10 March 2017

Deuteronomy 10:16-20 – Justice & Equality for the Underserved

NRSV Deuteronomy 10:16 Circumcise, then, the foreskin of your heart, and do not be stubborn any longer. 17 For the Lord your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great God, mighty and awesome, who is not partial and takes no bribe, 18 who executes justice for the orphan and the widow, and who loves the strangers, providing them food and clothing. 19 You shall also love the stranger, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt. 20 You shall fear the Lord your God; him alone you shall worship; to him you shall hold fast, and by his name you shall swear.

I understand this passage of Scripture as telling us to demand justice for the underserved; to love the stranger (in the NIV translated as “foreigner”) which can only be interpreted as neighbors and immigrants; and to provide help to those underserved members of our society and to strangers, to fight for their equity of opportunity to gain those abilities to provide for their own success in our world. 

"May the meditations of our hearts
be acceptable in Thy sight,
Oh Lord, our strength and our redeemer.”
~In Jesus’ Holy name
We pray all believing,


NRSV James 1:12-18 – Personal Responsibility

NRSV James 1:12 Blessed is anyone who endures temptation. Such a one has stood the test and will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him. 13 No one, when tempted, should say, "I am being tempted by God"; for God cannot be tempted by evil and he himself tempts no one. 14 But one is tempted by one's own desire, being lured and enticed by it; 15 then, when that desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin, and that sin, when it is fully grown, gives birth to death. 16 Do not be deceived, my beloved. 17 Every generous act of giving, with every perfect gift, is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change. 18 In fulfillment of his own purpose he gave us birth by the word of truth, so that we would become a kind of first fruits of his creatures.

This is what – to me – the entire passage tells us: Our own temptation and the responsibility for resisting wrong and doing good lies entirely with our own choices. We are admonished not to let ourselves be led to wrong by anyone, but especially not by our own selves. And we are reminded that God loves us and that the fulfillment of His purpose is to be in right relationship with Him. To me, the entirety of The Book of James is about responsibility for ourselves and living out our Faith in the full self-determination to live out a Christ-centered Faith.

"May the meditations of our hearts
be acceptable in Thy sight,
Oh Lord, our strength and our redeemer.”
~In Jesus’ Holy name
We pray all believing,


You Say They Won’t Cut Our Safety Nets?

I can only hope you’re right… 

We’ve all heard those folks who say the government won’t tear down our safety nets. I can only hope they’re right and that the GOP will see sense. But, the truth is that all our civil rights gains of the last seventy years are under assault. This regime is going to make us refight every battle of the last seventy years.

The GOP has already repealed the ACA and their “replacement” plan specifically targets people like me. I’m over 50 and will be hit hard by that age scale (age tax, more like). My son is on Medicaid and will surely lose his coverage with the Medicaid rollback. CHIP has been in place since the 90s and has covered millions of children every year, but was included in the repeal of the ACA. 

There have been plenty of examples over the last six years, since 2010, of the GOP-held government cutting those safety nets. I personally know people who’ve lost such support. I know many families who’ve been pushed from free school meals to reduced, or off the meal support altogether. And, don’t forget, the Congress, in their first few days this year, cut funding for school meals AGAIN! That’s CHILDREN having their access to meals eliminated.

Moreover, the GOP’s primary thrust of their healthcare is going to be tax credits on a by-age sliding scale – which even the AARP has roundly condemned – and health savings accounts. Do you have money to put into a health savings account? I don’t. I don’t know about you, but we already receive the maximum tax deduction each year. Tax credits will be meaningless for us.

As for those rising insurance costs, that has nothing to do with the ACA and everything to do with the GOP and the boards of those insurance companies. Did you know that Paul Ryan has personally taken over $4 MILLION from the insurance industry? Were you aware that Mitch McConnell took upwards of $6 million? And, the CEOs of those insurance corporations make more PER DAY than most of their customers make per year! If the CEOs are making that much, you can be very sure there’s not a person on their boards making much less than their CEOs. Today’s GOPers are not people who care about us – these are mammonites who care only about increasing their own wealth and their own self-aggrandizement. We are just fodder for their wealth engines. 

Immigration is particularly under assault. My son and my naturalized citizen husband already have been impacted by the visa-waiver exclusions for dual nationals passed by the GOP last year; my husband and son are Iranian-American dual nationals – not by choice but because Iran does not permit anyone to give up their citizenship and automatically deems their children citizens too. And, this president has a particular burr under his backside about Iranians. We have several acquaintances who were stymied by that stupid first ban, left hanging in airports around the word when their legitimate visas were denied – that’s violating the civil rights of completely LEGAL immigrants. I’m haunted by what this presidency will mean for my Iranian-American husband and son.

