Sitting on the Sidelines

“Is no one willing to take a stand anymore for public decency? For truth?” I am, dearest. I am.

Susan Irene Fox

©susanirenefox

Last week, a United States Representative of Congress tweeted, and then doubled down on Sunday in several interviews about the supremacy of the white race, and that white folks need to have more babies in order to surpass the growing population of the non-white citizenry. This same congressman last July also said that white Christians have contributed more to Western civilization than any other “subgroup.”

Where were the voices of Congress denouncing this man? The only voices of public dissent I heard were those of the mainstream media, the so-called “enemy of the people.” Where is the courage, integrity and heroism we used to expect from our leaders? And why didn’t the House the Representatives issue a censure or, at the very least, a reprimand?

We have a President who lies the way other people breathe, and promotes himself as though he is still running for office. His own…

View original post 547 more words

All I Need to Do is Show Up (Reprise)

Well, this is fate! …What do they call it when everything intersects?”   “The Bermuda Triangle.”  (wonderful lines written by the late Nora Ephron and spoken by Jay and Sam in the movie, Sleepless in Seattle)

A favorite fellow blogger wrote recently about letting God be God.  I responded that she was absolutely right and that all I needed to do was show up.  (I keep stealing her best words.  Sorry, Donald, I don’t think you do have the best words, but I won’t get into that now.)

While I was in North Carolina, recently, I encountered several people who already had their ‘dukes up’ when I entered the room:  sales clerks, buyer’s agents, and even a beloved friend.  Driving home with the top down on my little blue wonder car, I felt like I was “getting the hell out of Dodge.”  As I breathed deep and emptied my mind of the bits of discordant conversations, the scripture words “shake the dust off your feet,” came to mind.

Now, I am aware of the potential punishment due one who alters or disagrees with scripture, but when I look at the whole text,

If the house is worthy, give it your blessing of peace. But if it is not worthy, take back your blessing of peace. Whoever does not receive you, nor heed your words, as you go out of that house or that city, shake the dust off your feet. Truly I say to you, it will be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah in the day of judgment than for that city…

…I am disturbed.  These words are from the Gospel of Matthew where Jesus sends out the twelve apostles “with the following instructions: ‘Do not go among the Gentiles or enter any town of the Samaritans. Go rather to the lost sheep of Israel.’”  Now, maybe it is because they are to try to reach out to the Jews; but this does not sound like the Jesus I know.  I am reminded of the parable of the shepherd who goes out looking for the one lost sheep.  Jesus does not tell me to judge someone as “not worthy” and therefore to “take back my blessing of peace.”  Sure, there are swine who are not going to appreciate pearls but convincing them, much less judging them as unworthy, just isn’t my job.  Let me explain what I mean…

In the verse, “Whoever does not receive you, nor heed your words, as you go out of that house or that city, shake the dust off your feet,” I see that as wisdom for my psychological health.  In a previous essay, I wrote about the techniques used to keep oneself safe when attempting to help others; I wrote about how healing ministers have a special prayer they pray to cleanse themselves of residual attachment to the pain, evil spirits, or even pride in having helped Jesus to heal someone.

However, I believe the process of acting as ambassadors for Christ does not end just because I have not been well-received; God’s work is far from over.  If I give to someone a blessing of peace, I have planted a seed or embedded a grain of sand.  I may walk away, but circumstances outside of my knowledge can, and likely will, cause that seed to germinate and, maybe years from now, will grow into belief and faith.  I think of the seeds in the desert that lie dormant until the rains come.  The image at the top of this essay was published in October 2015, in the Daily Mail .  The picture is of the Atacama desert in Chile, “the worlds driest desert,” in late spring after heavy storms took place in March.  In the words of the writer, “a magical transformation brings the area to life.”

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/travel/travel_news/article-3294865/Blooming-marvellous-rain-falls-world-s-driest-desert-jaw-dropping-phenomenon-takes-place-year-s-display-spectacular-18-years.html#ixzz42z6FNd6z

Atacama desert dry

This image above may be what I encounter on a daily basis, but my blessings are like a seed tossed out into that sand.  Sure, I will shake the dust from my feet because I do not want to dwell on the rejection or seeming lack of acceptance of God’s love, but my job is done.  Now, it is up to God…who will be God.

