Sunday, November 29, 2009

I Will Not Yield

Recently an online discussion that I was participating in turned into a discussion about terrorism. What sometimes happens with this subject is people will begin to express outrage at Muslim radicalists. While that may be appropriate, especially given that horrific events have occurred at the hands of Muslim radicalists, unfortunately sometimes people generalize to the Muslim faith and its followers as a whole. I'm not a contentious person by nature (than why is this blog called a rant? you might wonder) but, I recognize the need to stand up for what is right. I wrote what I thought was a carefully crafted reply expressing no desire to step on any one's toes but wanting to make sure people knew that I believed throwing the entire Muslim faith under the bus was unacceptable. It turned out the vast majority of the responses to my response were positive and appreciative. In fact there was only one respondent who seemed to get a little riled by it. The response from this person seemed well meaning (they said "with all due respect":) but their message back to me was "do some research."

I didn't really dwell on it much, but I did wonder what research was I supposed to do. The responder had apparently not thought my having lived in the Middle East was sufficient research. I am aware that the research suggested was likely supposed to be directed at studying radical Islam and their distortions and to study the terrorists’ cells that exist around the world, including in our own country.

Honestly, I am aware of these things. Let me state here unequivocally that I detest, despise and wholeheartedly reject and condemn terrorism in any form, and particularly when it disguises its vileness with religious distortion. Few things would please me more than the rooting out of terrorism in this world. I absolutely know the reality of terrorism. I have etched in my memory places and faces that have been impacted, even destroyed by this evil. My research has included seeing attacks on cities and people that I love. More knowledge would not increase my loathing, I'm already there.

Terrorism thrives off of hate. That is their high priced commodity. The price is high, because it destroys so many. So well practiced at their salesmanship of hate are the terrorists that they are able to convince many to actually commit suicide, taking out as many objects of their hatred as possible. What twisted logic promotes such vile behavior? Hate may be the commodity but power is the goal. There are a few power hungry leaders who know the power of hate and thus enlist it to manipulate for their own agenda. They disguise their power-thirst and hate in a shroud of religion, but it doesn't hide who they really are, maniacs driven by all things evil.

They proselyte hate, and the numbers of their followers is devastating to calculate. I fully support the efforts to rid this planet of this vermin. I hold out hope that there can be some redemption for the followers who have hearts remaining, but too many, it seems, are too far gone.

One way in which they seek to have power over us is in our own emotional responses to their behavior. They try to make us feel terror. They in fact try to inspire hatred in us. If they can make us hate them back than they have engaged us in their twisted view of a holy war and it becomes easier for them to breed more hatred on their own side.

I unequivocally state that on this matter I will not yield. I refuse to bend to their will of hating other people. I refuse to generalize their twisted view into condemning and hating an entire religion.

I have, in that regard, a secret weapon, its called perspective. My life has been blessed with experiences with many of the Muslim faith. And while I don't think those experiences give me special powers or anything; I do think they have shaped my perspective. When I think of Muslims I don't first think of terrorism. I see people. I see shopkeepers earning a living to support their families (and by the way I was terrible at bargaining, so I'm happy to say I helped them out more than I might otherwise have done). I recall conversations laughing at shared experiences and common ground. I recall walking through a Palestinian refugee camp where we were happily greeted. I see the interrupted soccer game when the kids previously playing decided to walk us down the streets of their little city and then invited us into one of their homes.

I remember the cute family that was walking ahead of me down a street in the Palestinian side of Jerusalem. I see the son turn around and smile and remember realizing he was the spitting image of my own brother, though with darker skin and hair. I think maybe that experience sums it up best. When I think of Muslims I see my brother. I see my sister. I see my family. I summarily refuse to feel anything but love and appreciation for my family.

In fact my anger at terrorists is compounded by the anger I feel towards them for what they have done to Islam. They've tainted the faith. It despicable.

