Calming politics

Wake with half a croissant.
Drive in the car to the place.
Up the stairs, turn on the light, settling deep in a maroon chair. Familiar faces calm the politics. I’ll eat fried chicken and keep a black phone company. Green street signs watch me pass with jealous eyes, whirling around day after week after routine Tuesday night dinner. Dishes. Trash. Kids on furniture. All of it together changing piece by part. Forgetting years. Wrenched ankle. Death looms like a memory of regret. Sunrise, moon time, send me searching for smells in my mind.
It’s beautiful, dammit.
All of it.
Faith leaves a lump of coal
I’ll swallow in minutes, days, driving, walking in steps
up stairs.

The Gay Rights Threat?

Are you a Christian? Do you work with someone who is gay? Do you have a sister or aunt or uncle or know a server from Starbucks who has a partner of the same sex? Or wants one. Or is confused? I’m going to play the odds and assume you are. Well, it seems those people you know in everyday life are freaking out some of your brothers in Christ.
From Indiana to Arkansas, red states are moving to protect religious freedom. Does the Constitution already protect religious freedom? Yes. So, why the doubling up? Without diving into The Religious Freedom and Restoration Act (the law in Indiana is modeled after it and calls on the government to not substantially burden religious business owners) it’s the threat posed by the Rainbow Warriors! #letstalkreligionnow #starbucksno
Now, in 37 states, gay marriage is legal. Even in Bible Belt communities such as Fayetteville, Ark., and Springfield, Mo., nondiscrimination ordinances designed to extend rights in public accommodations to the LBGT community have been passed. But some Christians are resisting. Voters in Fayetteville repealed that move and Springfield pollsters could follow April 7.
Assuming we could agree that many Christians feel threatened by the call for equal rights from our gay neighbors and siblings, the larger question is what are you, the average Christian, going to do about it? Should you brace yourself to fight the rainbow wave and risk looking like the bad guy who can’t play well with others or welcome the neighbors in a new era where (some of) your buddies feel they can’t carry their consciences in the marketplace. It’s no easy question.
Well, consider this: It’s nothing new.
Federal protections for peeps based on race, gender, national origin and religion have been in place since the 60s, and they didn’t come easily. Curse you Civil Rights Act of 1964! That’s a joke. And a point. The fact that religion is part of the mix is very interesting. It means you can’t be denied a job or service at a public restaurant because you believe that Jesus died for your sins.
The other side of the coin is that the right to discriminate against people of other faiths is gone too. As Yoda would say: Stripped rights to discrimination have been. It’s not a new thing at all. Does anyone miss this right to discriminate? Do we want to go back to a world where people had more freedom to discriminate? Negative, Yoda says.
But homosexuality is different, right? Skin color is a characteristic. So is gender. And age. People choose to be gay. And it’s a sin!
Here’s the thing, not everybody agrees about that. And both your right to believe it’s a sin and my sister’s right to not believe that are protected in a land of religious freedom. So how do we agree to disagree? Equal rights.
Gay business owners can’t discriminate against the religious. But the faithful, at least in many areas, can refuse to serve those people in your everyday life and claim the religious freedoms the RFRA is designed to protect. Doesn’t it seem like if your business is open to the public, you should have to serve the whole public? Have business owners of faith been substantially burdened by having to treat people of other faiths fairly in the marketplace? Fifty years in, I’d say no.
In the interest of fairness, if you see sexual orientation as a choice, I’d ask you to consider religion as a choice too. If your deeply held personal choice is protected, and your brothers are busy doubling down (is it down or up?) on those protections, why should your co-worker’s rights mean less? But let’s not fight. We all have touchy feelings on the subject, so let’s just agree to be impartial when it comes to the law. Your aunt or whoever would appreciate that. #starbucksout

An open letter to Christian soldiers

Do you know what keeps me interested in Christianity despite my objections to large swaths of text in the Bible? The idea that what is most important to God and Jesus is service and compassion. Time after time, Jesus, the exalted King, lays down his position of privilege to serve others. In the story of the Good Samaritan, Jesus turned to the example of a nonreligious person who served another in need when asked by an expert in the law how he’d get a chance to go to heaven. In my life, I’ve been blessed by the generosity of Christians more times than I can count. I’ve seen that devotion to others by people of faith, and it is always humbling. But as someone who has long been confused about his own faith, I’ve seen a disturbing trend in the Christian culture: the bold emergence of the defensive, rule-loving, money-loving, war-loving Christian. In my country, God-fearing Christians often speak openly against homosexuals in monogamous relationships, against taxes used to serve the poor and in favor of war against their rule-worshipping, money-hungry, war-mongering enemies. Then, they blame the youth for turning away. What sets Christianity apart, or should, is the service and compassion of Christ. The big man, washing our dirty feet, and laying down his life on the disgusting Roman cross. Even godless atheists, same-sex couples and stubborn religious types could be compelled by such a love. Assuming, they had a chance to see it.

Dinosaurs doing taxes

The whole world of value
Explodes.
A star bursting with juicy
Arms stretched reaching
Its limit in a sacrifice
Triggered by the memory
Of faith, the lingering
Notes of a friendship song,
Dying so another can see
A light and feel
hope.
Everything we draw out
Is born from a spark.
A death folding in on itself
And sprinting forward.
Look at me, extravagant love,
You flower,
And run home.
Let the dinosaurs do taxes
And cross check statements.
Then, come home.
Hands forward,
Not in a prayer’s pose,
Spread wide
In a dancer’s embrace.
Jumping like a fool,
Laughing,
Exploding.