I would like to add that sometimes I am met with true rancor; I usually have no idea what is the reason behind it or the source of it, but I can bet I have touched on something that needs God’s healing touch.  Again, it is usually none of my business and, therefore, it is not my job to try to fix it.  Furthermore, in cases such as that, I have likely planted a grain of sand that, God willing, will irritate the hearer until a pearl of wisdom is formed…but this can take years, just like within an oyster; I don’t need to see it happen.  I believe and have faith; I move on.  What happens over time is God business.

A young blogger recently indicated that he was concerned about the state of the salvation of his friends as they were facing college; my advice to him was to remember that their souls were in God’s hands and that his job was to love them, be kind to them, be there to answer questions, but to try to not judge or criticize them; God is not done with them and paths of their lives will be as diverse as the flowers of the world.

This same blogger, only weeks before, had expressed dismay over his own doubts and waverings of faith.  When I replied with some of my personal experiences and with teachings and practices that have helped me, he responded with much self-righteous criticism and condemnation; he said some of my beliefs and practices were”Satanic.”  Before I lashed out in self-defense, I had to remind myself that he is probably no more than 20 years old and, certainly, God is not done with him, yet, either.  However, it would be prudent for me to give the topics mentioned in his attacks at least a cursory look… Balaam’s ass and all that.

When something like that niggles my soul, I am wise to reflect on the situation.  I am not exempt from receiving seeds and sand from others who are unknowingly (or knowingly) acting on behalf of God.  My beloved friend’s screaming at me that “Now, you’re just being contrary!” has merit; I am by no means a saint.  I can be contrary.  I can be mean-spirited.  How do you think I recognize so well the mean-spirited ways of others ?!?  I can only thank God, and my friends and family, that there are such things as forgiveness and understanding.

The point I started out with is simply this: my job is to show up.  Jesus is not physically here to plant seeds and sand; I am.  I am not equipped, or emotionally or spiritually healthy enough, to give appropriate correction to others.  However, I can obey Jesus’ commandments to love God and to love my neighbor.  The only way I know how to love my neighbor is to show up, be kind to them, to set a good example of what ‘love of God and neighbor’ look like, to not judge or criticize them, to allow them to be where they are spiritually, and to forgive them and have faith that God is not done with them, yet.

Addendum:  As I learn more about the Law of Three, it occurs to me that as I ‘show up’ with seeds and sand, I may, in fact, be acting as Third Force…just a thought.

To God be the Glory

 

 

This is Why (Reprise)

All of my life, I have carried rhetorical questions around on my shoulders like a yoke:

Why did my parents resent that I was not a boy and repeatedly set me up for shame and rejection when I was young?

Why was I born with bipolar disorder?

Why did my husband not love me?

Why have I not been able to support myself with my God-given talents?

Why was I not appreciated by my co-workers and managers during my 22-year career and forced to retire in disgrace?

I now know why.

Had I not been raised with neglect and abuse, I would not have learned to watch the signs and I would not have needed the kind of spiritual healing that has enabled me to release wounds, scars, and resentments and be open to God.

Had I not suffered with mental illness, I would not have the patience and understanding I now have for others who suffer in such a way…nor would I have an appreciation for the gifts of such an illness.

Had I not been left to raise two babies on my own, I would not be as strong as I am now or as compassionate toward other single mothers.  Had I remained married, I would probably not have sought reconciliation with God.  Had I built the dream we shared, I would be selling a business now, not living alone, writing, praying, blessing, and consoling others.

Had I been successful selling my photography, paintings, and writing, I would not have had to sell my home and move into a 60-year-old house trailer and be able to see life on ground level with other people who struggle day in and day out, figuring out ways to buy gas and feed the animals.

Had I been supported and encouraged by others in my career, I would probably hold a high level government position now…not doing ‘God work’ and helping others figure out how to tell the truth about climate change and to serve the poor and needy when and if the bureaucracy is destroyed.

