NOT LIVING WITH IT

We have just gone through an awful couple of weeks. There was a mass shooting at a mall in the Chicago area and then at a University in Illinois another mass shooting.

If that were not enough a 15 year old boy was shot in the head and killed by a 14 year old boy because he was gay.

Then I came across this:

States with the largest number of nuclear weapons (in 1999): New Mexico (2,450), Georgia (2,000), Washington (1,685), Nevada (1,350), and North Dakota (1,140)

(you know these are the devices that we don’t want Iran to have because it will cause untold danger to us)

William M. Arkin, Robert S. Norris, and Joshua Handler, Taking Stock: Worldwide Nuclear Deployments 1998 (Washington, D.C.: Natural Resources Defense Council, March 1998)

Then I came across this concerning the war in Iraq:

The costs…
$275 million per day
$4,100 per household
Almost 4,000 U.S. soldiers killed and more than 60,000 wounded (don’t even get me started on the medical and mental health treatment they are getting when they finally get back home!)
700,000 Iraqis killed and 4 million refugees

Then I came across this piece concerning “Capital Punishment”:

“Wrongful execution” is a miscarriage of justice occurring when an innocent person is put to death by capital punishment.[27] Many people have been heralded as innocent victims of the death penalty.[28][29][30] At least 39 executions have been carried out in the U.S. in face of compelling evidence of innocence or serious doubt about guilt.[31] Newly-available DNA evidence has allowed the exoneration of more than 15 death row inmates since 1992 in the U.S.,[32] but DNA evidence is only available in a fraction of capital cases. In the UK, reviews prompted by the Criminal Cases Review Commission have resulted in one pardon and three exonerations for people executed between 1950 and 1953 (when the execution rate in England and Wales averaged 17 per year), with compensation being paid.

Then just for the fun of it I came across this:

Money Spent on the War On Drugs this Year
Federal $2,595,017,000.00
State $3,983,398,000.00
Total $6,578,415,000.00

The number of drug deaths in the US in a typical year is as follows:
Tobacco kills about 390,000.
Alcohol kills about 80,000.
Sidestream smoke from tobacco kills about 50,000.
Cocaine kills about 2,200.
Heroin kills about 2,000.
Aspirin kills about 2,000.
Marijuana kills 0. There has never been a recorded death due to marijuana at any time in US history.

All illegal drugs combined kill about 4,500 people per year, or about one percent of the number killed by alcohol and tobacco. Tobacco kills more people each year than all of the people killed by all of the illegal drugs in the last century. More people have been killed by fighting the drug war than drugs themselves have ever killed.

Source: NIDA Research Monographs

Then earlier this week I get a call from the Questing Parson, who tells me I need to get a copy of Atlantic Magazine the March issue. It apparently is going to have a story concerning Archbishop Akinola primate of the Church of Nigeria, the second biggest church in the Anglican Communion, numbering about 18 million members.

It will among other things have this tidbit:

“In response to the Muslim rioting, Akinola issued a statement in his capacity as President of the Christian Association of Nigeria: “May we at this stage remind our Muslim brothers that they do not have the monopoly of violence in this nation.” … inciting Christian counter-riots against Muslim targets in Nigeria (for example, Christian mobs in Onitsha retaliated against Muslims, killing 80 persons,[14], burned a Muslim district with 100 homes[15], defaced mosques[16] and burned the corpses of those they had killed in the streets[17], forcing hundreds of Muslims were forced to flee the city [18]).

This is the guy for whom some of the Anglican Church is going to because of the consecration of a gay Bishop? These people don’t like gay folks so they are going to line up with a cold-blooded killer?

I am sorry but this little journey of reflection during this Lenten season has caused me to be in anguish and mourning for my faith which seems more set on destroying, excluding, ignoring, denying basic human rights to those who don’t toe the creedal line and if all else fails kill them.

If you start adding up all the money spent in all the afore mentioned quotes how many hungry could we have fed? How many people could we have clothed? How many could we have given drink to? How many of the sick would not be sick? How many of the addicted would be on the road to recovery?

My friends it is really not about money, it is about our attitude. We have become the sin of the “garden of Eden”. We have decided that we can be God, and when so moved kill whoever we don’t like or agree with. Oh we come up with all kinds of justifications for the killing but conveniently forget that Jesus said, “Let the one without sin cast the first stone.” Let us not be fooled, this is not about original sin. This is now the 21st century when we should know better for we have the teachings of the Christ.

