human rights

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Evangelicalism, You Have Traumatized Me


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Evangelicalism, you have made your people defend a book, but not the marginalized in front of them. You have blinded them with your judgements. You have made them so hungry for power, that they want nothing to do with the powerless. You have turned them into the oppressors. You have made it all about the next life, while ignoring this one. Your people pray, sing, maintain their holiness, but what they don’t see is that this is turning them into white-washed tombs. They don’t realize that righteousness is justice. Holiness is defending the powerless and taking care of the least of these. You have made it all about themselves.

You still have some honest, good people within your religion, but you must release them from your bondage. You must give them the freedom to be messy, to question, to love, to do justice, to give mercy, to be kind and gentle. You must step aside and let them see Jesus, and to be Jesus.

Evangelicalism, you have traumatized us enough. Maybe you are the one who is traumatized. It is time to examine your fruit. It is time to heal, so that you may bring healing.

Exerts from the a blog post entitled “Evangelicalism, you have traumatized me” from Robert Lofgren

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Feature

I prefer to be awake…


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The airstrikes happen everywhere, anytime, day and night. At night is the most difficult time. The bombing intensifies and I can feel it getting closer and closer. I’m exhausted but I try and force myself not to fall asleep… the explosions are even scarier when they wake you up. I prefer to be awake when they strike.

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I prefer to be awake when they strike.

Wow… that line blows my mind.

Think about that for a second.

How fucked up would my world have to be for me to utter a sentence like that…

the bombs are going to happen, I prefer them in the daylight.

It blows my mind that strikes are so inevitable as to have a preference.

It blows my mind that this is someones reality.

It blows my mind that for some, throwing rocks is the last little bit of resistance they can offer.

It blows my mind that we can label a whole people group as terrorists… the grandparents, the sons and daughters… the parents that hope for their kids just like parents all around the world do.

A people group whose hopes & dreams aren’t that different from yours or mine.

It blows my mind how indifferent or dismissive we can be…

Because acknowledging their reality would force us to confront our own.

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Graffiti on the wall of a Palestinian refugee camp in Bethlehem
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Simple dreams – Graffiti on The Wall, Bethlehem.

 

 

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The quote from the beginning is from Arwa Mhanna’s article for Oxfam, the full article can be read here.

Donations to Oxfam’s Gaza effort can be made here.

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adventures

Caged Love


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Spent the day walking around San Francisco, from the Wharfs to Mission District up to the twin peaks to catch the sunset.

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In my travels I noticed that a lot of the doorway entrances have a caged door as well…

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and then I noticed some churches do too…

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and then I noticed not just doorways but little enclaves & places of shelter were caged off…

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and then I found this man in an alleyway…

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and right across the road was this church…

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it had a large sheltered area that would be perfect for alley-man to sleep & shelter in.

 

It may even make a difference in whether he lives or dies tonight.

 

I want to ask a question, so I find an entrance. On the way I see the churches slogan on a big sign,

Relationship. Not Religion.

 

I ask, “why do I see so many areas caged off?”. The answer it seems is because homeless people would take up residence there. “Is this why you guys have a caged area too?”, He looks awkward, a lady pipes up, “You have to remember we have to keep it clean for Sunday”.

I ask her if she knows a homeless guy died from the cold the other night, that he is the 5th in the last 2 weeks. She tells me if they let a few homeless stay (in the courtyard) soon there would be lots & they have families that come on Sunday.

He tells me they’re busy & I have to go now, I thank them for their time, I’m just trying to make sense of it all…

Wouldn’t God be appalled if our courtyards were dirty.

Heaven forbid we became known as a church where the least & disadvantaged seek shelter, or where faith was raw & real for our families, rather than disinfected-white-washed-sanitised-sunday-school-lives.

Lets do some simple math. There are easily a 120+ people there, that would mean committing 1 day every 2 months where you & another person cleaned up & served the homeless that gathered in your courtyard…

 

who knows, maybe then the words of your slogan would come to life…

maybe then it would stop being religion,

and start being relationship.

adventures

My Live Below the Line Challenge: the who


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child-trafficking

The average sex traffic victim is a 12-year-old girl.

The average sex tourist is a male from a wealthy country.

He will visit a poor country.

Average flight to Bangkok $1,300.

$10-30 for a meal.

$10-30 for a child prostitute.

 

trafficking

 

As part of the Live Below the Line challenge you chose an organisation to benefit from the money you’ve raised.

