Baby Steps

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Matthew Wilcoxen, a commenter, writes:

Hey Mate,
Since you have so faithfully dissected Driscoll’s post and made him appear as a real chauvenist pig; will you also be faithful in covering his recent addendum and clarification to his post and his willingness to listen to his critics? He almost sounds Brian McLaren-ish in his tone. Are you “generous” enough to allow him to speak and clarify himself?

I have read Driscoll’s clarification on his blog and I must say that he does deserve (barely) some “knuckles” for digging deep and writing something that resembles a thoughtful, pastoral post on his blog. He did not apologize for his extremely poor choice of words and that would have been nice, but just like the way in which Bill Murray’s character measured his progress in the movie “What About Bob?”, it’s all about “baby steps”. Hopefully this will be the first of many baby steps for Mr. Driscoll on the path of being thoughtful and considerate when addressing other people and apologetic when he missteps.

In the end, I do not think Driscoll deserves any real praise for his clarification in this matter. This is simply the tone he should have taken from the start. It is a positive thing that he’s done here, but has the bar been set so low that we have to applaud a blog post that is, at best, thoughtful and non-offensive?

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Silence, Work, and Suffering

008.JPGLast year a friend of mine, Adam Walker Cleaveland, the CEO of Pomomusings, gave me the book “A Year With Thomas Merton”. It’s a collection of entries from Merton’s journals that are broken up for each day of the Year. When Adam gave me the book I knew of Merton but had never read any of his writings. I must say that I am very much in debt to Adam for sharing with me this wonderful collection of insights from Merton. Even though Green Day tickets might have had a higher monetary value than a Thomas Merton book, Adam certainly got the short end of the stick in this instance. I read this entry this morning and it confronted me in a very strong way:

November 14 – Truth in Silence, Work and Suffering

We talk of God when He has gone far from us. (We are far from Him and His nearness remains to accuse us!) We live as if God existed for our sakes, figuring that we exist for Him. We use grace as if it were matter handed over to form according to our pleasure. We use the truth of God as material for the fabrication of idols. We forget that we are the matter and His grace is the form imposed upon us by His wisdom. Does the clay understand the work of the potter? Does it no allow itself to be formed into a vessel of election?

The truth is formed in silence and work and suffering—with which we become true. But we interfere with God’s work by talking too much about ourselves—even telling Him what we ought to do—advising Him how to make us perfect and listening for His voice to answer us with approval. We soon grown impatient and turn aside from the silence that disturbs us (the silence in which His work can best be done), and we invent the answer and the approval which will never come.

Silence, then, is the adoration of His truth. Work is the expression of our humility, and suffering is born of the love that seeks one thing alone: that God’s will be done.

–November 12, 1952

This entry reminds me very much of Richard Rohr’s fantastic book “Everything Belongs” in which he suggests that when we engage in prolonged, silent prayer and meditation, our agenda and selfish desires begin to evaporate. After about twenty minutes of silent prayer and reflection, we will begin to run out of our own material, our spiritual laundry list for God to deal with. Only when our agenda begins to subside are we then able to hear God’s voice. To do this is often a painful yet illuminating process of emptying ourselves of our selfishness and insecurities. The greatest hope of all in this life and the next is the promise that God will meet us there and fill that emptiness with his acceptance and everlasting love.

Where is Macaca?

It appears that the Dems are very close to gaining control of the Senate as well as the House of Reps. The control of the senate all comes down to the Virginia senator’s race between Democrat Jim Webb and Republican George Allen. It’s amazing that literally months ago, Allen was not only viewed as a heavy favorite to win this race, but also considered one of the front runners for the 2008 Republican presidential nomination. Thanks to the fact that a little bit of Allen’s racism slipped out at a camaign rally, he’s now in a very real danger of losing this election and giving away control of the senate to the Democrats. Amazing.

Here’s a very funny clip of the Daily Show’s coverage of Allen’s “macaca” debacle:

Classic.

Results

Could marriage in Arizona be destroyed tonight? Looks like it! 😉

Len Munsil has had a bad night. His gay marriage prop looks to be in the gutter and he got trounced by Governer Napalitano in the Governer’s race.

Harry Mitchell looks like he has won! Adios J.D.!

It’s been a great night so far! Right now, I’m pretty proud to be an Arizonan. Tomorrow I’ll talk about the disappointments, but for right now, I’ll savour the results.

I voted….the wait begins

Today I voted at our local elementary school and it was a very easy, efficient, enjoyable process. It took me about 10 minutes to get in and out. It was great to use paper ballots and I’m very grateful that Arizona hasn’t gone the way of electronic voting machines. I’m typically very accepting of the use of technology, but electronic voting machines creep me out.

