All posts by Rev. Keri

The Soul Unfolds… Again

Yes, I’m back. After an unfortunate encounter with some malicious code, I had to decommission my sites. Thanks to my awesome host guru, I was able to get this blog content back, so the archives are still around. I’m not sure what I’ll be doing in the very near future, but there are some promising things on the horizon.

Obviously the site needs a wee tuneup, and perhaps a facelift, so I’ll be getting right on that.

I refer you to Article 6

I swear, if I have to listen to too many more wishes for “God bless America” from our presidential candidates I am going to throw something. STFU, candidates, and read the document you profess to wish to represent.

In fact, I propose that we eliminate the office of the Chaplain of both houses of Congress.* The United States Senate Office of the Chaplain web site has the following to say:

Throughout the years, the United States Senate has honored the historic separation of Church and State, but not the separation of God and State. […] During the past two hundred and seven years, all sessions of the Senate have been opened with prayer, strongly affirming the Senate’s faith in God as Sovereign Lord of our Nation.

No. No, no, no. I don’t care that the first Senate in 1789 had a Chaplain. Get over it. We’re a different nation now, and separation of Church and State should mean that the Senate respects the fact that “God” is not, in fact, the Sovereign Lord of our Nation. No wonder Theocracy has such an easy time getting a foothold here, when the halls of government are ringing with endorsements for one particular flavor of Divine, and only that one. Ugh. I refer the mostly duly-elected members of House and Senate to the U.S. Constitution (remember, that document all you legislators are supposed to be defending, as much as you are supposed to be representing the people?), Article 6:

The Senators and Representatives before mentioned, and the Members of the several State Legislatures, and all executive and judicial Officers, both of the United States and of the several States, shall be bound by Oath or Affirmation, to support this Constitution; but no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States.

*For those just tuning in who may think I’m some kind of militant atheist**, please see the many religion-related tags. I am an ordained Interfaith Minister myself*** I still don’t think Congress should have a Chaplain on its payroll. I definitely don’t think Congress should open its business days with a prayer. They should have every single congressperson take a turn reading the entire constitution out loud to open the day’s work. It’s not that long. They could manage. They’re all supposed to know it anyway. Remind them who they’re supposed to be working for.

**Not that I have a problem with atheism, as such, but militant flavors of any belief system are dangerous.

***No, I don’t think having an “Interfaith” Chaplain for Congress in the answer, either. No Chaplains on the Congressional payroll. Let them find their spiritual guidance on their own time.

it’s scarier when nobody notices…

Hip Hop Caucus: Rev. Yearwood Released, Charged With Assault – Part of Increasing Capitol Hill Crackdown On Voices of Dissent:

“How am I supposed to convince other African-Americans to come to Capitol Hill to participate in democracy, when Capitol Police will go so far as to jump me when I question my exclusion from a hearing that is open to the public? We all know what ‘driving while Black’ is, well I’d call this ‘democracy while Black.'”

Go read the stories. Watch the video. Then tell me what you think about the LA Times version of events.

Suddenly, there was scuffling. A clot of Capitol police coagulated in the hallway. In the middle was the Rev. Lennox Yearwood, an antiwar activist who had apparently attempted to push his way into the hearing room and was wrestled to the floor.

Or the Washington Post version:

the Rev. Lennox Yearwood Jr., of the D.C.-based Hip Hop Caucus, who allegedly refused to move back after jumping in front of a line of people waiting to get inside the room. He was charged with disorderly conduct and assault on a police officer, Capitol Police said.

The only two major news outlets I found in a (granted, quick and dirty) search of Google News for “Rev. Yearwood Congress” got it wrong, and not just wrong but maliciously wrong. Only independent, “liberal”, or protest news venues covered the whole thing. Democracy Now! has been covering this from the start, and had Rev. Yearwood on the program this morning. It’s really disturbing that events have progressed to the point that “public discourse” is limited – forcibly – to those members of the public and those topics of discourse that come pre-approved by government agents. We have an election coming up. It’s not the 2008 election that obsesses the news media and the popular imagination (what little of it is left after Reality TV, video games, and social networking get through), but it’s our democracy on the line even so. Americans, go vote this November. And every time your section of the country votes, go make your mark on your corner of this democracy.

Four ministers in Austin

Four Ministers in Austin
Originally uploaded by zephrene.

Mom and I drove up to Austin on Sunday to have lunch with some other TNS grads – that’s me, Annie, Nancy, and Aina. Annie was in town from New York to officiate a wedding, so Nancy coordinated this gathering.

It was a great time, and good food at Casa de Luz, and the drive was pretty nice, too. I didn’t start to drag unti we were close to Houston on the return trip.

atheists in foxholes

This article asks profound questions and underscores the lack of true tolerance in the nation (and the world?) today. As an interfaith minister this is one of the times I really feel that lack. The idea that a profession of faith, any faith, sincere or insincere, is automatically morally superior to atheism is extremely uncomfortable to me. As if religious morality hasn’t led us all into a morass of violence and recrimination.

Addressing atheism was one of the (many, I grant) places where my short seminary training let me down. For a group positing tolerance and understanding among people, somehow they still manage to slice off little bits of humanity.

I’m actually reminded a bit of my Epicurean days (circa 2000), when I believed down to my bones that the soul was mortal and this single animated existence was my only mark upon the universe. Perhaps the well-known adage, “Eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow we die,” would have been better rendered, “Eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow we end, and all chances for physical or spiritual experience cease.” This is life, right now, this moment, the conscious experience of emotions and sensations distinct from any idea of God or afterlife.* Afterlife is just that: after life. Live first, and respect those who do so with no anticipation of later reward, but simply to revel in this marvelous experience of being human.

Matthew Chapman: At Last A Comic Book Atheist Hero – Living Now on The Huffington Post:

Pat Tillman, an extraordinarily square-jawed football player who gave up a lucrative professional life to go and fight for his country, was at first hailed as a hero by a military eager for good publicity. When it was discovered Tillman died as a result of “friendly fire” — he was shot at close range in the forehead, which seems a little too friendly — his family pressed hard for a more thorough investigation. Lt. Colonel Ralph Kauzlarich, an officer with responsibilities for Tillman’s unit, complained that his relatives were being so insistent because, like Pat, they were atheists.

*Full Disclosure: I am not an atheist. I have a religion, although it isn’t a mainstream practice. As part of that religion, I believe in the concept of panentheism, the Divine immanent in the universe as well as transcending it. For me the energy/spirit that lives in every cell in my body is the Ultimate Reality, which some call “God” (and others call Physics). But for the purposes of this paragraph, and the article to which I link, “God” is a word describing a particular, discrete deity-type, the Jehovah/Father of the Abrahamic traditions. With that type in mind, I do believe that the experience of life on all its levels – spiritual, mental, physical, emotional – is distinct from God and the afterlife.