Posts tagged ‘Andrew Marin’

December 7, 2010

Obama Reaches Out

by Vince

For Obama’s bipartisan sake, his caving in to the Bush Tax Cut extension is a good thing. It better quell some of the huffing and puffing from the Right that he won’t “meet us on our side” and follow some unspoken order from America to take up a smaller government.

Lately, I am seeing two lanes of thought in relation to “Obama’s welfare state / dependency programs”. One side sees that these programs have people on their rolls who are ignorantly and lazily dependent on government money and the Democrats have done some sort of lobotomy experiment to make them forever follow them their handout trail. The other side sees some people on the program rolls that are generationally dependent but also many enrolled who wholeheartedly need it. A case and point example for the first side can be seen below:

The emerging deal is not all good news, of course.  It is not wise to provide extended unemployment insurance for the duration of 2011.  That’s likely to contribute to persistently high unemployment and discourage the adjustments necessary to get more people back to work.  And temporary tax cuts are much less effective than permanent ones at spurring productive investments and job creation.

The author banks on a black and white schema for unemployment insurance. He sees that this insurance provided for those out of work will just keep their butts planted down on the couch and give them no hope other than to be a parasite of the government.

Such views taken up by the author can be credited to only knowing a few people on welfare or unemployed and who also happen to enjoy not having a job and not making much off of the government. This view is quite condescending and probably comes from a privileged white ledge, far removed from their ivory towers and white suburbs. Another source of such poppycock stereotyping is Rush Limbaugh. When Rush Limbaugh makes racist jokes or jokes insinuating racial stereotypes towards Barack Obama, one not only gets a bad picture in their head of Barack but also of black people. Rush must not think too highly of black people, even ones who have risen out of a tough single parent home and gone on to be a constitutional scholar and president of the United States.

After sifting through the racist innuendos and the seemingly truth statements that “all people on welfare or who are unemployed are lazy”, one needs to ask some questions. What about there being only 1 job out there today for every 5 applicants? What about our nation being in one of the worst recessions in decades? What about our unemployment rate still not going down but hovering around 9.8%?

More times than not, the first side is held up by privileged whites who haven’t had to worry about not receiving great education, health care, living in a stable home, or living in an impoverished neighborhood. Their existence is never questioned based on their races behavior on a macro level. They simply live without having their race drag them down. The second side can tend to be a mixed bag of colors. They may make up educated whites as well as those who have been or have known someone enrolled in a state program. The words of Andrew Marin, even though spoken about the divide between the church and the GLBT community, ring true in this case: “We have to go to a culture before we know a culture” (emphasis mine).

Back to taxes, how we construct our outlook on taxes and the economy in turn directs our allegiance towards a certain direction. Sure our personal experiences play in to that as well (Growing up, my Dad always complained about extra taxes coming his way. He was, and still is, a self employed landscaper, so extra taxes hit him and he feels them). If we see taxes towards the rich as a hindrance towards job creation, especially in a recession, we will say ‘no way’ to ending tax cuts. On the flip side, if we see tax cuts for the middle class as helpful for they are the ones who are more apt to spend on the basics (food, furniture, stimulating local business) than to save in large amounts, then one would say “sure, give those guys the tax cuts”.

As I said, in the end it comes down to the reality we construct. How much of that is based on actual reality (our experiences, empirical evidence) and based on faux theology (Mike Huckabee, Glenn Beck, Fox News), only ourselves can fully peer into that source.

November 13, 2010

DADT: Splitting Apart Families, Students, and Our Souls

by Vince


Our political and religious leaders tell LGBT youth that they have no future.

They can’t serve our country openly.


What’s worse, these laws that legislate discrimination teach bullies that what they’re doing is acceptable.


Our government treats the LGBT community like second class citizens, why shouldn’t they?


