aPATHy … May 31, 2012

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Puritans.

They were some of the first souls to settle on the shores of the new America. As the story goes, they climbed into a ship and crossed waters to escape religious persecution in their homeland. I’m sure there is truth to this. But here is what I know about persecution–there is real persecution, brought on by people who are mean-spirited and want to make sure everybody is just like them. And then there is a perceived persecution of those who have their own intolerance and are eventually ostracized by others for being cranky and belligerent.

We may never know the whole story—but somewhere between those two definitions for “persecution” lies the truth about the Puritans. Because they didn’t get their name because they spent their time keeping nasty things out of their churning butter. They got their name because they deemed spirituality to be best expressed by attributes of the flesh instead of attitudes of the heart. Otherwise they would never have put people in stocks for committing small indiscretions, or, for that matter, have burned women as witches because they were somewhat different from the other lasses in town.

Puritanism is in the cultural genetics of the United States of America. It has been in-bred into our thinking, cross-sects most racial barriers and certainly is absorbed into all the states of the Union. It makes us overly conscious of the actions of others, burning them in a cauldron of gossip, while proclaiming that we’re doing so for righteousness’ sake. We have become a nation of busy-bodies who are fascinated with sin, while simultaneously wanting to publicly crucify it.

I was raised with this. My mother and father were absolutely delightful inhabitants of a small town in Ohio, frightened of any kind of newness, freshness or difference that might  creep into our community and taint our mediocrity. Therefore being a Puritan is inside me. I can never become truly spiritual and gain a world view—which Jesus wanted me to possess—until I acknowledge that my spiritual DNA has been infused with the mutation of Puritan probing, and therefore my opinions are suspect, if not downright rancid.

I can cite to you the day I became a man. I was fifteen years old, sitting in a church service, when some gentleman from the board of elders began to recite what he perceived to be the evils of a person who was not present at the gathering. I became so thoroughly disgusted that I quietly stood to my feet and walked out of the room. I lost a little bit of the gusto of my Puritan ancestors that day—and ever since then I have been working hard to dispel the remnants of the garbage.

I will tell you that the first step on the path of being truly spiritual and having a world view is apathy. I know that apathy is normally considered to be a negative attribute but when used correctly it is one of the more positive steps a human can take.

The definition of apathy is “a lack of interest or concern.Exactly. If you want to discuss sin, unrighteousness, immorality or the actions of other people—I am apathetic. I have no interest. I have devoid of concern. Even if you believe the decisions on the part of transgressors are evil, Jesus told us to avoid resisting evil. It’s useless. Nothing dies because you kill it. Things die because they lose the energy and nutrition to sustain life. Bad habits, stupid actions and immoral inclinations are best fought with apathy. If you ignore evil, you steal the only true power it possesses—which is intrigue.

“I don’t care.”

Jesus told me not to judge–or I would be judged, and that a measure would be set for ME from that point on how I would be evaluated in the cosmos. Wow. There are three reasons right there to not be caught being a Puritan, eyeballing other people’s activities.

  1. Judging is in itself nasty, boring and eventually demands that you stop talking and start being even meaner.
  2. I don’t want to be judged. I don’t even like scrutiny. Sometimes I have to take a deep breath to receive critique. So if I can promote myself not being judged by avoiding doing so to others, I am all for it.
  3. And finally, the measuring stick. I just make too many mistakes and think too many stupid things to have some judgment perpetually laid on me by my decision to be critical of others.

I love this country, but the Puritans who settled it have ingrained into us an over-zealous inclination to have an opinion on everything and to feel like we’re doing God’s will by shunning others for their choices.

If we’re going to gain spirituality and a world view, like Jesus wanted us to, we need to practice apathy. “I don’t care.”

And the best way to show that I do care is by “letting my light shine before men that they can see my good works and glorify the Father in heaven.”

America is plagued by the ghosts of our Puritan forefathers, who believed they did God’s will by peering into the lives of other people and executing judgment. It’s not true around the rest of the world, and we certainly would not be pleased by being aligned with nations which maintain that kind of strict religious and moral configuration. There are many Muslim nations which hold to legalities of the Koran who would agree with the Puritans on issues of the flesh. Just as we must be careful to love our enemies, we also must be very aware of who we suddenly find ourselves in fellowship with.

