Monday, April 07, 2014

jesus senyonjo

jesus senyonjo and the second coming of Christ Keep Watch Centre, cartoon by robg

That priest is the retired Rev. Disani Christopher Senyonjo, a former Anglican Bishop in Uganda.

Photo of Rev. D.C. Senyonjo, by Washington Blade / Michael KeyHis "makeshift church in the Ugandan capital of Kampala has attracted many gays who are familiar with his sympathetic views in a country where anti-gay religious fervor has encouraged public anger and violence against homosexuals."

The AP reported,
"They said I should condemn the homosexuals," he said, referring to Anglican leaders in Uganda. "I can't do that, because I was called to serve all people, including the marginalized. But they say I am inhibited until I recant. I am still a member of the Anglican church."

The religious leaders in Jesus' day wanted Him to reject sinners, avoid lepers, ignore Samaritans, denounce women caught in adultery, and more... yet He stood with the least of these. Why is this so difficult to do for those who claim to follow Jesus?

How will you trigger the Jesus sensors today?

Background info:
In December 2013, the Uganda government passed the Uganda Anti-Homosexuality Bill, which criminalizes same-sex relations and provides for penalties including life imprisonment. This bill was supported by many religious leaders in Uganda and some in other parts of the world.

Monday, March 31, 2014

[walking with our sisters: exhibit]

some moccasin tops from Walking with Our Sisters exhibit

"Over 800+ native women and girls in Canada have been reported missing or have been murdered in the last 20 years. Many vanished without a trace with inadequate inquiry into their disappearance or murders paid by the media, the general public, politicians and even law enforcement. This is a travesty of justice.

Walking With Our Sisters is by all accounts a massive commemorative art installation comprised of 1,726+ pairs of moccasin vamps (tops) created and donated by hundreds of caring and concerned individuals to draw attention to this injustice. The large collaborative art piece will be made available to the public through selected galleries and locations."

For more information:

Friday, March 28, 2014

primitive religion

primitive religion cartoon by robg

And as time has passed, it seems that many of us have not gotten past primitive religion....

There are exceptions, of course, going both ways -- some even more primitive, and some more Christ-like.

You may have heard about the recent death of Fred Phelps, the pastor of Westboro Baptist Church, a church known for picketing at the funerals of gay people and soldiers, a church infamous for its "god hates fags" website.

As the news came out, there was a whole range of reactions, from those who proposed picketing his funeral in a similar manner to what his church had done, to others who hoped that Fred would finally understand God's grace.

My heart was most touched by what his granddaughter Megan Phelps-Roper, who left WBC a few years ago, tweeted:

An eye for an eye does leave the whole world blind.

Hatred for enemies leaves the whole world broken, no matter how we try to disguise it with "I love them but I don't love their sin".

Megan understands that Jesus has his arms wide open to all of us. Love and grace and mercy abound for everyone.

Monday, March 24, 2014

who would jesus stone?

who would jesus stone? - cartoon by rob g

.... and we all know forever is a very long time.

Jesus stoning people? Rather an outrageous idea, don'tcha think?

What inspired this sick cartoon commentary on Jesus and the effects of playing Xbox, was the message which a church in New York City put on its sign this month (March, 2014), a message which is not funny in the slightest:

ATLAH sign: Jesus would stone homos.

Jesus would stone homos, the sign says. It then quotes four verses and concludes with, "Stoning is still the law."

Would Jesus really stone gay and lesbian people? Let's use their four verses of choice to consider the answer:

Here's a breakdown of the verses, each with a summary and a comment by me:

Matthew 5:17-19
Jesus speaks about not abolishing the law but fulfilling it.

Jesus did not get rid of the Old Testament law about stoning... (fairly clear) but came to fulfill it (the meaning of this is up for discussion). Doesn't support their premise.

Leviticus 20:13
Putting to death men who have sex with men.

Fairly clear verse, but doesn't tell us what Jesus would do, especially considering that Jesus broke other Old Testament rules, like working on the Sabbath, associating with sinners, etc.

Deuteronomy 17:5-7
About stoning people who do evil things and worshiped the stars, sun and moon.

Strange choice of verse, as it does not mention same-sex relations, and there are other verses about stoning which could have been included. Again, does not tell us if Jesus would stone people who do evil things.

John 8:1-11
Ironically, this is the passage about the teachers of the law and the Pharisees bringing the woman caught in adultery to Jesus... and you might know the rest of the story (if not, read it here).

Perhaps they included this passage because Jesus did not object to stoning, but said that whoever is without sin should throw the first stone, thus supposedly legitimizing stoning and suggesting that he (being sinless) could have stoned her?

And that's what makes this choice of verse so ironic, because the Jesus who the pastor of ATLAH claims "would stone homos", the Jesus who is without sin, did not stone the woman! Claims like those made by ATLAH are projections of their own hatred and bias, in religious disguise and with false Biblical justification.

