Luke 22: 49-51 When Jesus’ followers saw what was going to happen, they said, “Lord, should we strike with our swords?” And one of them struck the servant of the high priest, cutting off his right ear. But Jesus answered, “No more of this!” And he touched the man’s ear and healed him.
Luke 9:53-56 And the town did not receive him, because he was headed to Jerusalem. And when his disciples James and John saw this, they said, Lord, wilt thou that we command fire to come down from heaven, and consume them, even as Elisha did? But he turned, and rebuked them, and said, “Ye know not what manner of spirit ye are of.” For the Son of man is not come to destroy men’s lives, but to save them. And they went to another village.
We wrote this policy well over a year ago. It has been and will remain in effect at all times, 24/7. Sometimes we post it as a reminder.
The Christian Left is a group for Christian Liberals (Progressives) and their allies. There are plenty of other groups out there for right-wing conservatives or disgruntled leftists who don't think we're left enough. Trolls will be banned from the group without warning. It just has to be that way.
We realize there are plenty of people here who aren't "Christian" or maybe aren't even "Liberal." We've talked to many of them. They are here because they enjoy the page. They aren't here to taunt us. People who come here to taunt us or talk down to us because they have all the right-wing answers (or for any other reason) will be banned. Sorry, we're not changing this policy. It's a flat out waste to time to debate with them. We have far bigger things to accomplish.
As we've said before, if right-wingers want to have a polite discussion and ask questions, that's a whole different cup of tea. Frankly, we haven't met very many right-wingers like this. They usually know it all and are not open for discussion of any kind. We've seen what they've done to other pages like ours. They move in, take over, and the whole thing becomes a big mud fight of endless one-upsmanship and bickering. Then the name calling starts. Not going to happen here.
This policy applies to Concern Trolls as well. For more on trolls, please see: Troll (Internet). Concern Troll = "We're just concerned about the way you're running this page, and we think you need to do X,Y,Z or stop doing X,Y,Z!"
We make no apologies about this policy and we never will. It is designed to protect our admin team and our community members. If we've ever been overzealous in the enforcement it stems from our desire to protect the community. Concern trolls often get very, very upset when they don't get to force their will on TCL. Sometimes they go to great lengths. It just proves that their intent was never innocent in the first place.
We're amazed at the sometimes persistent arrogance and belligerence of those who just want to argue or throw insults instead of have a mutually respectful dialogue in which all parties are interested in learning something. However, as we said, trolls don't last long around here. We just boot you out the door, and no it's not for "disagreeing." Frankly it's for being like the kind of house guest who comes in starts trashing the place and pees on the floor. Like you wouldn't kick them out of your house pretty quick too? You bet you would.
Our community members don't want to be harassed here. They don't want to be spoken to in and accusatory or condescending manner. For that matter, neither does the TCL admin team. We all get enough of that from friends and family because we're Christian progressives. We've devoted tens of thousands of hours keeping TCL a troll free haven (including concern trolls). 99% of our members appreciate the policy.
Please review our Code of Conduct if you haven't recently. We absolutely refuse to allow flame wars of any kind from anyone left or right. We've seen them destroy online communities many times over the years. We are NOT here to argue endlessly. We are not a debate page. If you don't like us or something we're doing you are free to go in peace.
We are not "accountable" to anyone else but Jesus and the large majority of happy community members at TCL. We do not have to answer questions from outsiders about anything we do. Such inquiries are usually passive-aggressive attempts to disrupt the ministry anyway. We have several pastors on our team. We are accountable to each other internally. If we were doing something unethical we would discuss it among ourselves and correct it because it certainly would not be intentional.
Sometimes people misconstrue our trolling policies to mean that people have to agree with us on everything. Not true. WE don't even agree with us on everything. We often post a wide variety of opinions on all kinds of topics. That being said this is not a debate page. If someone doesn't like a post or doesn't agree with something we ask that they scroll on by. That's all. Just scroll on by. It's the only way a page this size works. It prevents a lot of poop storms. Trust us.
