Archive for the ‘Examined living’ Category

This is Love   Leave a comment

When Jesus was asked to love the world composed of individuals, He carried His own cross the Calvary. For those of you who think God is a cosmic meanie who delights in abusing mere mortals, just take a pause and consider that for a moment. Jesus was God Incarnate – God in the flesh — and He chose to go to the cross for your sake, even if you hate Him.

In 1945 Roddie Edmonds, a 26-year-old US Army Master Sergeant, was the highest-ranking soldier among the 1292 American POWs in the camp. Circumstances had made him their commander, responsible for their well-being. He’d been in the camp for a month when the German commandant ordered all Jewish American soldiers to line up outside the barracks the next morning.

Edmonds told his men “We’re not doing that. We’re all falling out.”

Image result for image of grocery checkout hellThe commandant knew all 1300 men could not be Jews. He knew there were about 200. When he ordered Edmonds to identify them, Edmonds, an evangelical Christian, insisted they were all Jews. The commandant put a pistol to his head and again demanded that he identify the Jews.

 

Somehow, when most men couldn’t think, Edmonds rattled off his name, rank and serial number. He then reminded the commandant that if he shot Edmonds, he’d have to shoot the entire 1300 and that would assure that the commandant would be tried for war crimes since everybody knew it is was just a matter of time before the Americans won the war. The commandant walked away. Months later, Edmons and his men were rescued.

We’d all like to think we would show the same resolve as Edmonds did in similar circumstances. I suspect I’d wet my pants. Would I have started identifying the Jews? I don’t know. Survival is a pretty high ideal of mine. With a gun to my head, I’m not sure if I could have thought so clearly.

Pastor Chris Edmonds, who only recently learned of his father’s bravery, points out that none of the men under Edmonds’ command pointed out the Jews. “They all stood together.” Chris Edmonds adds that his father’s story “is a clarion call to love one another regardless of our choices or faith. He stood against oppression. He stood for decency. He stood for humanity. This thing we call life – it’s about all of us, not one of us.”

Jesus gave up His human life for all of us, though we still come to Him as individuals. In the Western world, we think of love as a personal relationship with another person, but that “love” appears dependent upon what the other person does for us. The Greeks had a whole vocabulary for “love” that included mere lust, friendship love and agape love, which is the big expansive love for our fellow human beings that can express itself as caring for the well-being of another group of people without thought for our own well-being. It’s more than a personal love. Edmonds showed that love in practice.

That day in 1945, Edmonds’ decision was to love the men under his command with his own life. He didn’t choose to be an individual that day, but to live or die as a member of his troop. Maybe the commandant was actually bluffing that day, but I suspect the authority of agape love somehow overwhelmed his own authority. He couldn’t pull the trigger because he too recognized the love that Edmonds was representing.

Agape love doesn’t just happen on the battlefield. Christians are called to express it in every circumstance. Yeah, the world is full of jerks, but that doesn’t mean we have to become jerks ourselves. Brad absolutely hates to go through the checkout line at the market because there’s always someone there doing something stupid. They can’t figure out how to scan one item or they are in the “less than 15” line with 30 items or they can’t find their POS card. He gets himself all worked up inside his head and he carries that anger with him after he leaves the store. He tends not to say anything aloud. That would be me, but I’m irritated far less often … not that it makes a bit of difference to our relationship with Jesus, our fellow shoppers or with ourselves. The thing about sin is that it occurs within us before it leaks out to the surface. It’s our thoughts and actions that cast a shadow on our day, not the actions of the other shopper. Oh, yeah, we justify our irritation. We were right and they were wrong.

And yet, as we drive away, we may be tense and fuming, causing damage to our own bodies. We blame the world for not yielding up the perfect set of circumstances. We comfort ourselves that the other shopper was at fault, not our weakness of character. We tell ourselves that people like Roddie Edmonds are special and that the range of human choices is different for us than for them.

