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Monthly Archives: August 2012

THE HIDDEN PLACES OF RELIGIOUS HOMOPHOBIA

WHERE PREJUDICE IS CALLED LOVE

One of modern Christianity’s dirtiest secrets is not the increasingly exposed and hopefully much repented pedophilia (a devastating but still minority issue in terms of real numbers involved). It is the extent to which too many sizable cliques, groups and influential persons are rabidly homophobic while making out they really “love” gays, love them while, they maintain, they are as good as being persecuted by them for having to tolerate them at all – which makes their martyred love all the more righteous and holy. These people may actually believe their own lies, for such they are, but because elements of real enough bigotry and paranoia are involved, (along with selective blindness to many other failings in church and society alike), their position can only be supported by underhand tactics, bending the facts, censoring in Truth’s name, cursing or silencing people all in ways inconsistent with the faith being defended.

ANDREW STROM: JOHN THE BAPTIST NOT QUITE

Andrew Strom is a New Zealand pastor who has spent sufficient years in America to be influenced by that nation for both good and ill. He is chiefly  known, apart from helping launch the Out of Church movement, for diatribes, many of them sensible and justified enough in context, against especially the modern prophetic and prosperity gospel movements. As such I have cited him in one of my books. The prophetic movement is a hot and difficult topic and my old Censored Issues Blog on Blogger received more correspondence on that than on any other themes tackled. It’s one reason I periodically receive automatic messages from Strom’s  Revival site list, which is linked to a wider undertaking oddly – and surely too ambitiously – called John the Baptist.tv. com. Which would seem to betray how Strom now regards himself or his work!

On this J the B site readers have this week been invited to comment upon a (reproduced) article for the 29th August by the consistently sensationalist and alarmist writer John McTernan on the subject of Hurricane Isaac.

See:   bit.ly/PsukL6

Already as of the 30th the hurricane has been downgraded, but the fact that this storm arrives 7 years to  near the day after Katrina, and this time again close on a gay festival it may cancel, is taken as proof positive that God is judging especially America’s tolerance of gays. The fact the hurricane is called Isaac (He Laughs) supposedly indicates the righteous God is laughing at as well as judging American wickedness as exemplified by especially New Orleans’ mainly gay Southern Decadence festival cum party (wrongly called a Convention on the site).

The numerous comments on the article included such gems as:

Andrew, the presence and increased acceptance of homosexuality in society IS the judgment of God…

[Notice gays are not even to be tolerated within a society. They should not be present and thus by implication should have no human rights! J the B does not censor this out]

I live 45 minutes north of New Orleans. Mostly, I stay out of there. It is now the homocide capital of the usa as well

[Frankly, what is this idiot talking about?]

…it is a judgment on AMERICA – whatever has happened and whatever will…..it is clear to see, though, as Andrew has pointed out that this [the hurricane] is being CLEARLY EMPHATICALLY directed at the flaunting of homosexuality in the face of a HOLY GOD…….

 [A few fanatics in Frisco apart, it is extremely unlikely most gays, even the most exhibitionist, specially intend to insult God, assuming they believe in God].

….The gay movement is more than just sin in the American context. Normally God will just hand the sinner over to their own delusions awaiting the day of Judgment, but here there is more……Sodomy in America is being used as a tool to come against Gods people. The gays have been fashioned into a weapon to be used to destroy Christians. The gay weapon has been used to demonstrate the intolerance of God and the hatefulness of the Christians in such a way as to use this weapon as the justification for the removal of biblical faith from the nation altogether…..Pastors are going to prison because of the gays, Business owners are losing their livelihood because of the gays.

[There have been a few cases where Christian free speech has been challenged by over sensitive and ideological gays, but the above response is just hysterical paranoia but J the B Andrew Strom doesn’t criticize or censor it out]

And on and on like this though there were a few moderate dissenters like this one:

Yes, ongoing homosexual behavior is a sin, but it is no worse sin than ongoing other sinful sexual behavior. I certainly don’t condone homosexual behavior, but well meaning folks are so quick to condemn that form of sinful behavior, yet turn a blind eye to pre-marital sex, etc. Where does God elevate homosexual behavior as the worst sin?…

To which moderator Andrew promptly replied, showing his hand and setting off further rounds of sometimes odd speculations:

Very few sins are called an “abomination” in Scripture. Homosexuality is one of them. Let us stick with Scripture.

