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Sand in Your Shoes, by Lela Markham   Leave a comment

via Sand in Your Shoes, by Lela Markham

Does your faith make you uncomfortable? It should. Jesus wasn’t comfortable. He struggled with temptation, He was cold, hungry and tired, sometimes He was frustrated enough to toss usurpers out of His Father’s house by violent means. He risked censor by correcting the churchy, judgey people of His day in public settings. They tried to stone Him a couple of times and then they nailed Him to a cross to kill Him in a very cruel way. He then died with the sins of the world seeped into His very flesh. Our Savior was not comfortable:

John 15:18-19

“If the world hates you, be aware that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, 48  the world would love you as its own. However, because you do not belong to the world, but I chose you out of the world, for this reason 51  the world hates you. 

Jesus promised us that we would be as uncomfortable as He was – the world would hate us, we would struggle with our efforts to be His followers, sin would dog our steps.

If your Christian faith does not make you uncomfortable with the world around you and how you interact with it, then something is probably wrong with your Christian walk. Being a Christian in this world ought to feel a bit like having sand in your shoes.

When I write, more and more often, I find myself pausing with my fingers over the keyboard, thinking about how what I feel led to write might make some people uncomfortable. Sometimes it will make non-Christians uncomfortable, but more often than not, it will make Christians uncomfortable. I mostly don’t fear that anymore. I know that’s what God wants me to do … point out the uncomfortable tensions of Christians living in this world. We shouldn’t feel cozy with the world around us, but in many ways, we shouldn’t feel snuggly within the Christian community either.

I want my readers to think about the soldier sitting next to them on the pew – the guy who just got back from the Middle East. Sure, he’s a nice guy and his wife is wonderful. His kids love him and he can quote Scripture. Nothing wrong with any of that. I take him at his word that he is a Christian who walks with Christ every day. Now think back a month or two. What is the job of a soldier? Killing and subjugation of a foreign population. Cut away the politics that took our pew mate to that foreign country and just ask yourself “What would Jesus have said about what this guy was doing a month ago?” Would He have automatically said “Thank you for your service”? I doubt it. I think He’d probably have written the number of the man’s kills in the sand before saying “I forgive those who repent of their sins.” Imagine how uncomfortable that soldier would be as he watched Jesus writing in the sand. Imagine how uncomfortable you would feel watching that if you’d just thanked the soldier for his service. I want my readers to think about the people the soldier killed or subjugated and feel compassion for them, but I also want my readers to think about the scars on the soldier’s soul that were inevitable from that behavior and feel compassion for the soldier. I don’t think Jesus would forgive the soldiers and damn the subjugated based on politics and that’s an uncomfortable thought.

I used this example because I have a lot of friends who are or were in the military and that works its way into my books. I could have used almost any example where our lives outside the church conflict with our Christian faith … those points where we ought to feel uncomfortable but often don’t. You could substitute bar owners, prostitutes, cops, pharmacists, authors … the list goes on and on. Everyone of us has tensions between our faith and our “regular” life and we ought to care about that. But, in our consumeristic society, being comfortable is the chief societal goal and so those authors who seek to market themselves as “Christian authors” feel the need to make their audience comfortable. That is a smart marketing decision that avoids controversy and topics that might make their readers think about uncomfortable ideas.

Is that actually a ministry or is God calling us to something higher … to be the prophets to our society through our narrative talents? Can we entertain readers while teaching eternal truths in a palatable form?

I suppose that depends on how uncomfortable we’re willing to allow God to make us.

 

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Lela Markham is the pen name of an Alaskan novelist who was raised in a home built of books. Alaska is a grand adventure like none other with a culture that embraces summer adventure and winter artistic pursuits.

“I don’t seek to be known as a Christian author, but as an author for whom Christ is so central to who I am as a person that He shines through.”

It’s a Worldview Thing   Leave a comment

Way back in college, I was a political science minor, and one of the seminars I took was on “The Politics of Violence.” I chose that course because I had previously taken a foreign policy seminar with the professor and I admired his intelligence. I discovered that a man can be intelligent on one subject and a total fool on another.

