The Way Forward, Let’s Go There

By Andrew L. Pate, Jr.

No wonder Christians are confused.  Multiple voices within their faith are speaking with multiple tongues.

And it’s not the Holy Spirit speaking.   Rather, the voices singularly and unitedly express dissent and division, not “having all things in common,” as was the case on the first-century day of Pentecost.

The way forward out of this mess is clear: We will begin to find unity by listening to the Holy Spirt, the unifying voice of God and Jesus Christ that seeks “peace and good will” among all people.

Clearly, we’ve been listening to the wrong voices, those which support one viewpoint over all others    The result?   Chaos.

Jesus once said, “It is the spirit that gives life; the flesh is useless. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life.” (John 6:63).

We err badly when we look to “fleshly” sources for wisdom and insight, when, that is, we elevate the opinions of pundits and reporters over “the Spirit,” which unifies as it transcends all other voices in its call for unity and the ending of depressing divisions.

Tucker Carlson is not the Spirit.   Neither are Rachel Maddow and Wolf Blitzer, nor anyone else we might name, be it a former or present president.

Which is not to say that the Spirit is absent from us.  Quite the contrary, the Spirit is active and present among us, guiding, leading, pointing us on the way forward.  True, we do not see or hear it as we do other voices.  But the Spirit stands out, by itself, crying for humanity to love itself and the whole of creation.  We have but to listen and respond as we are called.

According to Acts 2, when the Holy Spirit came to the first followers of Christ like "a violent wind.”

Instead, , we’ve been wanting the smooth, even modern voice that speaks with confidence as it hides the truth from us.   Oh how we love the voice that does not disturb us.

The Spirit sweeps away untruth, silencing it, demanding its lies be exposed, not argued over but left behind for the sake of the pursuit of everything the Spirit requests of us: namely,  love, companionship, forgiveness, understanding, justice and creative thinking – all  aiming to build a better life for everyone.

So, let us cease ignoring the "violent wind," and our every attempt to silence its unifying demands.  Let us move on, together, always listening to the voice that empowers us to live the good life.

Simply put, the way forward for Christians in 2022 is to rediscover the presence of the Holy Spirit,  accept its wisdom and reach out to embrace all of the humankind regardless of their race, nationality or sexual preferences.

May 18, 2022

 

“Evangelical” Heresy Exposed

Andrew L. Pate, Jr.

TRUE conservative Christians are being called upon today to expose one of the most damaging heresies in their faith's history, the so-called “evangelical Christianity.”  Followers of this warped faith are neither proclaimers of the biblical Good News (except for themselves and the like-minded) nor are they staunch believers in the entirely New Heaven and New Earth prophesied in Revelation.

True, these false-faithers represent themselves as “conservative.”  In reality, however, they are perhaps the “most liberal” of current ideologies; for their roots are cemented deeply still in the “Plantation” theology of the 19th century.

Three blatant traits expose this heresy:

First is the “literal” interpretation of the Bible, which of course, “evangelicals” deny by arguing that they are the ones holding fast to the principles and values inherent in sacred scripture.

In reality, however, these literalists best represent not core Christianity but core racism and sexism.  Women are not given equal authority by them and non-whites are granted mere token participation in their circles, a status the latter may acquire if they express strong agreement with the movement’s heretical views.

Secondly, these “heresy-hounds,” as some have called them, have fundamentally denied and distorted one of America’s basic principles:  the Christian based doctrine of “the separation of church and state.”   Instead, they have tightly aligned themselves with politicians who profess strong likings for their unbiblical teachings.

Lastly, present day evangelicals hide their passionate defenses of religious positions behind the gross faith-distortions of Pro-life and Anti-abortion positions.   While publicly standing strong for the rights of the unborn, they say all too little about the rights of those sill living on death row, or for persons and families trapped in economic woes around the world.

By sharp contrast, a true conservative holds fast to Christianity’s basic principles of equality and justice for all and even more tightly does he or she stand for the application of sound educational methods to the study of the Bible and Christian history.

