“This is a case where, if they had an armed guard inside, they might have been able to stop him immediately, maybe there would have been nobody killed, except for him, frankly. So it’s a very, very – a very difficult situation.” President #DonaldTrump (Fox News – https://fxn.ws/2JtWNFe)
I read this quote the other day and shook my head. Guns in places of worship? Seems to be the popular answer to our mass murder crisis. Maybe some places need armed guards but guns do NOT belong in church. It is antithetical to the teachings of our Master Jesus. Jesus was arrested by the Temple guards, crucified by armed soldiers and never resisted.
A few months ago Beth and I visited a church, found our seats, and began to people gaze. I spotted a man carrying a gun in plain sight. To my dismay, when the service started, he led the worship. Singing about trusting Jesus, going to heaven, loving people, all while strapped with a sidearm. At the middle of the service, ushers came forward. Two of them had guns. Finally, the pastor got up to speak and was packing as well. I told Beth; “We will never be coming back to this church. Even if a gun-toting person with evil on their mind busted in here we would probably be shot by the church posse!“
A long time ago a menacing, sword and ax-wielding, warrior entered a town to terrorize the people. Everyone fled except the priest at the town church. The warrior made his way to the holy man’s location, kicked open the doors, and stomped to the altar where the priest was praying. He screamed at the humble servant of God, threatened him with his sword, grabbed the priest by the throat and snarled; “Don’t you know I am a man who can kill you without giving it a second thought?!?!” The priest looked into the eyes of the warrior and softly responded; “Don’t you know I am a man who can be stabbed by you today and not give it a second thought?“
The church is called to love, pray and live like Christ. We can’t do this with armed guards, guns, or by any other violent means. To live like Christ is to also die like Christ; humble, prepared and showing Christ with our last breath.
When Truth Isn’t Truth –
This past Sunday, on a news show, President Donald Trump’s attorney uttered an interesting phrase; “Truth isn’t truth.” I don’t want to get into the politics of why it was said and how similar the statement was to Bill Clinton’s; “It depends on the definition of what ‘is’ is.” For those who know their history, this whole investigation is eerily similar to what happened in the late 1990’s except the two parties have switched sides.
My question is; “What is truth?“
It is the same question Pontius Pilate asked Jesus before he was crucified. In the gospel of Saint John, chapter eighteen reads; “Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king. In fact, the reason I was born and came into the world is to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to me.” 38 “What is truth?” retorted Pilate.“
Pilate’s world was politics, not conviction. He was stuck in this black hole of a place called Jerusalem and wanted to get out as soon as possible. Jesus had upset some influential people and he wanted the mess to go away. Later in the chapter, he gives Jesus over to these people to have him killed and even “washed his hands” of the whole situation as if choosing not to be involved is not being involved. He even questions Jesus, stands toe to toe with the Master, declares that he has no evidence against Jesus, but allows his crucifixion anyway. The truth was too dangerous.
“What is truth?” “Truth isn’t truth.” “I am the truth.” “Know the truth and it will set you free.“
Wisdom is the search for truth and to accept it wherever it leads us. The problem is that the truth leads us on a journey that often stands against power, sides with the poor and downtrodden, make choices that angers influential people, puts us on the side that often loses. Truth has never been and will never be an easy way.
True and Real? –
I have many friends who are afraid and angry at the state of the nation. They are from both sides of the political spectrum. Fear is the breeding ground for anger and it seems to be everywhere. A friend of mine posted a controversial post this week which was lauded and hated by the differing sides. Folks are digging in and whatever can be used to prove their perspective is “on the side of angels” is put forth not to engage in conversation but to end the conversation by being right and the other being wrong.
I had an interesting conversation with another friend this week who basically asked me; “Which side is right? Is there a true right and wrong?” After a long pause, I said; “I think there is but I’m not sure we ever discover it.” I went on to tell him we are too impacted by our genetics, our growing up in certain places, the beliefs of those who raised us and imprinted upon us, our environment, where we grew up. Add to these the countless experiences each and every day that we use to solidify our opinions, friendships, and families and the other people who surround us. All of these make us who we are and shape the way we think, believe and live.
I finished up by telling him; “Wisdom teachings tell us that we may not ever be free of these countless influences so that we can find an “objective reality” but if we can become aware of our natural tendencies, biases, and preferences we are one step closer, one person closer, to a world of peace.”
“The mark of a wise mind is the ability to think a thought and not necessarily believe it to be true or real.” #Aristotle
A Little Quieter –
Our Siberian Husky, Trooper, has a bed in our living room. When Beth and I are sitting watching the television or messing with tablets or the laptop most of the time he is the room with us. We haven’t always had a bed for him here but after we had to put Belle, our Golden Retriever, down we knew he would need some extra attention. Everything has worked out fine until the last couple of months. For some reason, he has become extra sensitive to noises coming from the TV. Explosions, gunfire, yelling or loud music in a movie rattles him and he begins to get up and wander around the living room. We’ve tried turning down the sound on the television as much as we can and this helps. We’ll also watch a documentary where there is mostly talking and this works. However, any type of movie or show with startling noises and/or blaring musical score and he gets up and we tell him to get back on his bed and this scenario is repeated until finally one of us takes him into the kitchen.
