Thursday, December 19, 2013

Do I take back the Duck Dynasty gifts under the tree...

Holy cow the interwebs are exploding with Duck Dynasty today as Phil Robertson, their patriarch's interview with GQ was released in which he said homosexuality was a sin.
Link to GQ article with Phil Robertson

So now what do we do with all the Duck Dynasty presents sitting under our tree? Yes, there are several Duck Dynasty gifts under the tee, for my son, who loves the huge bearded, silly, self proclaimed red neck cast. We all do. There I said it. I don't try to hide the fact that I find some reality TV, really fun, especially the kind that involves quirky families that do ridiculous things but you can see genuinely love each other and have each other's backs. The Robertsons are just such a family, and while many things on that show may be staged, I dare you to watch ten minutes of Uncle Si and not get a smile on your face. That being said, I think it's pretty obvious that I don't endorse everything the Robertson family does, nor do we promote those things in our home. I may not agree with what one member of their household said about homosexuality in a recent article, but that doesn't mean I am ready to hit the boycott switch or grinch away the gifts from under the tree. So here is our struggle, our first world problem for the day, how do we handle this ducktastrophe of media, parenting and matters of faith?

There are many things about the Robertson lifestyle that I don't allow or participate in at our house, and I knew the conversations with my kids that were going to happen and what I was getting into from episode one of this show. We don't own guns, we don't eat meat and we don't go hunting, ever. While I don't like that they create calls to lure animals to their deaths, I do appreciate that they respect and have certain sort of reverence and appreciation for the animals that they kill. I can apply the same sort of understanding to the way they read their Bibles as well. It was no surprise to me that Phil Robertson made the remarks to GQ that he did. What is more surprising is that these remarks weren't printed before, or that people are shocked by them. I could have told you from day one, that this was how he interpreted those scriptures.  The culture where he lives and has grown up is very old school, and holds every word of the Bible as inn errant, and absolutely applicable to today. I do not like or agree with the idea that homosexuality leads to beastiality nor do I find that Biblically sound. However, I would have been shocked if he didn't have this understanding of that Corinthian verse. I suspect that most people knew this as well. A&E had to have known this, they were just careful to keep statements like this and reporters questions at bay, or out of sight until now. I was honestly more concerned with his remarks on racial issues in the South. Again, I understand his background as an older, white, southern male, so I am not surprised, but it is disheartening to say the least.  It is well within their rights to bar Robertson from their show, as it was within his rights to make the statement he made, but I have a hard time believing they are surprised by this and haven't edited similar comments out of their show in the past. I have a feeling for them this is less about the dignity of people and more about a public relations nightmare, that it finally got out.

The truth is I know many people, and have friends and family members that would agree with Phil Robertson's interpretation of the Biblical passages on homosexuality, but I am not excusing his statements. This is not the belief of all "true Christians" as Robertson has been quoted as saying, in that light it is upsetting. I may see those passages as talking about a different type of relationship in the cultural context when they were written, but many Christians like Robertson, do not. I do think however that those Christians can still treat people with love and respect, they can attribute dignity to others, even if they don't believe what they are doing is Biblically acceptable. I know it's hurtful when others believe what you are doing is sin, and it sucks, but that doesn't make the people with those beliefs bad people. Phil Robertson should be held to a higher standard as a public figure and now a role model to many, but the man doesn't hide his dirty laundry, or make any excuses.When someone makes these statements with a public platform it makes it especially unfortunate, but it does not make them evil. I have a family member that would agree with Robertson, but was sought out be several transgender coworkers, because said family member was the only person in the workplace who didn't treat them differently or badly. It is possible to not agree with someone's sexual preferences, and still love them. It may not be comfortable, it may not be easy, but it's do able. It's more important to me that you treat people kindly, your actions really do speak louder than your beliefs.

Furthermore, there are a lot of people that I listen to on the radio, and watch on TV and in movies, or read their books, whose values and beliefs I don't agree with. I will let my children participate in the enjoyment of those things, but I will also have conversations with them, and monitor the content. They were big Hannah Montana fans, but I certainly didn't show them the MTV movie awards, or much of Miley's recent antics. We have discussed some of the things she has done, and talked about why we didn't think she made wise choices, just as we would discuss the Robertson's choices on hunting, gun toting and Biblical interpretation.  My son looked over at the laptop a few minutes ago, and asked what I was talking about, and whether there were Duck Dynasty presents. This led to a discussion about what Phil did, and why he won't be on the show anymore. My son said, "but I love Phil, and he does nice things, he gives people meals, and helps people and says Jesus loves you" I said, "yes but he also said some  hurtful things and made it sound like that's what all Christians think, and he is a role model, and he needs to be more careful what he says, because his words can be easily used to hurt other people". We had a conversation, one of many we have had and will continue to have about our beliefs, what it means to be a follower of Jesus and a role model, and how we should treat others. Those conversations are necessary and important no matter what we are watching, or where we are spending our money at Christmas.

