Sunday, May 22, 2011

Christianity After May 21st

Well it's the day after "The Rapture" and I'm sure Camping's followers are feeling a bit let down that they're stuck here with the rest of us unworthy sinners. My family and I enjoyed a cool dip in the pool and completely forgot about the impending 6 p.m. deadline. The Mrs. brought it to my attention after we came in for supper, "look honey, it's 7, we missed the Rapture.". We joked about it all day and as comical as it may be, it's really not for hundreds, if not, thousands who gave up their jobs and possessions all based on Harold Camping's predictions. But for them there wasn't suppose to be a May 22nd because the Bible guaranteed it. Even many mainline Christians disregarded Camping's claims by quoting that "nobody knows the day or the hour". But what differentiates believers in the Second Coming with a set date as opposed to those without one? The Second Coming has been an event that's always been just around the corner which always fails to appear. How long will Christianity wait for an event that even Jesus himself thought was imminent? Should Christianity evolve and stop waiting for the Second Coming, and if so how would this reshape Christian's attitudes and relationship with non-believers?

I believe that Christianity is on the bring of reforming itself. Or at least I hope. And it's not just Christianity, humanity as a whole is collectively realizing the deep interconnectedness with itself to itself and to reality. We can no longer afford to continue living in a tribal mindset. We are a part of each other, and the more we struggle to deny our interconnectedness the more pain we cause. There can no longer be a They, since They might be our neighbors, lovers, and family. Instead of hoping for escape maybe Christians might be more willing to live in the here and now instead of up in the clouds. And although I direct this to Christians (mainly because this is a post on the Christian theology of the Rapture) this goes for everyone. People flocked to Haiti after the horrific earthquake and there were many who had mixed emotions after Bin Laden's death. The closer and more interconnected we become with our neighbors the more space we have in our hearts to love them.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Naked Before Reality

"The point is that each moment of your life you're confronted with reality. And you have to do what seems to be right in that moment, but you won't know what that is until that moment happens. You can't prepare for it...that's not how it works. Life brings stuff that you're not prepared for, and then you simply have to confront the wildness of it, the madness of it, the horror of it, or the ecstasy of it." Rabbi Rami

Rabbi Rami Shapiro at First Unitarian Universalist Church of Nashville 7/25/10

The wildness of reality is too much to bear at times which is why I believe some people turn to religion. But even when people clothe themselves with religion to guard themselves from the wildness of reality our hearts are still opened by our shared suffering.

"When you're suffering together love emerges."

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Mistake Fail

Have you heard the News?

But apparently his creation does.

(H/T Failblog)

I'm tempted to say more on this picture **cough, the Bible, cough**, but I'll just leave it at that.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Muslims in Chattanooga

It's sad that I get the paper everyday (my wife gets it for the coupons) and I hardly ever read it. It took Doug B (thanks Doug, what would we do without your daily dish of local religious hijinks) over at Groping the Elephant to bring to my attention the announcement of construction of the new Islamic Center being built here in Chattanooga. The full article can be found here.

When I first learned about this I felt both anxiety and relief. Anxiety because I know the sh*t is about to hit the fan as vile anti-Islamic groups, like the one which set up camp in Murfreesboro, will soon migrate down here as news spreads of the construction. Relief because the more visible any group gets the local citizens will get to know them. And through understanding, I believe and hope, compassion and love can flourish.

The really sad part about this story is the construction of this Islamic Center was never really a secret. And there are also 2 or 3 mosques (and a private elementary school, I think) in Chattanooga already. I remember last year when that broohaha over Park 51 spread across the country to local mosques, I feared for the local Muslim community. In fact I even tried encouraging some of the more liberal pastors in the area to get together with the Muslim community during Ramadan. That got nowhere quickly as most either ignored my calls and emails or kindly brushed me off. (I've never participated in any political or community activism so I didn't really know what I was doing in the first place.)