A true conservative does not fear the Truth, but seeks it without end and when found, embraces it without reservation.

Therefore, let us cease regarding the “evangelicals” as though they are deserving of a special place at the Lord’s table.  Let’s expose them for who and what they are:  heretics more akin to Judas Iscariot than to the apostles Peter and Paul.

 

 

 

 

AOC – America Out of Control

They’re killing us:

Everywhere we look they’re coming at us.  Men and women lying, cheating, pushing, shoving to get ahead.  In addtion, blasting our way without end are multiple images from entrepreneurs showering us with lies and delusions – all aimed at getting us to support their power grabs or, at the very least,  buy their products, no matter whether we should reasonably do so.

Mar-a-Lago

Among the experts in excess doing the flim-flaming, Donald J. Trump is the current Master.

So it is, we look at Trump and his blubberings, not with disgust but with envy.

Pelosi's CA

Yes, we, we the people, we are the masses who’ve been willingly victimized by Trump and others like him.

“Wait!” you say, “I didn’t vote for Trump.  And even if I did, I no longer support him.”

Sorry, folks, that’s not good enough.

We are responsible.  We bought in to every excess, not just to the Big Lie but to the millions of others.  And so it is today: we are scared to death that if we protest too much we may lose our piece of our ugly-gained American pie.

Yes, we have watched individuals run for office who clearly are driven by out-of-control ambition, voted then in and too often followed up by repeatedly returning them to office.  Oh, how we fool ourselves!  They’re not really for us.  First and last, they are for themselves!

Indeed, we, you and I, we have willingly supported our obsessed-with-success icons – every one of us who believes one must know the right people. attend the right schools and get by with any and everything one can in order to amount to anything; we have so terribly embarrassed ourselves.

The result?

We have hundreds – no, make that thousands of adults across our land, lying and cheating, pushing and shoving, fund-raising without end—all to get elected, or to assure the elections of  those we think can make our own lives the most comfortable, moneywise, thing-wise, car-wise, clothes-wise and of course, without our being asked to acquare one bit of additional wisdom.

Who are these people?  We should know  them.

For they are people like us.  As Pogo said, "We have met the enemy."

At this point in our history, spring 2022, it’s unclear as to what we should do, or can do.

In truth, fellow Americans, it’s too late.   In 1970, or thereabouts, we should have reversed gear.

Our only hope is that our out-of-control addiction to excess will soon pass away, and we will be granted a new opportunity:

The opportunity to begin again!  I long for that.

 

 

When the Little We Know Can Help a Whole Lot

Andy Pate

Many years ago now, about 60, I heard Paul Tillich, then the Harvard University professor, respond, when asked in a colloquium about the main lessons he had learned in his distinguished career:

“How little I know," he said.

And how true for all of us, underscored by an extremely intelligent, highly educated teacher-theologian.

Most of us would like to be more profound, would we not?  Be able, that is,  to put together the right words that would immediately solve a major problem.

But none of us is so able.  The best we can do is put together a few words that might influence a small group of people, and maybe, even then, ever so lightly.

Which further reminds me:  our quest for prolem-solutions is a never ending journey.  Even if we are able to provide helpful insight on an extremely complex issue, another such issue would immediately challenge us, and probably already has.

Not even death can halt this journey.  It can only be transferred to others, who, themselves, then become further immersed in the same unending quest.

But here’s the really good news:  We can, you and I, we can impact the present moment; and to do just that should be the quest in which we continuously engage.

We can add an applicable bit of wisdom to every pending crisis.  And when we do, freedom and truth are conjoined in a most blissful way, as our Bible affirms, “Heaven breaks through.” However long or short the bliss lasts, we are dwelling in the Kingdom of God.

I do not know how to end the war in Ukraine nor how to rid our world of egotistical maniacs.

But I can speak of love and care. . .and of great hopes, such as:

We must end the killing of innocents.  We must cease the horrendous trend that is moving most everyone to experience violence and hate in increasing fashion.. 

