Sunday, December 14, 2014

Sunday, December 07, 2014

Book Release: A Living Alternative

A group of Mennonites discuss what it means to live in a post-Christian society.  Includes a chapter by Steve Kimes!

Saturday, December 06, 2014

Monday, November 10, 2014

Connect to Prevent Violence

Gun control won't stop school shootings. Many of the shooters are "borrowing" guns from family or friends.
But what really DOES cause school shootings? I think it is because we live in a society that is filled with fear and isolation. Human frailty turns fear into protection at whatever the cost. Isolation makes other human beings less than human. Add a agreement that violence is an answer to fear, and then individuals will take matters in their own hands. If we want to stop shootings, we should reduce the fear and isolation that many people feel.
Connect with others. Love your family, not matter what they've said or done. Get help for those who are mentally unstable. Pray for those who are weak.

Sunday, November 09, 2014

The Age of Information

Since we live in the age of information, is there any excuse for ignorance.  Since so many people have the knowledge of the world in their pockets, then why are there still so many people that understand so little?

What is being discovered (especially by the NSA) is that there is too much information, and that no one can process it all. 

The problem with information now is not discovering the truth, but wading through too much truth to discover what is significant. If we choose the wrong truth to focus on, we can still be ignorant.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Seven Tips For Happiness in Watching Movies

1. Be grateful that there is the movie industry for us have movies to appreciate. Yes, they make a lot of mistakes, but they also give us the movies we love and make our lives richer. 

2. Always stay with a movie for at least a half hour. The movie may really improve in the next act, or make it all worthwhile at the end. Stick with it, if you can. 

3. If a movie is poor, consider: how would you change the movie to make it better? For instance, who would you replace Sophia Coppola with in Godfather III? Make it a better movie.

4. Look first for the positive aspects of any movie, even if you will trash it in the end. A movie is never "a waste of two hours" even if it only there to help you appreciate better movies. 

5. Don't just watch movies for "homework" or because you have a list to finish, but because you are looking for the next great movie experience. 

6. Take time to re-watch films you love. Movies are one of the few experiences we can re-live.

7. Share movies with friends, so you can share the experience. Try to watch movies at the same time with others, so it becomes a shared experience. Use movies to laugh with friends, be frightened with friends and to cry with friends. Then the movie isn't just a personal experience, but a point of relationship.

Saturday, October 04, 2014

U2: Even Better When They Were the Real Thing

Look, I'm not saying that the new U2 album is bad.  I'm just saying there's a good reason it's free to hundreds of millions of people.  Actually, the last third of the album is worth listening to, and there will be a couple songs I'll put on my permanent playlist.  But the first two thirds is dull to anyone who has listened to U2 before this decade.

Let's spend a little time reviewing some of the best of U2 over the decades:

The Refugee: The power of direct and powerful lyrics and some great energy.

Bad: Builds and builds.  I love screaming "I'm wide awake" in falsetto.

Running to Stand Still: My favorite lyrical work by the band.

Love Rescue Me: Dylan and Bono on the slow burn.

Love and Peace or Else: Recognizing that U2 can still be innovative and energetic when they want.

Yep, they are a great band.  One poor album doesn't change that.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

And Then There Were None: A Philosophical Quandry

There is a satisfaction with a murder mystery.  It is a simple world, really.  We have bad guys who murder people and we have victims and we have good guys who figure out the mystery.  It is also pretty straightforward about discovering truth.  Really, the basic murder mystery belongs to an enlightenment philosophy-- reason and deduction can discover the most important truths of the world, if only you have someone clear-headed enough to not be distracted by red herrings.  In a typical murder mystery, we pit our deduction skills against the protagonist to see if we can discover the truth before she or he does. Of course, we might have a hand up if we've read a number of mysteries ourselves because there are rules and hints just in the writing of the novel.  This is what makes a writer like Scott Turow so fantastic because he uses the context of a mystery against us, causing us to make false assumptions right from the start.