How can someone be pro-life and yet be in favor of capital punishment. After all is that not a person who is a late term abortionist?

How can we have a President who calls himself a “born again” Christian telling us we have to kill them before they kill us? I mean seriously does that not go against Jesus’ one and only command to us “love one another as I have loved you”?

I got to say we have got it wrong, terribly wrong. They say if you tell a lie often enough that you will begin to believe it…well damn we are there. If you don’t think so read the first part of this blog again. We have made it far easier to kill then to save, far easier to destroy rather then cultivate a sense of dignity, respect…ah hell to even have a modicum of common courtesy.

Read the Questing Parson’s blog called “Please, Do Not Drop Me” posted 02-12-2008.

Or consider this snippet:

“I am a child of the earth.

Please do not drop me.

Two days after the celebration of the birth of the Christ child last year the ethnic cleansing began in Kenya. While some children rode their Christmas bikes and listened to their bright iPod my sister was driven with her mama into the famine and drought stricken wilderness. Thousands of our cousins were driven away with her.

I am a child of the earth.

Please do not drop me.

Ten million of my cousins under five die every year.

Two million of my cousins die every year on the same day they are born.

My cousin is now scavenging through rotting garbage to find something to eat; another is neglected in her own shanty because her mother and father lie on their cots dying of AIDS.

Some of my brothers and sisters did not go to school today. For thousands and thousands there is no school to attend if they had the energy to do so. For thousands and thousands of others they stayed home to avoid others seeing their swollen battered faces after another night on being a punching bag.”

How can we continue to allow our resources to go to blood thirsty, selfish, power hungry despots both religious and secular? How can we not be outraged? How can we not cry out at the injustice of our so-called leaders? How can we not demand something better?

We make the words of Jesus in Matthew 23 truer today then when he spoke them.

We have forgotten that Jesus made it clear how God would view things-Matthew 25:31-40. Honestly this is where our efforts should begin.

It is estimated that two million people per year are homeless in the United States.

A report issued by the Urban Institute in 2000 stated that 2.3 million adults and children in the United States are likely to experience homelessness at least once in a year.

Here is the response, which I am afraid, is far more common then we want to admit.

By REAL TALK

Jan 25, 2008 9:07 AM
“The people need to be locked up or disposed of. They offer nothing to society but a black eye. Many of the “homeless” choose to be so and want to rely on us to pay for everything. This is not what America was built on. This country needs new ideas on how to deal with the homeless. One idea is to euthanize them like dogs. Why not. I went to Georgia State and had to deal everyday with the homeless. They are Terrible. All they offer society is disease, crime, and drugs. Either you have a home, or you go to Jail.”

Cornelius Tacitus (c. 116 A.D.) said, “The more corrupt the state, the more numerous the laws.” He might be on to something there…how thick is the Methodist Discipline? Have you tried to read the Book of Roman Catholic Cathecism? This is true in each and every denomination; we have become more concerned about rules then God. And when was the last time you walked into a law library?

I was told by a friend this week to whom I gave a sampling of my blog, “you are really naïve and you are too idealistic, this is the way of the world you need to learn to live with it.”

Now in this moment of reflection I say, “That may be the way of the world but it is not the way of Jesus.” It is not the way of God.

So in the days to come I will not “live with it” instead I will do my best live out my life in the manner of my Savior’s proclamation: “The Spirit of the Lord is on me,
because God has anointed me
to preach good news to the poor.
God has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners
and recovery of sight for the blind,
to release the oppressed,
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”

Rev. Paul M. Turner

About Rev. Paul M. Turner

Founding and Senior Pastor of Gentle Spirit Christian Church, Rev. Paul M. Turner grew up in suburban Chicago and was ordained by the Universal Fellowship of Metropolitan Community Churches in 1989. He and his husband Bill have lived in metro Atlanta since 1994. He is the editor of the Seeds of Hope blog whose posts from 1999-2005 are at http://whosoever.org/seeds/ -- and which now resides at https://gentlespirit.org/topics/blog/seeds-of-hope/.

One thought on “NOT LIVING WITH IT”

  1. Wow, this was quite a sobering review of the week’s news – and quite shocking, especially the part about the conservative anti-gay Anglican bishop. There is much in this world that needs healing, so there is much need for us to follow Jesus’ words you quoted at the end of your blogpost. Thank you for this “wake-up call,” Pastor Paul.

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