Rambling thoughts on same-sex marriage & stuff.

Posted in Uncategorized on April 6, 2009 by Robaigh

Iowa’s Supreme Court ruled yesterday that the state’s ban on same-sex marriage is unconstitutional.  This news, of course, has the blogs abuzz – both with high praise in some quarters and massive condemnation in others.  Politically, I have a hard time justifying a ban on stuff that consenting adults do, including how they choose to express their love for one another.    I realize that the issue is more complicated than that, but I think its unjust for the majority of citizens to enjoy civil rights “more equally” than the minority.  Feel free to disagree – it won’t hurt my feelings – but I don’t care to argue about it.

I guess the reason I feel somewhat compelled to write here has more to do with the moral question of homosexuality.  Before I began scribbling here today (when I really ought to be working on 4 different papers!), I ran across several (Christian) blogs condemning the SC’s decision, calling for homosexuals (i.e. sinners) to “repent, for judgment is coming.”

I understand that the folks who are writing these blogs (most of them, at least) are doing so out of a genuine sense of concern for the well-being of gay folks.  (I’m willing to give them the benefit of the doubt here.)  On the other hand, I have some issues with their argument.  Many of them argue that homosexuality is a sin.  Maybe it is, maybe it isn’t.  My view on sin is perhaps different from theirs.

As I have come to understand it, Sin (capital “s”) comes down to idolatry.  Name a sin, eventually it leads back to idolatry.  Sin is a state of unrighteousness.  It’s opposite is, obviously, righteousness.  To be righteous means to have faith in (pisteuo is the Greek verb, meaning not only to “have faith,” but also to “have confidence” or even to “believe”) God as the only source of life.  When we place confidence in created things (other people, pet ideologies, our own abilities, religious moralism) without recognizing God as the true source, we’re sliding down the greasy sled of idolatry.

The other day I was reading Luther’s The Freedom of a Christian in which he talks about justification by faith in the promise of God’s grace versus a reliance on “good works.”  Luther seems to say that, from a human perspective, a person’s works do seem to make them either good or bad. He points to MT 7:20.  “Thus you will know them by their fruits.”  But he says that this is purely external.  By making these kinds of judgments, we can be making big mistakes.

The problem is that we need to look beyond these external signs.  “One must look away from works and focus rather on the person and ask how one is justified,” remembering that “the word of God (that is, the promise of grace)” – not what we do or don’t do – that justifies us.

The trajectory here is that we don’t know whether a person is justified or not.  As people declared righteous by God’s saving power in Jesus Christ through the Holy Spirit, we of all people should recognize free grace and treat others as though they are justified like us.  Putting others on the wrong side of the boundary denies God’s saving power and is not a faithful witness to what we believe.

So, while I believe Christian moralists are upholding what they believe is the right opinion (even though I don’t agree with them), I think there is a danger of idolatry.

The delicious irony, of course, is that I may be just as guilty by holding my opinion.  It points to Luther’s other understanding that, no matter what we do or think or say (even if we’re “sinning boldly”), we fall short of the glory of God and need justification from outside of ourselves.



Posted in Christianity, church, Counter-culture, God, Humor, Jesus, Ministry, religion with tags , , , , on April 4, 2009 by Robaigh

Cool post on idolatry.

reluctant to post

Posted in Uncategorized on January 17, 2009 by Robaigh

Was running through my tag surfer this morning and came across a post by an anti-theist. I would post a link, but I can’t find the page now. It contained a cartoon that lampooned theists (probably mostly Christians) who become emotional and abusive when they percieve atheists’ appeals to logic as threats to their faith. It was actually a funny cartoon, even if it was fairly mean-spirited. If I find it again, I’ll definitely post a link.

Two things bothered me about the post. 1) It was a sadly accurate depiction of how some folks defend their faith. (This is not finger pointing on my part. I’ve been there, if not in defense of my own faith, then in defense of some other ideal I held on to.) 2) Again, as I’m finding with increasing frequency, it was plain antagonistic. The cartoon itself not so much, but the text that followed said something pretty close to, “Wanna have an argument, churchy?” Well, no. First of all, I don’t care to convince you of anything, so why argue? But secondly, I actually don’t even want to have a conversation with you if you’re going to be dismissive and disrespectful even before we start. I have run across many level-headed atheists and agnostics here on facebook with whom I disagree (obviously), but whom I have to respect, not only because they’ve come across their skepticism through honest deliberation, but also because they are articulate, kind and patient in describing their points of view.

I’m not sure why I’m posting this. I guess it’s just something that sticks in my craw when I run across it.

End of Break

Posted in Uncategorized on January 15, 2009 by Robaigh

I’m back. Actually, I’ve been physically back for a cuppla weeks, but have had no gumption to write. Got a bit of reading done for fun, as well as for the now-defunct plan to travel to northwestern NoDak for my January term. (Incidentally, while I was kinda looking forward to the trip – spending time with a farm family, doing farm things – I am exstatic NOT to be in or near Minot, which is now rating the lowest temperatures in the lower 48. Whew! Dodged that bullet.)

