A Bastard Right-Wing Version of Christianity is Not the Answer to Gay Marriage

“Today, I will not look at Facebook,” I thought to myself as I groggily rose out of bed this morning. Skip ahead two hours later. I had already been on Facebook at least a dozen times, checking to see who “liked” the photo of my new barbeque grill, scrolling down my feed with my thumb, as well as engaging in a couple discussions about the implications of a certain monumental Supreme Court ruling made last Friday. After breaking the resolution I made earlier when I was stumbling out of bed, I was clearly going to be reading a lot of opinions the rest of the day (like everyday since Friday).

Whether it’s in the fellowship hall at church or in the inch-deep Limbaugh-esque drivel we post on Facebook, clarity, depth and the richness of the gospel is traded in for a bastard right-wing version of Christianity.

Simultaneously, NPR was now wafting through the speakers in my truck, belting out news coverage and busting out as many segments on responses to SCOTUS’ affirmation of same-sex marriage. In normal standard operating procedure, NPR’s correspondents gathered as many Christians as they could find and somehow convinced them to opine, in soundbite fashion, about their usually negative views on gays and gay marriage. I never understand how people with opposing views to the status quo find themselves awkwardly stating their beliefs into the microphone of journalists who only want to use the interviews as a sideshow attraction in between serious dialogue.

And I suppose this is where my post is heading. I’m not trying to add my reaction to the Supreme Court’s ruling, but I do want to share my thoughts on reactionary Christian responses. I’ve read a good deal on assents, dissents, quick run downs, and opinions from all sides of the paradigm shifting milestone in history. In all honesty, I really haven’t cringed so much as I have in the past few days, reading the glib memes and anonymous “inspirational” quotes on my feed, and coming to terms with a few things. Somewhere along the line we will actually have to engage in real person-to-person talks and we won’t be able to use canned lines from the Meme section of the Internet. Speaking from the Christian corner, we who profess Christ will have to find the right equilibrium as we seek out the best way to engage the dynamic world we live in. (Pardon the rambling tone found in my writing. I don’t do second drafts because I do most of my blogging after the children are in bed and I don’t want to stay up freaking late crafting a post only fifteen people might read.)

When I listen to Christians talking Christianese to NPR correspondents or the culture at large, I think to myself, “The gospel is not being heard, and the context (if there is any) has no meaning to the audience sitting back listening.” Whether it’s in the fellowship hall at church or in the inch-deep Limbaugh-esque drivel we post on Facebook, clarity, depth and the richness of the gospel is traded in for a bastard right-wing version of Christianity. It doesn’t matter how many times you post “America, Bless God,” your non-believing friends don’t care. What is needed is a gospel-centered life lived humbly in the midst of a world indifferent and hostile to the crucified and resurrected Jesus of the Bible. They still may hate you and me, but at least we won’t sound like Donald Trump.

The world doesn’t need any more punditry. It needs Jesus. Gay, straight, bi, trans, how will they hear about Jesus when all we’re talking about is a Confederate Flag and how “God Hates Gays”? In the Book of Hebrews, the writer commands that believers “Strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord” (Heb. 12:14, ESV). I am continually amazed by how paranoid and reactionary social media has rendered the faith of some of my fellow Christians. I am convicted by the realization of my own shortcomings in reflecting Christ in the relationships with my non-Christian family, friends, and acquaintances. I am driven to repentance, giving more attention to my own sins over the sins of others.

The Bible has some strong words for sin and the Church needs to be bold in proclaiming Christ to our sin-soaked world, but not in fragmented way. Reacting to individual sins is pointless and will make a caring heart callous; sincerely showing Christ and speaking the truth in love and in full context is much better. Such sincerity is born out of the reality “that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8), which helps empathize with other sinners who desperately need Christ. I’ll end with that.

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Forget the Controversies and Weep Instead

Instead of reacting to each tragedy as an opinionated citizen of the United States, I am convinced I am better off as a humbled, empathetic follower of Christ…

Running down the road, hauling some equipment to Tonopah today, I turned the radio on and listened to the news. In between static and overlapping stations, I hit a few good spots where I got a clear segment of NPR. The past six days have been tumultuous in the wake of the church shooting in Charleston, South Carolina. Other than a surreal fluff piece, glancing at the apparent dangers of wearing skinny jeans, the news has scarcely been about anything else but what transpired surrounding the tragedy at Charleston’s Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church, and rightly so. The initial headline caught the attention of many, and the developing story kept the attention of that many more. Nine dead at the hands of Dylann Roof, the gunman who sat in on a evening service for a whole hour before opening fire on the pastor and parishioners.

After Roof’s apprehension, the attention has been focused on a number of things. The victims, their families, the gunman’s obvious racist motives, calls for stricter gun laws, as well as a collective outcry to rid public buildings of the Confederate flag. So much violence and contempt for human life so common in today’s world is a stark reminder of just how depraved humanity is. In the face of such depravity, it’s easy to adopt a fatalistic view of everything and everyone. As a result, I am personally tempted to join the latest fly-by-night political controversy, usually casting a stray rant (with a tinge of civic-minded evangelicalism perhaps) out into social media, sounding off to the betterment of none in order to make my pride feel better for saying something.

But outside of all the public debates, which barely waited for mourning to subside, about whether or not acts of violence like the one in Charleston happen in other developed countries, or whether we should finally give the boot to a battle flag-turned symbol of hate, something grabbed the attention of the U.S., I suspect. The words, “I forgive you,” were spoken, aimed at the suspected murderer by a daughter of one of the slain Christians. As I reflect on all of this, I can’t help but be humbled to the point of silence.

Instead of reacting to each tragedy as an opinionated citizen of the United States, I am convinced I am better off as a humbled, empathetic follower of Christ who ought to follow the Apostle Paul’s command in Romans 12:14-15 to Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep.”  As a friend recently wisely said on his Facebook account, “Now is not the time for [debates].” It’s time to identify with those, in the household of Christ, who are mourning. For how can we rightly rejoice when it’s time to do so if we haven’t bore in the calamities of others?

Arrows in the Desert: Rediscovering the Pony Express of the Sky

Airmail_Arrow_2
A course arrow on the old Transcontinental Airmail Route from the 1920s. This particular arrow rests just off the interstate, overlooked by travelers who are completely unaware of its existence.

Recently, I have become completely enamored with finding navigational remnants of the U.S. Transcontinental Airmail System: dilapidated concrete arrows, and sometimes 50′ tall iron beacon towers from the 1920s and 30s. Sharing history and geography with the California Emigrant Trail as well as the first Transcontinental Railroad, the airmail system adds another bit of rich history to an already unique corridor in America.

Just sixty years after the Pony Express ended, the airmail route stretched from New York to California, at a time when modern navigation systems were but a twinkle in a compass’ eye. Pilots traversed the sky in open cockpits in all sorts of weather, aided, initially, by rudimentary maps, landmarks, and seventy-foot long concrete arrows. At first, flights were only done during the day because navigation was mostly done by sight before adequate radio infrastructure was established. To make the airmail system efficient and much faster than rail transport, the Department of Commerce invested in lighted beacons to point the way at night and inclement weather.

My family and I have been enjoying finding the arrows in various locations in Northern Nevada, making short day trips to the coordinates I’ve found using info from various sites online as well as taking to Google Maps and scouring over areas like an armchair spy plane pilot from our kitchen table.

More to come, I’m sure, in the future. This piece of history is shedding its obscurity more and more as many historians, history buffs, bloggers, and local newspapers shed more light on the “mysterious giant arrows” dotting the high desert, mountain ranges, and increasingly urbanized areas.