Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Sometimes You Just Gotta Cry!

We all experience grief and loss.  It’s part of life.  It gives birth to loneliness at times.  There is a big difference in being alone and being lonely.  The isolation and loss, the feeling of helplessness and the boredom are all potential long term outgrowths of being alone.  Some people mediate those outcomes and actually thrive on being alone, but most of us are social creatures that don’t do well with that kind of isolation.  Sadly, we live in a society where loneliness, and the depression that comes with it, is a growing problem. 

We have isolated ourselves with our devices.  We text rather than talk, we watch movies and TV rather than interact, we thrill seek in whitewater or other environments, and sadly we medicate ourselves with a host of substances that are not good for us even if they are prescribed by a physician.  We never make the conscious choice to move forward.

I’ve been listening to some CDs on loneliness and grief and a couple things really have stood out to me.  The first is the phrase that everyone uses: “Why do I have to go through this?”  The operative word that is often missed is “through.”  There is and end point that you are supposed to come out of instead of continuing to wallow in sadness.  The other point that seems really important is that for a period you must not ignore your sadness.  If you suffer you may need to cry or experience other emotional outlets.  One of those outlets is talking it out with a professional counselor (though studies show that caring, insightful friends and family can work just as well most of the time.)  In Japan, where isolation and loneliness is rampant, they have Anti-Loneliness Cafes...they supply you with a giant stuffed hippo-like animal called a Moomin to eat with. They'll even send one on vacation and have it send pictures back to you.  Not sure I follow the theraputic logic, so I don't know that I recommend that as therapy.

But at some point all the “why me” stuff needs to get packed away and you move on.  God does not want us to just sit and spin our wheels.  Eventually you need to pick yourself up and go out there and take control of your life.  One of the best ways to fight loneliness and grief is to look for others to help who are having similar difficulties.  Pretty soon you’ll find yourself far from lonely.

  "Come unto Me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.  Take My yoke upon you and learn of Me, for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.  For My yoke is easy and My burden is light." (Matthew 11:28-29)

Monday, May 26, 2014

All You Christians Do Is Talk About Jesus!

Christians make a pretty big deal out of Jesus.  It is why we are at odds with Jews and Muslims all over the world.  Many people don’t think too much about the fact that all three religions worship the same God.   Buddists and Hindus are completely independent of that, and yet there’s not a lot of friction between them and the three who have the God of the Old Testament in common.  Wouldn’t you think we’d be fighting with them instead???

What I think is even more fascinating about all of this is that Jesus himself always directed his followers to God the Father.  He never told his followers to bow down and worship Him, and yet Christians are forever talking about Jesus and praying to Him and literally worshipping Him as God, when he told us the Father was supposed to be the object of worship.  Don’t get me wrong here, I recognize what Jesus did was an enormous gift to all mankind by dying for His friends and his enemies.  I know that the “Sonship” he has with God is more complicated than any of us can conceive, and that His existence is timelessly ancient beyond all understanding.  But nonetheless, He always pointed us to God…even though he said no man comes to the Father but by belief that Jesus died for our sins, and rose from the dead, and was in total unity with the Father.   Still, He said only the Father knows when the end time will come, which surely shows His supremacy and independence from Jesus somehow.

But still, if you ask the average Christian they will first give you Jesus as their concept of God.   They will tell you that Jesus Christ is their “Lord and Savior.”  They may not even mention God the Father of all creation.  It’s almost as if He has replaced God in their minds, and I find that surprising…and inaccurate.

Jews and Muslims don’t have that problem because they completely deny the work and claims of Jesus Christ and only consider Him a wise prophet.  Sad for them that they don’t experience the free gift of salvation from Jesus and will be judged on how “good” they are.  Based on what I’ve seen of mankind, the outcome ain’t lookin’ too good for them…and what’s weird is they are working off a concept that has no definition.  Does God expect perfect goodness or does he grade on a curve…or maybe 51% is passing.  I like the defined alternatives with Jesus a whole lot better!

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Making It Work After The Wedding

What makes a good relationship in marriage?  We all come with this bundle of expectations and most of the time don’t know each other as well as we think we do, even if we take time and try.  Then there is the fact that we are constantly in a state of dynamic change in life whether we like it or not.  We change because of new experiences and exposures, we change because our physical and mental abilities change.  Change is constant.  How do you make that work?  One way it doesn’t work is if you think it’s your job to change the other person to meet your expectations and demands.  Face it, the person you marry is going to change.