People like Edmonds will seem rare until more of us honor our mutual interdependence as we encounter the small things in life. When faced with a big challenge our self-serving behavior may kick in because our muscles to practice agape are flabby. There’s no reason to hate ourselves for that. We just need to learn to see the world through Jesus’ eyes. When we give into the anger that the world seems to bring about, then we only hurt ourselves and our witness as Christians.

Take a moment. Take a deep breath. Resolve to do better next time. Remember, we’re all in this world together … and God no doubt had a reason for doing it that way.

Posted January 15, 2017 by aurorawatcherak in Examined living

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Civility not too much to ask: Comments a forum for discussion of issues, not abuse and threats – Fairbanks Daily News-Miner: Editorials   Leave a comment

There you go. Pretty much what needs to be said.

Civility not too much to ask: Comments a forum for discussion of issues, not abuse and threats – Fairbanks Daily News-Miner: Editorials.

Debate does not need to become a hate-filled shouting match. I will continue to post controversial ideas until such time as I am imprisoned or dead, because I believe people ought to THINK and entertain ideas contrary to the societal zeitgeist. You want to debate it? Good. If you want to use it as a forum to abuse others — you pretty much are making my points for me.

On Conformity   1 comment

Sometimes it hits you, as did the article I reposted a couple of minutes ago.

There are so many people who advocate for conformity and they do it with the best of intentions. Why shouldn’t the United States use the Celcius Scale or the metric system? Every other country in the world is on board with these systems. What is wrong with us?

I’m not disputing the arguments for adopting those system. I’m disputing the notion that conformity is good. It’s not! If everybody else is doing it, you should probably ask why and if maybe you should stop, go another way, avoid the unseen cliff the rest of society is rushing over.

 

Am I Ready for the Zombie Apocalypse?   4 comments

Are you?

Well, okay, I’m not actually expecting a real zombie apocalypse. I’m thinking it’s more likely to be a second Great Depression, second Civil War, second American Revolution ….

Basically, I think the world’s going to hell in a fruit basket and it’s past time to start preparing for it.

What about you? And, how do you prepare for a zombie apocalypse? Or even just the natural consequences of loading too much straw on the camel’s back?

What If Syria is Serious?   Leave a comment

I know a lot of people don’t think messing around with a little bitty country like Syria is that dangerous, but ….

A couple of years ago, I read “One Second After”, which tells the story of a North Carolina college town that must deal with the aftermath of a electro-magnetic pulse that takes out pretty much every bit of electrical generation in the nation. The end of the book leaves the perpetrators unidentified, which drives home the message that the US is extremely reliant upon our technology and would not be capable of retaliating should something like this occur.

So, when I hear Syria saying they will retaliate if the United States and/or the United Kingdom attacks them, I sort of wonder ….

They don’t need ICBMs to hit us. They just need a ship and a SCUD missile. Those are already available. Iran probably already has them.

Have you ever thought about what you would do if you couldn’t flip a switch to turn on the lights long-term? How would you see at night? Wash your clothes? Wash your dishes? Get your news? Heat your home? Get to work? And where would you like to be when it happens?

I’m finishing up a series and throwing some ideas out there, but then I think I’m coming back to this because if Syria is serious, we may all be in trouble and we’d better start thinking ahead so some of us can live through the consequences.

Posted August 29, 2013 by aurorawatcherak in Common sense, Examined living

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Magic Words   Leave a comment

There’s a line in The Game of Thrones that I love. Tyrion the dwarf is talking to John Snow, the illegitimate son of Ned Stark, about the word “bastard”. Today, we know that word as a swear for someone who is a jerk, cruel, abusive, etc., but in former times, it meant an illegitimate child. Tyrion notes he’s called Imp by those same men.

“It’s only a name. If someone calls you a name, make it your own and then they have no power to hurt you with it.”

On June 24, local radio host Michael Dukes used the word “nigger” on his show. He was quoting Paula Deen, the food maven who famously lost her sweet gig for having used that word decades before. Yeah, Paula Deen was born in 1947, which means that she was a young adult in the South prior to the Civil Rights movement. I’m not surprised that she used the word “nigger” in the past. It was a common word for black people in her culture. Has she used it lately? I doubt it. In fact, I would hazard to theorize that she has not used a racial slur more recently than our president has.

