Thursday, February 24, 2011

Ignorant Perceptions

This past week I had the following dialogue with a friend of mine who is somewhat older than I. And this dialogue illustrates how our ignorance (insert uninformed or uneducated on the subject matter) can warp our perception, causing us to make certain generalizations about groups of individuals. I am hoping this type of dialogue will lead us to at least get to know one another, and maybe, just maybe, the senseless acts that are carried out in whoever's name will cease.

Friends Post that started this conversation:
just read another passage from the Quran - "Verily, the disbelievers are ever unto you open enemies."

My response:
or how about this one: "If your very own brother, or your son or daughter, or the wife you love, or your closest friend secretly entices you, saying, “Let us go and worship other gods” (gods that neither you nor your ancestors have known, gods of the peoples around you, whether near or far, from one end of the land to the other), do not yield to them or listen to them. Show them no pity. Do not spare them or shield them. You must certainly put them to death.

Friend's response:
And we're supposed to believe these folks are PEACEful???

My response:
my quote came from Deuteronomy 13:6, Old Testament, Holy Bible.
Point being I'm not sure you can generalize about another person's faith based on one quote of scripture or passage. I know I kind of set you up buti t does illustrate how the t...ables could be turned on us if THEY read OUR book.
of course, we understand our Old Testament to be the old covenant and not really what we are under today, but those who do not know could easily quote it as they way we think.

Friends response:
You are so right - and I didn't even recognize the passage. Your point is good though, that we are no longer under the old Law. As you alluded, the Old Testament is full of stories about God's approval for mass killings, plunderings, etc.

So when you get that email from your good friends about how this group is doing this or a certain politician is doing that, or if you don't forward this email to 10 of your closest friends something bad will happen, please take a moment and think. Yep, just think. Learn. Don't react without knowledge.

Of course, if you would like to forward this post link to all of your friends so they can be enlightened by me, then all the blessings of the Abrahamic God will be with you and you will also get the winning numbers to the lottery by way of a chinese fortune cookie. Or not. ~npp

Friday, February 4, 2011

cheaters, liars and the rest of the story

I miss Paul Harvey and his radio program "The Rest of the Story" where he talks about something the listener is familiar with but gives you the part of the story you probably didn't realize. And this is what this post is. The rest of the story.

And some of you will not like it.

Its about relationships. More so your responsibility in your relationships. And its the truth, no matter where you wish to take aim and fire the blame bullet.
This came about after years of listening to conversations about "he cheated" or whatever that means in a relationship, and most recently came to light after the separation and divorce of my cousin. This post is truth. It is intended to help you.

Here's the story. Boy meets girl. Boy impresses girl. Girl impresses boy. They date and are on their best behavior. They dress up. They smell good. They pay attention.

They are nice to each other.

They get married.

Now here is where the story splits. One ending is they keep up the above and live happily ever after. The other ending is someone drops the ball and the whole damn thing unravels. Not that anyone intended for that to happen, but just like a pot of water on the stove that is left unattended, it boils over.

I used to work inside the Texas State prison system investigating internal corruption. One of the issues that was prevelant was female officers becoming "involved" with inmates. And it wasn't just physical, it was relational. And almost always those women were married and they had the same story: got married and then the man quit paying them any attention, as he was content to come home, drink beer and get a gut, set in the chair and fondle his remote control. So they get lonely in the relationship. And yes, inmates have nothing else to do all day except give attention and compliments. And a lonely person will respond. Who is at fault here?

Cousin meets firefighter. Cousin gets married. Cousin quits fixing herself up, wears sweatsuits all the time, has a continual cold and dolts on her little dogs. Firefighter is good looking and stays in shape and a good looking girl who pays him special attention finally succeeds. He is labeled a cheater. Who is at fault here?
The answer: Everyone. Yep. You. Me. Her. Him.

Somehow the idea got out that marriage vows were mainly symbolic and really don't mean anything. And what about those vows anyway? Do we just pick one of them too adhere to "Foresaking all others till death do us part"? What about the other ones. The seemingly lesser ones: To have and too hold. In sickness and in health. For better or worse. How about that lovely little chapter in Corinthians where love does not boast or envy or hold grudges.

What makes you think you are so special that once the magical ceremony is complete that you can quit working on your relationship? That you can let your looks fall apart. That you can ignore your spouse's needs. That someone else is responsible for your well being but not the other way around. That you can be cold and distant and aloof and think that temptation will not come knocking on the door of your relationship? And when it does, who will you blame?

They say many a sports game is won because of the passion of the players and not necessarily just the skill. And when I think about this, I think of football games or basketball teams I have watched and rarely do I see them go into a game lukewarm. Are you engaging the other team with passion or are you merely going through the motions?

There is an "inside" man joke about what food substance has been proven to stop sex. Answer: Wedding Cake. Why is this joke so familiar to many men? Because unfortunately there seems to be some truth that women no longer find sex a necessary component of marriage once the deal is done. Now not all women of course, but enough that every man knows this joke. I do not know what the equivalent joke for women is, but i'm sure there is one. Guys, I bet you used to bring her flowers and take her on dates or out to eat or something and you stopped.

