The following musing was composed in September 2005 while I was a student at the Baptist Seminary of Kentucky. It was based on a news report that Pat Robertson publicly declared Hurricane Katrina was God's judgment upon New Orleans because Ellen DeGeneres is gay. That news report was quickly pulled (but not until after I wrote my thoughts) when it was discovered to be a piece of satire not based on fact. However, as even snopes.com acknowledges, there wasn't much (if any) exaggeration involved to suggest Pat Robertson would say such a thing -- Brother Pat is unfortunately fond of publicly pronouncing God's judgment in the aftermath of disasters and tragedies.
In June 2009, my friend Renee and her partner, Connie, spoke briefly at the Annual United Methodist Conference in Mississippi. They spoke of a particular congregation that has welcomed them, loved them, and helped nurture them in their faith. Understandably, their testimony created a bit of a stir. While I support dialogue and civil disagreement, and, technically, I "don't have a dog in this fight" (I'm a Baptist, not a Methodist, minister), I will not remain quiet while some people openly question the integrity and the faith of a friend.
So, acknowledging that the basis of this musing is actually fictional (Pat Robertson never really said this, but again, see snopes.com for similar remarks he actually has said), I maintain that the spirit of this piece and the message I intended to convey are relevant and truthful.
The Reverend Pat Robertson and I have a lot in common.
We both hail from and still live in the South -- I'm from Louisiana and now live in Kentucky; Pat's from and still lives in Virginia. We both value higher education -- I like classrooms so much I'm working on a second master's degree; Pat values education so much he owns an institution of higher learning. I live in a state that races valuable horses; Pat breeds valuable racehorses.
And, as if that weren't enough, Pat Robertson and I are both ordained Baptist ministers. Yep, me and Pat, Pat and me: like two peas from the same pod.
It just so happens that I also have a lot in common with Ellen DeGeneres.
Ellen enjoys having her own television shows; I enjoy watching Ellen's television shows. Ellen's brother, Vance DeGeneres, used to be in a rock band called The Cold; I once saw Ellen's brother, Vance, play with his rock band The Cold. And, as if TV and rock n' roll weren't enough, Ellen DeGeneres and I were both born and raised in the New Orleans area.
Yep, me and Ellen, Ellen and me: like two peas from the same pod.
But then that would make Pat and Ellen from the same pod, too, wouldn't it?
I read somewhere that Pat blamed Ellen for Hurricane Katrina (say it ain't so, Pat!). I guess it's a stretch to think that Ellen and Pat share a pea pod.
I wish I could help these peas get together. I wish I could get Ellen to... convince Ellen to... well, Ellen's not really at fault here as far as I can tell.
So I've got to address Pat. I'm worried about us, Pat -- two Baptist preachers from the Southland. I'm worried because I read the Gospels, and it is clear that Jesus saves his judgment for the religious leaders -- good, upstanding, righteous folks who feel they are too "good" to love others, too "good" to serve others, too "good" to be friends with others. Jesus saves his words of judgment for those religious folks who are so "good" that they freely pass judgment on others who aren't "good enough."
It's really quite simple, Pat: Jesus has a whole lot to say about money, power, arrogance, and self-righteousness, but doggone that Savior of ours, he never says one blasted word about sexual orientation. Not one! Go look it up for yourself.
Yes, I've got hang-ups and concerns -- we all do. But Pat, I've got to take this into serious consideration, because, after all, I'm called to be like Jesus. And Jesus spends more time hanging out with, having fun with, living among, and loving the real people in the world -- people who are not "good enough" by religious leaders' standards -- than he does with religious leaders who have high opinions of themselves.
And don't ever forget, Pat, it's religious leaders like us who led the charge to execute our Lord.
Pat, all I'm going by are your public statements, but your declarations seem pretentious, arrogant, and self-righteous. Besides, Pat, with all that wealth you've accumulated from your television station, your TV ministry, your books, your horses, and, let's not forget, your fascination with political power, it's easy to imagine Jesus having a few choice words for you as he walks off to enjoy a cup of coffee with Ellen.
Pat, I love you, my brother, my pea-pod-sharing friend, but I'm choosing to follow Jesus on this one. And if I hurry, I might be able to catch up with him and Ellen. I sure hope they have some chicory at that coffee shop.
NOTE: "Of Pea Pods and Hurricanes" is an excerpt from Bert's book Psychic Pancakes & Communion Pizza (2011, Smyth & Helwys).