He Was My Brother

On June 21, 1964, in Neshoba County, Mississippi, Andrew Goodman, James Chaney and Mickey Schwerner were assassinated as they worked for civil rights.

A deputy sheriff assisted in their murders.

They died so others could be free.

He was my brother
Five years older than I
He was my brother
Twenty-three years-old the day he died
Freedom rider
They cursed my brother to his face
“Go home, outsider,
This town is gonna be your buryin’ place
He was singin’ on his knees
An angry mob trailed along
They shot my brother dead
Because he hated what was wrong
He was my brother
Tears can’t bring him back to me
He was my brother
And he died so his brothers could be free
He died so his brothers could be free

© 1963 Words and Music by Paul Simon

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Gratitude

“Thank you,” I said as calmly and sincerely as I could. “Thank you very much.”

I have a problem with my tone. For as long as I can remember. My voice doesn’t always communicate emotions I try to convey.

I sound sarcastic or angry or frustrated when I don’t intend to.

The upside is, with my quick wit and sarcastic tone, I’m very funny. The downside is I often sound sarcastic when I’m sincere.

(This was particularly unfortunate when I served in congregational ministry. But that’s a story for another time.)

Last month we returned home to find several cars in front of the house. I hadn’t properly closed the gate, and our year-old puppy had gotten out of the fenced-in backyard and ran around the neighborhood like a year-old puppy.

A neighbor we didn’t know already had our dog in his car and was preparing to leave a note.

When I thanked the neighbor, i didn’t properly demonstrate my gratitude to him and the others who helped keep our dog safe. I was angry with myself for not closing the gate securely. I was frustrated with our goofball dog for running around foolishly. My tone didn’t properly communicate my appreciation.

Almost immediately, I realized my tone of voice, but I was trying to wrangle the dog by his collar while the neighbors moved towards their cars. Did I mention he’s a purebred Chocolate Lab who weighs nearly 80 pounds?

I thought a lot about my voice that day. I even thought about calling the neighbor and thanking him again, but I didn’t.

A month later, our three year-old was eager to get to daycare. While I was in the kitchen, she opened the door to look outside — no shoes, no socks, no coat. I wasn’t worried, we were talking the whole time and I knew she wasn’t going outside.

I got her dressed without any toddler incidents and as we cheerfully gathered our things to leave I asked her to put the dog out.

“Oshie,” she called in her little voice, sliding open the patio door. He’d gone upstairs while we were getting our shoes on.

“Oshie, outside,” I hollered.

“Where is he?” I asked, looking in the bathroom.

“Where is he?” she repeated. She rushed from room to room, calling his name.

“Did he go out when you had the door open?”

“Yeah,” she said, her eye wide with the realization.

I grabbed his leash and went to the door.

We’re six houses away from the main road — about six seconds for a year-old puppy running at full speed.

“Stand on the porch and call him,” I said as we went outside. “Stay right there and keep calling him. If he comes home, go inside with him and close the door behind you. Do you understand?” She nodded. “Let me hear you call him,” I said as I crossed to the neighbor’s yard.

Her little voice carried as I walked across the yard next door. I kept her in sight as I circled towards the road.

And then I saw him. He was on the other side of the busy main road; being held by a woman who had stopped her car. Several others were with her, a string of parked cars on the side of the road.

With two lanes of cars passing between us, the dog struggling to pull away from the woman holding his collar, I called out, “Oshie, sit.”

Thankfully, he did. I focused my attention not on the dog or the situation, but on the people.

“Thank you,” I said as sincerely as I could as I crossed the street. “Thank you very much.”

I attached the leash to his collar while I commanded him to stay.

“Thank you all for stopping,” I said. I looked at each of them and smiled. “My three-year-old opened the back door and let him out.”

For some of us, gratitude comes naturally and easily, born from a willingness to be vulnerable and transparent. For others it’s difficult to offer thanks because it means admitting our need for help.

I am in desperate need of help every time our dog runs blindly in the road. (He did it again while I was writing this. Twice. The second time, he managed to unlock the gate with his paw. Animal control has my number on speed dial.)

I tried to respond to strangers with a level of gratitude equal to the fear I felt when he was running away.