There is  a path and the first step on that path is to acknowledge that you and I have come from Puritan roots set deeply within us, causing us to believe that our convictions are more holy than others, and therefore granting us the privilege of evaluating the world around us.

“Don’t judge or you will be judged.” Jesus’ words.

Beautiful, spiritual apathy.

A man walked up to me the other day and said, “Did you hear what those people are doing?”

I interrupted him. “I don’t care,” I replied. I walked away feeling better, not judged myself and with a measuring stick put up against me that has more grace than gravel.

Apathy. The first step on the path to true spirituality and having a world view.

I am not a Puritan, mainly because I could never keep up with my own philosophy. And when I try to measure it out to other people, it swings around and always punches me in the face.

 

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4% … May 30, 2012

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Just about 4% of the population of our world is American–living and dwelling within the boundaries of the United States. That means that in a room of a hundred people from all over the world, only four of them would have any interest whatsoever in Keeping Up with the Kardashians.

It is an issue of perspective. We have made a dangerous decision in our country, to make the world view of other nations–their cultures and their governments–an object of disdain or unrealistic admiration. Yes, as we always do, we have turned the necessity for having an understanding of our fellow-man all over the globe into a political juggernaut.

It is the responsibility of those who have spirituality to instruct our political leaders and our society into acquiring a comprehension of a wider scope of vision and a more accepting attitude towards others.

Instead, we choose up sides. The more evangelical Christians in this country have a zealous patriotism, often to the detriment of other parts of the human race across the earth. The more liberal or mainline denominational Christians take the position that the rest of the world is “just as good as everybody else,” and that in some ways the United States is actually inferior.

It creates conflict. Conflict does not lead to resolution. Our twenty-four-hour news cycle generates controversy under the illusion that such heated debate will lend itself to better appreciation. Nothing could be further from the truth. What does lead to resolution is the ability to ask the right question. Until you ask the right question, the inquiries you come up with are bent in the direction of confirming your own philosophy rather than discovering the truth that will make you free.

Those who claim to be very patriotic and believe that America has a destiny to rule the world–politically if not militarily–look at the other countries on the earth and their practices and turn up their noses and ask, “Isn’t that strange?” It’s very difficult to believe that reconciliation can be achieved when you start on the basis of thinking that something is “strange.” Even when we make lame attempts to address the cultures of other worlds at Christmas time with our children in school, we portray them as having “odd practices” while our decorating of an evergreen tree is completely normal.

Yes, conservatives tend to address the rest of the world as if they’re strange. Here’s a clue. Most human beings do not like to be considered “strange.” They even find it offensive. And since their particular form of spirituality does not prevent them from hurting people who offend them, we create a natural jeopardy for ourselves by insisting that the rest of the world is hampered by virtue locale.

On the other hand, the more liberal parts of our framework peer at the rest of the world and say, “Isn’t that better?” In the pursuit of what they would call justice, they become hyper-critical of our own society, our own culture and our own process, while lifting up often-obscure parts of other nations’ practices and extolling them as superior. This, of course, infuriates the conservatives, who feel that it’s anti-American, which further cements the liberals in their position that conservatives were basically born with half a brain.

So we play this dangerous game of–shall we call it–American roulette?–where we put five bullets in the chamber, hoping that when we whirl it around, we’ll be lucky enough to hold the gun to our head and be blessed with an empty slot.

It is dangerous to live in a world of diversity and fail to acknowledge that diversity–or at least try to understand how it came to be. It is also absolute foolishness to look at the record of mercy of a country such as the United States, which has attempted to help the world in so many ways, and purposely criticize it because we may be presently struggling in certain areas.

There has to be an understanding. The world is neither strange, nor is it better. It consists of people. Jesus came to give us a message that has world-wide appeal and application, not simply suited for white Europeans.

It is time to reevaluate. If we are only 4% there is no way we will ever be a majority. There is no way we will ever be the loudest voice. And honestly, there is no way we will be the predominant force–unless we find a way to understand the needs and desires of the other peoples around us.