A page member of The Christian Left said it best -- "On any page or website that has a specific audience, there are always those who feel they must stir up strife. Some do it for sport and other do it because they feel they are duty bound to bring people around to their way of thinking. For the purposes of a group such as this, it's best to delete them rather than to engage with them."
We will NOT be divided or harassed!
Lest anyone be paranoid about this policy, don't be. Good faith is easy to spot.
If you've been banned for causing problems that we don't need, please don't go get your friends and relatives to come and troll the page in objection. Their comments will be deleted and they will be banned as well.
If you've been banned for behavior which goes against this policy we'll welcome you back if you agree to honor our policies for the TCL community. Send us an email at TCL@TheChristianLeft.org. Enter Agree To Troll Policy and Code of Conduct in the subject. In he body of the email state, "I have read the TCL Troll Policy and The Code of Conduct and I agree to follow them. I would like to be unbanned." We don't read hate mail.
Epilogue: A troubling new phenomena has arisen in the last few years known as horizontal "Call-outs." It's progressive infighting and it's toxic. It is universally condemned by legitimate progressive activists. We don't tolerate it in any form or fashion. Please read our detailed blog post on this topic.
On that note, we're glad you're all here. Enjoy the page!
(Note from The Christian Left: We do not wish to demonize any of these people, nor do we hate them. We have some serious problems with their actions and philosophies as they relate to the least of these in society.)
By Stephen D. Foster Jr.
America has enemies. Not just abroad, but within our shores as well. And our domestic enemies, as it turns out, are MORE dangerous and destructive than the terrorists could ever hope to be. Because while the terrorists want to destroy us, the following people and their organizations are doing far more damage.
1. Roger Ailes: The President of Fox News keeps the right-wing mouth piece biased and unbalanced. He literally proposed a right-wing news network as a propaganda tool to use during the Nixon Administration. And now, Fox News makes every effort to slander Democrats, lie to the public, and support conservative groups, activists and politicians at all costs.
Want to tell Ailes what you think of him? Feel free to contact Fox News Channel by mail, phone, or email.
FOX News Channel
1211 Avenue of the Americas, 2nd Floor
New York, NY 10036
2. The Koch Brothers: Yes, there is more than one Koch brother, but rather than jotting down the same paragraph twice, it makes more sense to combine the two. Charles and David Koch are the owners of Koch Industries, a private oil and chemicals company. They have spent big money in elections and have pretty much bought and paid for all of Republicans that sit on the energy committee. They also have ties to The John Birch Society, of which their father was a founding member, and several other conservative think tanks and organizations including, Americans For Prosperity which David Koch leads as chairman, the Heritage Foundation, the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), and the Cato Institute. They helped create and fund the Tea Party and have been very influential in the watering down of environmental laws and the destruction of unions. If you really want to see the scope of their influence look at what is happening in Wisconsin and in the U.S. House of Representatives.
I know you must be dying to contact Koch Industries to give them your opinion, so here’s how you can do that.
Koch Industries, Inc.
P.O. Box 2256
Wichita, KS 67201-2256
3. Dick Armey: His FreedomWorks organization helped to create the Tea Party and he has worked closely with the Koch brothers. Armey’s organization seeks to deregulate and tear down reform. He opposed health care reform and is largely responsible for hatred, paranoia and anti-government sentiments displayed at town halls during the health care debate.
400 North Capitol Street, NW, Suite 765
Washington, DC 20001
Toll Free Phone: 1-888-564-6273
Local Phone: 202-783-3870
4. Tom Donohue: The US Chamber Of Commerce President gained a hell of a lot more power in the wake of the Citizens United ruling. The Chamber is the largest conservative lobbying group in the country. Representing big corporations more than small businesses, the Chamber opposed health care reform and Wall Street reform. The group is in favor of tearing down any and every law designed to protect the American worker. Donohue once stated that “there are legitimate values in outsourcing — not only jobs, but work….” and once told unemployed people in Ohio to “stop whining”. So, not only is he for deregulation, he supports job killing policies. That is a double dose of dangerous.