Robertson has to face the consequences of his actions, even if he is free to say what he wants. A&E kicked him off the show. While conservative pundits decry A&E's action all I can do is think of Amy Poehler and Seth Meyers, famous Weekend Updates sketch, REALLY?!?!?!. Conservative media is just as bad as liberal media, or in between media or anything else. They all kick people out, bully people, feed tabloids and worse, when someone does something they deem unacceptable. It's up to the rest of us to decide whether we will continue to watch

Now, if Robertson starts bullying or oppressing homosexuals, kicking Boy Scouts out of his church, refusing to employ or insure homosexuals then we will probably turn the TV off, and cancel the DVR recording. We find, the show which will not be named, that follows a polygamist and his family, to be disgusting, and to showcase the emotional abuse of women, so we don't watch it. It's our choice what we chose to watch, and talk about, and what we refuse to participate in, and that we cannot participate in because it appears to us to actively harm people. I would hope that in the coming days, the Robertson family would stand up against violence and bullying of the gay community, even if they stand by their patriarchs beliefs. I hope they would understand that while their father may be a very loving man, these comments will be used to hurt others, and will hurt others, even if that was not intended, and that they have a responsibility to stand against further hurt and hatred.

Another confession, we used Duck Dynasty beards for the kid's Christmas play, because they were less itchy and way more fun to wear. This does not mean our church endorses the show or anything they say, it just means it was a good beard. Having already invested the money we will use them again and do our best to hide the logo, just as we did this year. We hid it just because it didn't fit into the costume, but it made a darn cute wiseman!

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

I love the Christmas mess!!!!

My house is always a mess. At Christmas though it is chaos. Atop the usual mess is a Christmas clutter, that I refer to as "Christmas threw up all over the house". Unlike most of the year, this added mess doesn't make me stressed out, I love it. I love the chaos and the clutter of Christmas sights and sounds. There are never too many Christmas trees, carols, or nativities. At it's core Christmas is a celebration of the mess that is life, and the one who brings beauty to the ugly chaotic disarray of it all. It's a story captured in plastic figures, ceramic snowmen, and even bears, that make it look so beautiful and lovely. Make no mistake there is beauty, lots of beauty, there is  a baby after all. It is a messy story though, so very messy. It's full of misery, fear, injustice, and heartache, but also hope, so much hope, and God provides and acts in such unexpected ways. It's life, a series of fortunate and unfortunate events, that don't make sense. A series of messiness that never seems to stop. One mess is cleaned up, relief sets in and then a whole new mess springs forth. Christmas is a mess, that I am excited to revel in.

A virgin gets pregnant, today, it's not newsworthy, it's reality TV. Then it was death penalty worthy. Yet we have Mary's reaction, a song of praise. Praise for the God who placed this situation in front of her. Why? How? To make matters worse, she was already betrothed to someone. Now she is knocked up, and her life, her relationship it's all in jeopardy. God provides. Joseph accepts her, accepts this responsibility placed on his shoulders, and embraces Mary. Mary survives, her marriage goes forward, but don't breathe that sigh of relief to deeply, because guess what now, you get to go on a big journey Mary. Take that big, uncomfortable belly and sit your swollen butt on a donkey and head away from your family, to register with your husband's family. Say goodbye to your mom, your midwife, all of it. Your faith, your dedication it's all good, but here is your next adventure. Oh and guess what, now you get a barn for a birthing suite. There was a place of shelter, there were visitors with news of angels heralding his birth, and there were magi with valuable gifts. All of these things encouraged Mary, provided for her family, God kept them going. Things didn't get easier once this baby was born either, then they had to flee for their lives from a murderous king. And we all know what happened when the baby grew up.

Do you ever feel like you have one mess after another with barely a chance to catch your breath? I bet Mary could relate, Joseph too. The story that was written for us all in their story, is so beautiful, so startling. In their story, there is God's provision and protection. In their story there is adventure, anticipation and excitement. In their story there is grief, but there is also grace.

We make a mess of this amazing picture of love God has given us in this story. We turn it into a commercialized fiasco really, but at the heart of all that there is an attempt to see the beauty, to revel in joy, to be childlike again. I think that's why Buddy the Elf is my favorite Christmas movie character. He is on a huge emotional journey, his world has been turned upside down and inside out, yet he still finds the wonder. He covers every surface in Christmas cheer, he sings it loud for everyone to hear. He finds the beauty in the mess, and while it may not be Jesus he sees, his faith in santa even when it seems like maybe Santa let him down, gives him hope. He sounds a lot like some of the Bible heroes.

God entered that mess to give us love and hope. He entered the mess to be with us, not above us. So I hope you can revel in it this Christmas season. I hope you can see past the flurry of appointments, the long list of to do's and just marvel at the miracle. Yes it's a mess, life is a mess, but God brings hope in the midst of the chaos, and the nativity is such a beautiful example.  If you feel like life is hitting you with one disaster after another, grab a cup of warm liquid, google image search baby Jesus and enjoy the silliness that represents that amazing story, but then look at that story, and see the hope, the wonder, and the peace that can come in the midst of mess.