It’s a brief dilemma as there are so many quality groups to choose from, World Vision, Oxfam, Global Poverty Project, Engineers Without Borders, Habitat for Humanity, Salvation Army… & many more.

One of the consequences of extreme poverty is human trafficking, part of which is forced exploration in the sex industry. This often effects the poorest & most vulnerable people in our world. This is why I chose Tear Fund.

 

Maria’s Story

“Maria was only 13 years old when a family friend offered to find her a job working as a waitress in a neighbouring country. The woman promised to escort her across the border where she said Maria could make enough money to support her impoverished family. However after crossing the border, the woman took Maria straight to a brothel.

Maria was horrified and protested saying she wanted to go home. The manager told Maria that her freedom had been purchased from the woman who had delivered her. She now had a debt imposed on her and was told she could not leave until she had paid it back in full. Maria was told she must pay back the money she owed by selling her body.

A willing customer was found later that night and shaking with fear, Maria was led into a room where the man waited. When he began to rape her, Maria cried out so loudly in pain that the man complained.

The brothel manager then strapped tape over Maria’s mouth to silence her screams.

But the horror was not over as she was forced to have sex with seven more strangers that night.

Posing as a potential customer, one of our investigators was able to covertly infiltrate the criminal network responsible for Maria’s captivity. Working with trusted local authorities, Nvader facilitated the rescue of Maria and the prosecution of those responsible. Maria was placed with a secure professional aftercare provider where she was able to begin her journey of healing and restoration”.

 

I don’t think I need to say more, a week without the food, technology, car that I’m used to should be a walk in the park compared to this.

 

Maria was only 13 years old when a family friend offered to find her a job working as a waitress in a neighbouring country. The woman promised to escort her across the border where she said Maria could make enough money to support her impoverished family. However after crossing the border, the woman took Maria straight to a brothel. – See more at: https://www.livebelowtheline.com/nz-tearfund-about#sthash.BKuHlEIf.dpuf
Maria was only 13 years old when a family friend offered to find her a job working as a waitress in a neighbouring country. The woman promised to escort her across the border where she said Maria could make enough money to support her impoverished family. However after crossing the border, the woman took Maria straight to a brothel.Maria was horrified and protested saying she wanted to go home. The manager told Maria that her freedom had been purchased from the woman who had delivered her. She now had a debt imposed on her and was told she could not leave until she had paid it back in full. Maria was told she must pay back the money she owed by selling her body.A willing customer was found later that night and shaking with fear, Maria was led into a room where the man waited. When he began to rape her, Maria cried out so loudly in pain that the man complained. The brothel manager then strapped tape over Maria’s mouth to silence her screams. But the horror was not over as she was forced to have sex with seven more strangers that night.

Posing as a potential customer, one of our investigators was able to covertly infiltrate the criminal network responsible for Maria’s captivity. Working with trusted local authorities, Nvader facilitated the rescue of Maria and the prosecution of those responsible. Maria was placed with a secure professional aftercare provider where she was able to begin her journey of healing and restoration. – See more at: https://www.livebelowtheline.com/nz-tearfund-about#sthash.Xplx0NRB.dpuf

Maria was only 13 years old when a family friend offered to find her a job working as a waitress in a neighbouring country. The woman promised to escort her across the border where she said Maria could make enough money to support her impoverished family. However after crossing the border, the woman took Maria straight to a brothel.Maria was horrified and protested saying she wanted to go home. The manager told Maria that her freedom had been purchased from the woman who had delivered her. She now had a debt imposed on her and was told she could not leave until she had paid it back in full. Maria was told she must pay back the money she owed by selling her body.A willing customer was found later that night and shaking with fear, Maria was led into a room where the man waited. When he began to rape her, Maria cried out so loudly in pain that the man complained. The brothel manager then strapped tape over Maria’s mouth to silence her screams. But the horror was not over as she was forced to have sex with seven more strangers that night.

