Celestial Lands The Religious Crossroads of Politics, Power, and Theology

Category Archives: Politics

Institutions and the Voices on the Periphery of Power

I am excited that a tactic currently being used by many social justice activists appears to be having some effect, at least in the short term, and that tactic is (of all things) mass calling legislators.  I have not seen that it is causing legislators to change their minds on Read more →

A Dream of Rationality

We have a dream in America of rationality. What I mean by that is that we have imbued our country with an ideal of rational discourse being the primary form of interaction between human beings. That if we can make the right argument, it will persuade people to our (meaning Read more →

John Fitzgerald Kennedy

“Whatever one’s religion in private life may be, for the officeholder, nothing takes precedence over his oath to uphold the Constitution in all parts—including the First Amendment and the strict separation of Church and State.”Read 

Howard Zinn

“While some people think that dissent is unpatriotic, I would argue that dissent is the highest form of patriotism. In fact, if patriotism means being true to the principles for which your country is supposed to stand, then certainly the right to dissent is one of those principles. And if Read more →

Margaret Mead

“We will be a better country when each religious group can trust its members to obey the dictates of their own religious faith without assistance from the legal structure of their country.”

Barry Goldwater

“Religious factions will go on imposing their will on others unless the decent people connected to them recognize that religion has no place in public policy. They must learn to make their views known without trying to make their views the only alternatives.”

James Carroll

“You know, the genius of the American system — why the Constitution is worth defending — is that our Constitution comes from Roger Williams, not John Winthrop and John Cotton. It assumes a world not divided between good and evil, but one where everybody participates in the whole mess.”

Creating the “End Times” in Religion and in Politics

Today, I read an email from the leader of a right-wing Patriot group, known as “Oath Keepers” that the group was planning to “go operational”.   I’ve paid attention to “Oath Keepers” for some time, because of their interpretation of the Oath of a Federal Officer that I have also taken… the Read more →

Earth Needs Moms — Sermon by the Rev. David Pyle

Last preached on May 12th, 2013   Sermon  “Earth Needs Moms”         Rev. David Pyle   “MOM!  I wanna build a pipeline from Canada down to the Gulf of Mexico that will carry tarsands oil across the country, so that I can have cheaper gasoline and the oil companies can Read more →

The Consequences of Omniscience and Omnipotence

When I was at the U.S. Army Chaplain’s School at Ft. Jackson, South Carolina, there was a day in class that we were responding to hypothetical counseling situations.  One of the scenarios presented to us was that of a young woman who came to us for counseling after having been Read more →

Free Speech, Responsibility, and Religious Violence

Freedom is one of the most misunderstood concepts in the United States, and perhaps in the world.  Be it Religious Freedom, or Freedom of Speech, or the Freedom of the Press, the Freedom of Association, or any of the common conceptions of freedom that we experience in the United States, Read more →

President Obama is Not a Liberal Socialist… I Am

I promised myself that I would not move into my “occasional political musings” this election season until after the conventions were over.  Well, the speeches in Charlotte and Tampa are done, and now I feel that there are some things that I have to say… President Obama is not a Read more →

American Exceptionalism and American Irrelevance

One of the genre’s of Science Fiction that I love is what is called “near future Sci-Fi”.  These are stories set to occur in the next 200 years or so.  What I love about them is that they “forecast” out not into some far off fantastic future, but into the Read more →

War, Young Kids, and a Professional Military

Last week, a video surfaced on the internet that shows several young U.S. Marines urinating on the bodies of dead Taliban insurgents in Afghanistan.  Immediately, there were calls for an investigation.  World leaders talked of their disgust.  U.S. Military leaders promised that they would get to the bottom of the Read more →

Kickoff

I love politics.  I love politics the way other people love football.  I watch 24 hour news channels in political seasons the way other people watch ESPN.  The minor of my Bachelor’s degree is in Political Science (Major in History), and I would describe my knowledge of practical politics by Read more →

The Election that Really Matters

There is an election that I have been following for several years, one that is of vital importance for the future of America, and for the World.  No, it is not the Republican Nomination for the President of the United States, nor is it Parliamentary Elections in Europe, nor is Read more →

It’s Always an Oligarchy

In the last few months, I have heard the word Oligarchy being bandied around on the edges of American political circles.  In the Tea-Party wing, they are using it as a new word for “Hollywood Elite” and “Liberal Media”.  On the semi-far left it is being used to refer to Read more →

The Honor of Being on “Smiley and West”

This weekend I will be on a short segment of the Public Radio International program “Smiley and West” with Tavis Smiley and Dr. Cornel West.  It was recorded today, to be aired this weekend.  It was an honor to have a letter I sent to the program selected for the Read more →

I’m a Liberal and I’m a Patriot who Loves God… Deal with It!

