Two Frederick Douglass Quotes

Just read this quote from Frederick Douglass and loved it.

“Between the Christianity of this land and the Christianity of Christ, I recognize the widest possible difference—so wide, that to receive the one as good, pure and holy is of necessity to reject the other as bad, corrupt and wicked.”

Frederick Douglass

In addition I found the passage in the appendix of Douglass’s work “Life of an American Slave”.

I find, since reading over the foregoing Narrative, that I have, in several instances, spoken in such a tone and manner, respecting religion, as may possibly lead those unacquainted with my religious views to suppose me an opponent of all religion. To remove the liability of such misapprehension, I deem it proper to append the following brief explanation. What I have said respecting and against religion, I mean strictly to apply to the slaveholding religion of this land, and with no possible reference to Christianity proper; for, between the Christianity of this land, and the Christianity of Christ, I recognize the widest possible difference — so wide, that to receive the one as good, pure, and holy, is of necessity to reject the other as bad, corrupt, and wicked. To be the friend of the one, is of necessity to be the enemy of the other. I love the pure, peaceable, and impartial Christianity of Christ: I therefore hate the corrupt, slaveholding, women-whipping, cradle-plundering, partial and hypocritical Christianity of this land. Indeed, I can see no reason, but the most deceitful one, for calling the religion of this land Christianity. I look upon it as the climax of all misnomers, the boldest of all frauds, and the grossest of all libels. Never was there a clearer case of “stealing the livery of the court of heaven to serve the devil in.” I am filled with unutterable loathing when I contemplate the religious pomp and show, together with the horrible inconsistencies, which every where surround me.


The messages I deliver during Tapestry’s Sunday morning gatherings are usually structured around one book of the Bible at a time. We don’t usually go topical, but it does happen every now and then. This morning I thought it was important to address acting like a follower of Christ in the midst of the results of Friday’s executive order affecting immigration/refugee. Loving our neighbor is supposed to be a shibboleth of the Christian church.

The audio from the introduction to this morning’s gathering is below. Please forgive two things: 1) the audio quality is poor because it is from the room mic, not my mic, and 2) I realized while I was reading from Judges 12:4-6 that I initially mispronounced “shibboleth” as “sibboleth” and decided on the fly that it would cause confusion with two words that sound very similar if I stopped and corrected myself mid-reading. Therefore, I continued the passage swapping “shibboleth” with “sibboleth” and vice versa.

Threads“, several of you asked “what can we do?” The answer is we’re working on that and we need your creativity. At present we are contacting UWSP to see about extending love to the international students and faculty at the university. You will hear more concerning this. We are also trying to contact some international communities in our area to also spread love. For now I encourage you to do two things: 1) Do as  Jesus’s parable of the Good Samaritan teaches us and be a good and loving neighbor – that’s why He ends it with saying “go and do likewise” (Luke 10:37), and 2) contact your senators and representative to let them know your thoughts as a follower of Christ concerning how we treat the foreigner. Your senators and rep if you live in the Point area are:

Senator Tammy Baldwin, 717 Hart Senate Office Building, Washington, DC 20510, (202) 224-5653, Online Contact twitter

Senator Ron Johnson, 328 Hart Senate Office Building, Washington, DC 20510 (202) 224-5323, Online Contact twitter

Representative Ron Kind, 1502 Longworth House Office Building, Washington, DC 20515 (202) 225-5506 Online Contact twitter

No matter your politics, whether you are conservative, liberal, libertarian, or, like me, a mutt please get involved and let vales of followers of Christ be heard concerning the “strangers” in our midst and at our doors.

“The Handmaid’s Tale” on the Bible

Reading From Margaret Atwood’s book The Handmaid’s Tale right now and was struck last night by the following quote from it.

The Bible is kept locked up, the way people once kept tea locked up, so the servants wouldn’t steal it.  It is an incendiary device:  who knows what we’d make of it, if we ever got our hands on it?  We can be read to from it, by him, but we cannot read.

The Handmaid’s Tale, p.87

Reminds me that the word of God in the hands of the oppressed has often a thing feared by those in power. This book that so many have but few seem to read contains the word of the freedom giving God. The powerful often try to us the Lord’s words as a means of control but His truth always seeps through their control and that truth ultimately will make people free (john 8:32). He sets the captives free and that is something their captors dread.

Karate Chop The Fear That Keeps Us From Helping Refugees

Yesterday I posted about a list of what you should do every day that I am presently really digging. Johnny Karate’s 5 Karate Moves to Success. Today I’m going to write about one of the things that I believe those of us who claim to follow Christ should karate chop.

