Tag Archive: conservative liberal


I saw a quote from a friend of mine on Facebook this week that said “We need a leader like George Washington, not Dr. Phil.” I found this interesting. What is wrong with the straight shooting approach of Dr. Phil? I imagine Washington would get along fine with Dr. Phil. Apples and oranges? I have utmost respect for Washington and the fact he wouldn’t allow the newly formed government to make him king. However, I do think we need leaders more in step with 2015 than 1776, that was quite awhile ago. The image of a leader coming in on a horse to kick ass reminds me more of another world leader I don’t particularly trust.

Disclaimer: I don’t personally think the machine of politics and business can be easily broken. It may never be. This doesn’t mean we don’t want to work towards a better more inclusive world.

The comparison of Dr.Phil and Washington got me thinking. What if we did have a nation led in a more inclusive way, understanding psychology and sociology.

Are individuals that different from nations? In my journey I have chosen to spend many hours looking at the issues that have helped to make me who I am. The good , the bad and the ugly. Sharing the junk in vulnerability.  I have made many mistakes, outright sinned against God, neighbor, family and myself, also endured many a negative thing and suffered from what was beyond my control. I have come through these processes realizing I am a pretty awesome guy, an over comer and adventurer! I have also played the part of selfish prick as well. I want the better. I want to be transformed into all I have been created to be. I am also comfortable with the imperfection of the journey because I am held and guided by Love/God themselves. God sees the good and not so good and I am still His beloved. His judgement/conviction in my life burns away the crap and it hurts.The more I try to hold on to it or justify it the worse it hurts. The negative in my life had/has to be acknowledged consciously otherwise it works itself out unconsciously.

What if we had this attitude as a nation? What if we collectively dropped our defensive posture and honestly acknowledged our sins? What if we all got excited about the possibilities and opportunities we possess? What if we stopped looking for enemies within and abroad? I believe Jesus only gets lip service in our society because His ways contradict all we “know”. What if bravado and pride blind us from being able to heal the multi-generational sins? We, as Americans, all have guilt by association. If we lay claim to the greatness, let us also acknowledge where we have fallen short. We can no longer expect people to “get over” slavery and discrimination, extermination of native peoples, only country to nuke another, homophobia, chauvinism, xenophobia, self-righteousness, avarice, shaming the poor, etc.. Anymore than a victim of abuse can just “get over” what they experienced be it physical, mental, sexual or spiritual. When folks fool themselves into thinking they can do it all alone, without help from community, counseling, friends, they swallow down the pain and act in destructive patterns of addictions, abuse,isolation and judgmental ism towards self and/or others. Putting themselves on God’s throne as the arbiter of what is ultimately reality.

If every one would only agree with me, it will all be okay (Please see as sarcasm).

This is where the ultimate problem lies. We have no idea as a nation to live in humility. We (no matter the side) are always RIGHT!  Acknowledging our issues as a nation doesn’t mean hating or not loving our country. I have issues, yet I don’t hate myself! It means acknowledging reality. I believe God’s love for our nation is more about the people than how we do it, it is also a universal love of the peoples of all nations.

We are manipulated on every side to blame. We can change and move forward in this nation if that is what we want. I am afraid we would rather be right than effective. As I began the scary work on my own life and issues, pride would’ve gotten me no where. May we allow ourselves to be humble. Then we can truly Love our neighbors as ourselves and allow our land to heal rather than kill. Can we be vulnerable?

9but he (God) said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” So, I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. 2 Cor 12-9

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A modern telling of a classic story.

A political know-it-all asked the Teacher “How do I get the into heaven?” The Teacher replied, ” Love God and Love your neighbor.”  The know-it-all didn’t really like people different from himself so he sought clarification. “So, in this globalized world, who exactly is my neighbor?”

The Teacher told a story

A man was walking through the plaza in Kansas City one evening when suddenly he is attacked. He is beaten badly by a group of men who rob him, steal his cell phone, shoes and jacket and leave him for dead. He is leaning against a wall behind a dumpster, almost unconscious and bleeding. He can be seen but also can be overlooked.

As he is laying there a local pastor is out with his family, heading to dinner. Seeing the man, he fears for his family’s safety and crosses the street to the other side, shields his wife and children’s eyes and heads to dinner…

Again a successful businessman was walking by saw the man suffering and kept right on moving, this wasn’t his problem. He considered a call to the police but got distracted.

