Tag Archives: liberal

Accidental Preachin’

“I’m no atheist – I’m lazy. I really do like hassle-free Sunday mornings. I have a problem with organized religion, so I’ve simply opted out. Live and let live, I figure.”
– Lynn Coady

Okay.

So, I accidentally went to church this morning.

*Sigh.*

See, about a year ago, for a plethora of reasons, I kind of gave up on the organized religion thing. Many in my world don’t agree with that decision, but it’s my life and it is what it is. (Disclaimer: I do still go to church with my grandma on occasion. That’s because my love for her is just a smidge stronger than my stubbornness.)

So, generally on any given Sunday morning, you’ll find me lounging at my house doing as little as possible.  (You know – that “resting on the seventh day” thing. I’m still a big fan of that one.)  So, this morning, in keeping with my new Sunday ritual, I groggily woke up a little past 8:00 a.m., stretched, yawned, realized no one else was awake, and proceeded to turn over and go right back to sleep.

But something interrupted my plans.

My husband likes to have the tv on while he sleeps. [Insert huge whiney *SIGH* here. Grrr. I hate that thing.] So, as I attempted to drift off, the sound of the television distracted me. It was turned to the history channel and a show called “The Bible’s Biggest Secrets” was on. Greeeat. Here I am purposely not going to church and what’s keeping me from falling back to sleep?  Church.

So, realizing that going back to sleep was not going to be in the cards, I rolled over to look for the remote. But, alas, as is usually the case, it was nowhere to be found. (I’m convinced that my husband snuggles with that thing and then tucks it safely under his body so I won’t be able to turn the tv off in the middle of the night. He knows me well enough to know that getting up and going across the room to push the power button on the device itself is just totally OUT of the question.) So, realizing that churchin on the history channel was how it was gonna go down, I grudgingly started checking it out.

And whoa.

Okay, so first off, the name of the show itself was The Bible’s Greatest Secrets, so I guess I should have known that this wouldn’t be the typical Sunday morning service. And this particular episode was about Jesus himself.

Now, let me break right here just a second. I don’t care who you are or what you believe, surely you can see that Jesus was pretty cool, right? I don’t think there’s a whole lot of doubt about whether the man existed – he’s pretty much a staple in historical figures. He was here, he did some stuff, then he died. Was he divine? Did he rise again? Eh, that’s for you to decide for yourself, I suppose. But he was here. That part is a fact.

And, in my opinion, dude was awesome.

So, I started watching this show and they were talking about the parable of the Good Samaritan. Now, even if you’re not the church-going type and never have been, you’ve probably heard about the good Samaritan. We still use that term now to refer to anyone who helps another out. But on this show, they dug a little deeper into the story.

samaritanA lot of you may already know what I’m about to say, and I guess I did too on some level, but something about the way they told it on this show this morning really got to me. This “good Samaritan” (an actual Samaritan – a man from Samaria) stopped to help a Jewish man lying on the side of the road.  The man had been beaten and attacked by thieves and left there to die. Many had already passed him by and left him to suffer his fate, including priests.

Now, I had heard this story many times growing up in my grandma’s southern Baptist church, but I had never stopped to think why these people had passed this guy by and not helped.  Frankly, I figured they were just assholes.  But, as it turns out, that Samaritans and Jews were sworn enemies.

They hated each other.

Did I know that? Eh, probably. So, why did this suddenly make so much sense to me today?

Back to the story.  So, finally, along comes this Samaritan and, for whatever reason, while all of the other “enemies” had passed by and left this guy to die, this particular Samaritan just couldn’t do it. He stopped for him. He helped him. He took him to safety.

This was crazy! Unheard of at this time. Practically impossible.

Granted, this story wasn’t a true story exactly. Nothing like this had actually happened, I don’t suppose. It was one of his famous parables. The stories that Jesus, the King of Metaphors, would tell his followers as lessons – guides so to speak. He wanted his followers to be like that Samaritan. To overlook what society was telling them about this group of people, and look at this one man as an individual. Help him. Reach inside yourself and do what you know to be right rather than what status quo would have you believe.

Gee, sound familiar?

