You’re a Christian, You’re a Bigot, Yet You Still Want To Have Thanksgiving Dinner

You are happy that Donald Trump won an election. You’re proudly posting it on social media as you did throughout his horrifying campaign, not quite in patriotic pride but in a sore winner fashion – you know: crying liberals, sore losers, sour grapes, and all that. But you have a little problem…your friends and family – the very folks who said before this rancid election that Donald Trump was a racist, misogynist, xenophobe, bigot, and sexual predator – are now not only saying that he still is all of these horrible things despite victory, but they also say that you support all of this as well. You feel this isn’t fair, I’m sure, because you’ve memorized the ten commandments and sing a great alto line on “Amazing Grace.” Maybe you’re not that bad of a person despite supporting the guy that mocked the disabled reporter.  But there’s the dilemma that you’re going to have to see the people who think your beloved Trump is the devil at both Thanksgiving and Christmas. You still want to have the same relationship with friends and family and have Thanksgiving dinner like everything is okay…so what can you do?

You can’t grab women by the p***y, for starters. You can’t call Mexicans “rapists” and “drug dealers.” You can’t throw Muslims out of the country or force an entire religion to sign a registry. You can’t build a wall to keep folks out. You can’t deport people who have been working toward visas and citizenship for years despite our flawed system. You can’t call women ugly and ask people to “just look at that face” in attempts to supply proof. You can’t say that “you never saw a skinny person drinking a Diet Coke.” You can’t walk into a woman’s dressing room to inspect the ladies as they undress…I mean “inspect your product.” You can’t give unconstitutional religious tests. You can’t kill you enemies’ women and children. You can’t encourage others to “knock the h*** out of” people who don’t like you, even if you’ll pay for the lawyer fees afterward. You can’t mock the disabled. Now, if you have endorsed, encouraged, or excused this kind of behavior over the past two years, is it still possible to have day of thanksgiving and then a bit later wish peace on earth and goodwill toward men? That’s a tough one since you’re a Christian, you’re a bigot, and you still want Thanksgiving dinner. Consider this:

“Salt water and fresh water cannot come from the same spring.”

I know the anger must be welling up inside of you at this point. After all, I just said “you’re a bigot” as if I really know you. I know you feel this simply isn’t true. However, there’s nothing simple about it. You may have simply endorsed a candidate without considering the full scope of what you were representing by supporting him. He said a lot of stuff – A LOT of stuff. The cool, reality-show candor that has always intended to do one thing – generate television ratings – may have lured you alongside his ultra-conservative, alt-right pandering, but the vile hate speech transforms what you may see as “simple” into something way more complex than you are able to casually walk away from. I know it’s tough trying to force fresh water out of the spring that has flooded the world world with salt water for the past two years. You don’t think what has happened is that bad. After all, you probably don’t wear white robes and march with the KKK. You probably don’t use the “n word” or tell racist jokes. You probably do not think that ALL Mexicans are rapists or ALL Muslims are terrorists, that is if you know any Mexicans or Muslims at all. You may not even want to touch random women inappropriately, either, or rape them. You may not want to start a series of seminars and call them a “university” in hopes of scamming people out of money with a fake school. However, you, dear Christian and Donald Trump, pushed hatred, divisiveness, disrespect, intolerance, misogyny, bigotry, xenophobia, sexism, and rape speech into the public eye as acceptable practices and then said “you should just move on” once your candidate had won the electoral vote. You said these nasty things alongside Donald J. Trump either explicitly or as an innocent bystander who thought they were voting as a “conservative” – meaning you are speaking volumes through your silence on these issues. It was a done deal on Friday after the election and just in time for church on Sunday. We saw that you had changed from the person that sat in a pew beside us and turned into a conduit for all of the qualities that we prayed to God would leave the world so that peace on earth could reign. Your message changed – not the truth, not Christ…but your message. It is in your voice and in your silence, yet it is still probably a mystery to you why some seem so sore that a bigot won the election. Why can’t we all just “move on?”

You, oh Christian bigot, want the victory of a sexual predator to be the end of the process. You don’t rape women, right? So why do I want to keep this going? You want the alt-right (translated: white nationalist bigot) chief strategist appointment to be an issue overplayed by the media. Why do I want to keep talking about racism? You want the conversion therapy-endorsing, talk radio host, ultra-conservative to be the spiritual guide for the man who can’t control his Twitter account. Why do I want to talk about religion and politics? The bigotry continues to compound now that what has proven to be one of the most tumultuous, unpromising, and thoughtless transitions to power in our country’s history is taking place. My family and friends, my children’s classmates, acquaintances of color and different ethnic and religious backgrounds are holding dire and fearful conversations with me and we are met with nonsense-filled soundbytes such as “deal with it,” “move on,” and “build that wall.” There have been an unprecedented amount of hate crimes recorded in the wake of this election, some of which have happened in my city, and you want to know why I cannot just deal with it. Your silence on these issues speaks volumes. Your insensitivity proclaims at least widespread, acute ignorance or at worst, a deep-seeded, seething hatred.  No white robes or swastikas are necessary to make this kind of point. Victory is no salve for the wounds of bigotry and hate speech.

You want the victory in the matter to be where those of faith must concede to the scriptural command of praying for and supporting leaders, as if Trump’s victory has made the practice of excusing sin something that is righteous in the process. You assume prayer wasn’t also made for the loser in the election. You assume prayer hasn’t been made for Trump already. This faithless assumption is the same assumption people make when they say “we took God out of our schools.” Silliness. Utter silliness. That is spoken like a quaking coward, unaware that no man – no group of men, faithful or faithless – could remove the God we serve from anything at our feeble wills. Complete faithlessness! We of faith have been praying every day. No Christian that I know has said they won’t pray for and support the country’s soon-to-be leader. He, in fact, needs fervent and dedicated prayer!

By the same token we that are of faith hold all Scripture to be profitable for reproof. Now that Trump has won the electoral vote, no Scripture says that it is okay to be a bigot, a xenophobe, a sexist, a sexual predator, or a misogynist OR that it is okay to idly support such practices. Even if you saw something that you thought was right or good in the veiled and often absent policies of xenophobe Donald Trump, the means in which he achieved support was heavily dressed in sin, hatred, and mockery. Remember that even the truth, if cloaked in sin, is still sin. To your brother and sister in Christ it looks like you endorse sin yet still wish to be seen as one who models themselves after Christ and is filled with the Holy Spirit. It’s a complex proposition. We’re not disagreeing on economic policy or healthcare plans – we’re disagreeing on it not being okay to mock the disabled or promote rape culture. Presidents change, but truth and sin do not. Speaking against such hatred never ends, as Scripture has it – we pray for His kingdom to come and His will be done on earth. While you endorse it either in full voice or silently, it must be discussed. It is being praised in public forums and those of faith must respond, not with voices of anger (and that is difficult) but voices that reveal the sin, rebuke the sin, and convict the souls of those involved.

That’s where the problem lies now. At first you may have been able to feebly justify support of misogynist Trump because he was not Hillary Clinton (she’s the one called “Crooked Hillary,” remember?). Hillary Clinton is out of the way now. All of the excuses such as “Trump is better than Hillary,” “but Hillary Clinton did this,” “but Bill Clinton did that,” “email servers,” “Benghazi,” etc., now have no role in your conversation. You can no longer say “but Hillary Clinton…” because she’s out of the picture. All that is left is that you, and you alone, endorsed bigotry, racism, hatred, xenophobia, rape culture, and sexism and now have no scapegoat on which to cast these sins. You stand holding this torch high. It’s you who has identified yourself this way. This is probably what your friends and relatives are having such a difficult time stomaching:  you chose sin as your voice and you celebrate it as your side in victory. It would be different had you spoken openly against xenophobia, racism, violence, and rape culture with some intelligent defense of policy or platform, but that never happened (if it did, then this blog isn’t for you, I suppose).