Image result for symbol racismIf you’re unfamiliar with the 1973 book by psychologists David Sears and John McConahay, “The Politics of Violence: The New Urban Blacks and the Watts Riot, it defined a new type of racism. They called it “symbolic racism” and defined it according to three principles:

  • A newer, subtler form of racism is emerging, due to societal pressure against explicitly engaging in the behaviors and attitudes of the Jim Crow-era
  • This racism manifests itself in the sociopolitical sphere, with many using racially-targeted legislation to manifest their racism in a socially acceptable way
  • This new, subtle, “symbolic” racism has its origins in being socialized to accept certain conservative values.

Symbolic racism as a concept has merit. As a 21-year-old American Indian who was still straightening my hair, I’d encountered a few racists in my short life. Racism hadn’t disappeared from America but had become more subtle. For a while, I bought into the idea that there is such a thing as racially-motivated legislation masquerading as concern for “tradition”, that actually gets passed. I’ve revised that belief over the last 35 years and come to the conclusion that the theory of symbolic racism goes beyond this by defining conservatism as inherently racist.

Sears and McConahay argued that to support equality for African-Americans, but not to support government programs designed to ensure” this equality is a form of racism. So, if you’re for requiring photo ID to vote (the law in Alaska except in small villages where everybody knows everybody) or believe that affirmative action entry requirements in colleges and employment are unfair to whites and Asians, you’re a racist. Not, you might be … you are, according to subscribers of this theory.

Much of the subsequent study of racism since publication of The Politics of Violence has been defined by this element, though David Sears tried in a 2005 paper to stress that conservatism is a separate construct from political conservatism. Whatever his original  intentions, most people take his theory to conflate the two.

Using faulty logic, the book defines conservative/libertarian ideology to be racist by necessitating that anyone who believes in equality of opportunity must support legislation such as affirmative action and welfare, designed to assure equality of outcome. Conversely, if a person doesn’t support such policies, then they are manifesting symbolic racism. It no longer matters what you actually believe. Your “true motives” can be determined by your political actions.

In other words, fiscal, social and political conservatism, together or singularly, must be racially-motivated, despite the lack of empirical research supporting that theory. In a 1998 paper, Ramona Bobocel and colleagues empirically demonstrated there can be ideological opposition, entirely separate from racism or other forms of prejudice, to political policies supposedly designed to ensure “justice.” But that spoils the “racist” narrative, so the empirical research has been ignored by scientists and society.

Today, almost every conservative/libertarian political move is accused of being bigoted. Voter ID laws, welfare reform, Medicare reform, even tax cuts have all been furiously denounced as racist, but symbolic racism’s influence has also spread beyond the realm of racism itself.

If you opposed Secretary Clinton during her presidential campaigns, you were a sexist. It couldn’t be that you found her under-qualified or thought there was ample evidence that she was corrupt. No, the only reason you had to vote for someone other than her was that you are sexist … and that includes if you are a woman. You must be self-loathing if you voted against she-who-would-be-queen.

Those who support the First Amendment are guilty of “coded” hate speech. Clearly, you wouldn’t support widespread First Amendment protections if you understood how truly painful it is for some people to hear opinions they don’t agree with.

Exercising the right to refuse service on moral grounds is equated to Jim Crow-era lynchings and violence. If your closely-held beliefs require you to obey God even in the practice of your business, then you shouldn’t be in business.

The original theory of symbolic racism said traditional values were only being used for racist purposes. The modern manifestation of this theory equates the two. To believe in anything “traditional” is now a form of prejudice and we refuse to engage with any sort of “prejudice,” so we can’t even talk to one another anymore.

This is a fundamentally different worldview that many leftists accept without question, often far less questioned as free trade or free speech might be to those of us on the right. They might not necessarily be trying to put words in our mouths or be disingenuous. They truly believe symbolic racism is hidden in our “coded” language and they’re trying to catch us out so they don’t find themselves agreeing with us and finding themselves shamed by their fellow leftists for being “open and accepting” toward “racists”.