ROOTS OF OBSESSION

But the “abomination” business is just J the B stirring the fundamentalist pot like a witch’s brew. The statement immediately shows ignorance as “toevah” means something like “idol” and “idolatry” and it could even be used for consumption of pork. Leviticus, like the Bible at large – which never uses the word “homosexuality” – is referring to “the uncleanness of the gentiles”, ritually understood, especially as regards the once widespread sacred prostitution. This alone is what is described as purged from the ancient Israel and at the Jewish temple too. And despite Leviticus, the fact that not even gay prostitutes were executed is indicated by the way Deuteronomy refuses them the right to bring their earnings to the Temple as offering.

Andrew Strom and every contributor has the explicit or implicit understanding that homosexuality is a “lifestyle” and “bondage” from which Christ delivers. This discourse distorts the reality some gays abandon addictive lifestyles fuelled by drink and drugs.  This is irrelevant to issues of orientation and in its way is as much a “blasphemy” as the one so easily getting attributed to gays on Storm’s site in that being ignored and denied there is that Jesus himself declares some are born “eunuchs” from the womb – the word was closest in Jesus’ times to our “homosexual” when the word no longer automatically implied castrate but could mean someone out of the family way.

Regardless….

I sent the message pasted below next section into the thick of the Isaac debate. Within around 10 to 15 minutes it had been taken off. Since one can’t write in without giving an email, in response I wrote again briefly saying I expected to receive moderator Andrew’s explanation to the given address of why such a reasonable message (it insults no one and should offend no one) had been so exceptionally censored out. I also re-posted what (short of computer problems) had apparently so offended our J the B. Both messages were removed without explanation.  (Other later messages with at least some of my perspectives were not removed though Andrew resisted these too, in one case where he was rather solemnly told by someone that God had expressly conveyed to him that this whole situation was not especially about homosexuality and any divine displeasure is presently more directed towards the state of the church than even the world).

Admittedly it isn’t Andrew’s habit to reply where it doesn’t please or interest him. I’m on his lists automatically because I have messaged him and tried to point out regarding things I had written, including about himself in Temple Mysteries. His reply is to put you on his lists. With John the Baptist I suppose one is intended to be satisfied! The big and busy man has too much on hand to bother about writers even if and when they endorse him for something and certainly no time if having trashed such as astrology you point out to him the Magi were astrologers and Christ’s birth data have been a matter of scholarly research if he’d care to look at it.

THE CENSORED MESSAGE re “SEVEN YEARS to REPENT” – Hurricane Isaac.

The author of these speculations is the J.McTernan who appears on the often questionable Sid Roth show. I once wrote to him and received no reply after a lightning strike in I think it was Carolina killed the bride at a marriage. I suggested this didn’t mean that God was against heterosexual marriage which logically is the kind of assumption his sweeping judgements on events would allow some wits and cynics to say.

Let’s face it, if there weren’t certain inbuilt, knee jerk reactions among conservative Christians against gays and for the Christian right, at this moment so significant for Republicans we might be hearing that God has set himself against a Mormon presidency and is giving the nation a storm warning. That would plausible on the same basis. Frankly what one needs is real prophets seriously to declare under inspiration, but all we have are rumour mongers. 

No, I’m not rushing in to defend Southern Decadence but again, let’s face it, when Katrina struck there was a lot of soul searching in some circles about the many sins and false religions especially Voodoo promoted in New Orleans. Accordingly the message was that all those things needed to be repented of, and from what one hears, little enough of it was. 

Even though I am a specialist and officially published on issues regarding gays and religion, I know next to nothing about Southern Decadence and hardly care to know, but I would suspect that like so many of these parades and parties it’s  not especially relevant to the average life of gays. It’s a money spinner for the city and party, scene type gays with money come in from all parts of America for it and the general public joins in, enjoys and supports all and any parties there. 

What Christian attitudes towards gays and homosexuality needs are prophetic words as much as any statements about the latest hurricane. In my published study A Special Illumination (2004) I did include – as far as what was originally a doctoral study could allow – claims by persons to have heard directly from God and Jesus about this whole subject. As it is all this one-sided harping upon the evil of gays as though they are symbol and marker of all that’s evil in a nation does is further alienate both gays and the unbelieving public from Christianity seen as ill informed and intolerant. 

