Category Archives: Faith

Even For Politico This Is So Gross: Happy Easter!

This isn’t how God works: 

President Donald Trump has increasingly infused references to God into his prepared remarks — calling on God to bless all the world after launching strikes in Syria, asking God to bless the newest Supreme Court Justice, invoking the Lord to argue in favor of a war on opioids.

That … isn’t finding religion. It’s finding a sales pitch.

For, let us be clear, war, war and more war.

“I’ve always felt the need to pray,” Trump said in that late-January interview. “The office is so powerful that you need God even more because your decisions are no longer, ‘Gee I’m going to build a building in New York.’ … These are questions of massive, life-and-death.”

FAITH IS NOT FIRE INSURANCE. You do not get to torch the place and be like, “Well, I prayed about it.” This is why I find so much born-again rhetoric bankrupt. There’s no such thing as a clean slate.

“I believe the weight of the office that he now holds and the burden of responsibility that it carries is humbling him somewhat and causing him to acknowledge and admit his reliance on God,” said Darrell Scott, an Ohio pastor who has known Trump for six years and supported Trump’s campaign and served on his transition team.

FAITH IS ALSO NOT A BOOTY CALL. (Says the girl who frequently Sees Other Deities yet winds up outside church with a boombox over her head every December blaring O Come O Come Emanuel, but I’m me, and not the president, and I’ve never claimed to be anything but a sinner who does not expect forgiveness.)

The White House did not respond to questions about whether Trump has been attending church as president, and if he has, it has been without the knowledge of White House pool reporters.

Still, Trump’s frequent invocations of God in his remarks as of late are a change from both his past life as a businessman and his time on the campaign trail.

So he hasn’t been going to church (which, let’s be fair, no more makes you a Christian than pulling into the garage makes you a car), he’s pursued policies of war and suffering and exclusion (which actually SHOULD disqualify you from from the Flock), but he’s USING MOAR JESUS WORDS HERE ARE A THOUSAND POLITICO ANALYSIS THINGS.

I hate our political journalism right now.

A.

Sitting Political Shiva

I started following the Israeli newspaper Haaretz’s Twitter feed during their last general election. As you may recall, the polls were wrong about that one too. An interesting link popped up on their feed:

I posted the tweet because Haaretz recently went behind a paywall with no free stories and Chrome’s incognito feature did not work. Oy, just oy.

I’m an agnostic who was raised Greek-Orthodox but most of my mother’s bridge playing and real estate cronies were Jewish, so I learned about sitting shiva as a child.  I remember going with her to Mrs. Rosenberg’s house when her husband died.  Mrs. Rosenberg was the Holocaust survivor I’ve written about before.  I didn’t even complain about going because Mrs. R and I had a mutual admiration society. She remains one of my heroes. She was also as funny as hell. I’m convinced that I learned the essence of black comedy from her. It’s the Shoah survivor’s ethos: nothing will ever be as bad as what they went through, in her case at Treblinka.

Just in case some of you don’t know what I’m talking about here’s a definition of shiva:

Shiva is the week long period of mourning following a loved one’s death. During this time, family members traditionally gather in one home to receive visitors. The word “shiva” means seven, signifying the seven day mourning period in which mourners are supposed to sit low to the ground.

When I saw the headline, I realized that I had metaphorically sat shiva all day Wednesday. For many of us, Hillary Clinton’s loss felt like a death in the family. If it doesn’t to you, please have some respect for those of us who are mourning. We’re sitting political shiva.

I spent the day trading messages with friends on social media and via text. One close friend works at an oil company and had to deal with triumphant Trumpers. He described the people of color at his firm as looking like they expected deportation or worse at any moment. I cannot blame them. Some of Dr. A’s med students came to her in tears yesterday. That gives me hope for the future of the medical profession.

I checked in with two dear friends in the afternoon. One of whom’s four-year old daughter was upset because the mean man beat the nice lady. It’s a pity that so many so-called grown ups couldn’t see what a child can and elected a goniff. That’s Yiddish for a thief, dishonest person, or scoundrel. That fits the Insult Comedian to a T.

After undergoing First Draft therapy by writing The Fearful Country and sitting virtual political shiva, Dr. A and I attended a Krewe meeting. Most of my Krewe mates looked as if they had slept precious little. I certainly did. Some of us had planned to suggest alternative election related themes but the Krewe wanted to develop a previously discussed theme. And that’s okay. The desire to move on from a trauma is understandable. The non-Krewe business conversation was about the election and how upset everyone was. The d word came up in the conversation: Devastated. The evening was a combination of sitting shiva and an Irish wake.

I sat next to my Spank protege who prefers to call me her Spank daddy. She converted to Judaism when she married. We talked about our mutual horror at how many forms of bigotry had been normalized by the Insult Comedian and his deplorable followers. The previously unspoken has been spoken. Loudly. Anti-Semitism has never left us but it’s back in its most virulent form since the 1940’s. An example of that is this:

That’s right, Kristallnacht took place on November 9-10 in 1938. America just elected a candidate who ran an anti-Semitic campaign. David Duke is celebrating with an exuberant, Heil, Trump. Yet another reason we’re sitting political shiva.

The mood on social media yesterday ranged from solemn to vengeful. The Trumpers were attacking perfect strangers for their supposed imperfections. One friend received hate messages from people who objected to a white chick being married to a black guy. This was deeply upsetting to me as they’re one of the sweetest couples I know. We’re also sitting shiva for the death of civility.

I had to deal with some vestigial Dudebros who wanted to say I told you so. I invited them to a “block party” but have no idea why they decided to crawl out of the woodwork. Actually, I do: everything has been normalized by the electoral college victory of the Insult Comedian. Btw, he’s attacked the electoral college in the past, now he loves it. Typical.

I think that the time for what ifs is down the road. I am skeptical that Sanders would have done better but I’m not certain about that. I do know that the stench of anti-Semitism was all over this election and a septuagenarian Jewish socialist would have felt it as well as incessant red baiting. Shorter Adrastos, I don’t know for sure and neither does anybody else. I am, however, not attacking individuals I disagree with on the internet. It’s called keyboard courage. Instead, I’m sitting political shiva.

My theory of what happened is a simple one. After a bruising primary campaign, Hillary Clinton had a great convention, won the debates, took a solid, steady lead and then came the first Comey letter. It depressed Democratic turnout and she lost the electoral vote but won the popular vote. The election was decided by James Comey, Rudy Giuliani, and the MSM’s sporadic attention to Trump’s scandals with an assist from Wikileaks, Russian intelligence, and the alt-right. Trump’s electoral vote victory has mainstreamed the latter. That’s another reason we’re sitting political shiva.

The Trumpers are already acting vengeful towards their enemies. The cartoon villain’s cartoon lackey, Omarosa, is openly discussing an enemies list. That’s right, a person who’s best known as a hiss-provoking reality show villain will have influence in the next administration. I wonder who will be Propaganda Minister: Bannon or Conway?

The awfulness of this election will endure for the next four years. Tolerance, mutual respect, and common decency were dealt a terrible, but not fatal, blow in 2016. Many of us are still reeling and that’s why we’re sitting political shiva. We need to grieve before we can move on.

The aftermath of this horrendous year and dreadful election result reminds me of what some New Orleanians did on Inauguration Day in 2005. We held a Jazz Funeral for Democracy to mourn Bush’s second term complete with brass bands and a horse-drawn bier. We did not know that disaster would come our way in a mere seven months. Here are two of Dr. A’s pictures of that march through downtown New Orleans:

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I hadn’t seen that Flickr photo album for years. The second picture made me smile. The gent in the top hat and tails is-not Fred Astaire-my old friend Bob Smith. He’s more likely to be seen in a kilt now but I know he’s grieving over what happened this week. We all mourn the passing of someone/something special in our own way: from jazz funerals to demonstrations to wakes to sitting shiva. Me, I’m sitting political shiva this week.

