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Heaven, Hell, Homosexuals & Kim Davis: The Pandora’s Box of Political Religion

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Kim Davis Greeting Supporters (above) Her Pastor Below

kim davis pastor

Friends of Padre Steve’s World

Kim Davis, the recalcitrant County Clerk of Rowan County, Kentucky has now decided that the reason that she cannot issue marriage licenses to Gays is that it is a heaven or hell decision, in other words, if she complies with the court order she will quite possibly go to hell. Actually as a theologian and historian I find this fascinating, and regardless of what happens next in this sorry saga, we must remember the words of Captain Jean Luc Picard “But she, or someone like her, will always be with us. Waiting for the right climate in which to flourish, spreading fear in the name of righteousness….”

Davis, who was elected to the office last November, following her mother who held the office for the 37 years prior, makes $80,000 a year to serve as the Country Clerk and one of her big duties is issuing marriage licenses to citizens of the county. The only problem is that Marriage Equality is the law and gays are entitled to the full rights of all citizens based on a Supreme Court ruling which said that based on the 14th Amendment that Gays, like all other American Citizens were legally entitled to the same rights as all other citizens. Likewise it appealed to the Civil Rights Act of 1965. By refusing the recalcitrant County Clerk of Rowan County Kentucky is in violation of the law. However, because she is an elected official she cannot be fired. She can only be impeached by a state legislature whose members need the votes of her supporters in the state. 

Mrs. Davis is an Apostolic Pentecostal Christian. Her Church, Morehead First Apostolic Church belongs to the United Pentecostal Church International. This denomination is one of the early Pentecostal denominations in the United States, founded in 1905 during the Pentecostal Awakening. It split from another Pentecostal denomination, the Assemblies of God over the issue of the Godhead. The United Pentecostals reject the traditional understanding of Trinitarian Christianity. Their theology is Monotheistic and they interpret the references to Father, Son and Holy as modes in which God reveals himself. In other words, God was the Father, and then the Son, and then the Holy Spirit.

According to mainstream Christianity since the Council of Nicaea in 325 A.D. the theology of the United Pentecostals was considered heretical, by all Eastern and Western branches of Christianity. This means, and I hate to be a theological hard ass here, but technically, they are not Christian, because they worship a different God. Now personally, I am not such a hard ass and believe that God forgives a lot of bad theology, even my own; but the United Pentecostals don’t, and here is where it gets really interesting.

The United Pentecostal Church believes that in order for a person to be “saved” that they must first repent of their sins. No problem there, I think repentance is a good thing. Next one must be baptized, and here is where it gets tricky. If you are not baptized “In Jesus’ Name” your baptism doesn’t count. Sorry all you folks that were baptized “in the Name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit” you may have repented but you are not saved and yes you are heading for that eternal vacation on the Lake of Fire, so don’t forget your asbestos water skis.

But that’s not all my friends; to Kim Davis and the United Pentecostals you must also be baptized in the Holy Spirit with the evidence of Speaking in Tongues. If not, by their doctrine you are going to hell, and don’t forget to go to bathroom first because it is “damnation without relief” and if you do not go it will be a very uncomfortable eternity. But wait there’s still more…. Even if you a member of these churches, like Kim Davis is and you make it through those first three gates, you can still go to hell; you have to Persevere to the End, that means that she must wear those frumpy clothes, no makeup or jewelry, and avoid doing sinful things and that is kind of tricky because there are so many ways to screw up. No wonder she is afraid of going to hell for doing the duties required by the law.

I find it fascinating that Mrs. Davis and her supporters are so hell bent on making sure that homosexuals cannot get married, or enjoy the same rights as other citizens and condemn homosexuals all to hell based on their interpretation of the Bible. Interestingly enough many of her big supporters are Trinitarian Evangelicals and other Conservative Christians, who by doctrine Kim Davis and the United Pentecostal Church does not consider Christians.

This is the fascinating part. Her biggest defenders and her lawyers are all Trinitarian Christians who Kim Davis and her church believe are going to hell, at least which is what their doctrine says, and these wonderful Trinitarian Christians are so full of animosity to homosexuals that they will defend a person who believes that they too are going to hell with those horrible homosexuals. Imagine, if Kim Davis and her church are right, Mat Staver, lawyer from Liberty Counsel will be sunning himself on the banks of the Lake of Fire with the homosexual that he so loathes, and I hope he takes some tanning oil. The irony is rich, but I digress….

