Sunday, June 24, 2018

We Killed The Church

I'm not a religious zealot looking to convert the masses. I will make the introduction and witness to you, but the rest is your business. I'm much worse than those constantly proselytizing to the masses. I'm a Christian naive enough to expect Christians to love folks. I have never found the right balance between rage and Grace.

The last few years have been incredibly frustrating. I really don't know what, if any, role I have in this Kingdom building endeavor. I will never pretend to be a perfect person and I will never ignore bigotry and ignorance. These two fatal flaws almost eliminate me from preaching.

I am so disenchanted with the state of the church. I don't know what to do. I know a lot of great pulpit lecturers and entertainers, but very few members of the clergy who are willing to take a stand. I'm disappointed with pastors who profess to believe in a risen God who was crucified, but are too scared of upsetting their congregations to preach the truth to them.

I don't think the church can be saved. We did this to ourselves. We can blame the Atheist, the Agnostics, or worshippers of other religions, but they aren't the ones who made us trade our religious convictions for the idols of money, nationalism, politics, and race.

Friday, June 15, 2018

America's "Real" Christian Values

"I would cite you to the Apostle Paul and his clear and wise command in Romans 13, to obey the laws of the government because God has ordained them for His purposes."

 Attorney General Jeff Sessions

Taking scripture out of context, like this beauty from Jeff Sessions, is a cornerstone of repressive evangelical ideology. If we were to draw this misreading of scripture to it's most logical conclusion then the crucifixion was just, Paul's four trips to prison for emulating the life of Jesus and spreading the Gospel were just, and yes America's enslavement of Africans was just. This is the kind of regressive Christianity that continues to poison people against the church.

Religion and patriotism have always been good disguises for bigotry. There are very real issues to be resolved with our immigration system, but snatching babies off of their mother's breast and detaining kids in makeshift prisons isn't the answer. It's painfully obvious, to anyone who isn't emotionally invested in the myth of America, that this kind of treatment has always been reserved for racial minorities. This is an empirical fact. America has always mistreated those with "problematic" identities. This is just another version of that.

In 25 years the people who are supporting this foolishness will have to pretend they were always against it. They are, coincidentally, the same people angry about nonviolent protests against police brutality. These are the descendants of the people who defended southern police departments when they were spraying protesters with hoses and beating unarmed people with nightsticks. It takes some of our fellow citizens a generation or two to see the humanity in people who don't look like them.

Here's some free advice: be very careful around people using the Bible to justify vicious and cruel behavior. The same people using scripture to dehumanize the "other" will use the same Bible to find a verse to legitimize your mistreatment.

There's a rich history of Christians who have been martyred for disobeying unjust laws. I wish Jeff Sessions was as well versed in what Jesus was doing when he was calling out Pharisees and running money changers out of the temple. Maybe if Mr. Sessions had paid more attention to what Black people were rebelling against when he was a young man he would know the state isn't always doing things in accordance with the principle of "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you."

Thursday, June 7, 2018

Honoring Woody Pettus

On Saturday, June 2nd, a group of almost a 100 people gathered on The Casino Lawn at The Omni Homestead. The Casino, built in 1895, will be the home of the Omni Homestead’s newest restaurant “Woody's”. A restaurant dedicated to the memory of Woodrow Pettus.

Woody Pettus started working at the Homestead as a caddy when he was a teenager. He moved from the golf course into the stables where he worked with his father. His final move was into The Main Dining Room. He was a busboy, waiter, wine steward, captain, assistant head waiter, headwaiter, and then Maître d.

In 2003, Golf Styles Magazine recognized Mr. Pettus as Maître d’ of the Year. Last September, (2017) The Historic Hotels of America honored him as Ambassador of the Year.

At the ribbon cutting ceremony, managing director of The Omni Homestead, Brett Schoenfeld, had this to say about Mr. Pettus:

From the time I learned of Woody’s illness we spent a lot of time on the phone. We talked about his legacy here at the hotel. Trying to honor a man like that is a very difficult thing. We, as a team, thought a lot about how we wanted to do that and how we wanted to make that happen. We are pleased to announce today that the restaurant here at The Casino starting June 8th, will be named Woody’s.

The ribbon cutting event was part of a larger weekend dedicated to the life of Woody Pettus. Later that night, The Omni Homestead’s main dining room was transformed into a celebration hall for the life of Mr. Pettus. Proclamations from The Historic Hotels of America were read by William Foudy. A letter from The American Hotel and Lodging Association was read by Henry “Hank” Spire. A letter from the Virginia State Golf Association was read by Don Ryder, and resolution from the Virginia Tourism Corporation’s board of directors was read by Miss Jane Sewell.

The Pettus family received numerous awards, presentations, and plaques throughout the night. State Senator Creigh Deeds Introduced Senate Resolution number 534 honoring Mr. Pettus. In an extension of remarks for the Congressional Record Robert William Goodlatte United States House of Representatives presented the family with a certificate of recognition. Virginia Governor Ralph Northam also sent a recognition to the family.

Bob Goodlatte Chairman of the House Judiciary 
Woody's daughter Lisa Aguilar gave remarks to the crowd on behalf of her family:

What an honor it is to stand here tonight and honor my daddy. He loved this place. To his friends and coworkers, he loved you. He truly loved the Homestead. He loved everything about it. There are guests who have known my dad and told me my kids know your dad, my grandkids know your dad. What an honor.

In a tribute video presented to the family coworker longtime friend Arthur Bryan summed up Woody’s impact on the resort this way:

Many times, guest would call the Homestead and ask, “Is Woody at the Homestead?” If they were planning to come and Woody wasn’t here, 9 out of 10 times they would wait until Woody came back to work before they would even check in.

This story is also published on the Allegheny Mountain Radio website