How many prophets do we need?
We’ve been playing this ridiculous game since 1981. Republicans destroy the economy by passing tax cuts, but they keep right on spending on the things they want which causes budget deficits and skyrocketing debt. Then they blame the Democrats for “spending too much on social programs.”
It really is time for everyone to get educated about what's going on and educate others. This isn't politics. These are the facts. Trickle-down economics is a giant farce. It’s never worked and it never will. It has gutted our economy over the last 34 years and it will continue to do so. Yet, it’s the only strategy the Republicans have. They have nothing else. Look in between the lines of everything they say in the run up to 2016. It’s all code for Reaganomics, and it’s a failed strategy.
If Mitt Romney would have won the last election he vowed to do more of the same. He was going to issue a 20% across the board tax cut, defund the Afforable Care Act, give the pentagon more money than they were asking for, and cut "everything else we would "have to borrow from China to pay for," including Sesame Street on public television. Then he would have proceeded to enact the Ryan Budget. Reaganomics all the way.
In the following video Bernie Sanders shows us in no uncertain terms how Reagan helped destroy the middle class and how "Trickle Down Economics" is a scam. And guess what folks? Again, it's ALL the Republicans have! Everything they say and do is in support of this failed policy. What will it take to for the masses to see what's going on here?
Below are the links to a three part in depth series of articles regarding Reaganomics. We've never heard of the site before but the data contained in the articles is extensive and accurate. After you read the articles spend some time researching what they have say on your own.
The Incredible Hoax of Reaganomics- David Stockman 1/3
The Incredible Hoax of Reaganomics- Trickle-Down 2/3
The Incredible Hoax of Reaganomics- The General Electrifying of the President 3/3
The evidence is endless. As the following article explains:
“The wealthiest people spend maybe 30% of their income. Poor people spend 100%, working people spend 98%, so as we move money away from working families towards very wealthy families, we take more and more consumption out of the economy, means slower and slower growth, means higher and higher an extended unemployment.”
Another Major Advisor to President Reagan Admits Trickle-Down Economics Doesn’t Work
In 2012, the nonpartisan Congressional Research Service (CRS) conducted a study and concluded the following:
"The results of the analysis suggest that changes over the past 65 years in the top marginal tax rate and the top capital gains tax rate do not appear correlated with economic growth. The reduction in the top tax rates appears to be uncorrelated with saving, investment, and productivity growth. The top tax rates appear to have little or no relation to the size of the economic pie.
However, the top tax rate reductions appear to be associated with the increasing concentration of income at the top of the income distribution. As measured by IRS data, the share of income accruing to the top 0.1% of U.S. families increased from 4.2% in 1945 to 12.3% by 2007 before falling to 9.2% due to the 2007-2009 recession. At the same time, the average tax rate paid by the top 0.1% fell from over 50% in 1945 to about 25% in 2009. Tax policy could have a relation to how the economic pie is sliced—lower top tax rates may be associated with greater income disparities."
Republicans of course tried to suppress the study. Trickle down economics is the central tenet of conservative economic theory. Again, they have nothing else to offer.
So now, after 34 years of fiscal mismanagement on the part of Republicans, via voodoo economics whereby they cut taxes but spend like drunken sailors on their pet projects (wars, big new Federal bureaucracies like the Department of Homeland Security, planes that don’t fly, etc.), they want to “balance the budget” ... on the backs of the poor, the young, the old, the weak, the hungry, the unemployed, the uninsured, the sick, and the disabled. Because we “just can’t afford all these silly social programs.”
This has been the plan all along folks, and that’s exactly what they’ll do if they get the White House. They’ll call any win, no matter how slim, a “mandate.” They’ll say “the American people have spoken, and they’ve assigned us the task of getting our fiscal house in order.” Then they’ll pass The Ryan Budget.
But, but, they’re “God’s Own Party!” Yeah, God help us all if they get that kind of power again, and the Koch Brothers are going to drop a Billion by themselves to try to pull it off. Look at Kansas and Wisconsin right now. That’s the blueprint.
Sen. Bernie Sanders, one of the few people in Washington who makes any sense any longer, had this to say related to what we're explaining here:
President Carter is correct, and contrary to what you've been taught homosexuality is not a sin.
That may be somewhat of a shock to you but if you consider yourself a serious disciple of Jesus you owe if to yourself to explore and discover the truth.
Our favorite essay, hands down, is "Clobbering Biblical Gay Bashing," by co-founder of The Christian Left, Rev. Mark Sandlin.
In the essay Mark makes the following assertion and proceeds to back it up with Biblical scholarship.
"If you want to call homosexuality a sin, go ahead. But you are going to have to admit that it is not Biblically a sin. Which means you are also going to have to admit that you are calling it a sin simply because that’s what you want to do. Because of that, you are going to have to admit that you are a sinner for using God’s name for false pretenses (it’s a little thing we like to call using God’s name in vain). And then, Paul has something to tell you, “…you have no excuse, whoever you are, when you judge others; for in passing judgment on another you condemn yourself, because you, the judge, are doing the very same things.” (Romans 2:1)."
The next step we recommend you take in your journey of discipleship is to read the book by Matthew Vines called "God and The Gay Christian."
Matthew Vines (born March 9, 1990) is an openly gay Christian LGBT activist, known for the viral YouTube video "The Gay Debate: The Bible and Homosexuality" and his related 2014 book, "God and the Gay Christian".
