The theology of physical distancing

a false witness who pours out lies

physical distancingSomeone wondered what I thought of those churches that violate physical distancing by gathering. The folks tick me off. Not only do they put the congregants at risk, they put the greater community in peril as well.

The Pentecostal preacher in Louisiana, Tony Spell, said, “The Bible teaches us to be absent from our bodies as to be present with the Lord.” “Like any zealot or like any pure religious person, death looks to them like a welcome friend. True Christians do not mind dying. They fear living in fear.”

Conversely, the rejection of social distancing is far from mainstream among religious leaders. “‘That’s dumb, unbiblical and it doesn’t make sense,’ Rick Warren, pastor of the Saddleback Church in California, said. Warren and his wife, Kay, started the Saddleback Church about 40 years ago, and it now has 30,000 Sunday congregants around the world. They have moved their ministry online.”

Yup, I’m agreeing with Rick Warren.

“‘God gave you a brain,’ Warren said. ‘And much of what God wants to do with your life, he’s not going to write in the sky. He gave you a brain, and he expects you to use the intelligence that you were given.” These other people obviously never heard the famous God Will Save Me story, which I’ve known for a half-century.

Quoting Scripture

The fine artist Mr. Brunelle cited Leviticus 14:43-45 Modern English Version (MEV) on his Facebook page:
If the disease comes again and breaks out in the house after he has taken away the stones and after he has scraped the house and after it is plastered, then the priest shall come and examine and see if the disease has spread in the house. If the disease has spread in the house, it is a persistent leprosy in the house; it is unclean. He shall break down the house, the stones and the timber, and all the plaster of the house, and he shall carry them out of the city into an unclean place.

I’m rather fond of Proverbs 6:16-19 (NIV), directed not just for those addled pastors but for certain nimrods as well:
There are six things the Lord hates,
seven that are detestable to him:
haughty eyes,
a lying tongue,
hands that shed innocent blood,
a heart that devises wicked schemes,
feet that are quick to rush into evil,
a false witness who pours out lies
and a person who stirs up conflict in the community.

The Gospel lesson

When Jesus was in the wilderness, starving and parched, this from Matthew 4:5-7 (NIV)
Then the devil took him to the holy city and had him stand on the highest point of the temple. “If you are the Son of God,” he said, “throw yourself down. For it is written:

“‘He will command his angels concerning you,
and they will lift you up in their hands,
so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.’”

Jesus answered him, “It is also written: ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’”

It’s my opinion that Tony Spell and pastors of his ilk are trying to put God to the test. It is an arrogant thelogy that, as Rick Warren said, is unbiblical and makes no sense.

Dec. rambling: Fact-Resistant Humans

Lyn Lifshin was a great American poet



Prayer for America.

The real lesson of Afghanistan is that regime change does not work.

This is what Cambridge protesters said about Boris Johnson’s general election win. Roger Green, 73, convener of Stand up to Racism Cambridge, said the election result was greatly disappointing. He said: “It’s a knockback for people that we’ve ended up with a racist prime minister.”

Throwaway Kids: We are sending more foster kids to prison than college.

Living through the era of school shootings, one drill at a time.

My own private Iceland re: tourism.

Misusing ROMANS 13 to embrace theocracy.

Wars waged by ostentatiously Christian leaders in Washington have done enormous harm to their co-religionists half a world away in the Middle East.

Frankly Speaking: Child Marriage in the US.

Emotional Baggage. The Verge delivers an inside look at the working conditions at Away, every millennial’s favorite luggage brand. The picture ain’t pretty.

Borowitz satire, still true four years later: Scientists: Earth Endangered by New Strain of Fact-Resistant Humans.

3 Ways to Make A Difference: Changing The World With Political Awareness.

“Education is a human right with immense power to transform. On its foundation rest the cornerstones of freedom democracy and sustainable human development. ”
– Kofi Annan

CBS features the Baha’i Faith in “World of Worship” series.

Helping the homeless: Australian charity turns empty parking lots into safe pop-up accommodation.

Church says it wiped out over $5M in medical debt, but healthcare costs remain big-picture problem.

Answers from an actual lawyer: Can I use that music, image, or clip?

