20 January 2009

Anytime You're Ready (Part Four)

Rick Warren

Rev. Jerry Maneker's hypothetical inauguration speech concludes:

There is no other Gospel to be found in Christianity! Most of us learned this hard truth during the Civil Rights era for African Americans, and although the remnants of that era are still with us . . . we have come a long way regarding the acquisition of full and equal civil and sacramental rights for African Americans. And just as virtually all the White churches tragically played the villain during this struggle, much as White churches did with the gross sin of apartheid in South Africa, most have now come to see how wrong they were by fomenting, encouraging, and justifying the oppression of their Black sisters and brothers.

Better late than never, I suppose . . . I suppose.

Now, all of the churches, all professing Christians, and all people who view themselves as decent people, are faced with another similar choice: Do they play the role equivalent to the White Supremacists who felt that Black people, by virtue of their skin color, were inferior to White people (and claim) that Straight people, by virtue of their emotional/sexual orientation, are superior to Gay people? Haven't we learned our lessons by now?

Jesus Christ said human beings were hard-hearted (Matthew 19:8)! Thousands of years have passed since He said so, but we're as hateful now as we ever were!

It is up to all of us, Christians and non-Christians alike, to live out the Law of Love toward all of our brothers and sisters . . . knowing full well that God created each and every one of us in God's image.

True, but God is an entity of blended gender (read the first chapter of Genesis if you doubt me), and some of us resemble His image more closely than others do. Let’s recognize Transgender identity as the blessing that it is!

And we now, at the time of this new political era in the United States, face a cold turkey choice: Are we going to keep viewing and calling ourselves decent, upright, and good people, (yet) still advocate and/or practice discrimination against Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and (Transsexual) people, or any other group . . . or are we going to be decent and Godly people, be we Christians or not, and embrace all of God's children?

Inquiring minds want to know!

The choice is ours to make . . . our choice as to how we treat each other, and whether or not we demand and realize the acquisition of full and equal Civil Rights for all citizens of the United States, will define who we truly are as human beings, will define the very future of our Democratic republic, and will define the very legacy that we and this new Presidential Administration will leave to future generations.

Can you imagine the discomfited looks on the faces of most inaugural attendees as they listened to this prayer? I doubt Jerry could even get halfway through it before a security detail put the kibosh on him! Later, there’d be a gigantic uproar in the media, with Conservative pundits leading the attack. Right behind them would be the so-called Liberal pundits, mouthing conventional political wisdom. Few would have anything positive to say, least of all our vaunted Gay leadership!

HRC, NGLTF and GLAAD would rip Jerry a new A-hole for embarrassing the President, tarnishing his moment of glory, forcing Christian doctrine and Gay Rights down his throat, and setting back the equality movement. Then they’d tout their current strategy, which is to abandon overt Gay activism and chase after broad consensus “Big Tent” goals. They’d never admit that Jerry was doing exactly what they ought to be doing: Crashing the oppressor’s party, upsetting the complacent guests, challenging the discriminatory status quo, and calling attention to uncomfortable truths in ways too direct to ignore!

It was always a safe bet that the prayers Rick Warren and Joseph Lowery said at Obama’s inauguration ceremony would be nothing like Jerry’s. Sure enough, they weren’t! Neither even approached the intensity of Jesus Christ’s righteous anger at injustice. Warren’s heavily ornamented blessing was nothing special, except for his damn nerve when he dared to babble about “justice for all”, a concept he obviously can’t even comprehend! Lowery’s benediction began impressively enough, wrapped in sonorous Black Baptist cadences, but then it took a sharp left turn into buffoonery, incorporating a racially divisive Rap passage that needlessly alienated Obama’s White supporters.

Bishop Gene Robinson’s prayer was so non-alienating as to be tepid, but it may have been the worst of the bunch! Most of it pleaded for patience with the status quo. Adding insult to injury, it wasn't even Christian in orientation! Days before blessing the pre-inaugural concert at the Lincoln Memorial, Robinson made it clear that he wouldn’t invoke the Christ’s name. He feared an "aggressively Christian" presentation would offend Americans of other faiths. "I want this to be a prayer to the god of our many understandings, and a prayer that all people of faith can join me in," he said. That's how he chose to reward the Savior who guided him through his controversial installation ceremony and subsequent treatment for alcohol addiction!  For shame!

The Bishop’s reward for bending over backwards to be inoffensive was omission of his devotional segment from the concert telecast! Later, it was revealed that President Obama’s staff had arranged for it to be pre-empted!  Served Bishop Robinson just right . . . hopefully, the Rev. Sharon Watkins’ post-inaugural blessing will acknowledge Jesus Christ, as well as reflect a Christian impatience with hypocrisy that her male colleagues don't seem to feel.

Wayward servants like the Reverends Warren, Lowery and Robinson are of little value to the Lord! God has no use for celebrity Dominionists who rush to take advantage of high-profile photo opportunities. He has no need for faded Civil Rights icons who compromise equality principles in order to share in a moment of glory. He has no time for idolatrous preachers who pray to whatever deity seems appropriate at any given time! He wants disciples who glorify His name, follow His Law and spread His Gospel whenever and wherever they get a chance, regardless of consequences. That’s precisely what Jerry Maneker would do, and that’s precisely why no President-elect will ever invite him to pray at an installation ceremony! Most politicians, President Obama included, only want the appearance of Christianity, and not the substance.

Many LGBT folk seem to value appearance over substance, too! They're satisfied with token mention in political speeches. They're satisfied with token representation at inaugural events. They're satisfied with token appointments to the Executive Branch. They're satisfied with a President that's (allegedly) "Gay-friendly" but not Gay Rights-affirming!

Worst of all, they're satisfied with a Gay Rights movement that lacks urgency! They’ll tell you that they want liberation, but they don’t much care if or when it comes! They’ll list you a hundred reasons why this isn’t “the right time” for full equality. I will never understand this attitude! How can slaves with their minds fixed on liberation rationalize remaining chained? How can they accommodate the overseer's brutal lash on their naked flesh? And how can they welcome the taste of his degrading epithets on their own tongues?

If you want something later instead of right now, you certainly can’t want it very bad! If you’re talking about something like social justice, you’ll never get it if you’re content to wait. Jerry Maneker isn’t content to wait! He doesn’t want justice for LGBT Americans later. Nor does he want Christians to start acting like Christians later. He wants authentic democracy and authentic faith right now and not later! Jerry insists on it! Authenticity is important to him; he doesn’t feature empty symbolism. And sugar, neither do I!

When a majority of voters finally decide they want authenticity, then we’ll see an end to the Democrat and Republican Parties' power monopoly, and leaders will be elected on hard issues rather than on personal charisma! When a majority of taxpayers finally decide they want authenticity, then our public schools, civic services and national infrastructure will receive the attention they now go begging for, and no legislative body will dare allocate funds without complete transparency and 100% accountability!

When a majority of Christians finally decide they want authenticity, then we’ll see a return to pure doctrine that transcends political ideology, and undependable Gospel messengers like Gene Robinson, Joseph Lowery and Rick Warren will decrease in number. When a majority of LGBT folk finally decide they want authenticity, then we’ll see a proud 21st century Civil Rights struggle that lives up to its 20th century namesake, and our liberation will finally be in sight!

Do enough of us want authenticity yet? I don’t think so, but I’d love to be proven wrong. So prove me wrong . . . anytime you’re ready!

Read Jerry Maneker’s complete hypothetical invocation, Gene Robinson's complete pre-inaugural prayer and Jerry's criticism of Gene Robinson's prayer.

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