Vines grew up in Wichita, Kansas, where he attended an evangelical Presbyterian church with his family. Upon graduation from high school, he was accepted into Harvard, where he studied for two years during 2008-2010, focusing on philosophy. He then quit Harvard in order to pursue a full-time study of the Bible's statements on homosexuality in response to widespread belief that homosexual expression is disapproved by God - a belief held at the time by his own parents and their family church. The book is the summary of his detailed research.
The Matthew Vines Viral Video: "The Gay Debate: The Bible and Homosexuality"
The above two resources will give you a well-rounded foundation in the truth about what the Bible does and doesn't say. If you want to be a master on the topic we recommend reading, "A Time to Embrace: Same-Sex Relationships in Religion, Law, and Politics," By William Stacy Johnson.
The Christian Century calls it: "Nothing less than a tour de force. . . . This is a book for everyone in the church, from those completely new to the debates about same-sex relationships to those who have long been in the thicket of the controversy."
William Stacy Johnson is the pen name for Arthur M. Adams, Professor of Systematic Theology at Princeton Theological Seminary. An ordained Presbyterian minister, he is also an attorney-at-law and was a member of the PCUSA's Theological Task Force on Peace, Unity, and Purity.
If you're a gay Christian, or an ally, and all of this is new to you, there are many, many resources out there for you. Believe Out Loud is a wonderful organization and there are a lot more like it. Soulforce and Human Rights Campaign (secular) are two more. Open and affirming churches are everywhere. Here's a list of LGBT-affirming Christian denominations from Wikipedia.
The one thing you need to know right now is that Jesus loves you just the way you are, and he always has.
Friend of The Christian Left, Rev. Roger Wolsey has written a great article about how to find open and affirming churches.
If you'd like to watch some uplifting videos of Christians who affirm their gay brothers and sisters we recommend the NALT Christians, which stands for we're "Not All Like That," i.e., bigots.
Gay people deserve every right that every other citizen of the United States has, and that includes the right to marry. We will not rest until that becomes a reality. Turning back the clock is not an option.
--- The Christian Left
A video from the NALT Christians Website
"Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved." ~ Mark 16:16
We’re not affiliated with any denomination but we fully agree with the theology of The Christian Church (Disciples of Christ).
Here's how Wikipedia describes it:
“For modern Disciples the one essential is the acceptance of Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, and obedience to him in baptism. There is no requirement to give assent to any other statement of belief or creed, nor is there any ‘official’ interpretation of the Bible. Hierarchical doctrine was traditionally rejected by Disciples as human-made and divisive, and subsequently, freedom of belief and scriptural interpretation allows many Disciples to question or even deny beliefs common in doctrinal churches.
Members and seekers are encouraged to take being disciples seriously, meaning that they are student followers of Jesus. Often the best teaching comes in the form, ‘I'll tell you what I think, but read the Bible for yourself, and then study and pray about it. Decide in what ways God is calling you to be a follower of Jesus.’
Modern Disciples reject the use of creeds as ‘tests of faith,’ that is, as required beliefs necessary to be accepted as a follower of Jesus. Although Disciples respect the great creeds of the church as informative affirmations of faith, they are never seen as binding.”
This of course raises the question, what about people who never had the chance to get baptized? We believe baptism is a good idea for one reason: Jesus said to do it. He was himself baptized. Does that mean people who never had the opportunity to get baptized are going to hell? No. And “hell” is a very complex topic anyway, which deserves its own blog post. Most of the references in the Bible to “hell” refer to the grave, or a valley outside Jerusalem.
Then there’s The Thief on the Cross, who was never baptized but was promised eternal life by Jesus himself.
The bottom line is that if we are serious about following Jesus, we should make an effort to do the things he asked of us. Baptism is one of them. For those who have experienced it in adulthood it’s a wonderful ritual of obedience to Christ and a significant act marking that you have given your life to the Lord. Many of us have experienced a very strong feeling of the presence of the Holy Spirit when we were baptized. A personal experience that is beyond words.
After we first publish this blog post one our readers made some good points about the content. Here are his thoughts:
They claim to know God, but by their actions they deny him. They are detestable, disobedient and unfit for doing anything good. ~ Titus 1:16
Churches used to be liberal throughout the modern history of Christianity in the United States, with notable periods of exception of course. Then came Ronald Reagan and Paul Weyrich among others.
Weyrich, the late religious conservative political activist, co-founder of the Heritage Foundation, and Godfather of The “Christian” Right, literally peddled various issues trying to galvanize a conservative “Christian” movement:
His hypothetical “Moral Majority” needed a catalyst—a standard around which to rally. For nearly two decades, Weyrich, by his own account, had been trying out different issues, hoping one might pique evangelical interest: pornography, prayer in schools, the proposed Equal Rights Amendment to the Constitution, even abortion. “I was trying to get these people interested in those issues and I utterly failed,” Weyrich recalled at a conference in 1990.
The 1978 Senate races demonstrated to Weyrich and others that abortion might motivate conservatives where it hadn’t in the past. He saw his opening and he never looked back.
Abortion is a made up issue designed to coalesce a right-wing political movement. It isn’t even mentioned in the Bible. When you get a chance, check out our related article on abortion.