You see this is the problem when you decide to let theologically and historically ignorant religious fanatics run government. But that is the morass that conservative Christians in the United States have created for themselves. Ever since the 1970s when Jerry Falwell began the charge the situation has got increasingly stickier with every passing year. Odd alliances are made by groups who all believe that they have to only way to salvation and that all others are going to hell. The problem is that this alliance cannot hold. Should the Religious Right ever get control they will start persecuting each other in the areas that they are strongest, because it is an alliance of convenience and in their hearts they despise each other almost as much as they do the gays. It will Balkanize and fracture our society beyond belief; but then who cares so long as our religion wins.

Robert Heinlien observed, “Almost any sect, cult, or religion will legislate its creed into law if it acquires the political power to do so.” That is what Davis and her backers want, if they cannot stop the law they want legal authority to disobey it while getting paid to administer it as government officials.

Is it no wonder that James Madison, Thomas Jefferson and others of our founding fathers were so adamant about separating church and state? Madison said why this is so necessary, “The purpose of separation of church and state is to keep forever from these shores the ceaseless strife that has soaked the soil of Europe in blood for centuries.” And why Conservative Atheist Christopher Hitchens remarked “How dismal it is to see present day Americans yearning for the very orthodoxy that their country was founded to escape.”

Mrs. Davis can hold whatever religious views that she desires, and she can chose to worship the God of her choice and take her chances on landing in hell or heaven. However, her duties as an officer of the government require her to carry out the law. If she cannot carry out the law her choice is to resign. She has no right to be paid by the government and then substitute her religious beliefs for law she is to carry out, and thereby sabotage the law, which is meant for all citizens. Since she is unlikely to resign, cannot be fired, and most likely will not be impeached, there is no remedy for the citizens of Rowan County, none of who are able to get a marriage license. It reminds me of the days when White officials in the South defied Congress and the Courts to defend Jim Crow Laws in the 1959s and 1960s. 

Let’s turn this around for a second and put Mrs. Davis standing at the counter trying to get a marriage license following one of her three divorces. Imagine how Mrs. Davis would have felt if some hard-assed Trinitarian Catholic Christian denied her application for a marriage license due to her three divorces, and his belief that divorce was a mortal sin and that to issue a marriage license violated his religious beliefs.

That my friends is the path that Mrs. Davis and her supporters are taking us down. It is the path where a personal belief trumps the law, and one’s duty as an officer of the government to carry out that law.

Mrs. Davis needs to resign, or face the consequences. She will be considered a martyr for a cause by people who she, if she actually believes the teachings of her church, are going to go to hell alongside of the homosexuals that they are defending her from. I love that irony, and since Davis and many of her supporters would probably beleive that I am going to be damned for my support of the civil rights of Gays then I will have to agree with Captain Jean Luc Picard who once said “If we’re going to be damned, let’s be damned for what we really are.”

Make it so…

Peace

Padre Steve+

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Filed under christian life, civil rights, ethics, faith, History, LGBT issues, News and current events, Political Commentary, Religion

Heaven, Hell, Purgatory, Heck and Helven…Choices for Eternity

I was reading the comics yesterday when I found this great Dilbert.  I have loved the strip for years and some of the funniest strips for me have been those dealing with religion and spirituality.  Be it Saint Dogbert and his “Out out Demons of Stupidity” or Phil the Prince of Insufficient Light who rules over “Heck” with his pitch-spoon where people are “darned to Heck for minor infractions,” I have always gotten a chuckle or even a belly laugh out of them.

Of course many people and religions have different conceptions of the afterlife for both the saved, sometimes known as the elect or the unsaved that are sometimes referred to as the damned.  Without getting into anyone’s knickers I want to just have some fun with what can be a subject of speculation and even controversy.

Of course heaven is the place of the elect and is usually characterized by streets of gold, angels, pearly gates and lots of time around whichever Deity that the religion in question believes in.  Heaven is a good place and probably where you want to be going if you have to spend the rest of eternity, which I am assured sports fans is a very long time.  Now there are variations on heaven. Some religions have different concepts about it and others have looser or tighter rules as to who gets in, everything from the “All dogs go to heaven” of universalists to the 144,000 of the Jehovah’s Witnesses to the real strict fundamentalists of various religions (fundamentalists of all religions tend to be peas in a pod) who are even more select that the JWs.