Hank Green reading the First Chapter of A Beautifully Foolish Endeavor.

Malcolm X.

Sesame Street characters do impressions of other Sesame Street characters.

Now I Know: The Postal Workers Who The Kid Who Wrote on the Walls and Didn’t Get in Trouble and Not Even Baby Yoda Knows How to Drive and The Day It Accidentally Rained Flying Whale Blubber.

#IMPOTUS

‘Not Mere Misers, But Actively Cruel’

With yet another Mar-a-Lago trip, the bill for his stays at his own resorts tops $118 million.

His Personal Pathology Is America’s Foreign Policy.

The Evangelical Deal with the Devil.

In his America “Christian” is no longer a religious faith.

Lyn Lifshin

Lyn Lifshin’s obituary. She was a great American poet who passed away on December 12th, 2019. The Albany Public Library Foundation honored her with a Literary Legend award in October 2019.

Please read an excerpt from LIPS, BLUES, BLUE LACE: ON THE OUTSIDE, an autobiographical essay. She was cremated in Virginia. There will be a memorial for her at the Unitarian Universalist Society in Schenectady in spring 2020.

EOY, EOD

The Queen’s Christmas Broadcast 2019

50 Years Ago, the First Internet Message Was Dispatched from UCLA.

What did this year mean for civil rights and liberties? Four ACLU attorneys tell us.

TCM Remembers video.

The best films of 2019 according to Wired and Vogue.

Rotten Tomatoes: The 200 Best Movies of the 2010s. I’ve seen about 80 of them, at least two of which I actively dislike.

The Decade in Content. The memes, viral videos, social media phenomenons, and TikTok zombies that defined the 2010s as much as movies, TV, or music did.

Saturday Night Live: home for the holiday.

Music

Coverville 1290 and 1291: Coverville Countdown 2019 part 1 and part 2.

When a Scandal Stinks Like a Whale on the Beach – Mangy Fetlocks

One Voice: A Holiday Presentation by The USAF Band.

How Sweet to be an Idiot – Neil Innes

Hold My Hand – THE RUTLES

Linda Ronstadt isn’t just a legendary singer. She’s also a fierce defender of migrant rights.

October rambling #1: Naturalist At Large

A Poem Can Help End a War

Roy Moore is a lawless theocratic lunatic

Scientology and the cult of tRump

The Rules of the Gun Debate: The rules for discussing firearms in the United States obscure the obvious solutions

My Daughter Was Murdered in a Mass Shooting. Then I Was Ordered to Pay Her Killer’s Gun Dealer

Sandy Hook mom: ‘We value guns, flags & fake acts of patriotism over people, pain’

Inside the Federal Bureau Of Way Too Many Guns

Just What We Needed: More Inequality, Bigger Deficits

From Aggressive Overtures to Sexual Assault: Harvey Weinstein’s Accusers Tell Their Stories

Forensic Science: Last Week Tonight with John Oliver

Statistical indicators of President Obama’s eight years in office

The Day Donald Trump Watched An Octogenarian Bleeding To Death And Did Nothing To Help

Adjunct professors in America face low pay and long hours without the security of full-time faculty. Some, on the brink of homelessness, take desperate measures

The Five Stirring Stanzas That Proved a Poem Can Help End a War

“The Closet” where a black camper slept is preserved in Schroon Lake, NY

How to Protest Without Offending White People

Comic: Back to the Future of Racism

Chuck Miller’s two-week boycott of ESPN

Finding Your Roots: Bernie Sanders and Larry David (may be available only in the US and until 31 Oct)

Free counseling for those affected by Hurricane Harvey from BetterHelp.com for up to three months

Want Change In Education? Look Beyond The Usual Suspects (Like Finland)

How to handle being “unfriended” on Facebook

Naturalist At Large environmental cartoons by Don Rittner and Raoul Vezina (1983)

“Mr Brunelle Explains It All” Cartoon Gallery

The Vast Influence Of Donald Duck

How one election changed Disney’s relationship with Anaheim

EU English

The Mary Tyler Moore Show Fall Preview

Y.A. Tittle dies at age 90. He was the first New York Giants quarterback of my youth

