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We used to have a term for men at the office who always found a way to touch us “innocently” while making a point at a meeting or in the break room. The word was “handsy.” It sounds almost quaint, doesn’t it? But to have to put ten extra minutes of energy into making sure there was a table or a pile of books between you and the “handsy” guy really shouldn’t be a way of life for anyone.

When I first saw this video of conservative Pennsylvania lawmaker, Rep. Daryl Metcalfe, barking at his male colleague to stop touching him, I dismissed him summarily. “What a homophobe. Horrible person,” I thought. “Unhinged.” And then I got to the end of the clip. The liberal colleague, Rep. Matt Bradford, even after this man’s outburst (calling him gay in a pejorative way) still almost touches Metcalfe again. You can see it’s a reflexive action. He’s a handsy man. He doesn’t know it. He means no harm. But really, this is an example of unwanted touching.

We can’t talk to each other because we won’t listen to each other.

“I speak with my hands,” Bradford said. “I’ve tried to calm him down.”

“If someone touches another person, and they say, ‘stop touching me,’ and they don’t stop, that’s serious business,” said Metcalfe.

It’s possible to minimize a valid issue because the person involved is kind of a tool.

This story in the “offbeat news” section of the headlines relates to the #MeToo movement, if only in a peripheral way. It’s not about a potential lawsuit or a viral video such as this one that follows you for the rest of your life. It’s about personal space. Doing what’s right. As a rule, it would be wise to keep our hands to ourselves.

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I’ve heard tell of a time when people used to work together even if they didn’t see eye to eye on every single thing.  That is definitely a time we need to recall and to reinvigorate.

I think of this when I read the mounting allegations against Roy Moore.  Al Franken is implicated once.  He resigns.  Allegation after allegation is made against Moore but Republicans make it clear.  They’d rather vote for him than a Democrat.   Why?  Because he’s a heathen Democrat.  Aren’t you listening?

Yes, yes. I am.  But I’m not buying what you’re selling.  It is time to straighten out our priorities.  And if I’m not mistaken, just like “I’ve heard tell,” that’s something Grandad used to say.

–SueBE

 

Sometimes the tasks that God sets before us seem impossible.  The job is too big.  There are just too many things demanding your attention. The possibilities of failure surround you.

But He has given us all talents.  Sometimes the talents in a group overlap.  PrayPower?  Look at us and you’d think the world was all writers but even our talents are diverse.  Miss Ruth’s ability to tell it like it is while inspiring others to believe knows no equal. Lori’s talent in spinning a poem in tough times about tough topics astounds me.

The task may be great.  But believe in yourself. You have mighty talents and God will send you helpers.

Believe.

–SueBE

Since the beginning of this humble blog, there has been one post that is always the most popular in Google searches. It was written by our SueBE a few years ago, yet every single week, it’s a topic that new visitors seek out. It’s called, “Which Word is Right in the Lord’s Prayer – Trespasses or Debts?”

So I thought it might be time for us to re-visit the subject. It also relates to the wave of men accused of sexual impropriety in the news lately. Most of the offenders seem to be using a template to (sort of) admit wrongdoings, and it goes something like this:

Offender Template

𐄂 It was ___ years ago

𐄂 I don’t remember it

𐄂 But if it did happen, it was probably:

  • All in good fun
  • Crossed signals
  • Semi-consensual
  • Inadvertent

Caveat:

✅Some of the accuser’s facts are not accurate

Part of the problem with these statements is the fact that the offender never really owns up to the offense. It negates the apology, if you want to call it that. In fact, not one of the men in these situations has said, I was completely wrong. I’m so ashamed. I hope you can somehow find it in your heart to forgive me.

And that’s the thing that always gives me pause when I reach this line in the Lord’s prayer, “…And forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.”

What if the person who wronged us hasn’t asked our forgiveness?

What if they don’t think they did anything wrong?

Or worse, what if they don’t care that they’ve caused pain?

So that’s been on my mind as we deal with these unsettling revelations in the news.

Can you forgive if the offender doesn’t even acknowledge the offense?

What do you think?

Photo by Nina Strehl on Unsplash

Well, I took a catnap yesterday, and had a dream in which a voice was slowly repeating three letters.

“C…H…U…”

CHU. Huh. Doesn’t ring a bell. So I looked up “Chu” to see if it means anything in another language.

In Japanese, it’s the sound of a kiss.

In French, it’s the past participle of “choir.”

In Vietnamese, it means “all right.”

All of these translations lead in to my post for today, about the way we engage with each other.

An unwanted kiss is not a kiss at all. It’s an assault. In reaction to all of the men in the news accused of impropriety, there has been a choir of voices calling for change. Jane Fonda said the answer to dealing with toxic men in power is to put women in charge. Maybe, but I’ve got to say, I’ve worked for women managers who were toxic as well.

I think the answer may be to regard each interaction as a micro-loan of energy.

Of course, this is already a concept, and it’s called “karma.” But if we think of it as exchanging a gift with every interaction, it’s easier to develop it as a habit.