I know what it is like to be abused and neglected…and to abuse and neglect. I know what it is like to look back on my life with guilt and horror.  I know what it is like to be lost, confused, and full of anger, doubt, and resentment.  I know what it is like to fail.  I know what it is like to look to God and imagine Him turning His back…looking remarkably like someone else I knew when I was a child.  I know what it is like to want to die by my own hand.

I know what it is like…to live this life…

…and that is why.

Creation is Evidence of God’s Brilliance (Reprise)

A fellow blogger is concerned about evolution; he believes the concept that life evolved from a single-celled organism dismisses belief in God and devalues human life.  This is how I respond:

I disagree that what we are learning, and continue to learn, dismisses belief in God or devalues human life. God, even as documented in the Bible, has revealed Himself to man in ways that man can understand Him…in ways that man can handle…emotionally, conceptually, and intellectually. When He appeared to Abraham and to Moses, it was in glimpses and even then the men were dramatically affected by the experience. God, the Father, sent Jesus in human form so we would be able to receive Him and accept Him and listen to Him without the shock of His divinity; when he presented simple displays of His power in healing and changing water to wine or feeding the thousands, these simple examples were difficult for people to understand and accept.

The writers of the Bible wrote about God in ways that made sense to them…in ways they and others could handle and understand; they wrote in terms of what they knew…and even then it was mysterious and marvelous. The more we learn about our world, our universe, and ourselves, the more we learn about how amazing God is. God is so much more than what we know and are aware of. If God created us by a method starting with single-celled organisms, the whole concept is mind-blowingly creative and brilliant. The elegance of the processes involved are evidence of the masterfully-artistic mind of God.

Evolution, in no way, devalues human life. Man is special and unique among all of the creatures God planned: Man writes poetry, for example. All other creatures do what they do to survive. Poetry is not necessary for survival. Man seeks communion with the Creator. Do other creatures do that?

God is in no way threatened by science or technology. Quite the contrary, God is giving us the guidance to learn more about our universe…and more. God reveals Himself and creation as we are capable and prepared to know. And, the Holy Spirit is not computer illiterate; God nudges man to develop technology and inspires people, like you and me, to use it to distribute knowledge, wisdom, and guidance and to heal people all over the world.

God created this world and it is still a good creation. There is much wrong going on and God is aware. God loves.  God wants reconciliation and gives us ample opportunities to do that..and to help others see that.  God is excited…just as we are…as we continue to learn how magnificently and beautifully executed His creation has been…and continues to be.

Thanks be to God and to God be the Glory.

Call it ‘Resistance Aikido’

President Trump is intent on busting up bureaucracies and destroying regulations.  Before you protest, think.  Have you ever been hampered by a governmental rule, limit, or regulation when attempting to further your causes?  Although your interests and values may run opposite to Trump’s, you can benefit from his actions and momentum.

Here are some strategies I have recommended to local resistance movements:

When the regulations are dropped, push things through. Don’t wait. In the confusion, much ground can be gained.

Can you benefit from a reduction in ethics rules? For example, government employees are (or were when I was an employee) restricted from accepting fees for public speaking. If similar regulations get dropped, how can you benefit? What have you been prevented from doing because it may be misconstrued as being unethical? Are there people, agencies, or groups you can approach now that were off-limits before? Is there information or other assistance you can get now that was not accessible or was too-classified before?

What benefits, that Trump intends for the wealthiest few, can we get in line for? What about asking the wealthiest few to pass along to the needy what has now been lost. Are there members of the wealthiest 2% that support the weak, disabled, uneducated, marginalized, or poorly tended to? Would the wealthiest tech billionaires consider devoting the money and benefits that they will soon gain, by way of Trump deregulation, to (continue and further) the efforts to provide internet, cell phone, and digital information access to the poorest communities? Has anyone asked them to?

When bureaucracies are busted up, other agencies my be able to address issues (particularly if there is a law stating that said issue must be addressed) without lots of limits yet in place. For example, in the late 1990s and early 2000s, the White House was restricted in what it could put on the internet (long approval processes) but a branch of NOAA had no such restrictions, hence my posting of data and analyses supporting VP Gore’s briefings on climate change. When we lose a government service due to the loss of an agency, try a work around. Ask someone else.

