Thursday, December 22, 2016

A burnt plastic baby Jesus or an adored plastic baby Jesus? Or perhaps the Lord of all!


Several days ago my granddaughter, Melissa or grandson-in-law, Spencer (not sure which one) wrote on his timeline:

“Such a strange Christmas season, our church in Sac had their nativity scene out front vandalized with swastikas and other obscenities, and the baby Jesus doll was burned to a crisp. Kind of surreal. Hey crazy people of Midtown. Jesus loves you, come to church again, on Christmas morning and learn about the guy whose plastic baby effigy you roasted. As our pastor said “He’s risen. That was just a doll.”

That was Trinity Lutheran Church, (Missouri Synod) in Sacramento. My husband and I have attended there often, over many years, it is a blessed fellowship.

The outrage reminded me of an advent story I wrote about in one of my first Advent postings. Only in that case it was about someone whose focus was only on seeing the plastic Jesus. I wrote:

Another Christmas Eve I remember we attended a Catholic midnight mass. A group of young people from our church, [Warehouse Ministries], who had been nominal Catholics but had recently come to Christ, asked us to go with them to Christmas Eve mass. I only remember a few things about that night. The church, the Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament, now restored, was huge and dark. We all set together filling a whole pew. When we were to ‘pass the peace’ it was with exuberant hugs. I remember the quiet Delta tule fog after service and the man under the streetlight asking for a little change.

But what I remember most clearly was the woman sitting behind me who whispered to the person next to her, “My dear, I only came to see the baby Jesus.”

Her statement and attitude projected not amazement that the Christ child was very God and very human, but that Christianity and Christmas were only about a good child and a fuzzy warmth. I wrote a small poem about this later, the next week. (And it is important to know that this was the years that a doll named ‘baby alive’ was marketed.)

“My Dear, I only came to see the baby Jesus!"

Release the babe!
The imaged doll,
Congregator of chained smiling humanity.
Oh Holy child, break out into the Man.

We worship before the gilded crib.
A pink and pampered god,
Baby Alive;
Never dead and never resurrected

Obeisance made a dreamy, diapered child;
A blood soaked God rejected in his cries and tears.
Preferable to hold our god
then a Lord to hold us, enfolding our fears

Yes he is risen, and he came and he is coming. Merry & holy Christmas even to the crazy people in Midtown Sacramento. May they find Him as Lord.as burned to a crisp. Kind of surreal. Hey crazy people of midtown, Jesus loves you, come to church again, on Christmas morning, and learn about the guy whose plastic baby effigy you roasted. As our pastor said, "He's risen. That was just a doll."as burned to a crisp. Kind of surreal. Hey crazy people of midtown, Jesus loves you, come to church again, on Christmas morning, and learn about the guy whose plastic baby effigy you roasted. As our pastor said, "He's risen. That was just a doll."

Sunday, December 4, 2016

A Bible study for women: any suggestions? UP-DATE


Someone, in a comment on my posting The 2016-17 Horizons Bible Study "Who is Jesus? - a continuing review- the introduction, has asked for recommendations for other Bible studies for women. I don’t have, at the time, any recommendations except I have been listening to Ann Voskamp author of The Broken Way: A daring path into the abundant life, and she has a study connected to that book. She has videos that go with the study. I will place the first session below. The study guide can be purchased at Zondervan or on Amazon at https://www.amazon.com/Broken-Way-Study-Guide-Abundant/dp/031082074X 

If any of my readers know of a good Bible study for women please list it in the comment section.

UP-DATE: On the Gospel Coalition site Melissa Kruger under the title A Few of My Favorite Things from 2016 lists not only books and videos but also three Bible studies. They all three sound good; one From Garden to Glory; another on 1 Peter and the last on the book of Romans. Kruger has links to all three. Simply scroll to the end of her posting.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

The Federation of American Immigration: abortion & population control merges with anti-immigration


In the early 20th century it was not unusual in both the United States and Western Europe for a na├»ve nationalism to mix with progressive views about abortion and population control. The ultimate mix layered all of this with anti-immigration views and, yes, racism. The layering continues into the 21st century. Today on ChurchandWorld, Hans Cornelder linked to an article at Polizette, “Southern Poverty Law Center Turns Leftist Bully: Once-important civil rights organization has become liberal propaganda machine, according to new lawsuit.” The article is about a lawsuit the Federation of American Immigration Reform is filing against a hate-watch group The Southern Poverty Law Center. The article caught my attention because in the past, starting more than twenty years ago, when writing about racism I traded information with the SPLC.

