Monday, August 31, 2009

Stepping Away From Fundamentalism, Step One

I've decided to write a series of blogs reviewing the steps that led me away from fundamentalism. Perhaps there will be something of value to those who are struggling to find their own way out of fundamentalism.

I went to a Baptist youth camp when I was fifteen years old and I haven't been the same since.

The camp was run by independent fundamental Baptists who called Billy Graham a "Graham cracker" and denounced Southern Baptists as "liberals." J. Frank Norris, the controversial pastor of First Baptist Church in Fort Worth, who once shot a man dead in his office and who was so vituperative and disruptive that he got booted out of the Baptist General Convention of Texas, was their icon.

Neither theology nor politics mattered a whit to me then. At that age, I couldn't tell a liberal anything from a conservative whatever and I didn't care. Don't get me wrong. I was a Christian. I accepted Jesus as my Lord and savior at the age of twelve and I was striving to live a life of sincere discipleship. But, I have to confess that I wasn't going to that youth camp to have a happy week with the brethren. I went because it was the only place I knew where a guy could meet girls from Texas (mostly west Texas) and from every corner of the state of New Mexico. I went to expand my horizons – or, at least, broaden my view of the dating pool.

The pool, however, was the one place at camp where you were forbidden to get a view. Fundamental Baptists don't permit "mixed bathing." In this context, "bathing" has nothing to do with taking a bath. It meant the swimming area was segregated by gender (segregation by race was implicit, only whites were invited). Boys could hang around the pool during certain hours. Girls hung around the pool different hours. Never did the twain meet around the pool.

In my eyes, and those of many others, the "no mixed bathing" rule took all of the fun out of swimming. And that wasn't the only rule that rubbed us the wrong way. They didn't permit boys to put their arms around girls or hold hands during chapel services either. That rule produced an irresistible impulse in certain boys that prompted them to test the patience of camp preachers. I confess that I was chief among those who sat close to the front and deliberately held hands with girls, or put my arm around one, for no other reason than to see how long it would take for the preacher to call me down from the pulpit. I always looked forward to that part of every sermon at youth camp. It made my day.

Then, one day at youth camp, a storm blew through at the very moment the preacher was rising to speak. The storm knocked the lights out and the preacher couldn't see whether my arm was around the girl beside me. In fact, it was so dark I couldn't see my own hand in front of my face. That night there was only the voice of the preacher – booming like the voice God – or, at least shouting to be heard above the storm without the aid of amplification. I don't remember hearing a thing that the preacher said that evening. Instead, I heard the still, small voice of God speaking in my heart and issuing an unmistakable summons for me to devote my life to the ministry.

"Whom shall I send and who will go for us?" God said. "Here am I. Send me." I said.

Though all of this transpired at an Independent Fundamental Baptist youth camp, responding to the call to ministry was truly my first step away from fundamentalism.

When the invitation was given and we all sang "Wherever He leads, I'll go," I really meant it.


Sunday, August 30, 2009

Immanuel Kant Nails Talk Radio and Fox News

I've been on vacation and have been catching up on some less than light reading. While reading the second volume of Kant's Metaphysic of Morals I was struck by how apropos his succinct definitions of a couple vices were to describing the standard fare on Talk Radio and Fox News. Here are a couple quotes:


. . . The wilful spreading (propalatio) of something that detracts from another person's honour -- even if it does not come under the jurisdiction of the courts and even if what is said is true -- diminishes respect for humanity as such, so as finally to cast the shadow of worthlessness over our race itself, making misanthropy (averson from men) or contempt the prevalent way of thinking.


Wanton censure and a mania for ridicule, the propensity to expose others to laughter so as to make their faults the immediate object of amusement, are [a form of] malice. . . . But to expose to laughter the real faults which would tend to rob the person of the respect he deserves, or supposed faults as if they were real, has something of fiendish delight in it, as does the propensity to this, a caustic wit (spiritus causticus); and this makes it an even more serious violation of our duty of respect to other men.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Anne Hutchinson on Trial, Again !!!

Thanks to Rob Boston at the Wall of Separation weblog for calling attention to the attempt by prominent Christian Nationalists appointed to the Texas Public School textbook committee who want to remove references to Anne Hutchinson from public school textbooks.

Anne Hutchinson is one of my heroines. Christian theocrats expelled her from the Massachusetts Bay Colony in 1638 for holding religious views at variance with those of the governing authorities. Among the convictions they deemed heretical was her belief that "it was a blessing and not a curse to be a woman."

Here's a link to a transcript of the original trial of Anne Hutchinson. Every American ought to be familiar with it.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Will we Face the Threat of Inflation?

The most discouraging aspect of the irrationality in evidence at the town hall meetings about health care is the further irrationality they portend for the discussions that will be coming in regard to the need to balance the federal budget and reduce our national debt.

Warren Buffet describes the challenge our nation faces as the economy improves and the printing presses churning out greenbacks are turned off:

Slowing them down will require extraordinary political will. With government expenditures now running 185 percent of receipts, truly major changes in both taxes and outlays will be required. A revived economy can’t come close to bridging that sort of gap.

Legislators will correctly perceive that either raising taxes or cutting expenditures will threaten their re-election. To avoid this fate, they can opt for high rates of inflation, which never require a recorded vote and cannot be attributed to a specific action that any elected official takes. In fact, John Maynard Keynes long ago laid out a road map for political survival amid an economic disaster of just this sort: “By a continuing process of inflation, governments can confiscate, secretly and unobserved, an important part of the wealth of their citizens.... The process engages all the hidden forces of economic law on the side of destruction, and does it in a manner which not one man in a million is able to diagnose.”

