The Sex Industry, the Abolitionist Movement, and Things That Need To Change PART 1: It’s Not Them, It’s Us

Photo credit: 2009 Kat/flickr.

The following is a post written by guest contributor Meg Munoz:

I can guarantee you that I didn’t grow up thinking that I was going to sell my body for a living. Truth be told, I have yet to meet one person who does. And even though there are threads of similarity running through the stories of women caught up in the sex industry, every one is unique. The same is true of my own story.

(more…)

Change, One Step at a Time: On the Newtown Tragedy, Guns, and Letting Go of Our Excesses

A vigil for the Newtown school tragedy. Photo credit: 2012 Penn State/flickr.

My deep conviction has always been that the moment of tragedy is no time for advocacy or politics from either side; that as a nation we move too quickly to get past these horrific events and would benefit from marinating in our shared humanity, pausing in communal grief, and just feeling. But my mind and heart have been changed by the horror in Newtown, Connecticut. Unlike other national tragedies which I certainly feel to an extent, this one cut into me as a parent, a Christian, and an American. From my cubicle at work, I began to tremble and cry when I saw the news, and have since been moved by the firm challenge of many including our President who remind us that these tragedies are so frequent now that there remains no good time to discuss solutions. If we can’t focus our outrage at this moment, when will change ever come?

(more…)

Are The Presidential Candidates Good, Respectable Men? A Response to Eugene Cho’s Article

Photo credit: 2012 Don Relyea/flickr. Use does not represent endorsement by the photographer.

Eugene Cho published a worthwhile article this week titled ‘Thou Shalt Follow These 10 Commandments of the Presidential Election.’ In this piece, Cho raises several issues which are vital for Christians to consider during this and every election cycle. There was however one point Cho made in the post that ground me to a halt, which is the belief that our two most recent Presidential candidates are good men and worthy of respect. I want to examine his idea here.

In full disclosure, I know Cho personally and think very highly of him, his family and his ministry, in fact it is a little awkward referring to him as Cho in this post because I know him as Eugene and have shared laughs, good conversation, and tea with him a few different times, and was blessed to be a part of his church for a couple of years. So think point/counterpoint as you read this rather than a flame war, and know that Cho is a humble guy with a thick skin. I don’t think this will hurt or offend him if I can manage my points in a kind way.

(more…)

Losing Moral Proportion As We Watch the Arab World

Photo credit: 2006 Nassar Nouri/flickr. Use does not represent endorsement by the photographer.

Thomas Friedman, the well-regarded Op-Ed columnist for the New York Times, wants the Arab world to do some soul searching. His recent article ‘Look in Your Mirror‘ argues that American-grown hate speech like the recent anti-Islam video on Youtube does not justify violence in the Arab world, and that those in the Middle East must examine their own religious hate speech aimed at Christians, Jews, Sufis, and Shiites before they demand an apology from us. I want to examine Friedman’s writings here, because he’s got a point, but it’s a common, disproportionate view which ignores our contribution to the present unrest, and exposes prevalent confusion and numbness about that part of the world.

(more…)

Dare to be Multifaceted. Love Will Surely Lead You Into Rough Terrain

Photo credit: 2010 Kyknoord/flickr. Use does not represent endorsement by the photographer.

Loudmouth pastors and politicians land in the headlines for spewing bigoted drivel. This is nothing new. Having spent three decades so far in the church and a few years now in the Christian blogging community, I have observed a response to this which looks something like a pressure Christians feel to over-correct by being stoic, neutral, and balanced above all. It is a virtue that makes partial sense. Many Christians are dedicated to becoming slower to speak, more patient, and to moving with discernment, distinguishing one kingdom from another. God bless them for doing so. But this too can become a crutch.

In this conundrum, only those who strike first get away with it, while the charge of slander and that dreaded label of divisiveness is so often falsely assigned by some Christians to others who only point out the ignorance. Turning to attack checks and balances while tolerating the hate of a public few is a cultish maneuver, and an unfair disadvantage for the compassionate and concerned among us.  Perhaps these are reasons why Christians at times choose to moderate the national debate rather than taking a stand. But public ignorance and bigotry matter, because they are the primary drivers of the broken status quo.

