Now is Not the Time, Nor, More Importantly, the Place

I want to talk about David Hawk getting up in front of the Tennessee legislature and preaching, but before I can even get that far, we must talk theology, just for a minute.  Please turn your attention to

I wake up hoping and praying to live a sin-free life just like Christ did. Every day I fail miserably. Now although God does not condone or accept the sins that I commit, he has the almighty power of forgiveness. I ask God for forgiveness every day and he blesses me even though I’m not worthy.

Because I just have to ask, is that a common understanding of what the Christian god wants–for people to live sin-free lives like Christ did?  I don’t know.  It’s an interesting question.  How, for instance, did Jesus understand sin?  Hawk says that he fails every day to live a sin-free life, and that he fails miserably.  And yet, when Jesus told the adulterer to go and sin no more, clearly, He must have thought it was entirely possible for her to do so, right?  Or did he just mean for her to stop sleeping with someone who wasn’t her husband?  Is Jesus’ emphasis on living without sinning or is it on all that, as Mark Driscoll puts it, that “neutered and limp-wristed popular Sky Fairy”, hippie, queer Christ stuff*?  I don’t know.  We seem to be at this strange moment in history where Jesus is some kind of pissed-off, violent Mr. Clean.  And I just wonder when that happened.

But here is my main point: who the hell thinks that it’s appropriate to stand up in front of the State Legislature in his roll as an elected official to stand up and talk about people turning their lives over to Jesus?

I’m glad people were snickering.

Seriously, the fact that an elected official could have so little respect for the Constitution of the country he’s supposed to be serving on a state level is disturbing.  And, frankly, I think the only way to stop this kind of bullshit is for folks to push the issue.  Jesus can’t be the only One who’s got an opinion on what Williams did.  So, let’s hear from some other folks with heart-felt religious leanings, I say.  Every time someone stands up to give some bullshit sermon about Jesus IN THE STATE LEGISLATURE, I want a line of other folks ready to stand up and give some bullshit sermon on someone else.  Or, fine, more on Jesus, but from a different theological perspective.  Maybe if, every time Jesus came up, it turned into 30 minutes of hearing everybody’s theological opinion, this nonsense would stop.

If Republicans want to know why hippie liberals like me don’t have more respect for their ideas, it’s because some of you carry on like brainwashed lunatics and none of the rest of you call them on it.

It’s not church.

*Poor Driscoll really wants to worship someone like Thor, apparently, but doesn’t have the balls to admit he’s shilling for a god he finds disgusting.

24 thoughts on “Now is Not the Time, Nor, More Importantly, the Place

  1. Pingback: Wearing Your Religion On Your Sleeve : Post Politics: Political News and Views in Tennessee

  2. For what it’s worth, I think God understands sin differently from “doing the right thing”. Sin is straying from God’s will for your life. I tend to like the Kierkegaardian notion that sin is despair – either wishing you were someone different, or wishing you could be the person you dream of being. God made you in His image, and through the redemptive love of Christ is capable of restoring you to His likeness. That’s basic “mere Christianity” stuff.

    The attack on Williams for voting his conscience, speaking his mind, and being a moderate voice? Well, that’s one of the reasons why I left that bunch of Pharisees behind.

  3. I don’t care for the religion in the legislature either although I am a Christian (Catholic). I feel is cheapens religious belief.

    I can’t resist this though: “…some of you carry on like brainwashed lunatics and none of the rest of you call them on it.” Definitely runs both ways.

  4. Um, no. I don’t think it does run both ways, as our folks carrying on like brainwashed lunatics usually actually are brainwashed lunatics. Not acting.

    Ha. Sigh.

  5. “Um, no. I don’t think it does run both ways, as our folks carrying on like brainwashed lunatics usually actually are brainwashed lunatics. Not acting.”

    And stuff like that is why I read this blog so much.

    Well, I’m generally with DADvocate here. I think it this sort of does indeed cheapen religious belief. I don’t know much about this fella (hey, look, he was a “haberdasher”! http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/David_Hawk ) It reeks of that “pop Christianity” so popular among the young folk that I have little use for (the pop Christianity, not the young folk).

