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Posts Tagged ‘Social Justice’

Some needed change

December 16, 2009 Leave a comment

Well, it’s about that time of year again.  I’m not sure exactly what that specific time is, nor do I think it’s necessarily attached to a date or even a season of the year.  But, the time has come to change up the visuals of my blog.  I keep holding out, thinking wordpress will eventually add some new themes.  Unfortunately, all I have to choose from is the same 77 themes…

I’m also trying to figure out a new title of shorts.  I’m not really sure it matters all that much in the grand scheme of things, but I still feel like it’s missing something.  I’ve attached a short description under the title that seems to draw its meaning a little deeper down in my psyche.  Honestly, I’m not all that much opposed to the title, just thought I’d drum up a few ideas from my vast readership…

I think what I’m getting at is that I’m trying to tunnel deep into the meanings and purposes of life, spirituality, God (gender neutral, at the very least), compassion, social justice, among others, discover the life-lines connecting everything together, as well as tapping into new ways of living that challenge me to make peace, pour out compassion and make this world a better place, here and now, for as many people as possible.  And I just feel like I need a catchy, condensed version of all that as a title for my blog.

All this to say, this post is of no consequence, just some of the jumbled mess that’s clogging up my brain at the moment.  Hopefully something a little more coherent will boil to the surface here in the next couple days.

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Speech

September 9, 2009 Leave a comment

So, here I am at my usual two week mark.  For some reason, the wheels aren’t turning as quickly as I’m used to.  Well, that’s not exactly true… The gears are grinding everywhere else but here.  I think there’s been so much going through my head the past several weeks that it’s a bit difficult to narrow specific thoughts down.  So, this could be your lucky day.  You don’t have to read the typical essay-length post.

A couple thoughts.  I’m really not one to get psyched up about political speeches and such but, how ’bout Obama’s speech yesterday?  It sure was loaded with the poison of socialism and indoctrination, huh?  I mean, who in their right mind would allow themselves to be blinded by the idea of challenging our kids to take responsibility, work hard and make a difference in the world.  When speaking about our children’s role in the greater community, Obama said:

We need every single one of you to develop your talents and your skills and your intellect so you can help us old folks solve our most difficult problems. If you don’t do that — if you quit on school — you’re not just quitting on yourself, you’re quitting on your country.

Now, I’m having a little trouble putting my finger on it, but some of this stuff sounds awfully familiar… Oh, wait… it’s coming to me… This stuff sounds strangely reminiscent of, some ancient text.  It just sounds so familiar, almost like something JESUS would say.

Hopefully you can hear my sarcasm coming through.  I think it’s absolutely ridiculous that people are up in arms about a very powerful speech.  I mean, good grief!  If the sun is shining and the grass is green, the temperature is a perfect 75 degrees on the most perfect day you could ever imagine and someone is going to find something nasty about it.  What is it about us that make us want to do that?  Is it really that difficult for us to find and accept good in places we wouldn’t normally look?

Hopefully by now, you’ve gathered from my previous posts that we as fellow humans, and especially Christian people, ought to be working for the greater good, ushering in a new Kingdom, releasing prisoners, fighting injustice, working to eliminate poverty and homelessness.  We are to love wastefully, without restraint, without criteria.  Now, don’t you think we should embrace that message from whatever angle it comes at us from?  That too sounds strangely familiar to something Jesus countered when his disciples complained about “other people” using his name for good though they weren’t in the “in crowd” of Jesus’ inner circle.

So, my point.  I’ve said it before and I’ll probably keep saying it.  Let’s try using our energies in partnering with our fellow brothers and sisters of humanity to work for greater good rather than gripe and complain and get our panties in a wad about everything.  If we are looking for bad stuff, I’m pretty sure your gonna find it.  The same is true on the flip side of the coin.  I would argue, we will all be better people if we spend our time investing in good.

Inspiration

August 14, 2009 1 comment

I haven’t written anything in a while, so I thought I’d get back at it for a little bit.  Usually, when I pen thoughts on this blog, there is something in life that has stirred my thoughts.  Some might say I’m inspired, though I, myself, would venture more in the direction of reacting.  So, the unique element of this post is I’ve neither been inspired nor am I reacting.  This is new ground for me, yet I’ll venture on none-the-less.

It’s interesting how the seasons of life often go unnoticed.  And not only the seasons of life, but they rhythms of our existence carry on without us giving a second glance.  Here’s what I mean.  I apologize ahead of time that most of this is probably contained in earlier posts, but something in my gut prods me to think that the things that show up most often in our lives and our thoughts are probably higher on the scale of importance.