I refuse to start arguing all the biblical texts and get into disputes I and no one will want on this site (my beliefs can anyway be found in numbers of my books, including the latest on the Song of Solomon). However, I will say that if it weren’t for a lot of theological homophobia, (often reflected in the way theologians insultingly won’t even discuss relevant matters), it should be clear from even the Sermon on the Mount that Jesus was against what today we call “homophobia” (for example raca was Aramaic slang for faggot or effeminate) and that he believed some people are born gay. I will say no more than that the gospels must stand above St Paul and Leviticus whom no one now dreams of following and citing on everything from slavery to women covering their heads and keeping silence. I don’t care to judge what Hurricane Isaac is or isn’t about, but I do care to say anything that comes from McTernan and Roth has to be handled with care.

[END OF MESSAGE]

FUNDAMENTALIST BULLY COWARDS

As I often have reason to say, there is scarcely a shred of evidence from Christian history for all the loving behaviour and attitudes of believers towards gays which contemporary conservative Christians cite as some kind of alibi for their position. The politician Edmund Burke was almost unique in protesting the unspeakable treatment of gays by the London mob often leaving them blind and crippled for life. Good Christians never lifted a finger. In Latin America Amerindian gays could even be thrown to wild dogs.

Everywhere there is evidence that Christian teaching especially in America to this day has favoured uncorrected violence and bullying leading in some cases to suicide among adolescents. I have heard it from American Christians that if their offspring were gay they would thrown onto the street some would have wished them never born. If and when they are not notably indulgent and permissive (many are, America is full of puritans and playboys) Americans can be the most meanly, aggressively judgmental people. Attitudes of their kind in relation to outsiders like gays are expressly condemned, even called damnable by Christ in the Sermon on the Mount (Matt 5:23) though translation and preaching doesn’t bring out the full import of what is really being said. But those attitudes are what fundamentalists continue secretly and tacitly to maintain in their social networks expressed on sites like our heroic J the B Andrew Strom’s.

Try and offer any different views and interpretations of the Bible and  you are met with either hectoring and abuse or blank silence such as we find in the case of Andrew Strom who works behind the scenes to tilt arguments the way he wants them. But that’s commonplace. It is almost impossible to be heard, even as some kind of expert or spokesperson for something by any Christian Blog or magazine. (Rednecks may even insult you as they will on Christian Post by telling you Jesus doesn’t need anyone with degrees or doctorates to express any religious opinion). Christianity Today for example, (good evangelicals all, though recently there has been a scandal over one of their number dealing in child porn) have never deigned to reply to me. They never reviewed my ground breaking A Special Illumination despite the wealth of information useful to people in religion included there and its being a cause of media controversy (of the worst kind for myself personally since too much was misunderstood without scope to respond).

It is impossible for people like Andrew Strom to reply if challenged, they are perhaps afraid to modify their worldviews or to enlarge their minds or improve their scholarship, so all they can do is surreptitiously attempt to censor you out of any discussion, too boorish and redneck besides to find the manners to explain their actions or agree to disagree with you. They are as  blind and deaf and stopping their ears to any view not their own as the Pharisees who stoned Stephen and they cause no end of trouble and damage to people psychologically with their vicious inflexible views.

SELFISH, SELF REGARDING  LEADERS OF GAY OPINION

As one gay theologian remarked to me, it takes a special grace to be any kind of gay Christian, an expression fundamentalists with unusual sophistication like to refer to as an oxymoron.  Certainly one is liable to be caught in the nutcrackers of blind conservative prejudice on the one hand and the jealous dismissiveness of those who pass for leaders of secular gay opinion on the other. To these also one is likely not to exist. Shame on for example Huffington Post which runs a Gay Voices series including on gay spirituality issues but which quite as much as Christianity Today, can’t be bothered to reply or acknowledge my existence. And as my experience is far from an isolated example where the US is concerned, though it is perhaps a little more controversial than some cases, it is not hard to understand. People outside America are as good as invisible to Americans unless as rivals to a greedy claiming of the private patch, not to say the cash. There must be no rivals, and on the gay debate America’s intellectuals, theologians and media people pretty much reckon to rule the roost.

It would be hard for these people whether religious and secular to absorb that some of us might actually be in quest of truth and justice on various issues and that we are not into it for money either, but that in terms of our vocation do demand to be heard and in time will and must be and that they stand to be condemned. Christian homophobes and the selfish secular leaders of gays who alike choke up the way to spiritual insight before God are the true ABOMINATION they keep talking about. Together some of them make up the kind of people that would be enough to cause even Christ to exclaim: “I will spit you from my mouth” (Rev 3:16).