Nothing extraordinary in those words, except for this:  they are exceptionally  wise and they are absolutely true in the moment.

Thank you, Professor Tillich!

 

 

When Faith Confronts an Evil Tyrant

By Andrew L. Pate, Jr.

We of the Allies did not win two world wars because we greatly feared the two German despots, Kaiser Wilhelm and Adolf Hitler.  We won basically because of our confident optimism in the rightness of our cause.

With respect to our primary religious heritage, we could say something quite similar to explain how the Jews have survived numerous attempts by others to eradicate them from the earth throughout their history, and also to explain how Christians survived in the 1st century and have been able to continue into the present.

Evil people do not deserve our respect, nor should we allow them to terrorize us into inaction.  The only way to stop war-mongers like Vladimir Putin in 2022 is through direct confrontation, pitting our values and our faith against his despicable meglomania in every powerful way we can.

Putin is obsessed with claiming the top historical position for leaders of the 21st century.

He must not be allowed to do that.  Yes, it’s that simple.

Christ died for all and in so doing showed good and loving people how to deal with the bad and selfish.   We can be, and we must be stronger in our faith and yet more willing than our opponents to do whatever is necessary to win, for heaven's sake as well as our own

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The Way Forward, as a New Way Back

Andrew L. Pate, Jr.

The great American theologian-preacher of the mid 20th century, Reinhold Niebuhr(1892-1971), disliked immensely the left-to-right, right-to-left repetitious switching of Americans at the polling places.  After one election the voter might be elated at the extreme swing shown in its results only to be terribly disappointed in those of the next election showing a strong swing in the opposite direction.

Niebuhr would not be happy today. America witnessed an exceptionally extreme swing with the progressive election of Obama in 2004 followed by the subversive election of Donald Trump in 2016.  An extreme "swing" like that does not occur very often (perhaps before, in 1932?).

Will there be a swing away from Trumpism in 2022 or 2024?  Current poltiical trends appear not to support such, but, in fact, suggest that Trumpism may not have receded at all.

As a result, we are in what David Brooks has called "an age of darkness," primarily because we have "neglected our democratic values."

In confirmation, I note there's enough being said by other political pundits today, representing a variety of basic political stances, all pointing to something being badly amiss in American democracy.

There's no doubt the decline of Christianity has had a great deal to do with plunging America, and much of the world, into darkness.   Christian values are still often given lip service, but seldom are they verified by mature understanding and well-planned constructive Christian actions.  Most Christians have rejected the life of an active churchperson; and few have sought spirituality elsewhere.

It is incumbent, I believe, upon today's authentic Christians to respond, and keep their faith alive, not just for the churches, but for democracy and the world.

How?  That is the open and urgent question before us.

I believe the lies in our return to our faith's basic values, not in the old ways we taught and lived them (those are dead), but in new and inspiring ways that speak with an appealing voice that calls for creatively new actions.

This essay is itself an example:  a purposeful usage of the Internet to apply Christian understanding to current issues in politics and religion, as well as in those personal and personal and social.

Christian blogging can be and should be Christian witnessing in 2022.  Not however, by creating blogs that are essentially replications of slavery's abominations nor by an extreme secular relativism that has surrendered all rules.

Authentic Christian witness seeks justice for all.  Authentic Christian witness requires words of forgiveness and the offering of multiple forms of hope to despairing individuals and broken families, through personal counseling and employment help centers, and through  courses in religion and sacred literature being taught by reputable scholars in our colleges and universities, whose influence, hopefully, would trickle down to into our kindergartens, elementary, junior and senior high schools.

Christian witnessing rejects forthrightly as manifestly unChristian the themes of our darkness that alienate us from one another by race, religion, nationality or sexual orientation.

Christin witness is the Oneness we know in Jesus Christ.

 

 

Our Values Are Dead

By Andrew L. Pate, Jr.

