Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Holy Week.

Christians fight like cats and dogs over such things as whether women and gays should be ordained, whether same-sex couples should be allowed to marry, whether or not the Bible should be taken literally, and how these last days will play out.

A Christian comedian once quipped that the mighty army of God shod in the preparation of the Gospel, loins encircled in the girdle of truth, armored with the shield of faith, the. breastplate of righteousness, the helmet of salvation, and wielding the sword of the Spirit spends the vast majority of its time polishing its armor or fighting amongst themselves. And. to see this spectacle in action, one wonders how the Christian church manages to get any converts.

But if there is one thing that does unite the fundamentalists, the evangelicals, the charismatics and their cousins, the pentecostals, and the liberal mainliners is the events that will happen over the next four days: the meat of Holy Week.

Last Sunday the church celebrated Jesus's triumphal return into Jerusalem on the back of a donkey. No motorcades with heat packing Secert Service agents talking into their collars did Jesus have. It was just him and maybe his disciples bringing up the rear. The crowds who heard of the exploits of the humble carpenter's son from Nazareth, or who saw or experienced the miraculous things he did lined the streets cheering the name of Jesus strewing their clothing and palm branches befor him, crying out "Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!!". What a day of rejoicing that was. Only one knew that in 4 days that same crowd that praised him would turn their backs on him and demand the release of a murderer instead of the innocent Son of God.

Maundy Thursday, the church recalls what would be Jesus' last night of freedom with his disciples. The shared Passover meal. Jesus' command to take up the bread of his body, and the wine of his blood in rememberance of him. The revealing of the betrayer, who would sell out his master for 30 pieces of silver. The bold statement of his beloved disciple Peter who swore that he would never deny Jesus, but would fail miserably a few hours later. The night spent in the garden of Gethsamane, when Jesus shows his humanity wishing and praying to his Father that what was to come could be avoided, not once, not twice, but three times. His disappointment at his disciples who could not stay awake to give him support in this crucial hour, and when the betrayer comes with soldiers and hired muscle to arrest Jesus, those same disciples ran off and left Jesus on his own. Later that night, the kangaroo court that trumped up false charges against the Christ, a parade of witness telling conflicting stories, but no one spoke in his defense. In any other court, this sham would have been thrown out.

Pilate could not even find fault with the man, but in caving to public pressure hands him over to be executed, but not before the Roman soldiers had some cruel, brutal fun at Jesus expense. The mocking, the spitting, the crown of thrones, the 40 lashes with the scourge. The blood that was spilt. And through it all, Jesus never said a 'mumbalin word!

Good Friday. Jesus dragged out of his cell, a heavy wooden cross strapped to his back. The humiliation of the condemned carrying the instrument of his execution. The people who before were shouting for the Savior now drunken in bloodlust. Jesus falls once, then twice. A Cyrenian named Simon was forced to carry that foul cross. And finally to Skull Hill. Golgotha. Clothes ripped off, body thrown down onto the cross. Spikes hammered into his hands and feet shattering bone, tearing muscle, inhuman pain. The cross put into the ground, and Jesus hangs between heaven and earth. Soldiers toss dice for his clothes. The people mock him exhorting him to come down off the cross. But he forgives them, for they don't know what they are doing. Jesus hangs on the cross enduring the pain, the betrayal, and the turning of his own Father's back on him for 9 hours. Yet he forestalls death long enough to welcome a dying repentant thief into the Eternal Kingdom. But that was what Jesus was all about. He was never too busy to help another. Then comes to the time where the Father is now ready to take his son into His bosom. "Into Your Hands I Commend My Spirit, IT IS FINISHED!!!".
His broken body is placed in a borrowed tomb, door sealed shut with a heavy stone. His disciples devasted, and defeated. The Pharisees and their conspirators gloating that they finally rid themselves of that meddlesome Jesus.

Resurrection Sunday. The sun rises over the Eastern horizon. The two Marys hurry to the tomb to anoint the body of Jesus, not knowing what they'd find. They get there and see the tombstone rolled away and an angel sitting on it. The guards sent to secure the tomb passed out on the ground. "Are you looking for Jesus of Nazareth?" the angel inquires. "He's not here, He has risen! Go and see where your Lord lay! The women are dumbstruck to see that the angel was speaking the truth. Jesus was not there. Did the disciples steal the body? What treachery is this? The women go away, wondering what has happened, when before their eyes stood Jesus Christ whole in body and form. He is Risen just as he said!!!