  6. Oh, Roger, I love it when you carry on like an eleventy billion year old man. “Back in my day, our haberdashers studied the Bible up hill both ways before spouting off in front of the Legislature! In the snow! And we liked it!”

    I tease.

  7. is that a common understanding of what the Christian god wants–for people to live sin-free lives like Christ did?

    I realise you may have been asking rhetorically. However, my answer is that the goal is to live sinless. It is impossible to achieve on this earth. Christ understands that–otherwise we wouldn’t have any form of redemption necessary. Salvation could theoretically be acheived through one’s own striving.

    As Paul said, we Christians are to press on toward the goal. Meaning that we are to do all we can to follow the path Christ sets for us.

    As for standing up in front of the Legislature and talking about it…I’m a CSPAN junkie. I also interned in D.C. during High School. I still occasionally paw through the Congressional Record and I even stay in touch with good friends who now work on the Hill.

    I’ve heard elected representatives talk about their favourite TV shows, make reference to movies and books they like. I’ve heard them talk about their favourite teachers from elementary school.

    In short, there’s a lot of pontificating that goes on on the floor. Most of it doesn’t get noticed because it’s happening during dozy parts of the session while everyone else is off doing the behind-the-scenes dealmaking.

    And, granted, that’s DC and you’re talking about the TN State legislature.

    But, regardless, while I think it’s a bit tacky to bring religion into things it does happen all the time–as do other types of pedantic rambling.

    (Pedantic rambling like this comment.)

  8. Hmm. I’m starting to think I may not have that great an understanding of Christianity. I guess I always thought that the goal was to live like Christ in the whole loving everybody and being good to each other and trying to follow God’s word and Jesus’ exampe, but not to try to be sinless, because who could be in this vessel? I think I always heard “We have sinned and fallen short” as two separate things. Of course we’ve sinned, that goes without saying, but we need to get back on the field and try not to fall so short next time.

    Hmm. Hmm. Hmm. I’ll have to think on that.

  9. Add today to the list of things to remind Tennesseans who spent precious time dithering away on giving church sermons on the floor of the House and who spent time balancing budgets, educating children and creating jobs.

    When Mr. Hawk had five minutes to address the state making cuts in your family’s life, he spent it preaching a sermon about sin. Today, Mr. Hawk created zero jobs. Today, Mr. Hawk insured zero children. Today, Mr. Hawk made sure our state’s financial crisis lasted another five minutes.

  10. Hmm. I’m starting to think I may not have that great an understanding of Christianity.

    Well, you ARE from the Methodist background, which differs slightly from the Anabaptist background. In fact, I think the attitude toward sin is one of the key differentiators between Anabaptists and Protestants.

    I guess I always thought that the goal was to live like Christ in the whole loving everybody and being good to each other and trying to follow God’s word and Jesus’ example,

    Well, it is. But if you’re following Jesus’ example in all those other things it should follow that you are not overtly sinning. Or I would think it should.

    But I think the focus is not to be on the sinning or not sinning (one of the key differences between Anabaptists and Catholics) but on the living-as-Christ-would-live thing.

    Too many Christians fetishise sin. I think that’s what’s so touchy about this speech given by this guy. It’s one of those self-righteous “I hate sin (theoretically) but love talking about it because it’s so juicy and interesting” speeches you hear a lot at revivals.

  11. Today, Mr. Hawk created zero jobs. Today, Mr. Hawk insured zero children. Today, Mr. Hawk made sure our state’s financial crisis lasted another five minutes.

    Is it Mr. Hawk’s job to insure children? Mr. Hawk and I differ with you on whose job that is, I would imagine.

    As for the other thing–who DID create jobs today? Who DID make sure our state’s financial crisis was shorter?

  12. Yeah, I guess we (ex)Methodists don’t put a lot of stress on sinning (unless it’s drinking and then by god watch out! Unless we’re some of the many Methodists who drink…) or what not to do to keep from sinning.

