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Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Foot Removal 101

In Uncategorized on May 7, 2010 at 2:24 pm

Not too long ago, I wrote a post about the prayer “joke” wishing for President Obama’s death. Today, I had a very personal reminder how “jokes” are not funny when they offend someone else.

I find it insulting to be told to lighten up or hear the patronizing words, “just kidding”. It takes a lot of courage for someone who has been offended to speak up, especially if the person who offended them is a friend or family member.

Today, I learned what it’s like to be the one doing the offending.  This shared post is from my personal blog. It’s a bit off topic from our usual politics/religion discussions, but I think it still applies to the forum we share here. I invite you to head over there and share your thoughts on Foot Removal 101.

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Because I Said So

In Uncategorized on January 14, 2010 at 8:52 am

How many times have these words been uttered by a parent to a child?

Before I was a parent myself, I vowed never to dismiss any question and to explain carefully and thoroughly everything I expected my children to do. I promised I would never resort to the famous “because I said so” that was the answer I received so many times as a child when I questioned “why?”

I did not want to be the parent who would not acknowledge my child. One day, after explaining something to my child several times with the repeated reply, “But why”, I declared with absolute exasperation, “Because I said so.” My daughter looked at me, with complete trust and understanding and said, “Oh, okay.”

I do not even remember what that question was or why I just stopped trying to explain, but I remember that moment of clarity. Children do not need adult explanations for everything that happens. Children need to trust their parents and understand reason is not always theirs to know. That illuminating moment as a parent has stood out to me not only as a parenting issue, but also as a Christian. It is the core of my faith for the most difficult questions I have.

When religious leaders such as Pat Robertson attempt to explain the earthquake disaster in Haiti as part of a pact with Satan, he insults all of Christianity. The self-importance he spews to attempt to explain natural disasters in the framework of God’s will is horrifying. Like a know it all, petulant brat with all the answers, he forgets the words of Jesus, “Truly I say to you, Whoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child, he shall not enter therein.” (Mark 10:15).

By attempting to mystify the laws of nature under the umbrella of God’s will, Robertson denies what we know about physics and arrogantly assumes that man controls nature via actions rather than accept nature and man as side by side pieces of creation. Earthquakes happen on a daily basis as tectonic plates shift beneath the oceans. In the past 30 days, there have been 388 earthquakes worldwide over a magnitude of four. Does God only control the ones that result in human loss?

The indicator of true faith is the ability to accept that which cannot be explained or proven. Throughout the New Testament, Jesus calls us to be children of God. As 1 John 3:1 reminds us, “How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him.”

I accept humbly that I will not understand everything and in many ways, it is truly liberating. To believe that, yes, there is an answer, but just one I do not need to know, at least not today, eases my mind. It affords me the freedom to focus on that which I do understand and embrace. I am to love my neighbor.

To walk in humility with trust is not an easy walk. I have questions daily and when I see what I perceive as unfair or unjust, I wonder “Why, why, why?” However, like my own child, just a few years ago, when God says, “Because I said so”, I find comfort, not frustration, in my faith.

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Why Do Bad Things Happen?

In Uncategorized on January 8, 2010 at 6:50 am

Today’s post is an offshoot of a lively discussion from our Facebook page. It began with some deep questions about the nature of God.

Why does God make tornados, tsunamis, Hitlers, and Bin Laden’s ?
Why do the good die young ?
Why do I have more than I need while other, far better folks have so little ?

I invited my friend, George Crumpler, to weigh in. George is the author of  David: The Untold Story, a historical account of King David. He is a retired high school social studies teacher living in a small town in rural North Carolina.

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For most of man’s some 100,000 years of existence, we were polytheistic. It is with the Patriarch Abraham that the concept of one True God begins to develop, the character and nature of this God changes over time through the course of the bible. Abraham shares a meal with this God and this God also commands Abraham to sacrifice his only son to appease him, a ritual left over from paganism. This ritual of human sacrifice will be repeated with the birth of Christianity and the death of Jesus on the cross.

The Mayans, a people who practiced blood letting and human sacrifice rejected the missionaries concepts of monotheism but readily accepted the death of Jesus on the cross as a spiritual act. This concept of sacrifice is at the core of the, Hebrew, Christian and Muslim religions to the point of sacrificing their lives in war to defend their religion and also killing others to protect their religion because in doing so they believe they are carrying out the will of God.

