Thursday, April 28, 2016

Random thoughts on this election.....

I am stunned at the shenanigans in the election process...bordering on downright cheating. But then I am new to the whole thing and I've been assured this kind of behavior goes on in every election.

In years past, I did not really give a crap about politics. Really….I was not interested. My instincts told me that my vote did not matter and had minuscule impact on the overall results. I was taught in school that it is our civic duty to vote. In spite of knowing women and minorities were bullied, imprisoned and tortured because they demanded their right to vote, I just did not feel led/motivated/inspired to make a trip to the polls. I also felt that most candidates were just the flip sides of the same coin. So I directed my attention to other things. Like work, raising children, spiritual interests, moving here and there and everywhere.

So what was  the instigating factor in my gung ho preoccupation in this election? Two fold. I am married to a man who is very focused on what is going on in politics….viewing things through a far right lens. I can’t think of any issue he strays from that political perspective. From climate change to evolution. From marriage equality to police brutality, think far right and those are his views. And he has never been shy about proclaiming them. On a daily basis. I am a centrist that leans left. The far right narrative, on many (most) issues, violates my sense of right and wrong. My “who cares” political perspectives started to evolve. Some of these issues seemed like things a Christian should have an opinion on. My thoughts started to solidify and I started to push back…..sometimes just in my head…..and other times out loud. (Emphasis on loud)

And then Bernie came along. I have found him to be a man of integrity…honest, fair, principled and focused. And I agree with him on 90% of his policies. Yes, I know, he is a democratic socialist, a term that has dogged him in this election. People have disqualified him on the label alone….but I find many of his policies and beliefs to be very centrist…leaning left….like mine. On military intervention, gun control, the economy, corporate welfare and greed, super pacs, immigration, healthcare for all (although I am not really smart enough to figure out single payer/multiple payer etc, I just know that something…SOME THING has to be done to reform the system) free or affordable college, updating our crumbling infrastructure, police brutality….I agree. As far as abortion, I am pro-life. Not just pro-birth like many of the far right….pro-LIFE. And the life of a little Palestinian child….an Iraqi child….a child born to crack head parents in a ghetto is at least equal to a fetus.

In the words of Sister Joan Chittister - 

"I do not believe that just because you're opposed to abortion, that that makes you pro-life. In fact, I think in many cases, your morality is deeply lacking if all you want is a child born but not a child fed, not a child educated, not a child housed. And why would I think that you don't? Because you don't want any tax money to go there. That's not pro-life. That's pro-birth. We need a much broader conversation on what the morality of pro-life is."

This will be a conversation I am going to continue over the next few days/weeks/months.  I'll stop here for today.. Time to leave for work.  

Saturday, March 19, 2016

What We Feed Will Dominate.....

Purely by accident (which is how it usually works) I came across on post on a blog on the Western Seminary site....Transformed Blog - Living the Gospel in an Every Day World. The article was entitled 5 Effortless Ways To Be Transformed by God's Word. The article talked about how to get more Bible into your daily life....and the consequences of not doing so. 
A quote in the article captured my attention 
However if we don’t intentionally prioritize biblical formation above other formation, these outside voices will unconsciously shape us more than God.
 And
These simple practices are the regular ploughing of our heart with God’s Word. You will be more apt to think God’s thoughts, challenge cultural norms, spot your own blind spots, feel spiritually nourished and grow in godliness. As your appetite for and commitment to God’s Word grows, it will drown out the cultural noise all around you.
And then….there’s Facebook. I am drawn to it especially now that I’ve gotten very interested in the presidential race. And Facebook IS a gift. In fact, Facebook is where I came across the article that inspired this post. So it is kind of a Catch 22. I don’t want to swear off Facebook altogether yet I want something more substantial than just Facebook and Pinterest shaping my thoughts and life.
So I am going to try……

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Perceived Oppression


They say a picture is worth a thousand words but never underestimate the power of a short story to convey a deep truth. Jesus knew this, of course, which is why he told so many “stories.” Sure, some folks didn’t get the gist of what he was saying, however for those who had ears to hear, the meaning came through loud and clear.

A story is not nearly as threatening as….say….a persuasive essay. The meaning and lesson in a story kind of sneaks in under the radar. Sometimes when we say things flat out in plain English, we ignite that fight or flight reaction in the brain and the message we try to get across falls on deaf ears. Not so much with a story. The meaning slides in under the radar without too much protest because…..it’s just a story.

And that is the way the author of the blog post “When You’re Accustomed To Privilege, Equality Feels Like Oppression” gets his message across in an Aesop’s Fables kind of way.

