Archive for October, 2009

22
Oct
09

Aahhhh…Seventeen Again

The plot may be Hollywood’s most worn out cliche, but I can’t help but love the movie “17 Again.” Regardless of the overdone plot, it is fresh, witty, and heartfelt with a message that is almost foreign to Hollywood.

Plus, the cougar in me is quite taken with Zac Efron (eewwww…that was my outside typing).

Beyond the young, young hottie, though, is an interesting contrast between youth and maturity. Youth is bombastic. I wish it were contagious. Children are nurtured and encouraged and in these conditions they flourish. As they hover near adulthood, they are full of bravado and really can take on the world. Pepsi has an amazing commercial right now that portrays the spirit of youth as that which moves a nation and I don’t think that they are far from the truth.

Then it happens. It happened in the movie when Zac’s character made the very grown up choice to raise an unexpected family. I’m sure we can all remember when it began for us. First, Adulthood lures us away with the freedom to make some choices for our selves, but before we know it, it has us tangled by our feet. One choice leads to another, then we have to take responsibility. Then comes the most vicious assault, the point of no return, self-doubt. This is where the adult falters and what steals the bombast of youth.

While a solid self-check is a good thing, self-doubt is destructive. It steals the confidence we had to make dreams come true and even to stand for principle. Choices that seemed simple from the protection of our youth become more and more difficult when the mortgage is stares us down from the first of the month. We trudge through adulthood with the tattered memory of youthful verve.

What if it were different? If we could hold onto that hope and the uncompromising innocence that comes with it, would we be better off as a society? I think that we would. I would never suggest that we walk away from personal responsibility – ever – but I strongly feel that if we can hold onto something inside that is empowering, we will be much better for it. It is detrimental to allow our youth to be ripped away from us; instead, we have to let go, making decisions along the way. We have to mature with intentionality that gives us the control we thought we had when we were young. Only then can we protect ourselves, the id, according to Freud, with the love and care that we deserve. When we make the effort to care for ourselves, we can extend this to those around us. If we fail and our lives are in tatters, it is impossible to live in true selflessness.

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20
Oct
09

Joy is in the Journey

Sometimes just sitting in church is overwhelming. I go to a church that nearly 10 per cent of my city attend. It’s huge and I never know who I will see…the mayor, presidents of banks, scandalized newsmakers, teachers, friends, and even enemies and convicts. Once in a while, I glimpse a moment for one of these people – a tear or a hug more emotional than just hello – and I realize that we are all journeying together. Regardless of station, good or bad, every one of us is a human being with very similar feelings and struggles.

Sunday was one of these days. There is genuine concern in these times. Children are at war, homes are being lost, and the future is uncertain. Pain is everywhere. Then I wonder how many people walked into this church, hanging their hope on a Sunday school promise that God will take their troubles away. Because of this pretty and simple package, how many will leave this building in a bitter sadness, defeated and even angry at a God they have never met?

I hold the church responsible, in “recruiting efforts,” for painting this simple picture of a joyful life lived with the Lord. I believe in this picture, but it stopped being simple the first time life got hard. When life got hard, I discovered that the Lord Himself does not just hand us a colossal aspirin and pain-repelling umbrella tied up in a red ribbon of exuberant joy.

What he does do is reach out a hand, often times from across a chasm, and promise to take the walk with with us. Unfortunately, when we have been promised a fluffy cloud will carry us along – over the hard parts – it’s hard to understand a God who still makes us take the long way. I worry that this is where people are lost, when they hoped to float over the chasm so they don’t take the hand and make the frightening leap.

Real life with the Lord is exactly that – real. The joy part of it is learned, through trials that are conquered because our faith is placed in a God who is unchanging. He never promised to remove the trials, he promised to make them smaller. Feeling the Love of God on my life reminds me most of being a child. There were scary times and sad times and so many times that I didn’t understand. In those times, there was my dad. He would pick me up, or put an arm around me, and nothing around me changed, but I felt safe. Somehow I knew that whatever came of us, at least something would be the same – my dad.

My dad was certainly not capable of fixing all the trouble that found its way into my life, but he made it more bearable. God cannot remove trouble from our lives, either. If He did, it would mean taking our free will, which is a dangerous but crucial blessing He gave us. He gave us rules to make the climb a little less painful; our obedience is up to us.

That is why there are so many severe warnings against sin. It is not to make us feel guilty or give us restrictions. As adults, we understand that there are just behaviors that are destructive. It would be miserable, if not even impossible, to live as eternal beings in a pattern of sin. And that’s where we got the provision, through Jesus, to give us the opportunity to live as was intended. God grieves that any of us perish, surely grieves in a way we cannot even comprehend. His love for us was the original first love. It is fully passionate, exciting, and hopeful. It never goes away – it may be put away, stashed comfortably in a recess of our heart, but it is never gone. He carries a torch for the world as we carry a torch for those we first loved, a torch that will never be extinguished.

