Friday, December 31, 2010

Here Goes Nothing 2011

So another year is coming to a close and another year approaches with lightning speed. It is hard to believe that Christmas has come and gone and tomorrow will be another year. This time of year New Year's resolutions become as common as Auld Lang Syne and stupid hats. The diet and quit smoking industry are bombarding us with their wears and trying to make their money. But I always make resolutions and I usually fail miserably. So this year instead of making the obligatory lose weight or read more resolution I am making a change that hopefully will be a lasting effort.

I want to live healthier and not just in the physical, but mentally and spiritually as well. So I am going to unpack these goals and set smaller goals to meet by my birthday which is March 13.


Those of you who know me personally know that I have struggle with my weight literally my whole life. I cannot remember a time when I was not chubby, plump, overweight, or pudgy. Now I weigh more than I have in my entire life and it is starting to affect my health, my life, and my work. You see I have been told that I will not be ordained until a lose a significant amount of weight. I am not going to argue whether this is fair or unfair, but in any case I need to lose for me and my family above and beyond any other reason. So in addition to going to the gym and moving more, I am going to try and eat healthier, not in a diet sense, but in a lifestyle change. I am going to at more fruits and vegetables and less fast food. I am also going to work on portion control which is something I also struggle with. My goal is to lose 25 pounds by March 13. I think that is an achievable goal and I am going to keep you posted on how it is going.


I want to read more and not just in theology and church related matters, but also I want to read some of the classics of literature that I *ah-hem* skipped over in high school and college. I would love to engage in a book club, but I don't know if there is one available in Pulaski. I also want to being my ordination papers in the hopes that the physical goal comes through. My goal is to read 5 classic novels by March 13.


I must confess that I have slack off on my daily devotionals. Often the only Bible verses I read are the ones I preach on Sunday morning. I want to get back to journaling and prayer, which I have also slacked on. My goal is to do these things daily and keep doing them.

Why I am sharing these personal things with the world? I am sharing them because I want and need your help. I want you to pray for me. Pray that I can remain disciplined and focused to meet my goals. I am going to hold myself accountable on this blog and I will need all the help I can get.

Last, but not least, I want to wish you and yours a safe and blessed 2011.

Monday, December 20, 2010

A Response to Judson Phillips Founder of the Tea Party Nation

A blog post by Judson Phillips, founder of the Tea Party Nation and Nashville DUI attorney, is stirring some controversy amongst United Methodists. Assumedly, Mr. Phillips walked by the United Methodist General Board of Church and Society building in Washington DC and saw a sign that read "Pass the DREAM Act." The DREAM Act would give the children of illegal immigrants a pathway to citizenship through college or military service and is opposed by conservatives. Mr. Phillips's response was "I have a DREAM. That is, no more United Methodist Church." He goes on to say that the UMC is the "church of Karl Marx," which is funny because Marx was an avowed atheist, and that the Methodist church is "little more than the 'religious' arm of socialism." It seems whenever a conservatives sees something they don't like it is automatically socialist. He also decries the UMC because Hillary Clinton is a member in good standing. Mr. Phillips obviously forgot that George W and Laura Bush as well as Dick Cheney are good members in standing of the UMC.

I am not going engage Mr.Phillips on his ignorance of the United Methodist Church or his blatant over-generalization of all the members of the UMC as people who hate American. As an aside, I dare you sir to step into my church on Sunday morning and tell our veterans they hate America. Nor will I debate Mr. Phillips's stance on the DREAM Act or any other legislation. I will only ask Mr. Phillips why HE hates America and democracy? I only make that assumption because Mr. Phillips seems to dislike the way a democratic government works, that is debating and discussing the issues of the day instead of condemning an entire denomination because of one sign outside one building. Also, he obviously does not care for the First Amendment that guarantees freedom of religion and expression. I think Mr. Phillips would much prefer a theocratic dictatorship where only his views on government and God are allowed. His vast over-generalization of the UMC as a whole would be laughable if it were not so sad and pathetic. Mr. Phillips wants to hate 8 million Americans who belong to a denomination because of one sign outside one building in that denomination.

