Thursday, July 02, 2015

A brief open letter to Jack Hibbs, pastor of Calvary Chapel church in Chino Hills, CA.

Dear Jack,

You don't know me, and I don't know you.  I had never heard of you before last night when, while driving to Trader Joes and flipping through the radio stations, I landed upon a Christian station broadcasting one of your sermons.  I have been a devout Christian and faithful church-participant for over 30 years and am also nearing completion of my Master's degree in Theology--so I appreciate a good, well-thought-out and well-delivered sermon.

Unfortunately, the sermon I heard given by you--which was in response to the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling about same-sex marriage--was none of these things and, in fact, stands as one of the most spiteful, misinformed and strident screeds I have ever listened to.  "Surely," I thought, "I am hearing this out of context," so when I got home I looked up your church's website and found the sermon there and watched it.  It was that second listening, in its entirety, which prompted me to write this brief message.

We may disagree--as many devout Christians do--on how we interpret the Biblical texts that pertain to homosexuality, but that is not my concern here.  As one who affirms the full inclusion of LGBTQ persons into society and church, I disagree with many of my fellow Christians, and we do so in a spirit of mutual respect and fellowship.  Conservative Evangelical Christians such as Matthew Vines, Justin Lee, Kathy Baldock, David Gushee and James Brownson (to name a few) have provided plenty of detailed and scholarly exegesis on the Biblical texts which offers a viewpoint different from your own.  So I'm not going to rehash those theological arguments here.

What I'm more concerned about is the spirit in which you address these matters.  It is certainly not a Christ-like spirit.  It is proud and haughty.  It is vindictive and mean.  It is Pharisaical.  It is ideological and fear-mongering.  It smacks of Fascism in the guise of the Gospel.  It is very, very ugly. 

And it is rife with lies and distortions.  For example, you claim that now that gay people can legally wed, "It is going to be like it was in the days of Lot: violent homosexuals knocking on doors threatening to sodomize people who disagree with them."  Really?

I know that, as a Calvary Chapel pastor, you place great emphasis on a particular eschatological framework.  Part of your eschatology includes a belief that in the End Times there will be a great apostasy; a great "falling away."  I would suggest that this great falling away is indeed happening, only it is a falling away from grace and from love.  And your behavior epitomizes this apostasy.  You come in fear and anger and accusation, not in the name/character of the Lord.

I realize that criticism such as this will only feed your persecution complex.  You seem to invite it and glory in it, believing that it is an indicator that you are following Jesus.  I would suggest that in this too you are mistaken.  Critical confrontation directed at you for your harsh rhetoric is not an indicator that you are being a disciple of Jesus, but rather that you are being an asshole.


-Danny Coleman

"Religion that provides all the answers results in superficiality."

-- Fr. Richard Rohr

Wednesday, July 01, 2015

"Everyone has experienced at some time in their life, when they were with the person they loved, or perhaps at a time of deep sorrow or pain that there is a peculiar power in silence.  Silence comes naturally at times of great significance in our life because we feel we are coming into a direct contact with some truth of such meaning that words would distract us, and prevent us from fully entering into that meaning.  The power that silence has is to allow this truth to emerge, to rise to the surface, to become visible.  It happens naturally, in its own time and fashion.  We know that we are not responsible for making it appear, but we know it has a personal meaning for us.  We know it is greater than we are and we find a perhaps unexpected humility within ourselves that leads us to a real attentive silence.  We let the truth be.

But there is also something in all of us that incites us to control others, to defuse the power we dimly apprehend in a moment of truth, to protect ourselves from its transforming power by neutralizing its otherness and imposing our own identity upon it.  The crime of idolatry is precisely creating our own god in our own image and likeness.  Rather than encounter God who is awesomely different from ourselves, we construct a toy model of God in our own psychic and emotional image.  In doing this we do no harm to God, of course, as unreality has no power over God, but we do debase and scatter ourselves, surrendering the potential and divine glory of our humanity for the false glitter of the golden calf.  The truth is so much more exciting, so much more wonderful.  God is not a reflection of our consciousness but we are reflections of God..."

--John Main OSB, Word Into Silence


Monday, June 29, 2015

Jesus overturned the tables of the money-changers in the temple. They were part of a system that exploited and excluded people in God's name. Bree Newsome--knowing she would be arrested for it--climbed a flagpole and took down a symbol that represents exclusion and oppression, also done in God's name.  WWJD, indeed.

 (Art by @Niall_JayDub via Twitter)

Sunday, June 28, 2015

A few thoughts from an old, straight, Christian guy after attending Seattle PrideFest 2015:

1) The overall mood this year felt not only celebratory (as expected) but also more relaxed--almost a prolonged collective sigh of relief.

2) My wife and I are introverts and can't handle being in large crowds for long, but it felt so joyous to be surrounded by this sea of people made in God's image; all shapes and sizes and colors. I could feel the presence of God and my heart swelled with a sense of God's love.

3) Naked people walking around in public look funny. Nothing sexy about it. I couldn't imagine doing something like that myself (even when I was young and svelte), but I'm glad that they felt safe enough to do it. And I appreciate the benevolent wisdom of the Seattle Police in allowing people (a relative few) to "let it all hang out" so long as they weren't hurting anyone else.

4) We watched an amazing musician: Edna Vazquez. Check her out:

Friday, June 26, 2015

This is GOOD NEWS!!! Marriage equality has now been recognized by the U.S. Supreme Court as a Constitutional right. This is justice. This is fairness. This is dignity. This is right.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

I stopped into a guitar store yesterday, to kill a little time. There I saw a kid--maybe 14 years old--fumbling around on a bass, with a hopeful look in his eyes. His dad stood behind him with a skeptical expression and asked, "How much? Two hundred?" Suddenly I was transported back 40 years, when I was that kid, and it made me miss my dad terribly.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

"Sometimes, if you stand on the bottom rail of a bridge and lean over to watch the river slipping slowly away beneath you, you will suddenly know everything there is to be known."

- A.A. Milne