Back to the Jazz Funeral for Democracy. 2016 is one of the worst years in our nation’s history but so was 2005. Remember, we elected Barack Obama four years after Bush narrowly defeated John Kerry. We as a people should not have to go through this but we do. And that is why this gentile is sitting political shiva.

A fart in church

One of the best parts about writing for this blog is the diversity of thought and experience of the readership. That’s not me blowing smoke. It’s true. I have found that I learned a lot about my own position on this big blue rock from hearing of the positions of others here than I learned anywhere else. Agreement, disagreement, whatever. It comes down to people coming at an idea I have from a variety of angles.

Never more is this true than in the field of religion, where not only do people come from various faiths, but various positions on faith, spirituality, organized religion and other “not for me, but do what you dig” ideologies. So this piece isn’t as much about me offering thought as me asking for the sounding board to bounce thoughts to me.

I spent a dozen years in Catholic school and remain a semi-regular participant in the ritual that is Saturday/Sunday mass. My kid is in Year Six of the schooling and gets more of that at home from my mother-in-law, who spent her whole life as an educator of the faith and a pretty “hardline Catholic” (if such a thing exists). My parents are active in the church back home: Dad’s an usher, Mom does the readings. They still attend the same church they got married in almost 50 years ago.

So that’s the set up for what happened two weeks ago as I took Mom to church on a Saturday afternoon when I was in town for our other religious ritual: The monthly baseball card show.

The new priest we got (we seem to be going through them at a fairly brisk pace) isn’t the world’s most likeable man. He met me for the first time about a month ago and noticed that I had lost a lot of hair as he had at some point in his life. “I like your haircut,” he said as he laughed.

Thanks, Father.

The bigger “problem” is that the man is hearing impaired, which makes him difficult to understand. To that end, he has his own personal deacon who does a lot of the talking for him, including the homily.

For those uninitiated in the faith, a deacon is a layman (all men still. My faith needs to grow up.) who serves as kind of a “caddy” for the priest. I’m sure some of them are decent people, but I’ve yet to meet one. My experience with deacons is that they are power-hungry, self-important assholes who believe that God has chosen them to fill the role. This man is like an Alpha Deacon in that regard. He has created rules that prohibit church members from approaching the altar during certain parts of the mass. He forbids readers to sit up front, which means they have to walk up to do the reading, walk back after the reading and then walk back to do the second reading. All of this makes no sense, as most readers are in their 70s and are lucky to be walking at all.

Above all else, however, this guy has that “presence” about him: Holier-than-thou. Smug. A Chosen One. He also looks like Ben from the Dilbert cartoons.

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So all of this conspired to let the priest give Deacon Dickhead the mic for the homily at mass two weeks ago.

My mother kind of captured my thoughts on what the homily should be for me: “I go there to feel better,” she said. “I want something that makes me feel inspired or at least like I shouldn’t feel bad about something that is happening in my life.”

I agree. Even if it’s a little more toward the fire-and-brimstone side, it can be helpful and inspiration.

The readings were good ones: Moses holding up his arms with the staff of God helps his people win a battle, but as he grew tired, his arms fell. When his arms fell, the opposition had the better of the battle. Thus, two guys gave him a place to sit and held up his arms for him. The Gospel was similarly about getting by with a little help from your friends. (I don’t complicate my faith, I guess…) Thus, I’m looking forward to a good bit of preaching, even given this guy’s limited capabilities.

Instead, I got a political lesson.

The guy got up there and started talking about the election and how neither candidate was good, but one of them was going to make it easier for people to get abortions and we can’t have that. He told some story about Hillary Clinton not clapping for Mother Theresa. He then told this “real story” about a guy who died:

A guy feels sick and goes to the doctor. He finds out he has a virulent strain of cancer that despite every effort, he can’t overcome.

He dies and meets God. “God,” he says. “Why do we have something horrible like cancer? Why can’t you send us a cure for cancer?”

“My child,” God replies. “I did send you a cure for cancer. But she was aborted because her mother wanted a boy.”

At the end of this horseshit, people broke out in applause.

In church.

During mass.

Did I mention we’re Catholic, where we don’t pretty much get jacked up about anything during church?

I could feel my field of vision narrowing and my head pounding as I saw a woman two pews up clapping like it was a Trump rally. I looked over at my mother who was just silent, so I had a hard time getting a feel from her about this.

When communion came (or as my kid once noted, “That time where you go up and get a cookie from the priest), Deacon Dickhead was running my line. I was torn between three actions:

  1. Stay put, take the thing, don’t embarrass mom
  2. Cut across the aisle to the other line, likely create a small scene, but feel better
  3. Stay put and when he says, “Body of Christ” respond with “Fuck you you fucking fuck” and then take a swing at the guy. Larger scene, but probably worth it once in a lifetime.

I went with the first one because it was my parents’ church and I didn’t want to bring shame on the family. I did the perfectly Catholic thing: I sucked it up and took it. At the end of mass, the priest made a point of complimenting the deacon and people applauded again. I wanted to tell them both to fuck off and die. I remained politely Catholic.

On the way to the car, I began with the “So…” line, only to have my mother start railing against this like she was Regan in “The Exorcist.” Certain words don’t sound natural coming out of the mouth of a 70-year-old woman on her way out of church.

Mom found them all.

It got so bad, she forced my father to avoid that topic of discussion at dinner, a meal that was accompanied by a big jolt of wine.

I spent the rest of that week bitching up a storm in my head. Separation of Church and State. Self-righteous prick. Use open records and FOIA the shit out of everything he ever did and hope he had a sexual rap battle with Ken Bone.

I still don’t know why this is eating at me so much. It’s not like the church ever would be in the “Do what you do, just don’t get any on me” kind of thing when it came to anything sex-based. I never imagined my faith to be OK with life not beginning when a man unhooked the woman’s bra. What is it about this one speech that really pissed me off?

Part of it was the messenger, I’m sure. I dislike people who enjoy talking the talk but have never been forced to walk the walk. I also dislike people who cling to false stereotypes of people that serve as strawmen for their bullshit. I REALLY don’t like bullies and this guy is one of those as well. He’s basically an asshole fondue of everything I hate, so I get that.

Part of it was the venue. When I’m watching a baseball game and I get a commercial for Trump or Ron Johnson or Viagra (all equally helpful in getting old angry white guys hard), I’m not thrilled, but it comes with the territory. I also know that my faith tells me God is supposed to be everywhere, and if you watched the ALCS, you know he’s with me when the Indians are playing. Still, when I’m in His house, I’m not watching commercials on my phone, so I’m thinking I’m safe from this shit.

Maybe there’s another part of me that has allowed me to kind of compartmentalize my faith into areas of agreement and areas I ignore. When I’m forced to confront those things I like to keep in the trunk of the car, it really irritates me. I don’t know.

What I do know is that for all the trouble this faith is having in keeping people engaged, pissing off one of the few people in that joint under the age of 70 isn’t a great idea.

Thus, I leave you with the questions that have bothered me: Is this a big deal? Am I overreacting? What should I do?

A Place to Rest in Their Own Damn Country

We are unkind, right now: 

There are relatively few dedicated Muslim cemeteries around the country, so many Muslim communities use sections of other cemeteries to bury their dead.

In Dudley, the proposal from the Islamic Society of Greater Worcester has been met with angry comments at local meetings.

“You want a Muslim cemetery? Fine. Put it in your backyard, not mine,” Daniel Grazulis said during a zoning meeting in February, drawing a round of applause.

Jason Talerman, a lawyer for the Islamic Society, said he believes the opposition is rooted in Islamophobia.

“They like to say it under the guise of, ‘Oh, we’re just trying to protect our water supply,’ but it’s thinly veiled,” he said.

Desiree Moninski, who lives across the street from the site, once farmed by her grandparents, said she and other opponents have legitimate concerns that have nothing to do with Islam.