Then a retired, baby boomer couple, on their way to a movie passed the man and found themselves afraid of him, and quickly crossed the street. “What if he attacks us?”  “It’s just not smart to get involved, you never know these days.”

As the man lay there, giving up hope, he saw a young middle eastern man with a long beard coming up to him and then he passed out.  The young man was a Palestinian immigrant. He took water and cleaned his wounds and bandaged them the best he could then he physically picked the man up and put him in his own vehicle. Then the young man found a local hospital and took the man inside. He explained that he did not know the man but gave them his credit card information to insure he was well taken care of as he had prior commitments he needed to attend to that night. He said he’d back to check on the stranger in a few days.

Tell me this, who was the beaten man’s neighbor?

The one who showed mercy to him.

My modern take. Originally, The Good Samaritan parable Luke 10:25-37

Our society is in pain.

I’m a white guy in an middle-upper middle class suburb. I was raised here and really enjoy living here. We have awesome opportunities for all people to enjoy. Low crime rates, lower unemployment, good schools, shopping galore and jobs. We do have people that struggle and have money issues, poor folks but in general,  it’s a fairly successful area. The American Dream.

As a white guy in a dominant white culture, I don’t have any real idea what it is like to be a non-white person but I can share what my perspective has been. It has definitely shifted over the years. Growing up I was aware of the evil of slavery and in the Civil War that over 600,000 lives were lost to settle the issue. I was aware of discrimination in the south and the courageous work of MLK and that generation to bring about the civil rights movement. My schools in KS had maybe a handful of black students but I did have a black friend on my block as a kid.

All I’ve known is white culture. As a teen the music scene was embracing rap and I was a metal head which kinda annoyed me. Why? I don’t know but somehow I felt a sense of unfairness. I actually liked rap but something within me was afraid so I made fun of rap as not talented and “black” music. Once again, why?  Looking back, I can see some horrible popular music at the time helped me develop a slight racist attitude.  I was a big Guns’N’Roses fan. They had and album called Lies that the popular song “Patience” was on, a top 40 hit. There was another controversial song on the album called “One in a Million”. It had a smooth sound and was easy to get to know. Here’s the lyrics;

“One In A Million”

1,2,1,2,3,4
[Whistle]
Guess I needed sometime to get away
I needed some piece of mind
Some piece of mind that’ll stay
So I thumbed it down to Sixth and L.A. —
So I thumbed it down to nine o six ten L.A. (“90610”)
Maybe a Greyhound could be my way

Police and Niggers, that’s right
Get out of my way
Don’t need to buy none of your
Gold chains today
I don’t need no bracelets
Clamped in front of my back
Just need my ticket; ’til then
Won’t you cut me some slack?

You’re one in a million
Yeah, that’s what you are
You’re one in a million, babe
You’re a shooting star
Maybe someday we’ll see you
Before you make us cry
You know we tried to reach you
But you were much too high
Much too high, much too high,
Much too high, yes, ow!

Immigrants and faggots
They make no sense to me
They come to our country
And think they’ll do as they please
Like start some mini Iran,
Or spread some fuckin’ disease
They talk so many goddamn ways
It’s all Greek to me
Well some say I’m lazy
And others say that’s just me
Some say I’m crazy
I guess I’ll always be
But it’s been such a long time
Since I knew right from wrong
It’s all the means to an end, I
I keep it movin’ along

You’re one in a million
Oo, you’re a shooting star
You’re one in a million, babe
You know that you are
Maybe someday we’ll see you, Oo
oh, Before you make us cry
You know we tried to reach you
But you were much too high
Much too high, Oo, much too high
Yeah,
Much too high, huh, no, no, oh
Ow!