That goes deeper than just a vote. It seems you are capable of excusing sexual harassment for political victory. You are capable of advocating a pro-life platform for unborn girls while advocating for the rape and sexual harassment of “born” girls. You are capable of excusing xenophobia to prove America can be great again (whatever that means, as if America isn’t great now). You will excuse bigotry in order to win an election. You endorse sexism as long as you have a chance at winning an argument. You let bullies mock the disabled at the expense of a reporter and applaud the faux virtue of “telling it like it is.” You let a deceased war hero’s mother and father be mocked in order to properly support a political party and condemn the faux sin of “political correctness.” You allowed an entire nation to be labeled rapists in permission to stir up fear of minority groups and at the expense of creating fear for Mexican Americans.You permitted a man to receive accolades and votes despite saying that he would grab a woman by the p***y at the expense of those who have experienced abuse who walk silently among you – they are everywhere and you spoke against them. You extolled the virtue of the sanctity of marriage while, at the same time, you lauded the three marriages, mistresses, extra-marital affairs, and current pornographic model/escort wife (and add “plagiarist,” if indeed that actually makes a difference at this point) of Donald Trump. You reduced rape culture to “locker room talk” and then pointed fingers to accuse the victim of adultery (Trump’s opponent) for the sins of the adulterer (her husband).

If you are capable of doing this in a political race, where else will you do this and what will be your trigger? At family functions, at schools, around my children, on social media? I’m sure by this point that your blood pressure is high and you want to scream a red-faced “NO I WOULD NEVER DO THAT!” at the top of your keyboard’s lungs. But…what if you wanted to win again? What if you wanted to vote just to spite those who said this kind of behavior is sinful behavior? What if you just don’t care or are prone to turning a blind eye to injustice yet again? That’s why I wonder what you’ve become and how you became blind to the banner that you, through Trump, were waving. That’s why I have a hard time thinking about what side dish I’ll bring to your table at Thanksgiving. It is trite, trivial, and fleeting. I am bringing my sacrifices to an altar and I have a problem with my brother.

You’ve tied yourself to Trump’s identity; his words are your testimony. When Donald Trump was speaking with what I thought was plainly revealed, inexcusable, and sinful hatred, I was certain that it could be seen in light of how Scripture condemns it. Now that he has won, I see that many ignore Scripture, excuse the sin, and stand by such behavior. Many of you excuse yourselves from even discussing this behavior or being questioned by others through reason of victory. Sin, faith, and truth do not work this way.

Please understand that there are and will be those that are hurt because you would support such sin. Injustice and unrighteousness, whether enacted first hand or endorsed from the sidelines as a bystander really, really hurts those to whom it is aimed. And regardless of what position you play on the team of injustice, you’re still on the team. That goes for the players, cheerleaders, and spectators.  You have allowed sin to be a path that’s considered as a just means to achieve what you want. You turned away from truth and justice and opted for sacrifice – the sacrifice of those who are victims and are oppressed by such hatred. You condemned all the groups who were the dumping ground for Donald Trump’s hatred and shockingly turned around and mentioned God with the same voice. Once you endorsed hatred, claimed God, and then won the race, you turned with residual disdain toward those who were shocked at your behavior. Maybe you suggested moving on or dealing with it. Maybe you mocked the fear of those who are afraid. Maybe you mocked small movements like the safety pin or large movements like peaceful protests against such language and hatred. Not only did you endorse Trump’s brand of hatred, but also those who are trying to show solidarity by moving on and dealing with it by speaking about how bigotry is sinful. Maybe you’ve looked at others and said things like, “it’s over now. Get used to it,” “America has spoken,” “oh look, you’re candidate didn’t win so now you’re hurt,” “I had to support a candidate I didn’t like for 8 years, so get over it,” “people are saying worse things about Donald Trump now than he ever said about anyone else,” “oh look, Trump opponents are causing riots,” “oh look at who is intolerant now,” “no matter who is president, Jesus is King.” Maybe you’ve posted it on social media with pictures of Kermit the Frog, Willy Wonka, or Hitler. How far down into the salty waters will you wade? Are you truthfully joyous in this behavior? Does patriotism become stronger in the mockery of its smaller parts? What does your Book say about seasoning speech?

There is no room to say such things. Mockery is provocation for response and doesn’t promote moving on, does it? Avoiding the issues of bigotry that were clearly spoken by the candidate isn’t actually dealing with the issues. Moving on is what you’d like, right? Good! The holidays are coming soon. Make up for lost time and lost ground. Focus on a new voice – one that wasn’t present in supporting the bigot. Speak about how you will not stand for racism. Speak how you will not judge a woman based on looks. Speak about how it is not okay when anyone sexually forces themselves on others. Stand up for victims of rape instead of for their oppressors. Learn the names and stories of the refugees you condemned. Tell others you will not stand for a misogynist calling women pigs and other slurs. Tell your family that you won’t stand for other nations being demonized. Speak up for children’s health care, citizenship, and education if you are truly pro-life. Campaign for peace, not war, if indeed life is precious.  Be honest if you know nothing about the illegal immigrants you were force-fed the fear of. Don’t be cruel if you hear that someone may be losing insurance because your candidate spoke so openly about cancelling the health care options for the uninsurable. Stand up in courage and speak out against fear mongering. Stop excusing sin as a bystander. Strengthen your faith and the faith of others instead of speaking against or mocking those who are desperately trying to “fear not.” Speak so that you may earn the trust and integrity you’ve lost as a credible, genuine person of faith. Speak for what is right instead of for what won this election, so that you may be a peacemaker. Speak so that the city on the hill, the light of the world, may not be hidden.  Don’t speak for the side of division, but for the side of unity. You cannot reveal God through mockery. The Holy Spirit does not convict through actions that ridicule others. Speak for Christ, for Christ’s sake.

You, Christian bigot, bought and sold the slogan “Make America Great Again,” not “Mock America Into Being Great Again.” You can’t do that by saying that others are crying about sour grapes or spilled milk. You can’t do that by telling the losing side to “just deal with it.” You can’t make anything great by gloating in the same way that you can’t make anything great by giving voice to oppression and hatred.  You’ve tied yourselves to the millstone of the racist xenophobe. You have no room to plummet further into those dark, salty waters with that millstone around your neck. Either act like a person of faith or stop wondering why others find what you say to be bigoted.

It was hard for me to find that I have relatives who could say they’d “grab a woman by the p***y.” I was shocked to find I had cousins who have pageant daughters who now supported a man who they support walking into their dressing rooms (months after faux-outrage at the idea that a transgender person might walk into their bathroom). I stared in disbelief as the friend I sang “Tie Us Together, Lord” with at church camp now believed that “they’re sending us their rapists and drug dealers.” It was stunning to watch as former and current WIC and welfare mothers in my family excuse rape culture, despite being self-proclaimed pro-lifers, and would also agree that we should “bomb the sh*t out of ’em,” – “’em” being ISIS’ men, women and children (how’s that for pro-life – let ’em be born then kill ’em). I have watched as marriages in my family were broken and friends and relatives moved in with each other outside of marriage and then proclaimed that marriage was a sacred institution all the while belittling same sex marriages, parading the Clintons’ marriage, or giving silent approval to the Trump brand of marriages and affairs. It was hard to watch those with whom I have worshipped and had, in thanksgiving, prayed in church for freedom to assemble and for the Lord to “please send us those who need you most,” look at an entire religion and judge that it needed “extreme vetting” and a “registry.” It is hard to watch those who have been WIC and welfare mothers or single parents who have lived with their parents because they were unable to afford their own lives speak about how the helpless and homeless refugees should be turned away – all while calling them “Trojan horses” and “terrorists”. It was hard to watch those I love support wholeheartedly a racist who quietly accepted David Duke, Steve Bannon, and the KKK’s endorsement without saying a word, even when Trump was questioned and despite my family’s interracial children and marriages. It was hard for me to see Christian and non-Christian friends and family, some of whom are disabled and have disabled children, support and cheer that the disabled could be mocked on national television – in doing so you mocked your own family…my family…and that is sickening. It is hard to watch pastors and deacons from various chuches I have attended post about “Islams” (which, for the record, should be “Muslims”) and try their hand at racist humor by posting on social media that “A white man evicts a black family from their home” (in reference to the White House). People of faith and good conscience are vacating truth for the side of a political argument in all of these instances. The church, in supporting and endorsing this behavior, not only silences the voice of truth but also speaks with a different voice- a voice dripping with hatred and wink-wink-nudge-nudge bigotry. I feel I have been lied to. I have broken bread and worshipped with those who now excuse this behavior and take the side of the oppressor rather than stand for and with the oppressed. I learned about forgiveness, redemption, and salvation from some of you who wipe off hate speech as a casualty of the election, as if all is fair in love and war, and God’s truth can be put on hold until the election was won. This goes beyond losing an election. We laid our faiths on the table and sold it for corruption and rot.