But And Then There Were None although a traditional mystery, goes a couple steps beyond more mysteries.  One the surface, we have a number of the same limitations: an isolated island, ten people, one of whom is a murderer, and the number grows less as the book progresses.  We collect more information about each character as we go on, informing us as to the likely candidates... we make our guesses and then we re-guess after our first guesses are done away with.

As I was reading the book, these were the guesses I made, and the reasons (all of this is revealed in the first half of the novel):

-Anthony James Martin has the moral cause to kill-- human life doesn't mean much to him, so if he had enough cause (even possibly for his own entertainment) he might kill folks.  Also, he is the first killed, by his own hand, which still makes him a suspect (although a doctor declaring him dead is a strong case against him as a suspect)

-Dr. Armstrong has the means to kill.  He had the poisons and the intelligence to arrange the rest of the murders.  Although there is no real motive, ease of opportunity is a significant factor.

-Judge Wargrave might very well agree with the motive given by the mysterious voice.  He is a judge and so concerned with justice, and the motive was to sentence those who were declared (by the voice) guilty of murder.  He is the one who might be most concerned to see the sentence carried out.

-William Blore was a police inspector and so would have experience with how to hide the murders, as well as seeing different crimes himself.  He has the kind of intelligence needed to carry out these murders and to make sure that they remain hidden from the police.

Of course, Lombard had a gun (in turn of the century Britain), which makes him suspect.  Thomas Rogers might have greater access to the rest of the house and had more time to investigate the island to set the murders up, and he has access to the food and drink.  Emily Brent seems judgmental enough to condemn the others and is crazy in the head.

We have plenty of information about each character to make a decision... but this is where the ideals of the "age of reason" fall short.  We both have too much and too little information.  Every person on the island is already a murderer, so they are all capable of it.  We don't know the secret motives of whoever the murderer is.  Even in a limited scope-- ten people on an isolated island-- there are too many details for us to discover truth.

Doesn't that teach us something about truth in general?  If we are counting on truth being obvious if only we have accumulated enough facts, we can see that even in an extremely limited universe, which is explained to us the simplest, straightforward language, there is still too much for us to discover the important truth of who is taking life.  None of the ten can save their lives from the judgment, because no matter how clear headed they are, they cannot distinguish the significant facts from the insignificant.  And, of course, because they are in the midst of a life and death situation, they are not as clear-headed as necessary to make clear decisions and analyze correctly.

In a sense, this island is exactly the same circumstance we all find ourselves in.  We are all seeking the most significant truth for the sake of our lives, but reality is too complex, and it is too easy to focus on the red herrings, and the very things we think that might saves us, the very deductions we depend on, might end up killing us.

Spoiler ahead: This is the most cynical of novels, where we find out the murderer only when it is too late.  No one can be saved.  No one can even be brought to justice.  The murderer wins, and we only discover the truth because he determines to let us know.  Reason, deduction, the entire age of enlightenment is suspect because the truth that was most significant could not be discovered, even in the pages of a simple murder mystery. 
Spoiler over

 Truth is forever hidden from us.  Meaning and life must be determined outside of reason or the search for truth.

Sunday, August 03, 2014

If I Told You What This Post Was About, You Wouldn't Read It

A lot of press has been given the Palestinian position, which I mostly agree with.  They have been oppressed as a people, invaded by a foreign land, stripped of their own homes, their own land and made refugees in their own land.

I also appreciate the Israeli position.  They have been attacked ever since they became a nation, which they did by legal means. They feel unsafe in their own homes. And innocents have been attacked for the errors of a few.  What are these errors?  The attacking of a whole people for the oppressive judgments of a few.  This is a crime both sides have committed.

I feel the plight of women, who are still second-class citizens after decades of speech about freedom.  And African Americans, especially the men, who are incarcerated in greater rates than any other social group.  It seems as if slavery for them has not yet ended.

The racial hatred against immigrants, legal or illegal is horrible.  We should love all people and care for those coming to us as our brothers and sisters.