He pokes a finger at a group of folks who feel that society’s slippery slope move toward equality is oppression. Here is a quote from the blog post…..

All this anger we see from people screaming “All Lives Matter” in response to black protesters at rallies… All this anger we see from people insisting that THEIR “religious freedom” is being infringed because a gay couple wants to get married… All these people angry about immigrants, angry about Muslims, angry about “Happy Holidays,” angry about not being able to say bigoted things without being called a bigot… They all basically boil down to people who have grown accustomed to walking straight at other folks, and expecting THEM to move. So when “those people” in their path DON’T move… When those people start wondering, “Why am I always moving out of this guy’s way?” When those people start asking themselves, “What if I didn’t move? What if I just kept walking too?” When those people start believing that they have every bit as much right to that aisle as anyone else… It can seem like THEIR rights are being taken away.

You will have to read the blog post to understand the “moving out of this guy’s way” part of the above quote...and I urge you to follow THIS LINK and read the post.

I don’t usually post my more controversial thoughts and links on FB...although I know that is the quickest way to get something in front of a lot eyeballs. I have friends on FB that are far right….some so far right that I actually changed the settings so I don’t see their stuff show up on my FB feed. It just got too depressing and antagonizing. And while I have a lot of left leaning FB friends, posting things on my wall is just too “in your face” for me. Posting here on this blog seems to be the best middle ground.


Saturday, March 5, 2016

Comments on Presidential Decency.....


Well...it’s been a week or so since my last post….and I revisited the article Max penned about Trump and decency (or his lack there of) to read some of the comments. They run the gamut from agreement, to indignation, to accusations that criticizing Trump is an offhanded way to  support Hillary. Some accused Max of being a liberal pastor who is for social justice (the disgrace….Jesus would never stand for that social justice nonsense) and that Max probably has a tolerance for homosexuality. (We all know decent Christians do not tolerate homosexuality)

Some commenters complained that, in the interest of fairness, he should have also criticized the Democratic candidates. And, of course many comments brought the issue back around to Obama…..the guy everybody loves to hate. Another commenter warned about spite voting...a vote to get back at who was elected….or was not...in the last election.

Some accused Max of “giving up the truth of the Gospel years ago” so he could sell more books (Really? Have you read a Max Lucado book, maam?)

Some commenters plugged their candidate of choice….Trump, Rubio….Carson (who is no longer a candidate) Kasich….there were some Hillary supporters and a few comments in favor of Bernie Sanders.

The comment that captured my attention

I think it’s pretty clear there is only one decent person who is a contender in this race. It’s the wild-haired Jew who talks about caring for the least of these.

Bernie...the secular Jew.

And things have gotten even crazier in this presidential race….especially within the Republican party. What a spectacle.

Has politics always been this crazy?

Saturday, February 27, 2016

I've Never Been Politically Involved But Feeling the Bern....


There are 59 posts on this blog that are tagged "Politics." Even though I have often written about current politically charged events relating to gun control, racism, gay rights, immigration etc, I have not been very involved in the actual political process. Confession....I have never voted.

I was born into a family that was only marginally interested in politics. On my mom’s side, they were conservative and republican. My dad used to say Grandpap would vote for a french poodle if it was the Republican candidate. That was probably an accurate assessment….but I suspect that 50 years ago, Republicans were kinder, gentler people. My mom couldn't care less. She has never voted in 80 years and I think she kind of passed that apathetic behavior on to me.

On my dad’s side, there was a mix of political opinions and support...probably leaning toward the Democrats. Nobody on that side of the family seemed to be overly concerned with who occupied the white house. Since they were all text book versions of dysfunctional, things other than politics occupied their thoughts and filled their time. My dad is, more or less, bipartisan and votes for the candidate who he thinks will do the best job/least harm to the country.

Then for twenty plus years I was married to a DEMOCRAT. He has never in his life voted Republican. Most of his family is democrat. Very Democrat. I was just really not all that interested in any of it.

And now, for the past 13 years, I have been married to a Canadian who moved here to the US to marry me. When he came here, he was a conservative Canadian but he has solidified his political views and moved much farther to the right. There is a big difference between the views of a conservative Canadian and a conservative American.

He is very politically inclined and voices his opinions frequently in both verbal and written form. That, in part, was the catalyst that moved me from political apathy to actually taking notice of what is going on in our political process here in the US. And what an awful time to finally wake up...this season of the 2016 presidential election.

Whoa!!!

