Fear Of Whales

Archive for July, 2013

Raphael

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I came across a piece of art recently that puzzled me.

I recognized it immediately as a depiction of the miraculous catch of fish, a passage which I have analyzed exhaustively in the last year with InterVarsity. I knew the passage had great things to say about mission and devotion, depth and trust, selection and evangelism. But this depiction caught my eye. The bizarre femininity of two of the figures confused me, as did the inclusion of a character I didn’t recognize. Until my curiosity lead me to Google, I didn’t recognize it as a reproduction of a Raphael. Thanks to it being famous, I can share it with you:

raphael

That’s clearly Jesus with the prominent halo and long hair. By him is Peter, who fell to his knees in Luke 5:8, Andrew his brother, and James and John in the other boat who were “called over” to help them in verse 7.

But why are there 3 disciples there?

Also, Why don’t they have shirts on?

Raph is usually pretty good with this sort of thing, so I figured I must be missing something. I thought maybe he was depicting the other great catch found in John 21, or harmonizing the two somehow as biblical literalists like to do.

But no, John includes 7 disciples Peter, Nathaniel, Thomas, James and John the sons of Zebedee, and two mystery disciples. Also in that passage Jesus is clearly on the shore, and Peter isn’t afraid (to say the least) it has to be a second occurrence of the same miracle.

It turns out the anonymous oarman is none other than Zebedee himself. Matthew 4 records it

21 Going on from there, he saw two other brothers, James son of Zebedee and his brother John. They were in a boat with their father Zebedee, preparing their nets. Jesus called them, 22 and immediately they left the boat and their father and followed him.

There is no miracle here in Matthew but unlike John, it makes sense to harmonize this passage with Luke and assume Zebedee was in the boat the whole time. After all, in Luke we never get names for the occupants of the other boat until after they leave, Zebedee didn’t leave.Zeb

He just sat there.

Watching this.

Look at him.

With his little oar.

Thinking about this has brought new life for me into what had become a very familiar passage.

At one of the most dramatic moments of Jesus ministry. with the help of an undeniable demonstration of divine power. Jesus, the son of God, reached a success rate of about 80%. (or a B-)

FolkThat is of course to say nothing of the hundreds of people he left back on shore.

What was Zebedee thinking? How did he completely miss what was so blatantly obvious to Peter? Is there really nothing at all that would have convinced him?

As you go out to minister in your workplaces and communities, who are the Zebedees in your life? The little clingers that hang around but don’t get involved. How much of your energy goes into including them? How many people have tried and failed?

Is there a Peter at your feet begging for direction, reassurance, and discipleship? Are you ignoring him in favor of a diplomatic obligation of someone who never did and never would receive what you are offering?

Written by admin

July 24th, 2013 at 6:52 am

Posted in Uncategorized

Hate

with 5 comments

There is an ordinance which passed in the city I live in, which gives equal rights to sinners.
Specifically speaking it adds Sexual Preference and Gender Identity to a list of protected statuses according to the American Civil Rights act.
The bill is HERE if you’d like to read it. But I’ve read it. And I can tell you, It is a good bill

  • It’s reasonable and realistic
  • It protects Churches and religious speech
  • It does not favor any particular group
  • It will some make peoples lives better

But the Christians have flipped their lids. Their version of the story says

  • It requires all bathrooms in the city to be unisex
  • They will make us hire a Gay pastor
  • I could be fined if I say homosexuality is a sin
  • It will ruin everything

Even before reading the bill it should be obvious those sorts of concerns are ridiculous. Even if the bill didn’t protect religious organizations specifically (and it does) the constitution would. Women have been protected from discrimination for decades and nobody has forced the Baptists to hire female pastors yet. and Gay people use the same bathrooms as the rest of us.
Come on now people. Let’s think about this for a minute.

Today I spoke with a young lady, and a much younger adorable little daughter. She was telling me all about how the bill got passed but there is a movement to repeal it because there’s a part in “the bathroom law where a guy can just follow you in and say ‘oh i felt like a woman at the time’ and that’s fine, so you could get sued for discriminating him.” and her daughter, who must be about 6, piped up and said “But Mommy wat if yuwr a gay woman ” to which mom responded “Yup! same thing”

I replied to the young girl (but really to her mother) “You’d have to be a transgendered woman” hoping to communicate some of the complexity of this question…rather than actually expecting to be understood. But I was cut off “NOOOO! even if they’re dressed as guys they can just pop in”
…I walked away… I would have liked to beat my head against a wall trying to make a difference but I knew better

-I would have liked to explain that there is a difference between transsexuals and transvestites
-I would have liked to point out that neither switch between genders based upon their mood
-I would have liked to hear how she would have transsexuals treated. (Do we just not let them pee?)
-I would really loved for the most important and obvious fact to sneak in, that none of this bathroom stuff was actually in the ordinance but rather, that Mommy had just made it up in her ignorant and fearful brain.

But it wasn’t going to happen. so I walked away.

