Tag: religion

Congratulations to Joy Mennonite Church of OKC for 20 years of faith and action

October 2, 2010

Tomorrow is the 20th anniversary of Joy Mennonite Church in OKC. If you have ever been helped, supported or just impressed by their work or members, it would be a good time to stop by and say thanks and many more! The festivities begin with service at 10 AM, then a lunch and more. I’m an atheist, but the Christians at Joy are my very admired colleagues, compatriots and friends. I am extremely grateful for their love for me personally, and for their willingness to support many positions that can be difficult to take, especially in Oklahoma. If only more Christians were like them!

Update 10/3/2010:

Here are photos I took of the celebration:

Getting religion

June 26, 2010

I went to a Catholic High School, not because I had gone to Catholic grammar school (I didn’t) and not because I or my family was particularly religious (we weren’t), but because after attending public school the first year back in the continental U.S., I was afraid I wouldn’t live through another year of it, much less three more, so I begged to transfer to the school where there was a little more behavioral control in evidence (for context, this was the late 60s).

There were some good moments (studying Ayn Rand, Niemoller, Saint-Exupéry, et. al. with a very charismatic priest is a highlight, as was hearing the coolest brothers and sisters telling about their Summers spent on the nearby Catholic Worker Farm), there was some psychological torture (studying Latin with the most dull-witted and mind-numbing person in the hemisphere).

But by far the best was a religion class in 11th grade. What was cool about it was that we didn’t talk about religion, at least I don’t remember doing so, though surely we must have. What I remember was an engaging, vibrant, passionate sister who clearly loved life, teaching, people and who respected her students and wanted to enrich their minds and hear their ideas.

There were two classes that really stick out for me. In one, the nun wrote the lyrics for the Leonard Cohen song ‘Suzanne’ on the blackboard. We listened to the song, examined and talked about the words, listened again, explored meanings and possible motivations and outcomes. It was one of the most stunning classroom experiences I have ever had. I would say it was the most stunning, except for another, also with the same nun.

She had at the front of the room several pictures depicting Jesus Christ. I don’t remember all of them exactly, but basically, for the purposes of this story, and being descriptively accurate, you could say one was The Pieta, one was a manger scene, one was a closeup of a face with a crown of thorns, one was floating beautifully passionless on a post-ascension cloud and one was Christ of the Breadlines.

Christ of the Breadlines

She asked us which image best represented our idea of Jesus. Most of my classmates had gone to Catholic School and lived in the little township in upstate New York their whole lives. Maybe that accounts for their responses, which were mostly split between the torture victim and the cloud-rider. Anyway, I was the only one who raised my hand for Christ of the Breadlines. The only one, and I was somewhat embarrassed by that, in the uncomfortable way you feel if you are singled out for undue praise. I thought I was making the obvious choice.

That moment really made me aware that I was different from the other students in ways I hadn’t realized before (and I was already plenty different). I was shocked by the choices made by my fellow students and kept trying to understand. Did their responses really reflect their thinking, or was something else at work? Sometimes I’d thing they were just playing mind games with the nun. Maybe they were refusing to give the answer she wanted because, well, they’d been mindfucked themselves by many a nun and wanted to make a point about their earlier Catholic education. Or maybe I was the only one naive enough to be mindfucked into giving Sister the answer she wanted (and yes, I think it’s a given what answer she was hoping for; see ‘Suzanne’ above).

I finally realized that sometimes a cigar is just a cigar. And that’s when I “got” religion and stopped being a Christian. I realize that it’s possible that someone else, under the same circumstances, would make the opposite choice — in an alternate universe, maybe I’m the Pope. It took me many more years to come to realize I was or had at some point become an atheist, and to come to terms with that. But religion still fascinates me, like a lifelong research project, in the drastic/dramatic way it shapes people, and controls them, blinds them, and even sometimes enlightens and elevates them, and I still think if you read the New Testament, even the Cliff Notes version, and don’t come away seeing the Jesus depicted there (man, god, or literary character) as Christ of the Breadlines, there is something seriously wrong with your comprehension (it probably having been warped even more drastically by the many evils of dogma so that even religion isn’t “religious” anymore).