Those of faith are sickened and hurt because you, Christian bigot, seemed to have renounced faith in this campaign. You used or endorsed speech that hurt us and those we serve. You hid the Word of God. You put the lamp under a basket. You scourged Christ again. Instead of moving on and having meaningful dialogue about why you or America excused sin for victory, you ask why I still want to talk about these things and then mock me for it. You accuse me of being a sore loser. I ask why it is okay to say these things and am told to move on, what’s done is done.  It is indeed a time to move on, but those of faith are moving without you and despite you. We’ll have those conversations whether you check into or out of them. Our Text discusses it whether you are there to read It with us or not. We’ll count it a blessing to be mocked by you for the name of Christ. It’s just the way Scripture has asked that we do it. You’ve lost our trust, broken and weakened our family on these issues. That’s not on Donald Trump or Hilary Clinton – that’s on you. We can’t tell you that bigotry is wrong and it’s a shame that we felt we had to tell you in the first place. It’s wrong whether I say it or not. Now you have to take responsibility for your behavior. That will be tough now that you cannot conveniently blame it on Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump. You  must speak what you believe in light of what you have already said through your actions. What you have asked me to do in asking me to move on is accept the hatred you voiced against those we are called to serve, overlook it, and then go peacefully into the holiday season like nothing happened. I will forgive you, but first I must “tell it like it is, no political correctness.”

You have, explicitly in full voice or as a silently-endorsing bystander, voiced bigotry, xenophobia, misogyny, racism, sexism, and rape culture with one voice on November 7 and then turned to voice Thanksgiving and Peace On Earth, Goodwill Toward Men on November 9. It’s all mixed with your version of “look at who has sour grapes because Trump won.”

“Salt water and fresh water cannot flow from the same spring.”

“No man can serve to masters because he will love one and hate the other.”

My family has a mixture of folks:  retirees, former and current WIC/welfare single mothers, divorcees, pageant teens, immigrants, missionaries, educators, artists, students, atheists, a Muslim, interracial relationships, happily-marrieds, those who are living together outside biblical marriage’s sanctity, non-profit volunteers, health care professionals, those struggling with addiction, low income, high income, veterans, teachers, men, women, children. Not one of these went untouched by some form of hatred spewed during this last campaign. While 60 million Americans excused and approved sinful behavior, another 60 million said that this was not okay. Victory by one side does not excuse sin. The Bible said this form of bigotry is not okay. Christ said this is not okay. It is not okay. There is no vote to decide what is truthful and what is sinful. That was decided long before we voted. I hated racism before Trump was elected. I still hate it. I hated violence toward women and misogyny before Trump was elected. It’s still sin. I hated labeling immigrants as rapists before Trump was elected. This ploy to scare people into voting was, and always will be, sin. I couldn’t trade truth’s values for political gain. We are commanded to be salt, not salt water. We are to help the sick, thirsty, imprisoned, unclothed, widows, fatherless, and the stranger – it’s directly tied to how a good Man identifies us. Salt water and fresh water cannot flow from the same spring.

Don’t be surprised that you are seen in a different light or that you’re thought less of because you betrayed your faith and family by campaigning as a bigot – even if you had the best intentions in mind. You had to make hard choices in this past election, it seems. You may not be a bigot, racist, or xenophobe, but Trump’s campaign didn’t separate the bigots from the non-bigots. He certainly made no effort to separate bigots from Christians.

You can be a Christian. You can be a bigot. You cannot be both successfully, though, and one will eventually dominate the other. Think about what you’ve said and done to cause this kind of reaction from others. People didn’t call Trump a xenophobe because they lost an election. He said that for himself. You said it for him. Think about what needs to happen now that you have the platform of victory on which to speak before you ask me to join you and celebrate the Baby that was taken in by strangers and was forced to register and who later fled his country as a refugee from mass genocide – I mean, um, the Christmas holidays.

I’m going to engage in serious study and reassess how I now have to engage you, the church, those I’m called to serve, my family, and my friends. My world was radically shaken when hate achieved a high office in my country. I’m truly hoping that in expressing a few thoughts that I, too, haven’t fallen victim to acting out against a group of people in a bigoted and hateful way. I know that my thoughts are harsh and are bound to hurt some of you. I see them as productive discussion, or at least a screen shot of my feelings and faith at this point in time after this horrid election. I’m hoping they aren’t seen as “hate” – at least not the hate that was spewed at Mexicans whose sole crime was being Mexican, or at women who finally put aside their shame and fear of libel charges to come forward and speak against their rapist when their only crime was being sexually assaulted, or the hate that was spewed at Muslims because their crime was choosing Islam as their religion or wearing a hijab. I think all of this can be discussed, no, I think it MUST be discussed. I’m just not sure, with such a level of hatred introduced as normal discourse, how it can be done. At least you’ll know how I feel in the matter before shutting me out with a meme or a plea for me to “deal with it” and “move on.”

I ask myself and you the following question:

Maybe it is time to start making peace with your brother before bringing the turkey to the altar?

 

Your Mother Likes Hitler

That’s a crazy statement, isn’t it? Why would I attack perhaps your most dearly loved person, your mother, by saying that she likes perhaps history’s most hated person, Adolph Hitler? It is indeed crazy! Why then, on what seems to be a daily basis, do we see television commentators (start at FOX “news” and go from there, see the link below) as well as social media friends (and you know who they are – it seems we all have at least one) who will almost instantly jump to the name “Hitler” when talking politics, religion, and social justice? When Hitler isn’t the knee-jerk default it usually ramps up to Code Level Hitler with these words:  communism, socialism, SS, Nazi, facist, collectivism, Auschwitz, concentration camp, or anti-American.

Whether your friend or pet “news anchor” moves slowly or jumps in one giant leap straight to the payoff term, it seems too many are too eager to play the Hitler card…again and again (despite the endless yawns and eyerolls of those who know better). Here’s a highlight reel if there are some among us who have been spared the silliness:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZIr1xn69sT0

The reductio ad hitlerum argument isn’t new. It’s been used for years. Don’t take my word for it – google it. Nearly every politician and person of social influence may find themselves subject to being labeled as Hitler for un-Hitlerish reasons. Take, for instance:  Barack Obama, George W., Pope Francis, and even Jesus Christ (I suppose in some sort of time-travel Hitler influence).

Why does this bother me? First, it exalts the sins of hatred, racism, murder, war, and partiality to gain ground in a discussion or argument. Secondly, it exalts and displays the suffering of a race, a targeted minority, broken families, and the innocent in order to gain the upper hand of a discussion or argument. Finally, it takes all the above and makes that which should be considered with utmost gravity and respect and makes it all into trite playthings and trinkets in what is usually inconsequential political discussion by comparison.

