There are few men in the popular media in recent years that have been as easy to hate as Fred Phelps. His tactics and behavior, if not his convictions alone, have been sufficient to offend both right and left and everyone in between. His name has become synonymous with hatred.
The news of his impending death seem to come as good new on the social media and curated media outlets I follow. And without any hint of surprise there are threats, commentary and speculation of returning, in kind, the protests and disdain Fred Phelps inflicted on so many other families.
It is both as a gay man and as a Christian that experience anger with him for vilifying what it means to be gay and outright butchering the Christian tradition in perfect Orwellian fashion, turning itself on its head and turning it into a weapon. I have spent a good portion of my life reflecting on the motivations of people like Mr. Phelps and the answers are complex, but I can at least pull, for our own instruction, a lesson about his odd place in the culture wars…
He wanted to be right Continue reading
Station 14: Jesus is laid in the tomb (Photo credit: Believe Out Loud)
I try to be careful about which hot culture issues I write about for this blog as it usually take about 20 minutes before everyone on my FaceBook news feed stops caring about which Buzzfeed quiz you are, how what “Miley did was shocking BUT WHAT HAPPENED NEXT will change you forever,” or, “Twerking and what it means to me.”. So I don’t mean to fan the flames that bore you but since I have two dogs in this particular dog fight there is something I need to say.
I don’t find these laws very terrifying as I think they won’t hold muster to higher courts and I don’t think that they would even be very financial sustainable… but that is nowhere near my point. The mere proposal of these laws, however, just seems to me to be intentionally driving another wedge between people with different interests and pouring fuel on the hot tempers that run both blue and red. Continue reading
Josephine Bakhita, St Martin De Porres, Mother Mary Lange, Fr. Tolton
The first step to recovery is admitting you have a problem, or so I have been told by those who specialize in treating addiction. What they also tell me is that the correlative is true: the the greater investment we make in denial, the more the addiction feeds itself.
I was raised, as many in American were to believe that racism is a bad thing. But I was also raised to believe that racism is only a limited description of mean and ill intended choices that one person could, but should not, make. Therefore it was pretty easy for me to agree that being racist is bad, because it was pretty easy to determine that I wasn’t one. Continue reading
This post is a reflection on Dorothy Day’s classic advent writing…Room for Christ by Dorothy Day
Dorothy Day has a way of hacking into our sophisticated means of cushioning the incarnation, doesn’t she? There is little that we, including me, would love more than to believe that Christmas is something that we simply need to remember. Wouldn’t it be nice to say that Christmas was a thing that happened in a different era; “The Bible Times,” as we like to say. It was a thing that happened and it has meaning for us today. And isn’t that lovely and worth commemorating with pageantry and especially crafts and baking. We have quite literally domesticated Christmas in the tamest and most disappointing sense of that word. Continue reading
David J. Dunn is a good friend whose friendship helps sustain my faith. He also writes my favorite blog on the Huffington Post and one of the sharpest Christian Blogs on the internet providing keen and refreshingly Christian insights on on otherwise boringly controversial topics. Here he offers some particularly helpful reflections on imperfect faith.
My Sullied Cross
This is the cross I received at my chrismation. It’s tarnished. It is always tarnished. It was bright, shiny, and new the day that I first received it. It became sullied almost immediately afterwards.
It’s not that I haven’t tried to polish it. I have actually tried to polish it several times. The dark smudges will go away for a couple of hours, but by the time church is over, the imperfections of my cross will reappear. I have decided that that’s way the it’s supposed to be. I think God is trying to tell me something. I am an Orthodox Christian. I should believe in miracles. A common miracle in the Orthodox Church is weeping icons. Icons that drip myhrr. I have never seen a weeping icon, but my cross won’t get clean. Continue reading
Communion of Saints Tapestries (Photo credit: Zeetz Jones)
Flannery O’Connor, Dorothy Day, Henri Nouwen, Mother Teresa, Thomas Merton, and Walker Percy. Those are my answers when people ask me, knowing what they do about me, why I became Catholic so late in my life. In fact there are many answers to that simple question, but one of the quickest ways to say what I mean is simply by making a short list of some of the people who I want most to be like. If you want to know who I am, ask my friends. But if you want to know who I am becoming, ask my heroes. Continue reading
Sammy is a pale and furious vision. He is shirtless, young, scrawny and utterly enraged. He shrieks as he runs toward the small white gate that serves as the thin membrane between Short Term 12 (his group home) and his ridiculous idea of the life of an autonomous child. He is ferrel. He is angry. He is, as they say, “throwing a fit.” He is also dead in his tracks, suddenly caught, held down and screeching.
For a while he flails like a fish on sand but only for moments. It subsides while you watch. Mason asks him if he almost has it out of his system, which is clearly the case. Grace tells him to let it pass. It does. Now if we were all wise enough and smart enough, that one scene would have taught us everything we need to know from the movie “Short Term 12.” Thankfully, we are not yet that wise because the rest of the movie is so worth it. Continue reading
The cross on the World Trade Centre site (Photo credit: almost witty)
Today my FaceBook feed is wrought with variations and recollections of the event of September 11th from twelve years ago. The personal recollections have shrunk from previous years and some simply share a photo or state, “Never forget.” Seeing that phrase repeated over without more context has begun to trouble me, and not just a little. What is “never forget” supposed to be shorthand for on this kind of anniversary?
On one hand I think it is referring to a kind of remembering that simple tries to honor those who have suffered, especially the handfuls of people who were not merely victims, but heroes who sacrificed themselves for others. It is good to remember heroic lives. There are, however, other kinds of remembering too, which may be mingled in there as well. Some ways of remembering may be the very spiritual disciplines of a never ceasing war. It strikes me that the real challenge we face is is not just to remember, it is learning how to remember, how to tell the story in such a way that is about speaking the truth, but it is also about speaking the truth in love. Continue reading
English: Passover Seder Table, Jewish holidays עברית: שולחן הסדר, Original Image Name:סדר פסח, Location:חיפה (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Tonight I realized how much laundry had to be done and my mind immediately started looking for other things to do. My newsfeed on FaceBook kept informing me that a good portion of my friends (most of them burners) were either confirming or canceling their RSVP to attend a Passover celebration that some someone was holding somewhere. It turned out the someone was a indeed a fellow burner with whom I had many mutual friends and the somewhere was his house. So I did what any self respecting burner and experienced procrastinator would do, …I invited myself over. Continue reading
“Eat Chocolate” Caged By Freedom
It is Ash Wednesday and throughout the day and the week my friends and I will be bantering back and forth about what we intend to give up for the season of lent. The list will inevitably include more and less brave endeavors. After many years of self-discovery, I now try to keep my personal commitments, ahem, modest.
Lately I have begun to think that our lenten choices are beginning to feel more and more like new year’s resolutions than spiritual exercises: quit smoking, exercise, skip dessert, drink less, eat more broccoli… And if I happen to loose a couple pounds along the way, so be it. Self control and discipline are good and praise worthy, but I do have to wonder if that kind of discipline really needs God. If our lenten practices have become mere efforts of will power and self-help then I am pretty sure we are still missing out on the transformative power of this kind of fasting can be: grace. Continue reading