Suzanne takes you down to her place near the river
You can hear the boats go by
You can spend the night beside her
And you know that shes half crazy
But that’s why you want to be there
And she feeds you tea and oranges
That come all the way from China
And just when you mean to tell her
That you have no love to give her
Then she gets you on her wavelength
And she lets the river answer
That you’ve always been her lover
And you want to travel with her
And you want to travel blind
And you know that she will trust you
For you’ve touched her perfect body with your mind.

And Jesus was a sailor
When he walked upon the water
And he spent a long time watching
From his lonely wooden tower
And when he knew for certain
Only drowning men could see him
He said all men will be sailors then
Until the sea shall free them
But he himself was broken
Long before the sky would open
Forsaken, almost human
He sank beneath your wisdom like a stone
And you want to travel with him
And you want to travel blind
And you think maybe you’ll trust him
For he’s touched your perfect body with his mind.

Now Suzanne takes you hand
And she leads you to the river
She is wearing rags and feathers
From salvation army counters
And the sun pours down like honey
On our lady of the harbour
And she shows you where to look
Among the garbage and the flowers
There are heroes in the seaweed
There are children in the morning
They are leaning out for love
And they will lean that way forever
While Suzanne holds the mirror
And you want to travel with her
And you want to travel blind
And you know that she will trust you
For she’s touched your perfect body with her mind.

Tea Party active in OK legislature, where are the business leaders to stop this nonsense?

April 13, 2010

Representatives Randy Brogdon and Charles Key are giving Sally Kern a run for the money to make Oklahoma radioactive for business development. Why? Because they might have to let law enforcement count attacks motivated by homophobia in Oklahoma. The conspiracy theory (there always is one with the Right, isn’t there, the poor little victimized bullies) is that under this law, anti-gay preachers won’t be able to warp the life of Jesus into a Citizens United documentary starring Fred Phelps as the son of god.

Did I say money? Where are the money interests, i.e. business leaders, to stomp out this insurrection insanity? They and few others have the resources and standing to deal with this appropriately. And I include The Oklahoman in that group. Hello! You shun and snark the Left out of existence in this state, time to do the same for these secessionist racist gun nuts.

I sent the message below to the state chamber, I’m so sick of this shit. I could not care less about the chamber’s elitist goals, but I do care about the suffering that the poor and disenfranchised will have to endure as Oklahoma scoots to last place in education, income, health, opportunity and every scale of reasonable human existence.

I’m sure this state militia story is doing GREAT things for efforts to recruit businesses here to create jobs and build the economy, like all the other back-asswards thinking coming out of the Capitol from these culture war neanderthals and outright racists.

I wish the Chamber of Commerce would come out and publicly and unequivocally condemn this kind of thing so we can begin to improve our profile and get out of 49th place on every life quality list made. Perhaps you could at least have a discrete conversation with some of these wingnuts (for sure don’t leave Kern out) and let them know that the business community will make sure they have well-funded primary opponents come the next election.

Or maybe the organization agrees with Reps. Brogdon and Key — if so please let us know, so all the sane people in OK can leave the state before the next civil war erupts at Ft. Sill.