Americans bind themselves under a code of law that finds its honor in freedoms guaranteed in our pursuit of happiness rooted in the idea that all men are created equal. I find that comforting. However, as a Christian, my faith goes deeper to insure that not only do I see all men as equal in the eyes of the law, but also in the eyes of God who respects no man. I am to love them as I love myself. The Hitler card isn’t something to be played by those of faith in that frame of mind.

Let’s look at it rationally. The only reason Hitler is used by today’s generation is to appeal to emotions of disgust, hatred, and taboo. If so-and-so is Hitler, and Hitler is to be hated and repulsive, then what you support is also to be hated and repulsive. It’s not used in a historically accurate context nor a context that pleads for that discussion. It’s a jump to extremes that is all too often the case in our social discourse. It’s not usually a fair comparison, but rather an attack on the character of those supporting an opposing viewpoint. Those who see it for what it is classify the use of the Hitler argument as a logical fallacy (google that, too). You may even find that those who are all too eager to play the Hitler card won’t be able to tell you much about the man, the years in which he was a political player, the reason he was a powerful man, any of his works, or what he did that was “so bad” as to think that Nancy Pelosi (or Dick Cheney; insert least favorite politician here) is his current incarnation. Despite the holes in the reductio ad hitlerum argument as a debate technique, look at it on a personal level.

We are of the generation where our grandfathers fought the war. Citing Hitler in political or social justice disagreement of such minor and unrelated consequence lessens that sacrifice and the honor of those who put their lives in the balance to insure the comforts of our current existence in America. It demonstrates a working ignorance of the values of a nation that stopped what it was doing to insure that injustice was stopped. It demonstrates a working ignorance of the amount of death and destruction that had to occur because of the level of injustice in the world. It devalues and cheapens this generation and its legacy.

We are the generation where mass genocide is not a threat in our country. We are talking about the actual slaughter of innocent men, women, and children. We are talking of Nazi government suspicion and the imprisonment of millions based on a citizen’s looks, nationality, and relationships. We are talking about atrocities the likes and levels of which have not been experienced in America since Hitler’s time. We are talking about a legacy created for a race of people that is still spoken of with fear, tears, and solemnity as well as those who sympathize with the plight of those of Jewish faith and descent. We are talking about a legacy of equality that has been threatened in such a way that all Americans must safeguard it with utmost respect and strength. We are talking about direct descendants of Jews who were able to escape with little more than their lives and often times without family, children, and dignity. We are talking about a finely distilled racism that has been abolished in our country in pursuit of supposedly a higher moral framework. Why would we dare bring any of this up in order to tear down another person’s political views, candidate support, or religious discussion? How tasteless, barbaric, insulting, and wrong does one have to be in order to assert a viewpoint in a political or spiritual discussion that is by all history and factual analysis not even comparable? We shouldn’t devalue an entire race in order to say we don’t like the current state of affordable healthcare, gun control, or rule of law. We shouldn’t make the death of millions of innocent men, women, and children nothing more than mere trinkets to played with when talking about the state of gun laws. How embarrassing! Who among us has that lack of shame?

Pulling the Hitler card to evoke the emotion of hatred into an argument is in line with the lack of shame in the current plights of pundits and armchair activists in the digital age. Pro-gun activists bray loudest in the news and on social media in the wake of gun violence enacted toward elementary schools. Freedom of speech activists picket funerals of those lost too soon in battle (and in the name of religion, nonetheless). An unarmed child can be shot dead by an armed man and laws can be made to make murder appear to be a fair fight. Shame has been lost. Everything we don’t like is Hitler; we don’t care who gets hurt because we have freedom of speech. There is nothing wrong with the second or first amendments or the law – but our sense of shame has been lost in a false sense of patriotism, or God forbid, Christian honor. Politicians attempt to make careers riding behind these banners. Christians try to reshape and reinterpret the word of God to fit such situations. Some would rather risk hurting victims of such horror and those who suffer from the legacy of racism and genocide in order to gain the upper hand of an argument. Some would rather fire the buckshot of hatred on social media than speak reasonably, honorably, and without extreme, ballyhooed, apocalyptic, and hypothetical comparisons.

You can’t reason with the victims of the Oklahoma bombing by calling them “McVeigh.” You can’t speak to a 9/11 victim and expect reasonable conversation if you were to compare them to “Bin Laden.” You would have no ready ear by calling a Christian “Judas.” Why would you expect to be considered with any credibility by calling any American “Hitler?” It makes no sense.

So let us look at what isn’t Hitler:  healthcare, taxes, a politician who isn’t playing a major role in mass genocide and a world war, a person with an allegiance to the views of one political party or the other, the president (whomever he may be), food stamp administrators or recipients, the elite rich, the elite poor (you know, the ones we like to advertise the most as mooches who have cell phones and buy anything above generic-quality food at the grocery store), atheism, or any religious view that doesn’t advocate hatred, racism, and genocide. There are many things to add to this list. I only list a few things to get the common sense ball rolling.

Things that are Hitler:  Adolph Hitler.

For those of us that are of faith, let us entreat those as a mother would her children. Let us season our language as with salt. Let us love our neighbor as our we love ourselves. For those of us that are not of faith, let us entreat with some sense of honor, dignity, and historical accuracy. Remembering that we’re all looking for happiness because we are equal is a good start, too. These traits can be learned through building character as well as taking a simple middle or high school history course in order to learn who Hitler actually was and why his name shouldn’t be thrown around as a commonplace word in the social discourse vocabulary.

Move past hatred with the lessons learned from history rather than threatening what we, as honorable humans, vow will never happen again. Start with honor rather than hatred. Employ respect rather than shame. Make comparisons accurately with intent to progress rather than divide. Honor and dignity are easily attainable if we will only choose to act with honor and dignity.

If that seems too lofty or unreasonable, then we could begin with an even simpler baby step:  Stop using Hitler comparisons. It’s tasteless, self-degrading, and asinine.

Love God. Love each other. It’ll clear the confusion.

What I See In the Neighborhood (Rest In Peace, Child)

My deepest condolences to those who lost this child. I do not know you, but you have my prayers and my commitment to try and help make my community a safe place for the children I know. Please forgive my attempt to reason with my thoughts in a public forum as my recounting of facts is harsh. I do hope my thoughts will spark discussion that will make my community safer for children and others living here.

There is too much conflicting and confusing information surrounding the media circus of Trayvon Martin/George Zimmerman. As a parent and a Christian, I have tried to learn from this and decide how a may better the community that Christ has called me to serve. It is hard to suppress emotion as I try to discern what is true or not true in gathering what I need to know in order to act to keep my children and my community safe.

Here are the only facts I can gather that I know to be true to help in my thoughts. Despite what I’m seeing all over the internet, I have left “race” out of it and also noted what I may doubt with phrases such as “may or may not.” The facts that help me:

1. Two parents have lost a child who died at the hands and judgment of another man.

2. An armed man who can legally own a gun shot and killed an unarmed child who cannot legally own a gun.

3. Before the armed man who could legally own a gun shot and killed the unarmed child who could not legally own a gun, he rejected the advice of law enforcement dispatchers to not pursue the unarmed child and pursued the child with his weapon.

4. The armed man who could legally own a gun pursued the unarmed child who could not legally own a gun by his own reasoning that “he looked like he was up to no good” and “he’s on drugs or something” prior to shooting the unarmed child.

5. The unarmed child who could not legally own a gun was profiled on a 911 call by the armed man, who minutes later would kill him, on a 911 call as “he’s up to no good,” “he’s just staring,” “he’s wearing a…hoodie,” “[he looks like he’s] in his late teens,” “he’s just walking, looking about,” “these a**holes, they always get away,” “I think there’s something wrong with him,” “he’s running.” He also went on to say “okay” when advised not to follow the unarmed child that he shot and killed at an intermediate range of 1-18 inches. The armed man also seemed to fear the unarmed child when he said from inside his vehicle, “I don’t want to give [my address] out loud, I don’t know where this kid is” (the armed man who could legally own a gun calls the unarmed child who could not legally own a gun and would be dead minutes later “a kid”?).