My time in the classroom has had me listening in to what students talk about and most notably how they address one another.  In each one of my classes yesterday, for example, there was at least one instance of someone being called gay. I thought of Andrew Marin and instantly asked a few probing questions about their gay assertions. My second question is usually “do you know that my uncle is gay?” Most student usually do not look up at me when I ask them this and burrow down, trying hard to possibly hide their embarrassment. I don’t take what they say personally and I usually sit down near them and talk through with them about what they are saying and feeling inside when they throw about a usual “he’s gay” assertion.

Most male students are nervous of the possibility of a gay male student hitting on them, touching them, or openly pursuing them. I ask them if this has ever happened to them or anyone they know. I haven’t heard of one student who has had an example of this happening. Truly, the irrational fear of being hit on has found a place in many people, young and old, of white or of foreign descent, and is in dire need of direct addressing.

Some other students then assume fellow students of theirs are gay by the way they dress, who they hang out with, and by other various behaviors they see and judge. One boy said yesterday that he thought a female student he knew was gay because she hung out with all girls. I asked him what if this girl had been abused and raped by her father, uncle, or other male in her life and never wanted to be touched by a man or be around one if she didn’t have to. Instantly, the boy said that that treatment of the girl is totally wrong. In the end, we sometimes never really know.

I don’t know if that sparked a light bulb moment for him, and ultimately that is beyond my powers, but I hope to instill in the students a few things. One, when I am their teacher, each student will be treated by one another with respect and not isolated, put down, or demonized. Second, I want to get across that the label of “he/she is gay” is so ingrained that we don’t even think about its ramifications or where it comes from.

I still am not convinced after studying the scriptures from both sides of the ideological aisle what my final view on same-sex attraction, marriage, or DADT is. What I can stand for is not treating students, citizens, or normal human beings as second rate citizens, looking to talk about these issues first theologically and then politically, and seeing these large, complex issues just as they are: large and complex and needed to be seen under the scope of a human, Godly lens along with the Constitution (which doesn’t say anything about who one can or can’t marry).


October 4, 2010

Theology and Homosexuality: An Against the Grain Approach

by Vince

I see a big issue with the way fellow humans are being treated. A study polled 2,300 people and found that a third of the respondents believed pets to be classified as family while same-sex couples are not. I do not see this in a dominion theology perspective, in that all creatures and animals should be under the dominion of man. I see a problem with what has become a 21st centuries civil rights dispute which has subsequently placed some humans as second-rate citizens within the United States.

Cody J. Sanders describes this theologically-based treatment of the GLBT community as “anti-gay bullying“. There are the obvious and flagrant examples of this that are mostly dismissed as Christianist fanaticism wrapped in a warped sense of fundamentalism. Sanders comes down on churches that are under a quieter guise yet still capable of being hurtful and damaging:

More difficult to address are the myriad ways in which everyday churches that do a lot of good in the world also perpetuate theologies that undergird and legitimate instrumental violence. The simplistic, black and white lines that are drawn between conceptions of good and evil make it all-too-easy to apply these dualisms to groups of people. When theologies leave no room for ambiguity, mystery and uncertainty, it becomes very easy to identify an “us” (good, heterosexual) versus a “them” (evil, gay).

Additionally, hierarchical conceptions of value and worth are implicit in many of our theological notions. Needless to say, value and worth are not distributed equally in these hierarchies. God is at the top, (white, heterosexual) men come soon after and all those less valued by the culture (women, children, LGBT people, the poor, racial minorities, etc.) fall somewhere down below. And it all makes perfect sense if you support it with a few appropriately (mis)quoted verses from the Bible.

With dualistic conceptions of good and evil and hierarchical notions of value and worth, it becomes easy to know who it is okay to hate or to bully or, seemingly more benignly, to ignore.

Describing this strand of Christianity as “leaving no room for ambiguity, mystery and uncertainty” rings in my head. Therefore, I put forth an “against the grain” proposition for when Christian theology and same-sex topics collide. I give credit to Andrew Marin and his fine book for helping me with solidifying my ideas.

