Monday, November 24, 2014

The New Cheyenne Autumn

Recently I read the book The New Jim Crow as part of an online book group. Aside from recommending that everyone should read it, I don't really know what to say about it. Why does America, "the land of the free," have more people in prison than any other country? Why do police have free rein to confiscate the property of citizens who haven't been charged - let alone convicted - of any crime?

Supposedly this is caused by the war on drugs. But when we learn that black people and white people sell and use illegal drugs at equal rates - and yet black people are much more likely to go to jail for drug offenses - then it appears that there is something else going on.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

"Fix the World" vs. "Fix Yourself"

Recently someone came and preached at my church about his social justice work. I have to say that he rubbed me the wrong way in his very first sentence. He said we were called upon to minister to people whom "society considers to be unlovable."

As a transgender person, I often feel that I belong to a group which society considers to be unlovable. But I do not like being reminded of that fact from the pulpit. Also, even if "society" considers us to be unlovable, we still love ourselves. We can still find people who love us. Love is still present in our lives.

More importantly from a social justice perspective, it is not love that we want. It is justice. (To paraphrase Frances E. W. Harper.) I don't need everybody to love me. I need people not to discriminate against me. I need people to respect me. I need people to treat me the same as everyone else. If you "love" everyone, you can love me too. But in my experience very few people love everyone.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

My First Sermon: "In Praise of Idolatry"

This sermon was preached on August 10, 2014 at the First Unitarian Universalist Church of New Orleans.

The Bible says “You shall have no other gods before me. You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. You shall not bow down to them or serve them, for I the Lord your God am a jealous God.” (Exodus)

In fact, as far as I know the Abrahamic religions – Judaism, Christianity, and Islam – are the only ones that forbid the creation and worship of idols. We find many “idols” in other religions: Buddhism, Hinduism, African religions, Native American religions, et cetera.

I don't know about you, but I was brought up to believe that all those other religions were false. My parents didn't make a big deal about religion – they didn't go to church – but I didn't get any education about world religions either. And the information I picked up from the people around me was that you only had two religious options: you could be a Christian or an atheist. That's it.

Now many of us here are aware that there are other options. In this sermon I'd like to go back and re-examine some of the things that the Bible says about idolatry and the worship of “other gods.” I'd like to suggest that maybe idols are not exactly what the Bible says they are. And that other gods can be acceptable too.

According to Merriam-Webster, the definition of idol is “a representation or symbol of an object of worship; broadly: a false god.” Who gets to decide which gods are true and which gods are false? Idolatry means the worship of idols. idolatry is defined as “the worship of a picture or object as a god.”