6. Since there is no clear picture of the scuffle in which the unarmed child was killed by the armed man, all that can be assumed from testimony is that the armed man, who could legally own a gun, pursued the unarmed child, who could not legally own a gun, against the advice of law enforcement and was unable to restrain, subdue, or control the behavior of the unarmed child who may or may not have been surprised or scared that an armed man was following him. The armed man, who may or may not have been losing the physical conflict with the child that came about after he pursued the unarmed child against dispatcher advice, chose the combat advantage not legally afforded to the child by brandishing a gun and shot and killed him with the gun that is his legal right to own as an adult. The unarmed child, according to autopsy reports, was shot at 1-18 inches and lived “20 seconds to several minutes” and “for some time, anyway” after being shot. Right or wrong, the unarmed child lost the fight with the armed man who chose to pursue him against dispatcher advice and based on the armed man’s view of how the unarmed child looked and was walking.

7. The 911 call, in which the dispatcher advised the armed man who could legally own a gun not to pursue the unarmed child who “looks black” and “is up to no good” and (according to the armed adult) “is in his teens”, was made at approx. 7:09 PM. The 911 call made by the armed adult ended at approx. 7:15 PM. Police arrived on the scene at 7:17 PM where they found the armed adult standing near the unarmed child who we now know had been shot and killed. The unarmed child who could not, and now will never be able to, legally own a gun was pronounced dead at 7:30 PM. It appears that the judgment and verdict of the armed adult to shoot the unarmed child took place within an approximate window of one-and-a-half to two minutes. The unarmed jury of peers who judged and decided the armed adult’s case after he killed the unarmed child was given all the time necessary (over 15 hours) for a verdict according to due process in a controlled environment where the only armed adults were the law enforcement allowed in the court.

8. The unarmed child who could not legally own a gun was known for his misbehavior and had been suspended from school for recurring bad behavior as the media would report after he had been shot. Some of the behaviors were reported as tardiness, theft, graffiti, and bad language. These allegations, if true (and some acts were caught on video according to investigators) receive a prescribed method within our justice system by those trained in every aspect of law, justice, and investigation. None of these allegations are punishable by instant firing squad in the U.S. currently. Also, these allegations were not known to Zimmerman, the man who could legally own the gun that shot the unarmed child who cannot legally own a gun, who could not even accurately describe the actions, race, or behavior of the child that he saw walking in his community as Zimmerman (who at the time of the phone call was not threatened by anyone) drove by. These behaviors, if true, can now not be given due process the like of what was afforded citizens such as was given to the armed, adult male who shot and killed the unarmed child.

9. The unarmed child who cannot legally own a gun had traces of marijuana in his body according to his autopsy. Because he was shot and killed by Zimmerman, the adult who can legally own a gun and was advised not to pursue the child that Zimmerman said was “in his teens”, he cannot be given the chance to rehabilitate either by the society/the law or by his mother or father who may no longer act as parents to the unarmed child.

10. There are too many “what ifs” surrounding this case.
What if the child, Martin, had been armed rather than the adult? What if the adult, Zimmerman, had not had a gun – would he have so cavalierly pursued the child or been so callous in his prejudiced profiling? Could the child also had “stood his ground” in the initial presence of an armed man who had decided to pursue him? What if the unarmed child had not been wearing a hoodie? What if Zimmerman had not been prejudiced against “these a**holes, [who] always get away?” What if? What if? What if?

11. The unarmed child’s parents cannot speak with their child about how to act in a situation like this. They cannot remind him now of the safe place to go if he suspects danger. They cannot advise him on how to defend against armed strangers. They cannot remind him to do his homework. They will not celebrate his next birthday with him. They will not see him on Christmas. His absence was determined by an armed man who could legally own a gun and was advised not to pursue the child.

Will other facts come to light that will help me reason through this tragedy? It’s clear that there are no winners in this case. Justice, or whatever justice is according to our legal system, is a cold resolution of tragedy and death. What can I say to my children? How do I keep them safe from armed adults who will quote faulty laws and misconstrue constitutional rights to justify murder? How do I tell to my children that if they run, they’re guilty, if they fight, they’re in danger of being shot, and that if they look a certain way that it’s practically over. I don’t have answers amid my sorrow and astonishment. If you’re not a Christian or a person of faith, there’s no need to read further. However, here are a few things that I have tried to focus on in hearing this case:

1. Love God and love your neighbors.
If I’m not doing this, I’m not thinking straight about this tragedy.
This situation has the potential to create deep, profound love and knowledge, and safer communities or to create deep, unbridled hate, racism, red herring agendas, and/or community divide. Neutrality, unfortunately, is not an option. What or who do you love?

2. Become like children in order to enter the kingdom of Heaven.
We have to become like children in order to take instruction, to humble ourselves, to grow, to see others as equals before we start the callous, adult behavior of separating ourselves by race, economics, gender, and other sinful behaviors. And by the way, the kingdom is the church. The church has to adopt this behavior in order to overcome and survive this tragedy.

3. Do not give partiality.
Racism is sin. Racist jokes are sin. Judging a person according to race is sin. There is no such thing as “black racism” or “white racism” – it’s simply racism and it’s wrong. If alluding to race causes racism in a brother or sister, abstain from it. Do not be a stumbling block in any form or fashion in regard to race and racism.

4. Weep with those who weep.
A mother and father have lost a child. This child has been put under the microscopic scrutiny of law enforcement, the justice system, the media, and social media clowns who have judged his every act as a child (good or bad, but mostly bad). This becomes part of the memory for that mother and father who have buried their child. Do not exploit that for your personal causes and whims. Let me be more clear:
– Do not use a child’s death for your rant against “liberal media”
– Do not use a child’s death for your disdain for “gun control”
– Do not use a child’s death for your dislike of “President Obama”
– And please, for the love of God, do not compare the media’s non-coverage of the beating of a white child to the trial of an armed man who killed an unarmed child. Every reasonable person who reads this sees that you are making a “black” and “white” statement in regard to race. It’s the old “why can’t you see that the media won’t cover a crime for white people” argument. Racism of any form is unacceptable. Shame on you. Do the right thing in regard to the “other case” without adding insult to injury for more than one family. Justice is not a form of fair air time comparison. Again, shame on you.
– Do not use a child’s death for trivial, social-media-outlet sayings. This is a buckshot method that guarantees no controlled results. Do you want good results or bad results? More love or more hate? It doesn’t matter since you cannot control what happens afterward. Simply weep with those who weep.

(I speak to myself as I would others here. If you have found yourself guilty of any of these, please consider what has been expected of you by the One who gave Himself for you and called you to serve others, especially those who have found themselves in the poverty of grief and injustice at the moment. Please consider the distraction and worthless energy you have provided from relieving this grief and mending the justice system through your own selfish, personal agenda. Please consider your emotionally-charged actions as they take a bad situation and make it worse when the sparks you create fly about to create uncontrolled fires, as the tongue has a habit of doing. Lord, save me from feeling this way. Lord, save me from others who would feel this way. Lord, save me from those who would stand their ground against my unarmed child.)

5. Hug your child. Keep children safe.
Get involved with your community and schools. Make a family that has activities that keep children safe and promote the idea of family and safety. If you don’t have children, have some. If you can’t have children, adopt some. If you don’t have the strength to adopt, then foster. If you can’t foster, then mentor. If you can’t mentor, then sponsor. If you can’t sponsor, then support. If you can’t support, then encourage. If you can’t encourage, seek counsel on why this is, but by no means should you judge, prejudge, or admonish a child otherwise. If you’ve found yourself at that level in the game, then you are the weak link in the community that creates the very prejudices you fear enough to carry a gun and brandish it at a faulty, emotion-based whim. Counteract your insecurity and fear. Find a way to change your community. Raise a child in the way he/she should go. Stand your ground to keep a child safe.