I hope that we all speak out on these issues and so change the society in which we live.  But that is not enough.  I'm sorry, but if we look at all these issues and stand up for them but ignore the plight of the homeless in our community, then I don't know what is wrong with us.

The homeless are judged before they ever speak or act.  Dr. Susan Fiske, a well-known sociologist says that the homeless are seen, by the average American, as "a pile of garbage."

The average American treats the homeless as a pile of garbage, not talking to them or trying to understand their position, but judging them and wanting them to go away.

The average American is also afraid of the homeless, thinking that they might attack them.  For this reason, the homeless are killed and tased by police officers in every city of the United States, so the homeless might not attack them back.

The homeless are not given any space to live or sleep.  If they establish a camp, even if that camp is on unused public land, they are told to move by citizens who call the police, because the homeless aren't given equal rights to those who live in homes.

The homeless lose their homes every day in every city in the United States.  They are sometimes given fair notice, but just as often given just a half hour to move everything they have.

Even those who serve the homeless are being fined because they sacrifice their time and resources to those in need.

Again, I think that we should discuss Palestinian rights.  We should fight for African Americans to be freed from incarceration that they don't deserve.  We should work for equal rights for women. We should do all we can to help our country care for immigrants. But we should not forget the homeless, the prejudice against which is so extreme that "they skew the data so they don't fit on the chart."  The homeless are African Americans, they are women, they are immigrants, they are oppressed, they are suffering from a war they never fought in.  They live in our neighborhoods.  We often pass them by.  Let's do something.

Monday, July 14, 2014

What is Feminism?

You see how nice and normal feminists are?  :)
It seems pretty funny for me, an older white male, to be describing feminism.  Frankly, I shouldn’t be doing it.  But a number of my older male friends and fellow church members, and a few of my female friends seem to not understand what feminism is or what the goals are.  They’ve been paying attention to the feminist bashers who quote cranky feminists.  It’s easy, it turns out, to be a feminist basher, because the majority of Americans, according to Susan Fiske, find “feminists” as a social group to be unpleasant people.  This is mostly due to a misunderstanding of what feminism is.

My goal is to make a brief explanation of what feminism is so that when we talk about it, we can be talking about the same ideas.

1.       Feminism isn’t just one set of ideas
The core of feminism is the idea that women should be equal to men.  However, there are a number of different ways to go about that and there are a number of ways to communicate that.  There are a number of different kinds of feminism, and I don’t agree with all of them.  But the mainstream of feminism is represented below.

2.       Feminism does not hate men, it hates patriarchy
It is easy to point to a cranky feminist who has made male-bashing speech, but that’s not the feminism I support.  Positive feminism recognizes that Western cultures for the last three millennia have established systems which supported a male-dominant hierarchy, with a male-focused legal system and support structure.  Feminism recognizes that history has been run by an “old boy’s network” in which women were rarely invited, and usually only under duress.  Feminism doesn’t have a problem with a male president or male congresspersons or male governors.  They want a chance for women to hold those same positions.  They don’t have a problem with men providing input to law or science, they just want women to have equal input from their perspective.  This is something that has been missing for three millennia.

3.       Patriarchy hurts men as well as women
Patriarchy doesn’t merely determine a male-only input for how our societies are organized, but it also determines roles for men and women to fulfill.  Just as “a woman’s place is in the kitchen” is a patriarchal statement, so is, “a man without a job is no man.”  Under patriarchy, men are locked into these roles as much as women and are often considered failures by both men and women, because it isn’t all men who are in control, but the patriarchal ideal of manhood.  It is patriarchy which awards women more benefits in a divorce, even as it is patriarchy which awards men higher salaries.  It is patriarchy which shames men who get raped, even more than they shame women who are raped.  It is patriarchy which determines that spousal abuse is always from the man to the woman.  Feminism wants to do away with all role-based logic and allow each case to be determined on its own merit.

