Tag Archive: cruel world


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

Our culture and world have been in such an uproar with doom and blame around every corner,  So what’s going on?

The problem is…. everything we know and everything we don’t. The traditional Christian answer is that “sin”  is the main problem behind everything and does have some merit when looked at beyond the surface of the word. Most of the time it brings to mind a disgusted god who is watching and judging by a pure moral code that no one matches up to. This is the normal Billy Graham understanding that most American Protestants see as part of the Gospel. The word “sin” is more deep and it has more to do with setting up wrong priorities in life and the main goal and target. Priorities that are dead ends. Priorities that are rooted in self-interest and self-preservation. The other Bible words we gloss over as archaic are “iniquity and wickedness”  these both are a part of the problems in the world once we look beyond the surface. Iniquity is very similar to inequality. Wickedness comes from wicker and it is a twisting of what reality is good, think of the difference between love and lust.

I think theologically so track with me for a moment.  These things are a part of the problem in our world because they hurt and destroy our neighbors as well as ourselves.

We always want something to blame that simplifies the issues and removes any universal fault from the equation. We are still not “our brother’s keeper”.  I’m slowly learning from Rene Girard that scapegoating is the ancient , primal response to damaging things in a society. When a scandal occurs we must find a person to blame, then eliminate that person or cause and we can all go back to feeling “normal”.

Common things to blame these days: guns, being “crazy”, cultural decay, No official prayer in schools, culture of death, avarice, the poor, the rich, Republicans, Democrats, Muslims, Israel, religion, Christians, welfare, capitalism, socialism, communism, ignorance, too many prisons/prison as industry, lobbies, drugs, cartels, terrorism, Putin, slave labor, pornography, prostitution, sex slavery, poor schools, inadequate teachers, inadequate parents, too much discipline, not enough discipline, rap culture, the suburbs, the inner-city, ghettos, the 1%, the 99%, inadequate health care, laziness, LGBT, racism, white privilege, slavery, animal cruelty, broken homes, crack, self-righteousness, atheists, alcoholism, police, culture wars, climate change, pollution. greed, school loans, government corruption, personal responsibility,  warmongers, southerners, political correctness, video games, Bible-thumpers, churches, too much/not enough regulation, mental health, The Patriot Act, ISIS, abortion, death penalty, domestic violence, rape, stand your ground, “sinners”  NRA, NOW, Unions, business owners, taxes, homophobia…..and on and on it goes.

Some of these things are clear-cut and others follow an ideology.  The ideological driven are what cause most division and the most comfort. Find some folks who agree with you and sit back and judge the world. Ideologies are also a subtle way to keep self-interest hidden, as well as bigotry and to be as judgmental as one wants because they are on the “right” side.

This is why I love the old story about the tree of “knowledge of good and evil”. One could call it the judgement tree. Originally, EVERYTHING was good. Then we became the judge. Judging ourselves internally, then judging everything around us.  Still, I think a society can rally around the biggies (murder, rape, kidnapping, etc.) and then choose to acknowledge our limited view thus our inability to judge rightly. Humility is the quality we all need, (myself especially) The list above will continue to grade on society. As long as we get in our little groups and continue to judge “the other”  our society won’t evolve to seeing our neighbors as those made in the image of God and worthy of the benefit of the doubt.  We personally do not hold all knowledge, I encourage us all to hold opinions loosely and love tenaciously. Judgementalism inhibits love, every time.

The problem is…all of us.  The solution is in the mirror. Can we learn to love? I believe so. As we learn to love ourselves, we genuinely grow in love for our neighbor. The Kingdom comes on earth as it is in heaven.  This Good News is for the here and now. The Kingdom of God is present within you, right now. When we love, forgive, encourage,co-suffer alongside/have compassion, leave all ultimate judgment to God (who knows the whole story), fight for justice and mercy, feed the hungry, visit the sick, visit the prisoner, sing a song, go for a run, go for a walk, hike, go fishing, make love, meditate, pray, mourn, live in empathy, read, rest, party, have fun, worship, put down the phone,grieve injustice, rejoice in mercy, learn from our elders and our youth,  have a picnic, eat something new, plant something and help it grow, be a shoulder, lift up the fallen, share hope, cry for lost dreams of your own and the lost dreams of others, give life to new dreams, smile at a child, smile with the aged, have a beer or tea with a neighbor.

Life is NOW, live eternal life on this side of the grave. If you don’t feel loved now, know this, YOU ARE LOVED!  Find community, we are not meant to be alone. To love and be loved is the Kingdom come.

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

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.

 

 

“But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,”- Jesus

So what does this mean? Is it even possible? What the heck does Jesus even mean? Is he really talking to me?

What I believe Jesus is wanting from us is to really see people. To see another human being as the precious, unique creation that they are because they simply exist. I have heard it said that Jesus came to clear up God’s reputation and to that I truly agree. I have to wonder if he also came to truly establish our value as human beings? Do you see people or issues?

Over my life I have been hurt deeply by those I love and I have hurt those I love as well. I found myself so stuck at times when I only saw my pain and didn’t look at the life of those inflicting it.  Once I began to open my eyes to see that those around me were simply doing the best they knew how with the tools that they had it helped me see them. My mom hurt me much growing up but when I began to see her as an individual with hurts of her own, I began to see her hurtfulness as her acting out of her own pain. This does not excuse the actions at all but allow me to see her as a person who loved(s) me the best she knew how.

Abdalluh is a young man who has grown up in Afghanistan. His country has been at war virtually his whole existence. His father struggles to supply the needs of his family and acts out in rage at his own inadequacies. His mother’s voice is tender and loving but of no value outside their home. The family attends their local Mosque regularly where he is taught a mix of love and hate. Then his school is destroyed in a bombing limiting his ability to learn. Then food is dropped from the air from the same source as the bombs. Confusion sets in and sadness hurts. Anger, rage and hatred do not seemingly feel as bad.

Is Abdalluh your enemy? Does his life have less worth? Is he simply a causality of a cruel world?

What about Calvin? He is a teenager in the urban core. His mom had him when she was 15. She loves him but has little tools and continues to salve her hurt with drugs and relationships. His father, immature and fatherless himself, runs away from his responsibilities before winding up in prison for armed robbery. Calvin’s grandmother raises him along with the urban culture. She insists on church where he learns of unconditional love with a mix of not measuring up. He sees the money, girls and prestige the thugs in the neighborhood have so he starts hanging out with them.

Is Calvin your enemy? Does his life have less worth? Is he simply a causality of a cruel world?

When Jesus entered into our humanity, he entered into both Calvin and Abdalluh.

34 “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’

37 “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’

40 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’- Jesus

Jesus is saying that you saw my worth as a human being and then cared for me. Anytime we choose to take away the inherent value of a person and turn them into something else we are losing sight of our common humanity.

I know people will say that if this were tried we would be destroyed by our enemies and they may very well be right. I do not pretend to know how these things would work. I simply want to raise the questions of how well the current way has worked? And also to ask if you personally could learn to see people? This is hard to do! We have to check our judgements in favor of love. Loving our enemies is not some magic Jesus thing found only through forgiveness. Rather it’s when we begin to see the fact that we are all in this journey together that the natural flow of grace, love, reconciliation and forgiveness will flow.

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