U.S. Chamber of Commerce
1615 H Street, NW
Washington, DC 20062-2000
Main Number: 202-659-6000
5. Tony Perkins: Perkins is the President of the Family Research Council, a hate group according to the Southern Poverty Law Center. The Council opposes abortion for any reason, believes homosexuality should be against the law, believes in teaching “intelligent design” in schools, and believes global warming is a hoax. FRC was listed as a hate group after it falsely linked gay males to pedophilia. It basically lobbies the government to make laws that govern our personal and private lives. The Council is a Christian Right-wing organization that has a heavy influence on the Republican Party, hence all the abortion laws being proposed by them.
Family Research Council
801 G Street, NW
Washington DC 20001
6. Pat Robertson: Robertson founded the Christian Coalition in 1989 and claims to be non-partisan. The problem with this claim is that it’s a bunch of crap. The Christian Coalition passes out “voter guides” in churches and yet is granted tax exempt status. It clearly supports a conservative agenda and is associated with Christian fundamentalism. It is yet another group that believes that America should be a Christian state. They are a threat to the Constitution.
Christian Coalition of America
PO Box 37030
Washington, DC 20013-7030
7. Edwin Feulner, Jr.: Feulner is the President of the Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank that took a leading role in the conservative movement during the 1980′s and continues to push conservative ideals today. The Foundation has strong ties to many Republican politicians, and many Heritage personnel members have gone on to serve in senior governmental roles. Not only does it stand by supply side economics and tax cuts for the rich and corporations which led to the current economic crisis, it also believes in a strong defense which has become more and more expensive. Heritage Foundation is also a part of the Koch Foundation Associate Program and is perhaps the most powerful public policy think tank on this list. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas has taken money from the organization. It has far too much influence on American policy and that influence must be brought to an end.
The Heritage Foundation
214 Massachusetts Ave NE
Washington DC 20002-4999
8. Arthur Thompson: Thompson leads the radical right-wing John Birch Society, which is yet another organization that has Koch family connections. Founded in 1958 by Robert Welch, Jr., the John Birch Society is an anti-communism group that has pretty much denounced every liberal person and policy as socialist. It opposes the Civil Rights Act, the United Nations, and believes in immigration reduction. It aims to dismantle the Federal Reserve System and wants to return to the gold standard. The group is a sponsor of CPAC and is no longer exiled from the mainstream. Another interesting fact is that Fred Koch, father of the aforementioned Koch brothers, was a founding member.
John Birch Society
770 N. Westhill Blvd
Appleton, Wisconsin 54914
9. Rupert Murdoch: Known as “the man who owns the news”, Murdoch controls a vast media empire around the world including Fox News, The New York Post, and the Wall Street Journal here in America. Advertising his media outlets as “fair and balanced” Murdoch and his News Corporation relentlessly push conservative talking points and provide campaign donations to many Republicans running for various positions. News Corporation now has to answer for hacking cell phones and impeding investigations. Long the mouthpiece for Republican propaganda, Murdoch is a threat to Freedom of the Press and the foundations that keep America free.
If you want to contact News Corporation and tell them what you think of them, here is their contact information.
1211 Avenue of Americas
New York, New York 10036
10. Grover Norquist: Norquist is an especially dangerous individual. In fact, at the moment, he has the most influence on Republican congressmen. Republicans in the House and Senate refuse to raise taxes on corporations and the wealthy and Norquist and his group, Americans For Tax Reform, have made sure Republicans continue to do so. 235 members of the House and 41 Senators signed the Norquist pledge to not raise taxes and now our economic future hangs in the balance. Norquist is basically calling the shots and holding America hostage on behalf of the rich. And he isn’t even an elected official.