PS. THE PERVERSION OF PAPAL PRONOUNCEMENTS

The distortions Andrew Strom facilitates in a minor way for fringe Protestants, Pope Benedict wants to push in a big way with all Catholics. According to most recent report, last Sunday he declared he believes all Catholics who can’t accept essential teaching (such as abortion under no circumstances and opposition to same sex marriage, apparently) are Judases who would do better to leave the church than betray it…..

http://global.christianpost.com/news/pope-compares-disobedient-unbelieving-catholics-to-judas-80777/

This from a Pope and Church that can’t and couldn’t even report or dismiss pederast priests despite the fact that  – forget homosexuality – abuse of the young is treated as almost one of the most heinous of all sins (Luk 17:2). It’s a kind of blasphemy of Christ masquerading as purity. The Church is in decadence…..not Southern Decadence but Total Decadence and it needs apocalypse itself  not hurricanes to sort it out!

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Posted by on August 30, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

A NEW/OLD PRAYER FOR FRANCE?

FRENCH CATHOLICISM WORRIED INTO PRAYER

Somehow I suspect a connection and that something is wrong…. In France the Catholic Church is going to revive a reasonable enough tradition for Christians – specific, centuries old prayer(s) for France. France is a secular country that lacks Christianity and with it spirituality generally,. It’s an unhealthy situation one can often almost feel in the air for the dreariness, bitterness and morbid pessimism  around death that pervades the nation. (I speak as someone who once lived and worked there and any idea the place is “romantic” is simply one-sided). Prayer for France was a tradition begun in 1638 by Louis X111 but got dropped in modern times.  But what is the pretext for this call for revived prayer and what is the day for it?

Sure enough the trigger for new concern is recent secular legislation existing or proposed with gay marriage (which two thirds of the nation is said to approve) topping the list. The day for prayer is Aug 15th, feast of the alleged Assumption of the Virgin into heaven. In short, to be frank if not French about it, two illusions join hands around the gospel the Church seeks to defend if not exactly promote. There is no doctrine more weakly unbiblical than the Assumption. Not even the extreme attachment of the Eastern churches to the Mother of Christ enjoins it – it celebrates a Dormition, a falling asleep, not an open ascension into heaven to rival that of Christ. Assumption doctrine is the last and latest come doctrine the normally conservative Catholic church imposed and defined. As to the other illusion, of that presently.

FORMAL RELIGION TRYING TO MOVE NATIONAL MOUNTAINS

I notice that unless good Catholics are intended to take themselves to sessions of ardent private prayer, the “event” is no more than the reading of prayer(s) for France at the festival. This in itself betrays the weakness of the religion which if it was really serious would declare the day a day of continuous prayer in all churches which to gather from report it isn’t doing. There is nothing here remotely akin to some biblical Day of Solemn Assembly.  However ancient and venerable, reading out prayers in churches reduces things to a formality, and that is one of the problems here.

For far too long, for centuries, Catholicism in France and many other places has been precisely a formality, a kind of legal function, even royal decree like the one that put the prayer for France in place.  It is less an outgoing preaching of the gospel than declaration and defence of a religion’s right by secular means to organize things. It lacks real emotional or “charismatic” dimension. The emotion goes less to God than colourful cults of the Virgin who stands in for the ignored Christ who is hardly being preached and the Bible that is scarcely being read or taught.

French Protestantism, at least as exemplified by Calvin’s theocratic Geneva, cannot be said to have improved upon the root legalistic/formalistic error in the religion it sought to reform. It was an interfering, tyrannous, nit-picking, loveless kind of mini Inquisition (that didn’t stop at heretic burning) and generally sought to control people’s lives to an unprecedented degree creating further legacies of suspicion and hatred for Christian religion.

Spiritual issues cannot for the most part be fought and resolved with human means or the human powers just fight back as at least sometimes secular forces –  however ultimately misguided and blind – have done in France opposing a religion at times as oppressive as Inquisition itself.  And though Christians are perfectly justified to defend their own rights, how much authority did they ever have, beyond defending a basic humanity, to impose their own beliefs and ethics in terms of secular law?

AGAINST ADAM AND STEVE FRENCH STYLE

Tradition alone rather than real theology can fail to see that point, but where’s the biblical theology?  It is amazing to see that Cardinal Bernadin of Lyons can proclaim that Catholics know better than parliaments that marriage is for man and woman because it’s there on the first page of Genesis. In short, the Cardinal on this point is like American fundamentalists who protest “Adam and Eve not Adam and Steve”. But surely an admitted theme is allowed a variation upon a theme? And does not even the Bible in places concede just that  such as in the way the covenant union between David and Jonathan employs the same word as the prophet Malachi employs for heterosexual marriage?