Posing as a potential customer, one of our investigators was able to covertly infiltrate the criminal network responsible for Maria’s captivity. Working with trusted local authorities, Nvader facilitated the rescue of Maria and the prosecution of those responsible. Maria was placed with a secure professional aftercare provider where she was able to begin her journey of healing and restoration. – See more at: https://www.livebelowtheline.com/nz-tearfund-about#sthash.Xplx0NRB.dpuf

Maria was only 13 years old when a family friend offered to find her a job working as a waitress in a neighbouring country. The woman promised to escort her across the border where she said Maria could make enough money to support her impoverished family. However after crossing the border, the woman took Maria straight to a brothel.Maria was horrified and protested saying she wanted to go home. The manager told Maria that her freedom had been purchased from the woman who had delivered her. She now had a debt imposed on her and was told she could not leave until she had paid it back in full. Maria was told she must pay back the money she owed by selling her body.A willing customer was found later that night and shaking with fear, Maria was led into a room where the man waited. When he began to rape her, Maria cried out so loudly in pain that the man complained. The brothel manager then strapped tape over Maria’s mouth to silence her screams. But the horror was not over as she was forced to have sex with seven more strangers that night.

Posing as a potential customer, one of our investigators was able to covertly infiltrate the criminal network responsible for Maria’s captivity. Working with trusted local authorities, Nvader facilitated the rescue of Maria and the prosecution of those responsible. Maria was placed with a secure professional aftercare provider where she was able to begin her journey of healing and restoration. – See more at: https://www.livebelowtheline.com/nz-tearfund-about#sthash.Xplx0NRB.dpuf

Maria was only 13 years old when a
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fallout


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Fallout. Some intended, some not. Some you see coming, some you don’t. Some you think you’re ready for… only to discover you’re not as invincible or as invisible as you think.

I haven’t published anything of substance since March 22nds opening the Gay Marriage Can of Worms.

*sigh…*

 

That’s 6 months ago!

 

This is my 4th 5th – I’ve lost count – attempt to write a follow-up post.

I scrapped the “thesis” post, the “argue-louder-I’m-angry-you-called-me-those-names” post, and the “mailbag” post…

So I guess that leaves you with the “fallout” post.

 

What’s happened since then

Lots of people read it, it ended up in places I could never have imagined. I shut comments down, I received more emails in a couple of days than the blogs entire lifetime – some nice, many not. I had coffees & catch-ups. Gay marriage was made legal… my Facebook news feed read

Congratulations mps on passing your new bill now you have legalised gay marriage and prostitution what next pedofilla and rape?

and the world didn’t end.

I ambitiously set about responding to all those emails, had some great discussions before crawling into a hole & escaping to blog elsewhere for a bit. I went to Uganda.

Which brings me to the most surprising thing that happened.

I did a City-to-Surf run to raise funds for a mission trip to Uganda… someone asked for their money back.

Yep, that actually happened (& wasn’t the only weird bit of overreaction).

 

If these were the views I was espousing they didn’t feel morally they could support my trip. Never mind that homosexuality is illegal in Uganda… what’s interesting is I saw more guys holding hands (and held hands with several men) in Uganda than you’d see in NZ… you see it’s not a gay thing its a cultural thing.

Which leads to the conclusions we jump to, two guys holding hands in Uganda are friends, two guys holding hands in a western country are gay. Conclusions we jump to.

Several emails I received were about how provocative this pic at the end of the post was.

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Two guys holding hands.

Except it isn’t.

I just googled “holding hands”.

It’s interesting what we see when we’re a little riled up. I got a little riled up, it’s why I initially delayed a response. It’s interesting the space we go to when we feel under siege, part of me wanted to hit back, part of me wanted to do the “mailbag” post & answer every question…

Instead I’ll leave you with a few ‘fallout’ observations & then the reason why I wont answer all those questions, comments, accusations…

The original post was just some thoughts on recurring discussions I was hearing. A lot was cut out, I could have written a book, but even I don’t read long posts. It was to provoke some thought, to (I hope) be permission giving for some, to even begin a discussion or heaven forbid… have thoughts.

 

 

The Bible – this could be another book 🙂

why the lack? There are many books dealing with biblical interpretation, bible times culture & homosexuality. Some arguments are stronger than others.

Ultimately we pick what we want.

Then justify our method.

If I’d included some text that’s all I would have been doing, and that’s the reason why I said, the “surrounding issues are close to many peoples hearts”, the surrounding issue being the Bible & how we read it, that’s what it really comes down to, that is the core issue. Not just in the gay debate, but everything… women leadership, abortion, evolution. Different crisis, same issue.

You’re asking me to read my Bible differently than my tradition has prescribed, and so I can’t go there. If I do, my faith is kicked out the door

– Tim Keller

Whatever side of the argument we’re on we make the bible jump through hoops and conform to the views we hold. Ultimately we make the Bible bow to words like “authority”, “inerrancy”, “narrative” & “myth”.