“I grew up here. It’s farmland, and I’d like to see it stay that way,” she said.

How do you get so broken that y0u would deny the dead a resting place because … seriously, what do you think, that when the vampires all rise up the Muslim ones will be more dangerous than WASP Nosferatu? Like they’ll be terrorist dead bodies? FFS. What do you get out of yelling at a town meeting about something like this?

A.

Laborare est Orare

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Yes. Yes a thousand times.

Every time something like this happens, I dread the platitudes, the “prayers up!” messages, the ways in which we’ve made faith into some kind of dodge that makes us good people. Like if we think and pray, that gets us out of something. Like that’s what we have to do.

It’s insulting, and not just to people for whom prayer is talking to an imaginary, ridiculous friend.

It’s insulting to people for whom prayer is a real act of faith. It’s insulting to people for whom prayer is critical, is active and purposeful and rooted in moving the world forward.

Prayer is not mouthing of memorized words with hands folded before bedtime. Prayer is not “thank you for Grandma and my pony and my plastic rocket.” Prayer is not “please God let it not rain on circus day.” Prayer is not even “please God, let me live.” Prayer is not a never-ending, whiny wish list directed upward at an unknowable, unanswering deity.

Prayer is directed at other people.

Prayer is getting up every day before dawn, and baking bread.

Prayer is delivering letters in the pre-dawn light of early winter.

Prayer is lending a neighbor a shovel when there’s a blizzard. Prayer is bringing a snowed-in neighbor some food.

Prayer is digging a well where there is no water. Prayer is planting a crop where there is no food. Prayer is doing the dishes. Prayer is holding the baby. Prayer is laundry. Prayer is standing on a factory line and repeating the same task over and over and over and over for 20 years, until your hands and your knees and your hearing are gone, and all you have left to pray for is the drive home, the lunchbox your spouse packed sitting full on the seat next to you because you didn’t have time for a break.

Prayer is sweeping the front porch.

Prayer is poetry, too, but poetry meant to spur action: Singing to a god of the glory of its creation, calling others to that glory, using the only voice a poet has to bring people together for a common purpose. Prayer does something.

Prayer is love, and love is work, or it is nothing. Anyone can sing a song.

And prayer like that has moved mountains and it has built cities and it has brought the walls of Jericho down. Prayer like that would take the events of today and shake the foundations of this country until our fear-mad politics and our angry, resentful culture came tumbling down, too. Prayer like that would pass laws. Prayer like that would make this one the last one.

So when we say our prayers are with the victims of a crime, we’d better mean our backs are bent to work to help them, or we’re not talking about our prayers.

A.

Today On Bad Idea Theatre: Pope Frank & Yelp For People

We begin with the first major gaffe of  Jorge Mario Bergoglio’s papacy. Here’s Charlie Pierce’s hot take on it:

The big news today seems to be that Kim Davis, the goldbricking county clerk from Kentucky, met secretly with Papa Francesco in Washington and that he endorsed her current status as a faith-based layabout. Given this pope’s deft gift for strategic ambiguity and shrewd public relations, it’s hard for me to understand how he could commit such a hamhanded blunder as picking a side in this fight. And it’s odd that he (or someone) sought to publicize it through an American media entity that is not wholly sympathetic to his papacy. Inside The Vatican, the e-newsletter that broke the story, is edited by Robert Moynihan, a 79-year old whose patron was Benedict XVI.

 God, the crowing from the Right is going to be deafening. Everything he said about capitalism and about the environment is going to be drowned out because he wandered into a noisy American culture-war scuffle in which one side, apparently the one he picked, has a seemingly ceaseless megaphone for its views. What a fcking blunder. What a sin against charity, as the nuns used to say.

I think it was a bad idea but it’s not breaking news that Pope Frank isn’t a fan of marriage equality. He opposed it while Cardinal of Bueno Aires. I don’t think it’s cause for an emotional meltdown by liberals. That’s what the Right wants. I’m not playing their game.

I was also one of the people who thought people were getting carried away by the papal visit. Kindly Doc Maddow was convinced that the “radical” pope would change American politics. Why? I have no idea. Pope John Paul’s early trips to America were the cause of just as much acclaim and hype. I’m not aware that his visits changed American politics for good or ill.

If you’ve collapsed on to your fainting couch just remember: Pope Frank hasn’t changed his positions on poor people, capital punishment, and the environment. He just met with a Protestant non-entity from Podunk. That’s it.

I’ll give Billy Wilder and Izzy Diamond the last word of this segment:

 The other bad idea of the day is this one:

You can already rate restaurants, hotels, movies, college classes, government agencies and bowel movements online.

So the most surprising thing about Peeple — basically Yelp, but for humans — may be the fact that no one has yet had the gall to launch something like it.

When the app does launch, probably in late November, you will be able to assign reviews and one- to five-star ratings to everyone you know: your exes, your co-workers, the old guy who lives next door. You can’t opt out — once someone puts your name in the Peeple system, it’s there unless you violate the site’s terms of service. And you can’t delete bad or biased reviews — that would defeat the whole purpose.

I’d prefer to be unlisted on Peeple but if you must rate me, lie and give me 5 stars. I wonder if Jude is going to petition Peeple and demand recognition of his awesomeness. Stranger things have happened…

That concludes today’s edition of Bad Idea Theatre. I should, however. mention something that’s a helluva good idea: supporting our anthology Kickstarter. There are worse ways to spend your money like this papal pizza box:

Papal Pizza Box

Talk about a bad idea. Time to make like a Philadelphian: BOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO.

Everyone In Their Own Box: Pope Francis and U.S. Politics

We should listen to our spiritual leaders, always, unless they’re advocating something that would take us out of power, in which case they should just talk nonsense like angels and blessings and “prayers up” and shit:

Still, some of those who were listening took issue with his reference to issues Congress considers in its purview, such as climate change. Inhofe, a leading voice denying climate change exists, says that programs to control carbon emissions would hurt the poor with rising energy costs more than they would save the planet.

And Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., warns that the pope might have overstepped the rhetorical wall between church and state.

“The further religious leaders get into the details of public policy, the less authoritative they tend to be,” Sessions says. “I don’t think the pope went too far. But he was pushing the line. And if you get too close to the political flame, you get burned.”

One of the things that perpetually pisses me off about American Christianity is how easy it’s supposed to be.

I’m a practicing Catholic, in that I’m not very good at it, and the one thing that was drilled into me from day one was how hard life was, on the road to Calvary. The early church had it rough, right? Best bud crucified, hiding in the back room, getting fed to lions, and your only comfort your own vulnerability.

Love your neighbor as yourself? Easy for you to say, asshole. You’re not the one in the Coliseum with Fluffy.

So come to me now, with all I have to do is believe and mouth some words during press conferences, mostly in election years? Bugger off. I’m sorry your God makes you uncomfortable sometimes, but that’s sort of the point. If you were already good at this He wouldn’t bother sending messages across the firing line (or in this case, a pope to tell you all to wake the fuck up).

Our politicians and the pundits who get invited on TV tell us we’re supposed to feel our connection with our deities deeply, to adhere to the dictates of our religious leaders, to revere those who have dedicated their lives to worship regardless of what form that worship takes. They talk about faith and connection all the damn day long, and the minute it makes them itchy, it’s, “Well, that’s just something we do on Sundays, really, and true belief is for rubes. We live in the real world, which by the way is not any warmer, go home.”

You can’t do it like that. Your life is not a series of compartments. I know we like to think it is, because it helps us be mean without thinking we are bad people, and it helps us justify our entire existence, but it’s not a bunch of boxes. You don’t keep God in one box and politics in the other, and then speak of the transformative power of belief and salvation and eternal life. It’s all one thing. Your every action reflects what you believe, and you don’t get to deny and deny and deny. Peter notwithstanding. He wasn’t elected to anything at the time.