Would you allow me a chance to take the next few days to discuss what we shall call The Path? I do believe there is a road that will take us towards better understanding without rejecting the love of our own country, but I contend that at this point it is just a tiny, winding path through a quagmire of misunderstanding. But if we can identify the path, then we can possibly clarify how we can remain loyal Americans, but gain a world view. I don’t want to just have a world view by criticizing my country, and I certainly do not want to extol my country to the exclusion of billions of people who do not possess our citizenship.

Would you join me? Can we take our 4% and use it more effectively in the world community? I think we can.

Let’s see if we can find The Path.

 

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Motelin Just What … May 29, 2012

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Somewhere between $35.95 cents and $169.99 is the average cost of a motel room in this country for one night. Of course, there are places where you can pay much more for a room based upon locale, special events or some little extra accommodation advertised. But generally speaking, most motels will blush with embarrassment once they go above that top dollar.

It is probably one of the most diversely priced items in this country. For instance, if I told you that a gallon of milk ranged between $1.23 and $18.55, you would be up in arms and ready to lynch some dairy farmer in Wisconsin. Yet the motel industry seems to get by with it by maintaining some dubious rationale in its advertising.

I will tell you right now, after having traveled nearly forty years staying in these establishments, which the top fifty dollars of every price is paying for the name, the location, or the privilege of eyeballing staff wearing coats and ties rather than t-shirts and jeans. If that is relatively important to you, then you should pull out that money and spend it heartily.

Thirty dollars of the price of a motel room in the higher range is for the privilege of being with clientele of your particular social ilk. Yes, I am saying it out loud—cheaper motels tend to draw people who don’t have as much money and unfortunately, in this country we contend that those souls are the source of our crime and violence. (Obviously, not so.)

Motels that charge you a lot of money for the rooms refer to these cheaper establishments as “flea bags–infested with bugs, or dens of drugs and prostitution. Of course, once again, very little truth in the matter (although I would not recommend taking out a motel room adjacent to an adult bookstore.)

If you will allow me to put it into perspective for you, a motel room is a simulation of a master bedroom.  Bed, dresser, closet, television set and adjoining bathroom. And nowadays, most of them have microwaves and refrigerators for convenience, which is a consideration we all might have in the future for our own home unit.

There are really three questions you must ask yourself about your motel room for the night that are essential for a good stay:

1. How much room in the room? Unless you have become very familiar with your traveling companion or don’t mind cramped quarters, being able to walk around your room without running into walls or furniture is a plus.

2. Can I park in front of the door or near to my room? One of the biggest misconceptions is that motel rooms that are enclosed, with a parking lost adjoining are safer than those where you can pull up to your door with your car. Honestly, if I were a criminal, I would not want to rob from cars that are right next to the windows of the owner. I would find a nice, large parking lot far from the front desk–and take my pick.

3. Now, this may surprise you. Staying in a motel room is all about the bathroom. You should be careful of those establishments that miniaturize everything in the toilet area so as to condense space so the room can look larger—because all of the plumbing may look Snow White, but it is best suited for the seven dwarves. Especially beware of toilet seats that are round instead of oblong. They tend to be very uncomfortable and are usually encased by a wall on either side, giving you the feeling that you are being wedged into your experience. The bathroom is the key to a motel room. Good lighting, double sinks a plus–or even a sink in the bathroom and one outside the bathroom is really handy. The shower should be easy to get in and out of and have good pressure.

Once you discover these pieces of information, you understand that the most you should probably pay for a motel room is about $75 a night. Everything above that is advertising name, location, staff or a hot breakfast which is offered to you, including eggs, bacon and sausage (which, by the way, is completely unnecessary unless you’re a lumberjack felling trees in the Yukon.)

As you find with everything else in life, there are ways to save money without losing quality. That seems to stymie a lot of folks, including the U.S. government and Congress–because at least half of what people refer to as quality is name-brand assurance that you will be taken care of if something goes wrong.

So the Holiday Inn wants you to pay extra money for their good name over “Bob and Mary’s Motel” down the street–because in the case of some unforeseen difficulty, they want you to believe they would handle it better than Bob and Mary. But since we don’t know what that unforeseen difficulty would be, and no one knows what anyone would do, you end up spending a lot of money for absolutely nothing–similar to buying extra insurance coverage on a car rental.

