You are currently browsing the monthly archive for June 2018.

The magnetic poles have disappeared. Compasses are spinning wildly, madly. There is no true north. Or at least there isn’t in America.

We are losing our grasp on the difference between right and wrong. Worse yet, we can’t even agree on what is right or wrong. For instance: It is either always wrong to deny service to someone in a public place or it is not. Case in point (and without naming names), a Virginia restaurant that recently turned away a public official. Some people are fine with this decision. Others are irate to the point of flinging human waste. Several years ago, a bakery refused service to a former Democratic Vice President. Its owner was lauded as a hero and champion of first amendment rights and invited to speak at a rally for the current Speaker of the House. So which is it? Is it right (in which case apologies are due to the Virginia restaurant) or not (in which case apologies are due to the offended patrons)?

Because here’s the thing: It can’t be both. So often I read (usually in the comments section of a news article, which I should never, ever read) “well, it was okay when so-and-so did it.” Or “you didn’t get mad when [your guy] did it.” Morality is not built on “buts” and “yets.” Either a thing is wrong, and we all treat it that way, or it is right — and we accept it.

The problem is, we’ve lost all ability to suss out what we collectively believe to be right or wrong. Is it wrong to take children from their parents if they commit a misdemeanor (like shoplifting or illegally crossing the border) or no crime at all (seeking asylum, just walking down the street)? If so, it is always wrong, no matter what the skin tone of the child or parent. If it is always right, God help us.

I strongly believe in the separation of church and state. However, I think a country should have a moral backbone; we should stand for something. So what does America stand for? If it is civility and decency, those things must come from the top down. If it is making money and closing our ears to the plights of the less fortunate, it is time to own that position. Because if we don’t — if we don’t come together to decide what is acceptable moral behavior and what is not — not only do we become the biggest hypocrites on earth, we fail one another. We also fail God.

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Being trolled by a fan seems an oxymoron, but reading SueBE’s post about opposite day, I was reminded of author George RR Martin. Game of Thrones fans have been trolling him to stop living the high life and finish the last book already.

My theory is that Martin has no intention of finishing the series, because once he does, fans may forget about him. Even if they seem to be holding him in contempt, they’re still holding onto him. I guess it’s better to hear invective than to be invisible. Also, there’s the very real possibility that he’s got “you’re-not-the-boss-of-me” syndrome. Fans yell at him to finish the book? He’ll show them. Not gonna do it.

There are sycophants, and then there are psycho-phants. Star Wars fans? Trolling actors to the point that they leave social media? What is wrong with this picture?

In the same way, when you bully someone for being a bully, you’re now part of the problem. We’ve got deep divisions in this country right now, extending all the way to the dining table. There are Washington DC restaurants in the news for refusing to serve political operatives with whom they disagree. I suppose they have the right not to serve any patron. And anyway, wouldn’t you rather know someone hates your guts before they’re alone in a back room with your food?

Still, there must be a better way to make a point that to heckle each other in this way. Fighting fire with fire just leads to a big conflagration. Sooner or later, someone’s going to get burned.

It would be so easy to read this quote and think, “Aha.  She’s a Dem and she’s commenting on the whole situation at the border.”  And the funny thing is that you wouldn’t be entirely wrong.

I am a Dem.  I have incredibly strong opinions about what is going on at our Southern border.  I’ve shared those opinions with our state Senator – the one that is running for reelection.  He’s a Republican and we disagree about 97% of the time so I could have let him have it.

Instead I started out my letter by wishing him a happy Father’s Day and thanking him for all the time and energy who puts into his job.  Like my grandmother always said, you catch more flies with honey than with vinegar.  If I didn’t back down, next would be ‘keep a civil tongue in your head.’

G-ma would definitely have agreed with Lori.  We are so caught up in making sure that people know, in minute detail, what we think, that we are leaving Christ and his love behind.  We go on and on about the fact that there are no compromises anymore, people stick with their party.

But we also forget that we are just as guilty when it comes to the name calling.  Conservative.  Republican.  Liberal.  Fool.  Whatever term we use, the contempt comes through loud and clear.

Why not try something new?  Don’t just have compassion for whoever you think is being ignored – immigrants, the American worker, or whoever.  Try to see into the heart of the person you are disagreeing with.  We are all God’s children and he probably wouldn’t mind if we all tried to remember that.

Compassion and kindness.  Honey and civility.

–SueBE

We are picking our teams
(red team, blue team)
with alacrity (rushing to
curry favor with the captain
of choice) in louder and louder
voices (playground voices;
no one listens to inside voices anymore)
touting superiority of size, of mind, of soul,
of strength and riches and greed and hatred.
We are choosing sides for a most important game.