    And if ole whats his face over in Memphis gets his legislation to require all school-age children to have insurance before they can enroll in school, I guess it will become folks like Hawk’s responsibility to figure out how to insure them.

    Don’t even get me started.

    I’m just surprised to see Christian here. I thought for sure he’d be off opposing the city council efforts to insure our energy costs don’t go up because of the disaster. If only they could prove that pitbulls are keeping costs artificially low… Ha ha ha. I tease.

  13. AuntB, I can’t think of a better place to talk about raising your power bill and banning pit bulls ;) Like a snake, I tend to plop myself right down where the fire is the hottest.

  14. “Because I just have to ask, is that a common understanding of what the Christian god wants–for people to live sin-free lives like Christ did?”

    The redeemed sinner is more cherished in the eyes of Christians than the Ned Flanders-ish people who commit no sins. In fact, Luke 15:7 says “I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent.”

    Therefore, in the words of St. Augustine, “Give me chastity and continence, but do not give it yet”. I figure a few more years of being me is in order for me ti be truly appreciated.

  15. Because I just have to ask, is that a common understanding of what the Christian god wants–for people to live sin-free lives like Christ did?

    Funny you should mention it, because just about a week ago I had a conversation with someone about that. I think that’s more in keeping with evangelical or fundamentalist theology. I’m mainline Presbyterian and we don’t think God puts the human race to such a high standard. Talk about setting yourself up to a life of failure! God doesn’t beat us up like that, but we sure do a good job of it ourselves.

    Jesus said to love God and love your neighbor as yourself. He also said to “feed my sheep.” Nowhere did Jesus ever say to “be exactly like me and live a sin free life or else you’re a huge disappointment to your Heavenly Father.” That’s sorta the whole point of the cross, isn’t it? Jesus died for mankind’s sins?

    And as for whether or not it’s appropriate for it to be discussed in the state legislature, I think this is what comes of being in the Bible Belt coming at a period in our history when fundamentalism has been on the rise to counterbalance an increasing secularism among the populace. Is it appropriate? I don’t know that this is for me to say. It’s weird. If I were Jewish or Muslim or Hindu or Wiccan or Atheist and I served in the Legislature, I’m sure I would feel compelled to stand up and say something along the lines of “thank you for sharing, now take it somewhere else.”

  16. Give me chastity and continence, but do not give it yet.

    One of the greatest religious quotations of all time. Here’s how all of this was taught to me in my Lutheran confirmation class.

    The word “sin” is translated from a Greek word which means “to miss the [archery] target.” Sin is basically anything short of complete perfection. “Original sin,” as we understood it, didn’t mean that we were cursed by the Devil, rather it simply meant that perfection was a process of attainment for mortals; we are not born whole like the angels.

    The whole point of living sin-free is that if you get it right, you get to go straight to Heaven without dying, passing Go, or collecting $200. Enoch was the first person to achieve this, he “walked with God, and was not.” Sort of like your own personal Rapture, I guess.

  17. I’m late to the game, as usual, but I still feel compelled to add my 2 cents, also as usual.

    My mother (a lifelong Nazarene and former preacher’s wife) and I had a discussion not too long back about Sanctification and the concept of a “sinless life.” Her opinion is that Sanctification is not something one “achieves,” but a goal to be continually strived for (pardon my ungrammtical ramblings). To “live a Christlike life” isn’t the end, but, rather, to live a Christ-centered life. Sin, as defined in the Wesleyan tradition, is more a matter of knowing what’s “right” and “wrong” and willfully chosing “wrong.”

    Therefore, to me, it follows that loving your neighbor and doing unto others pretty much has you covered. Of course, a difference of interpretting THAT is what has led me to follow a completely opposite political and social path to my mom, because I certainly don’t want to be preached at by someone of a different interpretation of Faith, so I’m certainly not going to go about being preachy. And I have always wholeheartedly believed in fairness and equality, which means I try to allow room in law and policy for others to have their own values and needs met. My mother WOULD force Christianity on everyone, so she’s more than willing to allow the government to do so. *sigh*

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