Category Archives: politics

A Good-And Long Overdue-Change Of Mind

It’s not *my* change of mind I’m talking about here, although I’ve been doing a lot of thinking lately. Don’t worry, I’ve got the fire extinguishers handy in case anything starts burning. 🙂

My friend J posted this on Facebook today, and I just felt the need to share it. It’s “old”, but it’s an interesting viewpoint on an issue that has been breaking my heart.

http://www.salon.com/2011/03/27/presbyterian_minister_changes_mind_about_gays/

I for one am glad to see someone change their stance on Christianity and homosexuality. It breaks my heart how hateful I’ve heard some of my ‘co-religionists’ being. Actually, I should probably say, ‘former co-religionists’, because I no longer belong to a church or denomination that would condemn someone for something they can’t control. To be honest, I’m kind of embarrassed to ‘claim’ some of the people this pastor says he used to be and that he mentioned being in his church. I’m including myself here too, since I used to be one of them.  There are even some people I used to know who I simply *can’t* claim. Here is a quote from the article that says a lot of what I feel:

The truth is, I was put out that this was an issue. Feeding the hungry, preaching the gospel, comforting the afflicted, standing up to racial intolerance — these were the struggles I signed up for, not determining the morality of what adults did in their bedrooms.

I don’t really understand why it’s an issue either. Aren’t there a lot more important things we should be thinking about as Christians trying to figure out how to best live our lives in service to Christ? I’m not saying that sexual sins shouldn’t be thought of because a lot of them should-things like adultery that can destroy marriages, pedophilia, etc. I just don’t see why this *particular* issue-the issue of which gender a person sleeps with-is really all that important, or even interesting. I’m not saying that all people who hold to the “traditional” view that homosexuality is a sin are somehow knuckle-dragging bigots; if I did that, I’d have to include some people very dear to me. It just bothers me that so much more attention is paid to this issue at the expense of others.

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A Rather Interesting Video, And An Example Of Ineffective ‘Evangelism’

A friend of mine posted a link to this video on Facebook today. Regardless of what you think about abortion, it’s definitely worth viewing.

Two Abortion Protesters Decided To Yell At This Guy’s Wife. They Probably Shouldn’t Have Done That.

http://www.upworthy.com/two-abortion-protesters-decided-to-yell-at-this-guys-wife-they-probably-shouldnt?c=bl3

I have to applaud this man for having the guts to call the protestors onto the carpet. I don’t like the idea of an abortion-I don’t know anyone who does-,but I understand that there might be situations like this man’s wife’s where it’s really ‘the lesser of the two evils’. I can’t imagine that these parents would do this if they didn’t feel they absolutely had to. I certainly wouldn’t. I’ve never been in this situation, and that is this man’s point-you just don’t *know*. There’s nothing wrong with demonstrating your beliefs in public, but it stands to show that we should be careful as to how we do so. Some people would liken tempering our methods to being ‘ashamed’ of the Gospel or not ‘standing up for God’, but it’s not a matter of trying to please others so much as trying to communicate in a way people are willing and likely to listen to.

I’ve seen protesters like this in front of Walmart ranting about gay people and abortion. They bore signs that said things like ‘I chose Jesus, you chose to be gay’ and waved a fishing pole with a red-painted baby doll tied to it. I suppose this was to represent an aborted fetus, but it was unnecessarily graphic and probably grossed more people out than it ‘reached’.

I assume that the ‘I chose Jesus’ sign was supposed to get people to come to Jesus, but what does it tell the person about Him? Nothing. What does it say about the person holding the sign? A lot. It says that that person thinks they are better than others, that they are somehow ‘more saved’, ‘more loved’ by God than someone else. They say they want people to be ‘saved’, but they’ve pretty much ensured that anyone who sees those signs or hears what they’re saying is going to keep on walking. In addition, some of the people they are supposedly trying to ‘help’ by their protests will probably run screaming from the very *mention* of Christianity, even if they would otherwise embrace it. I’ve seen it a million times.

