by Reid Fitzsimons (note: other names used in letter replaced with XXX)
Greetings Pastor XXX:
This is Reid Fitzsimons writing. I am the husband of XXX, who was to an extent raised at St. John’s Church in the 1950s and 1960s. We attended your service on July 10, 2016 while visiting the area. You kindly invited me to partake in Communion but I mentioned I am not a Christian and felt it disrespectful of the Communion tradition and intent for a non-Christian to participate.
I am writing to offer some observations and thoughts of your service and sermon, but please bear with me for a moment to describe my relation with Christianity. I was not raised in any religion and was quite atheistic when I was younger. In my early 40’s I quit gainful employment to do volunteer work in Guatemala, Kenya, and later Honduras. In doing so I encountered many Christians and came to believe that the basic tenets of Christianity, especially Do Unto Others and Love Thy Neighbor, are the best prescription for any society regardless of religiosity, but at the time I was quite ignorant of the most elementary theology.
In July 2008 (a month after XXX’s mother died) we moved to Southern Alabama and divided our time between Alabama and running our charity in Honduras. While in Alabama XXX asked if I would help her find then attend church with her. We decided on a Presbyterian church (PCA, not PCUSA) and soon became fairly close to the pastor, a very gracious and learned person who actually went to seminary in France, in French. He invited me to attend a multi-denominational men’s Bible Study despite knowing unequivocally I was not a Christian. This stimulated an interest in theology, which continues to the present. As an aside, this study group, located in what is derisively called the Bible Belt, not only tolerated an agnostic Yankee who was not reluctant to bring controversy into the study, but kindly accepted me into their fellowship. I continue to attend church with regularity, mostly a small Regular Baptist Church since we moved to Pennsylvania, and continue to study theology on my own.
by Reid Fitzsimons (note that this is written the day following the terrorist attack in Nice, France)
Reasonable people, not just provincial redneck hicks, can divine a correlation between Islam and these rather persistent terrorist attacks, the toll of which is not insignificant. The perpetrators are running pretty much at 100% in the yelling Allahu Akbar thing, and they aren’t, to the chagrin of progressives, declaring themselves to be conservative Christians slaughtering in the name of Jesus. The Ivy League educated powers that lead us are quite vehement in instructing the ignorant masses there is no association between terrorism and Islam, with the caveat that there would be no benefit in stating such if it was true, which makes us conclude they suffer from the Islamic Culpability Denial Syndrome, or ICDS.
Characteristics of ICDS include ignoring that the perpetrators of terror unequivocally state they are Muslim and are acting on behalf of Islam, that they have historically received material and philosophical support from “legitimate” Islamic oriented governments (including our new BFF Iran), and the brutal and perpetual Islam on Islam violence. Combined with the paltry denunciations of violence done in the name of Islam by people who might reasonably be considered Islamic leaders both internationally and in the US, in both political and religious realms, ICDS is baffling. ...continue reading →
Today, in reaction to the horrific and tragic events in Orlando, FL, President Obama made an emphatic statement to the American people, as follows:
My fellow citizens, I am outraged and terribly saddened by the slaughter of innocent people by a terrorist, and am prepared to act boldly using all the power and authority invested in me by a pen and smart phone. First I will review the known facts so there will be no misperceptions and that the steps I am declaring today will engender no significant opposition.
In the early morning hours of June 12th, a 29-year-old man named Omar Mateen entered the Pulse Nightclub and murdered 49 people. Mateen was a US citizen born in NYC of Afghani parents and has been described as a devout Muslim. He apparently became radicalized and pledged allegiance to ISIS, or what I prefer to call ISIL because the L stands for Levant and it makes me sound smart and sophisticated, as most people don’t know what it means. We know without question that Islam is a religion of peace so that any violence committed in the name of Islam cannot be violence committed in the name of Islam. Hence, after consultation with a myriad of experts, professionals, and lawyers, including people working for the US Dept. of Justice Civil Rights Division and the Southern Poverty Law Center, we have determined the following to be true:
The Target Corporation, which describes itself as “an upscale discount retailer” and operates almost 1,800 stores, has recently emphasized its commitment to transgender activism, specifically where it pertains the to use of its bathrooms. Brian Cornell has been at the helm as the CEO since August 2014 (total compensation since his affiliation $28,164,024) and recently made a statement, largely in Q&A format, to address any concerns his bathroom policy has engendered.