More on Grover Norquist:
Grover Norquist, Wikipedia
Daily Kos: In his own non-words: Grover Norquist is a plutocrat
Norquist history 101
Americans for Tax Reform
722 12th Street, NW
Washington, DC 20005
11. David Bossie: Citizens United isn’t just a bad Supreme Court ruling. Citizens United is the conservative organization that the conservative majority of the Supreme Court ruled in favor of in 2008. Founded in 1988, located near Capitol Hill, and led by President and Chairman David Bossie, Citizens United’s goals include withdrawal from the United Nations, and defeat of campaign finance laws, among others. They also produce “documentaries” that serve the conservative agenda. The group is mostly a threat because of their fight to allow corporate ownership of elections. The Koch brothers, and many conservative think tanks and organizations have flooded elections with cash since the ruling. The Supreme Court decision alone is enough to put this dangerous organization and Bossie on the list.
1006 Pennsylvania Ave SE
Washington, DC 20003
Office: (202) 547-5420
Fax: (202) 547-5421
12. Tim LaHaye and Kenneth Cribb: Once again, you’ll notice that two people occupy this spot. After some thought, I decided this was necessary to avoid repetition. Tim Lahaye founded, and Kenneth Cribb is the current President of, the Council for National Policy. The CNP is a conservative organization for social conservative activists. Described by The New York Times as a “little-known group of a few hundred of the most powerful conservatives in the country,” the organization is perhaps the most powerful group on this list. Members include many who are already on this list such as James Dobson, Pat Robertson, Tony Perkins, Phyllis Schlafly, and Edwin Feulner Jr. What makes this group particularly dangerous is that they support theocracy and Dominionism as national policy. They are also incredibly secretive and that’s scary all by itself.
CNP is apparently so secret that no address or phone number is available, so you’ll have to email them.
13. Steven J. Law: Lawis President and CEO of American Crossroads, a conservative organization that has raised and spent tens of millions of dollars to defend and elect Republican candidates to federal office, and was very active in the 2010 U.S. midterm elections. Basically, Law and his group are listed because they have taken advantage of the Citizens United Supreme Court decision the most since the ruling. The Kochs and Karl Rove have connections with the group and are a major reason why the House is under GOP control.
P.O. Box 34413
Washington, DC 20043
Phone: ( 202) 559-6428.
14. James Dobson: Dobson is the Family Talk radio personality and Family Research Council founder that contributes greatly to all the hate we see from conservatives. A frequent guest on Fox News, he is perhaps the most influential religious leader on the Christian-Right even though he has never been ordained. Dobson believes that women should only focus on mothering (and probably cooking too) and is totally against gay rights. He supports private schools and special tax privileges for religious schools. He opposes sex education and only supports abstinence as the only technique for pregnancy prevention. Dobson is on this list because he is the one that began all of the anti-gay, anti-women, and anti-education speeches that are now commonplace in the Republican Party. [Note from The Christian Left: This is the saddest entry for us. Some of us used to really enjoy James Dobson. It's unfortunate that he joined the extreme right. Maybe he'll see the light some day.]
Family Talk Radio
540 Elkton Drive
Colorado Springs, CO 80907
15. Phyllis Schlafly: She is the only woman on this list. Undoubtedly, you may have thought that Michele Bachmann or Sarah Palin would be, but they are not. I consider Palin and Bachmann mere pawns compared to Schlafly. As founder and President of the Eagle Forum, Schlafly opposes feminism and equal rights for women. Eagle Forum promotes a pro-life, anti-gay, anti-sex education, and anti-vaccination agenda that has contributed to the current wave of social conservative extremism in the Republican Party. She believes women should remain in the home and that there is no such things as marital rape. She is certainly the most influential woman in right-wing activism and as such, the most dangerous one too.
PO Box 618
Alton, IL 62002
16. David Keene: Up to now David Keene led the American Conservative Union, which is the oldest operating conservative lobbying organization in the country. The ACU runs the event known as CPAC and spends money on lobbying and political campaigns. Keene is still the current President of the National Rifle Association. Which is also a strong lobbying group that is virtually an arm of the Republican Party that glorifies guns and believes that people should be able to carry guns anywhere they go, even near the President of the United States. Keene is mostly on this list because of the NRA. The NRA used to actually serve a valid purpose but has since become a pro-Republican political organization that has mixed guns and politics. It makes them a danger to the political process.
