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Take a deep breath and smile.

One world. Many faiths.

Reaching out to those that God calls us to help.  Board by board, step by step.

How you treat “outsiders” says a lot.

Do your actions speak louder than your words?  It is so easy, especially when someone is rude or insulting to be rude or insulting back.  That’s when I have to remind myself to take a deep breath and, like my great aunt, sweep them away with Jesus’ love.  So glad I had that powerful woman to show me the way!

Together we stand.

I confess; I wanted to open with a joke about how anyone who would burn down a church probably can’t read this. Admittedly, it was a cheap shot. But I can’t get past my dismay at the continuing tide of violence and bigotry in this country. I’d love to be able to dismiss church-burners as idiots, thugs and losers. Wouldn’t it be easier if they were? But some of them — and I include here those who don’t actually light the matches but think about it in their heart of hearts — are almost certainly our neighbors, people we see every day and think of as reasonable folks.

I imagine what church-burners are trying to destroy, ultimately, is hope. That, I can tell you, is impossible. Hope is made of impermeable material, tougher than Kevlar, bulletproof, flameproof. Furthermore, the people whose hope the church-burner wishes to extinguish have been living on hope for hundreds of years; hope is bread and butter, manna and sustenance to their communities. It has been, in all too many dark times, all they had.

I have never seen a church burn. But I have seen hate. When I was a kid, someone defaced the statue of Mary in our church’s courtyard. They cut off her hands and wrote words on the statue that my mother would not allow me to see. My mom also tells stories of how the Klan burned a cross on her parents’ lawn, how she herself was mocked, called “Cat-licker” and other unoriginal epithets by fellow schoolchildren. The aged nuns at my college alma mater still sit sentry, day and night, in case someone decides to burn down their church, as has been attempted in the past. The point is, those people, from the vandals to the name-callers, did nothing to our faith but strengthen it. Faith cannot be killed, not by the hottest hate or most scorching disdain.

Anyone who calls him or herself a Christian — or, indeed, a human being — owes it to the world to stand up against anyone who attacks a spiritual home or any of the people who hold the place dear. In the wake of this most recent spate of bigotry and racism, we need to make a louder noise. Taking down the Confederate flag is not enough. We need to make clear that this will not stand. Nobody who lives in this country must be treated as “other.”

Church-burners, and potential church-burners, if you are reading this, please knock it off. I know I’ve said a lot of harsh things, but you must feel very unloved to do what you are doing. Return to God’s loving and forgiving arms. All of us who stand with love are waiting for you.

BullyingI read something like 100 different blogs. Some of them are religious, like this one. Something happened on one of them about a week ago that simply floored me.

The blogger wrote about whether or not women could be preachers or elders. Her answer is no. She has firm opinions and she can back them up with Bible verses. She then invited discussion. I’ll admit that I didn’t read it all. In part, this was because there was just so much of it.

But I have to admit, the main reason that I quit reading was the tone.

A number of women minsters responded. They were respectful of her views but also stated their own.

That’s when things got ugly.

“What Bible do you read?”

That was one of the politer comments and it went downhill from there. They went on to imply that these women ministers hadn’t been called by God, they had been called by Satan. Hateful stuff. Ugly stuff.

These women wouldn’t dream of teaching a man, because that would go against God’s word, but they had no problem slamming other women down.

I wanted to post. I wanted to put them in their place. But I heard that still small voice.

“Whoa, sister. Take a step back. Take a deep breath.”

There’s enough ugliness in this world. Adding to it in God’s name isn’t something any of us needs to do. It doesn’t matter if we have a strong opinion, an opinion that we can back up with the Bible. They are Bible verses, not Bible versus, and it is time we quit using them like weapons against each other.


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