Elton John: “Jesus Was Gay”

The premiere of my series “Why It Doesn’t Work has been preempted by Elton John.

It’s been the talk of the news media and the blogosphere for days now. Elton John was quoted in an interview with Parade magazine over the weekend as saying “I think Jesus was a compassionate, super-intelligent gay man who understood human problems. On the cross, he forgave the people who crucified him. Jesus wanted us to be loving and forgiving. I don’t know what makes people so cruel. Try being a gay woman in the Middle East — you’re as good as dead.”.

Unfortunately in his attempt to make sense of the figure of Jesus, he outraged a metric crapton (yes that IS an actual measurement) of religious groups. Of course it really doesn’t take much to outrage religious groups these days. So it’s not surprising that Sir Elton’s attempt to make sense of religion really pissed some people off.

Church leaders and biblical scholars rushed to dispute John’s views of Jesus.

Lecturer Joan Taylor, of King’s College London, insisted Jesus was celibate or “sexually ascetic”.

Stephen Green, director of Christian Voice, said the gay claim was “a desperate cry for attention”.

A kinder take on Sir Elton’s ideas from Catholic Herald editor Luke Coppen were: “Someone once said we all try to remake God in our own image. It’s just possible that Elton John might be guilty of that.”

A Church of England spokesman said insights on Jesus were “perhaps best left to academics”

Bloggers have come out of the woodwork decrying Elton’s quotes as well:

One blogger known as Rhardin tells Fox News’ 411 blog, “I will never listen to this man’s music again. How dare he speak of my Lord in such a disgraceful way. He should not speak on things he knows nothing about. I hope and pray that all Christians will take a stand on this one. Elton John’s lifestyle speaks for itself.”

Elsewhere, bobj72 tells TheDailyBeast.com, “While I have had some appreciation for Elton John’s music…he could not be further from the truth on this matter regarding Jesus. It is clearly stated in Leviticus 18:22, 23; that Christ sees homosexuality as an abomination.”

Upon investigation, Jesus did not say anything of the sort in that passage. Jesus wasn’t even quoted because Leviticus is one of the books in the Old Testament. Even in the Old Testament (NIV version) homosexuality isn’t called an abomination. It is called “detestable” : ‘Do not lie with a man as one lies with a woman; that is detestable. Technically homosexuality isn’t referred to at all.

Some Biblical scholars even claim that the interpretation is wrong and that quote actually means that two men shouldn’t have sex in the marriage bed that a hetero couple share.

All that aside, I think that too many people put far too much stock into what celebrities say. If I said that Jesus got it on with Mary Magdalene and they had a kid just like Dan Brown said in his novel, no one would give a rat’s hind quarters because 1) I’m not a celebrity and 2) most people know I’m a non-believer and would expect me to say something like that.

Lots of people worship a black Jesus, a European Jesus or a Spanish Jesus. They seek to make their god something they can understand and relate to. Elton did the same thing. Nothing more. I have no belief in any divine being, but I can relate to that.

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Pat Robertson Persists

This morning Pat Robertson continued to insist that the reason for Haiti’s troubles is the supposed pact with the Devil that we discussed yesterday. He claims here http://bit.ly/5XeL7L that since the Dominican Republic is prosperous that this supposed “pact” MUST be the reason that Haiti is the most impoverished nation in the world.

Obviously Mr. Robertson’s research team failed to mention to him that, although there are resorts, the Dominican Republic is still a third world country. There is also a difference ing governmental styles. Haiti is a socialist nation run by a dictator. The Dominican Republic stopped being a dictatorship in 1961.

Because of the governmental style, Reagan levied heavy import tariffs against Haiti. That also contributed to the impoverished state of the country. Add to that the weather-related issues and the drug issues and it’s no wonder Haiti has problems.

And yet, Robertson continues to attribute these troubles to a being that no one has been able to prove even exists. Anecdotal evidence is not evidence because a story cannot be tested repeatedly to get the same results. An anecdote is the result of human observation. Personal biases color those observations. When someone like Pat Robertson observes the world, he sees demons and the Devil as the reason for worldly woes. A scientific, skeptical approach shows us that weather and politics are largely contributing factors.