I implore others to not give in to the desires of the terrorists. Do not give in to hate. By all means, by every means, we must stand up against terrorism and radical Islam. We must learn who they are, and where they are and what they are doing. But, that does not mean casting out the Muslim faith and all its followers. Do not let yourself become tainted. Love our brothers and sisters, for that is truly who we all are. Peace and love are more powerful and will in the end overcome. Never yield the sacred ground of your heart to the hatred of your fellow man.

God bless

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Babel Anyone? Eh, No Thanks

Genesis 11:3-9 (KJV)

3-And they said one to another, Go to, let us make brick, and burn them throughly. And they had brick for stone, and slime had they for mortar.
4-And they said, Go to, let us build us a city and a tower, whose top may reach unto heaven; and let us make us a name, lest we be scattered abroad upon the face of the whole earth.
5-And the Lord came down to see the city and the tower, which the children of men builded.
6-And the Lord said, Behold the people is one, and they have all one language; and this they begin to do: and now nothing will be restrained from them, which they have imagined to do.
7-Go to, let us go down, and there confound their language, that they may not understand one another's speech.
8-So the Lord scattered them abroad from thence upon the face of all the earth; and they left off to build the city.
9-Therefore is the name of it called Babel; because the Lord did there confound the language of all the earth: and from thence did the Lord scatter them abroad upon the face of all the earth.

Religious nut job strikes again! I was thinking about Babel recently and what the whole incident was all about. First question, they used slime? How appropriate. Our information on this event is limited. But, from what I gather these people were trying to reach heaven through their own man-made scheme rather than the means that God had laid out for them. They wanted a meritless heaven. God seeing the detriment that the people had placed themselves in had to intervene. He blessed them with chaos, and a chance to start all over again.

Babel may have been the original, but over time their idea has caught on repeatedly, to the detriment of the people. And guess what? It is alive and well today. If you have read my blog before you likely already know what I'm going to say. If you haven't here's the heads up. In addition to quoting Scriptures from time to time, I also use quite a bit of my blog space to discuss Progressivism.

One of the things I think is common between the Babel folks and Progressivism is their perspective on humankind. It's actually a pretty finite perspective, because little thought is given to the power God has in our lives. Instead the focus is on what man can do for itself. They see mankind as imperfect (I agree with that) but that with proper guidance we can be made better (yeah, I agree with that too) and that enlightened intellectually superior humans can control and mold the masses into their Utopia vision (I totally agree with... oh wait, what?) That kind of thinking comes from a prideful reliance on man's own wisdom, a wisdom which historically repeatedly is flawed and can lead to well, chaos. Mankind is capable of great things. But, without a humble acknowledgment of not just some human frailty but the absolute necessity for Our Creator, we are left building structures that could fall given the slightest provocation.

Here's the thing, this Babel, Progressive finite perspective looks to change a society through man-made means. But, what really changes things is when we individually humble ourselves and open our hearts, minds and wills to letting Christ change us from the inside out. Blessed with that miracle of redemption, people can then go forward and help others do likewise through service, unconditional love and other Gospel principles.

So, do we let fallible man dictate what change we ought to embark on, or do we heed the instructions of our loving God.

To underscore these different perspectives I'd like to use a pairing that a recent newsmaker (unless of course you only rely on the MSM), and Obama administration official Anita Dunn used. Though where she viewed them as equally admirable I view them as polar opposites, Mao Tse Tung and Mother Teresa.

So, let's start with Mao. It's clear to me that he believed himself to be an enlightened individual capable of making his people into a perfect society. How did he go about this great change? Force, tyranny, mass murder (upwards of 70 million). It's nearly unfathomable the damage this one evil man perpetuated. The world, or his spot on it, was his for the moment and he played it for all he could. The moment was finite, though the damage far reaching.

