Monday, April 18, 2016

Secret Agenda?

All this animosity and fear needs to stop. At some point I think the only reason the Koch's et al are legislating to close or regulate abortion clinics is just so there are more potential consumers.

We can't keep throwing up roadblocks, primarily about income, that make it harder for people to access care. Since I can't assume that intelligent people are knowingly making other people suffer, I've been thinking about some potential motives for this situation. The most obvious answer is that if you are in the business of building pyramids of low-income consumers feeding each other fast food and running their little hamster wheels, you need to the bottom of the pyramid to keep growing. For our economy, that means more low-income people breeding as quick as possible. Having access to an ever expanding lower class is crucial to the continued growth of the sugar water industries that makes these people rich.

For the life of me, I can't be okay with anything that makes it harder for people to access medical care. No matter the purpose, if it's health and wellness it should be accessible and safe. So in the absence of any acceptable reason I can see to deny someone care, I land squarely on the assumption that some motivation is pushing them towards more low-income babies, not just away from care.

You can argue about vices and morality, but not when it can bring others to harm.

Since we'll never know exactly what is going on in the mind of those trying to take away access to health care, I say just try and be safe out there. And you chuckle heads in the back should stop throwing things. I'm looking at you, conservative right.

Sunday, March 17, 2013


No matter how far I might stray in this life, nothing has the power to set me on the right path faster than the gentle questioning of my mother.

No matter what tribulations I face nothing brings the deep abiding peace as the words of my father when he intones sincerely, "I will pray for you."

There are many truths I have questioned in my life but from earliest knowledge I have held that the prayer of righteous man avails much. Even should that not be true, with the faith and honest conviction shown from the staggering intellectual and studied theology of my dad, I concede...if anything in this world can truly impact anything else, his words and belief must surely cause the universe to resonate on my behalf.

Knowing that his time with us is quickly nearing the sum its allotment sobers me even as it causes him to speak more finitely. When he says he will pray he doesn't mean someday in some quiet way on his time. He means now. This moment. With the air of one with little time to spare who is intent upon his purpose, he quiets his voice and lifts me up. He speaks deliberately and slowly and before his second breath I am undone and overflowed and the wetness in my eyes belies the depth to which I'm touched.

I am not moved so much by thoughts in the prayers but by the peace that quiets me knowing such a force and will is expended solely for my benefit. That peace so sweet that so often eludes. That rich assuring quiet reaches me with such a simple phrase, "I will pray for you."

Thursday, November 01, 2012

Religion Of Peace?

As I sat quietly in an airport lounge, I noticed CNN running on the monitors as is typical. What was also typical is that the news feed was about yet another minor skirmish in some far-flung region of the world most of the people around me have never heard about.

Two ladies starting talking about how sad it was and one of them went so far as to say she felt sorry for such 'religious persecution'. She didn't understand why such a peaceful religion was always having these issues. Such ignorance voiced with such apparent empathy naturally made my eyebrows wrinkle. It is always fascinating to me how little knowledge the majority has of the world they are so quick to form opinions about.

It takes very little research (CIA World Book, State Department, Google) to determine that on average in the last 6 years there are 23 major skirmishes at any given time going on around the world. Of those, 21 have a Muslim root. The others are primarily drug-related.

We all know how much everyone, pretty much everywhere likes to tout and condemn all the atrocities of the Catholic church, myself included. But there is something different about good old fashioned greed and evil then a religion that presumes any who don't subscribe should be actively persecuted unto death.

China has long been known as one of the most religiously closed societies in the world. They have persecuted and driven out religions of all types. However, in the last several years they have reached out to many religious leaders with a plea to please send missionaries into their country. The reason for this change of heart is that they started to see Muslim influence and while they can tolerate and coexist with virtually every other religion, there is simply no coexistence with the Muslim faith.

As says the Quran
If the hypocrites, and those in whose hearts is a disease, and those who spread false news among the people in Al¬Madinah, stop not, We shall certainly let you overpower them; then they will not be able to stay in it as your neighbours but a little while. Accursed, they shall be seized wherever found and killed with a (terrible) slaughter.
- Surah Al-Ahzab verse 60 and 61

There are of course, several other examples of the complete intolerance espoused in any study of the Quran, this one was just blindingly appropriate to this discussion.

I will defend vehemently the desire for all to choose their own faith, and live their own culture. But if part of your foundational belief is that the rest of us don't have rights because we don't believe as you do, and in fact should be actively persecuted simply for disagreement, then you are like a viper in the nest and no one else is safe. If one of the most anti-religious countries in the world can figure this out, why are so many Americans so blatantly ignorant?

