Sunday, August 26, 2012

Manna Season? Or, Objectivism?

26 August 2012/Proper 16B   - John 6: 1-71/Psalm 34: 15-22
“When the righteous cry for help, the LORD hears,
And rescues them from all their troubles.”

Perhaps our cries are not loud enough. This of course is our hope. The alternative would appear to be that we are no longer righteous. For what else explains the seeming disconnect from what Psalm 34 promises: the righteous cry out, the LORD hears, the LORD sets his face against the evildoers, to cut off the remembrance of them from the earth, and thus rescue us from all our troubles.

We would like to forget the evildoers. I would like to forget them. We would like not to remember the evildoers. Yet they keep popping up all over the place in real life and in the dark recesses of our mind’s memories. It is like some kind of insane version of Whack-a-Mole: now they are in Aurora, now in Oak Creek, now on the streets of New York City, always always always in my office at 3695 Rogers Avenue, Ellicott City, MD, 21043.

We cry out: “Please, Lord, remove them from our midst, remove them from my memories, remove them from all remembrance, just remove them, please! Rescue us from all our troubles, Lord. ” We recite Psalm 34 over and over again. We want to be rescued from all our troubles, and yet….And yet, said troubles continue to pile up higher and deeper each time we turn on the news, each time we look to see what is happening in this world.

Nobody knows my sorrow
Nobody knows the trouble I’ve seen
Glory Hallelujah!

So we seek distractions from it all. We look for ways to get past it, get around it, get over it. “Get over it,” we say. “I’m going to get over it. Time heals all wounds they tell me. Just give it some time.” We keep ourselves busy. But when the busyness stops, it all comes back again. It is just like it just happened. Again. And again.

So the ancients give us these texts – words that linger, texts that explode as Walter Brueggemann has said. Psalm 34 has lingered for a long long time – perhaps this text has been with us for as much as 2500 or 3000 years. This is a long time to linger in our collective consciousness. Embedded in this text are the words: The LORD is near to the brokenhearted, and saves the crushed in spirit.

There is comfort in these words. There is a healing balm in these words. The Lord is near. This is no mere intellectual claim. The great mystics like Meister Eckhart strive to help us know the Lord is so near that the Lord lives in the deepest, darkest recesses of our souls. We are never separated from the Lord no matter how much we feel we are. Which seems to be the sense of chapter six of John’s Gospel, that extended meditation on Bread. Which itself is a meditation on Manna – Manna Season – that period of forty years when bread was given daily. That period of forty years when we allowed the Lord to be near us, when we knew the Lord to be near us, so near as to feed us one day at a time. That was the time when we were nearest to the Lord – for forty years in the wilderness.

Then we sought to take care of ourselves – we deceived ourselves into believing we can be self-sufficient. You can read all about it in the book of Joshua, how after we crossed the river into the Land of Promise we began to live off the produce of the land and the manna ceased. The minute we desired to become self-sufficient, the manna ceased. Manna Season was switched off. Read further to see how once we became self-sufficient we began to hoard more and more stuff – stuff that was meant to sustain the whole community was being held back in Achan’s tent. It is why a key battle was lost, because one man held back stuff that was meant to sustain the whole community.

This all gets replayed in the Book of the Acts of the Apostles when Ananias and Sapphira hold back the proceeds from selling their property, when in the early church such proceeds were meant to be shared with those in need. There was to be no setting aside a little for yourself. When confronted about this by Saint Peter, and they lie about it, one at a time Ananias and Saphira drop dead. It’s all there in the Book of Acts. It is the sin of Achan all over again. Today we call it the Objectivism of Ayn Rand, a sad little woman who imagined a lonely life of isolation, one individual pitted against all others, competing for the stuff of the world, stuffing one’s tent for one’s own self-interest. You can read all about it in Atlas Shrugged. Rand magically transforms the western canon. Rand turns the Sin of Achan, Ananias and Sapphira into a Virtue with a capital “V”.  Some believe this to be “the American Dream.”

The Objectivism of Self-Sufficiency is in direct conflict with a Biblical World view of collective dependency on what the Lord seeks to provide on a daily basis. Even Jesus, when asked how to pray, suggested that we pray for “daily bread.” Jesus imagined a return to Manna Season.

Maybe our striving for self-sufficiency explains our cries seemingly not being heard. Or our sense that the Lord is far off and evil so close at hand. Maybe a world driven mad by Objectivism and Markets drives some folks over the edge. Maybe a world that has lost touch with the kind of collective spirit imagined in the Bible drives people to extreme acts of violence. Maybe self-sufficiency is not all it is cracked up to be. Maybe a world that has walked away from Manna Season has crushed our spirit.