I spoke a moment ago about rhythms.  I’ve chosen this word carefully because rhythms, unlike other synonyms such as ruts, or routines, or normality invoke a much more positive tone.  That’s not to say that some of our rhythms aren’t negative or destructive, I just feel like in an effort to describe our existence and participation on, and apart of, this planet, it’s time we begin painting a bit more positive a picture with our words.  Specifically today, words that describe the structures and foundations of who we are as a people.

As the incoherence of this post continues to build, I’m just going to pretend I’m oblivious.  We’ve been having an ongoing conversation with the kids in our youth group about this idea that Christianity has become nothing more than a watered down, boring list of things we aren’t supposed to do.  We’ve been very hard pressed to find this mysterious list of things we aren’t supposed to do.  Here’s what we have found.  In the story of the Garden of Eden, Adam and Eve were given the garden.  Everything in the garden was theirs, accept for one tree.  I fear that we’ve spent our entire Christian existence focusing on that one tree; the one thing we couldn’t have.

The folly of that narrow vision is we’ve totally forgotten about the entire rest of the garden.  I would argue the same is true today.  For those of us who label ourselves as Christians, without batting an eye, we could rattle off a whole list of things we are “forbidden” to take part in.  Here’s the crazy part; we’d have to sit down, labor and grit our teeth to come up with the things we can do.  With that in mind, we’ve been spending a good portion of our summer exploring some ways in which we can make a difference, right here, right now.  You’ll remember from earlier posts, I don’t believe the call of a Christian is to place all of our hope in the place we call heaven.  We participate with God in redeeming this world, alleviating suffering now, standing against injustice.  Jesus said, “blessed are the peace-MAKERS.”  We don’t sit around and wait for better things to happen, we are people get up off our tails and make better things happen.

This is not tooting our own horn, but here are some of the things we’ve been talking about and doing with our kids this summer.

• some youth groups get summer t-shirts.  We got our from Tom’s.  So, for every t-shirt we bought, Tom’s gave a pair of shoes to someone in Africa.  Check out their story at tomsshoes.com.

• check out the movie Food Inc. and King Korn for some interesting info about the food we eat.

• skirt over to takepart.com for more info on some of the issues that our world, this place where we live, participate in and plunder, is facing.

All this to say, it’s time for us to move past the energy-sucking practice of not doing things and move toward the life giving, life changing, God partnering work of living and making choices to create a better world now.  It’s time to live and breathe.  It’s time to embrace rhythms of change, of justice and of bearing the image of the ground, the foundation of all being, God, to a world that doesn’t want to know about him, but see him standing with and for those who suffer.

Being

July 29, 2009 1 comment

To start things off, I want to remind my vast readership that I am a follower of Christ.  I also believe in God.  My aim in this post is to discover all the mysteries that surround God, dispelling all doubts once and for all…

And while I float back down to reality, I do want to work through some ideas of God that I’ve been reading about.  Now remember, I do believe in God but, I, along with perhaps only a few others, find our current definitions of God quite inadequate.  Here’s what I mean.  If we believe the Bible to be an authoritative text, there are some things we must consider.  For example, let’s look at the 10 commandments.  What is the first of those commandments?  “You shall have no other God’s before me.”

Here’s what I, along with help from a few authors who are much further up the curve than I am, find striking.  In ancient Jewish culture, to name something meant that you had power over it.  To be able to describe something meant that it was something that was personally known to you and could be touched and handled.  The ancient Jews refused to name or describe God because that would then mean that they had power or authority over God.  Track with me here.  Consider our modern thinking and how we define God today.  I mean, think about the implications that we even have the audacity to define him at all.  We’ve got God all figured out, right?  He is a holy and just God.  He is jealous, yet kind, compassionate and loving.  He often acts in human ways and has human emotions.  He’s our protector, our provider.  He is our abba who comforts us when we are in distress.  He’s the great physician, a healer, our rescuer.

Are you seeing what I’m seeing?  We seem to be walking a pretty thin line of making our definitions of God, our own fabricated understandings of God, the god in themselves.  Is it possible that we worship the descriptions of God rather than God himself?  Do we really believe we’ve got God all figured out?  Can he really only exist in the box that we’ve placed him in?  Is it possible that human words and definitions are nowhere near enough to define “I AM?”