The New Lord’s Prayer for Republicans

August 8, 2009

[Update: well, you can tell I’m not religious. It’s the 23rd Psalm, not the Lord’s Prayer, which is being rewritten here. I won’t change the title because it will screw up the URL. If it matters to you, me being so stupid, you’ll just have to forgive me, because that’s what Jesus would do. ;-)]

From Fri Prevett via Facebook:

A HuffPo Commenter Named “JohnfromCensornati” posted this as a comment to an article I shared on my wall today written by Frank Schaeffer. It’s all kinds of awesome:

The Lord is my Shepherd; I shall be a sheep.
He maketh me to shoot doctors for Life.
He leadeth me to talk about tea-bagging.
I sold him my soul.
He leadeth me down the Appalachian Trail for my soulmate’s sake.
Yea, though I face the healthcare reform bill of death, I will hear no facts for talk radio is with me.
The birthers and their lies, they comfort me.
Thou preparest a room for me in the cult house on C Street.
Thou filleth my head with paranoia.
My faux rage runneth over.
Surely self righteousness and homophobia shall follow me all the days of my life and I will wallow in the idiocy of the Hocus Pocus forever.

Hark! Good News: Religion less popular

March 9, 2009

Religiosity is waning in the U.S. Non-belief has almost doubled since 1990.

A wide-ranging study on American religious life found that the Roman Catholic population has been shifting out o of the Northeast to the Southwest, the percentage of Christians in the nation has declined and more people say they have no religion at all.

Fifteen percent of respondents said they had no religion, an increase from 14.2 percent in 2001 and 8.2 percent in 1990, according to the American Religious Identification Survey.

Non belief (not the same as atheism) is still a distinct minority, but I’m heartened with the trend line, since I think religion is mostly a negative influence on society. Some of my best friends are progressive Christians, but they are the exception, not the rule.

The number of people who say they have no religion rose in every state. In Oklahoma, the percentage went from 7% to 11% since 1990.

Overall, the study shows there is more variety in religious belief than media discourse and political grandstanding would indicate.

OK State Rep: I’ll raise your intolerance of my intolerance with some inane illogic, and a resolution in the state legislature to ship your atheist ass back to Oxford

March 5, 2009

So, Oklahoma progressive thinker, did you think you could not possibly be more embarrassed by duly elected representatives in your state, after the Sally Kerns affair of last year, and the Scott Jones/gay prayer protest last month? Oh, ye of little imagination — the authoritarian right is running rings around you, thinking of stupid things to do on the public’s dime.

On Monday, in anticipation of the public lecture of scientist and avowed atheist Richard Dawkins at OU tomorrow (which I plan to attend), Rep. Todd Thomsen filed a resolution demanding that his invitation be retracted, and in so many words, that 5000 years of collective human wisdom be shitcanned, and that all activity that could ever conceivably be considered “thinking” cease in this state immediately and permanently.

WHEREAS, the University of Oklahoma is a publicly funded institution which should be open to all ideas and should train students in all disciplines of study and research and to use independent thinking and free inquiry; and

WHEREAS, the University of Oklahoma has planned a year-long celebration of the 200th birthday of Charles Darwin and the 150th anniversary of Darwin’s theory of evolution, called the “Darwin 2009 Project”, which includes a series of lectures, public speakers, and a course on the history of evolution; and

WHEREAS, the University of Oklahoma, as a part of the Darwin 2009 Project, has invited as a public speaker on campus, Richard Dawkins of Oxford University, whose published opinions, as represented in his 2006 book “The God Delusion”, and public statements on the theory of evolution demonstrate an intolerance for cultural diversity and diversity of thinking and are views that are not shared and are not representative of the thinking of a majority of the citizens of Oklahoma; and

WHEREAS, the invitation for Richard Dawkins to speak on the campus of the University of Oklahoma on Friday, March 6, 2009, will only serve to present a biased philosophy on the theory of evolution to the exclusion of all other divergent considerations rather than teaching a scientific concept.


THAT the Oklahoma House of Representative strongly opposes the invitation to speak on the campus of the University of Oklahoma to Richard Dawkins of Oxford University, whose published statements on the theory of evolution and opinion about those who do not believe in the theory are contrary and offensive to the views and opinions of most citizens of Oklahoma.

THAT the Oklahoma House of Representatives encourages the University of Oklahoma to engage in an open, dignified, and fair discussion of the Darwinian theory of evolution and all other scientific theories which is the approach that a public institution should be engaged in and which represents the desire and interest of the citizens of Oklahoma.