Michael Dukes was reporting on the case and discussing freedom of speech. He called it the “n-word” several times before a caller called in and said the actual word. I couldn’t tell the race of the caller, but he actually brought up the use of the term “nigga” in rap music. It was at that point that Michael Dukes stopped pussy-footing around and used the actual word “nigger”.

A few days later, the following letter to the editor ran in our local newspaper.

http://www.newsminer.com/opinion/letters_to_editor/dukes-word/article_9ad8e612-df02-11e2-a4ff-001a4bcf6878.html

It was a clear attempt to embarrass the sponsors of the Michael Dukes Show into dropping their advertising. I hope they don’t do that.

Black people have followed a fine tradition of taking the sting out of a slur by claiming it for themselves. Christians did similarly centuries ago. When people started using the term “Christian” it was a slur to try and demean those who believed in following Jesus Christ rather than the Greek and Roman gods. It was first used in Gentile regions. Christians took the name for themselves and took the power of the word away from those who would wield it as a weapon.

Later, Catholics used the term “anabaptist” to describe and demean those who did not believe in baptizing infants, holding instead to believer’s baptism, which infants are incapable of. Those who rejected infant baptism took the term for their own name and became Baptists. So much for the slur having power over them.

Words do not have a magical ability to make us less than what we are inherently. The only power words have are what we give them. Black people took that power away from white people when they started using the term “nigga” to describe one another. Good for them. Tyrion the Imp would approve.

The power of the word “nigger” remains only so long as we continue to grant it power. I’m not saying white people should use it to describe black people. I am saying that we should stop all the reverse racist bullshit that insists that it’s fine for black people to call each other “nigga”, but it’s  career destroying in 2013 if a Southern white person said “nigger” back in 1968.

And, by the way, if you want to call me a “red skin”, go for it. Fairbanks Alaska is having one of the longest stretches of hot sunny weather that I can remember and the other day, my husband noted that I indeed have a reddish-brown hue to my skin. I’m not sunburned. My tan simply has a reddish undertone. So I emailed several of my cousins who are as much Wyndake as I am and asked them about their tanning habits.

We’re “red skins”. There’s no pain in that because we take the description as our own and take all of its power away.

Can we stop giving magical power to words now?

Sacred Space   Leave a comment

The other day I happened to be reading an article on urban planning, in which the author wrote at length about what is wrong with suburbia and, by extension, rural communities. He spent a considerable amount of space lamenting the lack of “sacred space”. I thought was strange since most urbanites I know are not all that into going to church while, conversely, rural and suburban dwellers go fairly regularly. Then I read his definition of “sacred space”. To him, it was not a place to worship God so much as it was a building with breathtaking architecture. Think St. John’s Episcopal in New York City or the Crystal Cathedral, which is now a Catholic church. He lamented that evangelical Christianity “infests” the suburbs and evangelicals just don’t know how to worship God. We inspire good works, but not great ones, he said.

Wow! Color me embarrassed in mediocrity.

First, we’re guilty on the architecture charge. Evangelical churches are rarely grand affairs and when they are, they’re usually big not beautiful. Are we just architecturally challenged or is there a reason for this austerity?

I can’t speak for megachurches because I’ve never been a member of a megachurch, but I’ve been a member of some small Great Commission (aka Southern) Baptist churches. They were simple affairs, rows of pews for sitting, hardwood or low pile carpet for floors, a low stage in the front with a simple pulpit for the preacher to put his notes on and a Lord’s Supper table before it. My husband was raised Catholic and his first question upon seeing my church was “Where are the statues?” Now he understands that we consider statues in God’s church building to be idolatry, but more we structure our chapels so as not to distract from the worship of God. He’s center-stage, not the building.