Several of my non-Christian friends tell me that they see me as ‘the exception’ because I *don’t* get in people’s faces and act like I’m better than they are, I *don’t* preach hate as opposed to love and I *don’t* try to shove things down their throats. The fact is that I’m *not* the exception-it’s just that we’re not as loud as the screamers and ‘judges’. Maybe we *should* be. Maybe we *should* be like this man sometimes. Even if he didn’t mention Jesus outright, he makes the point that there are a lot more effective ways to help people than screaming at them and making them want to ignore you. To me, working to make sure our message is effective and shows the love we claim to preach *is* standing up for God-Hopefully I can figure out a way to be brave enough to do it.

 


The Man On The Street-literally

I met a man this evening. A very interesting man, with a remarkably positive attitude, especially given his circumstances. I had occasion to meet him as my husband and came out of one of our favorite pizza restaurants downtown and he stopped to ask us if we knew where he could find work. He didn’t start out asking for money like a lot of people do, although that did happen later on. No, he told us that he had been looking for work for ages upon ages, to no avail. It wasn’t that he wasn’t intelligent or a good person to be around, because he seemed to be both. No, it was because the economy has hit so many people upside the head that no one could afford to hire him (or anyone else) to do much of anything. He had a place to live, which was one positive point. We gave him what was left of one of our pizzas, since we couldn’t do a whole lot else. It wasn’t this part of the story that struck me and inspired me to write, though. That came later.

He told us he had terminal cancer. Brain cancer, and was trying to get the money to pay for one of his anti-seizure medications. God knows I know how expensive meds can be, and how unpleasant life can be without them. And let’s not even mention that cancer made my once-vibrant and active mother practically waste away. I’m sorry I had to put it like that, Mama, but cancer just has to be one of the worst things ever created. That wasn’t what bothered me the most, though.

I’ll admit that this is a subject I only know a little about, if anything at all. But then, since when has that ever stopped me? 🙂

What bothered me the most was that he told us he was a Vietnam veteran and had finally gotten an award letter for money and benefits from the VA (Veterans’ Administration). That war ended on April 30th, 1975. This is October 25, 2010. Thirty-five years, and they were just now getting to him. This disgusts me, but unfortunately does not surprise me. I’m not sure if the cancer was a result of something from the war or if it came on its own later, but it pisses me off royally that someone who took the time and effort to serve our country-who literally put his life on the line-has to beg on the street for money for his medications. Granted, he was going to get a decent sum as the ‘back pay’ for the time it took them to get their stuff together, but that’s not really the point. The point is that here was yet another person who did their part in serving their country (and the draft was around in Vietnam, so it might not have been by choice), and what did he have to show for it? What was his thanks? A lot of red tape, and that’s better than a lot of other people get. At least he had a home; so many others don’t.

It was just so beautiful to me to see his positive demeanor. I think he mentioned being blessed and trying to trust in God about five times in that short, maybe 10-minute conversation. I’ve completely lost faith over much smaller things. Whether he actually wrote it or not, he shared with us a beautiful poem about a rose-about how God takes such good care of small things like that, so how much more must He love us? That’s reminds me of one of my favorite parts of the Bible-Matthew 6:25-34. –

25 “Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing? 26 Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? 27 Which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature?
28 “So why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; 29 and yet I say to you that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. 30 Now if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will He not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?
31 “Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. 33 But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.

I say that this is one of my favorite parts of the Bible, but it’s one that I constantly seem to forget about when dealing with everyday things. Granted, I have had a lot of trouble with money and other things lately, but nothing even close to what so many other people have. Meeting this man tonight was a good reminder of that, of how I should be thankful for what I have and trust in God to take care of me. That is one of the hardest things for me to do, to stop worrying and trust. I don’t know why.