4.       Feminism isn’t about power, but allowing women to be heard
The cranky feminist might want to take power away from men because, they say, that men haven’t handled power very well.  Mainstream feminism, however, just wants both sides of the sexual aisle to be heard.  An excellent example of this kind of feminism is the hashtag #YesAllWomen.  It wasn’t about forcing a particular political agenda, but letting women share experiences that they felt were oppressive.  Under patriarchy, men are uncomfortable listening to women and sometimes get angry if women express their opinion when it opposes patriarchy or the hierarchy that patriarchy established.  Feminism gives a place for women to speak, even when it is uncomfortable, and gives them an opportunity to be heard.

5.       Feminism isn’t about breaking down society, but giving options
It is pointed out that some feminists are lesbians and there is the occasional quote by a feminist who is opposed to the nuclear family.  But mainstream feminists aren’t opposed to the nuclear family or stay-at-home moms or a woman taking her husband’s name after marriage.  Feminists want to give women the option to get out of these roles, depending on their choices, opportunities and the circumstances that they find themselves in.  A true feminist never disparages a woman’s choice to quit her job to raise her children, just because it’s not a choice she would make.  Rather, she would be glad because our society is offering women more choices than before.  A feminist would get angry at a corporation who pays women of childbearing age less because of their potential extra expense to the company because that limits a woman’s options in society.

6.       Feminism is for equality of all people, regardless of sex or race
Feminism isn’t about the superiority of women or of a race.  It is true that some feminism has not given equal opportunities to African Americans or to men.  But mainstream feminism allows voices that support equality of either sex or of any race.  Racism or sexism of any type does not belong in feminism, because feminism is about equality for everyone.  Yes, feminism focuses on  women’s issues, but the best form of feminism is about giving opportunity and a voice to everyone, especially to those women who have been silenced because they were women.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

II Job

"In the land of Uz there lived a man whose name was Job.  His children gave him a long list of food, each one demanding their own specialty, and so Job spent five hours in Wal-mart, finding only two thirds of his list and at least one hour in line behind a screaming woman with three screaming children and an angry man who would repeat every five minutes, 'Would you just shut up!' at the top of his voice.  Job returned home, where his children ate up all his purchased goods and complained that he didn't buy what they really wanted.

"The sons of god all gathered to heaven to report to the Most High, and Satan also came.  God said to Satan, 'Have you noticed my servant, Job?' and Satan replied, 'Yeah, you know God, I think you've been too hard on that guy.  Why don't you give him a break?'  God said, 'You're right, there's only so much suffering one man can take.'  So God sent an angel to Job's children in their dreams, hypnotizing them into wanting only beans and rice to eat.  From that time on, Job only had to go to the local Asian store where the nice check-out woman would tell him how fine his beard looked today."

II Job 1:1-5

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

The Use of Words and Reverse Racism

A friend of mine recently posted an article about "reverse racism" and about how it doesn't really exist.  This is in conjunction with a number of posts about reverse racism, especially this kinda-funny, kinda uncomfortable stand up routine:

I see the points that these folks and many other people make.  Racism isn't just about prejudice and discrimination.  It's about long-term systemic abuse of a race as well, and whites just don't have that.  I get it.  But I think most people don't.  And that has to do with the dictionary.

The World dictionary defines racism as:

racism or racialism  (ˈreɪsɪzəm, ˈreɪʃəˌlɪzəm) 
— n
1.the belief that races have distinctive cultural characteristics determined by hereditary factors and that this endows
some races with an intrinsic superiority over others
2.abusive or aggressive behaviour towards members of another race on the basis of such a belief

Thus, the dictionary definition of racism has more to do with prejudice than systemic causes.  This doesn't mean that systemic racism doesn't exist.  It only means that the word "racism" doesn't convey that meaning by itself.  It also means that, if you define "racism" as only having a systemic meaning, you can say that "reverse racism" doesn't exist.  But the rest of society, that sees the word "racism" to mean "racial prejudice or discrimination" reverse racism can exist.  To deny this is to deny the common meaning of the word. 