I took a test a couple weeks ago….and I urge everyone to take the test….on a site called “isidewith.com.” There are 40ish questions on all kinds of issues. You can simply select “agree” or “disagree” but if you select “other” a whole range of agree/disagree nuances appear. You can, and should, opt to answer more questions. This will give you the most accurate, in depth results. If you are not sure about the issue, click the question mark and it gives you a brief synopsis. 

It is a bipartisan site, by the way. Even the Blaze urged its readers to take the test way back in June of 2015.

According to my test results, my political views tend to be centrist but leaning to the left. This does not come as a surprise to me. I’ve said many times that I don’t think the truth lies in the polar opposite ditches people get stuck in, but rather lie somewhere closer to the center. One of my favorite books is “Seeing Gray in a Black and White World” by Adam Hamilton. I see things in shades of gray.

As far as political candidates, I sided the closest with Bernie Sanders. Apparently, I side with 85% of his views. Prior to taking the test, I didn’t know much about him other than Keith’s ominous warnings about socialism. I had heard some of the criticisms about “free stuff” and “taxing the rich at 90%” but other than that and the fact that he is Jewish and talks with a east coast accent, I didn’t know much.

But now I've done some reading and some listening and I know a lot more now. I have to admit I am feeling the Bern. Bernie is a nice guy with morals and integrity. He describes himself as a secular Jew…but as a recent column in the USA Today written by Stephen Prothero, entitled WWJD? Maybe Vote For Bernie states

As a scholar of American religion, I know I am supposed to take Sanders at his word, slot him as a secular Jew who is, as he put it, “not particularly religious” and leave it at that. Even so, I cannot shake the sneaking suspicion that he is the most Christian candidate in the race.

Jesus told us that we will know them by their fruits. When I watch excerpts of the Republican debates, I do not see much "fruit" being displayed. There are obvious red flags that pop up with even a cursory look at the Republican contenders…..more on this whole distressing topic to come…..


Sunday, January 10, 2016

Old Testament Violence....Start at the Other End


I happened upon a website a few weeks ago. Don't ask me how I got there....but as always it was a result of clicking a link that led to another link....to another link and so on and so forth. Just another case of divine serendipity, I suppose.  

The name of the site is Redeeming God. It is authored by Jeremy Myers. I landed on a longish series of blog posts that take a close look at God's culpability for the violence, bloodshed and carnage in the OT.  

Like me, the author cannot reconcile the OT scriptures, taken at face value, with the expressed image of God that we see in Jesus.  





When we seek to understand the violence of God in the Old Testament, we must begin by looking at the end. We must begin by looking at the person and work of Jesus Christ.  Jeremy Myers

My intention is to post excerpts from his series and any of my own thoughts that are sparked by what I read. That is my intention...... 

I've already written about this topic in years past....here....and here....and here....and quite a few other posts under the tag Old Testament.


Monday, December 21, 2015

Season's Greetings (done the right way...)


Keith and I went to the bank on Saturday to do the bulk of our Christmas shopping. We have three young adults (one 25, one soon to be 24, and a 22 year old) so we give them money every year. Somewhere around $500 each. Easy for us...it’s what they need the most and they can use it for whatever they choose to. It beats $500 worth of presents that are not quite what they wanted, wrong color, wrong size etc…

It is a fairly small bank. There were two tellers working. Our teller was also taking care of the drive-thru. As we were in the midst of our transaction (that included cashing one check and writing another) she attended to the car in the drive-thru. As she was concluding that transaction….putting the envelope in the tube system thing….she wished him a Merry Christmas. Her tone was warm and friendly. Over the intercom we could clearly hear him reply back, in an equally cordial tone, “Happy Holidays.” To which she replied……..”Thank you.”

I took note of the interaction because this nonsense about Merry Christmas versus Happy Holidays aka Season’s Greetings has always rankled me. What is the big deal? Accept the salutation your are given with grace no matter what holiday you celebrate.

Another example. We were at a small, holiday gathering at the very small airport where Keith is a member of a flying club. (I haven’t written much...anything?....about his flying exploits. I should really get on that because it is a huge part of his life. And by default, my life) But anyway….the hosts of the party are Jewish. As the gathering of about 10 people was breaking up, she wished us all a Merry Christmas. They don’t celebrate Christmas….but the rest of us do….and she graciously extended her hope that we all have a happy one.

That is how it is done, people. Whatever your faith, religion, political alliance….when someone wishes you well...it is absolutely rude and dishonoring to be offended because they did not use the right words.

Peace on earth, goodwill to men is the spirit of the season.