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Wow.  That’s a little ironic.  This is the image that was next up in the rotation after Miss Ruth’s post yesterday on standing up against sexual harassment.

I know that in every situation, a person cannot stand up for herself.  She may be in a situation that is truly life threatening.  She may be so badly damaged that any threat at all wipes her out.

But that’s why we have each other.  We are here to witness for each other.  To say, “I don’t think so.  This needs to stop.  Now.  Here.  Immediately.”  When you speak for one woman or man, who is the subject of harassment, you speak for all of us.  Even yourself.

And each time you speak up, it becomes easier to do the next time.

Who knows, maybe one day it won’t be necessary. Until then, God has given us each other.  Together, we can stand up for ourselves and for each other.  Each in our own unique way.

–SueBE

 

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What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul?

Mark 8:36 NIV

There have been a lot of scoundrels in the news lately. I’ve seen a lot of people say this: “It’s a sickness.” But that’s not true.

People who use power to demean are not addicts. They live in fear and hate themselves. The world is very big, so they put on the trappings of power so they don’t appear so small.

While it is certainly a pathology, it’s not a condition that can’t be controlled.

When a young (at the time) actor inappropriately touched a VJ on MTV as a way of saying “hello,” what he was really doing was trying to gain leverage. He seemed to be unsure of himself and felt a pressure to be larger-than-life, so he did something to discombobulate her.

Emma Thompson described the scandal surrounding a predatory Hollywood producer as a manifestation of “extreme masculinity,” but I would suggest that the opposite is true.

I think such men don’t feel strong and powerful at all. They more likely feel utterly bereft. On paper, they’ve got everything that should lead to fulfillment, confidence, and peace. But somehow, they still feel as insignificant as they did before they achieved “success.”

I don’t know if there’s a “rehab” for this kind of situation. Some would say the answer is church. Getting right with God. That would be true, of course, but it wouldn’t be genuine for such an individual to find faith if it’s forced.

Going forward, maybe it’ll be easier for victims and bystanders to speak at the moment of impact. To say, This isn’t right. Cut it out. Speaking truth to power isn’t easy, but if we all stood up together, it could make a world of difference.

Our pastor has been doing a really interesting sermon series on the living waters of God.  Living waters is a term I learned only last year.  Living water is river water, creek water, ocean water, lake water.  It is water as found in the natural world.  It changes its landscape.  It sustains life.  It shapes the world.

Our church has recently made the decision to end several long time activities.  We simply don’t have the young muscle power needed to put on a rummage sale that fills the fellowship hall.  We used to.  And we did for over 20 years.  But the neighborhood just doesn’t come out like they used to for these events.

Through this sermon series Pastor Sean is encouraging us to find what it is Christ would have us do instead. We are being called to be his people in a troubled world.  And we have to figure out where that is.  And the funny thing about being Christ’s people is that he will tell us.  We simply have to listen.  If we do, we will find ourselves creating a new opportunity to come together, to serve him, and to help others.

Change.  We can create it because we are children of the Creator God.  We simply need to listen and follow Him.

–SueBE

We just don’t see a lot of it here but I’m always surprised when a venture beyond the prayer home that Lori, Ruth and I have invited y’all into.  People out there in the e-world are surprisingly nasty to each other.  Somehow, they seem to think that the freedom of speech means that they have the freedom to beat others down.

Not that we have all the answers.  Sometimes, as Lori blogged yesterday, there is just too much. Too much suffering.  Too much anger.  Too much damage.  Too much to take in.

Shockingly, that’s when so many people at other places online are at their worst.  When they should be holding one another up, they are slapping one another down.

This is just my own convoluted way of saying – Thank You.  Thank you for being the prayerful, praising, powerful people you are.  People who may not have all the answer but who turn to He who does.

Thank you for sharing in this space with us and for allowing others to freely do so as well.   Thank you.

–SueBE

 

Wildfires in California, mass shootings, disease, distress, acts of God…the last few weeks have pushed us all to the very brink. It is almost shocking that we can still be shocked. And yet.

When I am upset, the words pile up in my head in messy heaps, struggle like fish vying to surface. My brain bubbles and freezes, too knotted up to make sense of things. Sometimes, when life has you all but beat, there is nothing you can do but pray.

Where is the sense in senseless?
How do you mean for us to parse
a life sentence that confounds us?
Where noun is chaos and verb can
never be undone? What then?
Now is the time for old words,
rich in thous and thees.
When nothing comes
but humble prayer,
the rest, at last,
is silence.

