Saturday, March 28, 2009

Jesus, Yeshua and Isa

OK-I'm going to start my series on the Inaugural Speech. However I think I need to start with Rick Warren's prayer. While I had misgivings on Rick Warren being involved-I shouldn't have been, because nothing did more to showcase Warren "overiratedness" or lack of relevancy like his performance at the Inauguration. The prayer was boring and so loaded with cheese, my cholesterol jumped up. His vision and theme were sappy and had the whole "Baptist-fake" sheen.
For example, the way he pronounced the Obama girls named (yes, Jon Stewart made a similar observation) but he was obviously trying to show off his coolness and "acceptance" of their "ethnic" names so he said them the way white people who try to hard-he over-pronounces. My mom does it ALL the time. Its not real, I don't care what anyone says or what his intentions were-its fake--which is my biggest problem with religion and religious people-they (and I when I was a kool-aid drinker) think the intentions are paramount-even over the actions, or consequences or being real. -This will OBVIOUSLY have to be another blog post now . . . :)
However, the biggest thing I took away from Rick Warren's prayer was the misguided, fake-ass attempt to be multi-cultural. When he ended his prayer he said he prayed it in the name of the one who had changed his life-Yeshua, Isa, the son of God, Jesus. Well this is only inclusive to right-wing evangelicals-whose ignorance of Christology, theology and other religions is an open sore. Just using the Hebrew and Arabic pronunciations of Jesus is simply the equivalent of saying "Hey-soos" in Spanish speaking countries. Yeshua is NOT at all recognized in Judaism (outside of the man who led the army around Jericho) and while Isa is Jesus in Islam-the approach and understanding is not the same. Using the other versions of Jesus doesn't reach out to other believers. There were not Jews and Muslims sitting on their sofa going "Oh, I'm so glad he used our language, now I know who he is praying to. That is how I pray too.". That is the worst case of being "just smart enough to be ignorant.". Jews and Muslims don't pray to Jesus, Yeshua or Isa-at all. In fact both are MUCH stricter than Christianity in termsw of monotheism. There is no trinity in Islam or Judaism. They don't believe or pray the same way as Christians, but with an accent. The only thing sadder than that ending to that prayer is how many Chistians didn't pick-up on how ignorant it really was and how many of them felt it was magnanimous and inclusive and cosmopolitan for him to reach out that way. . .

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Big Love and Gay Marriage

It seems to me that perhaps the non-compound, non-extreme, still-practicing mormons and gays and lesbians seeking legitimazation through marriage should hook-up. If the "normal" polygamists who have multiple but equal marriages between consenting adults and homosexuals who want something similar can "come out" and show their normalcy and how they are from opposite ends of the political spectrum, yet can come together--maybe both can advance their cause and image.

Of course, this sounds a bit "Kum Bah Ya" even for me. I personally think polygamy among equals is more of a fairy tale than Britney's comeback; and I think polygamy among unequals-even if not underage-is a greater threat to the sanctity and legitimacy of marrige than two loving gays or lesbians.

Big Love

Ironically I have fallen in love with the HBO series-Big Love. The premise is a devout yet "secular" Mormon family in Utah that still upholds the tenets of polygamy. This family, the Henricksons spans the gap between the FLDS and their "Amish-wear" and compounds and the main-stream "Apple Pie" Mormons of suburban Salt Lake City. It is not just the intriguing premise, the excellent acting or the amazing writing, directing and production. All those things this series has in spades as well. It is also the underlying values. The unassuming way-almost "pilgrim-like" approach to religion. The plea of "We know you don't agree, just give us the space to believe different from you.". It is enticing and fresh-NOT that I am interested in converting to the followers of Moroni and the debatable Joseph Smith, NOR am I interested in acquiring more than one wife-Sephania is ALL I want or need. Rather it is the "pilgrim-like", unassuming approach I mentioned before. There is something breath-taking and refreshing in it. Something that is all to absent in the current flavors of right-wing fundamental evangelical Christianity. I think it is humility-and the reason it rings so true-is that no other message was at the message of Jesus's philosophy. Not that the individual beliefs are to my taste-but the humble approach is long missing from Christianity-and "approach" is one of the biggest characteristics of the original Jesus-brand that I know.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

A Second Look at The Jefferson Bible

The Jefferson Bible is the common name for a piece of work our 3rd President compiled and edited. What is unique about this work is that it was wholly created by Jefferson literally taking a knife and cutting out passages from one of his bibles. It is limited to the 4 traditional "Gospels". What Jefferson did was to remove any "mythology" from the Jesus story. Any miraculous or Virgin Birth, no angels, no miracles and (most important to Jefferson) no claims to deity. What was left was a collection of the words, teaching and parables of Jesus.