THAT a copy of this resolution be transmitted to the President of the University of Oklahoma, the Dean of the College of Arts and Science at the University of Oklahoma, and the Chair of the Department of Zoology at the University of Oklahoma.

Naturally, this has once again made Oklahoma the laughingstock of Western civilization. Even Utah — freaking Utah! — shuts up its crazy-ass politicians so the rest of the state doesn’t have to be associated with such ignorant fundamentalism.

Oklahoma Conservatives fracturing Republican Party over response to gay pastor’s prayer

February 18, 2009

Calvin Rees of the Democrats of Oklahoma Forum has obtained and posted the contents of the Oklahoma Conservative Political Action Committee (OCPAC) newsletter written and distributed by one Charlie Meadows.

A section deals with the recent flap at the Oklahoma state capitol over a prayer said by an openly gay pastor, which was preceded by an introduction of his family and partner/fiance. 20 legislators voted not to allow the prayer entered into the record.

Meadows does the Democratic Party of Oklahoma the big favor of dividing the GOP members into two distinct groups, one of which it condemns not “true” conservatives, and thus not worthy of OCPAC member’s votes.

I say, Yay! splinter away!

Members and friends of the Oklahoma Conservative Political Action Committee (OCPAC)



This past Tuesday State Representative Al McAffrey (D-inner city OKC) had the opportunity to invite a pastor to be the Chaplin for the day and open the session with prayer. McAffrey is the only openly homosexual member of the legislature. The “pastor” he asked to give the prayer was the “Reverend” Scott Jones, also an openly homosexual who introduced his “fiancee” Michael, who was sitting in the gallery.
McAffrey asked that Jones’ prayer be recorded in the official minutes of the day, (this is normally only done on Thursdays) Representative John Wright (R-Broken Arrow) objected and called for a vote on the issue.

In my opinion, this was just another cleverly planned skirmish by the homosexuals in the culture war. Radical homosexuals are trying to force society to accept their perverted lifestyle as normal, equal or perhaps superior. Then of course, when normal folks disagree with them, or express that their perversion is “sin” in the eye’s of God as well as all Bible believing Christians (the only real Christians), then the homosexuals play the victim role and accuse those in opposition to their agenda as being haters, bigots, intolerant, narrow minded, red necks and on and on and on. Actually, you don’t have to read many of their notes to people who disagree with them to see that they are the ones that have their hearts full of hate for people who refuse to accept their behavior.

I believe that unless the content of Jones’ prayer was that of confession for his sinful behavior regarding homosexuality and an expression of repentance toward God for his rebellion and perversion, then his being there to give the prayer for the day was an abomination. Based on my reading of God’s Word (The Bible) Jones’
belief that he is a man of God and anyone else who try to justify homosexuality as acceptable, they serve a “god of their own making or their imagination.” They are not serving the God of the Bible and they do not have a relationship with the one and only true God.

Some of the Republican House members walked out, perhaps that was their way to protest the charade, 20 of them voted against allowing the prayer to be recorded and 24 Republicans voted to allow the exception to the norm and have the prayer recorded. May I suggest several possible reasons for the 24 who decided to go along with the desires of McAffrey and the homosexual community.

While most, if not all, Republican House members claim a Christian church affiliation, certainly with some it is more of a social relationship rather than Biblical Christianity. Some may think this is not an important issue and wish it would go away so they could deal with “important” business like determining how they will re-distribute other people’s money. Others may have family members or friends who are homosexuals and have decided to compromise God’s Word and the truth on the subject for their emotional attachments. Perhaps they aren’t mature enough in their Christianity to be able to take a stand against sin, yet at the same time be able to express Christian love toward homosexuals, hoping to see them set free from the bondage of homosexuality. Others might not want to be on the receiving end of the intimidation, hatred, and perhaps death threats from the homosexual community by standing up against their agenda. Just 24 hours in the shoes of State Representative Sally Kern would make the cowardly never want to be in that position. I have already seen some of the e-mails sent to the lawmakers who voted no, and believe me the hateful responses are typical.