And thank goodness I did because the further I got the angrier I became. That poor little girl is being filled with hate, and she has no way to know any better.

And it is “hate” this isn’t just political disagreement anymore. At the point where we are making up and perpetuating lies about a people group in order to justify being against giving them rights I’m no longer comfortable calling it anything but “hate”

And there’s nothing I can do about it… So I’m telling you guys.

The next time your pastor tells you to be against something: Read the dang ordinance! Read it through all the way. Look up the words you don’t understand, and come to a conclusion. And if that conclusion goes against what the Christian sub culture tells you to believe… Well then we have a problem don’t we?

Written by admin

July 17th, 2013 at 5:58 am

Posted in Uncategorized

HATE

without comments

There is an ordinance which passed in the city I live in, which gives equal rights to sinners.
Specifically speaking it adds Sexual Preference and Gender Identity to a list of protected statuses according to the American Civil Rights act.
The bill is HERE if you’d like to read it. But I’ve read it. And I can tell you, It is a good bill

  • It’s reasonable and realistic
  • It protects Churches and religious speech
  • It does not favor any particular group
  • It will some make peoples lives better

But the Christians have flipped their lids. Their version of the story says

  • It requires all bathrooms in the city to be unisex
  • They will make us hire a Gay pastor
  • I could be fined if I say homosexuality is a sin
  • It will ruin everything

Even before reading the bill it should be obvious those sorts of concerns are ridiculous. Even if the bill didn’t protect religious orginisations specifically (and it does) the constitution would. Women have been protected from discrimination for decades and nobody has forced the baptists to hire female pastors yet. and Gay people use the same bathrooms as the rest of us.
Come on now people. Let’s think about this for a minute.

Today I spoke with a young lady, and a much younger adorable little daughter. She was telling me all about how the bill got passed but there is a movement to repeal it because there’s a part in “the bathroom law where a guy can just follow you in and say ‘oh i felt like a woman at the time’ and that’s fine, so you could get sued for discriminating him.” and her daughter, who must be about 6, piped up and said “But Mommy wat if yuwr a gay woman ” to which mom responded “Yup! same thing”

I replied to the young girl (but really to her mother) “You’d have to be a transgendered woman” hoping to communicate some of the complexity of this question…rather than actually expecting to be understood. But I was cut off “NOOOO! even if they’re dressed as guys they can just pop in”
…I walked away… I would have liked to beat my head against a wall trying to make a difference but I knew better

-I would have liked to explain that there is a difference between transsexuals and transvestites
-I would have liked to point out that neither switch between genders based upon their mood
-I would have liked to hear how she would have transsexuals treated. (Do we just not let them pee?)
-I would really loved for the most important and obvious fact to sneak in, that none of this bathroom stuff was actually in the ordinance but rather, that Mommy had just made it up in her ignorant and fearful brain.

But it wasn’t going to happen. so I walked away.

And thank goodness I did because the further I got the angrier I became. That poor little girl is being filled with hate, and she has no way to know any better.

And it is “hate” this isn’t just political disagreement anymore. at the point where we are making up and perpetuating lies about a people group in order to justify being against giving them rights I’m no longer comfortable calling it anything but “hate”

And there’s nothing I can do about it… So I’m telling you guys.

The next time your pastor tells you to be against something: Read the dang ordinance! Read it through all the way. Look up the words you don’t understand, and come to a conclusion. And if that conclusion goes against what the christian sub culture tells you to believe… Well then we have a problem don’t we?

Written by RyanGaffney

July 17th, 2013 at 12:28 am

Posted in Uncategorized

Nobody has a Can Opener

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oklahoma-tornadoI was happy to become one of the first responders to the disaster in Oklahoma City. I was one of the late responders to Katrina, unable to find time to get down there until years after the event, and I’ve often lamented the opportunity missed. When the tornados hit Moore though, it was much closer to me, and I had no trouble taking a week off and heading down within a couple of days.

I had a friend who arrived even before I did, and I gave him a call to ask what was needed, “What can I bring? Should I bring my own tools? Do you need water?” and what he said surprised me:

Whatever you do, don’t bring water, don’t bring clothes, we stopped accepting clothes at all earlier this morning. Food is helpful, if it’s non perishable, but people bring canned food, nobody has a can opener.

That really hit me — the disconnect of it all. We so lack the capacity to understand what it is like to have your house demolished in the blink of an eye that we do things (and by we I mean me) that make no sense!
We run around collecting water bottles, and we fail to realize that this isn’t a hurricane, the plumbing still works. When I went down to Moore, every street corner was equipped with a mountain of donated bottled water from Dasani or Aquafina.

We donate clothes and we fail to realize that it takes a person a long time before they die of a lack of old second hand clothes. If you don’t want them, the chances are good that they don’t either.

And I really think that the workers down there appreciate the thought. They appreciate that we’re trying, but often we as donors and servants feel entitled and say, “Look I brought you this clothing aren’t you happy?” and the victims will say, “Thank you,” but they want to say, “Look, I actually didn’t lose many of my clothes. They fell off the rack in a pile of rubble; they need to be washed, but I still have them; I need a tarp; I need something to make sure that everything doesn’t get soaked when it rains tonight and… that’s probably what I’m going to use these old jackets for.”

