Saturday, April 21, 2012

The Great Sex Swindle

When I lived near Northern Mexico, my family frequently visited the border regions. My brother-in-law was a well-known rancher in that area, married into one of the more prominent ranching families, owning or leasing miles of grazing lands by the section (square mile) rather than the acre. . . . .

Consequently, we frequently visited that area. That was when I was first introduced to the concept of the ugly American, a book that described American tourists traveling abroad. That was when I first met native perceptions-and-misperceptions regarding American tourists. . . . .

For starters, they thought we were wealthy. Because it was what they most commonly experienced, they believed we all came to cheat them, dicker down their prices, and return home with a special bargain. Every young boy also wanted to guard my car … for a price. AND, most entrepreneurs had a sister to offer me …“sex” for a price. They saw that as a common Tourist expectation and the fact I was a “poor preacher” had nothing to do with how they perceived me as an American male tourist. . . . . .

The perception of the “Ugly American“ is not an accurate "perception.” It is part of a double standard we hold in this country. Denying that “sex for sale” is not common practice is to deny something that goes back further than my days in Southwest Texas; it goes back to the Garden of Eden when the great sex swindle began its launch. (For a Christian perspective, cf The Great Sex Swindle, John W. Drakeford, Broadman Press, Nashville, 1966). . . . .

The current political scandal involving President Obama’s Advance Security Team is scandalous hypocrisy! It does not involve President Obama, however, nor is it an issue of Republicans versus Democrats, and it cannot be blamed on George Bush. As I see it, this is about the values of Americans! It is the hypocrisy of the “ugly American.” It persists as a values war within the "social allowances" that we know-but-ignore as Americans. . . . . .

I will defend the harsh rhetoric against those Presidential Security Agents for several reasons. To begin with, married spouses ought to be able to trust their mates, unequivocally. We are human beings, created in the image of God; we are not biological primates controlled only by instincts that make us behave like a pack of dogs chasing a female in heat. Living by instinct stinks like psychological behaviorism! . . . . .

Beyond the politicizing, the posturing, or the preaching, those Security Agents had more to do than just protect President Obama. They were Government Agents, whose “behavior” directly affected the diplomatic relations between the nations involved. If they were boozing, whoring around, or trying to bamboozle questionable women out of their agreed-upon price, they were affecting the diplomacy of two nations--either for or against such practices. . . . . .

As seems quite apparent, the behavior of these few agents reflected that of the Ugly American, and that is a reflection I should not have to “live down.” So … what about the American men who travel to places like Thailand for the sex traffic? What about the amount of Pornographic for-profit-trade allowed online, that makes women and children pieces of meat to be bought and sold? . . . . . Closer home, I remember the days when my wife and daughter were attending the national convention of doctors and nurses related to Occupational Health Care. They traveled to exotic places like Boston, San Francisco, Minneapolis, and New Orleans, and for some there was always the “understood” pairing, prostituting, sexual posturing, and all that goes with the boozing crowd, being out of town, in mixed crowds, with expenses paid … You get the picture. . . . . .

Contrast that now with the pious horror, the political rhetoric, et al that accompanies the current news coverage of the firing, retiring, and public castigation of those Agents. What some of them did was maritally dangerous, morally wrong, politically inexpedient, and socially offensive. . . . . . BUT, take it one step further ... How is it that we can be so shocked, mortified, or whatever, by any of the above behavior, when we cannot watch a ballgame without being challenged by our need for Viagra, or its competitors - those other brands of sexual stimulants, hormone additives, or whatever they are selling to enhance the sexual drives of a nation that already has a problem containing its sexual interests within the socially approved boundaries of marriage (an institution as old as humanity self)? . . . . .

We are a nation that overlooks missing-and-abused children and battered women (or raped and killed). We are a nation that allows men to live by this sexual double standard that allows men to do what we do not tolerate women doing. We have become a nation sweeps under the rug the sexual predators practicing their perversions under the protection of the priesthood, or any other legal protection within grasp. . . . . . From Warner’s World, I simply do not get it! WHY do we continually ignore this issue as we do, sweeping it under the rug so to speak, while compounding it with intense marketing of sexual products that exacerbate an already existing moral problem -- all in the name of free market advertising. I have not even touched on aspects like children producing children, or our social overload of single mothers with children, not to mention the children whose fathers irresponsibly run from one woman to another. . . . . .

The list goes on, ad infinitum - all pointing back to the fact that we are participants in a great sex swindle, because some find it profitable to convince us that we need to swim in a sea of sex. Drakeford quotes one of his references giving us this word: ..... “By itself sex cannot substitute for intimacy; at best it becomes mutual masturbation, a counterfeit currency of interpersonal relations” (92). Think about it … the swindlers and the swindled, all looking for the right kind of intimacy and love, but not finding it ... 

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

The Myth of the Rugged Individualist

Americans worship rugged individualism! Just the sound of the words makes most Americans high with ecstasy. We romanticize the wild-wild west and the rugged don’t-need-anybody individualist. We especially exalt singular individuals like Edmund Hillary for their stellar achievements and we pull their examples from every realm of life.