Prior to the efforts of con-man Paul Weyrich, a 1968 a symposium sponsored by the Christian Medical Society and Christianity Today, the flagship magazine of evangelicalism, refused to characterize abortion as sinful, citing 'individual health, family welfare, and social responsibility' as justifications for ending a pregnancy.
This article in Politico explains the entire early history of The "Christian" Right in great detail. It is a must read. ... As you will learn, abortion was just a ploy to rally a herd mentality. Bigotry was the real motivation behind the madness of Paul Weyrich.
There are many other facets to this story. Frank Schaeffer picks up where Politico left off in his book:
"Crazy for God: How I Grew Up as One of the Elect, Helped Found the Religious Right, and Lived to Take All (or Almost All) of It Back."
Frank's book is another "must read" for seekers of the Truth.
Fast forward 35 years to the present. The “Christian” Right has a billion dollar messaging empire that would make Joseph Goebbels envious.
They have nationwide radio networks (Salem Communications and others), worldwide television networks (TBN, home of John Hagee, Hal Lindsey, and many others), publishers, mega-churches, political pundits, best-selling authors, media personalities, celebrity pastors, a vast number of wealthy donors, branded media empires (Focus on The Family, The 700 Club, etc.), Political Action Organizations (The Heritage Foundation, The Christian Coalition, etc.), on and on. The Christian Coalition actually produces "non-partisan" Voter's Guides that it distributes to churches nationwide. The guides are anything but "non-partisan." The fact that they even try to pass them off as "non-partisan" reveals the true nature of the organization, deceit.
The "Christian" Right has an agenda, a ton of money, and they're continuously seeking the power to impose their vision on the entire country via public policy. Some of us have watched the hijacking of our faith over the last 35 years with shock and horror. The agenda of the right has nothing to do with the teachings of Christ. In truth, the two sets of values are opposites in nature.
Most conservative political and religious leaders will deny it, but upon close examination their agenda is best summarized as Objectivism. Some of them will come right out and admit this fact and lavish the tenets of Objectivism with high praise. Others, aware of problems of being associated with Objectivism, will come up with complex rationalizations trying to avoid association. For instance, Paul Ryan says that because he's a Catholic, he rejects Objectivism. Then he turns right around and says that Ayn Rand's books are the basis of his economic and political philosophy. We're not sure how that works given that every page of her books drip with Objectivism. We're not sure how he avoids some pretty harsh cognitive dissonance.
Again, most conservatives will deny this association until the cows come home. Examine the similarities for yourself. Don't take their word for it. Google Objectivism and do some research on it. Look at how closely it match Republican policy. What you'll discover, if you didn't already know, is that the tenets of Objectivism, no matter how they try to spin them, are polar opposites from everything Jesus taught.
5 years ago we decided to sound the alarm and start speaking up about all this. Honestly, it feels a bit like the story of David and Goliath. If someone doesn’t expose what’s happening with a counter narrative, The "Christian" Right and their political bedfellows will achieve their goals. Their financial backers have almost unlimited resources and vast networks of political connections to power. There's not much standing in their way right now given that 79% of white evangelicals vote Republican. Most of them have been taught that Christians have no choice in the matter. There is only one political option for them: "God's Own Party!"
"The unholy alliance of the Political Right and the Religious Right threatens to destroy the America we love. It also threatens to generate a revulsion against God and religion by identifying them with militarism, ecological irresponsibility, fundamentalist antagonism to science and rational thought, and insensitivity to the needs of the poor and the powerless." -- Rabbi Michael Lerner
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By Patrick McCarthy
The USA ranks 51st in the World in infant mortality rate with 6.1 babies per 1,000.
The USA ranks 39th in the World in maternal mortality rate with 16.7 mothers per 100,000 live births.
In the United States a baby is nearly three times as likely to die during its first year as one born in Finland or Japan, and about twice as likely to die before his first birthday as one in Spain or South Korea.
Social class (That elephant in the living room nobody wants to talk about on liberal facebook Pages) is a major factor in infant mortality, both historically and today. Who'da Thunk?
Over the period 1912 and 1915, the newly founded Children's Bureau* conducted a revolutionary study of infant mortality across eight US cities and nearly 23,000 live births. They discovered that lower incomes tend to correlate with higher infant mortality. If the father had no income, the rate of infant mortality was 357% more than that for the highest income earners. As well, differences between races were apparent during this time period. African-American mothers experienced an infant mortality at a rate 44% higher than average. But again this ties into poverty. Since African Americans at this time, were less likely, due to institutionalized racism, to be in gainful employment than white people.
In fact despite the multitude of medical advances that have done so much since the Children's Bureau study of 1912-1915, to decrease the rate of infant mortality, social class still dictates which medical services are available to an individual, with various levels within the socioeconomic hierarchy receiving a decreasing quality of medical services the lower down the pecking order one goes.
In lay mans terms: If you are a pro-life person who believes that the free market system should be applied to healthcare you are a baby killer...a mommy killer also. But then again if it is an unmarried mother, your "unique" sense of right and wrong dictates that she deserved whatever was coming to her. Either way your "pro-family" card is revoked until you can get to grips with the murderous irony of your moral posturing.
The United States, (the wealthiest nation to still lack a comprehensive public option in healthcare) has actually seen a dichotomization from technological advances. Leaving those living at or below the poverty line unable to afford medically advanced resources. Which leads to an increased chance of infant mortality.