 

 

A human face

I finally put my name & photo on the author page. We interact with things differently when there is a face attached to it. It’s the same with the ‘gay’ issue’.

When we lack a ‘face’ we lack compassion, we say “love the sinner, not the sin”, and while we can love liars (after all, we’ve all lied), thieves (I’m guilty), druggies (we’re suckers for a good “Saul/Paul” story), pastors who’ve had affairs (so much temptation out there), our love for homosexuals extends as far as wanting nothing to do with you.

For many of us there is no real face to it, we can’t identify with the struggle, it’s media stereotypes and fear of that which is “other” to us.

If I preach love & can visit murderers in prison but can’t give a gay guy a hug, then my love rings hollow.

The face for me is, my gay neighbours & their adorable wee boy. The gay family I stayed with overseas. Friends I’ve studied with in High School & Bible College. Those I’ve cried alongside with in the church, because wrestling with your sexuality & faith in a place that is hostile is just brutal. I can see why many choose to quit on church, I get why most choose to remain silent, I consider it a privilege to have journeyed a little with those who didn’t.

 

 

Love & God on opposite sides?

This comment drew a lot of attention.

If when it’s all said & done,  and I stand before God & I’ve gotten this wrong, I know I will have erred on the side of Love, and that is something I can live with

I guess what I’m saying is that, in this moment I’ve made what I feel to be the right decision for me & my faith journey. But I recognise that 12 yrs ago I thought the world had to have been created in 7 days & it was dangerous to think otherwise, so things change. Ultimately I recognise my own shortcomings, I’m not perfect, and I’m not God.

 

 

why no ‘mailbag’ post

I don’t have all the answers, I’m still trying to figure stuff out.

I don’t think the topic of “how we interact with those who we see as other to us” is a question that should be answered, a box to be ticked, a solution filed away…

rather it is something we should always wrestle with, so I’ll leave it open…

wrestle, read, have conversations, think, pray…

because there will always be minorities.

 

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opening the Gay Marriage Can of Worms


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Gay-Marriage

As a Christian, as a follower of Jesus, as a human being, could I… would I vote for Gay Marriage…

Can of Worms – Once we open it, more than what we expect will come out.

In the past whenever the subject has come to the forefront I’ve kept quite on it, didn’t think it was my place to say anything, that I could add anything to the conversation…

or maybe realising if I did it would change things… not being willing to live with the repercussions.

 

I understand this subject & surrounding issues are close to many peoples hearts, so before your knee jerks I’d encourage you to read the Disclaimer, leave a comment, send an email pillscoffeeheresy@hotmail.com

… or say a prayer.

 

Why now? I guess of late I’ve been asked a lot, I’ve found myself in several conversations, I’ve found myself.

I guess of late I’m happy to wear the fallout.

By no means comprehensive, here are some thoughts on Gay Marriage, pros, cons, thoughts on cons, thoughts on thoughts… thoughts on the worms that crawl out of the Can.

 

My Cons list

I wouldn’t vote/support Gay Marriage because… If I did it would/may change various peoples relationships with me, may change the level of involvement I’m able to have  with various groups/organisations that I really enjoy working with…

may lead to my being labeled & boxed in, any contributions on any other subject ignored because of thoughts on this one…

may cause myself or people I care about to endure unnecessary harassment… may cause the trolls to come out from under the bridge.

 I’m selfish.

Really, when I think about it that’s the only con I have… selfishness. None of the other cons stack up for me… and selfishness, I don’t want that to be a part of me.

 

Thoughts on Cons

Gay Marriage will make a mockery of marriage – lets say it does, wouldn’t that just lead to a case of the pot calling the kettle, “black”. We have a few 1000-yrs head start on making a mockery of marriage, a divorce rate indistinguishable from those who don’t attend church, scandal after scandal that seem as dependable as the changing seasons.

I’m protecting the institution of marriage! – no you’re not, most likely you don’t like change (if the sanctity of marriage is a legitimate concern read the section below “marriage & marriage”).

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Seriously, read some sermons around the time of the civil rights movement, “if God had wanted the abomination of inter-racial marriage he wouldn’t have created the separate races”.

