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The Question of Freedom

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The Question of Freedom

This morning a question was asked by a friend; “What are you celebrating this July 4th?” My answer was; “I’m not sure.” The easy answer is freedom, but freedom from what? I feel like we live in a time of disillusion and division. People are losing their right to express themselves no matter where their theology, political allegiances or cultural upbringing. We have become an intolerant and shaming nation. Those who are different, not like us, don’t share our beliefs and convictions, we condemn without either side given the chance to express ideas and discuss. Instead, we see different as a threat and label them as unworthy to be an American.

What does it mean to be free? What does it mean to be a patriot? What does it mean to be nationalistic? At one point in our history, being a patriot was speaking out against the government when it stepped over the line and into people’s lives, didn’t treat everyone (EVERYONE) as equal, needed to be put back in its place. We have exchanged our right as citizens of America and traded it in for members of a political party. We are republicans and democrats, conservatives and progressives, commoners and elites. Both sides claim they’re under attack, true Americans, and those outside of their political persuasions as “destroying our country!” The hate, vitriol, attacks, insults, spewed by both parties and their followers is heartbreaking and stomach turning.

So, what am I celebrating this July 4th? The freedom to write this without fear. Another question is; “What am I mourning this July 4th?” The loss of civility, being one people, allowing politics to define who we are, our neighbor is, and what being an American means.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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Your Friend?

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Your Friend?

One of the hardest things to do in this toxic environment of political, religious and cultural fog we find ourselves in is staying friends with people who do not share our beliefs. Yesterday, a friend online and in real life, put a placard on his Facebook page that said; “I am a supporter of (fill in the blank). If you do not like that feel free to unfriend me.” It’s where we are today in the world on social media, instant commentary, and judgment. I responded back to his post that I respected him and his family no matter his political, cultural or religious leanings and that he was my friend. Period. He liked my response and I was thankful because he and his family are important to me.

Friendship is underrated. One of the parts of social media I’ve never liked is calling a person you’re connected to online a “friend.” I think, hope, friendship is deeper than a connection between two computers. Sadly, however, I’ve been proved wrong a lot lately. I’ve heard people talking, read social media posts that declare the end of friendships. I want it to be hyperbole but relationships are tenuous in a chaotic world. We quickly find out who will and won’t stay friends with us. Division and dissolution of friendships and connections happen at lightning speeds.

We need to slow down. Take a breath. Remember that friendship should be more than affiliations, litmus tests, preferences and choosing sides.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Balancing Act

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Balancing Act

There is an area in our yard next to the road that is tricky to mow. It is a sharp incline and in order to the get the job done the mower and the rider has to be at a steep angle. When I mow this particular spot in the yard I sit halfway on the seat with my body leaning in the opposite direction of the incline. The balance has to be perfect. Too far off the seat the mower doesn’t sense enough pressure on the seat and shuts off. Don’t lean far enough and there’s a chance the mower and rider could topple over. It’s a twenty-five yard long, difficult and dangerous, balancing act.

Life is also a balancing act. We live in perilous times. All one has to do is turn on the television, log online, and get the sense our families, communities, nations, and world is one mistake from toppling over into a dangerous place and we may not recover.

The problem is balance.  Sides are chosen, political parties picked, litmus tests are given, judgments made and those on the other side, even ones seeking a middle way, are labeled as; “the enemy.” I don’t know if we are going to make it back from the edge of disaster but I do know it takes more strength to listen than to ignore, to understand than to shout down, to accept than to reject, to see others as us than ‘less than,’ to find balance than to demand conformity.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Truth

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Truth

Last night I watched the “The Post” starring Meryl Streep and Tom Hanks. The film is described as; “thrilling, based on a true story. Determined to uphold the nation’s civil liberties, Katharine Graham (Streep), publisher of The Washington Post, and hard-nosed editor Ben Bradlee (Hanks) join forces to expose a decades-long cover-up. But the two must risk their careers –– and their freedom –– to bring truth to light in this powerful film (https://www.foxmovies.com/movies/the-post).” It was an interesting movie dealing with an historic and chaotic time in this nation that I am too young to remember. I did find myself cheering Streep’s and Hank’s characters on as they took a case of the freedom of the press all the way to the Supreme Court. I won’t spoil the ending but it was a good watch and worth anyone’s time who is interested in an event that would directly impact how the press covered the Watergate break-in  (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Watergate_scandal) and news moving forward to the present.

What I’ve wrestled with since watching the movie is; “News exists in a vacuüm. The lives of the reporters, editors, and publishers are swayed by their political leanings, experiences, preferences, and worldviews.” We as the readers face the same limitation in our consumption of news. There are so many places to receive our news today that we can stay perpetually stuck in a bubble where only our viewpoints are legitimized. When this happens we cease being open to new ideas or our current ones being scrutinized and challenged. We become entombed, trapped by our own beliefs and limited knowledge. The truth isn’t important anymore only our belief of what is true.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Who Cares?

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Who Cares?

