What Does it Mean to Love Your Enemies

Luke 6: 27-31:

But to you who are listening I say: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you,

bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.

If someone slaps you on one cheek, turn to them the other also. If someone takes your coat, do not withhold your shirt from them.

Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back.

Do to others as you would have them do to you.

This passage from Christ's Sermon on the Mount is easy to read when you don't have enemies. When Christ gave this sermon, the Jews at the time understood it in the context of a Roman occupation. The Romans abused, killed, and took advantage of the native Jews that they were occupying. The Romans wished for and enacted significant harm on the Jewish people.

My life is very different from a first century Jew's. I am not in an occupied country. I am not abused. I'm a straight, white, cisgender man. I'm almost as privileged as possible. So who are my enemies?

Well, that's becoming a little clearer day by day. This election has opened my eyes to the realities and challenges of having enemies. To broadly generalize, Trump supporters are my enemies. Not because I hate them or wish them harm, but because they wish harm upon and support policies that hurt women, LGBTQ, Muslims, immigrants, etc.: people I care about.

Since Trump won the election I have felt an overwhelming burden to protect my friends. They are the ones who will be hurt by what America is becoming. They have enemies and my love for them includes sharing their enemies. For the last couple of weeks I haven't been able to get Christ's words out of my head. How do I protect my friends, resist oppression, and still love my enemies?

This post really is more of a question than an answer; I do not know how to interpret Christ's words in the face of real and malicious enemies in my day to day life. I only have two real ideas so far.

Loving your enemies does not take away your ability to resist them. We should still fight, protest, speak out, and legislate against this growing racist, misogynist, and fascist movement in America. But when I encounter my enemy in the form of an individual, loving them means treating them like another human: someone created and loved by God. I have friends and family who voted for Trump. If I had the opportunity to serve a need they had, I wouldn't neglect them because they are a cog in this machine of oppression. Loving them is not supporting their cause or enabling them, but rebuking them when necessary and serving their needs as an individual human. I think that's the best I can do right now.

Loving your enemies is also pragmatic. The end goal for the problem of American fascist oppression should be to change the hearts and minds of those who want to harm others. Treating your enemy with love and kindness is going to be an effective way to open their hearts to our stories of suffering.

I want to disclaim that I realize oppressed groups in America have been struggling with having enemies forever, but I'm a dumb white dude who is just waking up to this. I apologize for that. I'm not asking for my gay friend to go have a beer with Mike Pence, that would probably be traumatic. Allies like myself are in a unique position to do this work on behalf of our oppressed friends.

Jen and Brandon Hatmaker are Evangelicals Supporting the LGBTQ

Jen and Brandon Hatmaker are popular and influential evangelical Christians. Jen gave an interview to Jonathan Merrit at Religion News Service where she affirms her support of gay marriage and insists that an LGBTQ relationship is holy.

Not only are these our neighbors and friends, but they are brothers and sisters in Christ. They are adopted into the same family as the rest of us, and the church hasn’t treated the LGBT community like family. We have to do better.

Jen followed up with a Facebook post, wisely calling for the conversation about this to be imbued with grace and respect.

...all around you, the LGBTQ community is watching. They are listening. They are watching how we respond, how we talk about them, how we actually feel about them in our churches. They are your neighbors, your colleagues, they are in your churches already, some of them are in your homes, some of them are your children and you don't know it. Most of them are quiet because they are scared. With good and obvious reason. But they are beautiful people loved by Jesus and no matter what, we should speak in a way befitting the way of grace...

These comments seem very reserved, but are radical in the evangelical world. She simply believes in the human dignity of those who are LGBTQ and affirms that their relationships are of equal value to those who are not. In reality these beliefs aren't radical; they're just not bigoted.

LifeWay, a popular Christian bookstore chain, apparently prefers bigotry; they banned Jen Hatmaker's books after her comments. Shame on them.

Today, Jen's husband, Brandon Hatmaker, published his own Facebook post, throwing his support behind his wife. It describes the long and difficult process of prayer and rigorous study they went through to arrive at their position on LGBTQ equality.

We started with scripture (Again, please assume a ton of prayer). For more than a year we studied every version of every verse in the Bible that appeared to discuss “homosexuality”. We studied the Greek. We studied the Hebrew. We read every commentary we could find related specifically to the related passages.

...

Every verse in the Bible that is used to condemn a “homosexual” act is written in the context of rape, prostitution, idolatry, pederasty, military dominance, an affair, or adultery. It was always a destructive act. It was always a sin committed against a person. And each type of sexual interaction listed was an abuse of God’s gift of sex and completely against His dream for marriage to be a lifelong commitment of two individuals increasingly and completely giving themselves to one another as Christ did for the church.

In other words, the Bible never condemns having sex, being married, or existing merely because the participants are LGBTQ. There's always another source of the sinfulness.

At a time when most of the evangelical church is fervently supporting the abomination that is Donald Trump, it's heartening to see loving leaders like the Hatmakers rising out of the burning rubble.

Many Kinds of Trucks

Great piece by Ben Thompson discussing the histories and strategies of Nintendo and Microsoft as they relate to the Switch and Surface Studio.

His conclusion:

Over the last couple of years, as it has become clear that rounded rectangles of glass and aluminum running either iOS or Android “won” the smartphone wars, it has been tempting to fret that hardware innovation would slow; and, arguably, in the case of smartphones, it has. In fact, though, I expect that the reality of the smartphone being the dominant general purpose device will open the doors for more and more devices like Surface Studio and the Nintendo Switch.