I have to say that although it sounds petty, this subject of the use of words is very important to me.  Language is the most populist medium ever, and words are owned by the people.  The purpose of dictionaries is not to say how a word *should* be used, but how it is used.  This is why dictionaries are at the forefront of clear communication, because they explore the use of words in the world and report it back to us.

When a person says, "This is what the word really means", in opposition to a dictionary meaning, what they are doing is imposing an elitist definition upon a word that is already popularly used.  I don't think any of us have that right.  And when we insist upon our narrow definition that is not used in a popular way, then our statements are confusing to most people, and it leads to arguments.  "Racism" according to the dictionary, is not used primarily in a systemic way.  To insist that this is the "real" meaning of the word, is not to change the word, but to create confusion. When I say "popular" I don't mean just Anglos, but PoC as well.

The Oxford English Dictionary has a half million words in its volumes, and modern English has the broadest vocabulary of any language that has ever existed.  We use words in combination to create concepts that have never existed before, especially when we draw on other languages.  So we have all the tools available to us to clearly communicate what we mean.  Why change the meaning of a word that is already there, and already means something different?

For this reason, I want to advocate for the use of three terms:
-Racial prejudice
-Racial discrimination
-Systemic racism
The majority of our conservative friends don't even recognize the idea of systemic racism, because those communicating it only use the term "racism" which means "racial prejudice" to most people.  If they would say "systemic racism" instead, then people might be able to understand what was being talked about.

Again, this isn't a matter of the idea.  The idea is an important one.  It is how we communicate the idea in order to change thinking.  As long as the term "racism" is used in a narrow sense, understood to people only who have been educated in that use, then we are only speaking to the choir, and the majority of people won't understand.

Some say, "Well, they need to be educated as to what the word really means, and then they'll understand."  Actually, the word really means something already.  What some are doing is using a narrow definition of the word to be the key to enter some kind of moral or cultural "club",  and if you don't use the word the right way, then you don't belong.  But our goal should be to have EVERYONE understand systemic racism, and to realize what it's about.  To do that, we need to set aside our ownership of certain words and allow it to mean what it means to most people and to clarify what we, those who do understand, with clearer terms.

Sorry .  I've had to deal with this same issue with other terms.  I really believe that people own the language and that we have to listen to the people.  In this one area-- probably this only one-- I believe in democracy. 

Sunday, May 18, 2014

The Internet Wins Again!

Today, the Metropolitain Museum of Art made available almost 400,000 images of classic art, which anyone can access for free, free for reposting and general use.  This means that works of meaning and beauty are available for a huge part of humanity, ready to use and to love.

This is what the internet is about.  It's not another commercial opportunity, although some use it as that.  It is an open door to a new economy without money, without limits.  This is happening more and more.  We are able to connect with others and love others and share beauty and the most important ideas ever thought, and no one has to pay any extra.

 Classic works of literature are being made available to all.

Great and popular movies available for free on youtube

Even as Facebook is not the place to post private items, the internet is becoming the place to not post things you want to make money off of.

I am so happy.

31 Questions for a Marriage

Take some time together as a couple to talk about your life as a couple.  Some of these questions are breezy, some are deep and difficult.  Have fun with each other, but take the answers seriously.  If you ask all 31 questions of each other, and answer honestly, I guarantee that your marriage will not be the same.  I don't recommend that you ask these questions all at one time.  Get some time alone with each other on a regular basis and ask one or two questions at a time.

What is the happiest moment we had together?

What do you think are our greatest strengths as a couple?  Our greatest weaknesses?

What person, apart from me, has most influenced your life?  How?

What friends would you like to hang out with more? Or less?

What one way do you think you are different since we first got together?

What is something about our sex life you’d like to tell me?

What would be your ideal living situation?

If we could spend a long weekend doing anything together, what would you like that to be?

If we could retire anywhere, do anything, what would you like that to look like?