A.

‘God is Not Angry Daddy’

Go read all of these right now. 

They just keep drawing the circle smaller and smaller, like the point is who you keep out.

A.

What We Are Afraid Of

Hearing another’s voice will hurt you: 

“While it might seem an odd juxtaposition to have the adhan chanted in the same tower from which bells toll daily (and twice on Sundays!), it is actually in keeping with the university’s commitment to fostering the spiritual development of all students,” Sapp wrote. “The chanting of the adhan communicates to the Muslim community that it is welcome here, that its worship matters, that these prayers enhance the community and that all are invited to stop on a Friday afternoon and pray.”

By Thursday afternoon, the university had reversed itself. “Duke remains committed to fostering an inclusive, tolerant and welcoming campus for all of its students,” spokesman Michael Schoenfeld said in a statement. “However, it was clear that what was conceived as an effort to unify was not having the intended effect.” There will still be a call to prayer, but it will be delivered from the quad in front of the chapel.

Once, I heard the call to prayer from mosques in Amman, Jordan. I was jet-lagged, and as the light crept over the horizon and I smoked on my hotel balcony, the sound echoed from hillside to hillside. Figures emerged from buildings and  houses, and walked in the same direction. It was a profoundly beautiful sound and response, ancient as the mountains and new as the dawn.

I grew up a Roman Catholic, in Catholic schools from kindergarten on, living four blocks from our church in a neighborhood that was bookended by Christian churches on all sides. If our town had a synagogue, I don’t know where it was, and all I knew about other religions as a child was that when the Jehovah’s Witnesses came around the neighbors would call and we should stay in the kitchen and not answer the door, because the Jehovah’s Witnesses were annoying. They would take up a whole afternoon that could be spent doing laundry, watching soaps and drinking coffee.

On Sunday the church bells rang, and we got up and went to Mass. The church bells rang for weddings and  funerals and at Christmas and Easter, and we responded to that call. Where one or more of you are gathered in His name, and the world is large. Sometimes you need a reminder of where to go, and a voice to call you home.

I spent a good number of my formative working years as a religion reporter, learning about Judaism and Islam and even the Jehovah’s Witnesses, and I call myself a practicing Catholic because I’m not very good at it but I am still practicing. Finding the beauty and absurdity in the human urge to understand the divine, in all its iterations, did nothing to convince me either way of anything I wasn’t already sure about, and it created no doubts except where those doubts already were.

If you don’t know the value in your own practice or lack thereof, if you can’t justify for yourself why you believe what you believe, if you have to cover your ears and close your eyes whenever another’s God is mentioned so that yours isn’t somehow diminished, you’re so lost that no call to prayer can find you. Cutting the ropes on the bells and silencing the muezzin won’t do anything but make sure you stay that way.

A.

Mike Huckabee and God Have Never Met

Just once I wish these people constantly humping God’s leg would act like they have some passing familiarity with the Fellow’s greatest hits:

“I know there’s a god, and I know this nation would not exist without him as the midwife of its birth,” Huckabee told the near-capacity crowd of conservative activists. “And I know that if this nation forgets god, god will have every right to forget us.”

After sharing a joke about how god should “apologize” to Sodom and Gomorrah if he decides not to strike down America for its wickedness, Huckabee spoke of his “hope” that the U.S. would “repent before we ever have to receive his fiery judgment.”

In Huckabee’s telling, a god who destroyed America would be doing nothing more than dismantling something he himself had once built. “There is no other way to explain [American] history,” Huckabee said, referring to god’s guiding hand.

If you believe in a God who guides every action of everyone ever, then yes, there is no other way to explain American history. Or French history. German history. Greek history. ALL THE HISTORY. And I have zero quarrel with that, actually. Stop there and fine, go you, Mike Huckabee. God created America and the Chicago hot dog and Wal-Mart. God created disco and then killed it off. If that’s how you want to see it, see it that way. At least it gives you the solace of blaming someone for Dick Cheney’s continued existence.

But it’s a huge leap from considering God responsible for the turning of the world, to using God as a pre-emptive middle finger to people who haven’t even cut you off in cosmic traffic yet. I don’t get the hunger for a God who will come down and prove them right to … whom? Atheists? Democrats? People who by and large don’t give a shit what you believe since they’re busy living their own lives, trying to order coffee and get through the day without murdering the other commuters?

It’s the religous equivalent of “wait till my Dad gets home,” and it’s offensive on about 12 levels, not the lowest of which is that if you need to back up your arguments with “just you wait,” you’re doing it wrong. And if you need the entire world covered in water but for an ark full of two of each animal in order to prove your point, you’re really doing it wrong. If there’s one thing both testaments make abundantly clear it’s that God has zero interest in your bullshit, for good or ill, and Boyfriend’s points are generally beyond all our meager understanding. Taking that and using it to shore up your argument that gay people are sinners and women are whores is … reductive, at best.

A.

Mike Huckabee and God Have Never Met

Just once I wish these people constantly humping God’s leg would act like they have some passing familiarity with the Fellow’s greatest hits:

“I know there’s a god, and I know this nation would not exist without him as the midwife of its birth,” Huckabee told the near-capacity crowd of conservative activists. “And I know that if this nation forgets god, god will have every right to forget us.”

After sharing a joke about how god should “apologize” to Sodom and Gomorrah if he decides not to strike down America for its wickedness, Huckabee spoke of his “hope” that the U.S. would “repent before we ever have to receive his fiery judgment.”

In Huckabee’s telling, a god who destroyed America would be doing nothing more than dismantling something he himself had once built. “There is no other way to explain [American] history,” Huckabee said, referring to god’s guiding hand.

If you believe in a God who guides every action of everyone ever, then yes, there is no other way to explain American history. Or French history. German history. Greek history. ALL THE HISTORY. And I have zero quarrel with that, actually. Stop there and fine, go you, Mike Huckabee. God created America and the Chicago hot dog and Wal-Mart. God created disco and then killed it off. If that’s how you want to see it, see it that way. At least it gives you the solace of blaming someone for Dick Cheney’s continued existence.

But it’s a huge leap from considering God responsible for the turning of the world, to using God as a pre-emptive middle finger to people who haven’t even cut you off in cosmic traffic yet. I don’t get the hunger for a God who will come down and prove them right to … whom? Atheists? Democrats? People who by and large don’t give a shit what you believe since they’re busy living their own lives, trying to order coffee and get through the day without murdering the other commuters?

It’s the religous equivalent of “wait till my Dad gets home,” and it’s offensive on about 12 levels, not the lowest of which is that if you need to back up your arguments with “just you wait,” you’re doing it wrong. And if you need the entire world covered in water but for an ark full of two of each animal in order to prove your point, you’re really doing it wrong. If there’s one thing both testaments make abundantly clear it’s that God has zero interest in your bullshit, for good or ill, and Boyfriend’s points are generally beyond all our meager understanding. Taking that and using it to shore up your argument that gay people are sinners and women are whores is … reductive, at best.

A.

Malaka Of The Week: Operation Save America

OSA-BANNER-NATL-EVENT-New-Orleans-955x300
 

Even groups that come to protest here in Sin City feel compelled to post a picture of Bourbon Street. In this instance, it's Operation Rescue who are apparently out to save America. Their target is, of course, death/abortion mills. The only mills on Bourbon Street are Gin and T-Shirt mills. Operation Save America, or whatever the hell you want to call them, has, of course, not restricted its protests to so-called "death mills" and that is why it/they is/are malaka of the week.

I was originally going to focus on the group's malakatudinous protests outside a doctor's home in Uptown New Orleans. It was the talk of NOLA twitter the other day as one of my friends lives nearby. Here's the Uptown Messenger's account of the harassment neighbors faced at the hands of these fanatics:

In addition to protesting Planned Parenthood sites, Operation Save America is also holding demonstrations outside the homes of providers. A neighbor to one of those homes — who asked that his name be withheld out of concern that the group would target him — said his family has already endured two sessions of protests, with dozens of people holding signs on the sidewalk near his house featuring graphic images that he has done his best to hide from his young children.

