Thursday, October 30, 2014

[video: we see no enemy]

"We See No Enemy presents five stories told against the backdrop of Israeli-occupied Palestine, creating an anthology of the West Bank. We See No Enemy chronicles the conflict from the perspective of those rarely heard. By weaving these narratives together, We See No Enemy seeks to turn up these inspiring voices to hear their passion and listen to their suffering."

Full video (1 hr 17 min long):

The five stories in the video are as follows, and can be viewed individually by clicking the title. (timing refers to location in full video)

Story 1: Paradise (timing 1-20)
Story of the Al Basma Center, which works with men and women with mental challenges. Half the staff and the clients are Muslim, the other half Christian.

Story 2: Conversion (24-38)
Story of a Palestinian Christian man, who changed his views on how to respond to violence..

Story 3: Hospitality (38 - 49)
The story of the hospitality of a Palestinian man toward others.

Story 4: Trespass (49-59)
The team returns to Palestine, and finds that someone has been into their house. Discussion of what Palestinians face in terms of searches, night raids, evictions, etc.

Story 5: Home (59 - 1:13)
The story of a family forcibly evacuated from their home by police officers, in order to give their house to settlers.

Monday, October 27, 2014

[loving enemies who won't bake cakes for you]

How would you love someone who discriminated against you because of your race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, ability or some other reason?

Here's a real life story:

In January 2013, Aaron and Melissa Klein, owners of a bakery called "Sweet Cakes by Melissa," refused to bake a wedding cake for a lesbian couple. The reason they gave for this refusal was their religious beliefs.

The lesbian couple filed a complaint and the bakery was investigated by the Oregon department of labor, which found that there was "substantial evidence of unlawful discrimination." Side note: public accommodations laws in many American states (known as Fair Accommodation Laws in Canada) mean that a business (restaurant, hotel, store, etc.) may not discriminate as to whom they serve. While some folks are unhappy about this as they would like the right to discriminate against lgbt people, this is the same law that means a business cannot serve "whites only" or carry on any of the other discriminatory practices that used to be lawful.

In any case, the department may bring formal charges if the two parties can't come to a settlement.  Formal charges could accompany a fine of up to $150,000.

Now here's where it gets interesting.

Matt Stolhandske, an evangelical, gay rights activist, is trying to raise money to help them pay the fine. Yes, you read that right. He's gay, he's a follower of Jesus, and he's trying to help out the Kleins. Even though he disagrees with their refusal to bake the wedding cake, he wants to help them out. Here's why, in his own words (as quoted at
Matt Stohlandske. Source: Facebook
'Stolhandske, who is gay, told KATU his effort is inspired by the teachings of Christ.

“We would like to demonstrate the true character of Jesus Christ, which is to show love in the face of discrimination,” Stolhandske said.

He added: “Exactly at the time of our enemy’s most difficult moment, exactly at the time when we can destroy them, that’s when we must show love.”

Stolhandske qualified that statement, saying the Kleins are his enemy only when it comes to gay rights. Otherwise, he said, the Kleins are his brother and sister in Christ.

“We don’t want to see the destruction of the Klein family or their children,” Stolhandske said. “We don’t want to see the destruction of Christians. We don’t want to see people suffering. What we want to see is the destruction of a system which systematically discriminates against LGBT people.”'
Wow. It seems that for some people, following Jesus is more than just lip service and looking good on Sundays. It's the real deal.

What do you think?

Read more:

See also what would jesus bake? (previous post on this blog)

Thursday, October 09, 2014

[sometimes a man's just gotta wear a dress]

Watch the new music video for the song "The Light" by Hollysiz, and you'll know what I mean by the title....

Video link

Tuesday, October 07, 2014

[doing small things with extraordinary love, article by John Swinton]

In "Doing Small Things with Extraordinary Love: Congregational Care of People Experiencing Mental Health Problems", John Swinton begins with:
The mental health industry is a big and complex beast. Amid the high-tech, neurological, genetic and pharmaceutical landscape it is easy for religious communities to feel nervous and disempowered. "What could we possibly have to offer that might bring healing in the midst of such prohibitively high-tech approaches to mental health care?"

Jean Vanier, founder of L'Arche, provides us with a rather unusual answer: "The church is not called to do extraordinary things; it is called to do ordinary things with extraordinary love." In response to the complexities of the experience of mental health problems, the church's vocation is not to become a community of psychiatrists. Rather, it is called to become a community of disciples who strive to embody and reveal God's extraordinary love.

Read the rest of this excellent article.

Subsection titles:
Understanding mental health problems
The problem of stigma
The ministry of small things: What would Jesus do?
Re-thinking hospitality: Moving from host to guest

Note: Swinton also has a book out called Dementia: Living in the Memories of God which looks excellent! However, my sister got a copy and says it's a "detailed, clinical book," which means that if you are looking for something to help you and your loved one, it might not be the ideal choice.

Thursday, October 02, 2014

[prodigal sons: voices from the inside]

image from
This is a blog written by people who are imprisoned, sharing their stories and experiences in prison, with themes of grace, redemption, etc.

Check out the Prodigal Sons blog.

Friday, September 26, 2014

jesus and heaven's wall

You may have seen this picture shared on social media and thought, pretty cool! So did I. 

But did you know there's more to the story?

jesus pulling them over the wall. Shared by friends on FB. Probable source:

First, let's recap with a copy of the image text:
Saint Peter and the Angel Gabriel had a problem. Peter was sorting people at the Pearly Gates letting some in and keeping others out, but Gabriel was finding more people in heaven than Peter was letting in. They were befuddled. Gabriel told Peter to keep working and he'd get to the bottom of this. A few hours later he came back and told Peter not to worry; he'd figured it out. "It's Jesus. He's pulling people in over the wall."
(text from picture above)
Now here's the rest of the story:

After talking to Peter, Gabriel went off to his cloud to think. You see, he hadn't told Peter the whole story. He had seen more than he mentioned, more than he wanted to see -- no, even more than he wanted to believe. It was shocking, in fact, and he wasn't sure his heart would hold out.

