Life and breath

Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take but by the moments that take our breath away.
- Anonymous quotation on Bailey's Buddy

Camara on reform

It is useless to dream of reforming the socioeconomic structure ... as long as there is not a correspondingly deep change in our inner selves.
- Dom Helder Camara
Brazilian Catholic archbishop
as quoted on God's Politics

Worst one, ever 5

The butcher backed up into the meat grinder and got a little behind in his work.

Naming children

A man was taking his wife, who was pregnant with twins, to the hospital, when his car went out of control and crashed.He regained consciousness in the hospital only to find his brother, a relentless practical joker, sitting by his bedside.
He asked his brother how his wife was doing, and his brother said, "Don't worry, everybody is fine, and you have a son and a daughter. But the hospital was in a real hurry to get the birth certificates filed and since both you and your wife were unconscious, I named them for you."
The husband thought to himself, "Oh no, what has he done now?" and asked with some trepidation, "Well, bro, what did you name them?"
His brother replied, "I named the little girl Denise."
The husband, greatly relieved, said, "That's a lovely name! And what did you come up with for my son?"
The brother winked and replied, "Denephew."
Thanks to MadPriest!

Tutu on blossoming

We all blossom in the presence of one who sees the good in us and who can coax the best out of us.
- Desmond Tutu
as quoted on God's Politics

At George and the Dragon

An 18th-century vagabond in England, exhausted and famished, came to a roadside inn with a sign reading, “George and the Dragon.” He knocked. The innkeeper’s wife stuck her head out a window.
“Could ye spare some victuals?” he asked.
The woman glanced at his shabby, dirty clothes.
“No!” she shouted.
“Could I have a pint of ale?”
“No!” she shouted.
“Could I at least sleep in your stable?”
“No!” she shouted again.
The vagabond said, “Might I please…”
“What now?” the woman screeched, not allowing him to finish.
“D’ye suppose,” he asked, “that I might have a word with George?”
Thanks to MadPriest!

Jefferson on minority rights

All, too, will bear in mind this sacred principle, that though the will of the majority is in all cases to prevail, that will to be rightful must be reasonable; that the minority possess their equal rights, which equal law must protect, and to violate would be oppression.
- Thomas Jefferson
as quoted on Bailey's Buddy

A possible "maybe" to gay blessings

Almost five years ago, the Bishops' Conference of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland (ELCF) gave a committee, chaired by the bishop of Espoo, Mikko Heikka, the task to write a report on what the ELCF should do now that the state has started registering same-sex partnerships. Should the Church bless them, should they be excommunicated, should people living in same-sex partnerships be barred from working within the Church - or what?
Today, the committee presented its 200-page report to Archbishop Jukka Paarma. That says nothing. Nobody will be barred from anything. Everybody can do as they please - bless gays or refuse to do so...
But no new agenda for a service of blessing will be created. No real guidelines were included in the report. The question will remain one of conscience for us pastors.
This could be a good thing for the individual pastors - but such a wishywashy stand won't be good for the respect of the Church in the long run.
In September, the Bishops' Conference will deal with the report, and then send it on to the Synod. It'll be interesting to see what will become of it all.

About dogs and people 11

The reason a dog has so many friends is that he wags his tail instead of his tongue.

The Crossing of the Red Sea (revised version)

A youngster came home from Sunday school, having been taught the biblical story of the crossing of the Red Sea. His mother asked him what he had learned in class, and he told her:
"The Israelites got out of Egypt, but Pharoah and his army chased after them. They got to the Red Sea and they couldn't cross it. The Egyptian army was getting closer. So Moses got out his walkie-talkie, the Israeli air force bombed the Egyptians, and the Israeli navy built a pontoon bridge so the people could cross."
The mother was shocked. "Is that the way they taught you the story?"
"Well, no," the boy admitted, "but if I told it to you the way they told it to us, you'd never believe it."
Quoted from When Bad Things Happen to Good People
by Harold S. Kushner