“My kids are scared,” the resident said in an interview Monday afternoon. “It’s all these ugly pictures. They’re talking on the loudspeaker. I try to speak to them civilly, and it’s very difficult to do, because they’re looking for a confrontation.”

His requests that they turn down the volume, he said, were met with invective about the abortion provider instead. Ultimately, he said, he simply closed the blinds and turned up the music in the house until the demonstrators left, but the entire street is ready for the ordeal to end.

“It’s not necessarily the issue of abortion that’s frustrating to us,” he said. “It’s just their method of coming and taking over, and forcing us to deal with it.”

As far as these cretins are concerned, invading people's privacy and insulting them is a part of God's work and if you disagree with them, you are a baby killer or some such nonsense. Very Christian of them isn't it?

It would be bad enough if the story ended there but it gets even worse as the Operation Rescue pukes protested at a Unitarian Universalist Church *during* Sunday services:

…on Sunday, they took a different turn when members showed up inside the First Unitarian Universalist Church at Claiborne and Jefferson. The disturbance took place as the congregation was holding a moment of silence for a member of the church who had died the week before, said the Rev. Deanna Vandiver.

“Into that sacred silence, a voice began to speak, and it began to speak about ‘abominations,’ ” Vandiver said. The protesters were shouting that the church was not a true faith, she said. “Literally in our most tender and vulnerable space, religious terrorism began.”

The congregation was stunned at first, unsure what was happening, Vandiver said. She then invited the protesters to stay if they could join or observe the worship service respectfully, and if not, to take their protest outside the building. The congregation began to sing, and church leaders then began to lead the most vocal protesters outside, though a few chose to stay quietly through the remainder of the service.

In an account on their website, Operation Save America trumpeted the act as a victory for their mission in a “synagogue of Satan:”

At the Unitarian Universalist “church” in New Orleans, Deanna Waller, Jay Rogers, Mary Claire, Ken Scott, Russell Hunter, Toby Harman and others presented the truth of the Gospel in this synagogue of Satan. As God would have it, the “church” was filled with students from a “social justice” training school. According to Rev. Flip Benham, OSA National Director, the team presented a “dynamic witness.”

During an open “meditation” time, Deanna shared the Word of the Lord. When the female “pastor” took issue, Deanna reminded her that, “It would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were thrown into the sea, than that he should offend one of these little ones” (Luke 17:2). In violation of their “sacred tenants” of peace and tolerance, Deanna and others were summarily escorted out of the service.

Other saints stayed and dialoged until the conclusion of the service. It created no small stir. The “social justice” candidates ran to the Christians and asked them many questions. Our brethren gave them the reason for the hope that lies within them and defended the faith. Seeds of truth were sown. may the Lord water them in Jesus’ name.

Vandiver said she does not know specifically why the church was targeted. The denomination has a history of supporting pro-choice efforts, gay rights and other causes that Operation Save America opposes, she said, and the church on South Claiborne has specifically been supportive of Planned Parenthood in New Orleans.

“I think we were an easy target, because we’re literally just a few blocks down the road from where they’re building this clinic,” Vandiver said. “But we are not interested in being terrorized. Freedom of speech does not trump freedom of religion.”

That was an epic quote but I wanted to make sure that y'all read as much of this great story by Robert Morris as possible. The local MSM has been leery of tackling this group head on and I hope the Uptown Messenger's stellar work will force their hand. That's one reason I have desconstructed Robert's post. It also makes me feel like a French intellectual; pity it's too damn hot to wear my beret…

Back to the malakatude of OSA. Notice how they refer to a UU church as a "syngogue of Satan" and their own protesters as Saints? Are they Mormons now? They call themselves Saints too. I have a hunch that they are not: fundamentalists such as the people behind OSA are religious bigots who regard the LDS church as a cult. They're also confused. I was not aware that a UU Church was a synagogue let alone a Satanic one. I'm not going to delve into their theological positions, I came to mock them, not to study them. 

It gets worse. I had a major TFC (This Fucking City) moment when I saw that Mayor Landrieu's administration had issued a proclamation honoring OSA's mission to New Orleans. I am not making this up y'all. Here's another extended quote from the Uptown Messenger story:

The certificate, which is dated July 20, extends Mayor Landrieu’s official recognition to Flip Benham of Operation Save America for “outstanding service to the city of New Orleans,” according to an image of the certificate being shared by the group on members’ Facebook pages. Supporters of the group were enthusiastic about Landrieu’s welcome, with one noting that “This is a first!”

Benham, director of Operation Save America, was found guilty of stalking in North Carolina in 2011 for distributing “Wanted” posters featuring the name and photo of a Charlotte abortion doctor, and sentenced to 18 months probation. A local organizer for the group, Pastor Dale Sochia of King Jesus Ministries in Boutte, told the New Orleans Advocate that they would be holding a funeral procession in Jackson Square on Tuesday featuring an open casket containing a “a real aborted baby.”

The mayor’s office on Monday downplayed the significance of the certificate.

“It is routine for the City to provide standard proclamations to visiting non-profits, faith-based organizations and conventions that request them,” according to an email from Tyler Gamble, a spokesman for Mayor Mitch Landrieu’s office. “As this group exercises its constitutional rights, the NOPD is executing a robust security plan to keep the peace.”

That's bull shit. Additionally, the last time the word robust was publicly deployed in New Orleans, it was by Editor Jim Amoss describing the born again Times-Picayune/NOLA.com/TP Street.  And that didn't go down very well either as you may recall. The entire thing is guaranteed to infuriate a wide range of the citizenry. I guess they're pandering to the Catholic Church as well as the heavily Protestant malakas who are here to both rescue and save us as well as Murica. How nice of them.

The flying monkeys of OSA were unleashed on us, of course, by the TRAP anti-abortion measure passed by the state Lege and signed into law by our idiot Governor. I was, however, under the impression that Mitch Landrieu and his Senator sister were at least mildly pro-choice. Why then has the city administration honored a group that the Southern Poverty Law Center has described as a terrorist organization? Change.Org is gathering signatures urging Hizzoner to rescind the proclamation. Click here if you'd like to sign.

I usually like to close this feature with a joke or a music clip. I won't do so this time. These people are capable of almost anything, and violence against people and property is emphatically not funny. Groups like Operation Rescue/Save American are a pox on the political landscape and that is why they/it are/is malaka of the week. 

Someone Who Is Needy

Homeless Jesus is inappropriate, clearly:

DAVIDSON, N.C. — A sculpture of Jesus as a homeless man installed outside a church in Davidson has neighbors and church leaders debating its message and appropriateness.

According to articles on sculptor Timothy P. Schmalz’s website, the same “Homeless Jesus” now at St. Alban’s Episcopal Church was rejected by cathedrals in New York and Canada. Schmalz’s site also includes articles claiming Pope Francis blessed and accepted “Homeless Jesus” into Vatican City.

From a distance, especially at dusk, you would swear the sculpture is a real-life homeless man sleeping on a bench in front of the church.

Cindy Castano Swannack called police the first time she drove by it.

“I was concerned for the safety of the neighborhood,” she said.

For the safety of the neighborhood. Not the guy sleeping on the park bench? He’s not part of the neighborhood, clearly. The neighborhood doesn’t have room for a guy like that. Especially not outside a church, I mean, come on.

It’s too easy, with people like this. It’s cheap. People like this, they don’t need us to make them feel like assholes, because they full well know they’re assholes, and they’ve convinced themselves they can’t help it. Because of their overriding concern. For the safety.

Of the neighborhood.

From the comments:

I have no idea what Jesus would do, I don’t buy into fairy tales too much. However in his day you didn’t have cracked out homeless people committing crimes left and right. He also didn’t have a telephone or modern day police, so a call to them wouldn’t have happened.