Mother Teresa, a truly noble and great spirit, viewed things with an eternal and infinite perspective. She knew we have a Creator. She knew He has a plan for us, which includes the possibility for a real Heaven. She humbly submitted herself to a perfect and loving God. She thus allowed herself to be sanctified by Our Lord to be an instrument in His hands in helping His children. Her work brought others to God so they too could taste of His goodness. Again, Christ changes us from the inside out, rather than the tyrannical heavy hand of "enlightened" man which tries to force us. Having God in our life does not mean there will be an absence of trial. Rather, it means that trials can be sanctified for our welfare. They can be instruments of change. It's very humbling and very real.

So, am I comparing Progressives to Mao? I certainly think they have similar perspectives, though some different means. Are Progressives trying to establish a Utopia? Are they trying to build another Babel? Well, yeah I think they are, brick by slimy brick.

What then are some of their building blocks? One of the slimiest pieces of bricks has got to be eugenics. I've written on this topic before. But, it is basically the belief that a perfect society can be bred. Sound familiar? Well, understand that historically that kind of thinking (though more and heinously carried out on other continents) actually had roots in early 20th century American Progressives. Ideas of birth control and even forced sterilization started with people like Margaret Sanger. Wait, her name sounds familiar. Oh yeah she's the one Planned Parenthood is so fond of. Abortion follows along that same thinking. I've outlined before some of the target populations. Needless to say people are dying for the "enlightened" eugenics cause, really little people.

Another brick is the "Great Society" introduced by President Johnson, and his war on poverty. Since his presidency spending on welfare programs have increased by 400%. The poverty rate in the late 1960's? 13%. The poverty rate today? 13%. Thanks LBJ! You cost this country a whole lot of money, now we get to pass on an indecently immoral amount of debt to future generations. And what gets built in return, a whole lot of good people who feel dependent on their government for survival. What a crime, it's like slavery.

There are others. But, I want to move on and look at what we then need to do. Remember God's response to Babel came when the people had finally gone too far. Perhaps we can intervene prior to that. Perhaps we can adopt the perspective of Mother Teresa. We could also adopt the perspective of our Founding Fathers. They did not just think about their own moment in time and their own spot on the planet. They thought of future generations and what form of government would best protect freedom. They thought of you and I. We need to be thinking of future generations also. That may, scratch that, it WILL require sacrifice. Entitlements must be siphoned away. Current laws would need to be challenged. But, first and foremost we need to return to God. We need to walk in His ways. The government too often tries to act like our parent, they are not. In fact it’s more like we are its parents and need to be watching over it. But, God is our Father. We need to follow the guidance He has already laid out for us. He wants so much to bless us. We need to put ourselves in the position to receive those blessings.

Life is not about building our own Utopia, its about letting God build us up to be what He knows each of us can be. As fun as learning another language can be, I say let’s put a stop to this flimsy tower and let God build us up instead.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Guest Post Starring, My Sis!

Lessons from Socialized Halloween Candy by Heather S.

Well our family sure enjoyed trick-or-treating this year. Our oldest daughter scored big on Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups and our son got more than our dentist would approve of in Hershey bars. My husband and I were left whatever candy was not handed out on Halloween night. I might add a personal note that if neighborhood kids don’t want your econo-purchase goodies, an adult in need of a moment of quiet indulgence might find their kids hard earned wares more tempting then the leftover rejects. I’m hoping I am not the only person who struggles with this particular weakness, because the whole point of this narrative hangs on this one fundamental issue: I wanted a Midnight Milky Way really, really, really bad.

It might not come as a shock to you dear reader, but I redistributed the wealth of candy in our home. Oh yes, I socialized our Halloween candy. After all I did it for my kids own good. All that sugar is really bad for them. Their little growing bodies don’t need all those empty calories. They aren’t as experienced as I am in how to pace yourself through a bag of goodies. And oh, one last thing they don’t even realize I’ve done it.