So I pulled into Denver yesterday and went to my motel, and as always, it ends up being a mixed bag. The room is small but has a lovely bathroom with an accessible shower AND throne. The air conditioning unit needs some work, but we’ve already met the maintenance man and he seems congenial and willing to try. The television set is too big for the room, but that hardly seems like something one should complain about after simply noting it. And the furniture is not made of oak or covered with leather, but instead, looks like your Uncle Charlie made it out in the garage because he’s hoping to someday leave his job at the factory and start a business.

I feel very good every week upon discovering a diamond in the rough and saving money that people have given me so that I can travel—to use it wisely to buy quality instead of merely a name or false assurance. If we could teach the financiers of our nation the same concept and we would begin to barter once again for better pricing on items instead of signing lifelong contracts with companies based on their previous reputations, we could begin to emerge from this dark cloud of indebtedness and arrogant spending with some dignity–and even have a little fun in the process.

Fortunately for me, I have a traveling companion who enjoys cutting a corner here and there as long as she doesn’t lose and arm or a leg. If we could just find people to elect to be our representatives who had similar mindsets, we would be all set.

So those are my discoveries about moteling. To sum it up, if you need a name, or if you are afraid of being next door to someone who makes less than 50K a year, then you will probably end up paying for the higher priced institutions, for the powdered eggs in the morning, convincing yourself it was worth it. But if you realize that buying a name doesn’t mean guaranteeing quality, or sharing the neighborhood with people who don’t have late-model cars but do have contemporary standards and morals–then you can shop around and save yourself upwards to fifty or sixty dollars a night.

Last week I met some of the most interesting people at the swimming pool where we were staying in Grand Junction, Colorado. They were young enough to be my children or grandchildren, and I befriended them, loved them and enjoyed them, discovering many twists and turns in their ever-evolving lives. It was fascinating.

So “motelin’ just what you’re looking for,” as you stay overnight somewhere, realize that money can be easily spent pursuing a security–that is never pre-ordained.

 

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Crossroads … May 28, 2012

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I was looking for a space

Within this earthly place

To wisely put my face

And gently make my case

To the surrounding human race.

Who isn’t?

But where does one begin?

Well, for me, it was school—more out of legality than desire. I showed up, did my mediocre best, and found after time that they did offer answers—but rarely to MY burning questions.

Graduating from that experience, I decided to take my little dab of talent and portfolio of songs and go to the bar to perform. Seemed right. They always needed music. They always wanted some troubadour to perform while the patrons enjoyed the fellowship of the dimly lit room. But every time I tried to sing one of my songs—or worse, speak between selections with a thought or two—I  was told by the management that the patrons wanted to hear Proud Mary and Mustang Sally—not one of my made-up ditties.  I was also informed that this was a drinking establishment, and people came here to escape their daily concerns, not rehash them. It became obvious that the bar was not for me. It was a venue to drink, not think.

It may sound unlikely, but for a brief season I thought maybe politics and public service was an opportunity for me to share my ideals and talents. But I soon discovered that supporting the party and making sure it was provided with adequate favors was the goal rather than the pursuit of truth. I was not discouraged.

There were still many possibilities dancing in the distance—such as the corporate world. I scoured the countryside for an organization that would have a product beneficial for the common good, and then I joined up with great enthusiasm, to change the world around me, one product at a time. But alas, I discovered that the business world was not about constantly improving the quality and increasing the value of the products, but rather, getting rid of the present inventory, even if it wasn’t as good as what we could do. Yes, the business world was tell and sell—and I was quickly unable to maintain the top of my game for its bottom line.

Then I thought maybe I could find a market for my music if I scheduled events in concert halls, where the audience would gather for the sole purpose of hearing my material. A brilliant thought. But always remember, there are two things that stand in the way of great ideas—weariness and apathy. They resemble each other in body language, but weariness usually comes after someone who is overly zealous encounters the indifference of the world around him. Concerts were scheduled, but no one came because no one knew my name. And those who did come always preferred that I play, not say.