17
Oct
09

Furthermore…

I can’t let it go. In my previous post, “Use Your Words,” I veered from the point I wanted to make. Thankfully, this can be said quickly, in 300 words or less.

The name calling and general disregard has escalated over the past year. I really think it has a lot to do with social media. We can post any vitriol we want, forgetting the implication when a loved one reads it later. I certainly am guilty of this. Frankly, though, I hate the names, particularly “breeder.” Well, I really hate being called a racist because I don’t agree with Obama’s policies. From the bottom of my soul I can say that I am completely unfazed by his skin color. It is offensive to me that people I have known for many years would take such distaste down to something so shallow and disregard anything I have to say about the actual policies in question.

Regarding the namecalling, though. We have hate crime legislation on the books and anti-discrimination policies. In the workplace we all sit through diversity training. To me, all of this points to one conclusion. If we could simply behave ourselves, would any of this be necessary? Do we really have to be visited by a consultant in the work-place to ensure we don’t use offensive references? The lack of civility in our culture is distressing. The citizenry cannot be counted on to behave in public and we continue to defend such behavior. When Kanye or Letterman commit a gaffe, people are rushing to their defense, justifying it for whatever reason. Whether or not we agree on the issues, it would be helpful if we could agree on conduct. Playground rules reign supreme – share, don’t call each other names, no hitting, and take turns. If we could just abide each other the way we did when we were five, the government may be able to step back into its appropriate place.

17
Oct
09

Use Your Words!

Birther, Becker, Rushian, Becker-Head, Breeder, Bigot, Racist, Closed-minded, Hater, Greedy, Uncompassionate, Hypocrite, Deluded, Homophobe…Just a few names being tossed around the blogosphere lately in reference to the conservative movement. I have seen some of these in actual news articles, and I have even seen some arise in a judge’s decision (see Judge Land’s verbal levelling of Orly Taitz. Professional?). Yep. There are some naughty conservatives, too. I heard from a dear friend of mine that his sweet mother was SPIT on while campaigning for Obama. It was a shocking revelation to me as I have never been mistreated by a fellow conservative. I truly believed that we were above such mean and unproductive tactics but I’m guessing those on the other side would say the same thing.

So, we all have to accept some responsibility, but personally I try to abstain from name-calling. Many liberals are my friends, family, and even their mothers – real people I don’t want to hurt. Still, I slip from time to time. Judging from the vast world of social media, we are all slipping. When we were little, our parents told us to use our words and we have practiced ever since, sharpening these verbal skills into a weapon that would divide a nation. The rhetoric and sound bites divide us, fostering distrust and even hatred that sometimes threatens to turn violent. And yet, we continue to use our words. Words are thrown around in our culture without too much thought to their impact. The impact is that we cannot have an honest debate about important issues because both sides are shielded by rhetoric.

It’s dangerous ground. Each day, our way of life is threatened and we citizens are powerless against the tide of politicians. We are fed questionable facts but debate is stifled by fears of being called bigoted, hateful, or worse. Take, for example, the emergence of HIV in the early ’80’s. It didn’t take too long to determine that the disease was sexually transmitted and was spreading most rapidly among homosexual men. The transmission among this demographic was not specifically due to homosexuality, but to promiscuity. The cases were first isolated to San Francisco, New York, and Los Angeles. Officials like Harvey Milk and his supporters tried to warn the gay communities about this rising epidemic and were silenced by Gay activist groups like the Stonewall Gay Democratic Club. These groups stated that any admonition against promiscuous gay sex was a statement against the gay lifestyle and they threw such epithets as homophobe, Nazi, and sexual fascist their way. At that time, one in 333 homosexual men in San Francisco had the disease. They were concentrated in the Castro district and promiscuous men in the area could potentially come into into contact with up to ten partners a night, making their odds of contracting the disease 1 in 33. Harvey Milk, Bill Kraus, and Catherine Cusic, all homosexual community leaders tried to get the word out to protect their own, but they were continually brought down. It was political suicide to warn the homosexual community specifically of this potential danger. Unfortunately, Milk gave into political pressure and dropped the issue. Of course, it is difficult to blame him.

At that time, in 1983, there were about 5,000 HIV diagnoses in the US. It was a rare and preventable disease, had anyone heeded the warnings. Today, over 500,000 Americans are living with the disease and another half million have died from it.

Being homosexual himself, I hardly believe that Harvey Milk was trying to be hateful. I don’t really think the man was homophobic, either. And I know he wasn’t calling anyone names. The price our country has paid for his inability to speak out is dear. Now, we have more and more issues of similar import. Unfortunately, the discussion is the same. We have hurled insults across party lines so long that the line between right and wrong, good and bad, is completely blurred and nobody is willing to uncover it for fear of what will be said. The fastest way to stifle a debate is to call someone a racist or hater. But while we throw these ugly words around, lives are being lost. Money is being lost. Our national identity is being lost. We stand to lose an entire generation. Are we really going to let name-calling stand in the way of greatness we were meant for?




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