Some even have different levels of heaven.  To go back to the JWs they have “real heaven” where the 144,000 go and then a perfect earth where the rest of the JWs go to pick fruit and pet animals for eternity.  If you ask me that kind of sucks because it is a works system based around how many people you convert to be JWs.  The thing that would suck is like you thought you had gotten the last of the 144,000 available spaces and someone that you converted knocked you out of the competition.  If you are not a JW forget it, you just get annihilated, not even the eternal punishment of hell to look forward to.  The Latter Day Saints have a cool belief that if you are a super cool Mormon man you get to be God of your own planet while everyone else gets regular heaven and only the really bad people go to hell. Of course some Moslems believe that if you are martyred for your faith you get to have 72 virgins in heaven to have eternal sex with, no mention of what happens to female martyrs but I wonder if their virgins would be the ones with pimples and wearing rape control glasses, Moslem nerds so to speak.  The Hindus have a number of different beliefs but the prevailing trend is that heaven and hell are things to help get you perspective in between periods of reincarnation.  Since the soul is immortal and you keep getting reincarnated this sounds like summer school.  Have you ever noticed that a lot of people who believe in reincarnation believe that they were someone famous in a previous life?  I think that Kevin Costner playing “Crash” Davis in Bull Durham asked the same question to Susan Sarandon but regardless why don’t you hear people say that they were a flea on Napoleon’s horse at Waterloo? In Buddhism the endless quest is to attain Nirvana whose lead singer Kurt Cobain off’d himself.  Actually it is to attain Nirvana but that has nothing to do with Curt Cobain.  Nirvana is a state of nothingness which in my mind is kind of boring if you worked really hard to get things right for a multitude of lifetimes.  I guess that I’m too western and wonder what the payback is for working hard only to end up as nothing.  I am also uncomfortable that there will be no more “me” if I am successful, I like me.  The folks who are Jewish have a number of ideas about heaven and hell that are not too much different than those of Christians except the little fact of who gets in. Now this will vary between the three major groups of Jews from the pretty open minded Reformed Jews, to the Conservative and then to the Orthodox Jews who come in various strains of strictness.  The Reformed folks are pretty open-minded and the more extreme versions or Orthodox don’t think that anyone apart from them will get in.

Now as far as Christians we have a wide number of interpretations of both heaven and hell and to whom might be qualified to be admitted to either location. The Calvinists that are really serious believe in something called double predestination which basically means that people were either saved or damned before the creation of the world.  Not much room for choice in that theology.  There is a subgroup of these folks who sometimes are called Antinomians who believe that since they are saved that they can do anything that they want, any sin, no matter how big and still be saved. Personally I think that is really pretty presumptuous and downright scary.  Then those who are more Wesleyan or Armenian weigh in on the side of choice even including that one can “lose their salvation” after they were saved this is often found in Wesleyan and Pentecostal groups.  A similar stream is found in Catholicism and Orthodoxy, where though not technically losing salvation keeps you on edge wondering if you made it or not until you die.  In Roman Catholicism this might mean that you end up in heaven, hell or purgatory.  There are a wide number of interpretations within the Christian faith other than these but these are probably the most common views and interpretations.

So since I have in a nutshell (you are what you eat) in a manner of speaking have presented what different religions think of heaven and hell I shall move on to some of the interpretations of what this means.

As I said heaven, regardless of the religion is “good” unless of course that your religion does not have one in which case it is what it is.  Of course the opposite is true as well, if you don’t have a hell that can’t be too bad, unless of course you guess wrong which would really suck.  It would be almost as bad as when Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson missed the Rapture.

Moving on the Roman Catholic Church has a doctrine that is called Purgatory.  Now Purgatory much to the disappointment of some is now “junior hell.”  It is a place for the elect, or the saved to go to clean up their act and learn to love Jesus better before getting admitted into heaven proper.  It is a place like being elected to the baseball Hall of Fame you may get elected to the Hall but there is a period of time that you get to wait before the plaque goes up at Cooperstown. Likewise there must be a “Purgatory” because the state of West Virginia is described as “Almost Heaven” which would mean that it is in reality Purgatory. Since that is where my family originally comes from and from where my current driver’s license is issued that I too am headed there?