1) Let’s be bold enough to move beyond signs, sound bites, and short phrases: Marin notes that “it’s easy to stand with a sign: its difficult and bold to intentionally live life with another human to make a significant impact for the kingdom.” Signs, short sound bites and theological musings do not do us or the discussion justice. Let us embrace the humanity aspect in this discussion (which is often lost in our uncomfortableness) and respect the complexity that pertains to it.

2) Let go of control: There is an overwhelming sense of “we need to control” in this discussion. It is well hidden under the guises of “I need to tell them the truth” (as if we fully know what God meant in the Bible when it came to homosexuality: was it against general promiscuity? was it really against monogamous and long term committed same-sex relationships?) or “we need to go back to how marriage was in the good old days / biblical times”. These are all somewhat noble but ultimately can be a roadblock to what God may be working. Let go of the need to see a conclusion in your own time.

I heard of a story of a man who was faithful in walking and supporting a woman struggling with her same-sex lifestyle. It was a six year long friendship. She eventually walked out on the friendship for her own reasons and cut off ties to all of those around her. It did not end in her “being converted” either to believing in God or becoming straight. All the man in this story did was work to be faithful to her in the time they could share.

3) Take up listening and asking as practices of life: this goes beyond the toxic debate of same-sex marriage and is invaluable in any relationship in life. The art of asking questions and listening to others opens you up to hearing stories, feelings, thoughts, and should include closing your mouth while in the process. Also, try open ended questions. They can “require thought and responsiveness”.

4) We are not the solution: This may shock those who feel the “need to speak into someones life if you see them swerving off the path.” What are you to say if a friend tells you that “they have listened to God as you have showed me, and he told me its OK to be gay?” Turning to defensiveness is stepping between that person and God. We cannot be the ultimate solution to someones spiritual journey.

Bill Graham was at a rally supporting former president Bill Clinton after his sex scandal came out. Someone asked him why he, of all people, would attend this event. He replied that “it is the Holy Spirit’s job to convict, God’s job to judge and my job to love.”

Matthew 7:1-5, written beautifully in The Message, states:

Don’t pick on people, jump on their failures, criticize their faults— unless, of course, you want the same treatment. That critical spirit has a way of boomeranging. It’s easy to see a smudge on your neighbor’s face and be oblivious to the ugly sneer on your own. Do you have the nerve to say, ‘Let me wash your face for you,’ when your own face is distorted by contempt? It’s this whole traveling road-show mentality all over again, playing a holier-than-thou part instead of just living your part. Wipe that ugly sneer off your own face, and you might be fit to offer a washcloth to your neighbor.

We can be frustrated with things we do not agree with, understand, or fully comprehend. We are to talk about it with others and not bottle it up. But we will never be without our own specks and logs, blemishes and dirty patches. This should be a humbling lesson to us all, one that keeps us all on the same level of humanity without lowering some to second-rate citizenship.

[Pictured: El mundo en contra / Against the world by eduardo meza
Shot with:Leica M6, Summicron C 50mm f2, Ilford FP4 125]

September 21, 2010

What About The Children? Malignancy Rooted in the Marriage Debate

by Vince

Updated; added a link to DADT below (as of 9/21/10 at 8:49pm)
Andrew Sullivan continues on with the sulfuric same-sex marriage debate by reading the cover story by the National Review. He and I agree that this issue, along with DADT, are absolutely a theological issue first and a political issue second. The NRO stance echoes the Vatican doctrine of marriage: primarily for procreative purposes.

The article is a mass of non sequiturs. It assumes that if marriage is “for” something—regulating procreative sex—then using it for anything else must be “against” marriage, which is like saying that if mouths are “for” eating, we mustn’t use them for talking or breathing. It claims (conjecturally) that marriage would not have arisen if not for the fact that men and women make babies, from which it concludes that society has no stake in childless marriages.