Thus, the three great religions of the world have not broken completely from their pagan polytheistic origins of sacrifice and God/Gods micro managing the affairs of man and nature from wars to a gentle rain in the summertime.

Many Christian have difficulty, to the point of being obstinate, reconciling matters of their faith and science. If the Roman Catholic Church had had their way about it, we would all still think the earth is flat because they would put to death anyone who said it wasn’t. Even to this day, most Christians cannot, will not accept the seven-day creation story and the Garden of Eden as metaphor, when various disciplines of sciences from geology to nuclear physics prove that it is a process that has taken billions of years.

Just as the concept of multiple gods responsible for everything from the weather to fertility faded into the category of myth it is time to abandon the false belief of a God sitting on a throne directing the affairs of man down the road to Armageddon and a final day of judgment—this God invented by the Hebrews and adopted by the Christians and Muslims.

What we have is not a self-actualizing, knowing, understanding of God but rather a concept of what God is, forced upon people to the extent that their very life depends upon it both their physical and spiritual (Hell) existence.

Man reasoned correctly that he sprang forth from the earth because he observed that the earth is the producer of all life but where did the earth come from. He gazed upon the sun, moon, and stars and made them the source of creation.

We thus began four thousand years of refining our concept of where we came from and most importantly, why we are here. Maybe we are indeed God’s chosen species.

Jesus said, “…The kingdom of God does not come with your careful observation, nor will people say, ‘Here it is,’ or ‘There it is,’ because the kingdom of God is within you.” (Luke 17:20-21)

Kim said, “We are given everything and we can choose our reality.”

There is a thinking stuff from which all things are made, and which, in its original state, permeates, penetrates, and fills the interspaces of the universe.

A thought, in this substance, produces the thing that is imaged by the thought.

Man can form things in this thought, and, by impressing his thought upon formless substance, can cause the thing he thinks about to be created.

In order to do this, man must pass from the competitive to the creative mind; otherwise, he cannot be in harmony with the Formless Intelligence, which is always creative and never competitive in spirit.

Man may come into full harmony with the Formless Substance by entertaining a lively and sincere gratitude for the blessings it bestows upon him. Gratitude unifies the mind of man with the intelligence of Substance, that man’s thoughts are received by the Formless. Man can remain upon the creative plane only by uniting himself with the Formless Intelligence through a deep and continuous feeling of gratitude. (Wallace Wattles)

“Seek and ye shall find, ask and it will be given…” Jesus.

And he is One who subsists as a cause and source of Being, and an immaterial material and an innumerable number and a formless form and a shapeless shape and a powerlessness and a power and an insubstantial substance and a motionless motion and an inactive activity. (Gnostic Text Allogenes)

Natural disasters, earthquakes, floods, droughts, hurricanes, tornadoes are just that—natural disasters, the forces of nature are indifferent, remember it rains on the just and unjust alike.

Wars, famine, pestilence, murder, rape, child abuse, greed, envy, et al. are the products of culture we create that stuff.

The Creative Stuff, the Source of Being, cannot, will not participate in that but the message is sent for us to love one another, nurture one another, rejoice in others good fortune, console them in their sorrow, care for the widow, orphan and the old—It is up to us to do that. We sit in judgment of our rights and wrongs.

There is a wonder source of love and energy and excitement and joy and creativity and we can tap into that Source, in fact the Source longs for us to do so but will not be disturbed if we don’t.

God may very well be sitting on a throne surrounded by a host of angels but the Creative Source of the Universe is more than likely a happy little Quark.

Many thanks, George, for sharing your thoughts. Amen and amen.

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Between The Lines

In Uncategorized on December 18, 2009 at 12:13 pm

Today’s challenge: write out a profile that most accurately describes the modern Christian woman. Who is she? What does she look like? What does she do? Is she defined by her religious denomination, her social status, her geography or a combination of all three? Does she look differently from you, or is she an exact reflection?

I conducted this exercise myself and honestly, I found it difficult. I ended up with two lists, both extreme. The one list was an idealization of the perfect Christian woman as taught to us in Psalm 31 and the other was a condemnation of the imperfect Christian woman as taught to us by our local church. Neither profile settled well with me as being the most accurate reflection of a modern Christian woman and this troubled me even further.