This morning, in worship service, the pastor asked; “Who’s rooting for the Philadelphia Eagles tonight? Who’s going for the New England Patriots? Who doesn’t care? Who didn’t know the Superbowl was being played today?” There were hands and voices raised for each question.

Around 120 million people will watch the Superbowl tonight. That’s over a third of the population of this country which is roughly 323 million. Amazing to me that we can watch a football game together but can’t seem to unite over much else. It’s also a surprise the 2/3 of America doesn’t care about the game at all!

I will be rooting for the Philadelphia Eagles. I don’t have anything against the Patriots they’ve just won it so many times I think it would be nice to give it to someone else for a change. The coverage for the big game started early this morning. The network broadcasting the Superbowl had a great interview with a Patriot’s receiver, his wife, and children. It was a reminder that individual people, with unique stories, make up the teams.

It’s a shame we don’t remember that when we are attacking others for their political, cultural and religious opinions and beliefs. We cast a large net over those who don’t think like us and label them; “bad” or “good” according to our own fallible judgments.

Maybe, if we could see the individual, listen to their story, discover we’re all trying to make it the best we know how, we would realize when we fight all of us lose.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Right or Wrong?

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Right or Wrong

This morning I watched a political debate that quickly turned into a shouting, insulting, “I’m right and you’re wrong” diatribe from both parties. It’s disheartening to look at our present cultural landscape and realize not many people know how to talk to each other about things upon which they disagree.

One of the lessons I teach residents in my jail class is how to respect each other even if we disagree. We talk about eye contact (which may be while social media is the worst place to have a meaningful conversation), asking questions politely, consider your body language, what to do with your hands, monitor facial expressions, remember that listening is not agreeing and two people can be right or wrong about one subject. It amazes me that my jail students are often nicer, more respectful when discussing a difficult topic than many people on Facebook.

Hopefully, it won’t be this way forever. Debate and deep conversation are some of the values and pillars of a democratic society. I fear, however, perhaps we’ve gone too far and may never recover our civility.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

I Insist

I Insist

A few days ago I posted a political article on my Facebook page. It was a snarky article but I thought it spoke beyond the snark and pointed to a larger and important point. It didn’t take long for people on both sides of the political landscape to begin voicing their opinions. By the time I woke up the next morning my Facebook feed was littered with exuberant cheers and bellicose jeers. After reading a few comments on the article I deleted it. I don’t have any desire to be one more voice in the cacophony of political arguments that dominate our national disagreements.

It was a stark reminder that we live in perilous times where debate and discussion have disappeared and have been replaced by something else that’s a mean, vicious, attack and take no prisoners approach to others who have a different opinion, view on politics, world affairs, life in general and specific.

I don’t want to be in this place personally or culturally. Somehow we must find our way back from allowing our identities to be attached to fleeting things; people, regions, political parties, church affiliation, and cultural icons. We need to discover who we are by journeying inward not abdicating ourselves to what’s outside of us. It’s our only hope for survival and peace.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Perspective

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Perspective

Beth and I were talking over the weekend about perspective. It amazes me as I get older the more control I lose and the greater perspective I gain. Whether it’s a few moments, days, months or years, our lives, which we like to plan, can come undone.

The world has never been predictable. I was speaking with a friend the other day about the instability which surrounds us. Our political systems, family and community systems, even our environment seems to be spinning out of control. Nothing, if it ever was, is normal nor inevitable.

Last night I read a quote from Eugene Peterson, a pastor, writer, and scholar. He writes;

“The whole of the spiritual life is learning to die.”

This quote resonated with my spirit and experiences over the last several years. Dying takes many forms. Death of all things is a given but we seem to organize our lives as if we might be the ones to escape the fate of everyone else. Death is not a negative word if you’ve learned to die. If you do not hold on treasures and trinkets, live each day as if it’s your last; being kind, grace-filled and loving, never putting off to an uncertain tomorrow what can be done now, in the present moment.

We are but sojourners on this path called life. We are not meant nor built to last for long. With this perspective; how we choose to be today could be how our transient life is remembered tomorrow.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Think

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Think

Someone asked me today; “Why aren’t you more politically active in your social media posts? It’s hard to know exactly where you stand.” I explained, best I could, that arguing with people over the internet, or in person, using talking points heard on the radio, tv, podcast, seen on TV and online doesn’t seem a good use of time and time is what life’s made of.

Another friend asked his Facebook posse what Donald Trump would have to do to make him seem more favorable to those who didn’t vote for him. People quickly chimed in with compliments and insults, agendas and wish lists. I didn’t post but I’ve thought about it today and the answer for me was what I’d also like to see in myself, my friends, my acquaintances and certainly my president; humility, repentance, forgiveness, mercy, grace, kindness.

The last part of my answer would be; I’d like people to use their minds and their spirits. I’d like each of us to think for ourselves not regurgitate what we’ve heard or seen but use our brains and voices, filtered by wisdom and experience to speak and do good to each other.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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The End

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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.

blessings,
BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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