Radicals and Racists
Don’t point your finger at me
I’m a small town white boy
Just tryin’ to make ends meet
Don’t need your religion
Don’t watch that much T.V.
Just makin’ my livin’, baby
Well that’s enough for me

You’re one in a million
Yeah that’s what you are
You’re one in a million, babe
You’re a shooting star
Maybe someday we’ll see you
Before you make us cry
You know we tried to reach you
But you were much too high
Much too high, ow, much too high,
Much too high, much too high
Yeah, yeee, yeah, yeee, igh!
Ow! Much too high
(Oh, much too high, ah,
much too high, ah, much too high
much too high, ow, much too high)

I remember there being some controversy and negativity about the songbut no real challenge. On the other side Easy-E and NWA were promoting a real thuggish culture with “Fuck tha Police” and “Boyz in da hood” etc.  Music may not seem like a big deal in the grand scheme of things but I believe it is important to pay attention to what we feed our minds. Our pastor said our liturgy is an experience of marinading in what we believe. Music can be the same.
This music and being sent to live outside of LA as a partying teen right after the riots added fuel to racism within me. Once again, why?  I had never really experienced anything negative at the hands of black folks. One time my black friend and I were in an actual fight and his Mom angrily broke it up and jumped my ass about it. Looking back that may have been a seed but I was beating up her son in his own garage. I clearly was wrong. My family wasn’t overtly racist growing up but said I should be thankful to be white. Maybe another seed?
I was ignorant as a teen and am ashamed of the racist culture I was a part of.  Thankfully I moved a few times and my Dad, the genius that he is, sent me to Job Corps in D.C., 500 folks about 15 white. This experience changed everything. The lie I had come to believe was that I was racist in response to black prejudice. During my 6 months at Job Corps, I heard one anti-white comment, one! Kinda forced a shift in my opinions and removed the chip on my shoulder.
I have since repented of any and all racism and prejudice, recognizing it as the evil it is. I think it is easier for me to recognize the overtly wrong parts of my journey. The harder parts are the subtle, cultural influences that helped fuel it to grow such as the music scene, differences in urban culture,etc.. I am a white guy but my call is to embrace the family of all humanity, regardless of difference. I think this is God’s call to all people. Jesus is behind the eyes of everyone you lock eyes with, he shares our common humanity.
All lives matter, but if my black brother doesn’t feel as if his life matters as much as mine I want to do my part to stand in solidarity with him so I agree #blacklivesmatter.  Just because of the progress we’ve made doesn’t mean the work is done. I don’t know how to fix it but I know how to love. If us white folks can slow down in our defensive responses and learn to listen rather than accuse. Healing can occur. If we all cling to our pride, no progress can be made. Justice must be equal. Forgiveness can only be given (culturally) if the truth of the wrong is admitted.
Lord,
Give me eyes to see and ears to hear.
Show me my blinders and quiet my noise.
Return my heart to flesh and break its stony facade.
That I may know the Real.
Amen

Guilty As Anyone

Why do you see the speck in your neighbor’s eye, but do not notice the log in your own eye? Or how can you say to your neighbor, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ while the log is in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your neighbor’s eye.”- Jesus

I’ve always loved this saying of Jesus. It is in his classic way of encouraging us to deal with our own crap before we sit on a high horse, judging another person. Jesus is a master at drawing moral equivalence. This is not something our western culture likes to examine. We have come very far at removing the logs in our own eyes, yet we still have work to do. I am afraid, at times, that my criticisms are seen as bashing the west, my culture, patriotism, Christianity, white folks, Republicans, conservatism, capitalism, etc. and that I don’t see the evil in the world such as ISIS, Boko Haram, Putin, Chinese authoritarianism, dictatorships, etc. What my criticisms are aimed at are the “tribe” in which I was born and belong as well as myself personally.

What if we truly focused on healing and wholeness first within ourselves, our families, our churches, our culture, our politics, our own systems before we judge the “other”? This isn’t very sexy and definitely doesn’t allow us to look down on the rest of the world.  I recognize that the world is systemically evil but what is sad is the inability to see it and thus make changes. In my tradition there is a Deceiver and his power is in lies and wickedness (root wicker= twisted truth). We often see evil as good.

When we attempt to judge self-righteously the “other”, we fall into exactly what Jesus is saying. Hypocrites without true standing and the only way of “peace” is through domination, power and the threat of violence. Could there be a better, more excellent way?

My friends, please remember my criticisms are also directed at myself. I am as complicit in the evil systems of this world as anyone. May we all humbly see the logs that rest in our own eyes and gently do the surgery to have them removed together.