Maybe that is why the evildoers have not been erased from our remembrance. Has it ever occurred to us that in our drive for self-sufficiency we actually create evildoers? It is worth thinking about as we ponder what we need as a vision moving forward from what looks more like Mass-Murder Season than Manna Season.

Somebody does know the trouble we see. That somebody is always near to the brokenhearted. That somebody seeks to revive our crushed spirit. God is at home, it is we who have gone out for a walk. When will we have had enough of this bad dream and come home?

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Apocalypse Now?

19 August 2012 / Proper 15B – Proverbs 9:1-6/John 6:51-58
Walk In The Way Of Insight
Why do we read? Why do we read literature? I suspect it is because we are seeking some further insight into what we often refer to as “the meaning of life.” We want to inform the way in which we walk. We read something, we gain insight into life and our self, and it changes the way in which we walk. To gain insight from what we read demands a close reading of the text. Such a close reading helps us to see what the author is getting at, how the author chooses to express herself, and the cultural context in which the text sit – what we called in seminary its sitz em laben, roughly “its place in life.” Once we gain insight into the text’s place in life, we can see how it may have a place in our own life.

When Jesus says, “eat the flesh of the Son of Man, and drink his blood,” there is the promise of eternal life. Lady Wisdom in Proverbs 9:1-6 puts it this way: “Come, eat of my bread and drink of the wine I have mixed. Lay aside immaturity and live, and walk in the way of insight!”

The promise in these two invitations to feast at Lady Wisdom’s and Jesus’ table is 1) of a spiritual maturity, and 2) eternal life.

The spiritual maturity piece asserts that there is something more than just bread and wine available to satisfy our hunger and thirst. There is the Word of God, identified by John as Jesus, the Word made flesh. The Word can satisfy a deeper hunger and deeper thirst. In fact the Word satisfies our deepest hunger and deepest thirst. This has everything to do with our spiritual maturity and life as we live it here and now.

Similarly, eternal life has nothing to do with “timelessness and death, but is full-filled life here on earth that makes us yearn it will never end. Living life to the fullest as disciples brings great joy in the present and a hope for the future.” Jurgen Moltmann, The Coming of God, p 291

As one preacher once put it, “We are on the road to heaven now if today we walk with God. Eternal life is not a possession conferred at death; it is a present endowment. We live it now and continue it through death.” William Sloan Coffin, Credo, p170

It is life lived with, in and through God in Christ here and now – this is eternal life.

Both texts sit in the world of Jewish history – a history beset with dislocation – slavery in Egypt, exile in Babylon, and military occupation by Rome. All military occupation results in home no longer being home, it is a kind of exile that creates a sort of homelessness even though we are still geographically ‘at home.’

Jesus also announces that we can be in exile within ourselves since we are so preoccupied with sin. The Biblical words for sin originally were archery terms indicating that the arrow has missed its mark – one might translate it that we have lost our way. The Bible sometimes applies its vocabulary of sin to individuals, but most often this idea of missing the mark or losing our way is applied to the whole community – most often the community of faith, but also the political community, the polis, which in Hebrew terms cannot be separated out from the community of faith at all. Religion, politics, the economy, social justice are all considered parts of a great whole – the life God calls those in covenant with him to live.

It does not take much analysis to see when a community of persons has lost its way, either by forced dislocation, or the result of myriad decisions along the way. That is, it is usually pretty easy to know when we have lost our way. It is trickier, perhaps, to see when we have been led astray.

A few years ago, thanks to the Left Behind series of books, a 19th century movement originally called Millerism (for the man who thought it up) was resurrected.  A Mr. Miller had radically re-cast the Biblical literature called Apocalyptic and announced the world would end in 1843. Apocalyptic literature in the Bible had a sitz em laben: such literature such as Daniel and the Revelation of Saint John were addressed to people in exile – in the case of the Revelation, a community in exile by way of Roman military occupation of Israel. In basic terms, Apocalyptic literature was not talking so much about future events, but rather means to instill a deep sense of hope to those who are in the despair of present dislocation – a sense of  hope grounded in the past actions of the God of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and Jesus on behalf of his people. The message of Apocalypse is quite simple: do not fear the present bad times and bad leaders, God is ultimately in charge. The visionary side of apocalyptic literature is akin to graphic novels (what we used to call comic books!) to provide a dramatic vision of what we would like to see happen to the bad guys. The reader, the faithful reader that is, knows it is highly unlikely that God would do such things – but it helps us to leave despair behind as we ruminate on how we would like to see the bad guys brought to an end! Which hopefully makes it possible for us not to try to violently bring them to an end ourselves.