His preamble reiterated Target’s diversity philosophy: "individuality may include a wide spectrum of attributes such as personal style, age, race, gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation, language, physical ability, religion, family, citizenship status, socio-economic circumstances, education, and life experiences." He added the following: “We live in exciting times, from not only a corporate/business perspective but from a cultural one. We at Target believe the greatest human endeavor is to facilitate people in finding personal fulfillment and satisfaction in life. We are proud to be at the forefront in advocating for people too long marginalized by society simply because of the manner in which they gender identify. We believe the greatest gift we can give our valued customers is a shopping experience where all feel welcome, accepted, and embraced regardless of such factors as sexual orientation or gender identity.” He then answered questions asked by customers about Target’s bathroom policy:
There are those who don’t always accept the premise that the impoverished in America, as compared to the realm of the truly poor in non-developed countries, are hapless victims of extrinsic factors. Within this perspective is a belief that bad personal choices are made in the continuum of life that either keep people impoverished or disallow them to rise above it. In other words, individual poverty in America can’t always be traced back to Big Corporations and societal oppression in general, but that opportunities for education, to obtain marketable skills, and to establish a secure financial foundation are lost out to greed and pleasures of the here and now. People with this view are referred to as conservatives, often with pejorative adjectives attached. If we were actually honest we would admit that state lottery tickets aren’t routinely purchased by the economically self-actualized, but by people who can least afford them. One cannot smoke dope, shoot heroin or methamphetamine, or drink to excess with regularity as a means to success. Money used for tattoos and body piercings could probably be spent more wisely. Conservatives are more of the Morning in America mindset, whereas progressives tend to find themselves stuck in a narrative based in some cruddy New England textile mill from the early 20th century, allowing them to deflect blame for individual and societal failings.
There is an undeniable temptation, when considering Melissa Click, to compose a juvenile limerick in regards to her surname. Having admitted this and successfully resisted it we can move on.
Melissa Click, in her mid-40s, first entered our consciousness in November 2015 during commotions for social justice at the University of Missouri, Columbia. These were largely the progeny of Michael Brown and all that he entailed, and spearheaded by student government President and U of M 2015 Homecoming King Peyton Head, who is worthy of a brief detour. President Head is a child of actual privilege in that (his bio suggests) his father has been present throughout his life, and the pseudo-privilege that so distresses the social justice activists in that his father obtained the level of school principal in the Chicago school system, indicating a certain financial comfort. His privilege is fully mitigated, however, by his being a young black man and apparent homosexual.
The neighbor up the road, a guy also born in 1958, stopped by while walking his dog the other week. We stood outside for quite a while discussing things big and small, personal and global. When the subject became ISIS, the San Bernardino shootings, etc he related a disquieting anecdote from the late 1970s. He was working at a gas station and engaged a customer in conversation, this being a time when intelligent young people were curious about the world and didn’t just accept the ramblings of their sociology professor as incontrovertible truth. Our neighbor recounted saying something such as humans cause so much conflict and war, shouldn’t religion serve as a way to counteract violent instincts. This customer turned out to be a Muslim of South-Eastern European origin, I think he said Albanian, and agreed that religion should be a means to achieve peace. He then added, in a conversational tone, once all non-believers were eradicated and only Muslims populated the earth, there would finally be peace. Not unexpectedly, this sentiment impressed our neighbor.
Note: the following article began as a brief e-mail to my brother (explaining some of the syntax), which somehow grew into 5 pages. Despite being too long and somewhat rambling, it makes points and arguments rarely, if ever, seen elsewhere.
I was going to add a few comments in regards to our discussion/argument about what you called immigration reform, though I think you were being a bit disingenuous and really meant support of an open border type policy (in theory Donald Trump rounding up anyone with a Hispanic sounding name and placing them in Mexico-bound boxcars could be deemed immigration reform). However this touches on a related topic of interest to me- the significant similarities between progressive liberals and Evangelical Christians, so I’m going to go ahead and write an excruciatingly long article for posting on an internet blog. I hope you are inclined to read what follows, which includes some outside the lines ideas in regards to immigration reform.
After the recent terror attacks in France, the instinctive response of people of faith all over the world was to pray for Paris, and to encourage others to do so. For others, who consider religious faith problematic, the response was different: “Don’t pray for Paris”. The subtext to those opinions was clearly: religion is part of the problem, so it can’t be part of the solution.
The first of those responses (prayer) has deep historical roots. Thoughtful people will wonder about the second: is it a new idea, or has it been tried before? If it has been tried before, what were the results of the earlier trials? Hearing news of the Paris attacks, many of us remembered John Lennon, who wrote 40 years ago: “Imagine…no hell below us, above us only sky.” John identified the objective of that dream as “..all the people living life in peace.” Clearly, if John were still among us, he would have been among those saying, “Don’t Pray for Paris”.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pfbph4VCVtk
In response to the horrific terror attacks in France last night, President Obama has announced a two-pronged approach. First, in a reprise of the enormously meaningful show of solidarity with the French people following the Charlie Hebdo attacks this past January, he has dispatched Sec. of State John Kerry to France along with has-been soft rock star from the 1970s, James Taylor, to croon to the French people “You’ve Got a Friend.”
Second, President Obama has initiated an offensive plan code-named “Tunes Against Terror.” The centerpiece of this strategy involves positioning audio-equipped drones above ISIS strongholds and blasting in a continuous loop a compilation of James Taylor’s greatest hits, including Sweet Baby James, Fire and Rain, and Oh Susanna. Additionally, the 1972 Carly Simon song, “You’re So Vain,” written about James Taylor, will be included.
The President expressed his confidence that this unprecedented dual strategy will reassure the French people of US support of their progressive social policies while either making the ISIS terrorists feel mellow and embrace Western progressive ideals or desert their posts to escape excruciating James Taylor covers of songs such as Wichita Lineman, Hound Dog, and Handy Man.