So what do you do?  Ultimately, you have to adhere to some fundamental beliefs and agreements with your partner (paraphrasing Dr. Janet Woititz):
You get to be you. You can grow in that. I will encourage and support you in that.
I get to be me.  I get to grow in that.  You will encourage and support me in that.
We get to be us.  We can grow together in that.
And I would add to her comments:
I won’t do anything to violate the marriage (i.e. affairs and the like)

Maybe it sounds like I am talking about two self-centered people who plan to go different directions, and I’m not.  I think there is a lot to be said for having common interests, values and beliefs along with a powerful attraction and friendship before you even think about getting married.  But like I said before, change will happen…and you need to be ready for how you will respond to it.  She’s going to want to take up sky diving and you are going to want to knit and stay home with the kids (note how I was so politically correct with my stereotyping!)  Does it really matter if one of you wants to play golf with your buddies or the other tends to leave their dirty clothes laying around?  Sure you can bring up these things in an honest expression of feeling annoyed and ignored, and you have a right to expect a decent effort at compromise, but if you think putting an end to golf or having a house as neat as a pin is always going to be the outcome, you are in for disappointment.  And if she is dreaming of being a Superior Court Judge and he decides to be an auto mechanic, you both need to be supportive of those desires to “be me.”

Now, what about the we get to be “US”.  If you want a successful marriage, you do have to find the “US FACTOR” and water and nourish that.  You did get into this challenge to be an “US” didn’t you?  That means enjoying time together and open communication.  You have to search for the “US” factor sometimes.  Say for instance, she loves to dance.  Give it a try guys, you may find that with this person it will be fun.  Maybe one or the other of you want to just be able to sit and talk without the TV and really listen to each other!  Maybe he wants to fish…maybe you’ll like it or at least like being with him by the river.  You won’t know until you give it a fair chance.  Experiment and be open about trying things that you might like to enjoy together.

Remember, true intimacy comes when you can share who you really are, your wants, needs and fears with someone who accepts you unconditionally.  Marriage is the true model of unconditional love that God offers us, and we need to model it in our households.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Tombstones and Tales

I’m really curious why we don’t have any written record of Lazarus’ reminiscences’ of his life after death (or near death experiences as the pop media likes to call it.)  After all, it was a pretty big deal and I’m sure people were pretty darn curious.  I also would think Lazarus would be blabbing the story all over town about what he saw and learned.  I mean, look at what we have today.  Seems like everybody wants to talk or make a movie about their life after death.

Now, make no mistake.  I’m not suggesting any of this is fake or that there is no life after death.  I’m just unbelievably curious why we have no comments of record on the experience from those that Jesus brought back to life.  I can sort of understand the little girl and the others, but Lazarus was a well know and likely wealthy guy.  Is it possible that he was brain damaged by being dead four days?  Did he not have the faculties to tell of his experience, or perhaps was he rendered unable to recall due to being dead so long?  Did God use the Men In Black’s neuralizer to remove any recall of the events?  Or was Lazarus just clever enough to figure out that the Pharisees and Saducees would likely kill him if he started telling his story?  Perhaps Jesus told him, “Hey Dude, you know this thing will just get weird for you if you make a big deal about it.  Better keep it on the low down.”

What is important to remember is the issue really wasn’t a dead man’s experience, but rather that Jesus had the power over even death and life.  The focus needed to be on that to demonstrate that belief in Him being part of God and that our salvation rested on belief in Him was main point to be learned.  I suspect the locals didn’t question the existence of heaven (well maybe the Sadducees did) and weren’t all that interested in Lazarus’ accounts of his trip. 

Sunday, May 11, 2014

The Hand That Rocks The Cradle Rules The World

Anna Jarvis started the Mother’s Day movement over 100 years ago to honor her Mother who was a remarkable woman who started Mother’s Day Work Clubs in order for women to care for their kids.  She carried the idea even further by having mothers meet with soldiers after the Civil War to mend the hatred still seething between Rebs and Yankees.  An amazing woman, and her daughter sought to get their home state of West Virginia to recognize Mother’s Day as a formal holiday.  Eventually, in 1914 she even got it signed into law as a nationally recognized holiday.  Sadly, she became so disillusioned with the eventual commercialism of the day that she spent most of her own fortune attempting to get the holiday she worked to make a reality abolished.

Here we are, today, 100 years after Woodrow Wilson signed it into law as a recognition of the unselfish giving of themselves that mothers offer.  Not a day goes by that I don’t think of all the things my mom did for me, things I didn’t appreciate enough to understand until I had my own children.  It is a challenging job and one that under siege these days as something that can be farmed out to others to do.  But no one can influence a child like mom can in transmitting values that will stand the test of a lifetime of challenges.

Hopefully, today you will have the opportunity to tell your mother just how much you appreciate all she has done for you.  I still thank my mother every year, even though she is no longer with us here on earth, and I know she appreciates it…yours will, too!