Before I begin let me say something that I say at Tapestry pretty frequently. I don’t talk about politicians at Tapestry but I do often talk about politics. Politics are about the policies that our government supports or avoids. My friend, Clint, would say that basically “everything that happens in life is politics”. I would say everything is theological but I understand the similarity and Clint is a really smart guy so I’ll support him on this statement. Policies are issues that the church should be involved in because they involve how we act and operate as a citizenry and country. They reflect our values as a people. It is my opinion that talking about politicians at church, or as a chaplain, diverts me from the mission I have been called to work toward, but talking about policies (i.e. politics) helps to promote that mission. I believe this leads to followers of Christ being a “thorn in the flesh” of politicians because we will become more concerned with getting certain things done than we are with which of the various parties gets credit for the completed actions.

So let’s talk about Christians allowing their fear to determine how we treat refugees and for that matter immigrants also. If you are a follower of Christ you have given up your right to allow fear (other than the fear/awe of God, but that’s a different thing) to determine your actions. You gave up that right when you declared Jesus as Lord. To declare that Jesus is Lord means that He has the right to determine how we lead our lives and we have agreed to follow His directives. If you don’t recognize Him as Lord that’s another matter, but if we declare Him to be Lord then we have no right to allow fear to keep us from doing what He wants. That’s why so often his messengers (the meaning of the word aggelos, ἄγγελος, angel) begin their messages from Him with the phrase “do not be afraid”1 .

And the thing is we know how He wants us to respond to those in need and the foreigners in our midst. Scripture makes this very clear. There are too many references to list here2 but I think Deuteronomy 10:19 does a good job of summarizing the intent of them. It states, “and you are to love those who are foreigners, for you yourselves were foreigners in Egypt.” Love! That is the command we have been given by our Lord. We are to love the foreigner and there is no debate about it. As the wonderful contemporary theologians DC Talk reminded us “love is a verb” and therefore we need to be active in our love toward the weak.

Jesus continues the thought of the Old Testament in His parable of the sheep and the goats in Matthew 25. I have mentioned this parable on the blog before and I am pretty sure that I reference in conversations around Tapestry about once a month. Basically Jesus says in the parable that we better be on the look out for Him in the personages of those in need. The way we respond to these “least of these” is our response to Jesus ((Matthew 25:40)) .

Please noticed that I haven’t spoken about any of the political parties in this post. Neither of the two primary, dominant, political parties has done that great of job with refugees and immigrants. My friend, fellow pastor, and immigration lawyer, Scott Hicks recently posted an article referring to former President Obama as the Deporter-in-Chief on the same day that he advised immigrants to avoid Butler County, Ohio because of President Trump’s executive order concerning immigrants. Those of us who are followers of Jesus Christ should demand more from all our politicians rather than thinking our party is doing a good job with refugees and immigrants. We should be concerned with treating those who are different from us in a Christ like manner, not just concerned about whether our party is in power or not. Like I said earlier we should be a “thorn in the flesh” of politicians and we can’t do that if we allow our fears to keep us from doing what we have been commanded to do by our Lord.

As I was just reminded by the excellent religious commentary “Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events3 the Hebrew word miṣwāh means both “command” and “blessing”. For those who claim to be disciples of the messiah doing what God has commanded is not just obeying our Lord but is also the giving and receiving of a blessing. Jesus described this by stating “Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and obey it.”4 To do the will of God is a blessing, as we can’t let our fear overcome us and keep us from the blessing of the command of God.

We can and should have serious debate about how best to care for refugees and immigrants, but if you are a follower of Christ you cannot allow your fear to keep you from jumping in to help the weak. We need to karate chop our fear.

  1. Luke 1:30 is just one example 

  2. Relevant Magazine has a good online article describing what the Bible says about how we are to treat refugees. 

  3. Yep Pam and I are watching the first episode as I type this post 

  4. Luke 11:28 

Saying Something is Outdated in an Outdated Manner

So I found myself on another degree mill kick this morning (one of the wonders of Facebook is finding “friends” who have “degrees” from some of these places). The video above came from today’s search through the interwebs. Bethany Divinity College & Seminary is located in my hometown of Dothan, Alabama. You can read for yourself about the college and the requirements they have for their degrees. I would love to be able to say that the school makes me proud of my hometown, but after looking at what they offer and require I can’t say that.