Seek and you will find -Jesus

What does this mean? Most of my adult life has interpreted this verse in the typical “churchy”  way. In terms of seeking God and those sorts of things. The “seeker sensitive” churches are all about this for sure. But what if we are overly-religious in how we look at what Jesus said and miss the clear wisdom of the statement?

Observing my diverse group of friends as well as myself has brought me to the conclusion that folks really do ultimately find what they are seeking. We all tend to see what we want to see. For example; when I was a younger man and really into Left Behind type of spirituality I could see the end of the world looming behind every single news story. Also, when I thought humanity was really evil on the whole I would see evil behind everything as well. I liked politics back then and could always see how ‘my side’ had it right.

I never saw that my mind was already made up as I interpreted everything I saw so…..seeking, and I was finding. Thankfully, my journey has been one that has experienced much healing and over the past several years I had found what I had been seeking to be lacking and also a bit depressing. The hard part is that what I was seeking was always being confirmed so it made it hard to evaluate fairly other points of view. This isn’t just true for me on the ‘religious right’ though. I hear skeptics, secularists and cynics finding everything they are seeking to validate their own worldview as well.

I began to want and seek healing, love, truth, beauty and community and guess what, I keep finding it!  As I began to seek healing for the various issues of my life such as; family of origin, poor choices, shame and guilt, I found these areas being healed through the process. Life still hurts and often times these issues have to be re-addressed but that is ok.

I also saw healing in the lives of those who were seeking it. The power behind what I saw was their vulnerability in places that were loving and safe. Vulnerability, in many ways is simply being secure enough to admit we’re unsure about stuff or how to handle it and then asking for help. Seeing Love in action is the most powerful thing in the universe. Love never condemns, especially the vulnerable. I also have seen the Truth in action as people learn of their worth and live in that truth. When we are open and seeking Truth, even if it seemingly contradicts what we “knew”, we become astounded at the Beauty all around us. Although, I do still love the quote “The truth will set you free but tends to piss you off first.”  Then as all these things coalesce the community arises! I have my community of family and friends. This helps me see the vast community of humanity and include all.

If we seek division, we’ll find it.

If we seek negativity, we’ll find it.

If we seek to numb ourselves, we’ll find it.

If we seek to look down on others, we’ll find it.

If we seek to exclude, we’ll find it.

If we seek darkness, we’ll find it.

I encourage you to be aware in 2015. Aware to that which you already seek. Aware to new things to seek. Life is Good and life is tragic all at the same time. It does take eyes to see and ears to hear to catch glimpses of the bigger story. Continue to Seek and you will find.

Recently, we have all been reintroduced to the idea of “Death with Dignity” otherwise known as physician assisted suicide. The high-profile case of Brittany Maynard, a 29-year-old woman with terminal brain cancer who ended her life this past Saturday, has brought it back to our minds. First off, I in no way feel as if I have the right to judge or condemn anyone who makes this choice. It is truly heart breaking to have to deal with the questions those folks have had dealt with. I simply only want to ask questions and see where it may lead. Once again, no condemnation!

The difficulty this places within me is how we view suffering. Is suffering just bad and wrong, therefore to be avoided at all cost? Most of our issues in society are the results of pain avoidance. The majority of drug addicts, alcoholics, workaholics, food or sex addicts, t.v. addicts etc., I believe began their journey due to their personal pain and suffering.  These things are not automatically sought by those who a prone to bad choices, the reality is that these things alleviate suffering, even if it simply prolongs it and causes a different kind of suffering.

Our society doesn’t place much value in “suffering well”. Maybe it is our sexy, youth obsessed, ultra vital mentality. Or maybe our individuality being the focus to where we don’t want to bother others with our pain.  Maybe it is because suffering brightly highlights our illusion of control.

A sad thing to me is the slippery slope of suffering lacking value in our culture.  If suffering is inherently bad and wrong and thus must be avoided at all cost “Death with Dignity” is the road we will embrace. But what is the cut off? What if we begin to judge (as humans do) that to end misery is the most compassionate thing to do?

What about the homeless person suffering with sickness, sleeping on concrete?

What about the suffering single parent without enough food to go around?

What about the famines around the world that cause widespread suffering?

What about the suffering of the young women doused with acid across their face, guaranteeing  a lifetime of certain suffering?

What about the poor?