To fully encapsulate the perfection of the one list while completely shedding the accusations of the other would be impossible, not only for a woman in this day and age, but for any woman of any era in time. And then I got to thinking about the past and those great females who have traversed this earth in the name of Christ before us. How did they reconcile the spiritual dissonance of being both sinner and saint in tandem without allowing the din of their personal contradictions to impede them in their work for God? What can we learn from them in order to be free from the shackles of guilt and shame that we drag along with us in our perfectly imperfect lives?

I pondered these questions as I looked into the life of a woman who knew the true meaning of the words “bondage”, “guilt” and “shame”. She was born into slavery during the early part of the nineteenth century and given the name Araminta Ross. In her mid twenties, she brazenly escaped the clutches of slavery, seized her freedom in the north, and christened herself Harriet Tubman to mark her new life.

Harriet was not satisfied with merely seizing her own liberty. She was determined to go back into the land of captivity and rescue, not only her family, but as many other slaves as God would deem possible. Before Lincoln could bring about political liberty to those enchained, Harriet Tubman personally lead over 300 hundred slaves out of captivity into the arms of freedom. This is how Harriet became known as the Moses of her people and why so many abolitionists revered her as a prophet from God whose courage surpassed even some of the heartiest of men. But when fawned over for her great feats of personal bravery, Harriet would quickly correct the intended compliment by saying that faith was the armor she wore, not courage.

At first glance, you might conclude Harriet to belong to the idealized list of perfected feminine Christianity, but a more careful inspection will enlighten your spirit to the fact that Harriet was no more a vessel of womanly perfection than you or I breathing air today. For one thing, Harriet was academically uneducated and though it was common for most ex-slaves to try to learn how to read and write once they became free, Harriet felt that for her, the effort was a waste of time. She reasoned her time was best-spent conducting expeditions on The Underground Railroad than learning to read and write. Along with her lack of basic education, she also had to manage the burden of chronic migraine headaches, and random seizures; which became more than merely inconvenient on her clandestine winter treks. On top of her resolve to ignore physical obstacles, Harriet also endured the danger of her fugitive status. She was so successful in stealing slaves from the South, that the southern authorities placed one of the highest price tags on her head. As if being considered a fugitive of the law, illiterately ignorant and unpredictably handicapped weren’t enough, Harriet could never deny that her own personal freedom came at a very high emotional cost. Due to the immeasurable risk involved in fleeing captivity, Harriet decided not to tell anyone in her family, including her husband, that she was going to flee. Without ere an explanation or apology, Harriet disappeared and left behind her entire family, with God as her only comfort to carry her through the dangerous trek alone up north. Though, over the course of the next ten years, Harriet would personally see to the rescue of as many family members as possible via the UGRR, she was not able to locate and rescue everyone and was broken hearted to discover that her husband, John Tubman, remarried another woman.

Yes, Harriet Tubman, was courageous, valiant, strong and faithful to the call of God but she was also inescapably human. So how is it possible that Harriet was able to accomplish so much in the name of God in spite of herself? I believe the secret to her walk with God was in the fact that Harriet never once calculated her personal inadequacies into the equation of her decision to follow God. She never said, “I know what God wants me to do but before I go I have to go to school and get the know-how, I have to seek a doctor and get full healing, I have to make things right with my family, I have to wait until the politics change so I can legally move forward.” She never made those calculations. She just obeyed God and walked in her calling. Regardless of the consequence her personal lack could cause her, she trusted that God would cinch up her shortcomings and honor her desire to give to others out of the blessing she herself was given.

So who are we as Christian women today? Are we forever shackled to the spiritual dissonance of being both sinner and saint in tandem? Or is it possible to achieve a peaceful state of God-led spirituality by just being who we are? The conclusion I am forming is “yes”, it is not only possible to be perfectly imperfect without the baggage of guilt and shame; it is also possible for God to use us mightily regardless of where we fall between the lines on our contradictory lists. Women of God, scripture tells us we are surrounded by a cloud-of-witnesses who are cheering us on in our journey. Peer closely into that crowd and you can see Harriet Tubman standing among them. She is triumphantly calling to us all, “Daughters, be Free! Be free and bring freedom!”