Miller turned this on its head and is credited with inventing the idea of predicting a date certain that this world will end and a new world, “God’s kingdom,” would begin. We have all seen these dates come and go. We have seen the clever bumper stickers, “The End is Near, God is Coming, Look Busy!” And this summer and fall has seen a cottage industry of Apocalyptic movies and TV shows dominating the big, not-so-big and even tiny screens that seem to be in our field of vision no matter where we are – in the theatre, in our homes, on our computer screens, on our phones for goodness sake! It was Martin Heidegger, among others, who observed long ago that our home is no longer home with the presence of television – that our homes are populated by strangers day and night – that our children are raised by strangers for hours and hours a day.

So we all want to know, are these the end times? Is some version, presumably God’s version, of ‘apocalypse now” approaching our doorstep? It is curious to me that people like Mr. Miller who are indeed serious students of the Bible, and are always predicting that it is all about to happen now, seem to have overlooked what Jesus really says in Mark 13, Matthew 24 and Luke 21. He says the Temple will be destroyed in their lifetime. In fact it was in 70ce. They in turn misconstrue what he is saying and like Mr. Miller decide he means the end of the age is about to come. This was not so strange at the time of Jesus. The Temple in Jerusalem was thought to be the center of the universe, and metaphorically, in Hebrew terms, “the belly button of God.” How could this be destroyed if that were so? But in fact the Romans burned it to the ground, and so it sits to this day. Jesus then tries to get them to see their error, AND issues a warning: do not listen to anyone who says they know when the end will come! That is, do not listen to Mr. Miller, do not listen to books, movies and TV shows. It would seem that Jesus is basically saying, it always looks like the end – leave it in God’s hands and live in the Way of God here and now.

If I were to tell you, “Yes, this is the end of days!” I would be a false prophet like Mr. Miller and all those who have come after him. Prophets are right. False prophets are wrong 100% of the time. It is that simple.

I suggest we all reflect on what Moltmann and Coffin say above: eternal life has nothing to do with “timelessness and death, but is full-filled life here on earth that makes us yearn it will never end. Living life to the fullest as disciples brings great joy in the present and a hope for the future.” Jurgen Moltmann, The Coming of God, p 291

 “We are on the road to heaven now if today we walk with God. Eternal life is not a possession conferred at death; it is a present endowment. We live it now and continue it through death.” William Sloan Coffin, Credo, p170

Jesus is always concerned with the here and now. He says repeatedly we ought to be too. For the Bible there are no endings – only new beginnings. Jesus lived life to the fullest here and now. He calls us to follow him. There is much to do. It is time to lay aside immaturity and live, and walk in the way of insight. Stop thinking about what might be and live into what is. This is the beginning of spiritual maturity. Because life lived with God is eternal life here and now. Forever and ever.  Amen.

The Reverend Kirk Alan Kubicek, Saint Timothy’s School for Girls, Stevenson, MD

Saturday, August 11, 2012

"Our Way of Life"

12 August 2012/Proper 14B – 2nd Samuel 18:33/Psalm 130/John 6:51
O Absalom, my son, my son!
Few of us ever thought we would ever know anything about Oak Creek, Wisconsin, only to wake up one morning to find that Wade Michael Page, a 40 year-old white former veteran, member of a neo-nazi hate group and musician in a white-power rock band, End Apathy, had shot and killed six members of a Sikh community while they were worshipping in their temple, their gurdwara. He wounded other members of the community and at least two policemen before taking his own life. Among the dead was Satwant Singh Kaleka, 65, president of the temple, who tried valiantly to stop the assailant from carrying out any further carnage, saving the lives of those who were able to find a place to hide while he fought with Wade Michael Page.

Few of us knew that an estimated 500,000 Sikhs live in the United States, 3,000 in southern Wisconsin alone. Few of us knew that Sikhism broke away as an offshoot of Hinduism (NB not Islam) in part to bring an end to the caste system, and is recognized around the world as a religion of peace and tolerance. Until this week few of us knew that since September 11, 2001, there have been over 700 attacks on Sikhs and Sikh communities across the U.S. And few of us know just how many neo-nazi, white supremacist groups there are across the U.S., let alone aware of the kinds of hate-crimes they commit, how many minds they infect, how many acts of violence they incite against people of color, people who wear turbans, immigrants, gays, lesbians, transgendered persons, and anyone they perceive as undermining “our way of life.”