What would you like to change about our finances?

What are your biggest fears about our relationship?

Do you think we have enough dates?  If we could spend more time together out, what would you want to do?

What are a couple ways that I could be more understanding?

What things attracted you to me before we got together?

What two or three problems, if solved, would make the most difference in our life together?

What is your favorite romantic song or movie and why?

Is love the basis of marriage?  Is commitment? Is mutual support?

How can we build our friendship up?

What is the state of your love for me?  Getting stronger?  Waning a bit?  Going through a bumpy time? 
Does your love for me feel different than it used to?  How?

At what times do you feel the most love for me?

How can I improve as your partner?

What one or two things about you do you think I don’t understand?

How can we improve our communication?

Do you feel like I listen to you enough?  How can I listen better?  At what times do you want to be listened to more?

When we argue, what is the one thing about how I argue that bugs you? 

Are there times that our disagreement should be postponed?  How can we communicate that when it happens?

What is your best memory of our time together?

What is the best way for me to encourage you? 

What do I do that best communicates my love for you?

What do you think are my three greatest strengths?

What three goals would you like us to accomplish in the next five years together?

Sunday, May 04, 2014

Wedding Sermon for Jimmy and Kristyn

There is more going on here at this wedding than simple words.  This is more than a ceremony, more than a party, more than a meeting of minds.  We hear familiar words here that could be spoken in any romantic comedy, and that makes it seem less than what’s really going on here.

All around us are forces.  Our minds are forces, our spirits and our wills.  We create with these forces, and we can destroy.  But creation is the greatest, because some creations never end.  Suppose you wanted to create a table, and you put all your effort into it, fashioning it out of wood, and the fibers weave together and it is a new, firm entity—a table.  Then someone else came along and decided to destroy it.  With great effort, they took a sledgehammer and attacked the table.  It took them a half hour to destroy what took many hours, perhaps days, for you to create.   But a stranger could come by after the destruction and the tears were over and say, “Hey, someone broke a table here.” 

Even after the destruction, the idea and the fine strokes of creation remain.  They don’t disappear.
That is the work of one person.  Each person, with our wills, our imaginations and our spirits can create something powerful, something that cannot be destroyed.   We can write a book that remains in the imagination of people long after every copy is burned.  We can take a picture that keeps the image of a building a century after the building has been torn down.  We can do an act of kindness that remains longer than the life we originally touched in the hearts of those who see it.  This is the power of a single, frail, faulty human being.

But what if there are two?  What if two minds, two wills, two imaginations, two spirits join together to do one task?  What a great task that should be!  One can write a book, but two can create a manifesto.  One can climb a ladder, but two can reach greater heights.  One can rejoice, but it takes two to love.  One can paint the Sistine Chapel, but it takes two to create a world.

When two people join together, become unified on this adventure that we call a marriage, they are not just creating a new life together, they are creating a new world.  A world that never existed, that could never have been imagined, suddenly pops into existence.   It isn’t just two people, two communities, two families that are forced together into a single world.  The marriage itself is the first conception, the first offspring of the couple.  And what we see right now as a seed, a bare beginning, is not just a life together, as wonderful as that is, it is a new culture, a new tradition, a new world.  The adventure of Jimmy and Kristyn will produce not just a life, but a world that no one has ever seen before.

The best thing, I think, about love is we see a whole other person, not just bits and pieces.  And that person is complex and intricate and contradictory and often confusing, but wonderful.  And we want to explore more of that other person, and all the strangeness that it offers.  I think that this is God’s trick: love.  It is His way of tying us together to the strangest, most alien thing in the world and we love every minute.  And every moment with this opposing force changes our very being, and our love of the Other, makes us a stronger person, able to deal with every crisis because we love the strangest animal that ever existed.  And we are beginning to understand that animal.  It’s tough work, but we enjoy every minute.   That’s God’s plan to make us better people through struggle and we love that struggle.  Because we are fighting to create a new world with the object of our love.