In the US economic expenditures on labor, delivery and neonatal care are relatively high (by which I mean astronomical), when compared to other less wealthy Western nations, which all have a comprehensive public option. In the US a conventional birth costs on average $9,775, with a C-section costing $15,041. Preterm births in the US have been estimated to cost as much as $51,600 per child.
This is insane and it is beginning to show. In 2013 a US study was published that showed that 50% of babies born in the US in 2011 were born under Medicaid That is to say that 1 in 2 children were born to parents who could not afford to have them under the current privatized model of US healthcare. And as the gap between the rich and the poor increases so too will that number. As will the US infant mortality and maternal mortality rate. How long until things get as bad as the were in 1912-1915?
By most accounts of the origins of the Children's Bureau point to a 1903 meeting between two women, the labor-unionist Lillian Wald and the socialist Florence Kelley both of whom were members of the radical Settlement Movement and were later co-founders of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and were involved with the National Child Labor Committee (NCLC) which in 1905 agreed to make the establishment of a federal children's bureau its primary legislative goal. It took them 7 years of lobbying but in 1912 the United States Children's Bureau was created. Initially more powerful then it is today with its mandate being to:
"... investigate and report to the Department of Commerce and Labor upon all matters pertaining to the welfare of children and child life among all classes of our people, and shall especially investigate the questions of infant mortality, the birth-rate, orphanage, juvenile courts, parental desertion, dangerous occupations, accidents and diseases of children, employment, and legislation affecting children in the several states and territories."
In 1946 the Children's Bureau was folded into the Social Security Administration (SSA) by Harry (the most overrated President ever) Truman, as part of his massive postwar reorganization of the federal government that was designed to role back the reforms of New Deal and render FDR's progressive vision for the postwar United States a pipe dream.
During this reshuffle the Children's Bureau which was so instrumental in the passage of such important pieces of legislation as the Sheppard–Towner Act (1921), the "Aid to Dependent Children" section of the Social Security Act (1935) and Fair Labor Standards Act (1938) which was the final nail in the coffin of the blight of child labor in the United States, found itself stripped of its authority over all labor-related programs.
Today the Children's Bureau is a federal agency under the authority of United States Department of Health and Human Services, a shadow of its former self, it deals only with improving child abuse prevention, foster care, and adoption.
Patrick McCarthy is a native of Dublin City, Ireland and a committed Christian socialist and co-founder of the Facebook community Page 'Progressive Christian Democratic Socialism'
His hero's are: Saint Francis of Assisi (1182–1226), founder of the mendicant Order of Friars Minor. The Reverend John Ball (1338–1381), a radical cleric who was put to death for his role in the Peasants Revolt of 1381
James Connolly (1868 – 1916), Irish republican, socialist political theorist, trade-union organizer, co-founder of the worlds first trade-union defense militia and signatory of the Proclamation of the Irish Republic. The injuries he sustained during a failed uprising of Irish nationalists were so severe that he had to be strapped to a chair so he could be executed by a British firing squad. His last words were: "I will say a prayer for all brave men who do their duty. Forgive them for they know not what they do."
Servant of God Dorothy Day (1897–1980), founder of the Catholic Worker Movement.
Servant of God Óscar Romero (1917–1980), former Archbishop of San Salvador who was gunned down by CIA backed right wing death squads while serving mass, for speaking truth to power. His last words were: "We know that every effort to better society, especially when injustice and sin are so ingrained, is an effort that God blesses, that God wants, that God demands of us."
Tony Benn (1925–2014), Christian socialist, and first President of the Stop the War Coalition (StWC) also famous for his 'Five Questions for people with Power': “What power have you got? Where did you get it from? In whose interests do you exercise it? To whom are you accountable? How can we get rid of you?”
Chris Hedges (b.1956), author, activist, and plaintiff in the case Hedges v. Obama which contends that Section 1021(b)(2) of the National Defense Authorization Act of 2012 allows the U.S. military the ability to imprison indefinitely journalists, activists and human-rights workers based on vague allegations.
by Gary Vance
Liberalism has been under assault for years now. The battering of this grand political philosophy has altered the contemporary definition of liberal to the point that Conservatives use it as a profane word. They use it to paint a political opponent as anti-God and anti-American. It has gotten to the point that moderate and liberal Christians are afraid to be open about their political leanings. Sadly, it even affects their conscience and choices as they enter the voting booth. This is particularly troubling to me as a Christian evangelical minister who loves America.
Liberalism as defined by Webster’s Third New International Dictionary: a political philosophy based on belief in progress, the essential goodness of man, and the autonomy of the individual and standing for tolerance and freedom for the individual from arbitrary authority in all spheres of life.
I am not sure why anyone would feel threatened by Liberalism as defined by the dictionary. They are apparently unaware or simply refuse to acknowledge the long history of liberals who have labored for the betterment of society and the furthering of God’s Kingdom.
The labor movement of the early twentieth century was aided significantly when major Christian denominations got behind it. No average American would have a fair wage today if it weren’t for liberal Christians and labor activists. Liberal Christians and civil rights activists fought and still fight against conservative America for racial equality. Child labor laws were enacted because liberals fought for them. Medicare and Social Security exist today because of Liberalism. “Bleeding heart liberals” have long advocated for the homeless, the hungry, the less fortunate, and the disenfranchised. The women of America owe liberals a big thank you for their almost equal rights. “Tree hugging liberals” fight for clean air and water standards instead of favoring industrial polluters and short term profiteering that destroy God’s green earth.