We find ourselves overwhelmed. Such violent tragedy seems to be happening at an increasingly alarming rate. Which ought to suggest that something is terribly wrong with “our way of life.”

The Bible, particularly among the prophets, is relentless in demanding that we carefully examine “our way of life.” Yet, it is not the prophets only, but the Psalms, the narrative stories, and the urgings of Jesus, all call us to a greater degree of reflection and self-examination than we are inclined to undertake, and worse, feel we have no time to do. The bottom line is: unless we take time out to do this difficult work what used to be understood as “the common good” will continue to erode into the seemingly never ending stream of apocalyptic programming that suddenly has dominated both the movie screen and the TV screen. The problem is, however, it will be real, in the streets, in your face violence – not simply a story-line meant to earn back the millions of dollars it takes to produce such nightmarish visions.

The search for an explanation this week results in the oft repeated, even by me, mantra, “He probably thought he was shooting at Muslim sympathizers of Bin Laden and the Taliban because the men were wearing turbans.” As true as this may be, it is also a facile analysis of the evil that eats away at our culture, “our way of life,” like a cancer. For implicit in this surmise is the idea that shooting at Muslims might make sense and even be ok.

Make no mistake, there are underlying causes to help us understand Oak  Creek, Wisconsin, and Aurora, Colorado. And despite herculean efforts to convince us these are two very different incidents, it is difficult to ignore that the apparent ease with which one can arm oneself off the Internet, and the entrenched culture of violence, make such events of hate-crimes and acts of domestic terrorism all too attractive,  primarily to young white men who themselves are often just as marginalized from society as the minority and marginalized groups upon which they prey.

How apt is it that we are faced with the end of the David and Absalom narrative: where Absalom the son seeks revenge against his half-brother for raping his sister, then mounts an armed revolution to depose his father, King David, and ends up foiled by a tree – a mighty oak tree to be precise. As the handsome, long-haired Absalom is riding his mule to battle, his head, his lovely locks, snare him in the branches of the tree, allowing the King’s men to slay him an quell the rebellion. The rabbis, reflecting on this ask, “Did one ever hear of an oak-tree having a heart?  This is to show that when a man becomes so heartless as to make war against his own father, nature itself takes on a heart to avenge the deed.[Mek., Shirah, § 6]. So often in the Bible nature takes over where we fail to take action.

How is it that the lectionary committee some three or four decades ago arranged that after a week such as this we get to read and reflect on Psalm 130:
1 Out of the depths have I called to you, O Lord;
Lord, hear my voice; *
let your ears consider well the voice of my supplication.
2 If you, Lord, were to note what is done amiss, *
O Lord, who could stand?

Who could stand, indeed! The Psalmist is rhetorical of course. There is no “If” when it comes to the Lord noting what is amiss. It has been noted. The Lord has sent messengers in the past and messengers in the present. It is we, who cannot or at least ought not to stand, we who ignore the message over and over again.

When we listen to what Jesus in the Fourth Gospel says at the end of all these Bread passages we have had for the past few weeks we hear him conclude: “I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Whoever eats of this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh.” John 6:51

We read this at least once every three years. Yet, we do not seem to hear what is being said. It is incredibly vexing to what purports to be a Triumphant, Supercesionist church that Jesus does not once say, “…and the bread that I will give for the life of the church is my flesh.” Jesus gives his flesh and his blood, Jesus goes to the cross, for the “life of the world,” not the life of the church. This world for which he offers himself is a pluralistic world of many different peoples of many different faiths and yet a common sense of faithfulness. That is, whether one is a Christian, Jew, Muslim, Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Taoist, Jainist or of any other faith, Jesus includes you in his love and offers you his bread, bread that is meant to sustain the “common good” and “our way of life,” which way, The Bible understands, is the Way of God.

Whether one derives meaning out of the Absalom narrative, or from the Good News of Jesus Christ the Son of God, it strains the faithful imagination to believe that the way to respond to what happened on September 11, 2001 is to mount700 attacks on Sikhs throughout the U.S. But even that is too simple a conclusion, and misses what no doubt must be a key underlying cause of increased gun violence throughout our nation – that is, that it made any sense whatsoever to launch military attacks on Afghanistan and Iraq. To reply to violence with violence will not work, and in fact as anyone who takes the time to reflect on it, is not working at all. Yet, what can we expect when the elected leadership of “our way of life” use violence as a response? Of course it gives license to take that kind of action in all corners of our common life.