The American Conservative Union
1007 Cameron Street
Alexandria, VA 22314
National Rifle Association of America
11250 Waples Mill Road
Fairfax, VA 22030
17. Tim Wildmon: Classified as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center, the American Family Association is headed by Tim Wildmon. AFA is just like every other conservative Christian group. It opposes abortion and gay rights, as well as other public policy goals such as deregulation of the oil industry and lobbying against the Employee Free Choice Act. The group has actively boycotted just about any business that disagrees with them. In the wake of the Virginia Tech shootings, the AFA released a video in which “God” tells a student that students were killed in schools because God isn’t allowed in schools anymore and blamed the shootings on abortion and lack of prayer in schools. AFA is against all other religions and has an obsession with Christmas, often boycotting companies that do not mention Christmas in their advertising. AFA is here on this list because they represent one of the biggest threats to intellectual and personal freedom in America.
Want to boycott AFA? Send them a “friendly” letter.
American Family Association
P.O. Box 3206
Tupelo, MS 38803
18. David Barton: Despite not having any history or law credentials David Barton passes himself off as an expert in early American history. Most of his claims have been disputed and written off as false by real historians. Barton’s organization is Wallbuilders, which seeks to destroy one the basic foundations of American life: the separation of church and state. Barton’s mission is to revise history in an effort to turn America into a Christian state with Biblical law instituted as the law of the land. He has also created false quotes to justify his claims. Barton is a danger to the history of America, the Constitution, and education.
PO Box 397
Aledo, TX 76008
19. Noble Ellington: American Legislative Exchange Council, also known as ALEC. The Council is basically a pay to play organization that carries the corporate agenda into state legislatures across the country. They work to end unions, end environmental and labor regulations, and end consumer protection laws. ALEC has been funded by the Koch brothers for two decades. The price for corporate participation is an ALEC membership fee of as much as $25,000. For that price, corporations are basically writing the legislation that you are currently seeing being proposed and implemented in Republican controlled states across the country.
American Legislative Exchange Council
1101 Vermont Ave. N.W., 11th Floor
Washington, D.C. 20005
20. Edward H. Crane: Crane is the founder and current leader of the Cato Institute. While they have supported some liberal policies and claim to abhor neo-conservatives, the Cato Institute does push many objectives that should make everyone cringe. Among the various policies that Cato supports, privatizing Social Security, abolishing the minimum wage, abolishing affirmative action, and some environmental regulations, are among them. Of course, it’s understandable why Cato holds these positions considering Charles Koch is chairman of the board and a major funding source. Even Rupert Murdoch had a place on the board at one point which connects the Kochs and the right-wing media.
1000 Massachusetts Avenue, N.W.
Washington D.C. 20001-5403
And there you have it. All of these people and their organizations pose a serious threat to the American people. They target women, senior citizens, minorities, homosexuals, non-Christians, and American workers. So which person or organization is the most dangerous to democracy? The common thread throughout the list is the Koch brothers. They have ties to many of the people and organizations on the list and share many of the same goals. If one were to remove the Koch brothers from the equation an important source of funding and leadership would be eliminated from the conservative sphere. The Koch brothers are by far the biggest threat to American values and institutions. The truly evil thing about this group is that NONE of them are elected by the people. Yet they have more power and influence over our elected officials and system of law and government, than we do.
Edited By: Alexis Atherton
Stephen Foster holds a Bachelor's Degree in History and Political Science from Missouri University of Science and Technology. He is a certified teacher in Pennsylvania and Missouri and enjoys performing historical research, debating, and writing. He lives in Missouri.
Article used by permission under Creative Commons License
You've read the article. Now listen to the radio show about the article below:
There's been some contention on this page as of late. A lot of folks feel hurt and betrayed by our political system and they've had some venting to do over it. Other folks have been shocked and disheartened by some of the angry sentiments.
