Passionate Wisdom

UPDATE (June 13, 2011): The author of this story has come forward admitting that it is a hoax. Although the story loses some of its appeal without the lustrous shine of a “based on a true story” tag, I hope that the underlying message of my commentary still stands.


An out lesbian in Syria is visited by goons in the middle of the night, and her father stands by her, defends her, and ultimately sends them away in shame:

 

“And my daughter? Let me tell you this about her; she has done many things that, if I had been her, I would not have done. But she has never once stopped being my daughter and I will never once let you do any harm to her. You will not take her from here.”

All of us, as good parents, would share the same sentiment; we will defend our children with ferocity.  But this father goes a step further: he defends her with passionate, lucid eloquence:

So you come here to take Amina. Let me tell you something though. She is not the one you should fear; you should be heaping praises on her and on people like her. They are the ones saying alawi, sunni, arabi, kurdi, duruzi, christian, everyone is the same and will be equal in the new Syria; they are the ones who, if the revolution comes, will be saving Your mother and your sisters. They are the ones fighting the wahhabi most seriously. You idiots are, though, serving them by saying ‘every sunni is salafi, every protester is salafi, every one of them is an enemy’ because when you do that you make it so.

“Your Bashar and your Maher, they will not live forever, they will not rule forever, and you both know that. So, if you want good things for yourselves in the future, you will leave and you will not take Amina with you. You will go back and you will tell the rest of yours that the people like her are the best friends the Alawi could ever have and you will not come for her again.”

When our children are threatened or hurt or bullied it is our instinct to be warriors. We will fight others to save our own. But this intelligent man modeled a different parenting path: calm, passionate wisdom saved his daughter’s life.

Courtesy Among Men

Every weekday morning, around 9:30am, most of the office gets up and walks down the block to our usual espresso joint for coffee and tea. We pass through several doors on the way out, and again on the way in, and being the mature, courteous men that we are, we’ll hold the doors open for each other. The first person to reach the door will generally hold it for the rest of us to walk through.

You can imagine, then, what was passing through my mind yesterday morning as we filed out the building, nodding our thanks to the door-holder, after reading this about Ken Hutcherson, pastor at Antioch Bible Church in Kirkland:

[One Sunday] Hutcherson was preaching on gender roles. During his sermon, Hutcherson stated, “God hates soft men” and “God hates effeminate men.” Hutcherson went on to say, “If I was in a drugstore and some guy opened the door for me, I’d rip his arm off and beat him with the wet end.”

Hutcherson’s arrogant, opportunistic bigotry is well-known and I’m saddened, but not surprised, by his hatefulness. What is shocking, though, is that he preaches such violence at church. His message is so counter to my understanding of Christianity it borders on blasphemy. How is he tolerated in the Christian community?

I’m an atheist. I have thought long and hard, and with as much humility as I can muster, about religion and its place in my life and the world around me. I’ve also considered the place of religion in the lives of my family and friends. I have been inspired by the passionate joy of my friends’ faith and the quiet humility of their service. My views about faith are continually challenged by the compassionate, intelligent beliefs of my family and friends. Their diverse beliefs motivate my quest for understanding, keep me asking questions, and keep me humble.

When I hear about someone like Ken Hutcherson, though, I’m filled with smug righteousness. Thank god I’m not a believer like him.

Forget the Nanny State; I need a Nanny Church

Katherine Harris is running for Florida Senate.  She was recently interviewed by the Florida Baptist Witness:

If you are not electing Christians, tried and true, under public scrutiny and pressure, if you’re not electing Christians then in essence you are going to legislate sin. They can legislate sin. They can say that abortion is alright. They can vote to sustain gay marriage. And that will take western civilization, indeed other nations because people look to our country as one nation as under God and whenever we legislate sin and we say abortion is permissible and we say gay unions are permissible, then average citizens who are not Christians, because they don’t know better, we are leading them astray and it’s wrong. …

There is plenty that is laughable (or just plain offensive) in this statement, but I’ll just pick at the lowest-hanging fruit:

“…then average citizens who are not Christians, because they don’t know better…”

Apparently, as a non-Christian, I’m not able to tell right from wrong.  It’s a miracle that I haven’t eaten my baby yet. 

Now, let’s see where her blazing righteousness has gotten her:

Katherine Harris may think I need a nanny church to lead me around by the moral nose, but at least I’ve got a sense of ethics.

Pat Roberston is a Doubting Thomas

Pat Robertson has finally seen the light about global warming.  What changed his mind?  Not the exacting research of thousands of scientists, no.  He had to experience it first-hand.

Now Thomas, one of the twelve, called the Twin, was not with them when Jesus came. So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord.”   But he said to them, “Unless I see in His hands the print of the nails, and place my finger in the mark of the nails, and place my hand in His side, I will not believe.”