Wednesday, March 29, 2006

War and Christanity, Can we talk about it?

I want to say something about the war, religion and pacifism.

In my own tradition, Churches of Christ, we were once a primitive group who believed that our involvement in government and the affairs of governments should be rather limited. The reason for the limited involvement being - that Christians were “pilgrims and strangers in the earthly kingdoms” while we sought the Divine kingdom of heaven.

One of the influential editors of his time, David Lipscomb once said, “When we say that God cares for us, protects us and leads us in the ways of safety and peace, and yet rely on human governments, human arms, death dealing human weapons for protection, our conduct seems to contradict our confession.”*

My tradition, Churches of Christ, is not so primitive anymore. We have gone into the mainstream and we have bought into and paid for the whole idea of the Christian nation, and patriotic duty and legislating morality.

What do we do with John 18:36 where Jesus says, “…My kingdom is not of this world: if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews: but my kingdom is not of this world.”

If Jesus declared that his Kingdom was not of this world and would not let his followers fight on his behalf – by what right do Christians take up arms for any earthly kingdom or cause?

I know that this is a sensitive issue because Christian men and women are are serving bravely in the armed forces. But I think this is a topic that should be given some thought and open discussion.

What I see is Christian people ignoring the issue and not discussing it for fear that they will be thought unpatriotic or not supporting our troops or giving comfort to an enemy of the United States.

* David Lipscomb, “Should Christians use carnal weapons?” Gospel Advocate, 30 July 1884, page 486.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Man’s Best Friend

Since I was a child I have always had a dog around. In order: Pepper, Pup, Buffy, Cassy, Mollie, and now Sandy. Dogs have always been a part of my life. We were just animal oriented because of living on a farm.

Dogs are great companions. They are always ready for adventure. They are extremely sensitive to human emotion. They have the uncanny ability to sense sadness or pain and respond in a comforting manner. Just having them nearby helps us to feel less alone and their bark helps us to feel safe.

Yes there are downsides to owning a dog. If you live in the city you can expect that you will witness every dump the dog ever takes. Not to mention having to pick it up. You have to make arrangements for their care when you travel. Vet bills. Stinky treats like rawhide bones and pigs ears. Dog hair everywhere when they are shedding

The upside is that you always have a playmate; a walking companion; a personal security advisor; a pretty good judge of character and the president of the Plate Cleaning Club.

Our current dog, Sandy, does not take to her bed at night until everybody else is in bed and all household personnel are accounted for. She keeps a vigilant eye on the front of the house from her perch on the stairs most days. Her bowl of food will sit full and untouched all day long until we start preparing and sit down for our evening meal. She eats when we eat. We did not train her to do that. She travels like a trooper curling up on her bed until we make a stop. When we are at camp she always keeps one us in sight.

She adds a dimension to our lives that enriches us and makes us better people.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Life’s experiences

If you had asked me when I was 20 years old how I imagined my life would be at 45 - I would never have imagined the twists and turns my life has taken.

It is probably pretty safe to assume the same is true of you.

Back in the mid 80’s I had a co-worker who said, “Life seldom plays out to the script that we would write for it.” That has been my mantra ever since. There is some comfort in that for me.

When he first said it I said, “Sure, you’re right and that sounds good.” Up to that point, at 25 years old, my adult life had barely begun. And I did not have the wisdom at the time to look back on my youth and see that his words were so very true.

I have written often here of my experiences on the farm. When I was in my mid-teens we could no longer keep the farm because my father was an alcoholic and could not hold a job. Mom worked fulltime but we could not make the payments on her check alone.

So my mother sold the farm and arranged for an auction and we sold everything we owned except our furniture. It was one of the saddest days of my youth. Animals I had raised as pets were sold - all the goats, sheep, cattle and horses. Even our Lab/German Shepherd mix named “Pup” who looked a lot like “Old Yeller” was sold.

It was a scene from a bad movie. It was a dusty Saturday morning and the auctioneer was standing on the bed of a hay wagon surrounded by a swarm of people. I was sitting away from everyone in the yard watching my life be loaded away.

But you move past all that and you roll the clock ahead several years and the bad times are washed away by the good memories. Life is full and complete and you’re a young adult and your whole future is ahead of you.

And then someone says something like, “Life seldom plays out to the script that we would write for it.”

As time passes you realize that there is a great deal of wisdom in that.

You see, just when you finally have things worked out, the house refinanced, the education finished, the kids in school, the car paid off – life throws you a curve ball.

It might be an illness, an accident or a death in the family, suddenly everything changes and your life takes a sharp and unexpected turn.

But if you have some understanding before it happens that life is like that – while it doesn’t cushion the blow much – it does help you regain and/or keep your perspective.

Now I know that it seems like a pretty simple concept... but it is harder than you think to keep that in mind.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Here's the other side of change...

I have been remiss in posting for a couple of weeks because a winter cold has been keeping me down.

My neighbor, friend and personal physician is moving …to another state.

I hate the thought of having to find and train a new doctor. I have had this one for eight years. His personality suits me. He expresses concern for my health with just the right amount of empathy. I just got him trained and now I have to find a new one.

I don't know who said it but someone said, "The only person who loves change is a wet baby."

The older I get the more I hate change. I never thought I would say that. I have been a proponent of change – a change agent – if you will. And yet I hate change when it messes in my life.

In my twenties and thirties I would not hesitate to ask people to change. As a matter of fact - I made change a prerequisite to growth. "If you want to grow, you must change. You don't want to stagnate and die!"

Often people made the change I was asking for but did not, in fact, grow - they tried the change on and it fit them like a baggy suit.

Today I try and approach the whole idea with a bit more respect for other people and without the platitudes.

Change is inevitable - as long as you're alive you'll be in the process of change. So you can accept change or you can dig your heels in.

While digging your heels in may make you feel better - it denies you opportunities that you might otherwise have.

I am trying to stay open to the possibilities of change...