This is partially because evangelicals do not consider our church buildings to be “sacred space”. The heart of the believer is God’s holy temple. The building where we hold Sunday service and teach English and citizenship to the foreign born is … well, a building. It’s convenient that we own it, but its main purpose is to house the congregation in collective gathering. I don’t feel the loss of a glorious space to worship in because I don’t worship God in that building. I worship God where I am at the moment – in my home, at work, driving through traffic, and sometimes in the church building. Biblical Christianity started in people’s homes and in the streets of Jerusalem. It didn’t need a glorious cathedral then and it doesn’t need one now. So, if our church buildings are uninspiring it may be that we’re spending our collective money on more important things.

Great works versus good works? What constitutes a “great” work? Evangelical Christianity was responsible for two “Great Awakenings”. The first one ended slavery in England and the second one was headed toward ending slavery in America when it got derailed by the Civil War, though some used it as an excuse for the Civil War. Evangelical Christianity sent missionaries throughout the known world to spread Christianity throughout Mediterranean Europe, Africa, the Middle East and as far as India while Christians were being persecuted by Rome. Modern Evangelical Christianity sent missionaries to the third world with the good news of Christ. Congregationalist evangelical Christianity’s church polity undergirds the American system of federalism. Evangelical Christianity drove German, Danish, and Dutch Gentiles to smuggle Jews out of Nazi controlled areas (google Corrie ten Boom). Evangelical Christianity smuggled Bibles into communist-bloc countries. Evangelical Christianity sends thousands of emergency workers to natural disaster sites with food, clothing, reconstruction experience (google Southern Baptist Disaster Relief). So,

I guess it depends on your definition of “great works”. It’s true that Evangelical Christians did not build the great cathedrals of Europe, but my spiritual ancestors were busy being the victims of the Inquisition and then, when they got to the United States (escaping religious persecution, by the way), we (in our loosely affiliated congregations) felt it best to concentrate on things we’d already excelled at – like, evangelism, prayer, Bible study, and convincing people that the wholesale slaughter and/or enslavement of your fellow human being is not a godly thing to do. We left the building of great edifices to denominations with more monetary resources and less important things to do.

I love great architecture. There’s not a lot of it in Alaska, so one of things I like about traveling to other places is poking around looking at aesthetically pleasing buildings – including churches. That is “glorious space”, but if you require awe-inspiring architecture to “get your God on”, there is something lacking from your relationship with the Divine. There is a portion of me – call it my heart, call it my spirit – that is “sacred space” that goes with me wherever I go, so that I am never out of touch with God unless I choose to be. That is worshipping Jesus in “spirit and in truth” and not creating “high places” where we bow down to the idols of God of our own design and hierarchal superstructure. In this way, we walk in the dusty footsteps of great past believers like Abraham, Moses, the prophets, Saul who would become Paul, Mary of Bethany, the church at Philippi, and Peter.

For a true believer in Jesus Christ, God is always right here with us and we need no more “sacred space” than our own heads.

Can We Stay Out of Each Other’s Bedrooms?   4 comments

I don’t watch a lot of television, so shows come and go without my notice. I think there’s a lot of good television out there, but I have other things to do and I miss too many episodes to enjoy a series if I try to watch in a traditional way, so I time-shift my viewing. If a program was good, I catch it on Netflix. If it wasn’t, I probably didn’t miss much.

Under the circumstances, my general impression of TV was that there seemed to be an awful lot of gay characters on the shows I occasionally tune into, but I thought it was just poor luck. Then Saturday I had lunch with friends from my social work days and some woman at a table near us went off on a five-minute rant about how the networks are canceling gay-themed shows right and left and putting “diversity on television” at risk.

Wow! Really? Inquiring minds want to know.

The 2012-13 broadcast season featured more homosexual characters than ever before and the Big Four (CBS, ABC, NBC, FOX) lost 7.5% of their viewership, much of that in the very important 18-49 demographic. Is it coincidence or correlation that gays are up and ratings are down? The networks apparently saw correlation and canceled a record number of gay-themed programs, including Partners, Smash, and The New Normal. It appears the American television audience may not want so many homosexual men coming into their living rooms or, honestly, their bedrooms so often.

