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Wednesday, April 29, 2009

A brief lesson.

For today's post I'd like you to take part in a little activity. For our activity compare this:

With this:*

At the age of 7, I could recite all 66 books of the Bible in 19 seconds. My father insisted on this because he was frustrated at waiting as his children flipped back and forth trying to find the verses he was preaching from. Afterwards, if one of us took to long my father would stop in the middle of his preaching, cast a gimlet eye on the offender and demand that, “Somebody smack that kid!”


For me, the story of Fred Phelps and the Westboro Baptist Church is a very long and painful one. But the first time that the wider community became aware of them was in 1991, when my father led his church in Topeka, Kansas to stage a protest against gays at a local city park. (Almost the entire membership of the church consists of 9 of my 12 siblings and members of their immediate families.)

The community reacted with outrage at the mean-spirited and hateful nature of the protest, and sentiments on both sides escalated quickly. However, far from discouraging my father, this incited him to much greater efforts at publicly protesting all that he decided was wrong. The church was soon staging dozens of protests every week, against local politicians, businesses, and citizens who dared to speak out against him and his church.

And ask yourself: who has something to teach whom about the proper living of one's life?**

* Where "this" refers to the entire linked talk, not just the passage I quoted as a teaser.

** As a side note, I should point out that Nate Phelps' narrative convinces me more than ever that Fred Phelps' extremism is not a consequence of Christianity so much as his own personal madness. That said, I do think the bible contains quite a bit of horrific violence and extremism all its own, but Phelps isn't crazy because he's Christian.

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Blogger Nate Phelps said...


Wednesday, April 29, 2009 4:05:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

That's pretty amazing. We're so used to associating "primitive tribes" with superstition and elaborate creation myths it's striking to see one with none of that at all.

I wonder whether they're an exception, just one of the many possible beliefs of lack thereof cultures have, or whether elaborate religious beliefs are actually specific to settled, agriculture-based civilisations.

Monday, May 04, 2009 2:45:00 AM  

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