The Bible clearly states homosexuality is wrong – to be honest it’s not that clear to me… and that’s besides the point, let’s say you believe homosexuality to be wrong, choosing to oppose Gay Marriage won’t mean there are less homosexuals, just more who are angry with you. You can’t “law” people into the kingdom, you just create barriers & resentment.

In whatever context someone is in it should have salt & light, and love & hope breathed into it.

 

Thoughts on thoughts

It’s culture shaping Church & the Church should be shaping culture – look at slavery, look at civil rights, at women’s rights, women’s suffrage, child labor… there have been Christian leaders at the forefront of those movements and we claim them with pride. But we do so without realising that they were the minority voice within the church, that the majority of Christians were indifferent, apathetic or straight oppositional to those changes, that the church as a whole has never been an early adopter. That the reason it is so shaped by culture is that the majority is indistinguishable from culture. That the only time we seem to engage with culture is when we feel our position of comfort slip away – left longing for 1950’s white-middle class-America.

 

Thoughts

Humanity – On couple of occasions my life has been touched by suicide & back in the day this would have led to being buried upside down, discarded or in an unmarked grave. I have a friend whose mother is buried in a grave separate from the churches because she had a child out of marriage. We have a dark shameful history of treating people as less than human, as lives not worth remembering, or celebrating.

We do the same with marriage.

You’re allowed to & you’re not. You’re love is to be celebrated & yours shunned.

Less than human.

 

Marriage & Marriage

Have you ever watched two people have a conversation about what they believe is the same thing, but each is talking about something different? Simultaneous comedy & tragedy.

Marriage is the same.

There is the cultural understanding of marriage  – two people committing to each other, to love for life.

There is a biblical understanding of marriage –  of God being involved, of symbolism/embodiment/reflection of trinitarian relationship, of Jesus/church, of  promise/hope/Resurrection, echoes of Eden, of covenant…

these two ideas of marriage aren’t the same, you don’t unwittingly stumble into covenant…

A marriage between two friends male/female who don’t believe in God bears no implication of marriage in the biblical sense…

the same for a marriage between two males who don’t believe in God.

It doesn’t help matters that most Christians couldn’t tell you the difference, and it’s interesting we don’t protest our straight-atheist friends getting married, we celebrate with them.

The Church gave marriage over to culture a long time ago, there is no renaming or trying to reclaim it, but of understanding. Understanding that to a faith community marriage has deeper implications than our cultural understanding. Realising that cultural marriage isn’t an attack on that of faith or vice versa. That both are beautiful, have significance to their communities & are to be celebrated.

 

Judgement – If when it’s all said & done,  and I stand before God & I’ve gotten this wrong, I know I will have erred on the side of Love, and that is something I can live with.

 

 

Ultimately I can’t think of anything more beautiful than two people committing to each other, to love, to journey through life with…

that is cause for celebration, be they straight, gay, religious, coloured, rich or poor…

whether it’s a ceremony of commitment to each other or of covenant with God…

Love is to be celebrated.

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faith restored


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love hip hopSept’12 I started a post entitled “dear Hip Hop” it was an open letter to the hip hop industry… mainly lamenting at what it has become.

You see for me, nothing displays more lyrical genius, creativity, grit, realness and truth, than hip hop at its best. I’m talking Tupacs “Changes”, DMX “the Convo” and more recently “Dead and Gone” from T.I.

The flip side being there is nothing worse than bad hip hop… and there is a lot of bad hip hop. All I seem to see is bling, rims, bouncing rides & booty popping, to the point where what was a sign of  “success” has to be financed before you’ve made a name for yourself and is now a sign of legitimacy. As if shiny soft porn videos can polish up that junk you refer to as lyrics & make it legit.

Not every song needs to be deep and meaningful, I have nothing against an entertaining fun track, and I get that it’s an industry, a machine pumping out a formulaic cash generating product to the masses…

But hip hop was never about formula, cash, or the masses. It was raw & real, and people listened because they identified with what you were saying, not because they “got-off” on your videos.

And don’t get me started on “christian” hip hop, with a few exceptions (Lecrae, Rapture Ruckus) it’s just mimicking what’s mainstream,  you claim to follow the God of creation, can we please get a little creativity then, not just replacing gang-drug-b!tch-ride references for ones deemed holier…

“preachin’ the word, like a drug dealers, slangin; holy rock on the curb,
eyes blurred off the holy ghost…”

 

 

I was about to lose all faith in hip hop when I heard this the other day. Faith restored.