To recap my past month:
* Did well in the semester. Could’ve been better, but that whole balancing-home-life-with-academics thing prevented all A grades. It was a good trade, as far as I’m concerned.

* Had fun at Christmas

* Got my CPE slot arranged for next summer. (Aside: I’m really looking forward to CPE in a lot of ways, even though it scares the pants off of me. I’m now feeling a bit more anxiety, since one of the chaplains I’ll be working with seems determined to push my buttons. In the interview he asked me, “Do you ever get angry?” I responded that, yes, of course I do. He said, “I think it’ll be interesting when you explode.” “Maybe from your side,” I said. “Precisely!” was his enigmatic reply. “Oy fookin’ vey!” I said – to myself, of course.)

* Started getting in some of by second semester books. I’m really looking forward to Systematic Theology and to my Loss and Grief class. The others I can kind of take or leave, but these two hold the most interest for me right now. I’ve already begun looking into the loss & grief texts, since the subject matter is so relevent to my current situation. So far, it makes a lot of sense.

* Managed to read Tillich’s “The Courage to Be,” Barbara Brown Taylor’s “When God is Silent,” Philip Gulley’s ” Hometown Tales,” Lee’s “To Kill a Mockingbird” and John Elder Robison’s “Look Me in the Eye: My life with Asperger’s.” Could take or leave Gulley, but the rest were very enjoyable.

* Never found the dog-snarfed Flash drive. (Background: two weeks prior to Xmas, The Mrs. wanted to get some pics taken of us to send to our respective familial units. A friend from school who dabbles (marvelously) in photography offered to test out her new camera on us. She put the pics on a flash drive so that we could transfer them. Same said friend and husband also agreed to catsit for us while we were gone. They came over the day before we left in order to meet the felines and learn the routines. As I was handing friend’s husband his flash drive back, Large Black Dog decided that I must have been passing a cookie to that guy instead of to her, leapt into the air and snatched the drive out of my hand. Despite my cries of “Gack! No! Durrrrrrr!” she swallowed the sucker whole. I offered to buy a new drive for our friends, and they assured us it was not necessary, but they definitely did not want that particular one back once the dog was done with it.)

* Attended a huge-ish non denominational church service/performance on Christmas Eve. There was lots of contemporary (i.e. crappy) music and the service was a bit too entertainment-focused for me, but the pastor’s message – which he addressed mostly to those in the seats who wouldn’t be there had it not been Christmas and/or had their friends/relatives not dragged them there – was (as far as I can tell) perfectly delivered. Good News proclaimed. Bravo, sir.

* Attended a Nazarene mega-church the following Sunday. Again, a bit too much performance and some of the music was – to me – theologically unsound (and musically boring), but the sermon was very, very good and seemed authentic. I couldn’t complain. Especially when their choir – consisting of home-grown talent (which was surprising to me, because a) there were LOTS of people, b) they were really good and c) a & b are pretty scarce in the Lutheran churches I’ve attended) – performed Handel’s Halleluiah Chorus. Brought a wee tear to me eye, it did.

* Caught Marley & Me, which ought to be outlawed. I managed to tear myself from my own watery-eyed inwardness long enough to observe that the Dolby Sound system was the only reason I was able to hear the last 20 minutes of the movie over the sounds of sniffling and nose-blowing. What a sad, sad movie! All the more so, cuz you knew from the start that it was coming. It was good though. It highlighted how animals can serve a very important role in binding family relationships. As I think of my own family, sometimes the animals were the ONLY common ground, genetics notwithstanding.

* Relaxed.

* Caught up a little with some old friends. It’s amazing how much good it can do to hear familiar voices. I miss you guys.

* Learned of the death of another old friend. I say “friend,” though I hardly knew her at all. On the other hand, I don’t think Libby ever met a stranger. She was always very good to me, anyway.

* Celebrated my wife’s birthday with Japanese food.

To sum up, it hasn’t been a terribly exciting couple of weeks, but it has been very enjoyable to step back and reflect a bit. After the harriedness of the first semester’s final days, that opportunity to contemplate a bit has been very much appreciated.

O Radiant Dawn

Posted in Christianity, God, Identity, Jesus, Ministry, music, religion, Uncategorized with tags , , , , on December 21, 2008 by Robaigh

For December 21 (Solstice)

“O Radiant Dawn, splendor of eternal light and Sun of justice,
shine on those lost in darknes –
come to enlighten us.”

O Key of David

Posted in Christianity, church, God, Identity, Jesus, Ministry, religion with tags , , , on December 20, 2008 by Robaigh

For December 20

“O Key of David and Sceptre of the House of Israel,
what you open none can shut –
come and lead us out of darkness.”

O Root of Jesse

Posted in Christianity, God, Identity, Jesus, Ministry, music, religion with tags , , , on December 19, 2008 by Robaigh

For December 19

“O Root of Jesse, Standard of the nations and of kings;
whom the whole world implores –
come and deliver us.”