Lie big and don’t get caught.  Steal everything you can and use every bit of what you’ve stolen to steal much more.  Be as unfaithful as possible to your partner until the relationship ends, then repeat with others ad infinitum.  Oppose everything that smacks of authenticity.

Absurd?

Not a mite.

In 2022 we live fast and furiously, holding as tightly as we can to our non-values.  As a result, individual desperation has displaced wholeness in community; and the primary trait in virtually all our relationships is the absence of trust, proving beyond any doubt that lasting friendships and every day friendliness  in America are experiences of the past.

No longer are we surprised when long-standing rules are not just broken, but thrown away entirely, and mostly so by our courts and judicial officials and also notably, by our politicians.

Politician holding a mask in front of his face speaking to a large crowd of people. (Used clipping mask)

The best we can do in response to the unmoral abyss into which we have fallen is to say a benediction over America’s past greatness and hope against hope that  we and the few connections we have left will make it through the rest of this day,  and perhaps into tomorrow.

There are deniers, of course, some among us who think it’s just a matter of time before we “make America great again” through the recovery and practice of our traditional priorities, like justice for all and the welcoming of strangers.

Who are these naysayers kidding?  In truth,  MAGA now stands for Make America Greedy Allover. And much if not most of modern Christianity steals from its followers without shame or remorse.

Which is why I don’t write or speak anymore about recovering the once proud ways of our long-gone Democracy.  Those ways are history, gone so far from us, they will never be recovered.

Alas, alas!  What are we to do?

There's one answer only:  Start over, from nothing.

February 12, 2022, in honor of Abraham Lincoln

Does the Real Christian Faith Still Work?

By Andrew L. Pate, Jr.

NO!   At its very best, authentic Christianity is currently working only in very narrow circles, like in the inner chambers of our Ivy towers, there and elsewhere among a few journalists and theologians, and it must be added, in the quiet homes and barely noticed public places the faithful daily go about their Christian witness.

At its worst, authentic Christianity is deeply hidden in the churches of all denominations, too seldom expressing or applying itself in truly Christlike ways.

As a result:

Popular preachers bring in millions of dollars proclaiming a faith that is so self-centered a real and powerful Christian application by them has become impossible and entirely foreign to their purposes.   Matters have been made worse in that, to enhance themselves, these false spokespersons have tied themselves to corrupt politicians and equally corrupt business leaders, thus assuring the decline and fall of our once great nation.

Joel O’Steen's “Prosperity Gospel” (Houston) is perhaps the prime example of how far popular Christianity has distanced itself from the totally unselfish ways and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth.

The pervasive irrelevance of modern Christianity looms largest, and at possibly its ugliest, in its unholy attachments to our elected politicians and most influential among the wealthiest.

Where, oh where are the voices that, in the name of the Christ, cry out for equality and justice for all people and are able, therefore, to steer our daily living into workable programs that benefit the least, and not the richest among us?

In 2022, the true Christian voices are almost totally silent, heard only in the interchanges and unheeded warnings of a relatively few of our most capable writers and educators, the few, that is, who actually do understand their faith and its other-directed purposes.

Is there any “Good News” for the Christian faith in 2022?

Not much.   But, yes, there are Americans who, mostly in private, are constantly thinking of, and doing for others.  Sadly, these true warriors of Christ have become almost powerless.

The solution?

Only another Great Awakening will save us!

And therewith is the challenge to our young preachers and theologians.

February 11, 2022, College Station

Can We Overcome the Inequalities of our Equality?

Andrew L. Pate, Jr.

Yes, but not separately.  We must do it together.

Despite the  famous affirmation in our Declaration of Independence that we are all “created equal,” it is long past time that we asserted clearly and decisively that each of us is different, and it is in our "differences" that we discover and live out our equality.

Every individual is special.

Why the need for such a clarifying statement?  Because equality is achieved not in our “sameness” but through the unified execution of our "differences": life itself, that of the born and the unborn, that of those who have passed on, all are each worthy of specific respect and honor.