Although I disagree with SPLC’s stances on homosexuality, I applaud their articles on racism and anti-Semitism. They, in fact, posted several articles on the vile anti-Semitic Veterans Today after I alerted them to its content.  So I decided to explore the Federation of American Immigration Reform. I was surprised to say the least, although perhaps I should not have been. The organization was birthed not from some fundamentalist sect but rather from those who have embraced population control and abortion. And, of course, environmentalism figures in the mix.  In their early beginnings they had and in some cases still do, close ties to Planned Parenthood.

John H. Tanton was the founder and chair of the Federation of American Immigration Reform (FAIR). In a footnote to an appendix written by Tanton, he points to his involvement with Planned Parenthood and other organizations concerned with population control:

“In pursuit of his demographic and immigration policy interests, Tanton has served as organizer and president of Northern Michigan Planned Parenthood (1965-71); as chair of the National Sierra Club Population Committee (9171-74); as a member of the National Zero Population Growth Board (1973-75); as chair of its Immigration Study Committee (1973-75); as its national president (1975-79); as organizer (1979) of the Federation of American Immigration Reform (FAIR) and its chair (1979-87); and as a board member of Population/Environment Balance (190-80).[1]

Tanton’s wife, Mary Lou, who was involved with his various organizations was an advocate for abortion. Her essay on the subject was printed in the Charlevoix Courier in 1969.[2]

Dan Stein, now the president of FAIR, complains, according the Polizette article that “"The SPLC is deeply invested in promoting mass immigration, bullying political opponents into silence, and is nothing more than a daily smear machine uninterested in the free exchange of ideas. It uses the same ad hominem tactics year in and year out to try to manage political speech in the interests of its own agenda." But what about FAIR’s immigration ideas. On their site they are offering a comprehensive immigration reform plan they hope President elect Donald Trump and congress will buy into, “Fair Immigration Priorities for the 2017 Presidential Transition: A Special Report from the Federation for American Immigration Reform.

The report is long and needs a great deal of analysis. However, it should be noted that the plan calls for no amnesty at all. No medical attention or schooling for illegal alien children. In fact, it calls for greater limitations on legal immigration.  It is definitely an anti-immigration document. It has two core concerns. One that illegal aliens are causing horrific problems in the United States:

“Illegal immigration and unchecked legal immigration are detrimental to the quality of life in the United States. The American family is increasingly bearing the costs of urban sprawl, environmental degradation, traffic congestion, increased crime, overburdened health care, overwhelmed public schools and debt-ridden state and municipal governments—all results of uncontrolled immigration. The fiscal costs of immigration, legal and illegal, have always been substantial, but with the recent economic downturn, these costs have become even more burdensome. The social, cultural and political costs are being felt more acutely as we receive immigrants in numbers too large to be successfully incorporated into our way of life and assimilated into our communities.”

 And secondly that America’s immigration policies should be absolutely focused on the needs and desires of United States’ citizens and therefore only those offering exceptional skills should be admitted. On the introduction page of this paper FAIR states:

“The U.S. immigration system must be reformed to reflect broad national interest, not the narrow special interests that seek cheap labor and increased political influence. This means ending illegal immigration, reducing overall levels of immigration and only admitting immigrants who have the education and skills to succeed in 21st Century America.”

While true conservatives complain about the brutality of the late Cuban dictator Fidel Castro, FAIR complains about what is called the Mariel Boatlift when 125, 000 Cubans escaped from Cuba.  They write in their policy plan, “Stretching back to the Mariel boatlift and beyond, the United States has periodically been faced with mass migration events. The recent Unaccompanied Alien Minor crisis on the southern border clearly demonstrates that a comprehensive border control strategy requires a robust and sustainable capacity to confront and manage these migrant surges.”

While it is true that Castro released some criminals and convicts to make that journey, nonetheless many Cubans found freedom in the United States and were welcomed here by their families.

The Southern Poverty Law Center would of course not complain about FAIR’s connection to abortion advocacy but they do have important information including FAIR’s connections to racist ideals. Their article “Federation for American Immigration Reform” is important and factual.

In the Federation for American Immigration Reform one sees, as I have stated, a merging of progressive views of population control including abortion, and nationalism tinged with racism, supposedly for the sake of environmentalism. There are several groups connected to this organization all concerned with immigration and population control. Californians for Population Stabilization (CAPS) is one. Another is The Social Contract Press.
Psalm one tells the faithful that we are blessed when we do not walk in the counsel of the wicked or stand in the path of sinners or sit in the seat of scoffers. Wickedness is growing ramped, may we be wise and discerning. And have mercy on the foreigner and the refugee.  

 




[1] Appendix B End of the Migration Epoch? Time for a New Paradigm by John H Tanton, in Mary Lon, John Tanton a Journey into American Conservatism by John F. Rohe,
 
[2] Appendix C Ibid. (A 1969 essay in the Charlevoix Courier by Mary Lou Tanton advocating for abortion. An appendix to Mary Lon, John Tanton a Journey into American Conservatism by John F. Rohe. )