The only trouble is
Jesus keeps getting picked last.

As soon as I read this, I thought “this looks like a manual for discipleship.”

Dare to fight back.  Dare to lend a hand. Dare to do.  Dare to heal.  Dare to make someone smile.

Come on.  I double dare you.

–SueBE

I spent a lot of time this weekend thinking about parenting, probably because yesterday was Father’s Day.  For me, one of the toughest things about being a parent has been letting him be his own person.

I wish he was neater.

I’d love a kid who loves crafting as much as I do.

Hunting?  Ugh.

But there are amazing aspects to his personality too.  He may not care if his surroundings are perfect, but he’s forgiving.  People don’t have to be perfect either.

Crafting is out but building and repairs are in. He’s reglued chairs, helped me paint and more.

He has no fear of being out in the forest.  Every little noise has me looking over my shoulder.  This is his space and he loves it.  And because of that he works to protect it.

Me, you, that kiddo who is technically an adult?  God created us all to be unique individual people.  The great thing about that?  We each have special skills, concerns and abilities.  He made us that way.  Celebrate the diversity in God’s creation!

–SueBE

I’ve got an out-there theory about that 80s pop song that won’t get out of my head. I think it’s an alien radio wave, cleverly disguised as the Eurythmics. After all, what are light years to aliens? They call it, yesterday. My guess is that they experience everything all at once: past, present, future, and have only one tense in their language – “init,” meaning you’re in it – all time, at all times. 

I’m fascinated by news related to science, if only because it allows me to use my imagination. It also takes my mind off the rest of the news. Why is it that the only time an event makes its way into the headlines – and into our collective psyche – is when it’s something terrible? You almost need a red button of sorts to warn you. This is bad for you. It will add nothing good to your life.

I’m not saying that journalists shouldn’t cover actual news stories that impact our lives, but I haven’t read anything in the news today that improved my life for my having read it. Not one blessed thing.

Maybe that’s the real issue here. Not one blessed thing was in the news today. Only the cursed things. The things that make us cry and curse and shake a fist in anger. Maybe no news really is good news. Or at least fewer negative news stories. Finding positive news online and in life is possible. You just have to adjust your antenna.

When we were kids, my best friend and I would announce it was “opposite day” and turn our jackets or sweaters around backwards.  Who knew that this silly childhood game would become a national pastime.

Did someone there on the right disagree with me?  Sorry, couldn’t hear him.  I’m already running my mouth again or jabbing my phone to post a snippy response on social media.

Step back.  Take a deep breath.

If this is something you truly believe in, leave off the snotty Facebook posts. Look for a protest march to join.  Write a letter to your Congress people.   Mine is going to include a quote from Romans.  A slightly longer quote than the one used to justify the abuse of children.

Yeah.  I said it – abuse.  But it isn’t a term I selected in anger.  Being slow to anger doesn’t mean ignoring wrongs.  It just means you need to hear them out in good faith.  Then you get to have your say.

–SueBE

My friend Alice is collecting answers to the above question. Feel free to chime in. As for me, I always speak most clearly in poetry.

Providence is the hand of God in the world.
It is like the wind: You cannot see it,
you can only see what it does
(stir a sailboat, rustle a leaf
loosed from a tree),
and even this is best glimpsed
in your memory’s rear view mirror.
It is a confetti storm of pieces of paper,
a single word printed on each,
that somehow settles into a book.
You could have read it weeks ago,
but your eyes were not ready.
It is the tiniest movement of a fly
on a leaf that sends a drop of water
skittering to the ground below where
a seed has been mislaid, unlikely to ever
make anything of itself. Instead it flowers.
Perhaps it will be a rose, perhaps a cactus.
But even that will make sense when you are
lost in the desert, and in falling over, parched,
you break open the limb of a saguaro and there is water
cool and reviving, inside.*

 

 

* Just a metaphor. Do not do this in real life.

 

 

You can tell a lot about a person by how they handle things they don’t like.  The other day I walked into the community center with a group from my yoga class.  As we walked in from the parking lot, we noted that the flag was flying at half mast.  None of us knew why.

One of the women marched up to the receptionist’s desk.  “Why is that flag at half mast?”  No “excuse me” or “good morning.”  Her tone wasn’t even polite. I’ve since learned that this woman treats everything she doesn’t like as a personal affront. If she’s happy, every one is happy because she’s very gracious.  Unhappy?  Well, she shares that too.

I’m not going to say that I don’t. But I try to start things out with a smile and a kind word.  It’s my way of trying to reflect a bit of God’s light.  There’s enough darkness without creating more.

–SueBE

 

Have a Mary Little Christmas

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