Liberals believe in affordable health care for all U.S. citizens. They also believe in higher taxes for the rich and lower taxes for the middle class and the poor. Liberals love their spouses and children. Liberals faithfully attend their churches to worship God. Liberals love America and hate terrorism and have proved it by fighting in every war for this country. Liberals come in all shapes, sizes, and color. They are found in the ranks of Protestants, Catholics, Jews, agnostics, and atheists.
Conservative Republican policies generally favor the wealthy and ignore the needs of the poor. Their policies are so often greed-driven, with no concern for the environmental or societal consequences for their exploitive actions. Jesus plainly taught that the love of money is the root of all evil. So, Christians can go after the various “fruit” of sin in our society, but they won’t see the real change for the better until the axe is laid to the root. Christians should oppose greed-driven policies as a primary point of political concern.
I am sick of reading letters to the editor and editorials that paint Democrats and liberals as anti-God and anti-American and that portray conservative Republicans as the only true Christian patriots. We know that many Democrats are pro-choice and many support gay issues and this troubles most evangelicals. Democrats also support causes that should be of Christian concern that go untouched by Republicans. I have listed some in the above paragraphs. True prophetic vision sees that there is great need for repentance on the left and the right. The effects of powerful lobbyists, special interest groups, greed and corruption abound on both sides of the aisles of Congress. God sees it all and so should Christians. Christian voters need to see that God’s heart breaks over more than just a few political and moral issues. It is time to take off our blinders and mourn for the sorry state of affairs that is American politics.
Jesus was the ultimate liberal progressive revolutionary of all history. The conservative religious and social structure that He defied hated and crucified Him. They examined His life and did not like what they saw. He aligned Himself with the poor and the oppressed. He challenged the religious orthodoxy of His day. He advocated pacifism and loving our enemies. He liberated women and minorities from oppression. He healed on the Sabbath and forgave adulterers and prostitutes. He associated with drunks and other social outcasts. He rebuked the religious right of His day because they embraced the letter of the law instead of the Spirit. He loved sinners and called them to Himself. Jesus was the original Liberal. He was a progressive, and He was judged and hated for it. It was the self-righteous religionists that He rebuked and He called them hypocrites.
The primary issues of Christian Liberalism were birthed when Jesus spoke the profoundly prophetic words found in Matthew 25: 31-46. These scriptures reveal God’s heart for the poor, the sick and other neglected people through out history. Christians should read this text and judge for themselves which of the two groups mentioned there more accurately reflect the political parties of today. His Liberalism lives on today and the issues have not changed much.
I am glad that conservative Republican candidates advocate for the family and a few Christian issues, but we must quit pretending that they are the only ones that Christians should consider voting for. People should not call themselves pro-life if they are only anti-abortion and yet feel no twinge of conscience over the unfair application of capital punishment or wars fought for dubious motives. A true pro-life position cares just as passionately for living beings and views war as a last resort when all other options are exhausted.
Christians should look for candidates that will work for issues that are of importance to Christ and that can be tackled legislatively. Sadly, most of those causes have historically been opposed, ignored, and minimized by conservative Republican policy makers. They seem to dangle the moral issues carrot around election time. Then, even with a Republican controlled White House and Congress, prove themselves powerless to do anything about those issues when they convene to legislate. Issues such as eliminating poverty and homelessness in America, true equal rights for all citizens, environmental protection, a fair minimum wage, affordable health care, and lowering our infant mortality rate all go unattended. That’s just to name a few.
I have some questions for the Christian Right. Why have you not held our current elected majority officials accountable for their failure to address the full spectrum of Christian issues? Why would you vote for them again?
It is time for Christians of conscience to stand up to religious and political hypocrisy. Christians should proudly proclaim progressive values today and should advocate for the Christian Liberalism that is our heritage and our legacy.
Editorial Note: We wish Rev. Vance would have addressed LGBT rights a bit more in this article but it was written in 2004, well before most preachers were unafraid to speak up about such things. He does refer to "true equal rights for all citizens," a matter he appears to be ahead of his time on.
Gary Vance (Lezlo2025@wmconnect.com) lives in Loretto, Tennessee.
Originally published on Tuesday, October 19, 2004 by CommonDreams.org
By Cris Fiore, for The Christian Left
After my son Anthony died from Heroin, God used me as his Malachi, his messenger, and used Anthony’s tragic death to save a young woman I had never met.
On June 8, 2014, the day after Anthony’s funeral, I posted the eulogy I delivered, hoping it might strike a chord that hadn’t yet been struck with some addict somewhere. Many of you shared it. Thank you. Some of your friends shared it, and some of their friends. Etc., etc., etc. Somehow, it reached “Abby.”
On June 12th I received the following private Facebook message: “Your son died on my birthday. I just turned 23 and I have been addicted to heroin since I was 17. I don't want to ruin my mother’s life by dying. But I can't stop.”