What about the disabled (mental or physical) war veteran?

What about the unemployed, who just can’t catch a break?

What about the hungry, the imprisoned, the sick, the naked?

 

So, does suffering have value? All of us have experienced suffering in our lives and I would say that suffering produces the truest character of our souls.  My challenge is to see that all humanity is suffering, all of us. It is a season we will all share in. Jesus shared it with us. What if His abuse and crucifixion was an act of total solidarity with human suffering? Even if you don’t believe, consider what I believe for a moment. The Creator allowed Himself to experience our deepest pain, He is not distant from us. In my suffering I have found Him to be close, very close.

I know it’s a touchy subject and I subscribe to a consistent ethic of life but my only aspiration is to cause thought and hopeful dialogue so that we can all lean on one another when suffering comes our way.

 

We have all heard those wise words of Jesus ” Do not judge, or you too will be judged.” Matthew 7:1 or the good old King James version ” Judge not, lest ye be judged.”  I have been struck by the wisdom of these words in a different way recently. It may have always been clear to you but to me it is new.  So bear with me a bit.

When I was around 21 I “rededicated” myself to Jesus and became a bit of a conservative, evangelical zealot. During this time I always drew a distinction between judging and condemning.  To judge; was to define something as wrong. To condemn; was to suggest punishment was needed (as in hell).  It is true that these terms can be synonymous. Seeing Jesus’ words more as an admonishment not to condemn, I felt quite justified judging the heck out of everything for several years. All the normal ones; Clinton, Disney, LGBT, liberals, the media, Democrats, folks from the coasts, Hindus, Muslims, Atheists, Catholics, Buddhists, criminals, and on and on. I felt completely okay doing this because in my mind I wasn’t condemning them. That was God’s job.  This was the camp I was in and bought it hook, line and sinker.

Thankfully, God is in the heart softening business!!!!

As I think back on my worldview in those days I only saw Jesus’ words in terms of condemning to hell. I would’ve clearly stated God’s grace was sufficient enough to “save” all those I was judging but “wrong is wrong”, right?!? I wasn’t judged anymore because I was under grace so it was my job to define what is wrong.   Huh?!?!

What I never realized was that Jesus’ words are simple facts about interpersonal relationships. Once we start judging or condemning we invite the exact same treatment and it is a vicious cycle. This is why (I believe) the Church has lost credibility. We (Christians) judge and condemn and so the world judges and condemns the Church.

Judgment implies perfect knowledge which by nature is exceedingly arrogant. I am not talking about crimes here such as; murder, abuse or rape. I am talking about assuming we know better than someone else or everyone else about anything or everything. It is the tyranny of opinion. All opinions are valid and should be heard even if we have no actual study in the subject. The need to be “right” over being effective. Therefore we become exceedingly opinionated and judgmental and completely miss the point of the Gospel.  Mother Theresa said ” When you judge, it is impossible to love.”

I am not judging or condemning where I came from. I am thankful for the journey. I am thankful it IS a journey. However, if this causes a person to be uncomfortable I make no apologies. The words and actions of Jesus are a judgment on the ways of the world, of every political system, of every religion (definitely Christianity) or culture. He always makes me uncomfortable when I think I know what’s up! Our call is love. Plain and simple. To love God and our neighbor as ourselves.

Next time you are tempted to judge, remember it bounces right back!

Do we want to be good? Does humanity have a want to be good? Does America want to be good? Do Christians want to be good?

These questions have been on my heart as I watch all the horrible geopolitical happenings in the world the past few weeks.

Do we ever ask ourselves this? Or do we want to be rational, logical and right?  Are we more concerned with a persona than persons? Are we blind to our own wickedness?

I believe humans have the tendency towards blindness.  The questions are not; do we do good? We (all humanity) do do good in this world.  I know and get the selfishness in the world.  There is evil.  However, is it possible to overcome evil with good?  Or must evil be fought, defeated and destroyed? And how is that done without becoming that which you are fighting?

Do we want to love our neighbors? Do we want to love our enemies? Do we believe the world can be a better place?  Do we ridicule the good as impossible thus settling? If goodness can’t attain to perfection should it just be disregarded?

