Have a Merry Starbucks Christmas (or Hannakkuh, Kwanzaa, Festivus, etc)!

Duck! The culture warriors are at it again!

One wishes that sanity would prevail in the annual Christian Christmas whine that rings out this time of year. You have probably heard it in the past, “Such-and-such or so-and-so or the liberals or the atheists or the such-and-such, so-and-so liberal atheists are trying to kill Christmas or take Christ out of Christmas.” Unfortunately, sanity remains elusive in 2015.

This year, the first notes in this virtually one-sided battle rang out last week as one Joshua Feuerstein took to Facebook with his peculiar brand of militant Christian ministry. Feuerstein posted an attack on Starbucks last Thursday noting that its annual holiday cup had nothing on it about Christ or Christmas. He added that the company hated Jesus. If you peruse his Facebook page, you will note that Mr. Feuerstein tends toward accusatory hyperbole. (He also has almost 2,000,000 “likes.”)

His Starbucks rant soon went viral and led to posts of all types on his page. Some were wholeheartedly in support, and some suggested that he might find a better outlet for Christian ministry than this. Some of the latter are discussed in a “Salon” article posted on Saturday.  Here is a link to a Fox news blog posted today discussing the issue.

I hope and pray that all of my Christian brothers and sisters will learn to deal with our pluralistic society in more constructive ways. Our society changes around us. It is well-documented that in the United States, both the number of those with other religious beliefs are increasing and the number of those with no religious beliefs are increasing. This Pew Research poll on the subject was posted last week. Moreover, past attempts to force beliefs on people have only been counterproductive and, sometimes, lethal. I am thinking here not only Christian brutality to non-Christians but also of brutality by others toward Christians.

Attacking red coffee cups with a company logo on them and the company itself are not the way to live out our beliefs. As noted by Starbucks, we are free to decorate the cups as we choose. We are also free to live out the commands of Christ. Vitriol, condemnation and judgement are not anywhere among them. Indeed, Christians might well note that the only people to whom Jesus spoke harshly were the “devout” people of the day. May we go about our ministry with a little more love, humility and service. May we also not be the ones to take Christ out of Christmas as Mr. Feuerstein threatens to do.

HEROS, Bathrooms and Bigots

I’ve never admitted this ugly truth publicly, but I’ve sometimes used the women’s restroom in a place of business. Understand please, that I’ve never done it because of some compulsion to pee in a stall instead of standing up or to satisfy my urges in a place that is almost assuredly cleaner and more pleasingly aromatic than are men’s rooms. No, no, no, nothing of the sort. Instead, I’ve done it because of a medical condition which often plagues men of my advanced age. This “problem” sometimes makes it seem as if our sphincter will explode and let loose the Niagara Falls of all urinations if we don’t pee as soon as possible, which means we NEED to go in the first place available. Sometimes, that is a women’s room. It is important to note that I do require that it be unoccupied and have a lock on the door.

This week, voters in Houston overwhelmingly rejected an ordinance referred to as HERO, which is an acronym for the Houston Equal Rights Amendment. The Houston City Council adopted HERO last year to ban discrimination in public places on the basis of race, age, religion, military status, and 11 other categories, including sexual orientation and gender identification. The major reason for such initiatives is to give people who fall within those categories a quickly available local administrative remedy, as opposed to a lengthy law suit, if they feel discriminated against in such things as employment, housing, and public accommodations.

Similar initiatives are in effect in other localities. However, they have been defeated in still others not because of disagreement with the basic goal of the ordinance, but because of opposition over the use of public restrooms. It seems to be generally agreed that in localities where HERO initiatives have lost, opponents have been able to successfully label the law as a “bathroom ordinance” and play up fears that passage will invite male sexual predators to dress up as women and enter women’s restrooms.

Four thoughts on this. First, unfortunately, sexual predators can already do such things: criminals commit criminal acts and predators prey. Second, there are also laws on the book against such activities. For example, sexual assault is a felony. Third, in playing on people’s fears and prejudices, opponents to such laws prove the discrimination that exists against our transgendered brothers and sisters. Fourth, like me, the transgendered probably just want to use the bathroom in peace and then quietly exit.

Here is a link to a story from the public radio program “Fresh Air” that is about a family coping with their transgendered child. Here is a link to “On Point,” an NPR program that presents both sides of the argument. Here is a link to an article in the Texas Tribune discussing the aftermath of the vote.

Blogging 101: Who I am and why I am here

It is hard to say who I am and why I am here, but one fact for sure is that I am a repeat failed blogger. I’ve been in 101 two prior times have never found a way to continue a blog. I was in this course in January of this year for as long as it took the bloom to wear off of a new year’s resolution. With me, it has never taken long so I was probably out of here before the end of the first week. It obviously is also true that I am back to give it another whirl.

I’ve just retired from ministry in the United Methodist Church and my wonderful wife and I have moved into a Texas Hill Country town about an hour west of Austin. This blog will be about such things as Christianity, politics, government, and new science research that we can apply in our lives. Religion is part of this for obvious reasons. Politics and government is part of it because I worked as a staff person, lawyer or lobbyist in and around the Texas Legislature for about 22 years. I also love TED talks, NPR and cruising YouTube for interesting talks, so will also blog about what I find of interest in those places.