We Christians may beat the crap out of each other over small stuff, but at least we agree on this. The Scribbler wishes all of you who read these words God's richest Blessings during Holy Week and the Easter Season.

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Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Obama and Wright: Guilty By Association?

Much has been said about the recent. kerfuffle regarding statements made by the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, Pastor of Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago, the church where Democratic presidential candidate, Barack Obama maintains membership. According to the videos making their way around the Internet, Rev. Wright states that America should not be blessed by God for its role in world affairs, but rather damned for its treatment of minorities and other disadvantaged people. These statements made in the strident, angry tones of the black preacher's pulpit have caused many folks who are still undecided about who to vote for in this election to wonder whether Barack Obama shares those opinions and those who support Obama wonder if this revelation is the event that could spell defeat for their candidate?

Let me first state that I intend to vote for Barack Obama for President of these United States in the Pennsylvania primary and in the general election should he win the nomination. Should he not secure said nomination, I will hold my nose and vote for Hillary Clinton, because as much as I can't stand the negative way she and former President and husband Bill Clinton have run their campaign, she's clearly better than a John McCain presidency which would be at least four more years of Bush without the mangled English and the Texas Twang.

Also, this is my personal blog about stuff that I find interesting. I'm not a news person and this is not a news blog. This is my opinion and only my opinion. So take it for what it's worth, which ain't much.

First, I'm not voting for Jeremiah Wright for President, I'm voting for Barack Obama. Unlike the old saying that one is known by the company he or she keeps, I'm not going to accuse Obama for disloyalty based on things his pastor said. One can have a spiritual mentor that has strong controversial opinions and vehemently disagree with those opinions. That said, there are people out there who are quick to join Obama and Wright at the hip in order to discredit the candidate in order to advance the cause of their candidate, be it Clinton or McCain. According to poll data, Obama's message rings best with educated people, i.e. those with college degrees. Educated people should share my belief that Obama should not be tarred with the same brush as Wright, but that's not always the case.

One thing to remember is that Rev. Wright is of the age that he remembers and has lived through the dark days of racial segregation in America. He has obviously come in contact with the evil of racism and has experienced what it is like to be condemned simply because of skin color. Rev. Wright speaks to an ugly truth that America still has a hard time getting it's collective head around. The history of race in the USA is not a pretty one. Hangings, beatings, Jim Crow, the denial of even the most basic rights afforded to us by the Constitution, even that document considered slaves to be only three-fifths of a person. This was Black folk's lot up from their arrival in the 17th century to the recent past. And while Rev. Wright's chosen words may upset and scare most White folks, many Black folks find that those words resonate deep within their souls. While we may not speak those thoughts in the presence of Whites, around our own kind, they come out. Our America was and is not the same America that White folk embrace. And as much as I'd like to see us as a people move forward and adopt a post-racial America that will once and for all, bury those old evils, I also know that it's going to take a long time for that to happen. Most likely, once the last of the Civil Rights generation has passed, their children will pick up the torch and move on where their parents and grandparents were unable.

So I understand what Rev. Wright is saying and it is a hard and bitter truth to swallow. But Barack Obama is not running for President of the United States of Black America, he's running for the United States of America, period and for him to maximize his chances to occupy 1600 Pennsylvania Ave on January 20, 2009, he's going to have to reassure those who are scared of electing an angry black man, that he's a black man who knows his history, acknowledges it, and will move forward to make sure that it won't happen again. He may hold Wright's teachings in his heart, maybe even agree with them to a certain extent, but he has to work towards an America that can and will live up to its highest potential for ALL of its citizens. Barack Obama has to distance himself from those angry words. He has to reassure his wary supporters and potential voters that Rev. Wright's words are not his words. White folks need to understand that Black folks can't just 'get over it, and just move on' like it's old news. This is a pain that is deep, deep, deep in our souls and won't just leave overnight. Black folks need to take that pain and use it as energy to redouble their efforts make a better future for their children and future, and not just let it sit there and let it eat up their souls like a spiritual cancer.

What will happen should Barack Obama become President? The sun will rise in the east and set in the west, up will still be up, down will still be down. Left will still be left and right will still be right. Pigs will still wallow in mud, and hell will still be hot. But what a day it will be when a black man becomes the leader of the free world. What a message that will send to our neighbors, allies, and especially our children who will be encouraged to dream big dreams. And maybe Dr. Martin Luther King may exclaim in a voice that will ring throughout all of heaven that his dream finally came true.
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