This seems indicative of the cultural revolution that America is struggling with right now. Sex is a very intimate act so why is television so focused on sexual orientation? I think I speak for most heterosexuals in America – Hollywood, stay out of my bedroom and I’ll stay out of yours. If it is wrong for my morals to intrude in your bedroom, it is wrong for your bedroom to intrude on my morals. Hollywood, populated by people whose mores prevent them from stepping into a house of worship, seeks to use television to shape mores, turning what is meant to be entertainment into a 3-hour nightly sermon, addressed to a nation that can’t even get out of bed for an hour sermon once a week. Wow, no wonder they’re hitting the scan button!

Many gays will insist that there is no intention to reorient opinion through gay programs, but the results, found in a poll in the Hollywood Reporter, shows that depiction of homosexuality make viewers more welcoming to it. Since the increase in gay programming on television started around 2002, views on gay marriage have exponentially swung in its favor.

This may be because the depictions of homosexuals on network television resemble advertising more closely than entertainment. What do most of us do during the commercials? Yes, change the channel … or turn off the set altogether and go do something else.

My husband, who is both pretty comfortable with his own masculinity and not hostile toward gays, says there’s only one gay character he tolerates on TV and a quick survey of his construction worker colleagues found agreement. The one character they like is Stefon, Saturday Night Live’s very inappropriate, sleep-deprived clubber. In my research I also learned that homosexual activists HATE this character. To figure out why, I watched three sketches and thoroughly enjoyed them – had some great belly laughs. I suspect this is because the writers, the actor, and the largely heterosexual audience are all in on the joke. Just as Dana Carvey’s Church Lady was not a mean-spirited attack on Pentacostal bun ladies, Stefon acknowledges that “alternative lifestyles” can go to extremes and those extremes deserve to be tweaked. Stefon is absurb and it’s funny, in part because Stefon is completely not believable, but what comes out of his mouth is … unlike the saintly depictions of homosexuals during the primetime propaganda hours.

I also watched an episode of The New Normal to balance the funny with the propaganda and found that the producers apparently expect the audience to buy the absurdity as normal. I haven’t been properly indoctrinated, so it isn’t funny. Ellen Barkin’s demonization of conservatives is a wooden caricature of what Hollywood thinks of those outside their social circle and the gay characters are mere symbols of a political and social position rather than interesting characters. They appear to exist as change-agents, not entertainment. I’m glad I only wasted one episode’s worth of time on that show. If the other shows were similar, I understand why they were canceled. Just because a show has gay characters is no excuse for being bad television.

So, here’s a thought, Hollywood. Try writing some interesting characters doing either funny or exciting things and don’t bother to tell us their sexual interests. Let us figure it out on our own. Leave something to the imagination. Recognize that television inhabits a culturally monolithic tiny bubble of America that embraces lifestyles that do not reflect much of American society. In this capacity, the ruling elites of Hollywood reject America as it is and tries to force us to become what we are not. It’s not overly surprising to me that American television viewers are refusing to cooperate and have chosen to reciprocate by rejecting Hollywood.

Where is the remote? Ah! Found it!

Schaeffer Cox Parts 1 through 7   Leave a comment

To be absolutely clear, I do not support or agree with the blog this is reblogged from! I simply do not know how to upload video and this was expedient. I also do not completely support what Schaeffer says in this video. There’s a reason why I’ve uploaded it.

Please watch the clips because you’re going to hear a mostly cogent argument for conservative values from a seemingly sane and reasonable person. But this speech is the reason the FBI targeted Schaeffer Cox for investigation.

I don’t know Schaeffer really. We’ve met, but mainly, I’m friends with his parents, who are lovely and godly people. Schaeffer was an effective voice for conservative principles before he went all-in with the sovereign citizens movement. I think the stress of being investigated by the FBI might have pushed him a bit over the edge. I think he ran his big mouth when he shouldn’t have. I also think he violated some federal fire arms laws. While I wouldn’t do that, I would argue that those laws are unconstitutional and so … well, is it breaking the law when the law is itself unlawful? I don’t know, but I also know I don’t want to go to federal prison, so I wouldn’t violate those laws.