Map of Hell

Now Hell, with the exception of Hinduism is pretty much universally a place that you don’t want to go, kind of like Detroit.  There are many images of Hell including the best which come out of Dante’s Inferno which should not be confused with Disco Inferno even if you despised Disco.

I like the image of Hell as the “Lake of Fire.”  This conveys to me the image of a lake in the deep south which is painfully hot, overwhelmingly humid and swarming with flies, mosquitoes and other vermin.  I cannot imagine anywhere worse.  Rowan Atkinson has a great skit called Welcome to Hell where he plays the Devil welcoming a fresh group of the damned to the infernal regions. I’ve linked that here:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XFGrQMD6Uqc

Now I have already mentioned “Heck” which is ruled by Phil the Prince of Insufficient Light who “darns you to Heck for minor infractions and Helvin the place that souls are outsourced to due to the unionization of the Angels and Demons.   It seems to me that heck is not a particularly bad place however Helvin may not be too great of place to be.  I really don’t want to know how they would give my harp to me.

So anyway, I guess I shall invoke Saint Dogbert to banish the Demons of Stupidity as I go to sleep dreaming of the real heaven where the baseball diamond is the lushest green field with foul lines that extend to eternity.  In this heaven the game never ends and you never get tired.  Not much longer until the earthly baseball season begins again.

Peace,

Padre Steve+

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Filed under Baseball, faith, Just for fun

An Anti-Christ does Funeral Homes, Walk-Offs, Donuts and Banks and Visits His Dad

Note: To fully understand the reference to me being the Anti-Christ, please see my posts “Saturday Morning Distractions-Jehovah’s Witnesses at the Door” https://padresteve.wordpress.com/2009/04/04/saturday-morning-distractions-jehovahs-witnesses-at-the-door/ and “So This is What it Feels Like to be the Anti-Christ…Cool.” https://padresteve.wordpress.com/2009/04/07/so-this-is-it-what-it-feels-like-to-be-the-anti-christcool/

While I may be the Anti-Christ to the Witnesses this in no way implies that my dad is the Devil, well again dad was in the Navy, donated a ton of blood and loved his country.  Peace, Steve+

Today started out a bit weird.  Being the Anti-Christ can lead to some interesting situations. The juxtaposition of various events that occur when you are travelling as well as dealing with really serious matters that deal with the end of life get strange.  It’s almost like I am living a Seinfeld episode.  As you know I am out working with my mom and brother to take care of various end-of-life issues, funeral arrangements, financial matters, hospice and the nursing home.

Anyway, yesterday I spent the morning with my dad and then in the afternoon took my mom to De Young Funeral Home in Mudville. This is a trip that she had planned to take with a friend to make pre-arrangements but her friend had the audacity to suddenly die before they could make the trip.  Since then my mom has been putting it off as my brother has not had the time to go with her.  Let’s face it, this is not everyday stuff and can be quite upsetting when you are not in good shape and have to do it for your spouse as well as yourself.  Thankfully I have been through this before working with my wife to make arrangements for her parents.  My mom had no idea all that went into making these arrangements, especially for cremation. Thankfully the De Young people are really good.  The manager there, aptly named Mr. Nice was really good in helping my mom and was fittingly very nice.  My mom was not happy about my father’s desire to be buried at sea.  However, as a retired military wife she is also eligible for this just as if she was being interred with him at a National Cemetery.  When she found out that there was the possibility of burial off the coast of San Diego with my dad, she had a noticeable change of heart.  We were stationed there when I was kid and she always remembers it as one of their best tours in the Navy.  We agreed that when the time comes that they will be buried together at sea from a Navy ship.  It is fitting for a couple who spent 20 of the best years of their life in the Navy to be honored in this manner.  Thankfully as an active duty Navy Chaplain I will be able to arrange the details on the Navy side.  This being accomplished mom and I got dinner and went back to her house.