In a book entitle "His Needs Her Needs" by Willard Harley, it identifies basic needs that the wife or husband has, and once identified as important, it is encumbent upon the other to provide that. One is Intimacy, Financial Security, etc. and is a great resource. When I counseled with couples prior to marrying them, the only suggestion I had for them was to get this book and read it. Then live it. Some do and some don't.

I'll let you guess which ones have good marriages and which ones do not. And that, my friend, is the rest of the story.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Life and Death and Life and Death

This week I have experienced the death of two people, one being young and the other old. One was a young man who worked for me a couple of years and the other was my great aunt. These are their stories:

The young man had been struggling through life, having been recently seperated from his wife and kids. Also his father had passed away during this time and he had already lost a young daughter. This young man had health problems and depression issues and just couldn't seem to get his life on track. He muddled through college while working for me and finally graduated last year with a teaching degree. His passion, he shared with me, was history and kids. After graduating he resigned from my place and went to teach high school. This was his first year to teach. After struggling with his place in the scheme of things, and finally getting it together to do something he really enjoyed, he died. Yep, died in his sleep they think. Found him in his house, alone. Natural causes. He was 42.

My great aunt lived in the same area all her life. Her husband had died 40 years ago and she had lived alone since that time. Her sons and daughters and grandkids all lived in the same area. They were a close family. She was very active, fiesty, mentally alert. A strong middle class everyday american who was born during the tough times of this country, lived through two World Wars, saw a man on the moon, microwave ovens and cell phones, television. Starting with her 70th birthday the family got together to mark the event, because 70 is quiet an accomplishment. I went to her 94th birthday and she was sharp as a tack mentally and physically pretty good as well. Her physical health declined recently and rapidly and she was put in hospice this week. She lived a good life and I know she wouldn't want to linger that way. She was 96.

We grow up with the thought that there is a proper order to life. The way things should go: Birth. childhood. teen years. young adult. college. marriage. family. death of grandparents. career. death of parents. retirement. our own death. But this isn't the course of things for many. Its a worldview that doesn't hold as true for some as others. Its what we would like to happen. Its often expected but not guaranteed. We use expressions like "cut down before their prime" or "died before he got to live" or something of that nature. Our expectations are at least a reasonable amount of time on the planet.

We make our plans. We set our goals. We go about our days as if tomorrow is a sure bet. But nothing is. All we are assured of is this moment. This is it. I can't be sure I will finish this post. Probably will, but you really don't know.

So what did you do with today? How did you spend it? Did you talk to your favorite person? Did you breath? Did you look around at the beauty of the planet? Did you listen to your favorite song? Did you make that phone call you've been putting off?

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

whats the deal with reading the bible anyway?

I am rereading the bible using the Bible In 90 Days program with my group. It seems each time I read the bible I see things that I never noticed before. It must have always been there as I don't think my copy has changed over the years, but for some reason it seems different. Perhaps its because I am at a different point in my life and I see things differently than I once did.
Part of this program is just so a person who calls themselves a christian can say they actually read the source book of our faith. It is amazing to me how many have not read it. They have read novels by Louis Lamoure and John Grisham and others or perhaps romance books or whatever. Perhaps they have read a ton of books about religion or christianity or theology by authors like Donald Miller or CS Lewis or Anne Lamont or Max Lucado.
And it seems to be sort of the norm for christians NOT to have read the bible. Most do not see that it is a big deal that they haven't read it for themselves. They grew up going to church so they know something about how that works. They have heard probably hundreds of sermons on certain bible teachings or parables or stories from the bible. We (christian folks) tend to utilize it like a reference guide in times of trouble, going to whatever section at whatever time to study a certain thing and having an "aha" moment then we close it back up and put it away. This approach is much like being sick and going to the pharmacy to hang out hoping that you'll get better without taking any medication.
Maybe you can sleep on it like we tried in college and absorb the contents through osmosis.
The bible for me is not a magical book. I don't have better luck when I have it on my car's dashboard. It is not a good luck charm. I do not take every word of it literally. Much of it I believe may be jewish folklore best they could tell and hand down verbally. Much of it is written through the lens of the author of each book with their own understandings at that time and space. I do not believe it fell out of the sky in the King's English with red lettering. It may be inspired by God, but man had his hand in it. It is, however, the closest thing we have to understanding God. And that understanding is very limited I believe.
I can tell you however, that after I first read the whole thing, that experience sent me on a different path or journey. I had a new perspective on things. I had a larger picture of God and the God Experience. I had answers I didn't have before, read things I had never heard in a sermon, and had questions that couldn't be answered even by the greatest of theologians.
It has increased my faith in God.
I encourage you to read it for yourself. See what you've been missing out on by only hearing those pastel painted sermons that portray biblical events as kid stories. It may just rock your world.