6. Christian “rights” and American rights are not the same thing.
All things may be legal, but not all things are helpful. Love God and love your neighbor. For the Christian who happens to be American, everything is based on this.

7. Seek justice, do good.
Just because America made “a right” doesn’t make it right. If man made it, man can change it.

Please forgive my scattered thoughts as I reason through this tragedy. Heaven help our communities and those who shape justice. Rest in peace, Trayvon Martin.

“The one who is unwilling to work shall not eat,” quoted Stephen Fincher.

The quote is self-explanatory, right?

Tennessee representative Stephen Fincher was responding biblically to Rep. Juan Vargas who suggested that the example of Jesus be a reminder when deciding to cut funds from the SNAP program (what some judgmental, armchair activists and lazy politicians call “food stamps”).

One blogger gives a great account of the irony and hypocrisy in the details of Fincher’s quote here:
http://www.addictinginfo.org/2013/05/21/tn-rep-the-bible-says-not-to-feed-the-unwilling-to-work-so-we-should-cut-food-stamps-to-kids/
Another news source gives a few details of Fincher’s own benefits received from the government:
http://m.commercialappeal.com/news/2010/jun/07/fincher-faces-anger-over-farm-subsidies/

It is atrocious that a man with the ability to influence legislation would afflict poor children with more poverty since they are forbidden by the same law to get a job and work for their food. It is repulsive that a man with the power to influence legislation will not “represent” those of his district honestly, especially when his actions place the weight of judgment on the poor while he makes decisions about funds for which he himself did not work. It is unforgiveable that a politician whose motives appear strictly political and partisan should misquote the Bible for those purposes. It is with this in mind that I write the following to Fincher.

Representative Fincher:

Your use of 2 Thessalonians 3:10 was a brilliant play in partisan politics. He who does not work should not eat. It’s plain and simple, right?

I’m onto your secret plan. While this verse states one truth (no work = no food), it also states another. A man who is willing to work should eat. This verse accounts for those who live in poverty (for whatever reason – 2 Thessalonians doesn’t specify) as well as those who are unemployed – the verse you quote uses the word “willing” and not “unemployed”, “lazy”, “on food stamps”, “or “judged unworthy by a politician.” This word “willing” is quite different from “able”. For example, the poor may be willing to change a law regarding the SNAP program to serve in their favor but they are not able without proper representation. Or another example: children may be willing to vote on the future of the SNAP program, however, only state representatives are able. There is a difference, I’m sure you agree.

By using this verse, you are saying that a man who is willing to work should eat, right? This implies that you are working to create jobs for those willing, correct? You’ll insure that before you take food from a child’s mouth, won’t you? It implies also that you intend to survey the willingness of the constituents you represent, too. Thank you for saving these funds for your district’s “willing” in a time when some are honestly not able.

For those unwilling, the Bible has verse for them as well. Matthew 25:31-46 is a good one to quote for those who appear to be impoverished (whether willing to work or not, it appears salvation is given to those who don’t place conditions on alleviating poverty). Isaiah 58 also has a few words about those who are burdened with poverty, too, and it talks about those who call to God or try to use their actions for God while on the other hand oppressing the others around them. The alleviation of poverty is really a concept that is spoken about more in the Bible than Heaven, Hell, salvation, and the church. I challenge you to find otherwise. It’s also very poetic and quotable stuff for when you debate others.

The brilliance in using this quote is that you in essence are saying you will support the “willing!” I’m sure you served your party well in appearing to disagree with Juan Vargas. Little did he know that you were buying a little support on the home front while you work the covert master plan of helping those who are willing to work get food. I bet the children that you’ll help will also acquire the willingness to work if they’re fed, too – but I’m no prophet or politician. However, if I’m mistaken in what I think you are doing and you are planning simply to eliminate assistance to the poor because you believe that the unemployed should not eat (especially children), then please dismiss my letter of applause – I don’t want to share my celebration with an unbeliever. Also, if you’re eliminating the funds with a biblical quote but you’ve found the funds in a place other than the farm program, then now is a good time to let us know.

Let me know how it works out. Since you also quoted “the poor you will always have with you”, I assume you also infer that you have got quite a job cut out for sustaining your assurance to the “willing.” This could be a victory for those who love their neighbors as themselves (sorry, it’s hard not to quote when we’re all in such a quoting mood).

Sincerely,
A child from your district.

Flu Shots

I have never had a flu shot. I do not like the notion of putting something into my body that made of the disease. Despite it being a prevention or cure, it is still disease and that bothers me. There is also the method of administering the disease that involves sticking a sharp metal object into my skin that causes more pain than it possibly cures. I never think about it as a worthwhile measure until the days each year where the flu is rampant and each pharmacy advertises flu shots.

I didn’t consider a flu shot until the week I was sidelined. I was miserable. Every joint ached. It was hard to breathe because of congestion. Full breaths hurt because of the stress something as insignificant as a breath had on the aching muscles and joints. I coughed until I was exhausted. Sleep only came with the help of medicine. The fever was spiking unpredictably.

There was a deeper level to the pain of this sickness. I’ve had the flu four times. However, this is the only time I’ve had it when I have had children. My toddler also had contracted the flu and was suffering with the same afflictions I mentioned above. This hurt me far more the the actual symptoms from which I was suffering. I could only watch her from a distance. She couldn’t voice her feelings completely as adults or children do. Her eyes told a story of unrelenting illness and pain. I hurt for her and had a feeling of helplessness I hadn’t known before.

The one thing that eased my suffering in her sickness was the great mediator between the world of the sick and the healthy:  my spouse. During this time, I was given medicine, food, time for rest, and a reprieve from the chores of the house. My daughter also received 24/7 attention – attention that I couldn’t possibly give her because of my feeble physical state.

My spouse worked tirelessly during this time. At times I thought I heard my spouse coughing and sniffling. The deep fear that we would all be sick terrified me. My feelings put my toddler before myself, of course, and I began to wonder how I could get her to the doctor in my state. The first impulse to take her was on the weekend which would mean a trip to the emergency room. The next time was at a better time during the physician’s work week – a less expensive charge to my insurance. My spouse would be up to bat again, giving up precious days off to take care of this.

I couldn’t help but think of how I would do this by myself without her. It would be absolutely miserable. Is this the pain a single parent must face each time a struggle comes about? How does this measure against a working single parent or a single parent on welfare who works but has to manage a family as well? How does a single parent manage the situation of under-employment and being sick on top of having a sick child? How much does an emergency room trip cost a single teenage mother? How much does a person without insurance cover the cost with a minimum wage job and no benefits? How can a parent manage this if they have no family nearby to provide support during these times? These hypothetical situations can’t help but be speculated when the 2011 census report tells us that there are 10 million single mothers and 5.2 million of them are owed child support. I can’t understand this and I hope that I never have to do so. My pain is great enough just watching a child go through this – and I have the means to take care of the illness.

That found me thinking of some of the things the church has said about children lately. It’s not the standard chapter and verse where Jesus suffers not the children to come to Him or how a father shouldn’t provoke his children to wrath. It’s the highly politicized message of judgment toward children that portrays christians as hateful and vindictive when we publicly voice an opinion on homosexuality and abortion. Most christians, upon reading that last statement, will automatically reach for their six-shooters and arm themselves with the verses from Romans, Matthew, Exodus, Leviticus, Deuteronomy, and similar passages that show what the Bible says about the two hot-button subjects. I do not think the church considers what it has done with this message.