As we prepared to invade Iraq, Sam Hamill, a poet, went up on the internet to invite poets to send him poems speaking for the conscience of our country in opposition to President George W. Bush’s plans for “Shock and Awe.” Little did he suspect that he would receive some 13,000 poems from 11,000 poets, some of whom were professional writers, most of whom were ordinary people like you and me. Hamill had been invited by Laura Bush to a symposium on poetry to have been held at the White House – which symposium was to have focused on the poetry of Walt Whitman, Emily Dickenson, and Langston Hughes – three of the most anti-establishmentarian poets of American literature. Once word got out of Hamill’s Poets Against the War effort, the symposium was cancelled. Some 200 of the poems made it to press in the book, Poets Against the War [Thunder Mouth Press, NY:2003].

The Old Testament prophets were poets – they wrote in Hebrew poetry. Here are two examples from Hamill’s offering, one by a 90 year-old former teacher, blind, who had her first book of poetry published when she was 80, the second by an 11 year-old sixth grader.

Fear arrived at my door
With the evening paper
Headlines of winter and war
It will be a long time to peace
And the green rains
-Virginia Adair

Wet bodies of those who have fallen
Afghanistan blown to pieces!
Right on target – the men, the women,
The children, crying mommy mommy!
-Rebecca Crawford-Hayes

Rebecca, age 11, also wrote, “I am an eleven year-old girl in the sixth grade. Most of the kids in my school don’t want a war with Iraq. We wish that President Bush would stop being the school yard bully and do what Jesus would do – fight evil with good, not evil with evil. It says it right in the Bible.” [Poets Against War, p55]

We can blame TV, we can blame Hollywood, we can blame the access to guns and ammunition, we can blame misunderstanding one religion for another, we can play the blame game all day long into the night.

Or, we can take time to reflect on our collective behavior. Those whom we elect to public office and act on our behalf do not have the moral sense of an eleven year-old girl or a ninety year-old blind former school teacher.

Wade Michael Page is Absalom. Absalom is our son. We are Absalom. Our culture creates Absaloms every day. David sits in his chamber and weeps. What are we doing? One thing is for certain, sitting in our rooms and weeping will not change “our way of life,” or improve “the common good.”
The Reverend Kirk Alan Kubicek, St. Timothy’s School, Stevenson, MD

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Playing Chicken

5 August 2012/Proper 13B – 2Samuel 11:26—12:13a/Ephesians 4:1-16/John 6:24-35
The Reverend Kirk Alan Kubicek, St. Timothy’s School for Girls, Stevenson, MD
Speaking The Truth In Love
It never ceases to amaze me. The texts from which I choose to preach were arranged in a week by week three-year cycle several decades ago. The cycle repeats itself over and over. Yet, it never ceases to amaze me how time and time again the lessons appointed show up just when we need them. In 2 Samuel we get a continuation of David arranging for Uriah to be killed in battle so he might take Uriah’s wife Bathsheba as his wife. Today’s episode features the prophet Nathan speaking truth to power, truth in love, to help David see that what he has done is wrong. We then get Paul’s letter to the young church in Ephesus, urging: We must no longer be children, tossed to and fro and blown about by every wind of doctrine, by people’s trickery, by their craftiness in deceitful scheming. But speaking the truth in love, we must grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by every ligament with which it is equipped, as each part is working properly, promotes the body’s growth in building itself up in love.” And in John, a continuation of the Feeding the 5000 Story last week, Jesus tries once again to get away, the people follow him to Capernaum, he thinks they come because of and for more bread. So he tells them there is more to life than bread, and they ask, “What must we do to perform the works of God?”

The Reverend Canon Frank Logue offers some excellent insight on this last question in his offering on The Episcopal Church’s website, Sermons That Work : in which he suggests that we pattern our whole lives around the whole life of Jesus, not just on our understanding of his crucifixion and resurrection. And it makes sense: we who are created in the image of God need to pattern our lives after the life of the One God who comes to live with us as one of us.

So in the midst of all this comes Mr. Dan Cathy. As Paul in Ephesians seems to suggest, I try to stay out of the 24-hour news cycle’s idea of what makes for an issue that demands my attention. But since my Facebook page has been the source of posting after posting related to the comments of Mr. Cathy, I finally feel that God is somehow nudging me to respond. I shall do my best to speak the truth in love.