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Thoughts on Evangelism

On Evangelism

Recently I had the chance to talk with a friend about evangelism. He'd been struggling with feeling like he was called to evangelize but didn't know how to go about. We talked about where the pressure was coming from, probed the opportunities around him, and generally had a good chat. As is sometimes the case, I found myself organizing my own thoughts about evangelism more clearly because someone put me on the spot for my opinion. Later that night I took the time to write down some of the points we discussed. Perhaps you'll find it helpful.
Knowledge Is Key
If you want to be successful in a journey, it helps to know the landscape. You should have a really clear picture of what you believe first and foremost. Be rock solid about your beliefs and be able to explain succinctly and with conviction just why you believe those things. You should know your scripture and hopefully the theology behind your particular religion. Whatever specific ideology you subscribe to, learn the unique aspects and how to explain them. The more you know, the easier the conversation can flow. There's nothing work than confusing someone or losing a window for open exchange because you weren't prepared.
Keep It Simple and Real
My belief system comes down to two things: sin and grace. Being able to clearly discuss this is way more important than being able to wax philosophic on the doctrine of predestination or the timelessness of salvation. A conversation about your beliefs is no place for technical terms and hair-splitting. After all, if it doesn't apply to the the real world, it's waste of time. To make sure it is really applicable, use real words, real examples, and your real life.
Express Empathy
Everyone has a past, a current situation, and stress points. These factors are often the reasons there is a door open for the conversation in the first place. Before you jump right in, make sure you understand what is coloring their current thinking. When speaking about sin and grace I find it helpful to remember that I am only saved by grace without which I have and am nothing. I'm not any better because of the knowledge I am sharing, I am just vessel to be used so that someone else can share the grace I do not deserve. Be sensitive to the person, their situation, and the motivations for the conversation.
Stay The Course
In conversations of such deeply personal nature as our beliefs it is easy to get side-tracked and off topic. It is easy to make things subjective and about opinion instead of absolutes and principles. Keep to the central concern and don't wander into specifics of doctrine or denominational differences. Failing to acknowledge the absolutes in your belief system as absolutes is disrespectful to both parties and can eat away at our ability to enforce them in our own lives as well as the conversation. Sticking to clear references and scriptures, and being able to quote concrete writings was covered in the first point but is critical to this point as well. Don't shy away from acknowledging your own short-comings but keep the conversation on track.
Put The Person First
When it comes down to it, whether you can plant a seed or not, there is a real person in the conversation who can probably use your support, encouragement and maybe more. If it isn't going anywhere or is met with hostility, just back off. Never be afraid to leave it for another time, and try not to let your zeal to communicate get in the way of opportunities to serve. The prize is for serving others, not wearing them down.

Hopefully as you read this, something stuck out that will challenge your own walk. I'd love to hear your thoughts on the matter.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Freewill and Not

Just recently I was discussing the notion of fate and destiny with someone in the context of careers and learning. During the conversation, The Purpose Driven Life by Rick Warren was brought up as an example of motivation and self-help that we both had read.

While I believe whole-heartedly in the concept of being deliberate or driven by purpose, and have written extensively myself on the subject, the context under which this particular book was framed caused me some concern. For example, the dedication states:
"This book is dedicated to you. Before you were born, God planned this moment in your life. It is no accident that you are holding this book. God longs for you to discover the life he created you to live - here on earth, and forever in eternity."
Not to single anyone out, consider that Heaven Is Real by Don Piper has the same type of sentiments within; effectively suggesting that every aspect of your life, down to the moment at which you hold a book, has been predestined by God.

Now as an intellectual exercise I believe in predestination. Well, I believe in dual responsibility, which has the timelessness of God at the core and is often interpreted as predestination. But what I struggle with is the idea that these authors are somehow able to interpret the path and course of a life. And more specifically they are slanting this forecast in such a way as to lead precisely to their own benefit!

As a sweeping generalization, I have no problem with the idea that God ordained those who read the books to be those who read the books. Because this doesn't try and limit His Will into the confines of how we view time. But applying this specifically to a reader or individual is a misuse of the concept of predestination and just plain wrong.

When it comes down to it, I'm fine with the idea of God knowing the plan for my life. I'm vehemently opposed to the idea that anyone else does. After all, I rarely keep a handle on it myself.