I was thinking about him today, this behavior which has developed, and decided maybe he’s not the one with the issues. When I think of 2016, the year which has passed, I think of noise. Most of it came as a result of the political season and the candidates, the talking heads on television and radio, the choosing of sides by almost everyone and a cacophony of opinions, predictions, debates between candidates and their followers, accusations, lies and boisterous babel that still hasn’t stopped.
I’ve decided, like our dog Trooper, I want a quieter 2017. Please…and world peace would also be acceptable.
The End –
Today is the end of 2016. Fittingly it is a rainy, messy, lazy, stay inside type of day. 2016 has seemed to be filled with more bad than good, negative than positive, a seismic movement towards evil leaving good behind. Even as I write the last sentence images of natural disaster, murders, political theater in the absurd, and the death of people everyone knew and those who impacted lives on a less grand scale but no less important to the ones who still mourn their loss.
Also, as I blog this post it is my understanding that not everyone sees 2016 the same way. Some people had a worse year than what I’m describing and others a wonderful year full of blessings, answers to prayer and enjoyment.
My feeling of the year which has passed is a general feeling of woe for our country and world. Myopically 2016 wasn’t a bad year. Personally, I am still blessed with the most wonderful wife a man could be married to, a job that has seen a lot of changes but an enormous amount of good done for others, a house far from perfect but feels more like home each day, and cast of good people I consider my family and friends.
I continue to pray, hope and seek help for my Major Depressive Disorder and Anxiety Disorder. For the first time, I feel my meds, therapy, and personal recovery are headed in the right direction. The diseases I fight are not and will never be easy but having people who care enough to keep fighting with you makes the battles less scary and victory more likely.
So, here’s to 2016, may it rest in peace. 2017? Here’s hoping you’re better than I’m expecting.
“Struggling with the quest for meaning in painful happenings is endless. We worry less about the meaning of nice things, just glad that they happen.” #LaurenceFreeman
Search for Meaning –
This quote was part of my morning devotions and I’ve reflected on it several times during the day.
Each of us can look back upon a time of, or may be experiencing, a “quest for meaning” in the midst of “painful happenings.” Seasons of loss when what we valued, cared for, loved, was taken from us. In the midst of our lives, when tragedy happens, the search for meaning and fitting the hurt and loss into our paradigm of existence is difficult, if not impossible. We wonder; “why? what did we do? didn’t do? how do we fix it? stop the hurt? save ourselves from being wounded again?” Our minds, emotions, spirit whirl with questions and we drown in the minutiae of confusion and blame.
The second part of the quote states; “We worry less about the meaning of nice things, just glad they happen.” Rarely do we reflect upon the why the blessings of life happen. We tend to take the happy, joyful parts of our life for granted. However, if we stop to think about it the “good” which happens to us can be as bewildering as the “bad.”
By the end of today, votes will be counted, a winner chosen and many people will be experiencing pain and others; joy. Hopefully, we don’t stop with the emotions but look deeper into ourselves and ask; “Why this happiness? Sadness?” We’ve been beaten over the head this political season with one side is “evil” while the other is the “savior.” Truthfully neither is either. We get wrapped up in choosing sides, labeling, and judging others who don’t think or vote like we do.
It’s easy to forget how small we are, how little we matter in the vast history fo space and time. We don’t reflect upon our place in all things which exist and accept that we are but brief, flashes of light, that are barely noticeable in a universe full of brightness and darkness, emptiness and fullness. Meaning is greater than an election and we are more than then our precious few breaths between life and death.
The meaning of life, of existence, is greater than an election and we are more than then our precious few breaths between life and death.
I was listening to a few people participate in a discussion this week on the topic of Donald Trump. The Donald is polarizing! I have yet to meet anyone who’s neutral on him and this presidential race unless they’ve given up on the election entirely.
The central point/question of the conversation was why some people seem to find it impossible to apologize. People who are wrong, off course, exhibit faulty judgement, have it shown, proven, to them yet they still refuse to say; “I’m sorry.“
What does this reveal about a person’s character? Last night, in our incarcerated dad’s class, we talked about the five characteristics of a good man. The first characteristic is, “Self-Awareness.” We defined self-awareness as; “someone who can look in a mirror and see who he is; the good, the bad, what he does well and what he needs to improve.”
Only with honesty and humility are we able to understand our true nature, strengths and weaknesses, and there is no such thing as being free from flaws or defects. Accepting our own limitations does two things; it frees us from the pursuit, illusion of perfection when it comes to ourselves and it lets us love others better because we understand our journey is one of progression not perfection.