Not the Boogeyman.

Witch Hunts In Africa

Two days back I posted about a video I watched. The video showed five elderly people being beaten and burned alive in the western district of Kisii in Kenya. Why? They had been accused of witchcraft and/or sorcery and they were being punished for their crimes by being burnt.

After further research I found that I came a bit late to this particular party. The original video I posted appears to have first surfaced in April of this year. This is also not the only incident of people being burnt, beaten, ostracised or otherwise tortured for supposedly practicing witchcraft or sorcery. This is, according to this article by the BBC (http://bit.ly/WYaSP) is so common a practice that there are no longer any elders to consult.

In my previous article I spoke at length about how stunned I was that such a thing could happen in the 21st century. My husband reminded me that it isn’t really the 21st century there. In remote villages in Africa, it IS 200 years ago. Perhaps some of modern civilization touches these areas but not enough science and logical thought are being introduced to these cultures.

This article from the New York Times (http://bit.ly/3t7NkW)  blames apartheid for the burnings. The article further claims that these burnings have been growing steadily since the 1980’s. The Chief talks about the “ungovernability of the young” and talks about how the old ways are being lost. There was once a less violent way to handle “bewitchings”. Now the youth are taking things into their own hands and the police do nothing.

Another opinion posed by this article (http://bit.ly/2I7u0c) by the Associated Press blames the increase of Pentecostal churches. According to the reporter, the number of burnings have increased in proportion with the number of churches. “Some of the churches involved are renegade local branches of international franchises. Their parishioners take literally the Biblical exhortation, “Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live.””. Some parishioners who attend churches have taken the teachings back to their village where it gets mixed with African traditions. A little knowledge is a dangerous thing.

Then there are those who let the power go to their heads. There are pastors who perform exorcisms and extort exorbitant fees from the parents for this “service”. Children have been hurt and maimed during these supposed exorcisms. The mere mention of certain church names is enough to cause a group of happily playing children mentioned in this article to become frightened.

Unfortunately this is a complicated issue and there doesn’t seem to be a solution. If you remove the churches, then you remove food and medicine that secular organizations simply can’t cover. I would be interested to know what, if anything, the UN is doing about this. Are there any human rights organizations addressing this problem? There is still research to be done on this and I will be talking about it further in the future.

The Funeral of a Friend

Michelle would have hated that I called it a funeral. She wanted this to be a celebration of her life. So that’s where we’ll be Sunday night. At her celebration.

It’s not like this was unexpected. Michelle fought back stage 4 cancer once. The second time the disease won. If you’re one for one and you still die, does that mean you’re tied? It reminds me of when I was a teenager in the 80’s. We had MAD back then. Mutually Assured Destruction. Yep. Cold War Era.

How do people like Hitchins, Dawkins and Meyers handle death when it hits close to home like this? This is my first death as an atheist. It doesn’t make me long for an afterlife. I’m not seeking shelter in dogma. If anything I am grieving for a young woman who won’t get to have her mother at her wedding or ask about what to do with a colicky baby or let her mother bounce her grandchild on her knee. Her youngest daughter is only 18. What do you do with something like that?

I’ve told her repeatedly that if she needs anything at all, I’m here for her. I guess that’s all I can do.

Some of the best advice I’ve ever seen on coping with the death of a loved one was from, of all places, a web comic called Venus Envy by Erin Lindsey (http://www.venusenvycomic.com/). Zoe just had her first experience with death when her dog Bergamot (Bergie to his friends) was hit by a car. It devastated her.

As he walked her home, her friend Larsen told her “It’s okay to be sad. But they’re not really gone. The most important parts of them stay with you. The best of what they were will stay with you if you care enough. Just think about them a little each day. What they did for you. What you did for them. One day you’ll realize you’re not deliberately taking that time to think about them. That’s when they’re a part of you forever.”

I love that advice because it doesn’t rely on something mystical. Simply take time to remember them. That’s how people truly live on after death. In our memories and with our love and stories.