We messaged back and forth. She gave me her phone number and we talked. Eventually she agreed to join “The Left Behind” – a private Facebook group I created for addicts and their families -- where she has shared her story and received a lot of support. Abby has been clean for nearly a month now. Detoxing was rough. Because of some previous bad experiences, she refused to go to a clinic, choosing instead to detox on her own with the help of her best friend. She relapsed a number of times. But each time, she got back up and went right back to the hard work of regaining her sobriety. She knows she is not “cured.” She knows she has to work to stay clean every single day, but she is determined to do it and I believe she will.
Recently Abby told me that reading Anthony’s eulogy was her “breaking point.” But she would never have seen it from my Facebook page. We weren’t friends. Somebody had to share it -- probably several some bodies -- before it reached her. I don’t know how many degrees of separation there were between Abby and me, but it was more than one. So whatever role my eulogy played in helping Abby decide to get clean, everyone who helped move it along the electronic highway to her played just as big a role.
And we can do it again. There are other Abbys out there. I know there are. Obviously, not every addict who reads my eulogy, or sees the YouTube video will make a life changing decision as a result. But Abby did. And if it reached her, maybe it will reach others. And that is why I am asking you, even if you have done it before, please share, re-post, e-mail, text, message, and urge your friends to do the same. Do whatever you can to get my eulogy out where it might do some good. Together, we just might keep another Abby from becoming the next Anthony. Thank you.
EULOGY FOR A SON
A voice is heard in Ramah, mourning and great weeping, Rachel weeping for her children and refusing to be comforted, because they are no more.
Today, again, Warrington is Ramah, and we are all Rachel. Another child is no more.
I loved Anthony, something that was not always easy to do. Anthony loved Eminem and 50 cent and Lil Wayne. Whenever any of them were about to come out with a new CD, Anthony always knew about it when the news first broke and he had to get the CD the day it came out. He loved movies and had recently developed a fondness for chick flicks. I suppose this shouldn’t surprise me. When he was a baby, his favorite video was “The Little Mermaid.” He devoured each and every Harry Potter novel the week it was published, proudly reporting how many pages he’d read each day. And as each book was made into a movie, he and I would see them, and if it wasn’t the day they were released Anthony was sorely disappointed.
He loved candy.
He loved his car.
He loved his brother.
He loved his mother.
He loved the Lord.
And he loved heroin.
Lord how he loved heroin. And because he loved heroin so much and because he thought it loved him back, he’ll never get to take his brother to the Eminem & Rihanna concert this August. He’ll never get to enjoy the case of Sour Patch Kids candy he ordered and that was delivered two days after he died. He won’t get to train Caesar, the Boxer puppy he bought from a breeder in Oklahoma just two weeks ago. And for the first time in years, there’s plenty of recording capacity on the DVR.
His death is a shock, but it’s not a surprise. He had been slow dancing with death for more than five years. He overdosed and almost died. His friend overdosed and almost died in front of his eyes. He was arrested. He overdosed again. He was arrested again. He spent a week on the street and a month in prison.
And each and every time we said, “Anthony, please, take this as a sign. It’s a warning. Take it to heart. You need to change your behavior.” And each and every time he said he knew and he would. But at some point, each of those warnings was forgotten. And all that remained was the mantra of the young. “It’s my life and I’ll do what I want. I’m only hurting myself.”
“It’s my life.”
Every time another young person says, “It’s my life,” Satan smiles.
“It’s my life and I’ll do what I want.” Yes, of course you will. But your actions have consequences and sometimes your mistakes are irreversible.
“I’m only hurting myself.” Really? I wish I had words strong enough and true enough to convince you of the staggering selfishness of that remark. And how wrong it is.
Almost exactly one week ago my lips were pressed against Anthony’s cold, pale lips, trying desperately to breathe air into lungs too full of fluid to receive it. For the last week his mother has carried one of Anthony’s unwashed shirts around with her, holding it to her face so she can smell him. She sleeps in his bed with his shirt and a framed photograph of Anthony. Everywhere she turns something else reminds her of Anthony. The leftovers from the last food he bought – food was a very big thing with Anthony. The stale remnants of the last soda he ever drank. She wants to die, so she can see her first born again.
Nick, who is one of the best people I know, has spent much of the last week with his arm around his mother. Nick, who was already an old soul, has aged 10 years in the last week. I don’t know if he will ever smile again.
But, hey, It’s your life. Do what you want. But before you ever again dare say, “I’m only hurting myself,” look at your mother, look up the word ‘inconsolable’ and remember Anthony’s mother.
Anthony kept a small scrap of paper with a verse he had copied from scripture pinned above his desk, right in front of his laptop, where he could look at it every day. The prophet Isaiah speaking to God:
“You will keep in perfect peace
those whose minds are steadfast,
because they trust in you.”
An assurance from the Lord, that gave Anthony comfort. Later in that same verse there are words of comfort for those of us Anthony left behind when he went home:
“But your dead will live, Lord;
their bodies will rise--
let those who dwell in the dust
wake up and shout for joy--
your dew is like the dew of the morning;
the earth will give birth to her dead.”
Goodbye my son.
by John Casimir O'Keefe
Let’s start with a simple nursery rhyme most of us, if not all of us, remember from our childhood:
Humpty-Dumpty sat on a wall,
Humpty-Dumpty had a great fall;
All the king's horses, and all the king's men, Cannot put Humpty-Dumpty together again.
