Do Not Fear

Today Trump told Christian leaders to be afraid. They are one vote away from losing everything they have gained. Not that different from any other day in this presidency. I am of course tempted to reference Hauerwas at this juncture and his oft quoted reminder that their is only one instance of democracy in the Bible, and they choose Barabas.

(For my more secular readers, The romans give the “crowd” a choice of sparing one of two prisoners – Jesus or Barabas. The crowd seeing on one hand a freedom fighter and the other a troublesome parable telling rabbi… chose… as one does… the less loquacious of the two and condemned Jesus to crucifixion.)

And though contemporary United States politics does present a rather easy target for Christian theology, I want to focus this rant on the fear Trump uses here, specifically fear of violence.

I get it. In a land where refusing to sell a cake to a same sex couple is high martyrdom, the thought of actual physical violence must be so outside the american christian’s daily experience that this must seem apocalyptic. (ugh… I hate I used the word that way… but i’ll leave it and rant later on how in talking theologically, one should avoid using Apocalypse in such a lazy fasion.) Violence against the church? Who could imagine such a thing? Surely this is something other (poorer and tanner) Christians must deal with but not here in good ‘ol WASP country standing up for God by not kneeling for the anthem.

Jesus had a lot to say about fear. He keeps talking about it, goes on and on and on. His disciples probably wish he’d move on or at the very least explore the other side of topic for a bit. But Jesus was rather consistent. His basic philosophy can be summarized thusly: Don’t.

And violence? The guy got cruxified. And his follwers were lucky if they didn’t get cruxified. There is a reason St. Lawrence can joke while being roasted over a fire, he’s dying in a novel and interesting way.

Christians used to die rather than to pledge allegiance to any other Lord other than Jesus…. now we rake coals over football players protesting the violence against their community by kneeling during a song cuz ‘Merica and Jesus, maybe?

So no, Christians you have nothing to fear from the vote come December or any other vote. You are not first and foremost an American, your Lord does not dwell in Washington.

If your going to be temporarily fearful… be afraid of your neighbor not having enough to eat, the widow being alone, the homeless cold.

Then do something about it and stop being fearful.

For Jesus is Lord and you are His subjects, so let try once more to act accordingly. Spread the Gospel to all the Earth, this Ceasar has no real authority. Fear not, God loves you and me, yes even you and me.


Last couple of months have been full of transitions. I moved to Lowell, Massachussets. Began work as a fishmonger in Cambridge. Yesterday I signed a lease in Malden, Massachussets. Will be moving in a couple days which means the great book packing will begin once again. Will need one… maybe two… more boxes as I have aquired a few more books in my time here. I’m sure it is coincidence in a state that actually pays librarians a living wage one would find an abundance of used bookstores.

On children’s awards and complicated figures in history

Once upon a time there were children, children who would one day grow up to learn that people are complex, messy, a mix of good and bad words, deeds, and thoughts. That day is not today, so lets just chill out a second with all the ruckus concerning the formerly named “Laura Ingalls Wilder Award.”

The Association for Library Service (ALSC) bestows the now titled ‘Children’s Literature Legacy Award‘ annually to an author who has made significant and lasting contribution to children’s literature.”

Many have responded to the change with much angst and gnashing of teeth labeling it as another attempt to rewrite history.

These people do not understand what re-writing history looks like.

No one is saying that Laura Ingalls Wilder, who was the first recipient of said award, has not made lasting contributions to children’s literature. No one is saying she did not inspire generations of authors and readers. No one is saying she did not inspire a just short of a decade long television series that took a whole lotta liberties with the text near the end there…

What they are saying is this. Perhaps we don’t need to continue celebrating them the way we used to? Maybe? Just maybe this many decades later we don’t need to celebrate with full abandon an author who during the time it was fully acceptable for her community to other Native Americans, blacks, and i’m just gonna take a swing and say she probably sometime said some awkward insensitive things about Asians.

But in a way removing her name from the award is more honorable than not. In so we further acknowledge Laura Ingalls Wilder not as some one sided cartoon but as a real live person whose mind and work we continue to dive into, turn over, and rearticulate for future generations. This is the work for adults, not our children. And I certainly would rather the next generation have a few years of ignorant bliss before they realize how horrid we have been (and continue to be) to each other.

I am certain of this…

I am certain of this: neither death nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nothing already in existence and nothing still to come, nor any power, nor the heights nor the depths, nor any created thing whatever, wil be able to come between us and the love of God, known to us in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:38-39 probably NRSV

For sometime now I have attempted to follow the Divine Hours, as arranged by Phyllis Tickle. Arranging one’s day around time’s of prayer and contemplation arose from the monastic tradition. Personally I have enjoyed the since of connection following such a daily pattern brings me. I am not alone. God is always present in worship. So are the great cloud of witnesses, those saints (not to say they weren’t sinners too) who continue to be with us. Today’s Midday scipture passage is an expanded portion of the above from Romans. The verse is of course better understood and felt within it’s context. But these two verses in particular are rather climactic.