I want to be good. Not to score a brownie points with God (They don’t play that game).  When God made each of us they rejoiced and said “Very good!” Life, culture, religion, family dynamics immediately disagree.  I have experienced more good than I ever would’ve thought possible growing up.  Love and goodness is all around. It is steady hard work on blind spots that enables me to experience this in the here and now.

Do I want to be good? Do I want love? These are the questions the children of the Father could be brave and really look at.  Do we look to God to lead, challenge and love us to a new way of thinking or simply endorse our views, keep us healthy, save us from hell and basically stay out of our way?

I think and hope the church is tired of being shallow.

Pie in the sky, Pollyanna thinking  is not what I am saying.  To be good and walk in love is the calling of the children of God, all of us.

 

 

Political Journey

I grew up in an opinionated home. I remember hanging out with my dad watching The Mcglaughlin Group and becoming fond of politics. It was so passionate,  the arguments, opinions and partisanship. It seemed to affect almost every facet of our lives in some way or another.  I remember my 6th grade teacher describing Democrats as wanting change and Republicans as wanting to keep things the same. This definitely made the dems seem more inviting. As I look back I tend to think this may not have been a very balanced way to teach a kid what was going on politically. The issue of abortion was only taught from the point of view of a  women’s body (valid view) and Pro-Life was only taught as infringing upon that right. Well, I was a fairly happy oblivious dem in the making as teen. I was headed down the hippie path which most likely would’ve made me lean into being a solid liberal. But alas, I moved to Cali right after the riots into the most racially charged area I have ever experienced. It was at this point I found some friends that were the polar opposite of hippies. It seemed out there that all races generally had a distrust for each other. Hispanics and whites got along okay but that was only sometimes.  Anyway this is the time where I began a shift in my opinions. There was general fear of the loss of white american culture in my circle of friends. I feel somewhat ashamed that I didn’t realize that white american culture is the dominant culture all around.  This general feeling led me way further to the right then anyone rationally accepts as okay.

Thankfully, I left Cali back to Kansas and then to Washington D.C. Job Corps where I was in an environment of 500 people with about 15 white. I firmly believe this was one of the best experiences in my life to learn to experience people as people and not a race. Hands down, life changing time.

After Job Corps I went back to Kansas and began working in new construction. I did pretty well and had left behind the worst of my belief systems. I began listening to some conservative and christian radio and had an awakening on abortion. I had been lied to when I was younger, at least that is how I felt. There was another side to this issue, it just did not have a voice.  So I began to have a vicious distrust of the government.  I was working really hard and didn’t want any of my money going to pay for things I felt were immoral. I was also very idealistic that I too, would one day be rich and then I would really be paying for things I disagree with or at least paying for mismanaged government bureaucracy.  I mean why do they get to waste what others have earned? It just didn’t seem fair. So I chose to defend the rich at every turn. I know they really need me, right? 😉

As my journey went on I pretty much stayed on the conservative/republican path with much fear of liberals and the government. I think my views began to shift as I dove into in the blog https://soawakeandalive.wordpress.com/2011/08/09/the-shifting-of-positions/

I won’t rehash all that now I just thought I’d give some more background.

What is amazing to me these  days is my seeing the grey side of everything. I think the main thing that killed my being overly ideological is giving up the belief that those who disagree with me have evil intentions. I don’t know their heart or their journey to why they feel  the way they do. If I choose to trust that people have actually thought about what they are articulating then who am I to say they are just plain “wrong” on much of anything. What if before we looked at any issue we chose to not degrade the side we are not on? What if a person who doesn’t care for the Tea Party but refuse to call them a derogatory term. What if a liberal really isn’t a closet communist who wants to destroy capitalism and the american way of life ? What if we could assume that an intelligent conclusion can be made that is different than ours?

On the flip side I do see and believe in corruption. I would trust the government as much as I would trust Exxon. Why is it that it seems that good folks would rather trash each other for deeming one of these two more trustworthy than the other. Deep down I think we both know they both provide some good things but neither are worthy of our trust.

At this point I choose to be an idealist who wants what is best for all people. I choose to be guided by love, I don’t care if it is practical or even possible by worldly standards. I’m not the king of anything. I think it can be healthy to not take things so seriously. Most things are manufactured anyway and don’t really affect our day to day lives.  The bottom line is we are all right and we are all wrong at the same time. We see things dimly.

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