The story of Edmund Hillary is especially revealing, in that we never hear the true story of how Hillary and Nergay, his Sherpa guide, mobilized and coordinated a dozen climbers, 35 Sherpa guides, 350 partners, and 3,600 pounds of equipment and supplies.

Truth in advertising should, however, demand that we tell the truth of the matter and reveal that the conquest of Everest was not the singular achievement of one man; rather, it was as one author described it, a feat of modern management, a cooperative team effort of committed participants.

Whether it be Mitt Romney, President Obama, CEO Pandit of Citibank, or Edmund Hillary, successful living is still a community event: the President can do little without Congress; Pandit of Citibank can do little without his faithful core of flunky employees, and Edmund Hillary could not reach the top of Mount Everest without the coordinated efforts of his guides, partners, and tons of supplies.

From Warner’s World,
The truth of the matter is, the rugged individualist we worship is merely a mythic god of self-adulation.
This is

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Dear Wanda

An unexpected package came in the mail some days ago. I checked the return address, saw who it came from and opened the package. I found the book this proud, new first-time author sent for examination. Inside, I discovered a nicely crafted hard-cover volume of 185 pages describing “a real life story of love and triumph” - Dear Wanda.

As I often do, I turned to the back cover to see who would lend their name to promoting the book. Dean Massey described it as an “honorable tribute from a loving husband!” He commended it for breathing “love and devotion,” and suggested it deserved reading as an example of “commitment and devotion.” marital ingredients that are often in shortfall today.

Juanita Leonard called it a “compassionate compelling memoir” of a forty plus years marriage that faced insurmountable odds and revealed an unbroken covenant. James Edwards suggested admiration can be the judgment of this family living in the never-forsaking Godly presence of the center of their faith.

I found aspects of the book troubling, both in craft and content. The author would have profited with a critical proofreader to catch some rather obvious errors, and I had some difficulty staying with the writer without getting left on a sidetrack when he sometimes flitted about; it left me sometimes catching up.

I did find myself wrestling with some unanswered questions, which the author prompted. While musing on various answers, I saw the strong possibility that God often does reveal great interest in our adventures like marriage. While it seemed to me the author needed a lot of propping up throughout his life, the “Dear Wanda” thread weaved its way through the book and seemed to suggest that when given opportunity, God often has a way of bringing people together like restoring two halves of the same fruit.

I’m not sure I could have written as candidly, and seemingly as openly, as this author did. In doing so, he risked personal exposure that some of us find too threatening. Yet in doing so, he also revealed our common humanity and the potential powers of healing and wholeness when we expose our lives on the God-ward side.

I never met Wanda. I met the author as a brand new rooky pastor--a predecessor in my final pastorate. In a yet unpublished manuscript, I paid him tribute for paving the way to some of the success I later achieved in that pastorate, knowing also that he underwent great personal adversity in that situation.

Dear Wanda prompted generous feelings toward the author, sparked by my respect for my own mate of 65 years. As our mutual friend David Grubbs suggested, “there is open and wise counsel in Fred’s vulnerability.” Readers may find many unanswered questions in this volume, but the one thing you will find constantly reaffirmed is the “ever present, powerfully healing and encouraging quiet companionship of Wanda."

It became a story Fred James had to tell. He tells it in this 185 page volume, published by Evangel Press, available from author Fred James, 4332 Fall Creekway N, Indianapolis, IN 46205 ($15.00).

From Warner’s World, we are

Sunday, April 1, 2012

New Konstantopoulos Book Being Published

For more than four-decades, the Church of God has recognized the ministry of Bill C. Konstantopoulos (pictured), as pastor-missionary-evangelist, and premier doctrinal preacher. Now retired in Johnson City, TN, this Greek-American pastor unburdens his heart to the church as he offers his newest “ignore at your own risk” issue of 84 pages, published by Reformation Publishers of Prestonsburg, KY.

With an open heart, “Brother Bill” challenges us to respond personally to the High Priestly prayer of our Lord, “That they all may be one” (John 17:21 KJV). That All May Believe remains a subject close to the hearts of all who love the distinctives of the Church of God message--holiness and unity. He calls us to renew our understandings of ecclesiology, and re-visit the church for what it really is.

The church is more than a place to go, more than a purely human organization, and more than just a place to marry our young and bury our dead. It is never just a building where people go; rather, writes Konstantopoulos, the church is the people of God. Without contesting denominational differences, he constructs a solid foundation in scripture, while spotlighting a fragmented church that needs to rediscover the true nature of God’s church. Calling for the unity of the Body of Christ from a purely biblical perspective, the author invites believers to rediscover and renew their New Testament root system. He calls the Church of God Reformation Movement, as well as all believers everywhere, to rise to the challenge of unity, by being true to the Word of God, as well as to our own spiritual yearnings.

As the Community of the Redeemed, God’s Church includes all who have come through Christ to experience newness of life and transformation of the Spirit. We have been placed in the Body of Christ as it has pleased Him, and only a truly united Church can please Him, let alone adequately witness to, and win, this badly fragmented world.

From Warner’s World,
copies should be available from the author at the Winchester, KY Pastor’s Fellowship, May 6-7, where the author will preach on this theme …