After resting for a while I went out to the living room where mom was watching the Giants play the Nationals.  It looked bad for the Giants. In the top of the 7th the Nationals took a 7-5 lead.  The Giants for one back in the bottom of the 8th on a Benji Molina home run and held the Nationals in the top of the 9th.  The first two batters went down and the Giants were down to their last out trailing 7-6. The Edgar Rentaria singled up the middle. Emmanuel Burris followed with single putting runners on first and second.  Pablo Sandoval, who in the 7th tripped on the base path trying for a triple came to the plate. I looked at mom and said. “Time for the walk off.”  Mom said “I hope somebody does something.” Somehow I knew going into the inning and even after the second out that Giants would win.  There is something special about this team that the experts don’t see.  I knew they were going to win. The count went to 2 and 2 when Sandoval blasted a shot over the left field wall.  It was the kind of home run that the instant that it was hit that you know is gone.  Sandoval was mobbed by his team mates as he crossed the plate.  Walk offs like that are part of the baseball magic which the Deity Herself has given us.

This morning my mom, Jeff and I went to the bank to take care of administrative issues dealing with the family trust, an adventure that took almost two hours but again was helpful.  A young lady was quite helpful and again though it took time she made it comparatively easy.  Following this I was once again blessed when visiting my dad.  Today it took more work but I was able to keep engaged for about 20 minutes before putting him in bed.  We talked about baseball and the Navy once again; I described the walk-off from last night.  He still does love the Giants.  We talked about the Navy, specifically Navy uniforms.  He was happy to hear that I wore brown shoes with my khakis and that the Navy was possibly going to bring back the Dress Khaki.  This was one of his favorite uniforms.  I was also able to get Judy on the cell phone for him.  He had really taken to her over the past 7 or 8 years following the death of his mother who Judy was quite close to.  He had asked about her on both of my visits and it was good for them to talk, even if only for a couple of minutes.  I do hope that they will see each other again.

So anyway while most of this does not really fit as un-Anti-Christlike, I was reminded once again today that I am the Anti-Christ; or according to the Jehovah’s Witness one of the many such nefarious creatures.  Can you spell “Beast?”  However as I have noted in other posts I have a high rank among the multitude of Anti-Christ’s.  I am first and foremost a Priest and according the Witnesses all Christian ministers are Anti-Christ’s.  Second I am a Navy Officer serving the government which according to the Witnesses is of the Devil.  Finally I am a chaplain in a Naval Medical Center ICU which routinely tanks people up with blood and blood products. I am like Osama Bin Laden or maybe even Hitler to the Witnesses.

I picked up some Donuts for us at the Mudville “Donut King” on Pacific Avenue. Those not from California really don’t understand really good donuts. We have a lot of “mom and pop” donut shops out here.  Donut King I think is the best in Mudville. I have been going to them since I was in high school. If you go down to San Clemente there is “Surfin’ Donuts.”  These are belly busters; there is enough sugar and fat in these things to fully charge the youth of a third world village to the point where they would need to be put on Ritalin. Add some coffee and we’re cooking with gas. These mom and pop stores put all the chain donut shops to shame.  Of course the hot and fresh “Krispy Cremes” are to die for, but all other donuts are also-rans compared to these.  As I came out of the 7-11 near my parent’s house with my 24 ounce French Vanilla coffee with 4 French Vanilla creamers and 4 Spenda’s, a man got out of a Mercedes Benz SUV.  I thought at first that he was a business man stopping in for coffee when he strode up to me and out came the Watchtower. I was momentarily surprised and he said “Would you like to hear the good news about Jehovah?”  I looked at him and said very bluntly, “No thank you, I’m the Anti-Christ” and continued walking to my car.  The look on his face was hysterical; you would have thought that I had hit him upside the head. He was stunned.  As I got into my car I saw him slink back into the passenger side of the Mercedes, a fine automobile, I must say, as the other occupants, a man and two women glared at me.  Obviously they were going to wait for another target, so I drove off.  It is so cool to be the Anti-Christ to these guys.  Some of my former Fundamentalist friends on Facebook probably think similar thoughts but might at least grudgingly admit that I might get to heaven. If they would admit me I might be out in the visitor’s bullpen but at least I’d be there.  The Witnesses don’t even give me the chance at Hell since they don’t have one. Guys like me get to be instantly annihilated, do not pass go do not burn in Hell. Dante would not be impressed.  So, what the hell?  I’ll have to chat about this with the Deity Herself tonight over a beer.

As always I thank you for your prayers, kind words and thoughts.  Still some more left to do here.

Peace, Steve+

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