Following are the names of those who voted to go along with the homosexual agenda. I will break them into two groups, Those I am not surprised about and those that I am. I am not surprised about Don Armes-Lawton, Eddie Fields-Pawhuska, Steve Martin-Bartlesville, Colby Schwartz-Yukon, Earl Sears-Tulsa, Lee Denney-Cushing, Fred Jordan- Tulsa, Charlie Joyner-Midwest City, Ron Peters-Tulsa, Doug Cox-Grove, David Derby-Owasso, Dale DeWitt-Braman, or Phil Richardson-Minco. With the exception of Eddie Fields, a freshman, every one of these lawmakers have been on the RINO nominee list at one time or another, or in the case of Lee Denney and Doug Cox, they have been the winners of the RINO award.

Following are the names of the lawmakers who did surprise me, Gary Banz-Midwest City, Lisa Billy-Purcell, Cory Holland-Marlow, T.W.
Shannon-Lawton, Ken Miller-Edmond (this guy is a professor at Oklahoma Christian. This is certainly not the perspective of the members of the Churches of Christ that I know), Marian Cooksey-Edmond, Pam Peterson- Tulsa (the biggest surprise of all to me), Chris Steele-Shawnee, David Derby-Owasso, Mike Thompson-OKC, Scott Martin-Norman and Speaker Chris Benge-Tulsa, a person who is supposed to be a social conservative. Of these 24, OCPAC has supported only 4 of them in the past.

Following are the names of the 20 brave lawmakers who voted against the homosexual agenda: Gus Blackwell-Goodwell, George Faught-Muskogee, Lewis Moore-Arcadia, Mike Ritze-Broken Arrow, Mike Christian-OKC, Dennis Johnson-Duncan, Jason Murphey-Guthrie, Mike Sanders-Kinfisher, Ann Coody-Lawton, Sally Kern-OKC, Leslie Osborne-Blanchard, Randy Terrill-Moore, Rex Duncan-Sand Springs, Charles Key-OKC, Pat Ownbey- Ardmore, Todd Thomsen-Ada, John Enns-Enid, Guy Liebmann-OKC, Mike Reynolds-OKC and John Wright-Broken Arrow. Of these 20, OCPAC has supported 13 of them in the past. Only 1 of the 7 who voted the right way on this issue, but did not receive our support, appeared before OCPAC. Had the other 6 appeared for their interview process, I believe we would have supported 5 of them. I believe there is 1 of the 6 who would not have received our support.

Following are the names of the ones who walked out or were absent.
Paul Wesselhoft-Moore, David Dank-OKC, Mark McCullough-Sapulpa, Dan Sullivan-Tulsa, Harold Wright-Weatherford, Jeff Hickman-Woodward, Randy McDaniel-OKC, Sue Tibbs-Tulsa, Mike Jackson-Enid, John Trebilcock-Tulsa, Shane Jett-Tecumseh, and Charles Ortega-Altus. Of those in this list, OCPAC has only supported one.

If one of these lawmakers happens to be your state representative and voted the right way, contact them and thank them for opposing the homosexual agenda. If they took a hike or voted the wrong way, remember that on the next election day, along with their scores on the conservative index..

One final thought. It is very easy to see that the OCPAC interview process, while not perfect, has done a very good job of determining candidates who are CONSISTENTLY conservative vs. those who claim to be conservative when they want our votes and our money, then turn out to govern more like a liberal Democrat, rather than a conservative Republican. Therefore, I invite folks to become a dues paying member of OCPAC so we can continue to elect true conservatives to the legislature. To join, please follow the instructions following my sine off.