I hope I succeed. I hope people understood how grateful I was for their help. I hope they felt appreciated and important because they were very important.

Every person is important, in someway. Even the worst, most difficult people can helpfully remind us that not everyone is like them.

Everyone deserves the best I can give at any moment.

And so I will continue to be intentional in my gratitude and strive to give to others the grace that is given to me.

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One of my proudest moment’s online

One of my proudest moment’s online.

This literally brought a tear to my eye.

His Empire-based version of Christianity has nothing in common with the teaching of Jesus.

If he dislikes my comments so much that he blocks me, that means I must be doing something right.

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God and climate change

This understanding of God …

… is a problematic understanding.

God will take care of climate change, but Rep. Walberg took things into his own hands when it came time to help 20 million people lose their health insurance.

Walberg will put his faith in God when it applies to the environment, but he’ll rely on his own judgment in regards to cutting much needed services for the poor to finance tax cuts for the wealthy.

I don’t understand the type of Christian that Walberg claims to be. I do understand it… he’s the sort of Christian who misrepresents God and Jesus and as a result drives people away from the true God who created the Earth and everything that’s in it.

How can you call yourself a Christian, and not strive to be a responsible steward of God’s creation? It’s easy, if you worship a god of money and power and not a God of love and humility.

His nonsensical view of the most important environmental issue of the Century reminds me of an old joke.

Officials warned residents that a terrible storm would soon flood the town and that  everyone should evacuate immediately.

A faithful Christian decided to stay, saying, “I pray that God will save me.”

As the Christian stood on his porch watching the rain and the flood, a man in a canoe paddled by and called to him, “Get in my boat, the water is rising!”

“No thanks,” the man said, “I’ve prayed the Lord will save me.”

The floodwaters rose, and he ran to the second floor, where he saw a police motorboat.

“Get ready,” they shouted, “We’ll come rescue you!”

The man waving them off.

“I’m okay,” he said. “Go help someone else. I’m a Christian, and I trust God will save me.”

The flood rose higher and the man found himself on his rooftop.

A helicopter hovered overhead and the officer called out, “hold on, we’ll lower a rope to you!”

“Don’t bother,” the Christian said. “I’ve prayed, and God will save me.”

Minutes later, the house was washed away and the man carried to his death.

When he arrived in Heaven, the confused Christian stood before God, and said, “I’m a Christian. I prayed for your help. Why didn’t you save me?”

The Lord said, “I sent a canoe. I sent a motorboat and the helicopter. What else did you expect me to do?”

The Earth is giving humanity warnings.

The Lord is giving us help. God has given us knowledge and experts and ways to solve climate problems, but Christians are steadfastly refusing God’s help.

What more do we expect God to do?

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John Muir

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Liberty

Trump is giving the graduation address at Liberty University, which claims to be the largest Christian college.

Are those who accommodate, accept or ignore evil any better than the evil doer? I don’t think so.

Trump is a liar, an adultery, a bigot, a racist, a misogynist and everything Jesus was against.

To accept Trump is to reject everything Jesus taught and everything the Jewish prophets proclaimed.

There are millions of Christians who follow Jesus and reject this worldly, twisted idea of Christianity.

We must be more vocal in our support of Jesus and repudiate the false teachings of those who claim to be Christian while they embrace hate.

 

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Embracing evil

When some Christians talk about Jesus, they are simply wrong. Their politics are more important than the actual teaching of Jesus, and so they’ve twisted Jesus into something that’s not in the Bible and clearly not the message of Jesus.

Such is the case of the people around Trump.

http://time.com/4766485/national-day-prayer-white-house-dinner/

“Most of Trump’s evangelical advisory board flew in for the event, including Trump’s longtime spiritual advisor Paula White, Southern Baptist pastor Robert Jeffress, evangelist Franklin Graham, Focus on the Family Founder James Dobson, former Congresswoman Michele Bachmann, South Carolina televangelist Mark Burns, Faith and Freedom Coalition chairman Ralph Reed, and others. They were joined by top White House officials, including Vice President Pence, Second Lady Karen Pence, Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner, Reince Priebus and Steve Bannon.