Jefferson did not do this because he was anti-Jesus. In fact his work and Jefferson himself were very positive about Christ. Instead, he felt Jesus had been co-opted or hijacked from its original intent. In Jefferson's mind he was restoring Jesus and Jesus's original message. Jefferson was very anti-clergy or anti-religious. He felt that many/much of the teachings of Christianity were not inherited from Jesus himslef and many not even in the Bible.
What Jefferson was intending was to remove the "hocus pocus" or magical ingredients and expose the teachings of Jesus to reason and rational thought.
What is sad, and yet understated, is when we do this-not only are we more aware of Christ's expectations, but we also see how different his words were from the beliefs of his followers.
As Gandhi said: "I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. They are nothing like your Christ."

Saturday, February 21, 2009

On Lupe Fiasco and Cousin Lynn's Comment

My cousin, Lynn, made the following comment on my blog concerning Lupe Fiasco--I have some comments for her comment myslef--I'll make them after her's . . .

"I too love Lupe Fiaso and his music. Check out him and Jill Scott in Daydreamin' one of my all time fav's.
I have agreed with you and proclaimed my frustration in the church and the way they have capitalized religion.
I have agreed with you and proclaimed my frustration with Christians who only go to church so they don't have to be Christians everyday.
I have stated that I am not religious but instead spiritual in nature, trying everyday to break down the barriers that lead men who claim to be ruled by a teaching of love to kill in the name of doctrine.
However....I am a follower of Christ. I believe all of the differences from one Christian church to the other to be minutia. They all believe in Christ and that is the important part. Are they perfect, absolutely not. I believe everyone has the right to accept whatever religion they want, Christian or not, but I, in no way, would support or declare another religion as something that I was proud of or agreed with. I can agree to disagree with people and allow them to say what they will, but I will not be proclaiming what I do not believe in. Do not allow your voice to be used for something you do not believe in. By posting this video you, in essence, are proclaiming that you agree with him and that Mohammed is the equivalent to Jesus or the true prophet of God.
I can not agree with you on this one."

Obviously, the part where we digress is witnessed by her own transition "however". Cousin Lynn is under the assumption or presumption that my posting of Lupe's Muhammed Walks somehow constitutes my "witnessing" or "proclaiming" a Muslim message. More importantly, she assumes I would (or perhaps should) have a problem with that.

Since Cousin Lynn is a faithful follower of this blog--I feel rude not directing this to her--not to single her out; but in an attempt to not be rude; or so as not to feel as though I am talking behind her back instead of to her face. That being said--I will henceforth direct this to her . . .

Lynn--the assumptions/presumptions laid out earlier get to the heart of your issue. You state that I alleged that I "support or declare another religion as something that I was proud of or agreed with". I did no such thing. In the original post I said I was a fan of Lupe and that this song was "smart and good". I did not issue a testament to the tenets of Islam; and if saying something is good is the same as saying I am proud of it--then there is a chasm of difference in our understanding. Likewise, declaring something as "smart" is not limited to Christian themed or secular themed material, art or media. I assume (yes I know it is dangerous to assume) that you have no issue with his other work--as you yourself even recommended his music in your opening comment. Therefore, is the issue JUST that the song I chose was about Muhammed? It doesn't change his beliefs (anymore than it changes my beliefs) to post it. It doesn't make the song go away or not exist--so I don't quite comprehend how posting it is a declaration or promotion of Islamic values or beliefs.

Secondly, implied or inherrant in your comment is that I should see something wrong with Lupe's beliefs or with my posting the song. I do not. I believe what we have in common is greater than what divides us. I know you fervently defend the right of everyone to believe what they want to believe; you have no objection to Lupe choosing to be Islam--indeed, you state such in your comment. Your only issue is that I posted said song. But I ask you--why is it offensive. If America gives us the right to think, believe and express whatever we choose personally; is not the logical consequence listening to each others beliefs? Listening to someone else doesn't mean I am brainwashed into their thinking--instead it means often that I have a clearer understanding of my own beliefs--BECAUSE they are exposed to other beliefs and challenges. Faith that cannot be exposed to other beliefs or review is not faith worth having. Your passioned defense of Rick Warren's presence at the Inauguration was one of the voices that caused me to self-reflect and review my own critiques. (see here) Is that fairness of opinion only reserved for Christian beliefs?

Finally, and this is the crux, I have nothing against my fellow humans. I find there is some peace and truth in the teachings of Muhammed. I find solace in the wisdom of the Jews. I appreciate the symbolism and learnings of Shiva and Hinduism; I can learn from Jainism, Buddhism and Taoism. And yes, I can and do look for guidance in the teachings of Jesus Christ as well as Darwin or Marx or Jefferson or Ghandi or Lincoln (all 6 were "non-traditional believers"). In fact, Lupe remade/released that song to show what we had in common. After listening to Kanye's Jesus Walks, he thought "Hey we believe Jesus was a prophet too. Lets highlight what we have in common." (listen to interview here - segment 1 has the interview--and scroll down near the bottom for the extended interview) His understanding or worldview is not the same as mine, but neither is yours; but I can appreciate his sincerity. I can appreciate his attempt to show that Islam and Christianity share a same G-d; share many of the same teachings; and many of the same people. I have no problem with anything he said in the lyrics (click for full lyrics)

"For we all are sinners

Bless us to be among the winners

When it ends

But until then please strengthen the mission within our hearts

All praise is due to God"