Mr. Phillips is exactly what is wrong with America, not because he is a Conservative or a TEA Party member, but because his first reaction to a sign with a differing opinion than is own is condemnation and hatred. He does not want to enter into a discussion or debate. In his blog, he does not even attempt to explain why he is right. He just condemns those who disagree with his extreme point of view. This sort of attitude is not limited to conservatives or Tea Partiers, but has become more prevalent in political and theological debate and discussion with both conservatives and liberals. We can all learn a lesson from Mr. Phillips. His reaction will not cause people to leave the United Methodist Church, but it will damage his own credibility, what little they had to begin with, as a political figure and the credibility of his group.

The United Methodist Church in the United States is a cross-section of America. We have liberals and conservatives and we disagree on a lot of things and there are many within the denomination who disagree with the stances taken by the General Board of Church and Society. However, we also feed the hungry, clothe the naked, provide nets that stop the spread of malaria, we dig clean water wells in Africa, we educate children, we save lives, and we proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ. For Judson Phillips to condemn the United Methodist Church wholesale for one sign on one building is not only unChristian, but unAmerican.

But I will pray for you Mr. Phillips. I will pray that the love and grace of God, who I and the UMC serve, will touch your heart and that you see the error of your ways not because I disagree with you, but because you persecute me because of that disagreement.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Dear Mr. President,

Dear President Obama,

Two years ago, I cheered you historic election and the prospects for some real change in the United States. Although I voted for President Bush twice, I became disillusioned with the failed policies of his presidency including but not limited to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the torture of detainees in Guantanamo Bay and other black cites around the world, and corruption within the White House. I felt that we, as a country, were better than this. So I voted for change. I voted in the hope that those who were especially vulnerable, the poor, the disabled, the sick, would once again have a voice with those in power.

I was not so naive as to believe that your presidency would be without naysayers and opponents. I did not expect the potency of the vitriol and venom from the political Right. While I believed the Republican campaign slogan of "Country First" was a farce, I was not prepared for the extent to which those on the Right would try to damage not only your presidency, but also this nation. I truly question whether these people have any love for country left in them. Their lies become the false reality for so many people in this country and now a large percentage of the public will believe any story told in any medium, up to and including the Easter Bunny, as long as it sheds you in a negative light. 1 in 5 of my fellow Americans believe that you are a Muslim and about the same amount believe that you work for the destruction of this country. Many of them do not believe that you are even an American. They not only oppose your policies Mr. President, they hate you sir. The loathe you with every ounce within them. The Republicans have stated, publicly, that their main goal in the next two years is not bringing this country out of a recession, not ending the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, not protecting the United States against another terrorist attack, but to make your presidency one term.

Mr. President,as much as you might try, there is no bipartisanship. There can be no cooperation with the Republicans and they have stated this publicly. For every inch you give them, they will take a mile and then ridicule you for giving an inch in the first place. You refused to pursue an investigation of the previous administration's mishandling of intelligence and lying that led us to war in Iraq. Now billions of dollars are wasted and more importantly thousands of lives are lost. You refused to investigate the previous administration's role in the torture of detainees and possible war crimes. You did this in the hopes of bipartisanship. They called you a Kenyan and demanded you prove your citizenship, something unheard of previously. You gave up on a public option or a single payer health care system in the hopes of bipartisanship. They spread lies about what was in the bill. They told the people that you wanted to kill babies and grandmothers. Now, you have extended the Bush era tax cuts for the wealthy for another two years. You extended tax cuts for people who do not need them and who will not create jobs with the money they save. What will they call you now? God only knows.

The Democrats lost control of the House in 2010, not because the Republicans had a better platform. They have no platform except to critic and lie about every move you make. You lost because you refused to stand by your principles. You lost because the people lost confidence in you. You cannot win these people over. Even if you give in the every Republican whim in the next two years they will still hate you. They will still spend billions of dollars and even second trying to send you home in 2012. What we need is leadership. What we want is leadership. We want a President to stand firm and say that enough is enough. Are you that leader? I thought you were two years ago, but today I am not so sure. The people need you. Those who are going hungry need you. Those who cannot feed their kids need you. Those who scrape by with scraps and then see the exorbitant amount of wealth controlled by 2% of the people. We need a voice. We need someone who will stand on their principles. Will you be that person Mr. President? I hope so, but time is running out.