So, anyway, the guy on the history channel went on to explain how this was pretty much Jesus’s whole intention. He was the new status quo. He was a barrier breaker. A wall destroyer. A curtain splitter.

But what happened to him? Well, things didn’t end so well. He stood up to authority and he paid for it. As the history channel host put it:

“When you attack a barrier, you run the risk of being destroyed by its collapse.” 

Wow.

Now, this doesn’t say you WILL be destroyed. You just run the risk. There’s a sacrifice to be made.

One more thing that was mentioned on the show: turning the other cheek.  This is another one of those lessons from Jesus that many of us, religious or not, have probably heard throughout our lives. Here’s the actual verse itself:

“But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also.” – Matthew 5:39 KJV

(Notice I used the King James version for you die-hards who may be reading this. Actually, I probably lost you guys when I used “asshole” up there. Sorry about that.)

Anyway, so most of us who have heard that over the years, probably have heard it as “be a doormat.” I mean, really. That’s what it has always sounded like to me. If someone beats the hell out of you, don’t fight back. Let them beat the hell out of the other side just to keep it balanced. Right? And while I appreciated the whole “be a peacemaker” sentiment, it never quite seemed fair to me. I mean, I’m a redhead. I’m a fighter. This whole ‘standing down’ stuff isn’t exactly my cup of tea.

But the history channel dude made me understand this a little better.

Pay attention to what the verse actually says. That phrase in the beginning – “resist not evil.” Think about what that means. Don’t resist evil. The word “resist” means to “withstand the effect of.”  Jesus was saying don’t withstand the effect of evil. Don’t just let it happen. Stand there. Resist it. He wasn’t saying just keep beating the hell out of me and I’m going to let you. He was saying, “I’m not budging.”  Keep on throwing your punches, I’m still standing here. Here, throw another punch. Do whatever it is you think that will get me to stand down, but I won’t. No, I won’t retaliate in the way that you are. I won’t fight fire with fire. I won’t abide by the old “eye for an eye” mentality. I am not you. But I will not give up. I’m a pacifist. I don’t believe in that method.  But I will not be moved.

I will not be moved.

Wow.

I don’t know about you, but as I listened this morning, all I could think about was now. Look at what is happening around us. Look at the evil that has come in the form of authority. Look at the status quo of today’s world – the judgment based on who is supposed to be our enemies. We are told that people are different so they must be bad. We are told to judge all by the actions of a few. We are told to build walls. We are told to keep walking by and leave people to die on the side of the street because they are the enemy.

And what would Jesus say about that?

I will not be moved.

I may have to run out and buy myself one of those WWJD bracelets. Because I think I finally get it. And what a crying shame that those in authority who claim to be such God-fearing Christians don’t seem to “get it” themselves.

What would Jesus do?

Well, I can tell you what. It sure as hell wouldn’t be what is happening in our country these days.

Okay, sermon is over.   You’re released.

***

This is my simple religion. There is no need for temples; no need for complicated philosophy. Our own brain, our own heart is our temple; the philosophy is kindness.
– Dalai Lama

 

An Apology Letter to the LGBT Community

 

Dear LGBT Community:

My name is Melissa Edmondson.

Last week, I was invited to speak at a GOP meeting in my small area to give an opposing opinion on North Carolina’s controversial HB2 law. Why me? Good question. I have no idea.

speech

Photo by Jesse Campbell of The Jefferson Post

I am a progressive independent who tends to lean pretty far to the left – the last person you’d expect to be a keynote speaker at a GOP meeting. But there I was, nonetheless. The Republican party chairman, in what I think was a brilliant, heartfelt move, decided that we are a better community when we hear what one another has to say. And he chose me to deliver that message.

Does he regret his decision? I wonder.

I’ve gotten many responses since the meeting, both good and bad.  (If you’d like to read the news articles about how it went, you can click here and here.  And then a later report about the republican party itself and their standing after the meeting: here.)

The “bad” responses I’ve received generally involve the possibility that I might lose my job or lose business for my employer. He and I have both received those comments from people in our community. Yes, I know this sound ludicrous to some of you who may be reading this while in other areas. But trust me, this is Ashe County, North Carolina, and this is a very real thing here. If you do not fall in the majority with your beliefs, you are practically nonexistent (or some will try to see to it that you are). So far, however, I’m still at my job. Even a heathen like me can still whip up a few real estate closings here and there.