Shaeffer is sitting in prison found guilty of conspiring to murder federal officials, but the thing is — none of the federal officials really existed. I read the surveillance tape transcript, released to our local newspaper by the State of Alaska after they realized it was fruit of a poisonous tree. With a fair amount of prodding from the FBI informant, Cox and his friends conspired to, in the event of a societal breakdown, to kill theorectical soldiers and other officials who might try to oppress them … in the event of a societal breakdown that hasn’t happened yet. That and he had a non-working semi-auto rifle that he had tried to convert to full -auto a decade earlier and broken and some non-working grenades (the kind old generals have on their desks as paperweights). Scary dude, right? But hey, gather your evidence illegally and find a jury of sheep and you can lock anyone up.

So, my point in posting this is that the federal government violated due process to convict Cox and it looks like they’re violating due process to prosecute the Boston bomber. Because I happen to know Cox, I know what I am saying is true. That I don’t know the bomber doesn’t mean that my observation is untrue. They didn’t read Miranda so — just watch and see. I think you’ll find I’m a prophetess.

We the people need to be very clear that this sort of crap needs to STOP, even when it is being used against people we think should be put to death for what they have done. Maybe especially then. In our rush to judgment following 9-11, we allowed our government authority to violate our constitutional rights through the Patriot Act and then the National Defense Authorization Act. Last year the Obama administration used a drone to kill an American citizen in Yemen because he had been deemed a terrorist. Last month the Obama administration mused that perhaps it would be okay to kill an American citizen on American soil for the same reason. Did any of us believe Holder when he assured Rand Paul that they had no intention of actually doing that?

At what price do we plan to sell our constitutional rights? Are we so afraid that justice will not be done that we’re willing to trade our principles in to assure this guy goes to the gallows?

If we do that … will there be anyone left to stand up for us when the time comes?

Evil flourishes when good men do nothing.

Oh, look! Evil!

Dropping a Penny   1 comment

Normally I pre-write a post so I have time to think about it, but I was scattered this morning, so am not prepared. Besides, I feel like saying what’s on my mind today.

Lately, I’ve been reading a lot of complaints by waiters concerning customers and I have to say — shut up! I know, that’s rude and it’s not like me, but really … are you idiots?

I’m coming at this from the most respectful of places. My dad was a professional chef and my mom was a professional waitress. I calculate she waited tables for the better part of 40 years back in the days when being a waitress was something you did for a living, not just while you wait for a better job. I waited tables for a while in college, myself. I know it’s a tough job. I also know that there are better ways of handling it.

From my mother (with some influence from Dad, I’m sure) —

No, the customer is not always right, but you get better tips if he thinks he is. The customer is, after all, the reason you get paid at all. If the customer didn’t come to eat in the restaurant, the restaurant would close and you’d be panhandling on the streets. The waiter doesn’t control the quality of the food, but he/she does control the quality of the service. If you’re rude, you don’t deserve a tip.

That’s right! I said that! If you’re rude, you do not deserve a tip. If you give half-hearted service, you do not deserve a full tip.  It is not the customer’s responsibility to pay your taxes. It is your responsibility. It is your income after all. If you want more than the standard 10% tip, then give service that is over and above the standard level of service.

I’m not talking lap dances, or anything like that. I’m talking good service. My mom used to call her tips — “My applause”.  She considered her shift to be a performance and the collected tips at the end of the night to be a performance evaluation. If she got 8% or more, she figured she’d done well that night. If she got less than 8%, she asked herself “What did I do WRONG tonight?” She didn’t complain about the customer. She examined herself and took responsibility for HER performance. Mom rarely had a night that was less than 8%. She had a loyal following of customers who would follow her from cafe to cafe all over town. She had bosses who lived in fear that she would quit and paid her accordingly. When she decided to “retire” to open her own daycare center, the customers threw her a party at their own expense.

Following her advice, during my months as a waitress, I made more in tips than I ever did from my paycheck. I also had quite a few customers leave compliments with the hostess on their way out. I’ve carried that work ethic into my real jobs for the last 30 years and it has served me well.

So, shut up! Stop complaining and give the customer some good service and see if — maybe — you’ll learn something.

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