First fruits of discouragement were beginning to etch across my features. I did have the wisdom to know that the greatest enemy of creativity was cynicism, so refusing to be jaded, I went to my local Chamber of Commerce and decided to get behind its efforts, to instill pride in its citizens. At first it was great fun. I felt a part of something. And then, as life does, the obvious need for change within our little burg became evident, and as people often do, the fear of such a maneuver is avoided at all costs. The Chamber of Commerce is a wonderful place to visit as long as you’re willing to repeat the mantra: “Our city is pretty.” But if you see where energy could be used to produce greater results, you could quickly become an annoyance to anyone who is determined to chant.

I will not lie to you. By this time I was so disappointed that I was flirting with giving up. I escaped into my own home and family. There was nobility to it—a sense that I was establishing my own personal Garden of Eden, with my own off-spring, giving something of quality to the world around me as I boldly proclaimed, in the spirit of Joshua: “As for me and my house, we shall serve the Lord.” Although I experienced many beautiful moments and was able to nurture fine souls, the world around me continued to age and wrinkle in its own boredom and I realized that our little personal utopia, built on top of a hill, was more or less just a “fuss about us.”

But infused from the success and the jubilance of being with my family, and having launched little ships onto the sea of possibility, I packed up my belongings and I headed off to find the last great possibility. I arrived there yesterday, in Grand Junction, Colorado—at Crossroads.

It’s a church. People there don’t drink, so there’s nothing to inebriate them, to keep them from thinking. They have a school that they hold on Sunday, but you’re still allowed to ask questions if the right answers have not been provided. Politics are discouraged, although, because they do have a board, there is an ongoing danger of too many votes. It’s not a concert hall, so you are allowed to play your music and still explain why it’s important to you. It’s not a business, even though they do collect money. It’s not exactly a Chamber of Commerce, where they insist that their particular conclave of believers is always the prettiest in town. And it is certainly not a home, because everybody who attends already has one of those.

It’s not perfect. Honestly, it’s not even close. But what it is, is a place that is so ill-defined by human terms that God still has a chance to offer an opinion. It is a building where people sit as far to the rear as possible but still have arrived with an opening in their hearts that proclaims, “We want more.”

What an apt name for that church I visited yesterday—Crossroads. Because that’s exactly what the church should be—a place where people gather without fear, without too much agenda, without a drink in their hands, without needing to vote, without requiring a certain level of beauty, without believing they have all the answers, and without making too much of a fuss about themselves—just allowing an hour to refresh the brain cells which have been bombarded by repetition.

I have tried all the doors into the household of humanity. Many are locked.  Some are doggedly guarded. Others, quite frankly, are rusted shut. Yet I found a stained-glass window in the back of the house that was left open and I’ve wiggled through it.

It’s called the church. It is a crossroads. And what is a crossroads, you might ask? It is a place to sit in the middle of an overly positive and terribly negative world and start believing, thinking and working … for something better.

 

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Withered … May 27, 2012

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He was sick.

Disabled.

Well, not really without ability. His particular affliction had been with him for so long that nobody gave it a second thought.

Nobody except him. (Personal plagues are always personally present.) But as for friends, unless some new family came for worship at the church and one of their little ones was fascinated with the dwarfed hand and stared too long–well, other than that, it was pretty well absorbed.

He had a deformed hand. On initial viewing, it was grotesque. Determined eyeball-to-eyeball contact was required to avoid a misplaced glance at the tiny appendage. It was a very polite and political policy of practice.

He had such a great attitude about his limitation, even occasionally joking with others about his situation, citing that he would, “give them a hand, but he didn’t have one to spare!”

It had become acceptable–an acceptable lacking. An absence, adjusted to quite well. People had moved on. Life had reassembled into an understanding of the necessity for normalcy. There were no mentions of cure. There were no discussions of remedy. There were no longer any prayers for a miracle. Everyone was satisfied with a very unsatisfying situation. Everyone … except Jesus.

He came to worship. He sat to pray. He listened to scriptures. But then he rose to meet the need.

He interrupted.