“Guests at Trump’s table included White, Jeffress and Marcus Lamb, CEO of the Christian television network Daystar….

“Acclaimed evangelical musician Steven Curtis Chapman performed his songs “Be Still and Know” and “The Lord’s Prayer.” Samuel Rodriguez, president of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference, gave a benediction, and Trump then invited everyone up to the residence for a brief after party, complete with a tour of the Lincoln bedroom and the Truman balcony, before shaking hands again….

“Tomorrow is going to be a really big day, sometime between 11 and 11:30 in the morning, the President will sign an executive order that will administratively repeal the Johnson amendment and repeal the Obamacare restrictions on conscience and religious freedom, and about 90 minutes to two hours later, the House of Representatives will repeal Obamacare and defund Planned Parenthood,” Reed says. “That’s about as big a day as the social conservative movement has had in its history.”

Followers of Jesus don’t celebrate poor people losing access to affordable healthcare.

I’m reminded of the pigs in George Orwell’s Animal Farm. The leaders were on the outside, and then when they got inside, they were just as bad as the previous oppressors. Christians should not celebrate with the leaders of society as they strip poor people of their healthcare and discriminate against other religions.

Some Christian leaders today are so intent on power, they have given their loyalty to a lying, bigoted, racist, philandering, adulterous, serial sexual assaulter. And then claim he’s the Godly candidate. By their association, they have befouled themselves and the name of God.

Their version of Christianity is not the message of Jesus.

I can’t make it any more plain.

They are not following Jesus.

This is not of God.

They might be good people. I don’t know. But they are misleading good people.

The president they embrace and the policies they support are anti-Christian and not the teachings of Jesus. They have embraced evil and called it good.

“Woe to those who call evil good
    and good evil,
who put darkness for light
    and light for darkness,
who put bitter for sweet
    and sweet for bitter.

Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes
    and clever in their own sight.” ~ Isaiah 5 : 20-21

 Woe to those who call evil good and good evil,

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Where is decency?

How long would you permit someone to abuse another, before you step up?

How long would you stay around someone telling racist jokes, before you walk away?

How long do you let a man make derogatory and sexist comments about women, before you say something?

How long would you watch a bully harass and abuse others, before you intercede?

How long do you remain silent when the weak and powerless are attacked and victimized by the powerful?

Why would you associate with racist, sexist, bigoted people?

I’m not talking about politics. I’m asking about common decency.

Where is your decency?

Decent people don’t remain  silent when others lose their rights, their health insurance or their dignity.

Decent Christians don’t choose politics over people.

Decent Christians don’t support politicians who systematically promote policies that hurt the poor or dismantle programs that help the less fortunate.

When did partisan politics replace our decency?

Some want government to reflect a morality of violence, aggression, scarcity, and oppression.

Others want government to reflect a morality that embraces diversity, inclusion, abundance,  justice, and charity for all.

Only one view represents a Biblical, Christian worldview.

When you approve of racism, sexism, bigotry and bullying; if you accept the government limiting the rights of others; if you think taxes should be spent on tools of war and not health care, education, libraries, roads and bridges; then the message of Christ is so foreign that it’s meaningless.

When you approve of racism, sexism, bigotry and bullying; if you accept the government limiting the rights of others; if you think taxes should be spent on tools of war and not health care, education, libraries, roads and bridges; then the message of Christ is so foreign that it's meaningless.

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“President Carter, am I a Christian?”

I love President Carter.

I’ve written about him here:

President Carter

 

and here:

The desire to find peace on Memorial Day

 

and here:

You met a president

 

New York Times reporter Nicolas Kristof had a great e-mail interview with him, concerning Carter’s faith.

Here’s a great highlight, with which I agree.

“I look on the contradictions among the Gospel writers as a sign of authenticity, based on their different life experiences, contacts with Jesus and each other. If the earlier authors of the Bible had been creating an artificial document, they would have eliminated disparities. I try to absorb the essence and meaning of the teachings of Jesus Christ, primarily as explained in the letters written by Paul to the early churches. When there are apparent discrepancies, I make a decision on what to believe, respecting the equal status and rights of all people.”

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In a world of stone

In a world of stone, be a flower.

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