Since this is primarily a theological issue, this all can’t be solved in political terms. Even court rulings dictate what is legal or illegal but cannot override the popular consensus amongst the church pertaining to same sex marriage. The key verses that are always thought of in mind, sometimes even recited verbatim on call, are Genesis 19 (make sure to read Ezekiel 16:49-50), Leviticus 18:22, 20:13, Romans 1:26-27, 1 Corinthians 6:9-11, and 1 Timothy 1:9-11. See chapter 7 in Love is an Orientation for a better effort than I can ever muster at unpacking those “Big 5”.

The material to dig through related to this topic is literally endless. The material I have read, in short listing, has been enlightening but in my eyes (and the eyes of a graduate from a feminist woman’s college) has fallen short of fully encompassing the subject.

I could pontificate about the annals of political movements dabbering with this subject, but that is all downstream from the ultimate priorities and beliefs that make up the foundation of the same-sex marriage polemic. A spiritual mentor of mine in college, who is happy with being a neophyte when it comes to politics, always said that politics are downstream from our hearts, our faith, and our religious beings.

September 16, 2010

The Pernicious Nature of Bryan Fischer

by Vince

I have seen his name before when checking up at Right Wing Watch. I never paid him much attention or mind…until now. According to the American Family Association website, “Bryan Fischer is the director of Issue Analysis for Government and Public Policy at American Family Association, where he provides expertise on a range of public policy topics.

He then connects American sports to protecting the country from terrorism:

The significance here is that “God Bless America” is not just a collection of words, not just a song, not just a memorable melody. What is significant here is that “God Bless America” is a prayer.

When we sing this song, we are not just singing – we are praying. We are joining heart and voice together to ask God to bless America, to “stand beside her and guide her through the night with a light from above.”

Remarkably, we have established the practice of converting every major league stadium, every NFL stadium, and every NBA arena into a temporary cathedral in which hundreds of thousands of Americans every week pray to God and ask him to watch over this land.

I suggest that these prayers have been heard and they have been answered … Since 9/11, multitudes of the American people have on a weekly and almost daily basis asked God to watch over our nation. I believe he has inclined his ear to our prayer.

If you want to know why America has been kept safe since 9/11, I believe we have professional baseball, football, and basketball owners to thank for giving Americans the opportunity to engage in consistent corporate intercession for the safety of this nation.

Before I move on, I wish I could ask Fischer about his thoughts on ballooning professional salaries, drunkenness and gluttony via overpriced beer and food within these “cathedrals” and rising ticket costs regardless of the country being in a recession. Or the Muslims, atheists, or other religious/non-religious attenders – are they praying, thinking more of our founders than God, or waiting to be the first one to clap?

Next, he views America as a Christian nation. Therefore, Muslims looking to move into the USA should be sent back to their Muslim countries. We would be doing them a service.

He has some sense to respect Muslim American citizens. You’d have to live in a white gated community to be oblivious to America’s melting pot founding and current makeup.

Has he read the Quaran?

Andrew Marin’s book Love is an Orientation calls the conversation of homosexuality to be distinctive between promiscuous, drug infested, polygamous relationships and long term, monogamous gay relationships. There is a difference. The far right would like there to be a difference between themselves and the Americans who foreign-bred terrorists are out to get. But unfortunately, to the far right, there is no distinction with the GLBT community: all gays are the same, just as all Muslims are the same. Some have even claimed to of learned all they needed to learn about Muslims on 9/11 and gays from whatever biased media outlet they have tuned in to.

September 10, 2010

Book Review: Love is an Orientation

by Vince

I just finished this book tonight. What a neat read!
Andrew Marin had three friends “come out” to him in three consecutive months. As an evangelical bible thumper, he wondered what to do. He at first struggled with his thoughts but then made the choice to fully immerse himself in the GLBT (gay lesbian bisexual transgender) community and live within Boystown (a GLBT community in Chicago). He established the Marin Foundation at the age of 24, which stands to bridge the divide between the GLBT annd Church community all the while elevating the discussions surrounding it from both sides.