Now, you must understand that interruptions are generally considered to be anti-human contradictions to the flow of our relaxed consciousness. Even when they’re pleasant possibilities, we resist at first because they are not in the spectrum of the programming. For after all, there’s no reason to hold a worship service if you haven’t already planned it. Songs were selected; special music was practiced. Even a presentation for the children was strategically placed within the framework of a cramped agenda. There was really no time for interruptions

Propriety is the schoolmaster of the classroom of decency and order. So when Jesus stood to his feet and interrupted the proceedings, there was a sense of both surprise and certainly, annoyance. Who did he think he was? What did he think he was doing? What arrogance did he possess that caused him to believe that any contribution he could make would be worthy of consideration? He simply posed the question.

“Is it good to do good on the Sabbath?”

There was silence. For after all, that was the response to most things that happened within the confines of the sanctuary. Silence was a way of showing reverence, of being reflective and pious. But silence in this case only confirmed indifference and cowardice.

Jesus was angry. He asked the man with the withered hand to stand to his feet and stretch it forth. As he did, the hand, which had become common in its disfigurement appeared for the first time–beautifully whole.

There was no applause. There were no hallelujahs. Just an uncomfortable fidgeting, punctuated by a cough or two.

Jesus turned on his heel and walked out of the building, followed by a freshly healed, reborn and rejuvenated new brother.

After the pair left, there was a stillness in the room for a few moments, while everyone tried to mentally reconnoiter what to do next. Then the minister rose to his feet and began to read scriptures and everyone found their place in the order of service and continued faithfully.

Having survived the disruption of a miracle, the church was able to return to its liturgy. But Jesus was gone from their midst. Also gone was the confirmation in flesh of why they truly should gather–a transformed human being who had been touched by the grace of God.

Withered–it’s what occurs to any living thing right before death closes the deal. It is the lingering pain which has become acceptable because of its frequency. People adjust to it. People work around it.

Not Jesus. Jesus was off and away, to seek and save that which was lost.

Withered. It begs the question. “Is it good to do good on the Sabbath?”

The question echoes in our silence.

 

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Children Are Not Corn … May 26, 2012

 

English: A display of six ears of field corn w...

English: A display of six ears of field corn with dented yellow kernels (Zea mays var. indentata) which won ribbons for “best of show” at the Steele County Fair in Owatonna, Minnesota (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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No, children are not corn. Good soil, seed, water, sunshine and care do not guarantee a plentiful harvest. Unlike corn they rarely take “stalk” of themselves and certainly are not “all ears.”

 Good corn  comes from good seed. But bad kids can come from good parents. We all know this, right? You can read books, study habits or even develop a life of piety–it will not ensure the results you desire.

I thought about this last night because my son and daughter-in-law are about to have a baby.They are excited. They will get over this and when they do, what will they need to know about fostering the growth of another human being instead of thinking that they are merely raising corn? Here is  short list I put together based on my experience with raising six sons:

1. Instruct following a failure. Don’t critique mediocre effort, but do use the moment to enhance results.

2. Encourage progress. Spend twice as much time exhorting brilliance as you spend fussing about “dimness.”

3. Praise success. Yes, celebrate. Don’t assume the benefits of the experience are sufficient without your words of acknowledgment.

4. And finally, in their presence, always believe the best. In their absence, always prepare for the worst. There is no benefit in being an optimistic parent. The only thing that will make you useless to your child is if their behavior surprises you, producing shock, which greatly resembles disappointment. And disappointment is poison to the spirit of a young human. Always have a contingency plan for what you will do if your children end up being … crazy.

So to my fine son and his wife, let me say that being the adult means standing firm in your support but being wise enough to never be  caught off guard, which can lead to accidentally becoming abusive because you were not rehearsed for any possibility.

Children aren’t  corn. You can’t butter them up and they don’t always en up lining up with all their little, golden nuggets in perfect rows.They are unpredictable. So make sure you have taken the time to predict what they’re able to do. 

  

The producers of jonathots would humbly request a yearly subscription donation of $10 for this wonderful, inspirational opportunity

Ten Things That Make Me Crazy … May 25, 2012

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1. Murder as entertainment. Would someone please explain why it’s acceptable in our society to indiscriminately splatter blood across the screen for young children to see, while romance and sex are deemed to be evil? It is so hypocritical. The Bible says that “life is in the blood,” and when we make human blood such an expendable unit, we attack the beauty of life.