First, Mr. Cathy is well within his First Amendment rights to speak his mind – although to claim that he and his family-owned restaurant chain are "guilty as charged" for openly -- and financially -- supporting groups that advocate for "the biblical definition of a family unit,” he opens himself to critique for more than just his right to say what he wants and spend his money as he wants. His defenders try to reduce this to a Free Speech issue, but it is Mr. Cathy who has opened an examination of just how he attempts to “perform the works of God”  to public scrutiny.

Funding efforts to deny people the right to marriage becomes a Human Rights issue, something about which Jesus was particularly passionate. One might begin by trying to discover within the Bible itself some sort of consistent definition of “a family unit.” Instead, however, what one finds is everything from socially acceptable polygamy, the acceptance of concubines, people like Jacob who marries two sisters to get to the one he “loves,” a king like David who arranges for another man to be killed in battle so he might take that man’s wife, to Paul, the first Christian witness in the New Testament, urging those who follow Christ not to get married at all! After all, it appears as if Jesus never married, despite the best efforts of those like Dan Brown to make us believe he had romantic liaisons.

More importantly, of the passages most often marshaled to insist that the Bible has an opinion on same-sex marriage (Genesis 19, Leviticus 18:22, Leviticus 20:13, 1 Corinthians 6:9-10, Romans 1:26-27, 1 Corinthians 6:11), it is a) not at all clear that they have anything to do with what we in the 21st century would call “homosexuality,” and b) appear to be grounded in one strand of the Biblical literature that adheres to what is often called the Holiness or Purity Code, embodied largely in the book of Leviticus.

Leviticus, as its title suggests, is concerned with cultic purity most especially for the Levites who were the priestly-caste among the 12 tribes of Israel. The argument, usually mustered after a particularly bad event such as the Babylonian Exile, is that unless Israel remains pure we can expect other bad things to happen to us. Other long portions of both Hebrew and Christian scripture offer an opposing view: what is sometimes called the Universal or Inclusive View, is often mustered when it is clear that the people of God are not taking care of those for whom God shows most concern: widows, orphans and foreigners (undocumented aliens). These three classes also are understood as a metaphor for the sick, the lame, the blind, the poor, and everyone who lies at the margins of the community or society. Much of the writings of the Prophets and the Wisdom literature express concern about becoming an open, inclusive society of God’s people.

Without getting into too much detail, suffice it to say, that Jesus spends the most time of his life on Earth with those people who lie at the margins of society, caring for them, and healing them of their dislocation from the rest of society. Jesus is repeatedly challenged by those who support the Purity Code. It is notable that there is not one instance of his supporting the Purity Code point of view, which is a Biblical point of view. He passionately patterns his life around the Universal/Inclusive view – arguably as it is articulated by the Prophet Isaiah and portions of the book of Deuteronomy. The Deuteronomous point of view, incidentally, offers a more inclusive and humble view of what it means to be the people of God than does the Levitical point of view.

In our country, the United States, before the Constitution provided safeguards against becoming a Theocracy, much of colonial life was dictated by those Christians who believe that the Purity Code is all important – they even called themselves Puritans. Since the ratification of the Constitution, however, we have prided ourselves as a nation that provides a place where people from diverse and varied religious traditions may live together in mutual respect of one another.

It is surely no surprise to anyone that I find Jesus’ consistent denial that the Purity Code has any relevance to following him, to doing the works of God, as the starting point for how we ought to view our LGBT sisters and brothers. Further, for the privilege of being able to share his views in what is meant to be a religiously pluralistic society, Mr. Cathy is free to align himself with the long history of the Purity Code. Nevertheless, once he uses money to fund efforts to deny other citizens of our country what I consider basic Human Rights, he opens himself, and unfortunately his business, to serious critique. 

It is beyond my reading and understanding of the New Testament to think that Jesus would condone such behavior. Ultimately, that will not be my call.  But I do not see Jesus advocating using money, or any resources, to anything other than meet human need. People need love. And people in love have earned protective rights throughout much of Western Civilization: rights of inheritance, rights to shared insurance, protections for their children, and so on. Why should any couple be denied those rights?

They asked Jesus, “What must we do to perform the works of God?” Does anyone who has actually read the entire Bible and the Gospels of Jesus Christ the Son of God, believe he would say, “Use your resources to deny certain people the opportunity to live in the covenant of Marriage?” As Mike Royko, the gad-fly columnist for the late, great Chicago Daily News often said, “I may be wrong, but I doubt it!”