One day when you grow up, have a real job, buy a home, have kids, pay taxes and have a vested interest in your community you will understand why someone might be concerned about something like this.

There’s really nothing to be done here. How many times a day do we hear this, middle-class people in relatively low-crime areas, that we’re all just one broken window or beer-can litter pile away from perdition? That safety is so fragile, so paper-thin, that one guy with unkempt hair and an old coat taking a nap in the open is going to tear us apart? People say this so often that they honestly don’t even hear themselves anymore. They honestly don’t hear how they sound.

They just hear the righteousness of their own justifications. They think there’s no other way to be, because this is the world, and if they’re not vigilant, if they’re not afraid, if they’re not angry, if they’re not standing on the wall with a gun in their hands, the earth will open up and swallow them.

She wishes it showed Jesus standing over the homeless protecting them.

“Jesus is not a vagrant, Jesus is not a helpless person who needs our help,” she said, “We need someone who is capable of meeting our needs, not someone who is also needy.”

I can’t even make fun; the desperation in this statement is too palpable.

There is no such thing as Buddy Christ, who’s going to make it all okay. You can wish all day long for a cosmic handyman to just slap some duct tape on the world so you can get back to your dinner, but if you actually think that’s going to stop the leaks in the pipes there’s nothing I can do for you, and I think you know that.

There’s nothing but you, to take care of each other, and the Jesus you like so much one day a week told you that every which way He knew how. How much more can you underestimate your own capabilities, than to wish for a Jesus who’d come down and take care of this homeless guy on a bench? How much shorter can you sell yourself, as God’s creation and your own, than to give yourself a pass, and say we need Jesus to take care of this?

Instead of seeing Jesus on the bench, and taking care of Him.

A.

Someone Who Is Needy

Homeless Jesus is inappropriate, clearly:

DAVIDSON, N.C. — A sculpture of Jesus as a homeless man installed outside a church in Davidson has neighbors and church leaders debating its message and appropriateness.

According to articles on sculptor Timothy P. Schmalz’s website, the same “Homeless Jesus” now at St. Alban’s Episcopal Church was rejected by cathedrals in New York and Canada. Schmalz’s site also includes articles claiming Pope Francis blessed and accepted “Homeless Jesus” into Vatican City.

From a distance, especially at dusk, you would swear the sculpture is a real-life homeless man sleeping on a bench in front of the church.

Cindy Castano Swannack called police the first time she drove by it.

“I was concerned for the safety of the neighborhood,” she said.

For the safety of the neighborhood. Not the guy sleeping on the park bench? He’s not part of the neighborhood, clearly. The neighborhood doesn’t have room for a guy like that. Especially not outside a church, I mean, come on.

It’s too easy, with people like this. It’s cheap. People like this, they don’t need us to make them feel like assholes, because they full well know they’re assholes, and they’ve convinced themselves they can’t help it. Because of their overriding concern. For the safety.

Of the neighborhood.

From the comments:

I have no idea what Jesus would do, I don’t buy into fairy tales too much. However in his day you didn’t have cracked out homeless people committing crimes left and right. He also didn’t have a telephone or modern day police, so a call to them wouldn’t have happened.

One day when you grow up, have a real job, buy a home, have kids, pay taxes and have a vested interest in your community you will understand why someone might be concerned about something like this.

There’s really nothing to be done here. How many times a day do we hear this, middle-class people in relatively low-crime areas, that we’re all just one broken window or beer-can litter pile away from perdition? That safety is so fragile, so paper-thin, that one guy with unkempt hair and an old coat taking a nap in the open is going to tear us apart? People say this so often that they honestly don’t even hear themselves anymore. They honestly don’t hear how they sound.

They just hear the righteousness of their own justifications. They think there’s no other way to be, because this is the world, and if they’re not vigilant, if they’re not afraid, if they’re not angry, if they’re not standing on the wall with a gun in their hands, the earth will open up and swallow them.

She wishes it showed Jesus standing over the homeless protecting them.

“Jesus is not a vagrant, Jesus is not a helpless person who needs our help,” she said, “We need someone who is capable of meeting our needs, not someone who is also needy.”

I can’t even make fun; the desperation in this statement is too palpable.

There is no such thing as Buddy Christ, who’s going to make it all okay. You can wish all day long for a cosmic handyman to just slap some duct tape on the world so you can get back to your dinner, but if you actually think that’s going to stop the leaks in the pipes there’s nothing I can do for you, and I think you know that.

There’s nothing but you, to take care of each other, and the Jesus you like so much one day a week told you that every which way He knew how. How much more can you underestimate your own capabilities, than to wish for a Jesus who’d come down and take care of this homeless guy on a bench? How much shorter can you sell yourself, as God’s creation and your own, than to give yourself a pass, and say we need Jesus to take care of this?

Instead of seeing Jesus on the bench, and taking care of Him.

A.

Someone Who Is Needy

Homeless Jesus is inappropriate, clearly:

DAVIDSON, N.C. — A sculpture of Jesus as a homeless man installed outside a church in Davidson has neighbors and church leaders debating its message and appropriateness.

According to articles on sculptor Timothy P. Schmalz’s website, the same “Homeless Jesus” now at St. Alban’s Episcopal Church was rejected by cathedrals in New York and Canada. Schmalz’s site also includes articles claiming Pope Francis blessed and accepted “Homeless Jesus” into Vatican City.

From a distance, especially at dusk, you would swear the sculpture is a real-life homeless man sleeping on a bench in front of the church.

Cindy Castano Swannack called police the first time she drove by it.

“I was concerned for the safety of the neighborhood,” she said.

For the safety of the neighborhood. Not the guy sleeping on the park bench? He’s not part of the neighborhood, clearly. The neighborhood doesn’t have room for a guy like that. Especially not outside a church, I mean, come on.

It’s too easy, with people like this. It’s cheap. People like this, they don’t need us to make them feel like assholes, because they full well know they’re assholes, and they’ve convinced themselves they can’t help it. Because of their overriding concern. For the safety.

Of the neighborhood.

From the comments:

I have no idea what Jesus would do, I don’t buy into fairy tales too much. However in his day you didn’t have cracked out homeless people committing crimes left and right. He also didn’t have a telephone or modern day police, so a call to them wouldn’t have happened.

One day when you grow up, have a real job, buy a home, have kids, pay taxes and have a vested interest in your community you will understand why someone might be concerned about something like this.

There’s really nothing to be done here. How many times a day do we hear this, middle-class people in relatively low-crime areas, that we’re all just one broken window or beer-can litter pile away from perdition? That safety is so fragile, so paper-thin, that one guy with unkempt hair and an old coat taking a nap in the open is going to tear us apart? People say this so often that they honestly don’t even hear themselves anymore. They honestly don’t hear how they sound.

They just hear the righteousness of their own justifications. They think there’s no other way to be, because this is the world, and if they’re not vigilant, if they’re not afraid, if they’re not angry, if they’re not standing on the wall with a gun in their hands, the earth will open up and swallow them.

She wishes it showed Jesus standing over the homeless protecting them.

“Jesus is not a vagrant, Jesus is not a helpless person who needs our help,” she said, “We need someone who is capable of meeting our needs, not someone who is also needy.”

I can’t even make fun; the desperation in this statement is too palpable.

There is no such thing as Buddy Christ, who’s going to make it all okay. You can wish all day long for a cosmic handyman to just slap some duct tape on the world so you can get back to your dinner, but if you actually think that’s going to stop the leaks in the pipes there’s nothing I can do for you, and I think you know that.

There’s nothing but you, to take care of each other, and the Jesus you like so much one day a week told you that every which way He knew how. How much more can you underestimate your own capabilities, than to wish for a Jesus who’d come down and take care of this homeless guy on a bench? How much shorter can you sell yourself, as God’s creation and your own, than to give yourself a pass, and say we need Jesus to take care of this?