Charlie Meadows

[In other news, Meadows announced he has stopped using PeoplePC as his email provider. 1996 is heartbroken at the loss of its last resident.]

20 no votes in Oklahoma legislature for gay pastor’s prayer

February 11, 2009

The Rev. Dr. Scott Jones of Oklahoma City, pastor of Cathedral of Hope United Church of Christ, is certainly having an interesting week.

The Oklahoma Gazette of 2/11/2009 has a column written by Jones, The real ‘gay agenda’ in which he responds to the latest nonsense by Sally Kern — her recent jaw-droppingly stupid speech to the John Birch Society citing a 20+ year old bestselling book After the Ball as the top secret “gay agenda” for obtaining equal rights.

Jones explains about the thousands of rights, large and small, that are denied to GLBT people, and that the only agenda they desire is to be regarded equally under the law.

That would be an accomplishment, and a good week’s work, for most folks, but wait … there’s more.

Invited by Rep. Al McAffrey to give the prayer in the legislature, Rev. Jones was there today and gave a Christian call to community.

… So, today, with abiding faith and calm assurance
We invoke your presence on these precedings.
You are the Creator and Parent of us all.
In your divine majesty you have made us each and every one an image of you,
Our splendid diversity reflecting your infinite glories.
You are our Redeemer and Liberator.
Companion to the poor,
You have promised to
Lift up the powerless and cast down the powerful,
To gather the outcasts,
Heal the brokenhearted,
And bind up their wounds.
You have proclaimed release to the captives,
Recovery of sight to the blind,
And to let the oppressed go free.
You Sustain and Comfort us
Filling us with your Holy Spirit
And thereby uniting us with all creation in every time and place
A fellowship of solidarity
A beloved community
Reminding us that what we have done unto the least of us, we have done unto thee. …

Much to my consternation, official prayers like this are a daily occurrence in the halls of our government, from local to national. They are, it seems to me, mostly ignored, maybe even unheard, by those present.

But that wasn’t the case today in Oklahoma, though. Because Scott Jones is a gay man and in introducing his prayer, he made that fact clear — although I am sure the remark about his family, and “loving partner, Michael Cich” did not come as a shock to the legislators, who get wind of these symbolic invitations in advance, and you know they have a gossip mill just like any other workplace.

Anyway, after giving his fairly inoffensive prayer (we’re not anywhere near Jeremiah Wright territory here, we’re not even rocking the boat on civil rights a la MLK in ’67), one Republican legislator objected to adding the prayer to the record — just a stupid bit of parliamentary business — and called for a vote on it, and then 20 voted against.

20 of our finest citizens, ladies and gentlemen. See, this is Oklahoma, and these are rightwing conservative Christians we are talking about. They are proudly ignorant, mean-spirited and childish, and they think their faith calls them to that kind of thinking and behavior.

Stand up proud now, y’all, because history will not be kind to you:

NAYS: 20
Kern (yeah, what’d you expect?)
Wright, J.

Maybe, in 48 years, these people will be ashamed of themselves as Elwin Wilson was earlier this month when he tearfully apologized to John Lewis, now a U.S. Representative, for being a bigoted shithead in 1961 when he beat Lewis up for violating a Whites Only sign.

Jones didn’t get beat up today, not physically, but the rude and disgusting behavior of 20 Oklahoma congresspersons was a public statement of hate and intolerance, and they meant for Jones to feel it with the same force as a physical attack. They may consider their vote a symbol of their Christian faith, but in fact it only represents their own smallness, and Oklahoma’s major problem

They better hope their god is one of mercy, because they will need a lot of it.

Cross posted at Pam’s House Blend

The Real Rick Warren

December 19, 2008

Here’s a story that reveal the real person inside Obama’s new BFF, Rick Warren.

It’s gotta be more than donuts and a soul-less hug, Rick. Reach down and find that Christ-centeredness you claim to promote — if you’ve got it in you. A little humility wouldn’t hurt either.