We have voiced a hatred not only for abortion, but for those who have them, consider having them, and/or support the procedure. We do not consider the pain and deep-seeded, life-altering emotion that comes with having abortion. We do not consider the events that lead up to the pregnancy that brings about the choice on whether or not to abort:  how sensitive are we to rape, incest, or lifestyle that has taught that abortion is simply an option of birth control? We do not consider the under-the-gun, split-second decision of a mother who, in the delivery room, has to make the choice to abort or deliver and risk her own life. Notice that I’m not providing a list of excuses supporting the practice of abortion, but rather a list of real subjects we ignore when we make flippant statements or trite internet posts. We think that we are voicing God’s word on the issue when we really are displaying our own limited understanding of the topic and voicing an opinion that is buckshot and will hit anyone regardless of where they stand on the issue. It is understood that christians will generally fall on the side of opposing the practice. What is not understood is why christians aren’t willing to support the solution to “the problem.” We want to outlaw the procedure at the operating table and that has always baffled me. This is like trying to avoid a flood by fighting the crest of a tidal wave instead of providing regular, preventive maintainance to a dam that could burst without proper care. More simply stated, christians are battling the issue at the wrong point of expedition and that makes them come across as ignorant of the issue and ignorant of the text from which their beliefs come. They generally speak against sex education, providing cheap or free contraception, programs that rehab and/or provide contraception for prostitutes, and homosexuality. Some even go further and battle funding for education and health care – two issues that would by nature limit the practice.

It is made clear what christians seem to hate – and that’s the problem. Christianity isn’t defined by what one hates – it’s defined and even governed by what one loves. In the message of hate we lose what christians actually want, especially when it comes to children. There’s no outcry for fostering and adoption of children that are up for abortion. Christians won’t drop their signs of protest at abortion clinics to plead with any woman in order to adopt her unborn child. The religious blowhards on FaceBook make every election about abortion in part – not about adoption, fostering, or safe sexual and familial practices. The elections are not made about preventing unwanted pregnancies or improving health care so children are, quite frankly and callously, more affordable or are least not the death blow to a struggling woman or family (and just as a side note, every president since Roe v. Wade has had to support abortion, swearing as he entered office to uphold law despite the personal beliefs he or she campaigned on). We’re too busy throwing our personal beliefs about a procedure or a candidate around on social networks like FaceBook to do anything productive to solve the problem. Despite its personal nature, FaceBook opinions are seen by way too many to not touch someone who has had the pain of a lost child in their lives. Despite intention, these broadcasted “truths” are still judgmental, depicting the pious broadcaster unaware that the truth wrapped in the sin of judgment and insult is still sin. In truth, matters of a sexual, reproductive, and familial nature should not be so loudly broadcasted. We don’t announce “I didn’t abort my baby and let her be born!” via FaceBook (yes, it’s a silly example), so why would we profess other matters against another person so insensitively?

The same goes for same-sex union. Christians will protest and broadcast their feelings on same-sex union anytime an issue comes up in a public forum. A couple gets married, christians protest. A set of laws come up on a ballot, christians protest. A president gets elected, christians protest and often exclaim that one candidate is “pro-gay marriage” and will proudly take membership as a branch department of one political party or another. We want to outlaw the practice of marriage between same-sex couples at the alter, or better stated:  at the wrong point of expedition. We do not consider that there is no protest of the practice of divorce nor outcry for its repeal at election time (and as a side note, future President Reagan – an oft-quoted patron saint to many christians – made divorce as quick as same-day with his No Fault Divorce Law – a sign of the times in 1960 that is still flourishing today past his death). We do not consider that man allowed the state to recognize a religious institution, to determine the exact time it began and license that union, that man decided how to tax a marriage, that man decided what civil rights “marriage” is entitled, that man decided how/when/for what reason marriage can end by law, that broken marriages are still governed in child support by the state, and that marriage could be altered permissably by democratic process.

Furthermore, as we bring the subject back around to children, we deny children who could be adopted into loving homes their chance of having a family because christians are too busy judging the process that will allow a two parent home, a two parent income, a two parent power of attorney, and a two parent support network the opportunity to raise that child even if we disagree with the nature of the union. We don’t want to call same-sex union “marriage” and we don’t want the freedom of democracy to prevail and allow “civil unions.” We essentially say that we would rather leave God’s gift unattended with no parents or at best, government care, than to have a child grow up in a home with loving parents. This point, I’m sure, makes most christians’ blood boil. They assume that I advocate homosexuality because I advocate union by civil law, the right to adopt, the civil rights that allow one person power of attorney in another’s life, the possibility to take responsibility for actions by law.

Therein is the problem:  you’re too busy judging me to be part of the solution. In 2012, there were  approx. 424,000 children in foster care in the United States according to www.childrensrights.org. Their average stay in the system is three years, shorter than the period most god-fearing christians have to wait to vote a “gay-loving, abortion-having” president out of office. In the 2008 census, the number of christians in the United States numbered 173,402,000. That’s roughly 409 christians for every child in foster care. According to our message, the message about our deep personal beliefs professing our own adoption into a family that is a City on a Hill, there should be no child without a family. There should be no orphan in a religion that in its purest form boils down to caring for the widows and the fatherless. A population that lives this remedy will be represented by civil authority accordingly. Our current message is demonstrated by our fruits and our fruits scream hypocrisy. For christians who still can’t fathom this idea as part of faith, consider that Rahab, a lady who is recorded in history as a hooker, is known more for what what credited her as righteousness and faith rather than her sexual exploits. Consider that she wasn’t a member of Israel, God’s chosen group. Consider that she, not you, is compared to Moses and the other legends of true faith.

There is an important truth I know about children when it comes to theology:  “Children are a gift of the Lord. The fruit of the womb is a reward.”

When we treat God’s gifts (whether that be the children or the womb that bears the fruit) with contempt, judgment, or disdain we heap His judgment onto ourselves. We aren’t fostering or adopting vehemently. Our voices at election time don’t scream, “I’ll adopt NOW. I’ll foster NOW. Let me HELP.” We reek of judgment, ignorance, and obstinance. Our language is the language of hatred. We voice personal opinions in a buckshot manner and then relinquish owning up to our statements by saying, “it’s what God said.” How dare we blame God!

When God said it, he said it with His voice in His own words. He governed how you should say it with the two greatest commandments:  Love God; Love you neighbor. There are also those examples derived from these laws that use phrases like “as a mother gently nurses her young” and “language seasoned with salt.” There is also that verse that says something like “be prepared to give an answer to anyone who asks you.” One can’t be “prepared” to give an answer to someone to whom they speak if they don’t know that person, the situations that frame the conversant’s mindset, or the common language in which to frame the love of God. Preparation in this event isn’t a one-way street. It simply is not possible.

It’s time we owned our message and spread some love. It’s time to put our foot in the race to push forward, not kicking against the thorns. It’s time to fight the good fight.

I can’t imagine how I would have remedied our illnesses without the aid of my spouse. I cannot imagine taking my child to the hospital and being denied entrance to the facilities because my name isn’t on a piece of paper that man devised. I cannot imagine the pain or dispair of a decision that would cause me to give up my child because of the increase in suffering on a life without proper income, healthcare, or education. Why have we taken a simple issue and politicized it? Why do we call those in need “entitled” when we are all one tragedy away from the same position? It all simply disagrees with my faith.

I am thankful for my blessings of children and spouse. I am also thankful that the flu is quickly cured. However, my earlier views reflect the more serious matters of discussion. I don’t want to put a view that is mostly disease into my body. I don’t want to push away others and cause pain by the method in which “love for neighbor” is too often enacted. I don’t think about such messages until the disease that affects many christians rears its ugly head and I have to explain my views to those with whom I’ve had longstanding conversations about the actual message of Love. The flu is quickly cured. The other disease needs the methods of a much Greater Physician.