Now that the Muslim community will become more visible in Chattanooga, I hope more people will try to learn a bit more about this misunderstood faith. I know there will be protests and a lot of ignorance shown on how this "Muslim Threat" is taking over our once "peaceful" community. Local citizens will form groups to try to find ways to stop the construction and the same pointless protests will go down at city hall like up in Murfreesboro. I highly doubt any of my doubting and fearful neighbors will attempt to speak directly with the Muslim community. All they'll do is shout and holler "go back home". Sadly they've been here for years living, eating, and shopping like the rest of us. And when the sh*t finally does hit the fan I'll be right there standing with them on opening day.

Update: I just got a change to see Thursday's episode of the Daily Show and nearly died of the giggles after watching this clip on the dangers of Muslims and Christians getting along.

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Big Mohammed's House
Daily Show Full EpisodesPolitical Humor & Satire BlogThe Daily Show on Facebook

God Bless Jon Stewart!

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

What We Should Celebrate

In my last post I wrote on my distaste for the jubilant celebrations which broke across the country after the announcement of Bin Laden's death. And it didn't occur to me till today why I found it distasteful. It reminded me of the scenes in old Westerns where the whole town gathers to watch a public hanging. In fact I happen to watch a Twilight Zone episode today on Netflix which mirrors how some people must be feeling these past couple days. You can watch the episode, Dust, here and here. There's also a scene where a man brings his whole family to the hanging to teach his kids what happens to a man who drinks and drives.

The Internet is abuzz with mixed emotions on Bin Laden's death. The fact that we are wrestling emotionally over the death of an undeniably evil man (at least in my opinion) is a good sign we haven't become completely heartless animals. I thoroughly enjoyed Vatican spokesman Federico Lombardi response to the celebrations "Faced with the death of a man, a Christian never rejoices, but reflects on the serious responsibility of everyone before God and man, and hopes and pledges that every event is not an opportunity for a further growth of hatred, but of peace." People responded differently to different situation, yet the call for reflection is one I believe everyone should consider as the world moves forward. It may be that the human race will never forgive nor forget Osama Bin Laden's actions. What we should remember and celebrate (instead of celebrating his death) is the opportunity to increase our love for our fellow man. Yet this can only be done if we attempt to understand them. Before 9/11 most of us probably didn't know what a mosque was. Unfortunately now we have several states trying to ban their construction and the practice of Sharia Law.

What we should celebrate is that we have the time, freedom, and opportunity to understand and embrace the people which practice Islam. Behind the veils and the Arabic prayers they are still human beings. Osama Bin Laden was not born with hatred, nor were the rest of us. I don't doubt the death of this man will bring closure and peace of mind to many people yet his legacy will live on. The legacy of tribal supremacy (Us. vs. Them); the legacy of fear of the Other/Our Global Neighbors;the legacy of failing to understand/respect the sacredness of ALL life. We must actively seek to continue to bury his legacy long after we bury the man. We have the opportunity NOW to understand and love our fellow man, and THAT should be celebrated.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Justice is Done

"How can you not celebrate this man's death?" blurted a local talk radio personality over my radio today. How could I celebrate anyone's death? As most of you know Osama Bin Laden has been killed in a recent military operation, yesterday. Yet I don't feel joyous for this man's death, in fact I don't think I could ever celebrate anyone's death regardless if they deserve it. Several of my fellow bloggers also share in my view rejecting Bin Laden's death as a cause for celebration as seen on the news with crowds of people cheering and chanting U.S.A. Does my lack of celebratory spirit mean I'm a traitorous, terrorist-supporting, unpatriotic American? No. All life is sacred, and until we collectively realize that sacredness we will always have terrorist attacks, wars, and senseless killings. Always.

I wonder if Obama had this Bible verse in mind when stating "justice has been done" during his announcement last night. Maybe we celebrate because the memory of our suffering that day is too great to bear. Maybe we feel Osama did deserve death for death. I'm not saying he didn't deserve it, I just can't find it in myself to celebrate, whoop and holler. What I hope for is a collective awareness of our global neighbor's suffering so that we may be moved to compassion.  I pray that through our collective suffering our hearts are cracked open so that we may learn to love beyond our social, tribal, and national borders.

Peace and blessings be upon you and yours.

Update: I recently stumbled upon an interesting article by Aziz Poonawalla over at City of Brass how he, as a Muslim, is emotionally coping with the recent news of Bin Laden's death.