Smart answers to idiotic arguments

The Box Turtle Bulletin is well worth a visit for everyone who in one way or another is interested in gender issues, especially lgbt questions.
Gabriel Arana of the BTB has written a series of five blog posts analyzing and answering arguments made by amateur anti-gay pundits. The series is called Anti-Gay Arguments We Don’t Bother With (And Should).
Part one deals with the argument that
Any man — even a gay one — can marry a woman. Therefore, it is not discriminatory to deny marriage rights to members of the same sex given that a straight man can’t marry a man, either.
Arana's answer is, in part: The real argument that proponents of LGBT rights are making is that the “fundamental right” in question is the right to marry the person one loves, not to marry someone of the other sex.
Part two analyzes the "slippery slope" -argument:
If you let gays marry, then you will have to allow polygamous, incestuous or inter-species marriage.
Arana argues: It is really the philosophical basis of straight marriage that supports polygamy; those arguing against gay marriage on the basis of procreation have the burden of showing why polygamy is wrong. [...] The argument against incest — preventing genetic abnormalities — is sufficient enough in itself to distinguish this case from gay marriage. [...] Marriages are partnerships and animals are not capable of rational decision making to enter into one.
Part three deals with the argument cluster
Being gay is against the natural order of things; it is against evolution; if everyone were gay humanity would end.
Arana writes: The central fact that I have trouble getting across is that evolution has no transcendent goal; it is epiphenomenonal. [...] what we call evolution is an observation of the natural world, a statement of the facts; it is not prescriptive. It is silly to say something is wrong because it “goes against evolution” because “evolution” couldn’t care less. [...] A more pithy response to the if-everyone-were-gay-then-humanity-would-end argument is: if everyone were a woman, humanity would also end, but that doesn’t make being a woman wrong.
Part four deals with the statement that
Being gay is a choice.
It is really a two-part question, according to Arana. First, are homosexual feelings a choice? Second, is engaging in “homosexual acts” a choice?
1. The debate is really about whether being gay is a central, immutable component of one’s identity or whether it is malleable, subject to change. Even ex-gay therapists acknowledge that homosexual feelings aren’t chosen, but they do think you can choose to change them. [...]
2. It is, however, a choice to engage in “homosexual acts.”
But the burden is really on those who hold anti-gay views to show why it is wrong for gay people to express themselves sexually. Sexual expression is a natural human inclination — and a basic feature of adult life. Depriving someone of this strikes at the heart of human dignity. [...]
Anti-gay activists say being gay is a choice because they imagine a false dichotomy: you either live a morally upright straight life or you descend into the miasma of sex, drugs, disease and death that is the gay world. The real choice is between living a lie and not.
Lastly, we have the fifth argument:
If you pass pro-gay legislation, pastors and private citizens will not be able to voice opposing views.
Arana writes: Adopting gay marriage — or passing any other pro-gay legislation, for that matter — does not change the legal standard of what constitutes free speech [...]. It might, if attitudes change over time, help relegate anti-gay views to the periphery of public discourse, but this is a social consequence, not a legal one. There is no connection between allowing gay marriage and people losing their right to freedom of speech.
These are excellent, well written texts. But don't take my word for it; read Arana's posts in their entirety - here, I've obviously only sampled them.

Announcing the Gospel

Can we announce the gospel in the same way to the oppressor and to the oppressed, to the torturer and the tortured?
- Mortimer Arias
protestant church worker in Bolivia
as quoted on God's Politics

Fr. Matthew on "Love the Sinner, Hate the Sin"

On my blog, Hbt-bibeln, I've posted an attempt to show that the expression "Love the sinner, hate the sin" is well-meaning gobbledygook. To those of you who don't read Swedish, my text is also gobbledygook, I'm afraid.
On the Episcopal Padre's blog, however, I came across Fr. Matthew Presents - Hate the Sin, Love the Sinner - a video with a slightly different approach than mine, but with a similar message. Thank you, Robert!

Churchill on fanatics

A fanatic is one who can't change his mind and won't change the subject.
- Winston Churchill

Cheaper than a shrink

A man goes to a psychiatrist. "I've got a problem," he says. "Every time I go to bed, I think there's somebody under it. It scares the hell out of me. I'm going crazy."
"Just put yourself in my hands for one year," the psychiatrist says. "You come see me three times a week and I think I can get rid of this irrational fear."
"How much do you charge?" the man asks.
"One hundred fifty dollars per visit."
"That's expensive. I'll have to think about it."
Of course, the guy doesn't want to pay that kind of money and doesn't go back to the psychiatrist. Six months later, the two happen to meet on the street.
"Why didn't you ever come back to see me about that fear you had - you know, where somebody was hiding under your bed at night?" the shrink asked.
"Well, I thought that 150 bucks a visit three times a week for a whole year was an awful lot of money. As it turned out, a friend of mine was able to cure me, and it didn't cost me anything."
"A friend cured you? For nothing?? Does he have a medical background?"
"Then I'm sure the cure is no good."
"Oh, it's working."
"It won't last."
"It'll last, doc. He guaranteed it."
"How could your friend have possibly cured you of your fear of someone hiding under your bed? And he guaranteed it? What did he say to do?"
"He told me to cut the legs off the bed."
Thanks to MadPriest!