What might be created if you start with the assumption that the smartphone exists? Perhaps you would make sunglasses with a camera, or a watch, or an activity tracker, or a drone. I noted in Snapchat Spectacles and the Future of Wearables that the establishment of the PC led to an explosion of dedicated devices like PDAs, digital cameras, GPS devices, and digital music players. Now that those have been subsumed into the smartphone there are new opportunities, and in a twist of fate it is smartphone also-rans like Microsoft and Nintendo — along with smartphone native companies like Snapchat — that have more freedom to experiment given they have nothing to protect. It’s never been better to be a geek!

I hope that the dominance and primacy of smartphones continues to allow for interesting and bold hardware in smaller categories like the PC.

If the smartphones is a car and PC is a truck, I hope we start to see many kinds of trucks. The Surface Studio is a very specialized kind of PC. So is the Mac Pro. I hope this category continues to diversify until we see pickup trucks, dump trucks, semis, etc. These can be very specialized devices that fit the needs of a very specific group of people.

I'm glad the smartphone is enough for most people so that companies have the freedom to experiment without there being too much risk.

Christianity's Persecution Complex

Rachel Held Evans does a wonderful job explaining one of the saddest problems in modern American Christianity:

Now, most of the time, this phenomenon falls into the frustrating but relatively harmless category of culture war posturing, but lately, as the apocalyptic, fear-based rhetoric continues to ratchet up in the wake of the Supreme Court’s decision regarding same-sex marriage, and as that rhetoric continues to target and demonizes LGBT people, it’s been doing some real harm. Just last week I received at least a dozen messages from friends and readers who told me the response from Christians to the Supreme Court ruling confirmed for them what they’ve known in their hearts for a while: they don’t want anything to do with Christianity anymore, not if this is what it’s all about.

So what I’d like to suggest to my fellow Christians is that perhaps taking up the cross means laying down the persecution complex. A spirit of fear and entitlement does more to obscure the gospel than elucidate it.

Christianity is deeply tied up with persecution. It's a difficult knot to untangle. The primary historical story of the Bible is that of a persecuted Hebrew people. There were a few periods of independence, even domination, for Israelites. But mostly, they were passed from empire to empire, persecuted and oppressed by each.

This persecution is a fundamental backdrop for the stories of the Bible. It's an important context for how most Christians view and live their faith. The circumstances in modern America could not be more different for a Christian than under the rule of the ancient Romans. But that unconscious assumption skews how they think about and act in their faith. Remaining persecuted in their minds brings relevance to their understanding of the Bible. Their faith falls apart without it. So they cling.

Christianity hasn't been persecuted like that in a very long time. It's been the dominant force behind western history for two thousand years. Christians need to open their eyes to this reality.

I'm reminded of the Jesus's disciples in the gospels. Jesus is constantly delivering his message via stories and parables which the disciples are, almost comically, misunderstanding. They fight over who deserves the place of glory at the right hand of Christ while he praises the humility of children.

The Pharisees are now defined not by their religious piety, but by their arrogance and failure to see the divinity of Jesus and to accept his message of love, mercy, and healing.

The pharisees were so blinded that they conspired to kill Jesus because his message was so threatening to their status quo. The disciples were so dense that they didn't see it coming.

Unfortunately, the legacy of the pharisees and foolish disciples seems to be the one that modern American Christians have proudly claimed for their own. Like the Pharisees, we're so threatened in our comfortable faith that we lash out and fail to live out Christ's message of love, mercy, and healing. And like the disciples, we're too dense to look beyond ourselves to see the immense pain and hurt we inflict on the world.

Brave is Mozilla’s Ad-Blocking Browser

Mozilla’s latest attempt to find something that sticks is a new web browser with an awesome feature.

Sebastian Anthony at Ars Technica:

The whole premise of Brave, its raison d'être if you will, is that it automatically blocks programmatic online advertising and tracking cookies by default.

Ok. I’m with you so far…

In practice, Brave just sounds like a cash-grab. Brave isn't just a glorified adblocker: after removing ads from a webpage, Brave then inserts its own programmatic ads.

Um.

Brave will somehow police these ads to make sure they're less invasive/malevolent than the original ads that were stripped out. In exchange, Brave will take a 15 percent cut of the ad revenue.

Never mind.

Spaghetti thrown at a wall.

Ranting About Web Development

Someone named Michael was clearly having a bad day and took it out on Medium:

At times, I think where web development is at this point is some cruel joke played on us by Ryan Dahl. You see, to get into why web development is so terrible, you have to start at Node.

I must admit that I am not a web developer or programmer of any kind except for making trigonometry and calculus problem solvers in True Basic on my TI-83 Plus graphic calculator back in high school. I say this to tell you that I only kind of understand what Michael is talking about in this piece.

But boy oh boy is it still a joy to read. There’s nothing quite so cathartic as observing someone else letting their frustrations out.

Of course everyone in the tech community has to rewrite all their interfaces in React now. If you love to get off to to tech stacks then you’ll love hearing from Netflix, Yahoo, Airbnb, Vimeo and Imgur. You know who didn’t give a flying fuck about React? Their customers. Good job Yahoo, you rewrote your shitty mail client in React. Your customers didn’t give a shit. They just want it to work. Oh Vimeo, you couldn’t display the view count on the video without bringing in React? I really appreciate that. My cpu does too. Imgur, really appreciate you bringing in React on a page.. to display a fucking image. I mean you can’t even make this up.

I’m glad I’m not a web developer!