Saturday, August 15, 2009

On Coded Messages in Right Wing Media

Thank-you Frank Schaeffer for putting into words what many of us are sensing.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Oklahoma First Lady Kim Henry on the Slave Castle in Ghana

Greg Horton with the Oklahoma Gazette in a story about the New Baptist Covenant meeting has a quote from Oklahoma First Lady Kim Henry about her experience at the same slave castle in Ghana that President Obama recently visited. Her comment was particularly insightful:
Kim Henry said the slave castle had a profound effect on her and contributed to her decision to participate in a discussion about race. "It was almost like walking into a time machine," she said. "You feel and smell the anguish and the fear. It was surreal to walk into a place where so much evil was done for profit. I remember thinking the castle mimicked humanity: It's so beautiful from the outside and the view of the ocean is beautiful, but inside it hides something sinister."

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Another One of Kind

Yesterday, Will and Monica gave us a new grandson -- William Joseph Prescott.

Weighing in at 9 lbs. 8 ozs. and 22 1/2 inches long, he's destined to soon be handling his father's basketball.

He's only got to grow about 40 more inches to be as tall as Monica. It will take 54 more inches for him to catch up to Will.

One of a Kind

The picture above was taken as former President Carter was leaving the Convention Center after his speech at the New Baptist Covenant Regional meeting in Norman, Oklahoma. Governor Henry wanted to get a picture with former President Carter and no photographer was nearby.

I took the picture above with my iphone. A couple other pictures were taken by secret service agents with their cell phones, but I doubt any of them had a better angle than the one above.

Saturday, August 08, 2009

Sarah Stewart & Wade Burleson at the Norman New Baptist Covenant Meeting

Brad Henry, Jimmy Carter & Major Jemison at the Norman New Baptist Covenant Meeting

Hanna Massad, Wil Brown & Ellis Orozco at the Norman New Baptist Covenant Meeting

Preston Clegg and Michael Bell at the Norman New Baptist Covenant Meeting

Joe Grizzle and John Reed at the Norman New Baptist Covenant Meeting

List of News coverage of the New Baptist Covenant Meeting in Norman

Here's a list of news stories written about the New Baptist Covenant Meeting in Norman, Oklahoma on August 6-7, 2209. This entry will be updated as news stories are discovered.

The Oklahoman

Former President Carter says Christian Division like a Cancer (8/7/09) with video.

Former President Jimmy Carter seeks Christian Unity (8/8/09)

Oklahoma Gov. Henry says he's glad he found faith young. (8/8/09)

Podcast of Carla Hinton's Interview with former President Carter.

Former President Carter Trying to Unify Baptists (7/25/09)

The Norman Transcript

Jimmy Carter Urges Unity Along Common Christian Principles (8/8/09)

Carter Remembers Oklahoma Visits Fondly (8/8/09)

Racism Addressed at Baptist Conference (8/7/09)

Former President to Speak in Norman (8/1/09)

Oklahoma Gazette

Former President Carter Plans Norman Speech (7/31/09)

Ethics Daily

Building Bridges: Crossing Valley of Racism (8/7/09)

Attend Immigrant Luncheon at New Baptist Covenant Meeting (7/22/09)

Upcoming Oklahoma Gathering Models Baptist Inclusiveness (7/10/09)

Associated Baptist Press

Oklahoma Governor says faith sustained family in loss of child (8/7/09)

Baptists Challenged to Overcome Racial Barriers (8/7/09)

Regarding AP Coverage of the New Baptist Covenant Meeting in Norman

Having responded to no less than five of the six e-mails that I received on August 5th alone from the reporter for the Oklahoma office Associated Press, I was suprised to read misleading statements in the coverage of the New Baptist Covenant meeting that could have easily been corrected by a simple inquiry by e-mail.

Here is a copy of an e-mail that I recently sent to Oklahoma AP Reporter Murray Evans:

Dear Murray,

I am disappointed to find that your coverage of the New Baptist Covenant meeting as recorded in the Georgia Ledger Inquirer leaves the impression that Anthony Jordan, Executive Secretary of the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma was slighted by the steering committee of the New Baptist Covenant.

Actually, he was honored with an invitation that was not extended to the leader of any other Baptist convention in our region.

Former President Carter held a private luncheon with the members and spouses of the steering committee that organized the Midwest Regional Meeting of the New Baptist Covenant. As a courtesy, we extended an invitation to Anthony Jordan that was not extended to anyone else who was not a member of our steering committee. When Dr. Jordan responded that he and his spouse would not be able to attend, we went a second mile and extended an invitation to a member of his staff and spouse. There was no response to that invitation.

Invitations to attend our meeting were extended to all the public by news stories and paid advertisements in several local newspapers including the Oklahoman.

Knowing how careful you were to abide by all the security precautions that would be necessary for former President Carter's visit, I trust that you will be equally as careful to correct any misperceptions that might arise from your report.


Dr. Bruce Prescott
Chair, Steering Committee for the Midwest Region Meeting of the New Baptist Covenant

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

U.S. Facing Precipitous Decline in Tax Revenue

Today's issue of the San Francisco Chronicle says the "U.S. sees biggest tax revenue drop since 1932." Here are the key numbers:
Individual income tax receipts are down 22 percent from a year ago. Corporate income taxes are down 57 percent.

Saturday, August 01, 2009

Norman Transcript Errs in New Baptist Covenant Story

Todays Norman Transcript has a frontpage headline story about former President Carter coming to Norman to speak at the midwest regional meeting of the New Baptist Covenant. The paper says Carter will be speaking to more than 15,000.

For the record, as our press releases and website reveal, Carter spoke to more than 15,000 people in Atlanta in January 2008. In Norman, we would be happy to have him speaking to 1,500. Maximum seating at Norman's Convention Center is only around 2,500.