Instead of seeing Jesus on the bench, and taking care of Him.

A.

Someone Who Is Needy

Homeless Jesus is inappropriate, clearly:

DAVIDSON, N.C. — A sculpture of Jesus as a homeless man installed outside a church in Davidson has neighbors and church leaders debating its message and appropriateness.

According to articles on sculptor Timothy P. Schmalz’s website, the same “Homeless Jesus” now at St. Alban’s Episcopal Church was rejected by cathedrals in New York and Canada. Schmalz’s site also includes articles claiming Pope Francis blessed and accepted “Homeless Jesus” into Vatican City.

From a distance, especially at dusk, you would swear the sculpture is a real-life homeless man sleeping on a bench in front of the church.

Cindy Castano Swannack called police the first time she drove by it.

“I was concerned for the safety of the neighborhood,” she said.

For the safety of the neighborhood. Not the guy sleeping on the park bench? He’s not part of the neighborhood, clearly. The neighborhood doesn’t have room for a guy like that. Especially not outside a church, I mean, come on.

It’s too easy, with people like this. It’s cheap. People like this, they don’t need us to make them feel like assholes, because they full well know they’re assholes, and they’ve convinced themselves they can’t help it. Because of their overriding concern. For the safety.

Of the neighborhood.

From the comments:

I have no idea what Jesus would do, I don’t buy into fairy tales too much. However in his day you didn’t have cracked out homeless people committing crimes left and right. He also didn’t have a telephone or modern day police, so a call to them wouldn’t have happened.

One day when you grow up, have a real job, buy a home, have kids, pay taxes and have a vested interest in your community you will understand why someone might be concerned about something like this.

There’s really nothing to be done here. How many times a day do we hear this, middle-class people in relatively low-crime areas, that we’re all just one broken window or beer-can litter pile away from perdition? That safety is so fragile, so paper-thin, that one guy with unkempt hair and an old coat taking a nap in the open is going to tear us apart? People say this so often that they honestly don’t even hear themselves anymore. They honestly don’t hear how they sound.

They just hear the righteousness of their own justifications. They think there’s no other way to be, because this is the world, and if they’re not vigilant, if they’re not afraid, if they’re not angry, if they’re not standing on the wall with a gun in their hands, the earth will open up and swallow them.

She wishes it showed Jesus standing over the homeless protecting them.

“Jesus is not a vagrant, Jesus is not a helpless person who needs our help,” she said, “We need someone who is capable of meeting our needs, not someone who is also needy.”

I can’t even make fun; the desperation in this statement is too palpable.

There is no such thing as Buddy Christ, who’s going to make it all okay. You can wish all day long for a cosmic handyman to just slap some duct tape on the world so you can get back to your dinner, but if you actually think that’s going to stop the leaks in the pipes there’s nothing I can do for you, and I think you know that.

There’s nothing but you, to take care of each other, and the Jesus you like so much one day a week told you that every which way He knew how. How much more can you underestimate your own capabilities, than to wish for a Jesus who’d come down and take care of this homeless guy on a bench? How much shorter can you sell yourself, as God’s creation and your own, than to give yourself a pass, and say we need Jesus to take care of this?

Instead of seeing Jesus on the bench, and taking care of Him.

A.

Someone Who Is Needy

Homeless Jesus is inappropriate, clearly:

DAVIDSON, N.C. — A sculpture of Jesus as a homeless man installed outside a church in Davidson has neighbors and church leaders debating its message and appropriateness.

According to articles on sculptor Timothy P. Schmalz’s website, the same “Homeless Jesus” now at St. Alban’s Episcopal Church was rejected by cathedrals in New York and Canada. Schmalz’s site also includes articles claiming Pope Francis blessed and accepted “Homeless Jesus” into Vatican City.

From a distance, especially at dusk, you would swear the sculpture is a real-life homeless man sleeping on a bench in front of the church.

Cindy Castano Swannack called police the first time she drove by it.

“I was concerned for the safety of the neighborhood,” she said.

For the safety of the neighborhood. Not the guy sleeping on the park bench? He’s not part of the neighborhood, clearly. The neighborhood doesn’t have room for a guy like that. Especially not outside a church, I mean, come on.

It’s too easy, with people like this. It’s cheap. People like this, they don’t need us to make them feel like assholes, because they full well know they’re assholes, and they’ve convinced themselves they can’t help it. Because of their overriding concern. For the safety.

Of the neighborhood.

From the comments:

I have no idea what Jesus would do, I don’t buy into fairy tales too much. However in his day you didn’t have cracked out homeless people committing crimes left and right. He also didn’t have a telephone or modern day police, so a call to them wouldn’t have happened.

One day when you grow up, have a real job, buy a home, have kids, pay taxes and have a vested interest in your community you will understand why someone might be concerned about something like this.

There’s really nothing to be done here. How many times a day do we hear this, middle-class people in relatively low-crime areas, that we’re all just one broken window or beer-can litter pile away from perdition? That safety is so fragile, so paper-thin, that one guy with unkempt hair and an old coat taking a nap in the open is going to tear us apart? People say this so often that they honestly don’t even hear themselves anymore. They honestly don’t hear how they sound.

They just hear the righteousness of their own justifications. They think there’s no other way to be, because this is the world, and if they’re not vigilant, if they’re not afraid, if they’re not angry, if they’re not standing on the wall with a gun in their hands, the earth will open up and swallow them.

She wishes it showed Jesus standing over the homeless protecting them.

“Jesus is not a vagrant, Jesus is not a helpless person who needs our help,” she said, “We need someone who is capable of meeting our needs, not someone who is also needy.”

I can’t even make fun; the desperation in this statement is too palpable.

There is no such thing as Buddy Christ, who’s going to make it all okay. You can wish all day long for a cosmic handyman to just slap some duct tape on the world so you can get back to your dinner, but if you actually think that’s going to stop the leaks in the pipes there’s nothing I can do for you, and I think you know that.

There’s nothing but you, to take care of each other, and the Jesus you like so much one day a week told you that every which way He knew how. How much more can you underestimate your own capabilities, than to wish for a Jesus who’d come down and take care of this homeless guy on a bench? How much shorter can you sell yourself, as God’s creation and your own, than to give yourself a pass, and say we need Jesus to take care of this?

Instead of seeing Jesus on the bench, and taking care of Him.

A.

Someone Who Is Needy

Homeless Jesus is inappropriate, clearly:

DAVIDSON, N.C. — A sculpture of Jesus as a homeless man installed outside a church in Davidson has neighbors and church leaders debating its message and appropriateness.

According to articles on sculptor Timothy P. Schmalz’s website, the same “Homeless Jesus” now at St. Alban’s Episcopal Church was rejected by cathedrals in New York and Canada. Schmalz’s site also includes articles claiming Pope Francis blessed and accepted “Homeless Jesus” into Vatican City.

From a distance, especially at dusk, you would swear the sculpture is a real-life homeless man sleeping on a bench in front of the church.

Cindy Castano Swannack called police the first time she drove by it.

“I was concerned for the safety of the neighborhood,” she said.

For the safety of the neighborhood. Not the guy sleeping on the park bench? He’s not part of the neighborhood, clearly. The neighborhood doesn’t have room for a guy like that. Especially not outside a church, I mean, come on.

It’s too easy, with people like this. It’s cheap. People like this, they don’t need us to make them feel like assholes, because they full well know they’re assholes, and they’ve convinced themselves they can’t help it. Because of their overriding concern. For the safety.

Of the neighborhood.

From the comments:

I have no idea what Jesus would do, I don’t buy into fairy tales too much. However in his day you didn’t have cracked out homeless people committing crimes left and right. He also didn’t have a telephone or modern day police, so a call to them wouldn’t have happened.