I know, just reading it can give one flashback to dirty diapers, warming bottles and nap time, boy I was a pain for my Mom. I can remember reading this nursery rhyme when I was a child. My parents had a “Big Book of Mother Goose Nursery Rhymes” in our living room and I would spend hours reading them all, over and over and over again (though, I will admit that Brothers Grimm was a better read); I can remember many a night being yelled at to close the book and go to bed. I loved reading that book; it had some of the coolest illustrations to go with each of the short rhymes.
Now that I got your mind off of what you just read let me ask a very important question concerning Humpty Dumpty. When you read the nursery rhyme what did you picture in your mind? Think about how you pictured Humpty Dumpty? What did he look like in your mind’s eye?
If you’re like most, you pictured an egg shaped like guy with a top hat sitting on top of a very high wall, which for some unknown reason he falls to the ground and cracks open – the egg shell breaks. Right? You did, you pictured and egg in your mind; we all know Humpty Dumpty is an anthropomorphic egg. This is, if you think about it, the norm for most; that’s how we see Humpty Dumpty – Humpty Dumpty is an egg. But that is not how it has always been; it started when John Tenniel illustrated Humpty Dumpty in Lewis Carroll's Through the Looking-Glass in 1872. At that point in time Humpty Dumpty became an egg, and has been portrayed as an anthropomorphic egg ever since. In fact, for many the idea that Humpty Dumpty not being an egg seems, well, sacrilegious.
Let me share with you a few very important realities from the nursery rhyme you just read. First, no place in the nursery rhyme does it mention Humpty Dumpty as an egg. Second, in no place does it say Humpty Dumpty was a male. Third, and seemingly less important, at no place does it say that the wall was high – no mention of height is given. So, what does that mean?
(Interesting look at the history of the Humpty Dumpty nursery rhyme.)
When we read the nursery rhyme we make certain assumptions (egg, male and height) because we’ve been told, either by word or illustration, since childhood that Humpty Dumpty was an egg, was male and the wall had to be high. For many of us, the idea of Humpty Dumpty as an egg falling from a great height is central to our understanding of the nursery rhyme; seeing HIM any other way destroys our understanding of the nursery rhyme and most reject any clarification. We ignore the nursery rhyme itself and create a Humpty Dumpty we can believe in based on what others told us and what we know from tradition. We ignore what we read, and fill in the blanks with our traditions and assumptions.
In the larger picture of the dance, seeing Humpty Dumpty as an egg has little effect on who we are and how we related to each other – but it plays a big role in how we view The Naked Jesus, because we do the same thing – we replace traditions and assumptions for the text.
In the recording of the life and ministry of the Naked Jesus in Matthew, the Naked Jesus asks two questions to those first followers sitting with him:
Question One: Who do others say I am?
Question Two: Who do you say I am?
When I asked how you pictured Humpty Dumpty, you answer the “Who do others say I am” question. You answered the question based on information shared with you from others, not from yourself or by taking an honest read from the rhyme. You simply shared what others told you, you spouted the tradition others gave to you; you spouted the company line. That is the same thing we do when we answer the questions the Naked Jesus asks. We don’t truly answer the “Who do you say I am” question; we answer the “Who do others say I am” question.
If we keep looking at the collective narrative of Matthew, we notice a very important reality concerning those who answered the question Who do others say I am. When the first followers answered the question the Naked Jesus didn’t care what they had to say. If fact, he blows off their reply to the question altogether because what others say about the Naked Jesus does not matter. The Naked Jesus does not care what others told you about him, because the Naked Jesus desires you to have skin in the game and answer the question Who do you say I am.
When we think we are called to tell people about Jesus we work under the assumption that we define who the Naked Jesus is and how others see him. We are called to invite people into our lives, and in turn into the life of the Naked Jesus, but we cannot tell them who the Naked Jesus is, they must come to that themselves, in their time. At best we are only able to share who the Naked Jesus is to us, but they have to answer the question Who do you say I am, for themselves. We have to turn inviting people into our lives with the cheap grace of tell others what to believe and leading them in the magic prayer that saves them – and when we do this, we are doing it all wrong. The Naked Jesus wants us, each of us, to come to answer the question Who do you say I am and put some skin in the game.
In my book, The Naked Jesus; A Journey Out of Christianity and Into Christ, I pose this very argument, this very reality (and others). We have become an institutional church driven by telling others what to believe, and how to define the Naked Jesus; we forgot that it is not our place. What we have turn the Great Commission (I question this concept) into a Christian Drive-by – tell others what to think, pray, dip and move on. But the Naked Jesus calls us to go deeper, to intertwine our lives with the lives of others – people need to see the Naked Jesus in us, and not simply in our words. It is not defined by me telling you what to believe about the Naked Jesus, but for me to live (follow) the teachings of the Naked Jesus so you can see the Naked Jesus in action.
Dr. John O'Keefe is a pastor, author, speaker and consultant. He blogs at johncokeefe.com, a place where our ancient faith meets the 21st century. John holds a BA in Business from The University of Nevada at Las Vegas, an MDiv Drew University and a DMin in Leadership in the Emerging Culture, Future Studies from George Fox University.
By Charles Toy
I like simplicity and elegance. Often when Jesus spoke, it was simple and elegant … and powerful.
In Matthew 19 Jesus says:
“Haven’t you read,” he replied, “that at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female,’ and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’ So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.”
A few verses later he goes on to say:
“Not everyone can accept this word, but only those to whom it has been given. For there are eunuchs who were born that way, and there are eunuchs who have been made eunuchs by others—and there are those who choose to live like eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. The one who can accept this should accept it.”
