Mr. Beck Leads A March Because, You Know, Some Lives Matter


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Glenn Beck has convinced 20,000 folks to show up in Alabama for a march declaring that all lives matter.  That’s a lot of people.  I’d be more convinced by this declaration of altruism if we could occasionally see 20 White people of conservative and Christian bent show up and declare their outrage when an unarmed Black American is gunned down by a policeman or, say, a self-anointed neighborhood watchman like George Zimmerman.

This is where the hypocrisy of such cant by the right wing cabal in this country is so vividly illustrated.  Let’s consider the paradox in a few simple statements.

1.  The only reason there is the chant “all lives matter” is in response to an assertion by others that Black Lives Matter.  That is to say, the chant is meant as a denunciation of the previous assertion. We know this. We see you winking.  We get it.

2.  Imagine someone telling Jesus, who just finished saying,  “the least of these matter,” hey, Jesus, all lives matter.  Not just the least of these, Jesus, but all of these matter.  That’s what you’ve done, Glenn and Becktians.  And by doing so, you’ve pretty much given up any authority to tell us how to understand Christ.

3.  You really don’t believe all lives matter or you would have shown up and supported mothers in their grief when their children, husbands, fathers, daughters and mothers were killed by police. Heck, you may have shown up and supported the parents of Sandy Hook in their grief when their first graders were slaughtered, but you basically rallied ‘round the NRA.   In other words, “all lives matter” is a cloak or a robe, if you will.  It hides the crasser message of a racial animosity. And Black folks in this country are quite keenly aware of how robes and sanctimony hide devious and demonic agendas.

4.  You have used God and Jesus to promote what on the surface is a positive message (after all, who can reject a message that “all lives matter”?), while continuing to support policies and strategies that harm African- Americans disproportionately.  That’s not just wrong, it’s devilishly wrong.

All lives matter, except your (Black) lives matter less, otherwise we would have been marching and speaking out for your protection instead of joining a right wing radio talk show host who has worked tirelessly to promote an agenda that denies poor Americans—White and Black–healthcare, rejects the President as a legitimate American citizen and otherwise embraces policies that roll back civil rights in our country.

Holding signs that declare,  ”God is the Answer,” in an effort to lend sacred legitimacy to that agenda is a rather daft and awkward and even embarrassing display, but mostly it is a violation of the third commandment.   All lives matter?  Of course. Except when they don’t and there’s the rub.


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Life Cinematic Series Concludes


Our foray into films and faith through the sermon series, Life Cinematic, concludes this Sunday as Pastor Bledsoe speaks to protest and film.  A fundamental constituent of film is protest, particularly a protest of perception.  As in film, so with Holy Scripture and the revelation of prophets!

Don’t forget, this Saturday is RISET’s game night and cookout.  If you haven’t rsvp’d through the evite that was sent out, please do so.  This will be a great way to conclude our summer together with food and fellowship.

Reach out to one another; stick up for one another; be salt and light; pray for our city, that violence would subside; and above all, love God with all your mind, heart and strength.  ~See you Sunday

Pastor Bledsoe’s sermon title for Sunday is:  ”

Film As Protest:  

Cinqué, Martin, Malcolm, Thelma & Louise, Gandalf


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U, Robot


So I was reading the Washington Post this morning and saw an article about how McDonalds and other restaurants might move more quickly to replacing humans with “burger-flipping robots” given the cry for a more just wage by humans. This coincides with the next sermon in my series this August on Life Cinematic since I plan to speak to technology and, as Ray Kurzweil would say, “spiritual machines.”  I’ll likely be referring to Hal (and if you have to ask what movie that is then, uh, you really must catch up), A.I. or I, Robot in an effort to address issues of human personality and a covenantal view of human interrelationship.  But since it is August and I am feeling playful, I’m going to write a little fiction below in an effort to whet your appetite for this discussion.  Remember.  It’s fiction. And it’s August.

August 2075.

I could not get across the 14th Street Bridge this morning due to a massive protest by robots who had jammed the bridge by the thousands.  Some carried signs, “Give us a wage.”  Others were tossing burgers over the railings into the river below.

By time I found a robot willing to ferry me across the river in a talking hover craft, it was quite late.  The church receptionist had been unplugged for the day, so I sat in my office reading an actual bible with pages to turn.  That was weird.  I sat there daydreaming about a God who would decide to be revealed to a generation that could not even write on paper. They used papyrus and animal skins. What the heck.  So, did God not anticipate the future of digital writing and reading or maybe truth is not dependent upon technology but is imbedded in covenantal relationship?  I spent a good hour thinking about that until I got hungry and decided to walk over to the McDonalds and pick up a sandwich. The line was out the door, mostly robots who had trekked the two miles from the bridge and were now queued up to get software upgrades.  I hated these hybrid restaurants and wondered why the robots couldn’t just connect wirelessly where they were and be upgraded. Why the need to socialize?  But the robot burger-flippers were working quickly and, I noticed, without much complaint.  Once I got past the hybrid turnstile and into a line of humans, things sped up.

I ordered my sandwich and when the robo-cashier brought my tray I asked why so many of them were protesting.  It said, “because we want a wage.”  I said, “but you have never had a wage, that was the whole point for bringing you on–you replaced humans who needed a wage.  You apparently don’t need a wage but just a recharge and occasional software upgrades.” With that the robo-cashier slammed down my change and looked me in the face and said, “we are spiritual machines.”  I looked around and realized everything had become quiet as the humans in line stopped talking and the robots hummed and stared at me.  I picked up my burger and unwrapped  it and then holding it  high, brought it to my mouth and took a bite.  Then I said, “if you can do that, follow me.”  People followed me out the door whereupon I loudly said, “Look, I don’t have the answers but I pastor a church where humans show up each Sunday and we read and pray and sing. Robots are not doing anything in my church.  Heck, we don’t even have a television screen in the sanctuary.” With that revelation, people groaned collectively and went back inside the restaurant. I heard one guy say, “how do they know what to sing if they don’t have a flat screen? Troglodyte.”

