre-wired the FAFSA to identify criminal records), so education is almost out of the question.  Careers that require certifications are mostly closed. The options they had planned for are gone.

Visitors entrance to Utah State Prison's Wasat...
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For all that, what have we, as a society, gained? Nada.

These horrific laws, easily passed and rarely opposed (what politician wants to be labeled “soft on drugs“?), which incarcerate many of our best and brightest and then leave them with few non-poverty options, have utterly failed to reduce drug use. And they have cost us a fortune.

Meanwhile, your legislators are looking for more billions to build more prisons because this juggernaut crushes kids by the thousands every single day.  No other nation imprisons as many of its own as we do in “the land of the free.”

It will continue until we stop it.  And, since lots of people make lots of money keeping things just the way they are, it won’t stop easily.

But here’s one place—of many—to begin.

American Drug War Economics – Volume 1
Ending drug prohibition and focusing on addiction as a sickness, like alcohol and prescription drugs, could save the U.S. economy and millions of lives. Please pass this video on to as many people as you can. We need your help to end the Drug War.http://www.americandrugwar.com, http://www.sacredcow.com, http://www.sacredcowstore.com; Produced by Kevin Booth and Ryan Kaye
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Let’s get started.


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Readings for Sunday, November 2, 2008

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Proper 26 November 2, 2008
Matthew 23:1-12; 1 Thessalonians 2:9-13; Micah 3:5-12; Psalm 43

Matthew 23
Religious Fashion Shows

1-3 Now Jesus turned to address his disciples, along with the crowd that had gathered with them. “The religion scholars and Pharisees are competent teachers in God’s Law. You won’t go wrong in following their teachings on Moses. But be careful about following them. They talk a good line, but they don’t live it. They don’t take it into their hearts and live it out in their behavior. It’s all spit-and-polish veneer. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Monte

October 30, 2008 at 8:58 pm

The main thing [readings for Sunday, October 26]

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Abraham Lincoln

Abraham Lincoln

Abraham Lincoln famously said (or is famously said to have said) that if he could find a church whose credo was the golden rule, he’d join it.  He never found one.

Religious leaders confronted Jesus with a question of essence rather like that.  You’d think it would be the first thing Christians learn, and that for which they’re mostly known.

“Teacher, which command in God’s Law is the most important?”

Jesus said, “”Love the Lord your God with all your passion and prayer and intelligence.’ 38This is the most important, the first on any list. 39But there is a second to set alongside it: “Love others as well as you love yourself.’ 40These two commands are pegs; everything in God’s Law and the Prophets hangs from them.” Read the rest of this entry »

Give to Caesar what’s his (readings for Sunday, Oct 19)

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The Imperial Denarius

The Roman Imperial Denarius

I hear from zealous anti-tax folks from time to time, who usually pop by to take issue with my Poverty, Government, and the Bible essay.

Some are eager to prove that government shouldn’t be involved in helping poor people—catch your breath and plunge in here—because taxation is theft because it’s taken against our will and since taxation is theft it obviously isn’t God’s plan for governments to help the poor because God would not be pleased by stealing the money it would take to do so nor by helping the poor against the will of the stingy.

Well, hokum. Read the rest of this entry »

How odd the Bible is. (readings for Sunday, October 11)

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The oddness of the Bible—its miles-away foreign-ness—is, perhaps, too little allowed. Take this week’s batch of it:

Isaiah gives us a thrilling hymn of the end of tyranny and want. Perfect!  But he begins it in a destroyed city.

Psalm Scroll of the Dead Sea Scrolls

Psalm Scroll of the Dead Sea Scrolls

Jesus invents a story of a king who can’t get invited guests to show up at his son’s wedding—finally replacing them with homeless and helpless folk—quite a wonderful tale!  And then he tosses a guy who isn’t dressed right.  But wait – how could any of his lately-discovered guests be dressed right?  And isn’t it a little caddish to get so put out about it?

Why?  Save it, preacher:  Don’t give me that this means this and this means this. These stories are nearly impenetrable, and we fail the task of adequately communicating them if we make them simple: Jesus did not.

Impenetrable—but not completely so.  The process of spilling all their odd parts onto the table before me and wondering, “What on earth?” is among the richest pleasures of life.  And it is there amidst that strange mess that God defies expectations and reveals himself, refusing to yield mere information, but speaking in a way more wonderful.

What will we find here? Not much, if we simplify.  Moralisms.

But if we let it stand with all its oddnesses, and let the oddnesses themselves become the clues?

Well, in that case, who can say?

Proper 23 A: October 11, 2008

Exodus 32:1-14 or Isaiah 25:1-9; Psalm 106:1-6, 19-23 or Psalm 23; Philippians 4:1-9; Matthew 22:1-14

Isaiah 25: God’s Hand Rests on This Mountain

1-5 God, you are my God. I celebrate you. I praise you.
You’ve done your share of miracle-wonders, Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Monte

October 6, 2008 at 11:31 pm