The way you address worldviews is by addressing presuppositions – the basic assumptions that drive this belief in symbolic racism. Only until you have examined the foundation can you rebuild the superstructure.

Yeah, that will take time and a willingness to recognize that they are sincere … if sincerely wrong.

Posted February 20, 2018 by aurorawatcherak in racism, Uncategorized

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In the Kingdom of the Blind …   1 comment

This is Part 5 of a series on Christian truth and the truth claims of Jesus. Check it out.

You have a worldview. Some people deny that they have a worldview, but everyone has one.Many of you might deny that you have a worldview, but you have one. If you say, “Hey, all I want to do is party, I don’t have a worldview, and don’t need one,” then that hedonism is your worldview. The Bible describes that way of thinking as “eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow we may die.” Philosophers would probably call such a view of life “hedonistic nihilism,” which is a fancy way of saying “have a good time and don’t care about anything.”

Your worldview might have been shaped by what you learned at Mommy’s knee as a child, or from Sesame Street or Mister Rogers, from religious belief and tradition, by occultism and superstition, by humanism and rationalism, or wht you view this week on “Dr. Phil” and “Oprah.”

You have a worldview that can either be clearly thought out or almost totally subconscious, it may be brutish or noble, it may be sensible or weird, but you have a worldview and, whether you know it or not, it is very important to you. It governs the way you think and live and guides your decisions about everything you do.

If you are a professing Christian, you have an obligation to think out your worldview. You are pledged by your covenant with the God of the Bible to learn His ways and to follow Him (John 10:27). If you are going to follow Christ, then you need to be aware of how God wants you to view the world, and you need to learn to live by His worldview.

Historically, the Christian Worldview has been determined by the answers to two questions:

  • What is Truth?
  • Why are we alive?

These two most basic questions focus on what it means to be human and what is the nature of reality. Of course, for us to even ask these questions flies in the face of the common modern worldview which denies the existence of truth, purpose, and direction in the universe. In fact, if we think it makes sense to ask these questions, it is evidence that Christ lives within us.

Part 6

Posted May 30, 2016 by aurorawatcherak in Christianity

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Gratitude Flourishes Amid Grace   2 comments

In the United States, Thanksgiving is a secular holiday. The government gives us a day off. For many Americans, it is simply a day of watching football and overeating. That was pretty much how Brad and I were raised in the non-Christian homes (his,  cafeteria Catholic and mine, unchurched) that shaped our childhoods.

Our coming to see Thanksgiving as a Christian celebration has progressed over the three decades we’ve been together. It all started with being invited to a Thanksgiving gathering by my brother’s inlaws. His mother-in-law tried to interject some meaning into the holiday by asking what people were grateful for. Cleo’s best efforts were quickly drowned out by the football game, but Brad and I remembered it when we started celebrating Thanksgiving in our own home.

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Christmas is such an insane season and it is really not a terribly grateful one. Has anyone seen the commercial where they have renamed Thanksgiving to Thanks-Getting? We just shook our heads while watching that.

By taking a pause right before the start of the silly season, I don’t buy into the BS. I think about all the things in my life that matter and realize that almost none of them come from Santa. Yeah, I appreciate the gifts I get, but I’d really rather spend time with my family and play fetch with the dog in the snow.

I could designate another day of the year for doing that. In fact, I try to do it periodically throughout the year on a more or less quarterly basis that roughly coincides with my church’s celebration of the Lord’s Supper, but Thanksgiving is usually when I suck the rest of my family into the practice.

There are so many blessings in our lives that walk around dressed up like ordinary life. I’ve been highlighting some of mine lately, so I’m not going to spend a lot of time on MY blessings today. Suffice it to say that, to me, much of ordinary life is a miracle. In fact, that I can even call it ordinary is a miracle.

I’m just going to ask you to take a pause and list some of your own ordinary miracles. If you’ve got a Christmas stocking, roll it up in a scroll and slide it in there and see what you think of the message you wrote to yourself in saner times.

Trust me! Christmas will be a whole lot better because you have identified what is precious and praise-worthy on Thanksgiving.

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