I enjoyed all the premium goodness for days. After I put them to bed at night I would bring my husband a Reese’s and I would enjoy an Almond Joy. Maybe 30 minutes later we would do it again. I might also add that I’m on the fluffy side so all the argument toward dangers of over sugaring are lost on me. My husband and I got the benefit of a Halloween feast and we didn’t have to knock on one stranger’s door, say any silly phrases, or wear a Wonder Woman costume to get it. All we had to do is realize how short sided it was that we didn’t tax those kiddies for driving them around. (Thank you for the Snickers) Tax them for getting them dressed in their costumes. (Oh, that Kit Kat looks really yummy.) Tax them for making sure that those costumes were reflective and that they crossed the street safely. (I don’t usually eat Starburst, but in a pinch they do the job.) Tax them for caring enough to take their candy away before they make themselves sick. (Smarties? Is that all that’s left?) Tax them till it is all gone and we can start to look forward to Thanksgiving.

I know that this all seem a little malicious, and I wasn’t really that cognizant of the steps leading up to my glut-fest. The point I’m trying to make is that when we combined the resources we had in our little microcosm it benefited not the whole microcosm, but just the ones who controlled the resources. My kids had no way of regaining control of their hard earned resources because they are smaller than me, and weaker than me. Now if a mom who loves her kids more than air would take advantage of her kids, (I really didn’t mean to, but it happens sometime)… What do you think of those very well meaning representative who haven’t gone through 12 hours of labor to birth us, stayed up all night while we cough up a lung, or worked two jobs to get us braces might do if given a similar opportunity to utilize our resources.

Hmmmm. Still hope that you might get some of those Butterfingers?

Monday, November 9, 2009

The Loudest Whisper, The Smallest Cry

From 1976-1983 Argentina was embroiled in what became known as “the Dirty War.” The time was completely chaotic in every way you can think of. The country was ruled by a military dictatorship. Any enemies to that government were in grave danger. Tens of thousands were “disappeared.” That is people were taken and never heard from again. The numbers are hard to nail down, as is the case with most mass covert horror operations. Some of the most powerful instruments in bringing an end to this terrible reign were mothers and grandmothers.

When tyranny and secrecy combine there is a terrible price to be paid by the oppressed. Secrecy breeds whisperings. And such was the case here. The people in Argentina were well aware of what was happening, but because it was done with secrecy and terror the people responded in whispers. No one wanted to be the next to disappear. To stand up against such tyranny required bravery and solidarity. There had to be a way to make the whispers heard. Enter the mothers.

A group of women banded together in a silent protest against the government. They became known as the Mother’s of the Plaza de Mayo. They were mothers whose children had disappeared. Every Thursday they gathered together, wore white head scarves (embroidered with the names of their missing children), and they would walk in a circle in the Plaza de Mayo in Buenos Aires. Though silent they provided an echo for the whispering protests of the suffering people. And people began paying attention. The echo grew even louder as the world’s attention turned to Argentina when they hosted the World Cup. The world became aware of what was occurring in Argentina. The loudest whisper came from a silent protest shining a light on a terrible truth.

Another influential group joined in with these mothers, it was the grandmothers of the disappeared. When people with young children were disappeared their children were adopted away, often to those friendly with the government. The Grandmothers heard the cries of the smallest, and responded. They joined in the silent protest. As a result many, but not all, of the grandchildren were eventually returned to their families.

It is an amazing story. I so admire the courage of these women to take a stand in the best way they knew how. Some of them paid an ultimate price by being disappeared themselves. But, because they united and responded to the whisperings throughout the nation, and the cries of the smallest, they were able to make a big difference.

Now, there are many ways that I could relate this account to happenings today, but one way in particular has weighed heavy on my heart and mind. There is a group in our nation who has suffered the same fate of the disappeared. Most are nameless and little record of their very existence remains. They number in the tens of millions; they are the unborn killed as a hallmark to irresponsibility and political agenda.

I cannot for the life of me understand how a society can be so accepting of the practice of the killing of the unborn. It boggles the mind. And as I have said before, I think the time may come that society will look back on sanctioned abortions with the same disgust we look back at slavery now.