He had been taking a shortcut to ask another angel about the discrepancy in numbers when ahead in the distance, he noticed a flurry of movement along the wall. Moving closer, he had seen someone using a sledge hammer to make a hole in the wall, a hole through which people were peering.

He had rushed over to put a stop to it, but before he was close enough for the offender to notice him, he realized that it was Jesus himself wielding the sledge hammer. He had pulled back, watching with disbelief, mesmerized by the sight: Jesus breaking the wall and then waving people inwards, saying, "Come in, sisters and brothers, come in," embracing those who were entering.

jesus breaking down the wall. drawing by rob g

Gabriel had finally been able to tear himself from the unbelievable sight. Leaving the scene, he took extra time on his way back in order to think of a reasonable story to tell Peter.

I'll tell him that Jesus was pulling people over the wall, Gabriel had finally concluded. Peter shouldn't see that as a problem. After all, Jesus would know who's allowed in and who wasn't, and Peter would be happy that with Jesus' help, the line at the main gate would be shorter. So that's what he told him.

But now, back at his cloud, Gabriel really didn't know what to think, 'cuz Jesus was definitely not checking anyone's ID. He pinched himself in case he was dreaming, and then slapped himself just to be sure. No, I'm really awake and this is really happening, he said to himself. Jesus is actually letting all those people in. I can't even go ask God the Father about this; He and Jesus are so tight that He surely must already know about it.

This is more than I can bear, he sighed. In all my years here I have been so careful to uphold the rules and follow procedure, and now heaven's going to hell in a hand basket....

The rest of the story:
 "jesus and the walls" written by rob g.
Original image shared by friends on FB. Probably from thegodarticle.

Monday, September 22, 2014

the ferguson in my own eye

After taking great pride in telling other countries how to be and when to shape up, and actively moving in to help them in this regard, the U.S. is getting some of its own medicine back. It's sounding like a case of having pointed out the speck in someone else's eye and then they turn around and say, 'hey, what about the speck in your eye?!'

Egypt is urging the U.S. to "show restraint against protesters" in Ferguson, MO. Kinda ironic, considering that U.S. President Obama made similar comments to Egypt in 2013 when its government cracked down on protesters.

A government minister from Iran referred to the crisis in Ferguson as a sign of "the phenomenon of racism" in the west.

And China also had something to say. (source)

Here's an imaginary response from my own government:

ferguson reservations, drawn by rob g

And in case you thought Canada was a better place... it might be for black people but what if you are aboriginal?

We have our own sordid history to deal with, and our own batch of systemic racism....

Tuesday, September 09, 2014

if anyone stumbles...

if anyone stumbles, drawing by rob g

Young people leaving the church. Young people being kicked out of church, or kicked out of their homes by their religious parents. Because they're gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, or whatever, and by whatever, I mean whatever - sexual orientation or otherwise.

I'm tired of it happening, and it makes me sad and mad. Where did we lose Jesus?

If anyone causes one of these little ones — those who believe in me — to stumble, it would be better for them to have a large millstone hung around their neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea.
Matthew 18:6 NIV


I don't generally get super-angry and riled up when I read about rebels in some other country killing school children, or large corporations avoiding labour laws and increasing profits by moving their operations to other countries. It's wrong, and something should be done about it. But I don't get super-angry, because "that's what you expect from rebels" and "that's what you expect corporations to be doing". (Perhaps my non-anger is a problem, but we'll leave that for another post).

But once in a while I read an article which makes me really angry, because I expect more of those who are doing wrong. 

Case in point:

A recent Rolling Stone article gives this disturbing finding from a recent study:
Highly religious parents are significantly more likely than their less-religious counterparts to reject their children for being gay – a finding that social-service workers believe goes a long way toward explaining why LGBT people make up roughly five percent of the youth population overall, but an estimated 40 percent of the homeless-youth population.
So much for "the least of these."

Read it for yourself if you want something to be angry about.

The next two cartoons were inspired by reading this article...

Believe Out Loud also has a shorter article about a recent video/audio recording which received broad exposure on the internet, of a set of Christian parents rejecting their gay son.

Friday, September 05, 2014

[making friends among the taliban, by jonathan larson]

Making friends with the Taliban?? You gotta be kidding me!

Yet that is what this book is about: a Christian peacemaker spending decades in Afghanistan and, in the process becoming friends with the Taliban.

"[C]hildhood friend Jonathan Larson retraces Dan’s work in Afghanistan over almost four decades. During the successive power struggles among royal regimes, the Red Army, warlords, the Taliban, and the American-led coalition, Dan inspired small Afghan communities to seek a sweeter destiny for themselves. Using a cascade of interviews and eyewitness accounts, this moving narrative of Dan’s life and friendships in Afghanistan offers us all a model for authentic living wherever we are." (from the book site)

My first knowledge of the book came from reading a review at the Raven Foundation, and that was enough to show me my own prejudice towards the Taliban, of whom I only knew what the western media told me. I have now read the sample chapter, and am hoping to get hold of the book to read the entire story.

One quote: 'His Afghan friends claimed, “In the greatest commandments of our scripture–to practice humility; to be generous to widows, the orphans, and the poor; and to be selfless and persevering in the search for justice and peace–Dantri was more Muslim than we Muslims.”'

Book site (includes trailer, sample chapter, study guide and more).
Review with mimetic focus (at Raven Foundation).

Making Friends among the Taliban: A Peacemaker's Journey in Afghanistan
Jonathan Larson
(Herald Press, 2012)