Let us just say this: We can't be everything to everyone here. As much as we would like to, it's impossible. We'll all fallible human beings. You are. We are. We do our best to present as many sides of the story as we can from the perspective of progressive Christians.
We're all going to have to learn to be tolerant, and accept each other for who we are, when we agree, and when we disagree. On a page about "religion" and politics, folks are going to have to ignore what they don't like, or don't agree with, and enjoy the rest. We do it ourselves. Believe it or not, we (the page owners) don't even agree with each other on everything. Imagine that!
It's all part of the spiritual journey of becoming a more mature Christian. We must learn to tolerate views we may not agree with, or even find distasteful. Sometimes people (all of us) say stupid things. Sometimes we don't sat things perfectly. Sometimes you don't. No one does.
Many folks come to our page as tell us we are the reason their faith has been restored. This gives us the biggest thrill of our lives and is actually the reason we keep coming back every day. All of us here have lives and families, yet we spend untold hours doing this for next to nothing.
The bottom line is that while we are thrilled beyond words to be a part of this phenomena known as The Christian Left, we can't carry the responsibility of maintaining the restoration of your faith. We are not worthy of that job. You see, some of us almost lost our faith too. In the end it came down to one factor: Jesus. Who He is; What He said; and the example He set. We can all encourage one another to the best of our ability, but we are all human beings. Human beings will always let you down eventually. Jesus won't. Always look to Him to be the author and finisher of your faith. Peace.
Isaiah records an inspiring vision for anyone looking beyond or above their current circumstances, of life or heart: "Those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint" (40.31). That's a passage that has lifted my heart a lot of times, especially when facing uncertain times or in some personal griefs.
However, I've also found that I can't exactly just grab that verse and leap into the blue with it, as if I were hang gliding off the Hawai'ian cliffs, or like Wile E. Coyote test-flying a new contraption designed to give him the latest advantage over the Roadrunner. Hope and inspiration lifting your heart are one thing; grabbing hope and insisting that it transport you above the clouds is a taller order. A few years ago, millions of hearts in this country soared on the idea of "the audacity of hope", and on the promise of fresh, positive change; fast-forward to recent times, and more and more of those same people are more or less clicking the teevee remote in growing exasperation, hoping they can change a lot of the disillusionment and frustration they're experiencing from those hopes being repeatedly dashed or frustrated.
Or betrayed. Talk about slamming down to earth, like the coyote inevitably does when his contraption fails or backfires. I won't use this space to slog through the quagmire of political moves, countermoves, inability to move, or failures-to-move that the nation has been mired in over the last couple of years and more: I'm sure you've heard and read enough about it already to spoil your appetite for any more. (But wait ... there's more! Yay, we can't wait.) And this column really isn't about politics anyway, but about us, what we do when our wings fold up under us.
So what do we do, give up? Nah, people's nature is usually not to give up. (That's how we've made it these 100,000 years or more as a species, and is why certain teams go on forever even if they never win the World Series.) What then? Lean over the back fence (read: post on any Facebook page, or news story, or blog we come across) and gripe back and forth with our neighbors, maybe getting into a spat about how It wouldn't be nearly so bad if ... or We could get ourselves out of this mess if ... or We wouldn't have gotten into this in the first place if ... ? Sure, why not, it's a national pastime, though it's better over a real fence, and even better if you invite your neighbor over and there's BBQ involved. But aside from blowing off steam and maybe having some good BBQ and beer, what does that accomplish? (Okay, I know that BBQ and beer can be worthwhile ends in themselves, but that's also another matter.)
I know, vote! send petitions! start whole new blogs or Facebook pages! dream up ways to rally people in genuine grassroots movements, not like, you know, those Astroturf tea party things, but real grassroots movements! ... Wait, you might be onto something. What was that last thing you said? Grassroots. Yeah, but what was that other word you used ...? "Tea party"? Eww, no! Something starting with "d". .... Dream ...?