Friday, May 9, 2014

Billy The Bully

When I was a kid, bullies were around and improper behavior in school got you sent to the vice principal’s office for an unpleasant “chat” that often ended with an introduction to the paddle that had holes in it so you knew by its whistle that it was about to hit your butt.  Less air resistance also made it hit harder.  If your behavior continued you could be suspended or expelled, and mom and dad got pretty upset about that with you.  You learned pretty quickly that your behavior mattered, and you better shape up.  Your parents cared and they came down on you for saying and doing thing you shouldn’t do.

Today we still have bullies and schools still deal with them, but now there is a new wrinkle.  One state so far has decided to pass a law that says if you are a bully, we will arrest you and convict you of a misdemeanor if you are over five years old…both you and your parents get the conviction on your record for the rest of your life.  Frankly, I don’t think it is going to be any better at stopping bullying.  But there is something else that is really troubling about the idea.

Our country was founded on the concept of free speech.  The only thing the court has said can abridge that is immediate and clearly definable harm, so if you yell fire in a crowded theater (and there isn’t one), that might get someone stomped to death and you don’t have that right of free speech to do that.  Bullying is free speech.  Does that trouble you as it does me?  There are literally a million ways you can bully and a million things you can say in a zillion different ways.  Who interprets what you say?  Am I a bully because I tell you that you are ugly and you sound funny?  Is that an immediate threat to your life?  What if I say I don’t like the dress you are wearing or your hair do?  Am I a bully?  Should I be dragged in front of a court judge?   What if I just laugh at something that happens involving you and you get offended?  What if I say you are stupid for wanting to vote for a democrat or a Tea Party candidate?  Putting something like this in the eye of the beholder is truly dangerous.  Free speech is a precious right, and frankly criminalizing it in such a vague way is terrifying to me.

We already have more people in prison in this country per capita than just about any other country in the world instead of solving things that often lead to criminality.  Criminalizing free speech is a serious risk.  Perhaps a little good parenting is in order for a change.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

A Few Shots From The "Tommy Gun"

We are constantly presented with revisionist thinking from politicians and the courts.  They often say that the constitution needs changing to meet the needs of our modern civilization.  They say they are just putting themselves in the minds of the founders when they try to make these “adjustments.”  So, let’s just put ourselves in the mind of the founders for a minute.

I Think This Day I Would Like To Let Thomas Jefferson Speak For Me:

The democracy will cease to exist when you take away from those who are willing to work and give to those who would not.

To take from one because it is thought that his own industry and that of his father’s has acquired too much, in order to spare to others, who, or whose fathers, have not exercised equal industry and skill, is to violate arbitrarily the first principle of association—the guarantee to every one of a free exercise of his industry and the fruits acquired by it.

I think myself that we have more machinery of government than is necessary, too many parasites living on the labor of the industrious.

 I predict future happiness for Americans if they can prevent the government from wasting the labors of the people under the pretense of taking care of them.

The strongest reason for the people to retain the right to keep and bear arms is, as a last resort, to protect themselves against tyranny in government.

“Laws that forbid the carrying of arms...disarm only those who are neither inclined nor determined to commit crimes... Such laws make things worse for the assaulted and better for the assailants; they serve rather to encourage than to prevent homicides, for an unarmed man may be attacked with greater confidence than an armed man.” (Quoting Cesare Beccaria)

The beauty of the Second Amendment is that it will not be needed until they try to take it.

When the people fear their government, there is tyranny; when the government fears the people, there is liberty.

Friday, May 2, 2014

Let's Fix The Motor Before We Buy New Tires

I recently spoke with a friend who was invited as the local fire chief to attend a meeting in Washington, D.C. of the Federal government’s Climate Change group (not sure why they needed a fire chief there?)  They have appointed a federal judge to “weigh the evidence” as chairperson of this committee.  Now, I don’t know what all the climate science is, but apparently the feeling is the scientists created climate change models that have turned out to be way less dramatic than the real thing. 

My questions are basically: Is the climate changing faster because the scientific modeling was based on faulty assumptions?  Is it changing faster because we don’t really know all the dynamics of what causes climate change in the atmosphere and in outer space and perhaps that changes randomly?  Or, has man been polluting the atmosphere faster than anticipated?

To be honest, I don’t think any of it means a heck of a lot.

The real issue, as Paul Ehrlich wrote about some 40 years ago, is that population is the real problem (I realize all his predictions were not completely accurate either.)  More people make more greenhouse gases...and they do a lot of other nasty stuff, like eat.  The planet has a finite capability to support only a certain number of folks.  The dynamics of global climate change have been going on without man’s help for millions of years, population on the other hand is entirely at mankind’s command.

There are nearly two billion more people on the planet than there were when Ehrlich wrote the Population Bomb.  In the future, there will be two billion more in half the time since he wrote his book.  It seems to me what we are doing is akin to the person who has a car with a blown engine and seriously worn tires, who decides his first priority is to get new tires to “fix” the car.

The thing that will fix mother earth is curbing the increase in population…either that, or we are going to have to start shipping folks off to Mars.