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Archive for November, 2008|Monthly archive page

Out of Commission

In Health on November 30, 2008 at 9:58 pm

You don’t know what you have until you lose it.  What I no longer have–at least for 4-6 weeks–is mobility. Two weeks ago I broke my right foot, specifically the fifth metatarsal, which is the outermost bone of the foot, the one that attaches to your little toe. Such a little bone to casue so much trouble. I can’t put any weight on it at all until I’m out of this boot cast, and I won’t be out of it until I’m completely healed.

I went to my youngest daughter’s home for Thanksgiving and it turned out to be quite an ordeal. I’m fine once I get situated somewhere, but getting up and down the steps to her apartment was tricky and exhausting. I went to bed that night and slept for 14 hours straight. Granted, I’m completely out of shape, but I never thought it could take so much out of me just to go out for a visit.

Fortunately, the weather was beautiful but today it’s raining and there’s a prediction of snow. How am I going to get around in snow? The truth is, I can’t do much of anything, so I sit here on the couch all day surrounded by my computer, books and magazines, and the television. The cats keep me company: one sleeps on the back of the couch and the other on one of the arms. They seem to like it that I’m tied down so that they don’t have to follow me all around the house, which is what they usually do.

I feel terrible because my husband has to do all the work. Everything has fallen on his shoulders. I can get the Christmas cards ready and do some online shopping, but that’s about it. I won’t even be able to put up the Christmas tree. But I can’t go to the grocery, clean the house, cook any meals, do the laundry, run any errands. Not that I ever did much of that anyway, but now on top of what he usually does, my husband has to fetch me food and drink and books (which are like food and drink to me!) and help me up and down the stairs (unfortunately, our only bathroom is on the second floor).

Whenever I wonder how I’m going to stand this for another few weeks, I think of what it must be like for people who are incapacitated like this or worse, permanently. How much courage and perseverance it must take to learn how to do things others take for granted. I keep telling myself that I should be able to do more for myself–after all, there are millions who have to every day who are worse off than I am–but at this point, I admit: I’m overwhelmed.

I just keep praying that God will help me to be strong, and to get stronger. To appreciate that I’m as healthy as I am. And that I’ll be even more appreciative when I’m back in commission again.

Prejudice

In Religion on November 17, 2008 at 1:03 pm

What I feared is already happening: a surge of hate crimes across the nation after the election of our first black president. I am so afraid for his safety and I’m afraid of certain segments of our society. We will have to worry as much about home-grown terrorism as we do about al Qaeda. I only hope that the law enforcement entities are ready, willing and able to protect President-Elect Obama and his family. I pray every day that he will not be assassinated.

I don’t understand the mind-set of people who would burn crosses in the front yards of black and biracial families. Or who would have assassination betting pools. They obviously are completely incapable of empathy. Nor do they seem to have heard of the Golden Rule. What is the most disconcerting is that many of them call themselves Christians.

In my opinion, there is no place in Christianity for being against anyone. Jesus wasn’t. That’s the guide I use and it has served me well. God is inclusive; He has to be to draw us all to Him. I know how insidious prejudice is; most of us harbor prejudice of one kind or another. We may not even be aware of it. But if we are, our earnest prayer should be that we be given the mind of Christ, that our prejudices should be taken from us.

McCain’s Gracious Concession Speech

In Politics on November 5, 2008 at 3:10 pm

Render Unto Caesar

In Religion on November 3, 2008 at 4:38 pm

“Evangelicals feel that God should be on the throne in our country. But our government is not a theocracy; it’s a democracy–and people of different faiths must work together, side-by-side, on the assembly line and in the board room. Our forefathers — in their wisdom — created the separation of church and state. I believe, as an evangelical, that the wisdom of the separation lies in the fact that if not separated, the potential to divide us as a nation is enormous. Our founding fathers knew that. In fact, that’s one reason our country was founded… for religious freedom… free of government control. Evangelicals want religious control of government, but as Christian politics have become more powerful, our nation has becomes more divided.”

From “An Election-Eve Call To Reconciliation” by Tim Harrison on the Washington Post’s “On Faith” website.

When I entered into a personal relationship with God 35 years ago, I did so in the evangelical camp and considered myself an evangelical for many years. In a way I still do, but I started to feel a dissonance between my views and those of prominent evangelicals starting in the ’80s when Reagan ran for office. it seemed that overnight evangelicals had become identified with “right-wing” and “conservative,” something I had never considered myself to be. Suddenly people like Jerry Falwell and James Dobson, Pat Robertson and Ralph Reed announced themselves as the evangelical movement’s spokespersons. I was appalled and bewildered. I was raised to think of church and state as being in two totally different spheres. When I became ‘born again,” I felt that my beliefs would color everything I do and think, but I never considered voting for someone purely because he or she is a right-wing conservative Christian–or might as well be, based on where he or she stood on the issues of abortion and gay rights.

I guess the problem for me is that I don’t think of evangelical Christians as synonymous with fundamentalism. I always saw evangelicalism as a not exactly liberal, but an open environment. I grew up as a Christian reading Christianity Today more than Charisma and the likes of C.S. Lewis and Franklin Schaeffer. Abortion and gay rights were not major issues at the time. And they certainly weren’t litmus tests for political candidates. I personally believe that God calls us to be witnesses to Him first and foremost–that to me is what evangelicalism means. The other things were side issues–important, but subject to our working out our faith in fear and trembling by walking in a personal relationship with God. In other words, how you felt and what you did about things like abortion, homosexuality, poverty, celibacy, and redemption were between you and God.

I don’t mean that God doesn’t care about these things, but that our mission in this world is to be inclusive, not exclusive. We are meant to draw all people in, not keep certain people out. Supporting people as they try to live their lives the best way they know how doesn’t mean that you condone what they do. It means loving, accepting and listening. It means following the model of Jesus. I believe that we can do more to attract others to Jesus Christ by how we treat them than by being right about abortion and gay marriage.

I also see political beliefs as different from religious beliefs. Our faith informs our politics, but shouldn’t supercede the system under which our government is structured. The government belongs to the people–all the people, not to Christians alone. Jesus made it very clear that Caesar’s concerns were different than God’s. The kingdom of God was not meant to be synonymous with our earthly kingdoms. If we tried to superimpose Christianity upon our government, we would only create tensions between us and all the other religions and belief systems in this country.

I agree with Tim Harrison that “absolutes are partly to blame for why we have big problems that we can’t seem to solve. Such a narrowly-drawn focus on “moral” issues has driven a wedge between Americans, and it is a wedge that the media loves to feed on. We dig our heels in deeper and deeper, all the while vilifying those who disagree with us. How could we ever expect to solve the huge issues facing our country after burning bridges over the “moral absolutes”?”

Moral absolutes belong in our conversations with seekers, in our prayers and in our confession. But they don’t belong in politics, except as personal guidelines. If I feel that I cannot in good conscience vote for a candidate who is pro-choice, then I am free to vote for someone who is. But I may be more concerned for instance with a candidate’s policies toward the poor. I may be forced to prioritize my absolutes. But I think that candidates should also be judged on those things that fall into Caesar’s camp: how effectively they discharge their political duties, how responsive they are to the needs of the majority and how well they abide by the public’s trust in them.