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Politics and religion

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They say there are two subjects you should never discuss; politics and religion. Not knowing who the "they" are that declared this axiom in the first place, my suspicion is it was either a crooked politician or a "religious" Holy Joe, neither of which wanted the unwashed public to know about their under-the-table dealings nor discover the darkness of their hearts.

Since my Simply Speaking column violates the first part of the axiom relating to politics almost every week, we might as well go ahead and jump in on the second part regarding religion. Why not, are you game?

Actually, I have long suspected a lion’s share of the blame for America ’s moral decline relates to its spiritual disregard and inattention, thus situating our country over on the uninformed, unaware, and ignorant side of the religious ledger. Under such circumstances, the field is left wide open for Holy Joe-types to operate unobstructed in what should be the most important part of our living a skillful and meaningful life.

My definition of a Holy Joe is not, by any means, restricted to the Elmer Gantry prototype. No, there are probably phonies of every de scri ption out there, some strutting around in smart pin-striped suits, luxuriating in plush offices behind broad oak doors bearing a "Dr.," "Prof.," or "Rev."; veritable pillars of the community, they do appear to be.

Be patient now, I’m not gonna preach a sermon, but you know whenever we get into politics and religion, things tighten a little…

Up here in the beautiful Moreno Valley of Northern New Mexico, there are a number of things going on which qualify the area for its Spanish translation (dark valley); drugs, for instance, being one of them. There is a silver lining. The heights looking down upon the dark valley are the Sangre de Cristo (blood of Christ) Mountains. Needs no explaining.

Another shadowy occurrence in this dark valley’s processes, I’m just beginning to learn about. It has to do with spiritual things, organized religion, if you will. And a friend of mine has found himself center stage, cross-ways with some Dr., Prof., and Rev. types and their lawyers, like it or not.

As an aside, have you ever noticed how people who don’t do a great deal never seem to get in much hot water (in this life, anyway)? Conversely, those who are out and about, let’s say doing the work of the Good Lord, for instance, might be seen as constantly wading around in hot water (controversy) of one sort or another. We’ve all seen it…

David Denning, for over 14 continuous years, has pastored the Eagle Nest Family Worship Center , nestled in the dark, yet scenic lowlands below towering Touch-Me-Not Mountain , close by Eagle Nest Lake which feeds generously down through Cimarron Canyon . Dave’s received no salary for the past 12 years, though holding a BA and Master of Divinity degree. Income is derived from his general contractor business in the valley.

Donna, his lovely wife of 27 years and David, together (of course), are the proud parents of nine children, six of whom are still home. I count all these as special friends. There’s Katie, age 17, engaged already to Anthony (lucky guy). Then there’s Ashley,15, Natalie,13, Rachael, 11, Alana, 8, and Andrew, five. Each girl is very pretty and home schooled-smart. Andrew is all boy and can handle my War for Southern Independence-period Colt revolver to quiet unruly church parishioners (while I’m doing my X-Flags presentation on a Sunday night).

Sounds idyllic; so what’s the problem?

This situation may have had its genesis (years ago) on the occasion of an announcement by Pastor Denning that testimonies by (potentially) new members would be heard. Something to rejoice about, right? Well, now and then, more often than you’d think, some people who’ve attained leadership status in small enterprises (even churches) jealously guard their power status.

A perceived threat by even a church membership shift can set-off alarms in these small-minded types. In this case, the "threatened" leaders went so far as to forbid the ones lined up to testify from speaking at all. Things of this nature are not as rare as one might think. Such behavior, of course, does not in any way line up with Good Book guidelines, but true and gracious leadership ability is rare.

If you remember, some Pharisees and other religious leaders 2000 years ago, in Biblical history, became very distressed upon learning of the presence of the Holy One amongst the people, who was upsetting their apple cart. It happens…

As it turns out, the church property was sought by illegal means (county courthouse paperwork stuff) by the disgruntled group who, after being deservedly admonished for their behavior by the pastor, had departed, dragging their church memberships behind them.

Not being successful in this illegal endeavor, footprints seem to have led to the NM state convention headquarters for the denomination. Enter additional (suspect) leadership in higher echelons…along with their cadre of lawyers. The plot thickens.

Our nation was blessed in its beginnings by devout pastors, many of whom removed their robes in favor of the uniform of patriots in General Washington’s army. They were true leaders in their congregations and in their colonies, later in their states. Are we lacking this element in today’s America ? Appears so… May God bless.

Next week: The BCNM Files Against the Daughter-in-Law of God?

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