2. Music without emotion. I like a good beat just like the next guy–but music has the capacity to touch the human heart, which is the doorway to the soul. Honestly, nothing does it quite as well. When we fail to use that ability of the medium to reach into the emotions of our fellow-travelers, we miss the greatest blessing available for being tuneful.

3. Dress-up religion. Here’s my thought: if you’re wearing a costume, it’s probably Halloween. Any time we feel the need to don garb or insert ritual instead of reality and truth into our worship of God, we are secretly admitting that it’s a childhood game of hide-and-seek, which really has no practical application.

4. Movies that don’t move me. A friend recently told me that he goes to movies to be entertained. That’s fine and dandy. I’m all for entertainment, but life is too short to allow ourselves to view a meaningless scene that does not enrich all the parts of our human vessel. So please, give me some heart that touches my soul while renewing my mind, while making my skin tingle with excitement. And life certainly is too short for us to be deterred from discovering our essence by portraying images on the screen that are anti-human or anti-Golden Rule.

5. Mirrors in the shower room. I don’t get it. If you think you have a great body, you certainly don’t require a mirror to tempt you to admire yourself, generating even greater arrogance. Or if your body is under construction or in transit to a better self, then viewing the present progress is nothing less than discouraging.

6. Opinions mingled with statistics. I welcome your opinion. I’m interested in what you have to say. You don’t have to agree with me. But please don’t bring along a bunch of facts and stats that you have swung in your direction to convince me that I am in the minority and that your opinion is held by the bulk of the populace. Honestly, my dear friend, I don’t mind being in the minority. It is where most miracles are spawned.

7. The made-up fight between men and women. Yes. It’s made up. It’s manufactured to accomplish two goals–to sell products which isolate one sex from the other, and to avoid spending the necessary time to understand one another instead of just bumping into each other for brief moments of pleasure. We will eventually have to grow out of our childish belief that the other sex actually does have “cooties.”

8. Brainless patriotism. It doesn’t matter how many times you chant,Support the troops!” It doesn’t make you better than the person who works for peace so that the troops don’t have to go over to foreign lands and take a bullet for us. Here’s my gift to the soldiers on this Memorial Day weekend: thank you for being willing to fight. I appreciate it so much that I’m going to work very hard to make sure you don’t have to.

9. Destiny. We occasionally go through intervals in our society when we either become too lazy or too frightened to be responsible for our own lives. So for a brief season we focus on how God, the devil or even fairies control our futures. It’s ridiculous. Right now our literature, entertainment and even our churches are filled with the notion that God–who created free will–has changed His mind and really wants to manipulate us to do His bidding. Pretty soon we will grow weary of being helpless and will accept the great gift of being allowed to use our talents to make our own lives better.

10. Fussing about God. Since none of us really understand God, to fuss about Him is not only worthless and comical, but also may be the definition of arrogant. I will tell you bluntly–no one I know (including me) believes the WHOLE Bible. We all have favorite passages which we push to the forefront to promote our particular rendition of Mr. Almighty. So since that is the case, I have no intention of fussing with you about your interpretation of divine matters. I have decided to simplify my life down to, “NoOne is better than anyone else,” and enjoy the elementary mind-set of that concept while pursuing the complexities of its application.

Those are the ten things, on this beautiful Friday, that make me crazy. Each one of them can be tempered by those moderate souls who feel that I may be a little over-wrought in my representations. But there is a time to take a stand and a season where we refuse to accept mediocrity just because it’s wearing a fashionable hat. The question is not whether things make me crazy, but whether that particular brand of lunacy drives me into an asylum where I self-medicate and hide out from the world around me–or if it pushes me into the street to protest the injustice I see to the best of my ability.

I am not a radical, but I refuse to be a pushover. So until things get better and human beings are allowed to be human without having to walk around in lies, I will lift up the banner that God loves us as we are–but he also loves the fellow next to us, the lady down the street and all those infidels in other lands who might just be planning our demise. 

  

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