What if you realized that every time you were disrespectful to someone, karma would come back instantly, only – here’s the twist – not to you, but to a loved one? In a way, it happens that way already, if you think of the whole of humanity as your extended family.

Most people want to do the right thing. They want everyone to be “all right.” I truly believe that. Maybe in this moment of revelation and demand for action, we can rise above our need for a pound of flesh and get back to the golden rule.

There’s a little more truth in that statement than I care to consider some days.  But I still have to admit that it’s true.

I didn’t want to teach adult Sunday school again.  I just don’t have time to do it justice.  But one of the other women agreed that together we would teach judges.

I’m not going to say it’s been a blast.  But in teaching this, I realized how little I knew about this critical book of the Bible.  Just in reading the text of Judges, I learned a lot.  I learned even more in the conversations with our pastor.  And I came out of it all with an idea for a work related project.

None of this would have happened if I had taken the easy route.  The view from the top of the hill really is worth the climb.

–SueBE

I have to admit that my husband is so much better at this than I am.  I think about everything I didn’t accomplish yesterday.  I try to correlate all I have to do tomorrow.  My biggest concern is that I would probably be more efficient if I lived in the now.

But that’s not truly the important issue, is it?  The issue is what we miss when we ignore now as we focus on today and tomorrow.

Fortunately we have the perfect now moment going on today.  We will be attending a wedding.  Today we will be celebrating.

Tomorrow?  There will be time enough for that when it gets here.

–SueBE

Too put it mildly, I march to the beat of a different drummer.  Always have.  Always will.  So I’m used to being slightly out of step with mainstream society.

Maybe that’s why I’m so grateful for my fellow Green Committee members.  Like myself, they care about the Earth and those who share it, human and animal.  In addition to connecting with fellow members of my congregation, this committee has helped me connect with other people in my presbytery and across the country who share my dreams for a better tomorrow.

They have definitely made this past year more interesting.  And, if anything, just a bit more hopeful.

Spend some time this week, contemplating the dreams and dreamers who make you life just a bit more interesting.

–SueBE

My friend Alice doesn’t. I do, but…it’s complicated. Case in point: Charles Manson, who shuffled off this mortal coil this week. I was only four when the Manson murders were perpetrated, but old enough by the time of the trials to be afraid of him and his followers. And not just because they were hippies. (My parents, born at the tail end of The Greatest Generation, frequently opined on the dangers of hippies and their “pot parties,” which, in my childish naiveté, I thought involved actual pots and pans — to what end, I had no idea.)

Let’s face it, Charlie Manson was a thoroughly awful human being. Yes, he had a bad childhood, but not every person who has a bad childhood grows up to direct some of the most brutal murders ever committed. But he was no genius, either. The murders were messy, uncoordinated, bungled. The intended targets (Dennis Melcher, for one) were never killed — in both cases, the killers got the addresses wrong. They couldn’t even spell “Helter Skelter” correctly.

But that’s beside the point. The point is: Could Charles Manson be saved? Could he go to heaven? If you believe in an all-loving, all-forgiving God, this seems like a real possibility. Except for one thing: I don’t think he would choose heaven. Time after time, throughout his life, Charlie chose prison. He was admittedly more comfortable there. Could our eternal salvation depend on whether or not we choose redemption? I think it could.

It sounds like a no-brainer: Choose an eternity of happiness or an eternity of torture. But when it comes to the human equation, I don’t think it’s that easy. I think a person has to love him or herself enough to allow for the possibility of happiness, whether in this life or the next one. I’m not sure everyone is capable of that.

You could argue that Mr. Manson had no shortage of self-love, what with surrounding himself with adoring acolytes and even claiming to be the Son of God. Still, he also chose for himself repeated incarceration, when he could have had a normal life on the outside. He chose to murder his detractors. Someone with healthy self-esteem doesn’t do that. He chose to wallow in his bad beginnings. He’s just the type to spit in God’s eye when offered divine mercy.

So what does this all boil down to? Yes, I believe in hell. But I also believe in human participation in one’s own damnation. In the end, you get the eternity you ask for. That’s free will, folks. It is also an object lesson: Choose love. Always choose love. Your “forever” might just depend on it.

I have to admit that this one really speaks to me.  I have a friend who suffers from clinical depression.

I know that some people don’t appreciate that wording — suffer from clinical depression — but I choose it very deliberately.  Someone who has clinical depression suffers with it.  But so do the people around them. We think of depression as something that makes a person quiet and withdrawn.  But that’s often not the case with women who are clinically depressed.  They are angry. They strike out.  They create a great deal of discord.

And if that isn’t bad enough, they seem to relish it.  “Look at the reaction I got from her!”

Whether you are in the orbit of someone who has depression or anger issues or something else altogether, it is easy to lose touch with your inner peace.  It gets submerged in the fury of emotions and hurts.

To regain this peace, spend some quiet time with God.  Take a deep breath and let it out.  Then take another.

As you breathe in, picture God’s light filling your heart.  As you breathe out, imagine turmoil flowing out and away.  In comes peace.  Out flows anger.

Peace doesn’t come easily.  You have to seek it out.

–SueBE

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