And as we understand the object of our desire more, with their complexity, we change and so we change them.  We aren’t ourselves anymore and neither are they.  We are both different because of each other and we do things and say things and think things that no one has ever done or said or thought.  We are a new creation, and together, we are born anew.  Pretty soon, no one gets us except our other, because no one went through our experiences.

That is, until someone does.  Get us, I mean.  Until we let another into our new culture, our new world.  More than likely that’s a baby.  But it could be a friend who’s down on his luck.  Or a stranger who needs a place to crash.  Or a relative who is having a hard time.  And the longer they spend in our new world, the more they are influenced and warped by that world.  If they stay long enough, this new world encompasses them, and they are a part of it.  They may stay or they may leave,  but they will take that new culture with them.  Parts of it.

And it all begins with the simple words: I do.   To say “I do” is to simply say, “I promise” or “I will.”  To make a promise is an act of creation.  It is the beginning of a new direction and in some cases it can be the beginning of a new world.  And to have two people say “I do” to a new world is a powerful thing.
But a wedding isn’t just two people saying “I do” to a new world.  We are all here to not just recognize that these two are going on a great adventure together, creating a new culture, but we are affirming that decision, we are saying “I do” with their “I do” and setting them off on their journey.

Wait, didn’t you get to say “I do”?  I heard Jimmy and Kristyn say it… didn’t you?  Well, let’s give you a chance.  “Family and friends of Jimmy and Kristyn, and even strangers if you just happen to walk in the door, do you affirm the joining of Jimmy and Kristyn?  Do you approve of them making a new world?  Do you rejoice in their adventure in creating something that has never been seen before?”  If you approve, then say, “I do”, on the count of three:

Now think about this.  If the force of two minds is powerful… if the force of two spirits and two wills and two imaginations is powerful, what about fifty or sixty?  Jimmy and Kristyn, all of these people together affirm your life.

Only one more thing to make it amazing and mindblowing.  The God of the universe, Jimmy, when you said, I Do, so did He.  And Kristyn, when you said I do, so did God.  And you guys in the audience, when you said, I do, God said it with you.  God’s hands are around your new life, your new culture, your new world.  His Spirit is the incubator in which your new world will grow.  The spirit of Jesus will make it grow in love, in heart and in power.   From this moment, God is the Great Force that will make you guys grow together.

And what God has joined together, no human being can take apart.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Holy Saturday

The darkness crept up my leg
jumped onto my hands
and crawled up my sleeve.
I could feel the darkness
cold on my flesh
weighing heavy on my back
like a burden that would never
be released.
The ninth plague has fallen
and the tenth has swallowed me.

In this hell I languish, but not lonely,
For the burdened always have company
Blaming each other, blaming God
Blaming oneself,  for
Anguish produces a need for karma
A need to punish.
It is often easier to look back at the wrong
than look forward to release.

Yet redemption is nigh:
Yes, it accompanies the peeling off of darkness
like an inner skin;
Yes, it involves a bone-wearying battle
against Death himself;
Yes, it means taking up the work we’ve laid down
and finishing the uncompleted love.

Pray that I be strong.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Ten Percent

I just read that a child only has about ten percent of one parent's genetic forumla (although, of course, it turns out to be completely random).  I started thinking about how little input I give to my child, compared to what the world gives...

Ten percent of my material,
Ten percent of my wisdom,
Ten percent of my frailty,
Ten percent of my idiocy,
Ten percent of my authority,
Ten percent of my beauty,
Ten percent of my wealth,
Ten percent of my love…
Yet she is my best hope that I unleash on the world
The only inheritance I have to give.

Tuesday, March 04, 2014

Water Dispensing Help

The best are like water
bringing help to all without competing
choosing what others avoid
thus they approach the Way,
dwelling with earth
thinking with depth
helping with kindness
speaking with honesty
governing with peace
working with skill
and moving with time
and because they don't compete
they aren't maligned.
-Lao Tzu