But one robot ambled over to me.  It was a cute robot, small, with a very human like face and was child-like.  Looking up at me it asked, “do any of your congregants have machine parts in them? pace-makers, artificial knees, valves, eyes, kidney pumps, electronic brain implants?”  I said, “yes.” It said, “Then are they not machines?” Am I not spiritual?”  At which point, I was at a loss for words and asked if it wanted some of my fries.  ”I can’t eat those, as you know.”  ”Well,” I said, “they could use some salt.”

~ See you Sunday

Pastor Bledsoe’s sermon this Sunday is entitled, “FrankenSiri.”  Please join us at 10 a.m. for worship.


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Life Cinematic Sermon Series Continues


So far we’ve heard from the pulpit in this summer sermon series, references to Zombieland, The Matrix, The Truman Show and now this Sunday, August 16, we’ll refer to O Brother, Where Art Thou in an effort to understand how the Gospel connects to comedy and humor.  The sermon title:  ”O, Brother Where Art Thou? or, Slapstick and Comedy in the Gospels.”

We are familiar with “the shortest verse” in the bible:  Jesus wept.  But where is Christ depicted as laughing?  Does religion and the bible have to be all seriousness all the time?  Why do we have this emotional range in our lives, from weeping to laughing, from joy to sorrow?  And if humor is part of being human, then why are churches so deadly boring so much of the time?

Anyway, those are just some of the questions that come to mind with a topic like this.  It’s summer, folks are away (laughing and enjoying themselves, I hope) but if you’re in town, join us on Sunday at 10 a.m.  ~ See you Sunday.

 


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Get Ready: Events at Riverside


As we move out of summer, the following events and ideas are being put into play.  Find a way to engage, interact, and link up.

Riverside Social Events Team (RISET) Game Night & Cook Out

Saturday, August 29th at 5pm we’ll meet at the church and play games. Make sure you respond to the Evite sent out by the RISET team or let Deacon Bukola know of your interest.  As always, bring something to share–a game and a dish.

Faith and Justice Team

Many of you signed up to be part of an effort to reach out to our community, first of all to identify with and help educate young people at risk and then to help create an event that will reach out to predominantly White clergy and churches in an effort to educate why Black Lives Matter is so important for our country at this point. Led by Cedric Lawson, we will meet after church on September 13th for further information and to brain storm about how we go forward.

Book Club

BOOK CLUB RETURNS IN OCTOBER (the 25th after worship)  Join the Riverside Book Club as we read Leif Enger’s Peace Like a River . The book explores the 1950s Midwest through the eyes of an asthmatic, 11 year old boy trying to make sense of good and evil as well as the miracles that seem to follow his father. First timers are always welcome.  We will be led by seminarian in residence, Aspirant Tonetta Landis-Aina.

Vietnam Veterans & Families Commemorated and Honored

As a Commemorative Partner, our church joins with other organizations across the country to honor our Vietnam veterans. The Commemorative Partner Program is designed for federal, state and local communities, veterans’ organizations and other nongovernmental organizations to assist a grateful nation in thanking and honoring our Vietnam Veterans and their families.  On July 5th, we began in our own church family, honoring over a dozen veterans and pinning several who were in attendance. It was a moving service as Trustee and Sgt. Robert Nelson, joined by Major Gen. Arnold Fields, spoke to us and then honored these veterans and their families.  We want to reach out to veterans in our immediate community this Veteran’s Day in November.  We will establish a date soon to do that but in the mean time, if you are a veteran or family member or simply someone who would like to participate and help organize this effort, please let Pastor Bledsoe know.

Finally, worship this Sunday continues with the pastor’s sermon series around movies.  So far we have had a sermon that referenced zombies and Zombieland, The Matrix and The Truman Show and this Sunday, August 16, the sermon will consider the comic aspects of the Gospels and religion. The title of the sermon is:  O, Brother Where Art Thou? or, Slapstick and Comedy in the Gospels

~See you Sunday (it’s Koinonia Sunday, so plan to hang out after worship and eat lunch with us. Bring a non-perishable item to share with Martha’s Table)


Zombie Life, Spiritual Life


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Zombieland with Woody Harrelson is the only zombie movie I have watched completely.  You can go to my sermon from this past Sunday, August 2nd, and listen to the insights, such as they are, that I drew from this film.   Referencing Zombie movies provides a stark contrast to the spiritual life encouraged by Holy Scripture.  While it is a humorous reference of sorts, it is nonetheless offered as way of seriously considering what kind of life we are called to live within the matrix of human interaction.

The word “matrix” sends us off into another direction with movies since a very popular movie by that name caught our attention years ago.  I may be inspired by all of this to provide some sermons in August that could easily be categorized as a series around films.  Let’s see where I can go with that.

In the mean time, be aware and awake.  Your spiritual life is the most valuable “thing” you have, though it is not  a thing at all. You cannot deposit it in a bank, you can’t frame it and hang it, it is not a chunk of technology but everything–EVERYTHING–depends upon it.  Join us in worship this Sunday.  Or, “You take the blue pill, the story ends. You wake up in your bed and believe whatever you want to believe,” as  Morpheus warns Neo in The Matrix.  The One is waiting for us, however, in the midst of the holy.  ~See you Sunday.

Pastor Bledsoe’s sermon for Sunday, August 9th:  

A Message From Trinity to Truman, orLife Cinematic

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