One day when you grow up, have a real job, buy a home, have kids, pay taxes and have a vested interest in your community you will understand why someone might be concerned about something like this.

There’s really nothing to be done here. How many times a day do we hear this, middle-class people in relatively low-crime areas, that we’re all just one broken window or beer-can litter pile away from perdition? That safety is so fragile, so paper-thin, that one guy with unkempt hair and an old coat taking a nap in the open is going to tear us apart? People say this so often that they honestly don’t even hear themselves anymore. They honestly don’t hear how they sound.

They just hear the righteousness of their own justifications. They think there’s no other way to be, because this is the world, and if they’re not vigilant, if they’re not afraid, if they’re not angry, if they’re not standing on the wall with a gun in their hands, the earth will open up and swallow them.

She wishes it showed Jesus standing over the homeless protecting them.

“Jesus is not a vagrant, Jesus is not a helpless person who needs our help,” she said, “We need someone who is capable of meeting our needs, not someone who is also needy.”

I can’t even make fun; the desperation in this statement is too palpable.

There is no such thing as Buddy Christ, who’s going to make it all okay. You can wish all day long for a cosmic handyman to just slap some duct tape on the world so you can get back to your dinner, but if you actually think that’s going to stop the leaks in the pipes there’s nothing I can do for you, and I think you know that.

There’s nothing but you, to take care of each other, and the Jesus you like so much one day a week told you that every which way He knew how. How much more can you underestimate your own capabilities, than to wish for a Jesus who’d come down and take care of this homeless guy on a bench? How much shorter can you sell yourself, as God’s creation and your own, than to give yourself a pass, and say we need Jesus to take care of this?

Instead of seeing Jesus on the bench, and taking care of Him.

A.

Someone Who Is Needy

Homeless Jesus is inappropriate, clearly:

DAVIDSON, N.C. — A sculpture of Jesus as a homeless man installed outside a church in Davidson has neighbors and church leaders debating its message and appropriateness.

According to articles on sculptor Timothy P. Schmalz’s website, the same “Homeless Jesus” now at St. Alban’s Episcopal Church was rejected by cathedrals in New York and Canada. Schmalz’s site also includes articles claiming Pope Francis blessed and accepted “Homeless Jesus” into Vatican City.

From a distance, especially at dusk, you would swear the sculpture is a real-life homeless man sleeping on a bench in front of the church.

Cindy Castano Swannack called police the first time she drove by it.

“I was concerned for the safety of the neighborhood,” she said.

For the safety of the neighborhood. Not the guy sleeping on the park bench? He’s not part of the neighborhood, clearly. The neighborhood doesn’t have room for a guy like that. Especially not outside a church, I mean, come on.

It’s too easy, with people like this. It’s cheap. People like this, they don’t need us to make them feel like assholes, because they full well know they’re assholes, and they’ve convinced themselves they can’t help it. Because of their overriding concern. For the safety.

Of the neighborhood.

From the comments:

I have no idea what Jesus would do, I don’t buy into fairy tales too much. However in his day you didn’t have cracked out homeless people committing crimes left and right. He also didn’t have a telephone or modern day police, so a call to them wouldn’t have happened.

One day when you grow up, have a real job, buy a home, have kids, pay taxes and have a vested interest in your community you will understand why someone might be concerned about something like this.

There’s really nothing to be done here. How many times a day do we hear this, middle-class people in relatively low-crime areas, that we’re all just one broken window or beer-can litter pile away from perdition? That safety is so fragile, so paper-thin, that one guy with unkempt hair and an old coat taking a nap in the open is going to tear us apart? People say this so often that they honestly don’t even hear themselves anymore. They honestly don’t hear how they sound.

They just hear the righteousness of their own justifications. They think there’s no other way to be, because this is the world, and if they’re not vigilant, if they’re not afraid, if they’re not angry, if they’re not standing on the wall with a gun in their hands, the earth will open up and swallow them.

She wishes it showed Jesus standing over the homeless protecting them.

“Jesus is not a vagrant, Jesus is not a helpless person who needs our help,” she said, “We need someone who is capable of meeting our needs, not someone who is also needy.”

I can’t even make fun; the desperation in this statement is too palpable.

There is no such thing as Buddy Christ, who’s going to make it all okay. You can wish all day long for a cosmic handyman to just slap some duct tape on the world so you can get back to your dinner, but if you actually think that’s going to stop the leaks in the pipes there’s nothing I can do for you, and I think you know that.

There’s nothing but you, to take care of each other, and the Jesus you like so much one day a week told you that every which way He knew how. How much more can you underestimate your own capabilities, than to wish for a Jesus who’d come down and take care of this homeless guy on a bench? How much shorter can you sell yourself, as God’s creation and your own, than to give yourself a pass, and say we need Jesus to take care of this?

Instead of seeing Jesus on the bench, and taking care of Him.

A.

Someone Who Is Needy

Homeless Jesus is inappropriate, clearly:

DAVIDSON, N.C. — A sculpture of Jesus as a homeless man installed outside a church in Davidson has neighbors and church leaders debating its message and appropriateness.

According to articles on sculptor Timothy P. Schmalz’s website, the same “Homeless Jesus” now at St. Alban’s Episcopal Church was rejected by cathedrals in New York and Canada. Schmalz’s site also includes articles claiming Pope Francis blessed and accepted “Homeless Jesus” into Vatican City.

From a distance, especially at dusk, you would swear the sculpture is a real-life homeless man sleeping on a bench in front of the church.

Cindy Castano Swannack called police the first time she drove by it.

“I was concerned for the safety of the neighborhood,” she said.

For the safety of the neighborhood. Not the guy sleeping on the park bench? He’s not part of the neighborhood, clearly. The neighborhood doesn’t have room for a guy like that. Especially not outside a church, I mean, come on.

It’s too easy, with people like this. It’s cheap. People like this, they don’t need us to make them feel like assholes, because they full well know they’re assholes, and they’ve convinced themselves they can’t help it. Because of their overriding concern. For the safety.

Of the neighborhood.

From the comments:

I have no idea what Jesus would do, I don’t buy into fairy tales too much. However in his day you didn’t have cracked out homeless people committing crimes left and right. He also didn’t have a telephone or modern day police, so a call to them wouldn’t have happened.

One day when you grow up, have a real job, buy a home, have kids, pay taxes and have a vested interest in your community you will understand why someone might be concerned about something like this.

There’s really nothing to be done here. How many times a day do we hear this, middle-class people in relatively low-crime areas, that we’re all just one broken window or beer-can litter pile away from perdition? That safety is so fragile, so paper-thin, that one guy with unkempt hair and an old coat taking a nap in the open is going to tear us apart? People say this so often that they honestly don’t even hear themselves anymore. They honestly don’t hear how they sound.

They just hear the righteousness of their own justifications. They think there’s no other way to be, because this is the world, and if they’re not vigilant, if they’re not afraid, if they’re not angry, if they’re not standing on the wall with a gun in their hands, the earth will open up and swallow them.

She wishes it showed Jesus standing over the homeless protecting them.

“Jesus is not a vagrant, Jesus is not a helpless person who needs our help,” she said, “We need someone who is capable of meeting our needs, not someone who is also needy.”

I can’t even make fun; the desperation in this statement is too palpable.

There is no such thing as Buddy Christ, who’s going to make it all okay. You can wish all day long for a cosmic handyman to just slap some duct tape on the world so you can get back to your dinner, but if you actually think that’s going to stop the leaks in the pipes there’s nothing I can do for you, and I think you know that.

There’s nothing but you, to take care of each other, and the Jesus you like so much one day a week told you that every which way He knew how. How much more can you underestimate your own capabilities, than to wish for a Jesus who’d come down and take care of this homeless guy on a bench? How much shorter can you sell yourself, as God’s creation and your own, than to give yourself a pass, and say we need Jesus to take care of this?

Instead of seeing Jesus on the bench, and taking care of Him.

A.