Now, I know you’re probably thinking, how do you know he was telling the truth? I don’t. He could have been feeding us a line of bull that would make Nixon look honest, and I’d be none the wiser. That happens. However, I’ve heard enough similar stories to know that it’s very possible for someone to fall through the cracks like this. On the other side of the coin, my uncle gets very nice care from the VA in his area for his cancer. He has late-stage lymphoma and has been able to get a good bit of help from the VA in terms of medicine. He, however, is one of the lucky ones. Blessed ones, rather. He was in the Navy for 26 years-a person is considered ‘career’ and eligible for a pension and all that after 20 years. My father gets a pension, and he was in for 21 years. I certainly don’t begrudge my father and uncle their benefits; God knows they need and deserve it. I just wish that the man I met on the street this evening had been that fortunate. Granted, the man I talked to probably wasn’t in for that long, but It takes a special breed of person to do that kind of job for such a long time, especially after having been to war. God knows, I couldn’t do it. Even so, surely a country that claims to be the richest and most powerful in the world would be able to at least take care of people who had to go to war and come back the worse for it. Again, I’m not sure that this man’s cancer was caused by something in the war, but so many other people have lifelong disabilities as a result of military service. It’s not only the physical disabilities I’m thinking of, although those are no small potatoes. However, mental disorders like Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) that often occurs in veterans is nothing to sneeze at. In a sense, that could be more debilitating than some of the physical problems, because there isn’t really a one-size-fits-all treatment for it. I’ve known people who are simply not the same as they were when they left; they don’t regret serving, but they can’t help but see that they were changed by their experiences in ways that they don’t always understand.

I am all for the military, but I am also all for people who give up as much as they do being at least given what they need to live and have their illnesses cared for. I know cancer treatment is extraordinarily expensive, but I would hope that people with less serious medical problems than terminal cancer would have what they need to live and work in ‘the civilian life’. A lot of them do, but a lot more of them don’t. I think that is disgustingly maddening and sad at the same time. With all the money this country has spent on wars that are based on lies and getting involved where perhaps they shouldn’t, you’d think they’d be able to afford this man’s anti-seizure medication. But then, maybe they just don’t want to.


Civility a lost art?

Website Editors Aspire to Rein In Nasty Comments

Well, somebody had to say it.

For the past seven years or so, I’ve been a volunteer moderator on a site called Beliefnet. Generally I like the job, but I’ve noticed this same thing lately too. I thought it was just the fact that the boards I work with are about religion (debating Christianity and Judaism), and thus are naturally going to be more ‘highly charged’, although some things I’ve seen are just ridiculous. If I see one more person come on and say they know more than anyone else about God/Jesus/whatever and that everyone else is going to hell (outright or implied), I’m going to scream. I’m sure you probably expected me to say that I was going to shoot myself, but I won’t say that because I fear I’ll see it the moment I click over to the sites and then I’ll have to make good on it. Um, no.

Like I said, mostly I like my job, and Beliefnet isn’t the only forum I’ve used. However, I’ve seen the quality or civility of discussion about certain things take a nosedive in recent months. It seems that anything regarding President Obama-for or against, mostly against-should be marked with a ‘hazardous’ sign because it’s only a matter of posts before someone starts fussing about him and his healthcare reform ideas, regardless of what the discussion started off about. I’ll be honest, I voted for him and am hopeful, but even if I weren’t, there’s no excuse for calling people names if they simply disagree with you. The same goes for subjects like the Iraq War and Islam (to a degree). I think a big part of it is the fact that you’re typing to a computer screen and thus can sort of ‘hide behind’ it…anonymity makes a lot of people much more brave and willing to say insulting things online than they would to someone’s face. I’ll admit I’m guilty too. Also, some subjects like religion are things a lot of people don’t talk about except on those boards and thus you’ll see a side of them you wouldn’t otherwise see. I’ve spoken with and met some people ‘in person’ that I’ve known from various forums and, while I try to be roughly the same person in both situations, there are always going to be some who are completely different in person than online.

Of course, some topics are more volatile than others. On Beliefnet, we have had to relegate all discussions of abortion and homosexuality-religiously based or not-to specific boards set aside for it. I’ve had people complain about this, particularly the latter, sometimes seeming like they expect me to make exceptions. I’m not going to, because I think I’m partly responsible for the policy being made to begin with. I say this because I am a moderator of a Christian debate board (Christians debating each other) and, when discussion of homosexuality was allowed on religious debate boards, the subject would completely dominate the board. It was usually the same two or three posters, but sometimes the conflict spread from thread to thread in a completely off-topic, disruptive fashion.. One thing Beliefnet specifically rules against are ‘ad hominem attacks’-personal attacks against other members. I get that it’s a highly charged subject, especially in the previous administration with a more conservative president, and especially in some parts of this country. There was some pretty hateful stuff posted, enough for me to have trouble keeping up with it, but it was hard to get another moderator to come and put their hands into the mess. This came from both sides of the debate. It ended up turning away members who enjoyed discussing issues related to Christianity in a civil manner because who would want to be around stuff like that? If I weren’t the moderator and weren’t there to try to make things better, I wouldn’t. We ended up suspending the worst offenders but over time it was determined that the subject could not be discussed on our boards without having an overall negative effect on the community. I would say I constantly lobbied my supervisors for the change, but the truth is, I didn’t have to because others had done that for me. At first there was only debate board for sexual orientation, but the need came for several other, faith-specific boards to be created to keep up with the ‘demand’. I found the whole thing rather sad because a lot of the posters were people who had other things in common and would probably have been able to be friendly if not for the arguments about that one particular subject.