THAT'S IT!!! ... sorry for shouting. Dream. Dream up ways. Look at what people in this country have put their hopes in, and what they've been frustrated by: hopes for change that someone else presented to them. And of course, look at what's happened: people beating futilely against an invisible barrier to try to make those dreams become reality, like a bird on a window; or else feeling it's all just dropped right out from under them, like ... well, you know who.
Yeah. We've been hoping in someone else's dream, or promise of it anyway. Or hoping for someone else to make that dream come true for us. It's kind of like grabbing hold of even that promise from Isaiah, and having it fold underneath us in midair. What's wrong? No one else can do the soaring for us, that's what. The way a dream or vision becomes reality is when you and I take wing with it, no matter what anyone else does or doesn't do about it.
Am I just drifting off into unrealistic idealisticspeak? I'm not meaning to; actually, anything begins with a dream, vision, or idea, that someone just did something about. The computer you're reading this on; the chair or sofa or bed you're sitting on; those cartoon pics in this article; everything you see around you, including who you see in the mirror and what you see out the window. It was either some human's idea, or God's idea, or both. So dreams and visions aren't unrealistic; that's how life actually happens all the time.
Start dreaming up ways to change the world. Don't wait for someone else to dish up hope or change (although, obviously, appreciate and make the most of it if they do!); take examples from other people you've seen actually do something ... start a cause, get a group going, find out who to focus on with any articles or letters or petitions, start asking around to find out about people who might be interested in helping (and especially if they have the connections or resources to add to the mix). Dream up ways to bring your dream to reality.
And whatever you do, don't let anyone dump on your dream with something like this:
LONG WALK OFF A SHORT PIER. It'll never work. You don't have the resources. You don't know where to start. You don't know what to do or how to get there. You don't, you can't, you won't. Bleagh. Phooey. So what if you don't know what to do? Neither do most other people who have an idea, vision, or dream; they set out anyway, and discover it all, or make it up, as they go. How do we change our country, or the world, the way a lot of people hoped to do a couple of years ago? Haven't the foggiest. But I do know who can change it ... it's you and me and every other person whose heart was soaring a few years ago with the hope that the world could change.
It's not that it "can't" happen; it's just that we were counting on someone else doing the soaring, when it really always happens from us. Hey, wait a minute ... I remember something about a guy being commended (or sometimes poked fun at) for having been a community organizer. Look at what that actually is: did "he" do any of the changing in any community? Maybe helped draw them together ... but it's always the community that does the real changing, no one does it for them. They catch a dream, a vision, and they do the soaring.
Well, that's who is waiting to do the changing, to bring the hope, this time, today, now. No dream has died, or fallen flat out of the sky, or in any other way been squashed. It's actually still as alive as we are, as alive as we want it to be, and it can stretch its wings and head toward takeoff any time we're ready for it to.
Dream up what you can, talk with other people who dream, watch the examples of people who have brought their dreams into reality (or are still in the process), join ranks with likeminded dreamers, join hands and link arms and band a lot of those dreams together to make a broader dream for more people. Nobody changes the whole world at once, of course; they just keep figuring out a step at a time. Nobody sees a whole plan or vision at once, or draws up plans for a building at one sitting, or plans anything else in one step, let alone does or builds it in one step; every dream is a kind of construction project. The world has always changed ... for better or worse ... on the power of ideas and dreams, and every dream is a process, not a sudden event. But don't let someone else do the dreaming ... unless you catch it yourself, spread those wings, and really make that dream yours now. You know what the real difference is between Martin Luther King, jr., or Gandhi, or Mother Teresa, and you?
Nothing. Yes, of course every person's circumstances and resources are different; but different, that's the point. It's not as if there's some magic formula, where life has to line up in a certain way for some vision or dream to unfold; people, whoever they are, with whatever is at hand, speak out, stand up, draw others together, make their dream contagious, and in whatever way they can dream up, they do something about it. And keep doing it, and learning how to do it as they go. That's really all.