I think this topic is becoming a regular 4th of July weekend tradition of mine, mainly because I have had it with the idea that unless someone is a Fox News watching, gun toting Tea-Party Republican they are not a “Real American”.  Beyond the fact that such definitions of “Real Read more →

Osama bin Laden and Unrealistic Hopes

These last few days, I have been on a trip to attend a U.S. Army Chaplains training conference in Scottsdale, Arizona.  I have been in hotels, airports, and restaurants in my military uniform, sometimes with other Army Chaplains, but often on my own.  For these several days, I have had Read more →

Is Libya a “Growing-Up Moment” for the United States?

For all our power in the world, the United States is still a very young nation. Unlike the modern states in Europe, in Asia, and in the Middle East, we do not stand upon thousands of years of history in the location where our nation is. Because of our youth Read more →

A Short “I Told You So”

I wish I could say I did not know this was going to happen.  I really wish I had been wrong.  I really wish that my theory that the power of Mass Protests to significantly affect political realities is expirational had been proven wrong.  I wish that mass protests still had the power Read more →

What Turned a Conservative into a Liberal?

I regularly have conversations with conservatives, both political and religious conservatives. Sometimes that is through my work as an Army Chaplain, sometimes through my work as a liberal minister in a fairly conservative town, and sometimes it is through people from my past who seek me out to ask me Read more →

Why Even Good Militaries Do Not Make Good Governments

Hidden amidst all the celebration and joy these last 24 hours in Egypt, and in those who support democratic movements around the world, is a piece that seems to have been lost… and that is that, contrary to the Egyptian Constitution, President Mubarak ceded power not to the leader of Read more →

A “Real” Chaplain

The next person who even hints to me that, because I am a reservist I am not a “real” military chaplain, I might just scream at them. Fair warning. I’ve been somewhat defensive about this for awhile, and quite frankly I’ve moved beyond defensive to feeling darned angry. I’m not Read more →

Gun Control, Militias, and the Second Amendment

I have chosen never to carry or use a firearm ever again. I made that choice not because of a fundamentalist attitude toward guns, but rather because I am entirely too good with them. I reached a place in my faith journey where I realized that I would rather die Read more →

Just Go Home

I know, I get in trouble with someone when I delve into pure politics here at Celestial Lands. But I just can’t help myself. I’m not even completely serious about this one, because for the Democratic Leadership in the U.S. Senate and House to do what I am about to Read more →

The Journey from Conservative to Liberal

I remember a day in seventh grade when I came home all excited to tell my parents that I had discovered that I was a Liberal. We had been studying the American political system in social studies class, and in our textbook was a little box that showed the typical Read more →

Civilian Control and Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, Don’t Harass, Don’t Pursue

As a military chaplain, the policy known as “Don’t Ask, Don’t tell” does not apply directly to how I relate to soldiers. Any soldier can tell me anything in confidence, and I am bound by a level of confidentiality that is equivalent to the seal of the Catholic Confessional. In Read more →

The Political Right and the Road to Damascus

I have spoken before about what I believe is happening on the far right of American politics today, and from the public and private responses I know it is one of the more controversial topics I engage here at Celestial Lands. I speak as someone who traveled in those far-right Read more →

Sermon “Let Us Dare” by David Pyle

I do not often post my sermons directly to the Blog here at Celestial Lands, but something is moving me to share this one here this morning.  Perhaps because I have been so disappointed and depressed over some recent events in American Political History that this sermon, written a year ago, Read more →

On Trial…

There are probably very few people in the United States who are interested at all in the trial of Radovan Karazdic, former President of the Republica Serpska, and the leader of the Bosnian Serbs during the Bosnian war of the mid-90’s. For myself, it has been a long emotional journey, Read more →

Evangelicals are Praying for Me!

I can rest easier in this world knowing that each and every night, and perhaps even in the morning, there are Evangelicals associated with Liberty University praying for me. Why? Because I am a Liberal. I am not only a liberal, I am a flaming, NPR loving, socialized medicine supporting, Read more →

The Dangers of a Culture of the Infamous and Stupidly Famous

If you want to become a “legend” in our current culture, there are several paths that one can follow. You can create a Youtube video of yourself doing something inherently stupid. You can go on a reality television show where you will be challenged to do stupid things on primetime, Read more →

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