Sputnik’s 60th birthday

30 Of the Most Amazing Images from Electron Microscopes

Now I Know: The Town that Drives Itself and Why We Yawn and Why Once You Pop, You Can’t Stop and The Ben and Jerry’s Flavor that Left a Bad Taste Behind

Floss Firstenberg Alper Obituary: Floss was an amazing listener, a trusted confidante, the focus of many people’s erotic dreams, an oft-invited dinner guest and irreverent as hell

MUSIC

Waiting For The Waiter – MonaLisa Twins ft. John Sebastian

Coverville 1187: Cover Stories for Gerry & The Pacemakers and Everything But The Girl

Magic Moments – Perry Como

Merrily We Roll Along – Eddie Cantor

The Lydster: Religious Ally at the Pride Parade

Most of the people on the parade route absolutely LOVE the fact that the faith community is so active in the parade

One of the MANY things I’ve worried about as a parent is, while trying to instill values, trying not to turn the Daughter into some sort of philosophical mini-me. I’m not sure how that’s supposed to work.

Five or six years ago, when the LGBTQ Pride Parade was on Sunday, as it is this year, I took her along. I’m sure the marching and seeing all the people along the parade route was FUN. But was it really her choice?

The great thing about her getting older is that now I know she gets to make decisions for herself. Not only did she help decorate the church’s van, she helped led the Presbyterian Connection contingent.

When she was younger, she knew a friend with two mommies and thought that was fine. Now, though, she’s more aware of the bullying and discrimination that still takes place against LGBTQ people.

And she knows the world is not always a safe place. Back when we left the Tulip Festival in Albany’s Washington Park in May, she noted the concrete barriers at certain locations. These were deployed, no doubt, to try to prevent to ward off people using motor vehicles as weapons, as has happened in Nice, France; London, and elsewhere.

She expressed surprise that such measures weren’t used in the Pride Parade, given the increased backlash against equality. Indeed, during the parade, I’ve been long been wary of the intersection of Madison Avenue and Lark Street, where the religious resistance against the parade appears strongest. I waved at the guy with the giant 10 Commandments sign, but he scowled back.

Conversely, most of the people on the parade route absolutely LOVE the fact that the faith community is so active in the parade. And not just the Presbyterians, but the UUs and quite a few others.

It’s local election season, and a ton of political candidates actually led the parade.

I mentioned to one of our church members, who is gay, and suggested that I think the Pride Parade is more important than ever. He agreed, though five years ago, he thought the time might be right to abandon the event.

Next year, should the Daughter participate, I’ll know it is entirely her decision, based on her proudly wearing an Ally rainbow button.

Faith and science: compatible?

Religious Americans by and large support science.

For Ask Roger Anything, Chris asks:

How do you spiritually reconcile your faith with your acceptance of science?

I don’t really see a problem with this. Faith is what I believe, and science is what I know, or what is reasonably knowable. There’s no contradiction. My running joke used to be “God allowed the Big Bang,” which is overly simplistic, I suppose.

This Slate story about a 2015 Pew Research Center survey on religion and science, indicates: “Highly religious Americans are less likely than others to see conflict between faith and science.”

I think this is true: “The people who are farther away from religion themselves tend to see stronger conflict, because they’re not as close to actual religious people… They aren’t seeing all those people who don’t have a conflict.”

The problem happens, I think, when people use, for instance, the Bible as a history book – mostly, it is not – or as science book – surely, it is NOT – rather than as a series of stories, written by a bunch of different writers, over a long period, that help shape a theology.

And of course, this was established long ago, well before Galileo and Copernicus got jammed up with their heliocentric “heresy”.

Currently, “the media tends to focus on those rare flashpoints of controversy, such as fights over evolution and the content of science textbooks, and to highlight the most outspoken conservative fundamentalists. For the nonreligious, these strong voices become the faces of religion, and these flashpoints become evidence that religion and science are in conflict. In fact, religious Americans by and large support science.”

What was your favorite or most memorable science demo as a kid?

It was almost certainly at the Corning Museum of Glass, an hour west of Binghamton, with a bunch of “I didn’t know they could do THAT with glass” moments. We went there at least four times before in 1972, when it was damaged in the flooding caused by Hurricane Agnes and was subsequently rebuilt.