The rest is called flying.
(Post submitted by featured blogger, Roger Smith, who also blogs at Roger's Shrubbery)
A good friend of mine is an expert on Christian-Muslim relations. A pastor with a Master's degree in Islamic studies, Bob is currently earning his doctorate in the field. He writes important papers on the subject; he teaches classes and seminars on it; he's forever flying to one ecumenical conference or another. He knows as much about Christian-Muslim relations as anyone in the world.Today at lunch I asked him, "If you could say any one thing about Islam or Muslims to American Christians, or to Americans generally, what would it be?" As he started talking, I started taking notes. This is what he said:
"I would say that most Muslims are just as apathetic about their faith as most Christians are. The vast majority of Muslims are just like all those Christians who only come to church on Easter and Christmas---culturally religious, but not strictly or observantly so. They question the reality of God; they question the faith system they grew up in; they have times in their lives when they're more or less religious. They appreciate the value of what their religion can bring to their lives, but aren't necessarily inclined to make it the focus of their lives. Muslims know they're supposed to kneel toward Mecca and pray five times a day, but most don't do it. Just like most Christians don't go to church every Sunday. Same thing.
"I would also say that just like most Christians don't want anyone thinking that Christianity is well represented by the Aryan Nation, the KKK, Timothy McVeigh, abortion clinic bombers, or any violent group that adapts the mantle and symbols of Christianity, Muslims are absolutely appalled by the idea that anyone would actually believe that Muslim terrorists are representatives of Islam. They hate the terrorists as much as anyone does.
"I guess that's the other main thing I would like to say: too few Americans understand what a warped, crazy view of Islam and Muslims we get from our media. I was recently in a conference session filled with working reporters and journalists. All of them had written human interest stories about typical, everyday American Muslims: people involved in outreach efforts, who were spearheading education initiatives, who ran non-profit organizations that benefited their communities. And not one of those writers could get those stories of theirs published. Their editors didn't want them. No one did. They had given up trying to tell those stories.
"The business of the American 'news' business isn't to deliver news at all. It's to deliver the kind of emotionally inflammable stimulus that gets and keeps people excited and riled up---and coming back for more. Enraged Muslims burning American presidents in effigy sells soap and cars---so that's what we get on our televisions. Meanwhile, a billion Muslims around the world can't understand why no one in America seems to understand how horrified they were by 9-11, too.
"I recently met with a sheikh here in San Diego. (Pronounced "shake," a sheikh is a scholar and acknowledged Muslim community leader.) Someone asked him why he, in coordination with the Muslims in his community, wasn't more outspoken in his condemnation of Muslim terrorists. He smiled wearily, and said, 'We've condemned and condemned and condemned; we're tired of condemning. We did it for years on end. No newspaper or television people attended our public pronouncements. No publications ran our press releases. No one covered our demonstrations for peace. No one listened. How long can you keep saying the same thing to no one?'
"Also," continued Bob, "evangelical Christians and traditional practicing Muslims are like two peas in a pod. They have identical conservative values: anti-gay, pro-family, the sanctity of marriage, the father as the head of the family, being a good citizen, fostering community, living a disciplined life, showing hospitality. Conservative Christians have more in common with traditional Muslims than they do with any other group. They should see them as their strongest allies and partners. Instead, conservative Christians are the most critical of their Muslim counterparts!
"Which reminds me of one more thing. Most Christians have no idea how much Muslims love Jesus."
"They do?" I said.
"Love him," said Bob. "Muslims love, love, love Jesus."
Post submitted by guest blogger John Shore, who also blogs at JohnShore.com. John invites you to "like" his Facebook page, and/or follow him on Twitter.
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About TCL Blog
We’re not about Dogma here. We’re just Christians who think the political and Christian right-wing have their priorities wrong.
Charles Toy is the founding member of The Christian Left. We're sure you will enjoy his passion as well as his wit. Guest bloggers featured often.