Will limits and restrictions on what is considered a non-profit be reduced or dropped? The ruling that political statements and endorsements cannot be made from a pulpit (because it calls into question a church’s non-profit standing) is going to be, or has been, dropped. Go to it. Start preaching from pulpits. Get church endorsements for legislation or community action. Take up collections for causes during the service. Both sides get to play by the change in rules.

Going back to capital punishment in schools may possibly be addressed. What works when kids act out? Is there a method that really works? Solitude? Time alone with music or inspirational messages? Counseling?  If school prayer is implemented, then try also school meditation. What about proposing teaching kindness as a required subject in schools? What about courses on cooperation and success? When they push pledging allegiance to the flag, make sure they emphasize “with Liberty and Justice for ALL.”

Play their game. Use their changes. Call it ‘Resistance Aikido.’

Trump and the Martial Art of Highway Resurfacing

I have done a lot of interstate driving over the past 45 years and applaud the advances made in the process of resurfacing the highways.  This morning, I watched the process of busting up the old surface with the laying down of new surface material immediately afterwards.  I was aware that there exists only a small window of opportunity through which repairs to subsurface structures can take place.

Imagine the delight of those agencies responsible for the maintenance of subsurface structures when the highway department schedules a resurfacing.  For a water department to bust up the surface of a highway is costly and they don’t have the right equipment; to be able to make improvements when someone else is doing the busting up is almost an opportunity too good to pass up.

What has this got to do with Trump?  A lot.

Trump is intent on busting up bureaucracy and regulation.  That bust up would allow a window of opportunity through which changes to old systems can be made before the situation crusts over again.

Regardless of our feelings about Trump’s goals and intentions…his reasons for busting up existing systems… all of us would agree that there are improvements that can be made to those systems. I would suggest that we not waste valuable time and energy focusing on his motives. Our goals should shift away from attacking Trump to being prepared to implement improvements  when the opportunity opens up.  This is where the martial art comes in.

“Aikido techniques consist of entering and turning movements that redirect the momentum of an opponent’s attack.”  (Wikipedia)  Don’t attack Trump; Use his efforts and energy to make improvements.  What is meant for harm can be used for good.

 

 

With the Help of God and Glady (Reprise)

You all know who God is…well, to the extent that God can be known, but Gladys is the name I have given the voice of Google Maps.  Those of you who know video games, know I have loosely borrowed that name from “GLaDOS (Genetic Lifeform and Disk Operating System) (the) fictional artificially intelligent computer system appearing in the video games Portal and Portal 2.”  (from Wikipedia).

Well, with the help of God and Gladys, I am really beginning to enjoy life.  There are three things I really like about Gladys:  she doesn’t mind how often I change my mind or miss a turn, she cheerfully recomputes and keeps me going.  Two, if there is a flood, wreck, or traffic jam, she sends me through beautiful countryside or routes I would not ordinarily choose.  Three, Gladys is not picky nor is she prejudiced.  If the fastest, most direct route is through the seediest parts of town, we go through the seediest parts of town…and I love it!

Because of Gladys, I get to see parts of town that have been cut off from traffic because of interstates, new highways, zoning, etc. These all-but-abandoned parts of town are often what was the original downtown, or close to it.  Businesses along these routes have failed because of re-direction…

…until now.   Gladys may be having something to say about that…Gladys and God.  Wouldn’t it be elegant justice if GPS helps restore these struggling parts of town?

There is a lot of sadness and despondency in the world now…a lot of hopelessness and despair.  Everyone I meet has some story to tell of misfortune, illness, injury, or exhaustion from the stress of life.  Even churches are looking for ways to survive the downturn in giving and attendance.  People seem to have less time and less money to give and share.  Ministries and programs are being cancelled.  Salaries and employee’s hours are being cut.   Churches are having to respond like any sensible business would…

…or are they?

Any sensible business, just like any sensible household, would retrench at times like this. Christian churches have no business being sensible businesses.  Just like any person, when the issues are taken from the head and dropped to the heart, and the spiritual is engaged…well…