Both the president and the GOP-held congress have rolled back clean air and water protections already and are steam-rolling the end of the EPA, our environmental safety net. They’re eliminating the tax credits and subsidies for converting to or installing clean energy and are trying to actively kill wind and solar to favor fossil fuels. They block wind and solar fields yet promote fracking and strip mining and deep-sea oil rigs. They pass laws and policies to allow coal ash dumping in waterways and more…

It’s naive to think these GOP theocratic corporate extremists will not strip away everything that helps the working poor. They are not the republicans of Lincoln’s party; they’re not even the republicans of the 1950s. The entire party has become increasingly radicalized, starting with Nixon’s Southern Strategy. Today’s GOP does not care about the working poor. They do not work for us. They work for corporations who keep turning in those record breaking profits while complaining that they cannot afford to increase wages and even trying to convince us that there doesn’t need to even be a minimum wage. And today’s GOP embraces the racism, bigotry, misogyny, sexism, and xenophobia of the alt-right (white nationalists and white supremacists) by the expediency of their refusal to turn their backs on such evils for the sake of their own political greed.

I understand those who feel they need to stay away from the political fight. But, it is a fight, a fight for the very survival of democracy in the world. Our own constitutional democratic republic is being systematically supplanted for the GOP’s theocratic corporatist vision. Add to that the fascist and would-be tin-pot dictator that is our groping bigot-in-chief and the danger to freedom in the world becomes glaring and imminent.

I’m sick and crippled. I’m not young. I’m poor. I’m married to an Iranian immigrant. I don’t expect to survive this presidency. But, I’m going to fight to the last for whomever comes next – especially for my 13-year old son.

03 March 2017

Love Your Neighbor – Scripture

RSV Matthew 22:34 But when the Pharisees heard that he had silenced the Sad'ducees, they came together. 35 And one of them, a lawyer, asked him a question, to test him. 36 "Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law?" 37 And he said to him, "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. 38 This is the great and first commandment. 39 And a second is like it, You shall love your neighbor as yourself. 40 On these two commandments depend all the law and the prophets."

Mark 12:28 And one of the scribes came up and heard them disputing with one another, and seeing that he answered them well, asked him, “Which commandment is the first of all?” 29 Jesus answered, "The first is, 'Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one; 30 and you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.' 31 The second is this, 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.' There is no other commandment greater than these."

Luke 10:27 And he answered, "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself." 28 And he said to him, "You have answered right; do this, and you will live." 29 But he, desiring to justify himself, said to Jesus, "And who is my neighbor?" 30 Jesus replied, "A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and he fell among robbers, who stripped him and beat him, and departed, leaving him half dead. 31 Now by chance a priest was going down that road; and when he saw him he passed by on the other side. 32 So likewise a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. 33 But a Samaritan, as he journeyed, came to where he was; and when he saw him, he had compassion, 34 and went to him and bound up his wounds, pouring on oil and wine; then he set him on his own beast and brought him to an inn, and took care of him. 35 And the next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper, saying, 'Take care of him; and whatever more you spend, I will repay you when I come back.' 36 Which of these three, do you think, proved neighbor to the man who fell among the robbers?" 37 He said, "The one who showed mercy on him." And Jesus said to him, "Go and do likewise."

Romans 13:8 Owe no one anything, except to love one another; for he who loves his neighbor has fulfilled the law. 9 The commandments, "You shall not commit adultery, You shall not kill, You shall not steal, You shall not covet," and any other commandment, are summed up in this sentence, "You shall love your neighbor as yourself." 10 Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.

1 Corinthians 10:24 Let no one seek his own good, but the good of his neighbor.

Galatians 5:13 For you were called to freedom, brethren; only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love be servants of one another. 14 For the whole law is fulfilled in one word, "You shall love your neighbor as yourself."

Ephesians 4:25 Therefore, putting away falsehood, let every one speak the truth with his neighbor, for we are members one of another.

James 2:5 Listen, my beloved brethren. Has not God chosen those who are poor in the world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom which he has promised to those who love him? 6 But you have dishonored the poor man. Is it not the rich who oppress you, is it not they who drag you into court? 7 Is it not they who blaspheme that honorable name which was invoked over you? 8 If you really fulfil the royal law, according to the scripture, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself," you do well.