But, honestly, I want to tell you about the other responses. It’s the “good” ones that have bothered me most.

I keep getting told what a “hero” I am. How “brave” I am. How much courage it took to get up in front of all of those people to speak like I did. And every time I hear those words, I feel a sadness that I have had trouble explaining.

At first, I told myself I was just being silly. Maybe I’m just one of those people who gets embarrassed by compliments. Maybe I need to learn to accept them more graciously and have a little more faith in myself. Maybe it was just a self-esteem thing – maybe I needed to be proud of myself.

But no. That’s not it. Not at all.

The more I’ve thought about it, the more I realize what’s wrong. I am accepting misplaced credit.

I am not the brave one. You are.

I am a writer; a talker. Speaking my mind is something that comes naturally to me. Sure, it’s a bit easier to speak to people who share my beliefs, but the fact that the room was full of people who didn’t share those beliefs didn’t bother me. When you truly believe that what you are saying is the truth, you don’t care who you are speaking to. You are speaking because you know it needs to be heard. Yes, public speaking is hard. Terrifying even. And if you want to pat me on the back for speaking in front of people, okay. I’ll take that. Because I was scared out of my mind. (I just recently read a James Patterson book entitled “I Funny” which was aimed at middle-schoolers. One of the chapters was entitled “Public Speaking: Or As It Should Be Called – Public Execution).  Yes, I was terrified. But not because of what I was saying. I had absolute faith in what I was saying. It was just your normal run-of-the-mill fear of public speaking. Most of us have it.

So, yes. Yay me. I overcame a public speaking fear. Big whoop.

But bravery? HA! No, that is not bravery. What you do everyday is bravery.  Especially if you live here.

Although the world is slowly adapting to one that accepts you as you are, change is very slowly arriving to our little area. In some places, change hasn’t arrived at all. You have to live your life as a lie. You have to pretend to be someone you’re not.

Me? Brave? Any time a major event happens between my husband and me, I share it all over Facebook. Pictures of us holding hands. Snuggling. I get to hear the ooohs and ahhhs and bask in the lovey-doveyness of it all. What do you get to do? Hide. You can’t post pictures like that or even hold your loved one’s hand in public. You have to hide behind the veneer of what is ‘allowed.’

You are the brave ones.

Me? Brave? I can walk into any restaurant or store and know that I can shop and dine and not have to wonder if I’m going to be asked (or told) to leave. I don’t have to wonder if this is a safe spot for me to be in and wonder if the person behind the counter is going to treat me the same as others. There is no reason they shouldn’t. I’m just standing here being heterosexual, why should they treat me any different? You, on the other hand?  I can’t imagine what must go through your mind every time you walk into an establishment in this narrow-minded area that time has forgotten to visit.

You are the brave ones.

Me? Brave? I can go to the bathroom, for God’s sake. If I need to pee in public, I go to the friggin bathroom. There’s no question. There’s no hesitation. There’s no looking behind me to see if I’m going to be arrested. There’s no feeling I’m doing anything “wrong.” I go pee and I leave. I don’t give it a second thought. Some of you? I can’t even begin to wrap my mind around how hard this must be for you.

You are the brave ones.

Please accept my apology. Please accept my apology for taking the compliments and the praise that should be directed at you. You are the brave ones. You are the heroes. You are the courageous.

Yes, I spoke on your behalf. But I am not you. I don’t understand, and can’t begin to fully understand no matter how hard I try. I am sorry that it was me up there speaking on your behalf, and not you able to tell your story. I was the one that was welcomed into the “lion’s den” as one reporter referred to it.

Would you have been?

Somehow I don’t think so.

Did those people hear me? Was it worth it?  I don’t want to be pessimistic here, but honestly I don’t think so. But to tell you the truth, I don’t really care.

They weren’t the ones I was targeting. You were.

Please know that you have friends. Please know that there are more out here than just me. Please know that you are not alone. Not by a long shot. You are fighting one of the bravest fights there is to fight – the fight for equality. You are the heroes, friends. Not me.

They may not have heard me, but I hope you did.

Love,
Melissa