There are some forums I used to frequent but that I don’t anymore because some people seem to be rude just for the sake of being rude. I don’t understand people like that. I figure, life is full of enough stress and bitterness, why add to it? But then, I think some people are just miserable and want to spread it around. That seems to be the case with some of the most nasty posters I’ve come across.

This has been said so many times it’s ridiculous, but ‘where is the love??” Whatever happened to being civil to people, even if you disagree? Whatever happened to agreeing to disagree? Like I said, I understand some subjects are very highly-charged, but the principle your mom taught you about dealing with the school bully could probably be put to work here too…just ignore it and walk away. The scroll button is our friend. Although I’ll admit I’m guilty of letting some jerk ‘have it’ on occasion, it’s not something I enjoy doing. Sometimes we all need to just turn off the computer and watch some Mystery Science Theater 3000 to calm down.

Speaking of which….see you later!


Satan’s response

As you might have heard, Pat Robertson made a comment about the earthquake in Haiti happening because they ‘made a deal with the Devil’.

http://www.cnn.com/2010/US/01/13/haiti.pat.robertson/index.html

Video:

In case anyone cares, Robertson is a televangelist who hosts a show called ‘the 700 Club’ . The show is on Trinity Broadcasting Network, a Christian television network that seems to me to cater exclusively to the fundamentalist/evangelical set…if you’ve never heard of either, you’re not missing anything. My ex watched that all the time and even though we broke up in 2003, my eyes are still rolling and my esophagus is still recovering from the excessive vomiting. I’m not saying all f/e-s are like Robertson, but he’s been doing this show for so long that a case can be made that he’s lost whatever marbles he’s had. But I digress. I’m sure he’s done some good, somewhere…I like to think we all have capacity for good, anyway…I’m trying to see all people as children of God just like me, but sometimes it’s pretty hard…

Either way, I found this ‘response’ from Satan that I just *had* to share:

Dear Pat Robertson,
I know that you know that all press is good press, so I appreciate the shout-out. And you make God look like a big mean bully who kicks people when they are down, so I’m all over that action.

But when you say that Haiti has made a pact with me, it is totally humiliating. I may be evil incarnate, but I’m no welcher. The way you put it, making a deal with me leaves folks desperate and impoverished.

Sure, in the afterlife, but when I strike bargains with people, they first get something here on earth — glamour, beauty, talent, wealth, fame, glory, a golden fiddle. Those Haitians have nothing, and I mean nothing. And that was before the earthquake. Haven’t you seen “Crossroads”? Or “Damn Yankees”?

If I had a thing going with Haiti, there’d be lots of banks, skyscrapers, SUVs, exclusive night clubs, Botox — that kind of thing. An 80 percent poverty rate is so not my style. Nothing against it — I’m just saying: Not how I roll.

You’re doing great work, Pat, and I don’t want to clip your wings — just, come on, you’re making me look bad. And not the good kind of bad. Keep blaming God. That’s working. But leave me out of it, please. Or we may need to renegotiate your own contract.

Best, Satan

Here’s the link to the blog I found it in:

http://spritzophrenia.wordpress.com/2010/01/16/satan-replies/

Well, I thought it was funny, anyway.