Who is being disappeared? Ruth Bader Ginsburg stated “Frankly I had thought that at the time Roe was decided, there was concern about population growth and particularly growth in populations that we don’t want to have too many of.” Again, where was the glaringly obvious follow up question of ‘which populations would those be Justice Ginsburg’? One need only look at the placement of Planned Parenthood facilities to see which populations are being attacked. I encourage anyone reading this to get your hands on a copy of “Maafa 21” to see a well documented case laid out for the African American population being targeted. Also, lower income populations are targeted. And one of the most decimated groups is the special needs children in the womb.

The whispers that the proponents of abortion, including and maybe especially in the government, would like to silence include a very important group to me, the women who have abortions. I am pro-life not just for the life of the unborn, but also for the life of the mother. As a counselor I have had the opportunity to counsel with women who have had abortions and who are devastated by the emotional effect. Does abortion hurt women? The answer is yes, and not just physically. They know that their child’s life was ended, and emotionally that is painful. Questions persist in their minds about whether or not they made the right decision. I’ve heard the rationalizations, but regret and sorrow always peek through. It is not a pain that gets discussed in wide circles. The media certainly does not address it. It’s a whisper that women will admit to only in limited circumstances. But, I’m taking the opportunity here to echo it louder. It’s devastating for these mothers of the disappeared.

And what then of the smallest cry? Do we heed the voice of these the smallest among us? I think of a day not all that long ago that I received a message on my phone from my sister. She was pregnant with her first. Her voice was choked with emotion as she quickly explained that there was something wrong with her baby and that she would be speaking to her doctor soon. I freely confess that tears filled my eyes, both for hearing the pain in my sisters’ voice, and for the fear I had for the life of her child. It turned out fine, he is alive and well and causing all sorts of fun mischief these days. But, I remain struck by the experience. When we acknowledge the truth that their lives a little being inside of their mothers, we feel their sufferings and do whatever is in our power to help them. No amount of name-changing (a fetus is still human), will change the fact that they are alive and that abortion ends a life. Their rights to life cry out for us to hear.

I take my stand for the rights of the smallest, and I hear the whisperings of the women who suffer. May this nation heed the cry and may we magnify the whispers so that we can heal from the devastating effects of this abomination. And may those who have been disappeared not be forgotten.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Prayers and Thoughts

I'm sure that those impacted by the atrocity today at Ft. Hood are in the prayers of so many Americans today. They are certainly in mine. Expressing condolences seems to fall way short. But, we do what we can, we pray for God's arms to be around those who suffer. I have a deep respect for our military heroes, and so appreciate their willingness to sacrifice to protect our freedoms. It breaks my heart that so many lost their lives and were harmed on American soil. God bless the injured, and the loved ones of the injured and especially those who were lost.

I must also express another sadness that has accompanied today's events. The individual, allegedly responsible for this atrocity, is a Muslim. Right now we do not have the full story, and so speculation is just that. I have personally witnessed the devastation that terrorism spawned by radical Islam can and has caused, and I despise it for a variety of reasons. I despise that lives have been lost in such senseless ways. I despise the fact that so many are forced to live in fear. I also despise that these monsters use the Palestinians cause, and the Muslim religion as cover to commit such heinousness.

But, I feel sadness for the knee jerk response that I've read in some comments on internet updates. I have seen the affects of terrorism. But, it has also been my honor and great blessing to know and spend time with many Muslims. I have known too many amazingly gracious, kind and good Muslims to ever condemn their entire religion. Islam is as varied as Christianity in beliefs and application. To hear ill and desires for condemnation and discrimination of an entire religion because of the acts of a radical violent minority breaks my heart. Such thinking has led to some pretty shameful things even in this country, such as internment camps.

Let us mourn this tragedy appropriately, again praying for those impacted. We certainly condemn such atrocity and its perpetrator. Let us also make sure to not let our hearts be darkened by anger and vengeful thoughts but to find hope and healing in God and in understanding in one another.