No matter what one thinks of it, is gay marriage ever quite properly called “an attack” upon marriage? Evidently some gays think the institution of some value. Strictly speaking one can at most speak of a misuse of marriage, but will one claim that a Catholic saint St Aelred of Riveaulx misused the term when he wrote of Jesus being as though in perfect marriage with John? Or indeed was the author of Revelation (by tradition John) misusing the word in speaking of a marriage of the Lamb which effectively is the “marriage” of Christ to both sexes?

As I have written enough and elsewhere on the problem of gay relations (most recently, though not so extensively in Solomon’s Tantric Song: Questions of Sexual Spirituality,  (see amzn.to/NlbebR)  I won’t and needn’t elaborate beyond saying, especially as regards Christ and St Paul it’s not all so obvious as might appear to some. But what must be said here is this.

FRENCH ETHICAL POLYTHEISM?

Arguably the spiritual condition of France has always been somewhat challenged and compromised not by the perennial minority (whether married or unattached!) of gays but by the majority of the French population whose attitude towards marriage is itself questionable. It is so whether they believe in literal Adam and Eve or not. Scarcely has any culture in history gone quite so far in endlessly analyzing and uncritically celebrating the extra-marital affair. The fiction, the films are  scarcely about anything else. Andre Malraux, himself an atheist and no puritan, declared the national fiction to be not edifying.

No spirituality can long sustain the lack of one-pointedness which numerous affairs engage. It becomes like the spirit of polytheism over the Spirit of God and in the past it needed a plethora of saints plus Virgin cult to satisfy the psychology entailed…. sometimes mixed in with the always encroaching element of rational “objectivity” which also supports a maximum of partners and experiment. Because like the unfortunate pets of France that Brigitte Bardot protests for and which get abandoned everywhere once their interest and charm have passed their use by date, the lover gets ditched or exchanged, victim to an underlying rational froideur for the latest passion or just interest.. This is not some kind of no-fault behavior requiring no species of repentance towards God. It muddies the entire outlook on truth, life and of course religion with which it may exist in uneasy relation –  Nancy Mitford’s Love in a Cold Climate supplies an ironic account of how vague talk of religion can enter into even the arrangements of wife swapping in upper class French circles.

“L’ amour” is the main French drug of choice and one can easily appreciate why. There’s little enough love in the form of ordinary compassion to go around, (heaven help the lonely elderly). Indeed the atmosphere is often so frosty one almost needs an affair or two to keep the spirits up and feel protected against a hostile world!

MAY FRANCE SEE THE LIGHT BEFORE SEX!

One of the most irreligious, secular features of France is the refusal to allow any kind of outdoor, public religious witness. I don’t say that I am any fan of street preaching and outdoor religious events, but I do feel their total denial is a spiritual limitation and mark of discrimination ; and in France it has perhaps come to a point where the situation represses religion as much as a legalistic Catholicism has repressed sex in the past. This is something which could be legally challenged.

Whatever……any prayer for France should be not about the laws of this world which must and will always look after themselves. It should be about seeing the light, freeing religious expression in a country which doesn’t have enough of it and needs to be challenged not by administration of laws but the gospel in its essence. France has always been a tough nut to crack for religion both for and against having displayed the gamut of reactions from the first and particularly horrific persecution of Christians in 180 at Roman Lyons and then a millenium later been a site of intolerable Inquisition. When times have been quieter the old boast dei gesta  per francos (the deeds of God by the French) have been less evident than exaggerated cults of either Mary or Mary Magdalene. St Bernard of Clairvaux  who brought Marian cult to the Western Europe largely innocent of it, thought the Virgin gave him drops of her breast milk. Louis de Monfort taught Mary was a co-redemptrix, Catherine de Laboure introduced the superstition of Mary’s Miraculous Medal while St Bernadette of Lourdes long troubled even many of the French clergy by insisting Mary was the Immaculate Conception.

It’s a decidedly controversial legacy but if Christians, Catholic or any other, are going to be chiefly known for what they oppose and seek to impose by law  on everyone then ca c’est dommage. It could mean the faith in France is doomed in ways it isn’t elsewhere  where the faith is even thriving despite persecutions the western churches often shamefully ignore and scarcely protest while they continue to worry the world over gay marriage as an “attack” upon it. 

 
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Posted by on August 7, 2012 in Uncategorized

 
 
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