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Liberty and justice for all? He doesn’t think so…

I saw this on tv this morning and just wanted to share it:

10-Year-old won’t pledge allegiance to a country that discriminates against gays

I found it encouraging to see that an elementary-school student cares enough about the way this country is run and how people are treated to take a stand like this…or, more accurately, a seat. When I was ten, I was more concerned about my crush-du-jour and collecting all of the My Little Pony dolls. Now here’s a kid picking through the lines of a pledge a lot of us said by rote and actually *thinking* about what it says. If you remember your childhood, ten is an age where a lot of us are very concerned with what others think of us and would be too mortified to do something that attracted that much unpopular attention, especially in a conservative state. He is taking the time to be concerned with how other people are treated in a fight he doesn’t have a dog in, something I could certainly learn from.

Hats off, kid. Hats off.


A bit of a rant, however annoying…

I don’t normally go off like this (despite the tag called ‘rants’ :P), but I just saw this:

Bachman’s Capitol Tea Party

The most disturbing part was this*:

Sign comparing health care reform to the Holocaust

*Warning: disturbing and frightening image.

OMFG, I can’t believe this. I saw it on The Daily Show and hoped it was a joke, as you’d expect from Comedy Central. Bad taste, maybe, but but still a leg-pull. I looked it up online, but found that it was real. Meaning, someone actually had the audacity to carry this sign in a crowd where people affected by the monstrous deeds depicted and other-well, humans-would see it. What is worse is that it was only one of many dehumanizing and disgustingly offensive signs handed out by right-wing organizations Americans for Prosperity and FreedomWorks in protest to the health care reform bill passed this past weekend. What’s even worse than that was that this ‘tea party’ was organized by a member of Congress and endorsed by Fox News. I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised at the latter, but I would hope that even they wouldn’t stoop that low. Guess I was wrong.

Other articles about the larger issue:
Is the Tea Party Gang Turning GOP Into a Party of Hate?

Igor Panarin’s Doomsday Tea Party

The Tea Party’s Takeover of the GOP

I admit that I don’t know a whole lot about politics, and I’m aware most of my sources aren’t completely unbiased. I don’t think a person has to know a lot about politics to be disgusted by having a bill passed that might help people compared to one of the worst events in human history. There were other offensive statements and signs shown, but this one hit a sore spot for me. The Holocaust and related things can be very triggering for me. I can’t think of many things that can even compare to that level of cruelty, and so likening it to things such as an unpopular bill or a politician who hasn’t shown any signs of being even close to that level of evil upsets me. I hate to think how it must have looked to someone who had relatives in the camps or who had been in them themselves.

This ‘tea party’ was organized by Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) and attended by several other representatives…from the Chattahbox article:

“Shortly after noon, Bachmann led a contingent of GOP right-wingers, including Virginia Foxx (R-NC), Rep Steve King (R-IA), Rep. Todd Akin (R-MO) and House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-OH), to greet the teabaggers waving their health care reform is like the Holocaust signs.”

On behalf of myself and others in my home state of North Carolina, I would like to apologize for our representative’s involvement.

I know this seems like small potatoes, but I saw it as yet another example of how shrill the right-wing scream machine has gotten. I’m not going to pretend that my fellow moderates and liberals are perfect, certainly not. However, the less I hear about the childish behavior of Republicans, the less I like them. I know this is wrong because these are only the louder ones and there are many reasonable and compassionate Republicans out there. I am married to one, and related to several others. Many of my friends lean to the right, and I’m not really all that partisan…usually. I agree with some things and am relatively live-and-let-live on others. However, sensationalism and hyperbole bother me. That’s why I don’t watch Jerry Springer; well, that, and I have no desire to see women get their tops ripped off in a fight. 🙂

Say what you want about health care reform or Obama, but whatever happened to intelligent, reasonable debate and courtesy? I guess we don’t see that much because it is the sensationalism we are interested in and/or remember. Maybe I’m just imagining things, maybe nice guys really do finish last. I’ll admit to paying more attention to the shouters, so maybe that says something about me too…people don’t perform unless there is an audience. I don’t know a lot about the systems of politics and lawmaking, but I do know one thing: if I see a person or group go to ridiculous and offensive lengths to make their point, I’m not likely to listen to anything they have to say. I’m not alone in this. It’s essentially the same thing our parents used to do when we threw fits in the grocery store; ignored us so that we would stop bawling to get their attention.

Now that I got that out, back to your regularly scheduled program. Feel free to flame me, I’m used to it. 🙂


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