Yet, intentionally or not, we have allowed our differences  to further divide us, especially in the opening decades of the 21st century.   We are not today one nation moving forward , but many nations moving backward.

So it is, for our beloved democracy to continue, history demands that we come together and utilize our differences to build a better future, and thus prevent the demise of our great experiment.

We Americans  have learned all too well how to fight one another.  We can do better.

That wondrous inscription  on the Statue of Liberty states beautifully our democracy's noble purpose:  “Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore..."

But over the past half-century or more, living together in such a manner has become quite difficult, if not impossible.  For too many of us modern Americans have  failed to understand the immense importance of diversity in making our democracy work.

When we have closed ourselves off from others, our democracy has failed us, and the world; resentments of rural folks toward urbanites have intensified as have the resentments  of the lesser educated toward those with college and advanced degrees.

Being different does not make me “better than” anyone.  Being educated does not make me “better" than those without.  Being White makes me not one whit better than a person of another color.  In fact,  I may be "less than"  all others, and in many critical ways.

When I dwell uniformly on equality, I deny my uniqueness and that of everyone else.

For democracy to work its miracles, we Americans, a diverse people - we  must relearn how to assist one another in the pursuit of correcting our individual weaknesses while at the same time improving and sharing our individual strengths.

A Black man may be better at preaching than I.  Thank God!

Black religion may enliven mine own.   Praise the Lord!

And to conclude, I stress:  White wealth in excess is not a democratic virtue, for by its very nature it is a failure to respect, honor and assist  those who have little.

Let our differences shine out through our different ways of doing.

For when we do, democracy thrives.

 

Let’s End this Awful War Between Us!

David Brooks underscores our need to get along in his piece today, Jan. 14, 2022, in the NY Times,  Here is a link:  Opinion | America Is Falling Apart at the Seams - The New York Times (nytimes.com)

 

FOR WAY too Long we Americans have been immersed in a war that promises only one ending: Disaster.

We refer not to the war in Afghanistan, nor to the one in Iraq, and not to the big ones before, like Vietnam, Korea, or WW II and WWI.

No, the war to which we refer is the present UnCivil War that we are fighting daily and hourly, a war that is as UnHoly as it is UnCivil.

Understand, and we think most Americans do, this UnCivil, UnHoly War is not being fought in conventional terms.  For it is a major conflict between ideologies, between rural and urban views, between the more formally educated and those not, and, yes, between those with divergent religious and spiritual beliefs.

How shall we further describe this war?

Well, for one, it fixedly puts class against class and the extremely wealthy against virtually everyone else.

But in largest measure, this UnCivil, UnHoly War pits race against race, Whites against Blacks and Browns, and Americans against immigrants of any different color who speak a language other than English.

We have generalized so far.  So let us remind ourselves:  Those fighting this war are, many of them, Americans who share core values and life goals, yet find themselves on opposite sides in the conflict, and rigidly so.

In our contemporary thought-world, we perceive this UnCivil  UnHoly War as between Democrats and Republicans; in other words, as substantially a political war.  But it is much more than that, and much more serious in its consequence if it is not ended rationally.  For we are fiercely fighting one another to see which side wins, perhaps unconsciously for many at this point, but nonetheless, we battle on in the real world while facing an unthinkable danger.

The end of Democracy is not just a thought, it is a very frightening and very real possibility.

How are we to end it?  That is the question.

We don’t yet know, but we must try and make certain that the war's conclusion is peacefully and constructively accomplished.

A first step would be the natural thing to do:  all of us declaring with conviction that we MUST end a conflict that may otherwise end in our destruction.

Then, a second step seems also called for, which would be a serious and far-reaching quest for common ground, perhaps beginning with community hall meetings in both our cities and towns, in which representatives from every point of view participate.

Today, in early 2022, we are being challenged to talk to one another and with due seriousness search for solutions to the issues that divide us.

For if we do not. . .

No, we cannot, we must not go there.

 

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