You should watch the above video. Why? Because of the wonderful example  it is of calling other modes of education outdated in such a wonderfully outdated manner. The video looks and sounds like it was made in the late 70s. It was posted on YouTube in 2012 by Bethany as an example of why you should use them for your education. BTW in my opinion you shouldn’t use them.It is my opinion that they are a degree mill, a unaccredited “school” that provides an “education” that won’t be accepted by accredited institutions and doesn’t really prepare you to do what it is supposed to prepare you to do.

Bethany describes other modes of education as outdated in a video that claims to that Bethany is on “the cutting edge”. I’m not sure what decade this video would have been consider “cutting edge” but I’m betting it was before the 80s, maybe before the 70s.

To paraphrase old Jeff Foxworthy‘s old “You might be a redneck” series of jokes: “If you watch the above video and think it is cutting edge, you might be out dated.”

Personally it reminds me of all the times I see people, businesses, churches, and other organizations talk about how something it new and exciting when the truth is that whatever you are doing is basically the same old thing. For churches this usually means “We’re the church for people who don’t like church” which should usually just be translated “you can wear shorts to church and our pastor has a cool beard, but everything else is basically the same”.

Johnny Karate’s 5 Karate Moves to Success

Noah really likes Parks and Recreation. Since Noah liked the show I thought I would Netflix the series. I just finished it which means I have now watched the rather odd 7th season. In the 7th season there is one episode about The Johnny Karate Super Awesome Musical Explosion Show.

Johnny Karate (i.e. Andy Dwyer, a.k.a. Chris Pratt) has 5 Karate Moves to Success and I love them. The 5 karate moves are to each day:

  • Make Something
  • Learn Something
  • Karate Chop Something
  • Try Something New (Even If It’s Scary For You)
  • Be Nice To Someone

A long time ago I started teaching the boys 4 things that I wanted them to remember if I were to I suddenly die (at the time this would have probably been from an alligator attack since we were living in Baton Rouge). This was important at this stage of my life because it was not uncommon for me to be involved in something that could possibly lead to my death.

I’ve mentioned the 4 things before. They are that a real man …

  • Loves God
  • Loves his family
  • Respects/protects women
  • Protects those who are weaker than him

The list works and I continue to ask the boys concerning the 4 things whenever I leave from visiting them or they leave home to go back to school. However, if I was looking for a new list I would seriously consider Johnny Karate’s. I even think “Karate Chop Something” would work if I directed it toward karate chopping injustice (i.e. I’m going to call my senators tomorrow – POW).

Is it too late for me to encourage my college age young men to karate chop something each day?

Basset Hounds Make Great Guard Dogs

Just in case you have ever doubted that basset hounds make great guard dogs above is photographic proof of their superior ability in such tasks. I took a photo of Montana setup in her security post when I left on my rounds early this morning and took another photo when I returned home. As you can clearly see she has barely moved from her post. This right here is dedication folks. Obviously, Montana is a great example of diligence in protecting her family.

Bulletin Quote January 8th

For 2017 I’m making graphics of the quotes from the front of each weeks bulletin at Tapestry’s gathering. This week’s comes from a C.S. Lewis letter found in the compilation “Letters to Malcolm”. It’s a great reminder that the God Who is the Comforter doesn’t necessarily bring the comforts that we often pine away over.

If any “threads” would like to do some of these please shout and let me know.

Sabbath as Ressitance

Just finished Sabbath as Ressitance by Walter Brueggemann and it is so good. Was reading it with the small group that Pam and I belong to. BTW we are officially the most awesome small group in the world because the Oberstadts made coffee cups for everyone saying so.

Anyhow here’s a quote from Brueggemann’s book that I believe summarizes pretty well what he is saying throughout the book.

Sabbath is the practical ground for breaking the power of acquisitiveness and for creating a public will for an accent on restraint. Sabbath is the cessation of widely shared practices of acquisitiveness. It provides time, space, energy, and imagination for coming to the ultimate recognition that more commodities, which may be acquired in the rough and ready of daily economics, finally do not satisfy. Sabbath is variously restraint, withdrawal, or divestment from the concrete practices of society that specialize in anxiety. Sabbath is an antidote to anxiety that both derives from our craving and in turn feeds those cravings for more. Sabbath is an arena in which to recognize that we live by gift and not by possession, that we are satisfied by relationships of attentive fidelity and not by amassing commodities. We know in the gospel tradition that we may indeed “gain the whole world” and lose our souls (Mark 8:34–37). Thus Sabbath is soul-receiving when we are in a posture of receptivity before our Father who knows we need them (Luke 12:30). p. 84.