There is nothing that will separate us from the love of God.


It is time we started to act accordingly.

Blank Pages

Suddenly I had something to say. A sudden bright spark of personal insight needing articulation. Turned on the tablet, put fingers to the keys and suddenly nothing. The insight garbled, the something involved time travel, looking back at the last decade of my life through the lense of the last two months, and being too busy to put anything down.

Charles Yu’s How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe was the perfect book for the last two weeks. I had started the book a couple years back but put it down finding it too slow, too introspective for a guy in the middle of graduate school. At 26, I only looked forward, imagining all the future had in store for me. Soon I would earn my librarian’s cardigan and would be helping the world with their information needs.

Last few months not so much. At 31, I have become annoyingly introspective. Stuck, spinning my wheels, asking myself how much longer? This time, Charles Yu’s time travel metaphor resonated. The termporal paradoxes, time loops, whole universes made of grammar all spoke to me. Couldn’t put the story down til the end. Highly recommend it for any thirty year old science fiction nerds going through a third life crisis.

I can’t change the last decade of my life, it is what is. Would not be where I am, who I am, or have the opportunity to become what I will if not for before.

Progress Expected

Excuse the mess, or don’t. Actually, yeah… it’s better that you don’t. Please leave a comment on how this blog can be better organized.

Was looking forward to some mouseover effects for sorting out Christianese, but this seems for now not to be happening. I’ll figure out something in the meantime.

But Stephen, why would you need to explain Christianese? All you’ve done so far is post a few pretty pictures.

True, but either tonight or tomorrow night I will post my first theological reflection. The rant will concern last week’s lectionary reading from the gospel of Mark. It will, with a lot of editorial assistance, be balancing my authentic rant rambling with a more down to earth model of communication. I’ll be limiting myself to two footnotes ^ in a post and aim to write in such a way that those unfamiliar with church speak may understand what I am blabbering on about.

* Refering to the lectionary calendar, a three year cycle of verses for preaching on which take the congregation through a good chunk of the Bible.

^ or three.

Thou shalt not ignore assholes

And they went into Capernaum; and straightway on the sabbath day he entered into the synagogue, and taught. And they were astonished at his doctrine: for he taught them as one that had authority, and not as the scribes. And there was in their synagogue a man with an unclean spirit; and he cried out, Saying, Let us alone; what have we to do with thee, thou Jesus of Nazareth? art thou come to destroy us? I know thee who thou art, the Holy One of God. And Jesus rebuked him, saying, Hold thy peace, and come out of him. And when the unclean spirit had torn him, and cried with a loud voice, he came out of him. And they were all amazed, insomuch that they questioned among themselves, saying, What thing is this? what new doctrine is this? for with authority commandeth he even the unclean spirits, and they do obey him.And immediately his fame spread abroad throughout all the region round about Galilee.
—Mark 1 21-28.
King James Version, because I don’t have the energy to deal with copyright permissions this morning.

Before we begin…

The following is not a sermon. Nor is it a theologically deep analysis of the above passage Thoughtheological it remains.No great interpreters of scripture will be referenced. In fact the whole excursive rant could be viewed as entirely humanistic. To which I would respond, ‘yes, and…’?

My second thought for a title revolved around ‘the asshole in me acknowledges but in no way accepts the asshole in you’ but really that’s a bit lengthy and one too many assholes for a blog title.

Jesus and the Heckler

Our passage here opens with Jesus teaching in a synagogue. The crowds, per usual were quite impressed with his TED Talk. What great words! This guy has really thought out this meaning of life stuff. Now amongst them was a fella with an unclean spirit. We can safely assume everyone knew about this. It was just one of those things polite people don’t talk about. They wouldn’t want to be thought of as not being nice would they? It was the sabbath after all. Just a little bit longer and service would be over and they could all disperse. Oh yes, there goes… lets say Bob… yes… there goes Bob again being Bob. I mean, that guy sure has issues. oh yep, he’s doing the “art thou come to destroy us” bit again. Used to really creep us out but you get used to it. Just smile and it’ll pass. Really, Jesus… this happens every Shabbat service. Nothing to worry about. Jesus? Jesus, what are you doing?!

Is Christianity nice?

I do not know when Christianity first became associated with niceness, but i’ll bet the rise of television ministry did not help. It’s hard to do a keep an audience tuned to a fire and brinstone sermon when you’ve got Andy Griffith on the other channel. (I certainly would turn the channel) However with this polish, with the smiles, with the ‘God will bless you’ ministries questions soon arise.

Continue reading “Thou shalt not ignore assholes”