The idea of Jesus stoning anyone is simply inconsistent with his life. And if I have to choose between verses and the life of Jesus, I'll take the life of Jesus anytime.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

[shared meals as the message of jesus]

By simply sitting at table with those widely regarded as morally contemptible, Jesus earned the scorn of the Pharisees and other strict observers of Jewish custom. By sharing meals with those considered by the religiously righteous to be outcasts and sinners, Jesus challenged "the central ordering principle of the Jewish social world." As Geza Vermes puts it, Jesus "took his stand among the pariahs of the world, those despised by the respectable. Sinners were his table-companions and the ostracized tax collectors and prostitutes were his friends." The meals Jesus shared with the outcasts were not, therefore, simply the occasion for the delivery of his message. They were the message. They served as "prophetic signs" meant to manifest the meaning of Jesus' ministry. They involved what Borg speaks of as a "radical relativizing of cultural distinctions."
Violence Unveiled: Humanity at the Crossroads, Gil Bailie, p. 213
Gil Bailie - Violence Unveiled - cover imageThis is the Jesus I want to follow.

Violence Unveiled is a fascinating book about myth, gospel, culture, mimetic theory and much more. I will be rereading it, and perhaps quoting more from it later. From a writing perspective, what I especially appreciate about it is that when Bailie refers to other literature, philosophers, and so on - which he does often, he provides quotes and context so that a reader like me is not at a loss.

Friday, March 07, 2014

[progress of human rights in canada]

It's easy to see the shortcomings of others, and to ignore one's own failings.

This is noticeable, for example, in the American focus on commemorating the Nazi holocaust while ignoring its own holocaust.

This is noticeable in my life as I thought that Canada - my country - has been doing okay while our neighbour to the south has been pretty messed up. And then on the weekend, I came across the Canadian Human Rights Commission website and read through our own history.... which is pretty horrible.

For a sobering starting point, read this summary of what things were like in Canada in the early 1900's.

rainbow canadian flag, from, no source credit provided.

While the CHRC site also covers the negative aspects in our history, the highlights which I summarize here show how many of the human rights we take for granted in Canada have become a reality only semi-recently.

1918: Women received the right to voted federally (Caucasian women only)
1922: Married Women's Property Act (married women are allowed to own property)
1929: Women are legally considered persons.

Thursday, March 06, 2014

giving up chocolate for lent

lent cartoon by robg

Giving up chocolate for Lent is hard if you are a chocolate lover. Other people choose to give up eating meat, or Facebook, or an activity of some sort or other. The idea is to remove something which distracts us from God and from preparing for Easter.

What about the deeper things which are often so much a part of us that we hardly are conscious of their existence? Or those things we are aware of and should give up, yet have no idea how?

Check out the top 100 things people are giving up for Lent.

Monday, March 03, 2014

new "welcome" statues to reflect canada's history

Canada opens its arms wide
Gov't Sees New Role for Our Country as Asylum for the Oppressed

The Canadian government announced today that it will be actively opening its doors to those in other countries who are experiencing discrimination, and expediting their entry into Canada. Officials at Immigration Canada say that the plans had been discussed for some time, and were finalized earlier this week.

"It's time that Canada, a pioneer in human rights, sets an example for the world by embracing those who are unwelcome in their countries of origin, and who are in many cases oppressed. We are not just talking about those seeking political asylum, but also and specifically about men and women from sexual minorities whose lives are in danger," said Prime Minister Harper. He emphasized that rather than just talk, this initiative provides real support and help to individuals and families.

Along with getting the word out worldwide about our welcome and the new immigration procedures, the government plans to erect large statues at key points along each of our borders. The statues will face towards the border, with their arms open to the world, and will feature key Canadians.

artist's concept of welcome statue featuring k.d. lang, paintshopped by robg
Welcome Statues

As Canada is already a diverse country, the proposed welcome statues will be the most visible part of this new initiative for most Canadians.

According to sources, the concept is to show the diversity of Canada while also connecting to real Canadians and to key points in our history. Final decisions have not been made, but some of the people said to be on the shortlist include Viola Desmond, Lily Shinde, Louis Riel and k.d. lang.

Viola Desmond, a black Canadian living in Halifax, was arrested in November of 1946 for sitting in the whites-only section of a theatre. She was subsequently charged and convicted of tax evasion (as the whites-only section cost more, she had not paid the additional sales tax!) This took place nine years before the more well-known bus incident with Rosa Parks in the U.S.. Ms. Desmond was posthumously pardoned in 2010.

Friday, February 28, 2014


homophobe advice #6 - arizona, by rob g

As anti-discrimination  legislation is slowing making its way across the U.S., the backlash often takes the form of claiming that such things infringe on one's religious freedom.

Several cases have gotten into the news: a wedding photographer who was sued after refusing to take photos at a same-sex wedding, a Christian baker who refused to bake a wedding cake for a gay couple, and Christian bed and breakfast owners who did not want a gay couple staying at their B&B and ended up in court.

So there are demands for exceptions to the non-discrimination laws, so that a person of faith is not obliged to do things against their conscience and faith.

I get this, sort of.