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
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
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
When tragedy hits, we ask why. It is visceral, perhaps even instinctual, and almost involuntary. For the past 48 hours I have mostly sat quiet in my house, mostly alone, listening to people process an unthinkable event, a moment of real evil. How did this happen? How could this happen? Thankfully one of my friends just said it outright, “How can there be a loving God in a world like this.” We want to understand, we want to explain, at least in hopes that we can make this happen less often. We dwell on the moment, on the suffering, and ask ourselves, “How can this make any sense.” But this violence does not make sense. It never will, nor should it. There will never be a thought pondered or a sentence uttered that could ever make any one of us pause and say, “well, yes, now I get it.” This is simply evil. There is no sense inside it at all.
I woke this morning painfully aware that everyone who is going off to Church today is going to light the odd pink candle in their advent wreaths and celebrate gaudete Sunday, or more poignantly stated, Joy Sunday. It feels like a set up. This whole thing seems staged, doesn’t it? And just in the mere poetry of the whole thing it makes the day feel like it wants to be ironic, a cruel punchline, a bit of sarcasm from a most awful god. But this is not irony. It is a confrontation. It is a vocation, a call to change. This day in Advent says God has nothing to do with that violence, at least not yet, and it is time for that to change. Continue reading
Deer in the headlights (Photo credit: T Hall)
I am an overly cautious driver to begin with, so when I know I am in the Texas hill country at night, and I have already seen 3 deer carcasses that day and five times as many deer warning signs, It is all I can do not to slip in a paranoid hawk-like state seeing antlers around every bend that actually just aren’t there. In this country you have to anticipate Bambi if you want to make sure you keep safely on the road without a set of antlers wedged in your grill.
But, as I mentioned, I am an overly cautious driver, which means I do not merely adjust my behavior to the possibility of coming across a deer at night, I base all of my behavior on the likelihood that Texas deer are suicide bombers viciously luring 4×4 Doge Rams to a most fiery and gruesome death.
I feel fairly certain my con-deer-acy theory is far fetched. What I am also aware of, however, is that the expectations I bring to the road, especially when it is unfamiliar, radically changes how I actually approach it. Continue reading
For some people AIDS finds it way into our lives because of friendships. For me, there was one friendship which found its way into my life because he had AIDS. That friendship changed the face of God for me forever.
In 1989 I was working on a movie when I met the first people I had ever met who were living with AIDS. That fall the university I attended gave me the right connections, permission, and $500 to start a ministry volunteering at a local hospice, Ariel House. It was there I met Carlos. Continue reading
Be Alone. Thanksgiving is a good day to be together and it is an important day to be alone. The pressure of guests and kitchen can make it difficult to really find the deeper levels of gratitude without a little silence or at least quiet. Be especially kind and help make sure your spouse, friends, kids and others get time to leave the house and go for a walk. Be present today to yourself and to God so you can be present to others. Continue reading
Another guest post today from Tarah Van De Wiele, an amazing theologian and Biblical scholar living as an ex-pat in England. You can read more about her and her adventures and her adventures living outside the U.S. at ever popular blog: 2 People, 2 Dogs & 10 Bags.
I am a pacifist. But historically I am an incensed one.
This is why it has finally become dire that I expend the energy built up inside me from the endless culture wars that inform our language, plague our dinner tables, and crawl across the TV screen like some bug you can’t seem to swat away. Are you pro or anti? Red or blue? Straight or gay? Black or white? Male or female? Enough. Al. Ready.
Chickens (Photo credit: Allie’s.Dad)
The latest culture war sparked by a certain chicken restaurant completely caught me off guard. I spent an entire day stalking the web for pictures of people fighting in the war. After a few hours I managed to succumb to the purest form of rage available to an incensed pacifist, and began to brainstorm what smart but highly insulting sign I would distribute, what post I would send viral, what boycott I would demand. And the only question by 4 in the afternoon was not if I should curse but HOW MUCH.
And then the chickens showed up. Continue reading
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Tagged Chick-fil-A, Church, church and state, Culture war, culture war DMZ, culture wars, gifts, home, kingdom of God, pacifist, Poultry, Republican, United States, violence