Wait. What? Not everyone can accept this word?
What do you think Jesus meant by “eunuchs who were born that way.”
Historical context shows that “eunuchs who were born that way” are gay people.
This was the only thing Jesus ever said about gay people. It was all he needed to say.
Here’s more on the historical context of eunuchs.
(For some unknown reason the like button isn't working on this particular blog post. The likes aren't being saved. Go figure.)
Often conservative Christians stop by and ask us questions. After awhile we noticed the same questions being posed over and over. We figured it was time to write an FAQ.
This FAQ will be an open work in progress. If you have a question and answer you’d like to add, please do so in comments on the Facebook Page.
We will be adding additional sections related to abortion, gay marriage, and the government’s role in caring for the least of these. These sections will take a bit more time.
1.) Doesn’t the Bible say, “If you don’t work, you don’t eat.”?
No. This is a misinterpretation. It is not a command from God to let the poor or unemployed starve. Anyone who actually knows Jesus really should know better.
2 Thessalonians 3:10 was addressing ancient Christians who had stopped working to wait for Jesus’ Second Coming. The verse corrects a theological misunderstanding (i.e., don’t just wait around for Jesus, live an active faith).
Most people understand that capitalism is fickle and artificially manipulated by the rich and powerful. Capitalism can be useful when accompanied with regulation and a safety net when it fails (which is often).
No one is saying people should sit around and do nothing. God wants us to use our gifts to serve our fellow human beings. When people work full time and still can’t survive something is wrong. Other people face unfortunate circumstances form time to time where they are unable to work or can’t find a job that pays the bills. It’s up to the rest of us in society to create a system to help these brothers and sisters survive and thrive. We ARE our brother’s keepers! Jesus made that clear over and over again. Individual Charity is one piece of the puzzle, but it isn’t enough. We will provide a solid scriptural foundation for this assertion in coming revisions of this FAQ.
2.) Doesn’t the Bible say, “God helps those who help themselves.”?
No. It’s nowhere to be found in the Bible. Benjamin Franklin popularized a variation of the phrase in his almanac.
3.) Doesn’t the Bible say, “Love the sinner, hate the sin.”?
No. That was Augustine. In one of his letters he stated, “Cum dilectione hominum et odio vitiorum,” translated to “With love for mankind and hatred of sins.”
Jesus gave us two new commandments when he was on earth in the flesh. We are to love God and love our neighbors as we do ourselves. He said all the law and all the prophets can be summarized by these commands. He didn’t provide any exceptions to these commandments. When asked for an example of what it was to love your neighbor he told the story of The Good Samaritan, who had mercy on a fellow human being in need of help when religious types had passed by without helping.
Jesus also stated over and over again not to judge. We are to be wise when it comes to being able to spot evil, but we are not to judge others. Jesus said it in no uncertain terms.
This only makes good sense anyway. We are ALL sinners. We all commit the same sins over and over again. We live in the flesh, which is fallen compared to the perfection that is to come. Following Jesus is a daily task and a daily struggle. We have no business judging others and pointing the finger because they sin differently than we do.
In the end it's worth it compared to the alternative. Jesus said, "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
The way of Jesus IS the WAY out of this world filled with evil.
4.) Doesn’t the Bible say, “Money is the root of all evil.”?
No. 1 Timothy 6:10 says, “The love of money is the root of all kinds of evil.”
Like many things money can be used for good and evil both. When you make money your God by putting it above God and other people, your love of money has become evil.
5.) Doesn’t the Bible say, “Charity begins at home.”
No. That was 14th century British theologian John Wycliffe (in Middle English): “Charite schuld bigyne at hem-self.”
6.) Doesn’t the Bible say, “Spare the rod and spoil the child.”?
No. That phrase came from a poem by Samuel Butler written in 1664.
7.) Didn’t God destroy Sodom because of homosexuality?
No. Ezekiel 16:49 states: “Now this was the sin of your sister Sodom: She and her daughters were arrogant, overfed and unconcerned; they did not help the poor and needy.”
8.) Won’t life on this earth be over soon, when the Rapture comes?
First of all, Jesus says in no uncertain terms in Matthew 24:36: “But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.”
People have been saying “these are the end times,” since the beginning of time. None of us knows when the end times will be. It could be just before the sun burns out in several billion years. No one has a perfect understanding of end times prophecies, regardless of what they say or how loudly they say it. Not even close. Some people harp on the end times so much we wonder if they’ve placed their personal ideology above God. Some people make a lot of money writing books about it too.
Secondly, In 1830 English clergyman John Nelson Darby selected scripture passages from Daniel, Revelation, 1 and 2 Thessalonians and elsewhere, pasted them together, called them a whole, and invented the Rapture, a word not found in the Bible. The concept of the Rapture didn’t exist before then.
Cyrus I. Scofield then took the concept and ran with it with “The Scofield Reference Bible.” Popular religious writers such as Hal Lindsey, Edgar C. Whisenant, and Tim LaHaye have cashed in with their bestselling fictional books on the topic.
Jesus is coming back one time. He’s not sneaking in, taking some people, leaving, and then coming back sometime later for a second, second coming.
If it makes any difference to you, the Catholic Church doesn’t accept the notion of the Rapture either.
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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.