Day 17: I Am Thankful For a Cell Phone

Today I am thankful for a cell phone. Not my cell phone, mind you, but a cell phone I saw this past Saturday.

My drive to work took me on a detour route through a rougher part of town just off my normal route downtown. A homeless man sat at the corner of an intersection with his belongings gathered closely beside him. I assumed the bags were his since it seemed he had one that looked to be clothing and personal effects. Another seemed to be cans and/or various things that could be put into one of the local machines for some quick change. There was also a blanket draped between the bags and over his lap. He did have one belonging that seemed not to match the others. He sat talking on a cell phone as cars passed and the city began to show the life of the weekend and almost-holiday activity.

I was sitting comfortably in my car when I saw him. I had my coffee in the console and my coat laying in the passenger seat. I hadn’t put the coat on because I had taken the time while getting ready that morning to preheat the car for a few minutes before driving it. However, one needs a coat in the car just in case of a flat tire or other emergency. I saw him talking on his cell phone as I sat in traffic two lanes away from him. I thought of stopping to see if he needed anything but by my clock, I was pushing just getting to work on time. I needed to get there on time in order to post a FaceBook status that would let those there know where in the building to meet. Time was of the essence and by my car thermometer it had already warmed up a degree since I’d started my drive.

It wasn’t the coldest Saturday that we’d had but it was close to it. At 37 degrees it wasn’t freezing. I made the walk from the house to the car earlier without discomfort but I’d have been a fool to not bring a coat along. I had felt the bite of the cold on my ears as I got into my car. It was cold enough that at that intersection that the man’s hat was stretched down as far as it would go. His coat was wrapped tight, hood pulled up, and cell phone inserted between hood and hat and he held it with gloved hands. I assumed he was under the blanket earlier but his conversation may have turned his attention away from keeping the blanket tight. Perhaps 37 degrees now seemed warm compared to the dip down in the 20s just a few hours earlier before sunrise. I cannot say for what reason he had moved the blanket or why he had felt no need to use it now.

I am thankful for that cell phone.

I am thankful that he had a line outside of his existence that could reach a shelter, emergency service, agency, church, or hotline. I am thankful that he had a way of reaching family members and friends. I am thankful that he had a line that routed to him personally in the event of an employer calling for labor. I am thankful that someone, somewhere had the kindness to give it to him, buy it for him, or provide a way for him to purchase it whether that someone was a friend, family member, non-profit agency, church, or the government.

I am thankful that he had the courage to use the phone in public. The judgment of those driving by is not an easy load to bear, I’m sure. It had to be hard to ask for his simple needs such as food, shelter, or currency when those he asks draw any number of assumptions about his hunger or other needs as he’s holding a cell phone. Those assumptions happen quickly and come with massive weight. It seems that there are those who wish to begrudge the poor not only of their poverty but also of the belongings they may own – as if a cell phone were an insult to the state of poverty or owning one despite being homeless is an insult to those above poverty level.

I am no different from those who make assumptions. I know at first glance I assumed he was homeless, that the things sitting around him were his, that the phone was given to him rather than purchased of his own accord by his own means. I made the assumption that he had something to keep him warm in the 37 degree weather (after all, he had a cell phone, right?). I analyzed the sight of him and weighed it against my agenda for the morning. I could have stopped but my excuses were many:  the light turned green, there was a lane of cars that prevented me from turning to stop and help him, I have a scheduled appointment, and he looks like he has “stuff”, he has a cell phone and it’s obviously working, and it’s only 37 degrees – not freezing. He may not have even been homeless, for crying out loud. I am thankful for that cell phone – so that the Lord has provided him a line to reach out and talk to someone if for no other reason than to give him a person with whom he could speak about enduring the assumptions and resulting judgment of a sinner like me.

This phone was an older “flip phone”, not a smart phone, and for that I am also thankful. I would hate for him to have had immediate access to the pious, posturing throngs on social networks like FaceBook who post about the poor who own cell phones and the poor who buy frivolous luxuries like smart phones when they should be purchasing only absolute necessities or should instead be out looking for jobs. Everyone with social networking capability has friends, “religious” and/or “patriotic” pontificators, who are the first to profess the burden this man on a cell phone places upon them personally.  I would hate for him to have seen the posts regarding a lazy, poor man who had no sense to get out of the bitter cold, or was too lazy to get a job, or preferred to mooch off “lawabiding taxpayers” but doesn’t mind talking on his “government” or “Obama” cell phone. I’m sure he would have been judged the same way if he were in the grocery store standing in line to purchase whatever food can be purchased with the money that can be made from a grocery bag of recycled cans (I’m assuming that was his job – shame on me). I am also thankful that I didn’t see someone taking a phone camera picture of him to post on FaceBook with some trite, politicized statement about the economy, the poor or poverty, or, God forbid, a political candidate or partisan idea. I would have hated this for the man’s dignity even though I wasn’t sure how incurring public judgment, his demonization, or stripping him of dignity measures up against a night in freezing temperatures. I barely know the pain of any of these situations and I didn’t stop to help him in his situation, so how can I know what is worse?

He helped me realize I have no true understanding of the plight and perspective of those who are pushed by poverty into the fringes of our society. I realized that my assumptions and judgment didn’t help this man one tiny bit when he needed it most and that my prayer at that moment didn’t warm him, feed him, shelter him, befriend him, educate him, or share the love of Christ with him. The congregation I donate to each week wasn’t there to give to him anything. The non-profit organization to which I donate wasn’t there to shelter him, shower him, feed him or warm him. At best, at very best, I can hope that what I pay in taxes helped provide that phone that gave him a tiny path out of the pain of the cold. I know what I pay in taxes is small in comparison to others and that it is then diluted by the amounts paid the millions of Americans who also pay into that system. However, I do hope that some of that went to him. Upon realizing that a man was left in the cold, I didn’t care whether my taxes were routed directly from a government program or from a government benefit to a non-profit that has enough compassion to provide such. It’s a very, very long shot that it did, but it may ease my conscience if I knew absolutely and without a doubt that he benefitted from something I provided. This long shot is a statement of guilt that shows that I’ve chosen the judgment of myself that provides the least shame to me. This does not change that my whole assessment and action is shameful and reproachable, full of greed and selfishness. It’s shameful on me as a christian, an American, and as a person that I reduced the situation to “taxes.” I can’t guarantee that my taxes helped this man. I can, however, guarantee that I’ve helped build and perpetuate a world that is sustained and can only be navigated well and efficiently by owning and overusing cell phones, computers, and technology. I helped him have the need of owning a cell phone to function and prosper. I can’t say I helped him get one.

In my mind I had wished him to “go in peace, be warmed and filled” and was even arrogant enough to offer a prayer to my God on his behalf knowing full well that God had already answered this prayer and sent a people to cheerfully warm and fill him. How dare I assume this man needed no blessing that morning. How dare I presume to weigh the hypothetical situations of taxes, abuse of charity, another’s lack of responsibility, or political ideology against the very real sight of a human being sitting in the cold. What was the danger or risk in this to me? This man could have been a thief, a murderer, or an addict which my scripture says is an offense to him. However, I didn’t know any of this – I couldn’t know any of this. The only true assumption is that this man was cold and unsheltered – and my scripture says that this is an offense credited to me.

Lord, my prayer now is to ask You to please save this man from sinners like me. 

I am thankful that his cell phone brought about my confession. Confessing weakness and ignorance is, I pray, the beginning of strength and knowledge. Hearing this about myself brings about faith, and hearing this is just like hearing the word of Christ at the end of Matthew 25. I’d heard that passage many times before read aloud and recited publicly. That Saturday, I actually heard it. Faith will come by hearing; and hearing by that word.

I am so thankful that he had a cell phone so that he could call someone, anyone, better than I was that day. Whether he knew it or not, he called someone better for me.