Now the my votes have been cast, it will be exciting to see what happens. One race I’m really interested in is for the House of Representatives seat in District 5 between Harry Mitchell and J.D. Haworth. If there is a race between two candidates that could be considered “good” versus “evil”, this race would be it. Not that J.D. Haworth is nothing but a bad guy and a crook, but he’s certianly become a partisan bully and has taken money from Jack Abramoff. The Arizona Republic wrote an amazing endorsement of Mitchell that outlines much of the differences between these two candidates. Even though I don’t live in District 5, Harry Mitchell’s campaign was the only one that I actively supported. He has a real shot at winning this election, but Arizona is a very conservative state. It’s not going to be easy.

On a side note, I accidentally voted against prop 107 so I think just helped destroy marriage. Bummer.

Happy Voting! Go Harry!

Mark Driscoll Suggests it’s her fault

Because he’s such a swell guy, Mark Driscoll has taken upon himself, in response to the Ted Haggard scandal, to share some “practicle suggestions” on his personal blog as a way of encouraging young church leaders to avoid the pitfalls of sexual immorality. One of his suggestions is the following:

Most pastors I know do not have satisfying, free, sexual conversations and liberties with their wives. At the risk of being even more widely despised than I currently am, I will lean over the plate and take one for the team on this. It is not uncommon to meet pastors’ wives who really let themselves go; they sometimes feel that because their husband is a pastor, he is therefore trapped into fidelity, which gives them cause for laziness. A wife who lets herself go and is not sexually available to her husband in the ways that the Song of Songs is so frank about is not responsible for her husband’s sin, but she may not be helping him either.”

If one could be a fly on the wall of all the marital arguments this suggestion will lead to. Just imagine all the young men under Driscoll’s influence who all of the sudden feel they have the freedom to suggest to their wives that they lose a few pounds or they might end up being cheated on. This seems to advocate some kind of conditional love and faithfullness based on physical appearance. Just the thing you want to hear from your pastor, right? Amazing. Also, is it me or does Driscoll look like he could benefit from his own advice?

The Power of Denial and Acceptance

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With so much flying around regarding the Ted Haggard scandal, I pray that we do not forget those who are suffering the most; his wife and children. For their sake, I pray that there will be acceptance and love shown to Haggard and his family. The dark reality is that we are all capable of such failures and to attempt to tear down someone in a state of pain and embarrasement is neither helpful nor loving. With that said, I also pray that there will soon be honesty and full disclosure, at least with his wife and kids, so that the power of denial can be broken and for redemption to begin to take place.

The reason why I’m suggesting there is yet to be complete honesty is because I don’t believe Haggard’s version of events to be consistent or credible. His first response to the allegations by Mike Jones was that he didn’t even know him. When Jones produced phone messages that Haggard left on his answering machine that refer to purchasing drugs, Haggard then changed his story and not only admitted to knowing Jones but also admitted to buying meth only once, then immediately throwing it away. Haggard also admits to recieving a massage from Jones but denied any sexual relationship. Mike Jones worked as a male escort who only advertised his services in gay periodicals in the Denver area. Obviously, not all of the information is clear at this point, but it’s certainly not looking good for Mr. Haggard.

In the end, we must pray for honesty, acceptance, healing and redemption, not just for Haggard and his family, but for us all. If we can find it within ourselves to offer acceptance to all, then denial becomes unnecessary and redemption is within our grasp. An associate pastor at Haggard’s church says that “we stand with him” as they should. He is a hurting brother in need of the support of those around him. But the question must be asked if whether or not a stranger who was a homosexual meth addict had strolled into the church off of the street would recieve the same support. Sadly, largely due to the environment in the evangelical church to which Haggard has contributed greatly, they would not recieve the same acceptance and love currently being readily given to Haggard by his congregation. Hopefully these unfortunate circumstances can help lead the evangelical church to re-examine their relationships with those they tend to demonize and marginalize.

Andrew Sullivan has done a very nice job covering this story as it unfolds on his blog. If you don’t know much about Sullivan, he’s a very interesting man who provides a very relevant perspective to this issue. He is a openly gay Republican and a devout Catholic who lives with the HIV virus while writing a blog for Time.com. He’s recently released a book title “The Conservative Soul” and I highly recommend you check it out. Here’s a quote from his blog regarding the Haggard scandal:

I’m afraid I feel for Haggard. This is what happens to a man psychologically and spiritually destroyed by actually advancing a lie he knows to be a lie about homosexuality as a “chosen lifestyle” while being gay himself.

His denial of reality, his inability to cope with the world as it is, is often part of the same fundamentalist psyche we see exhibited at all levels of the Rove machine – and, dangerously, within the president himself. Denial is a very powerful psychic force. When combined with addiction, it can fuel destructive behavior. In a human being, it can destroy a person, a family, a marriage, an entire life.

Other relevant articles on this story:

Slacktivist
Haggard’s Downfall– The Revealer
The Colorado Springs Gazette