Now, I say all this not to argue any points or prove any positions, I simply want to explore the possibility that there is more, infinitely more, to God than we could ever hope to describe or understand.  So, maybe the life of a Christian is not one which is defined by rules and coming to understand what God wants us to do and how he wants us to do it, rather it is acting in ways that are etched into the very fiber of our being from our creator.  What if we act justly because we abhor  human suffering?  What if we embrace our humanity and speak for those who have no voice?  What if we live freely to ignite a passion for life and love as Christ did?  What if we exist not to debate and squabble over the specific things God wants us to do but to instead live as Jesus and Gandhi and mother Teresa did and cultivate kingdom life here and now?

I would argue that God is far greater than any definition we could ever lay on him and honestly, I don’t think it is up to me to boil God down into a set of rules and a tidy little box that I can carry around.  If I believe that God is over all, through all and in all, then I probably should take Rob Bell seriously when he claims that everything is spiritual.  No longer am I bogged down by constantly wondering if I’m doing enough good or if I’m following all the rules.  Jesus lived for the sake of humanity.  I believe his assertion that the Kingdom is near was and is baffling because it challenges us to a new life now.  If God is up in heaven counting down the days until he throws down his fiery wrath, I’m not really sure what I’m here for.  But, if he is a God who is the foundation of all being, who aches when we plunder the earth, suffers the pain of starvation and relishes the silence of the wilderness, our lives for him suddenly have much more meaning and purpose.

We don’t live to follow rules, but we live for the sake of living, because he lives.  We do good because he does good.  We ache and groan at the suffering and injustice of the world just as he does.  When I love recklessly and frivolously, I am loving God.  Now we start to realize that life is different, it’s exciting, it’s new with wonder and amazement.  We become people who are in tune with the world around us and long with everything in us to make this a better place because that’s why Jesus came.  He came to show us how to tap into the foundation of being, to live as conscious, intentional beings, full participants in the movement and construction of a better life here and now, the Kingdom of God.

A Letter

June 9, 2009 2 comments

Unfortunately, for the first time in my life, that I can remember, I’ve taken an opportunity to educate myself, though not very thoroughly, about the “other side of the issue.”  For far too long, people claiming to be followers of Christ, myself included, have been, for lack of a better term, slinging mud on anyone who is not “in” with Jesus.  I have little experience with debating, but I’m pretty sure that it is foolish to enter a debate without sufficient information from both sides of the issue.

If you haven’t figured it out yet, I’m talking about in a very narrow sense, the idea is such that, anyone outside the Churches of Christ is hell-bound, and in a broader scope, those without any kind of Christian affiliation suffer the same plight.  And those of us who are the religious elite, somewhere along the line, decided that the way of Christ is one in which we are obliged to sling mud at those who deny God completely, while at the same time firing religious, doctrinally charged bombs at anyone who doesn’t do the right things.

There have been two books that I’ve read in the past few weeks that had a massive impact on the very foundations of “how I’ve always done things.”  The first, A New Kind of Christian has affirmed the questions I’ve had for several years in that those of us who are seriously committed to following Christ must do things differently.  The old, established saying, “It’s the way we’ve always done it” doesn’t fly in my book.  At some point we’ve got to get our heads out of the sand and realize we are the ones standing in the way of people knowing  who the true Christ is.  His love hasn’t been able to break through our dogmas and piety.  Sam Harris’ book, Letter to a Christian Nation was a sobering read in that arena.

The summary:  I’m done slinging mud.  I think it’s a waste of time to drag other people, groups, religions, whatever you’d like to call it, just so I look a little bit better or gain some sort of higher ground.  I am a follower of Jesus Christ.  One of his central teachings is that he came to serve and not be served.  What that means for me; I will not longer bash my religious (any and all religious affiliations) brothers and sisters for the ways in which they’re wrong and I’m right.  I will also no longer bash my non-religious (agnostics, atheists, etc.) brothers and sisters for their denial of a being of whom I have no way of factually proving his existence.

Now, I move to the steps I will take in an effort to be an agent of change here and now.  With every fiber of my being, I desire to stand against injustice.  I will engage in relationship with all who are willing.  My goal is not to proselytize, rather, befriend.  I think a language we all can speak is one of friendship.  We all need good, authentic friends and that translates across all racial, economic, religious and non-religious boundaries.  I vow to be totally different.  I will continue to follow Christ in as best as this mortal body allows and I will not allow my “religious convictions” to be a conductor of human suffering.

This, is a conversation that will continue and I would love to begin to open up those lines as an agent of change, a new way of living, bringing a new and better life for everyone, not in the distant future, but right here, right now.