If you are planning on picking up this book with hopes of it saying homosexuality is a sin or answering any other close-ended question of yours, you won’t be fully satisfied. Marin models after Jesus’ ministry: just as Jesus elevated the conversation when he was asked polarizing, close-ended questions (the most being by his disciples), Marin elevates the GLBT conversation by not looking to pack punches and preconceived prejudices with each conversation or interaction. He takes the humble road of listening, trusting in God’s lifelong plan for everyone, and listening some more. I blurted out to MJ today that I wish Marin would just answer some close-ended questions. I felt like my insides thrived on them being answered!

Love is an Orientation explains this topic from many angles: it includes a pro-gay hermeneutics approach, about 20 lifestyle directions to practically reflect on pertaining to this issue, and much more. Basically every question or thought you could just about think of related to the GLBT community, homosexuality, the Bible, and the church can be found or directed to in this book. That sounds like a bold statement but I feel this book, along with its references to other books and biblical verses, passages, and books, provides a solid and elevated approach to this heated topic.

I leave you with this quote from the end of the last chapter:

Generally speaking, I don’t know any believer – gay or straight – who doesn’t want to be like Jesus. And here is our chance to be just a little more like him: stop asking and answering close-ended questions in an attempt to determine if someone is on “our team” or “their team”. Jesus modeled a life about kingdom ways and thinking, not pinning down – or getting pinned down by – circularly legalistic debates of politically charged matters. As such we have the ability to follow his model and elevate our questions and answers past the same means that have tragically only haunted the GLBT-Christian relationship. (p.185)

September 4, 2010

Knowing a Culture

by Vince

I am currently reading Andrew Marin’s controversial book Love is an Orientation. A quote of his stood out to me today: “We have to go to the culture before we know the culture. For most of us, this comes in slowly taken smaller steps toward involvement” (my emphasis added).

Instantly, when I think of Christian communities pursuing an evangelical approach to the GLBT (gay lesbian bi-sexual and trans gender) community, it is almost in “rush in” terms. Rush in, share the healing Gospel of Jesus Christ, and pray for a conversion to a heterosexual lifestyle. Now I may be painting with a wide brush, but that approach is appealing at times because many within the church (I included at times) don’t know what to say and silence kills. Solution? Blabber about salvation or just say something to stop the awkward quiet.

What this “rush in” approach accomplishes is 1) not actively listening to that person and their story, 2) assumes they are not a Christian or know God (because you can’t be gay and a Christian, or can you?), and 3) turns any sort of conversation into a battle and putting the other person instantly on the defensive.

Marin’s book tackles each of those three statements and some, so I say it is worth reading. Marin notes that it almost comes off that if you are gay, your story doesn’t matter until you turn straight. If you are gay, you may even be burdened with others thinking your story follows a stereotypical path (absent father, sexual abuse, etc.) All humans deserve to have their story heard. For if we stop listening, how are we to understand each other beyond the stereotypes our world churns out?

Back to the initial quote, the world and media (and sometimes the GLBT community) tells you churches are, to name a few, hypocritical, overly judgmental, and uber-obsessed with salvation and the rapture. Likewise, the same outlets, sometimes along with the church, tell you that the GLBT community is all about promiscuity, meth and other drug use, rave parties, infecting others with HIV/AIDS, and have couples that will raise kids to destroy our morals. Did I miss anything?

No matter where you stand on these issues, you may have first-hand knowledge of the GLBT community or a Christian church and can speak against the above stereotypes. The speed of approaching each community is crucial for future dialogue pertaining to anything church/sexual related (Proposition 8 and DADT to name two important ones). I see that in the end, we have to address both personally and ecumenically these root issues. If we do not, issues such as DADT are impossible to deal with and lead down dangerous (I don’t throw this word around lightly) paths.