It’s not just disasters either. Our treatment of homeless people, mourning people, the handicapped, and every kind of minority so often fails so completely to understand their situation that our help borders on hurt. But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try:

I brought some tarps to OKC. I brought a bunch of church key can openers, as many as I could. By now the situation has changed, different things are needed, and I’m bringing a team of teenagers down this week to help clean up.

Pray for my humility in service.

Written by admin

July 10th, 2013 at 6:14 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Let’s talk about Cults

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The word cult evokes strong negative feelings, immediate accusations and denials… But no definitions… “Cult” is a disapprobation more than it is a proper category, people use it to mean “religious group I don’t like”. Unfortunately that doesn’t help us to protect people from religious organizations they are not familiar with, and that’s pretty much the only reason to have a category like “cult”.

We’re fixing that today.

Acutely felt tension, religious problem-solving perspective, religious seekership, experiencing a turning point, development of cult-affective bonds, neutralization of extra-cult attachments and intensive interaction.
These 8 terms originate from John Lofland, a sociologist who spent his life studying doomsday cults and millenarian movements, such as at the Unification church (the Moonies). His perspective is about the most comprehensive, authoritative, and non-biased. I’d like to share it with you and along the way I will keep other key words in bold so that by the end of this short article you will be well equipped to identify dangerous trends in religiosity.

Acutely Felt Tension (Guilt)
Guilt is the bread and butter of cult activity, they tend to prey on people who are already predisposed to this sort of thinking, for this reason you will find divorcees and ex-military personnel in those communities in higher than average numbers. Often a doomsday scenario helps the community keep up the pressure once conversion is accomplished. You have to evangelize lots of people and stock up on food because the end is near. This is coaxed into the mind of the convert so as to become a new normal.

Religious Problem Solving (Black And White Thinking)
In keeping with the trend of guilt, cults teach that the answer to every question in life is found within their community. Are you depressed? Don’t see a doctor, that would indicate a lack of faith, instead pray more. Are you looking for a wife? God will bring her to you from our community when you have finished your mission. Are you unemployed, or concerned about your station in life? You don’t need to worry, just have complete unquestioning trust in our infallible leader.

Seeker Ship (Recruitment)
boiling-frogCults spend a disproportionate amount of their time, money and resources, preoccupied with finding and converting new members. Almost every religious group is interested in recruitment to some degree, but it is a cults number one priority because the community will typically shut down without a steady revenue stream from new members. Quotas are not uncommon as a means of determining recruitment, and deception is frequently used as a means to convince the unfaithful. This leads to what I call “increasing irreality on a gradient” which means that information about the crazier beliefs and more serious expectations is withheld from new members until they are slowly integrated into the community. The boiling frog effect.

Turning Point (Brainwashing)
Brainwashing sounds like something out of science fiction, but the use of thought reform methods is actually reasonably mundane. Cults have a particular way of talking about their life before and after membership, and will teach you to do the same by encouraging consistent repetition of formulaic testimonies which speak in black and white terms about everything changing in an epiphany moment and encourages “us and them” thinking about those who have not experienced it.

Development of Affective Bonds (Insulation)
In order to enforce these thought reforms, the cult relies on an insular social structure. In keeping with the trend of increasing irreality, this will initially be touted as a boon of conversion. “Do you want to convert? Look at all these instant best friends you will have in a tight knit loving community”, but over time it serves as a limiting factor, as you will be encouraged to live, work, and date and marry only within the group. When a member begins to realize that some of the teachings are false, they will fear leaving the community, because of the investment they have made within it. This leads to cognitive dissonance or an unwillingness to accept the truth they see before them.

Neutralization Of Extracult Attachments (Isolation)
Among the more serious warning signs of cult activity is the neutralization of attachments. When loved ones of converts begin to worry, cults need a way to keep their members in the fold and out of the deprogrammer’s office. It’s main two tools are shunning and excommunication. Shunning applies to nonmembers, such as a converts’ parents, whose child  will be encouraged to cut ties with if they become too vocal about their disagreement with the group’s practices. Excommunication is the ultimate weapon against members who ask too many questions. If they cannot be brought into line with shame, and social ramifications, they will eventually be cut off from the community, and members will be strictly dis-incentivized, or prevented from continued interaction with them.

Intensive Interaction (Deprivation)
The final, and perhaps most important characteristic of cult activity, the reason it matters, is intensive interaction. The end result of any cult involvement is the deprivation of its members. In order to keep you malleable and dependent on the leadership you will be compelled to give a substantial control of your finances to the community. Cults will encourage regular and intensive fasting, and Orwellian levels of accountability. Your privacy will be stripped from you, you will be weak, hungry and poor, and then you will be asked to go and find new blood, as you will have been sucked dry.

Written by admin

July 3rd, 2013 at 6:23 am

Posted in Uncategorized