(more…)

No Separation of Church and State, Say Conservatives (Except on Health Care, Food, and Other Jesusy Things Like Peace)

Photo credit: 2007 Marc Nozell/flickr. Use does not represent endorsement by the photographer.

In my experience, conservatives are the ones who insist there should be no separation of church and state. While on the campaign trail, Rick Santorum told America that the idea of such a separation makes him want to vomit. So I guess he’s against it. Conservatives respond to the culture war by asserting that we’re a Christian nation with the can’t-miss implication that our government (when not highjacked by liberals) is godly, founded by Christian men, with laws and freedoms based on Judeo-Christian principle. I know these positions well, having grown up in conservative circles.

But when it comes time for the government to act in ways congruent with Christianity, like feeding the hungry (food stamps) or caring for the sick (health care), conservatives grimace, play the small government and personal responsibility card, and argue that we can’t have government in the role of the church. So which is it?

(more…)

The Death Penalty is My Biggest Spiritual Struggle

A lethal injection chamber. Photo credit: 2009 T Woodard/flickr. Usage does not represent endorsement by the photographer.

“An eye for an eye.” It is one of the earliest forms of justice we know of.  You hurt someone? You, in turn, get hurt back. A kill for a kill.  It seems fair, right? But then Jesus makes his entrance into this world. We no longer have to pay for our sins with our own lives.  Now the “He who is without sin, cast the first stone” line of thinking comes into play.  Forgiveness enters our world and with that I find myself engulfed in the biggest intellectual struggle.

As Christians, are we to be for or against the death penalty? Here is where my battle begins.

(more…)

Horror and Hope in Syria

Protesters mourn in Damascus. Photo credit: flickr/Syriana2011. Usage does not represent endorsement by the photographer.

As the Arab Spring continues to flourish in other countries, Syria is descending into civil war. Pro-democracy protests have led to a ruthless backlash from the Assad government. The death toll is in the thousands, with estimates from activists inside the country claiming as many as 40,000 casualties due to the unrest. The most conservative death toll estimates include hundreds of children. Civilian neighborhoods are under attack, the target of rockets and tank shells from government forces, while their snipers aim for anything that moves. Even in the face of these unspeakable atrocities, there are glimmers of hope.

(more…)

When the Occupy Movement Makes You Late for Dinner

Photo credit: flickr/kosmosxipo

I stood alone on the street corner of Fourth and Cedar in downtown Seattle after a day at work, waiting for my bus to arrive. Like most nights this week, it was blustery and cold outside. But unlike most nights this week, Fourth Avenue was eerily quiet. I paced impatiently, knowing there was a hot dinner waiting for me and bills needing to be paid at home.

Later on the bus, I overheard two others in a conversation. The Occupy Movement had tied up the downtown intersections and traffic heading in my direction was stalled. I would be late to dinner because of this nation-wide gathering. The Occupy Movement directly impacted my life, and that has troubled me in unexpected ways.

(more…)

It is Time for the American Christian Church to Surrender the Gay Marriage Fight, Apologize, and Share Love

Photo credit: 2010 Andreanna Moya Photography/flickr. Usage does not represent endorsement by the photographer.

I need to clarify right out of the gate that this post will not focus on the “choice vs. birth vs. childhood” arguments related to the origin of homosexuality in an individual. We must start from the reality that acknowledges the American Christian church as divided on that issue, and will be for some time. Many on the Right view homosexuality as sin, a growing number on the Left view homosexuality as God-authored and inherently beautiful, and those in the middle have varying views and distinctions to offer. For Christians across the political and denominational spectrum, it is often a struggle to find one’s footing in this complicated issue. After all, the GLBT community includes family members, friends and neighbors.

Instead, this post will focus on making a case from a Christian perspective that gay marriage should be allowed legally in this country, and will attempt to explain why the church will become more like it was intended to be when it concedes this legislative battle. Here’s why.

(more…)