In the news lately, many have been asserting their right to free speech, such as football players “taking a knee” at games as the national anthem plays as a form of protest.

Last month, a Google employee wrote a message on an internal message board that leaked to the media. Women, in general, he asserted, are more neurotic than men. Maybe the women at work sensed he was taking notes and assessing them in internal memos. That would put anyone on edge!

At the end of the day, it’s a memo on a company board. Otherwise known as one man’s opinion.

In other news, Airbnb canceled the reservations of guests who may have been planning to attend a white nationalist rally.

Even if one’s views are repugnant, there’s something equally offensive about suppressing speech in this way. It’s still profiling. I believe you may be thinking of doing something with which I disagree.

Then there’s the Supreme Court case of the baker refusing to make wedding cakes for gay couples for religious reasons. I don’t get it, but would you want someone who hates you and all you stand for alone in a room with your food? What kind of negative energy (not to mention perhaps, shampoo, or something) must have gone into it?

I’d rather know right up front that someone hates the fact that I exist, even if it’s based solely on their own prejudices. They might not like me for what I believe, or what I wear, or some other random reason. It’s better to know how they feel. We don’t have to waste each other’s time. I don’t have to spend my dollars at your establishment.

It’s still a free country. You’ve got the right to be wrong.

And I’ve got the right to keep walking.

Every time a mass shooting occurs, The Onion runs the same headline: “‘No Way To Prevent This,’ Says Only Nation Where This Regularly Happens.” And every time a mass shooting occurs, Facebook explodes with opinions from both sides of the gun control debate. Because apparently some people are perfectly content living in a country where they and their children are 20 times more likely to die by gun violence than in any other civilized country on the map.

There are no arguments. Not anymore. Don’t tell me “guns don’t kill people; people do.” Yes. People with guns. Do you not get that? Don’t explain patiently that the killers on 9/11 didn’t use guns. I know that. And we immediately did something about it — we changed the way we fly; we put people on lists; we went to war (with the wrong country, but whatever). But there’s nothing we can do about guns? Fine then. What’s the other near-constant in gun violence? White guys. Shall we legislate against them? Oh wait. They’re the ones in charge of absolutely everything.

Well, I’m done arguing. Your right to own an object does not supersede my right to live.

In better, calmer times, I wrote the following (as Ruth recently reminded me). I’ve decided that it will be my version of The Onion article. Get used to seeing it, folks. Because we may worship God here in America, but guns — ah! Those are our real deity.

It was a week
to shake the faith
right out of our bones.

But faith cannot fall
to such a small god:
a god of bombs, bullets, ripped limbs.

Seek God elsewhere.
He is there in the helpers.
In solace, yes, and mourning, too.
In healing hands, in hope.

Look to those who know the truth:
What is not love
cannot be God.

Hate destroys.
Love restores.
There is your answer.

 

I find myself wondering this as I listen to the people around me use various tragedies to further their own agendas and gain screen time for themselves.  I will continue to post images but I’m not going to have much to say.  Why?  I’ll be offline looking for those who are helping quietly.  In the background.  Out of the spot light.  Christ’s hands on earth.

–SueBE

We live in a strife-filled age.  No, really.  I’m not joking, but I am stating the obvious.  This weekend, I listened to a class descend into chaos as people talked one over the other.  One of the class members had brought up the situation in Puerto Rico.  “How dare that mayor be so rude!”

cricket cricket cricket

We never got past this one particular comment because one person would say X.  Then the next person would say Y.  Back to someone else supporting X.  Ooops, now we’re back to Y.

It wasn’t until I saw this Aristotle quote that it all clicked.  Each and every person there expected everyone to agree.  If they were listening, wouldn’t that be in the end result? Wouldn’t they naturally see the superior nature of X opinion and just cave?

But people don’t work that way.  If there are 9 people in the room, there are at least 26 opinions on any given topic.

In calling us to care for the widow and the orphan, I can’t help but believe that God wants us to listen to these people.  Their experiences may be very different from our own, but that doesn’t mean that we can’t listen.  And part of listening?  Acknowledging that you’ve heard.  “I hear you.”  You don’t have to restate that you disagree and that you are oh-so right.  You can listen and still hold on to your belief all the while letting someone know that you hear.

–SueBE

 

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