Wednesday, December 23, 2009

war and peace

Isn't it odd that at this time of year people seem eager to fight ...the whole "war on Christmas" hysteria...at a time when we are supposed to be celebrating the coming of the "Prince of Peace" ?
People fight and claw and clamor because they think that "someone" is stifling their religious freedom, when the whole message of the manger (and the Cross to come) is about sacrifice and humility? About God Almighty lowering Himself to take on human form, suffer the indignities of poverty (no room for them in the inn), and live among us, to reach out to us in love.

As you listen to the clamor and disputes, how much humility and love do you hear? How much of it do you hear from yourself? Sometimes it is necessary to stop and just listen. It's amazing what you can see and hear when you are quiet. The Bible says, "The Lord is in His holy temple, let all the earth keep silent before Him"....sometimes I think those who claim to be following God should take that advice.

Long ago, shepherds heard angels, wise men followed a star, and miracles happened. We could use those today. One place to start....Listen again, as I have recently, to Handel's Messiah...
Let the messages sink in, and see how it affects your perspective and priorities.

Merry Christmas everyone ! :)

Saturday, December 19, 2009

government

John Adams once wrote "Government is nothing more than the combined force of society, or the united power of the multitude, for the peace, order, safety, good and happiness of the people".
Quite a contrast to the famous Reagan quote of "government isn't the solution to the problem, government is the problem"

I think a too many people, especially on the right, identify with the sentiments of Reagan versus Adams. We have lost a sense of "we the people" and have an "us vs them" mindset. I hear it in the constant complaint of those who oppose the current attempt at health reform. They say they don't want government-run programs, like the very notion of government running something makes it bad. Aside from their obvious blind spots (national defense, drug laws, etc) they have developed an attitude that borders on anarchism. They use quotes like ,"government is best which governs least" by Thomas Jefferson (it actually was Thomas Paine who said it), and balk at anything being done by government doing anything except national defense.

They figure that if things were just left up to the states everything would be fine. I do not think any person of color would agree with that, since left to the states there would still be segregation at least , if not outright slavery. It was the intervention of national government that ended both of those, one requiring a civil war. Even at the state level, here in Washington , the state legislature is discussed in some quarters (Republicans) with such contempt that it is a wonder that anyone from the right takes the time and effort to participate.

The tea party and town hall rucus is a legitimate expression of popular views, but some of the language is downright dangerous and begs borrowing a phrase from post-911 questions "why do they hate us"...I would ask, why do those on the right hate government?....and there are some out there who evidence that hatred....when you think about it...they hate our government.

No one wins when anarchy comes and we must guard against it....We the people means "we" and we need to play our part responsibly, not just grumble against what we don't like.
There is a quote, by Thomas Jefferson, which has been used by the tea party crowd , which people should think about before they use here and now, think about the context. "The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants. It is a natural manure." it was said in 1787 in response to the Shay's Rebellion in Massachusetts. What were a few lives lost?, Jefferson asked. Later Jefferson supported the French Revolution, with all the chaos and bloodshed that occurred (in contrast to our own Revolution) . Is that what these people really want?

Not I.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Priorities

It is amusing sometimes to see and hear the lengths to which some will go to be first in line to see a favorite movie,get a famous person's autograph,get tickets to a ballgame, or even get a prized holiday bargain. Just this past Thanksgiving some of my family members got up at unnatural hours to shop the early bargains. I slept in. It is easy to dismiss such behavior as crazy, but are we any different?
What do our choices say about our priorities?

We talk a lot about what is important to us, but do our lives reflect that? Are the things we strive for what we really want, or what we think we ought to strive for? Like New Years' resolutions that get broken so easily,sometimes we set goals based on someone else's expectations,not our own.

Sometimes life gets in the way and we have to adjust our priorities. But many times I don't think we are truly in touch with what we want,what is important to us. We may even have fallen into the trap of thinking we don't deserve to pursue our dreams.

Sometimes we even spiritualize this, thinking "I've just got to give up what I want and just seek what God wants". It sounds noble, but I believe it betrays faulty thinking. God doesn't want you to empty your heart and head, he wants transform them. He made you as you are, with hopes and dreams, talents and skills, and He wants you to be free to use them wisely and for good ends. If there is a song in your heart, he put it there; if there is rhythm in your feet, he put that there too.

I find that when I jump into something I usually do much better than when I excessively plan. That's what got me to the bottom of the Grand Canyon and back up years ago,...one of my best accomplishments (though some think me crazy for doing it).

Don't live by the "oughts", "shoulds", or "if only's"...You were meant to live an abundant life. Every day is a possibility, full of opportunities to shine. Living out our priorities is a daily thing, daily choices.Life means hope and opportunity. As Scripture says "this is the day that the Lord has made, I will rejoice and be glad in it"...and "whatever your hand finds to do ,do it with all of your might".

So, what are your priorities, what is important to you? And what are you going to do about them ,today?