I invite you to join discussions, it enhances the reading experience for everyone. Please share your thoughts, opinions and knowledge in a respectful manner. May we all learn something in our endeavor to educate our hearts and minds. I look forward to hearing from you!

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Freedom Of Religion or Freedom From Religion???

Two intersecting steel beams forming a cross survived the twin tower bombings of 9/11 and have become a symbol for many, both Christian and non-Christian alike.  On July 27, 2011 a group called American Atheists filed a suit against having this symbol as part of the 9/11 memorial on grounds of religious equality.  

As I try to process this I am struck by a myriad of emotions and thoughts.  

First I think of our religious freedom here in America and agree with their viewpoint that all religions deserve representation (however not all religions are seeking representation so I am unsure why they feel this fight is necessary).  Our forefathers fought and died to secure religious freedom, therefore I concur with the basis of their argument.  

But then my emotions take over my logic and I can’t help but feel that our nation is turning from a society where Freedom of Religion flourishes to a nation Free from Religion.  Our desire for political correctness is obscuring rational thought and blurring the foundation of what makes our nation so great.  We live in a free society that enables people of all nationalities and beliefs to live without fear of persecution, however in our effort to ensure “equality” we are only enabling our differences to stand out and separate us instead of allowing us to co-mingle coherently.  

What is wrong with us?  Can we not see that as we strive to make all things equal we are actually making them less so?  We are moving toward a nation where freedom of speech and thought will be hampered in the name of political correctness, where we will all live in fear instead of glorying in our ability to live different yet liberated.  

My next thought is a touchy subject…the mosque being built near ground zero.  How is it that Christians are being told to be tolerant of this construction (non-Christians who oppose also have to tolerate it) but cannot expect the same respect regarding a cross-like structure that came out of the devastation of 9/11?  Why does it matter that it happens to represent Christianity?   

Why must Christians be so tolerant when it feels as if no one is tolerant of them?  Isn’t that the pot calling the kettle black?  

So I guess overall, while I am glad we live in a society where people can voice their concerns, a society that allows everyone to have an opinion, I am sorry this group has found it necessary to file a law suit over something sacred to so many.  This is a symbol to many who either survived or lost loved ones on that faithful day in 2001 and should not be made into another spectacle of our lack of tolerance for another. 

May God bless America and help us to not lose our freedoms in the name of tolerating political correctness. 

More and Less

“For we are glad when we are weak and you are strong….” 2 Corinthians 13:9a

“[F]or I do not seek yours, but you.  For the children ought not to lay up for the parents, but the parents for the children.  And I will very gladly spend and be spent for your souls; though the more abundantly I love you, the less I am loved.”  2 Corinthians 12:14b-15

While Paul was speaking to the church in Corinth, these words ring true about our relationship with God today.  He doesn’t seek our belongings, but us.  He willingly and gladly bore our sin, becoming ‘weak’ that we may be ‘strong’ when we allow Him into our lives.  God is the ultimate parent, laying up for His children.  Sadly the more He loves us, the less it seems He is loved.  We can never repay God, but like a good Father He doesn’t want a payment, just love. 

Friday, July 29, 2011

Tragedy in Norway: A Twisted Debate

Much is being said about the Norway shooter, Anders Behring Breivik.  His horrific act of destruction on July 22, 2011 is causing controversy on many levels.

One could focus on the response time of the authorities and wonder how they could have taken so long to react.  One could also speculate if such a scenario is possible in the United States, with our military being stretched thin and our state police agencies on severe budget cuts.

Or one could center attention on gun laws and the allegation (I say allegation because I am unsure if this is fact at this point) that Breivik obtained gun magazines from the United States that aided his torrent of annihilation.  One could force this issue into the spot light to help push anti-gun legislation requiring the opposing side to counter that one deranged man should not put limits on our second amendment right.  This could also bring about a much needed discussion regarding our constitutional right to bear arms and our founders’ belief that citizens need this right to protect them from a government growing too big and taking liberties away.  It could even quote Breiviks own concerns over his government which prompted this devastation.  It could show that our founders where correct in knowing man is inherently evil and can be swayed by power therefore citizens need a way to protect themselves.  It can also show that man’s evilness can abuse this right by not using it to protect self but to inflict self imposed justice on others therefore more regulation needs to exists to help prevent madmen from acting out in violence.  It’s a never ending cascade of chicken vs. egg in which both sides ride the tidal waves of events to push their opinions to the forefront.

One could wonder about the type of youth camp Breivik chose to target.  It has been compared to Hitler’s Youth camp.  While I do not know what this camp was ‘teaching’ I do know it was a Labor Party Retreat, so it was a political camp.  But are there not retreats for both liberals and conservatives here in the United States?  Political camps are not wrong unless they are used to brain wash our youth.  Was brain washing occurring at this particular retreat?  I do not know.  What is known is that Breivik was against the Labor Party and this played a significant role in his choosing this facility as one of his targets (the other being setting a bomb off in front of the Prime Minister’s Office).

A comparison between Breivik and McVeigh has ensued, another between Breivik and Bin Laden.  Similarities and contrasts between Muslim terrorist and Christian terrorist are dominating the headlines with all sides of religious beliefs throwing in their two cents.  Christians don’t want to concede a fellow believer could do such a thing, Muslims want to take the heat off radical Islamists by focusing on any statements Breivik made related to Christianity.  Other denominations do not want to be left out of the discussion so they chime in as well.  All are confusing facts, or maybe distorting them to fit their own agenda is more accurate.

Evidence that Breivik is a disturbed individual is marginally being discussed compared to the other topics.  Religious belief aside, he is not mentally stable.  His own lawyer, Lippestad, is seeking the insanity plea for him and has made statements alluding to the instability of his client.  Breiviks own 1500 page manifesto, “2083: A European Declaration of Independence” shows much support for the precariousness of his views.

While I have not read the 1500 page manifesto, I have read exerts from various sources.  Many are using the same quotes over and over to state their side of the facts (strange that both sides can take the same quotes and twist them to fit their view).  So let’s focus a little on the facts that are becoming available.  While more evidence will be revealed in days to come and people’s opinions may change accordingly, what will not change are his own words and the devastation he has created.  Focusing on his religious, or lack thereof, beliefs to push agenda’s does not help the healing to begin, nor does placing blame on authorities, gun owners, political affiliations or anything other than the man himself.

Here is information taken from his own words and can be found at various sources:  Huffington Post, Washington Post, Politico, TheBlaze.com, Christianpost.com, religiondispatches.org and many other sites
1.       This man used his killing spree as a marketing tool for his manifesto hoping to ignite a 70 year war against Muslim Colonization and Cultural Marxism and thus ‘save’ Europe.
2.        He believed in the Knights Templar and wanted to somehow spark a reinstitution of this, a crusade if you will to protect “Christians” from Muslim influence and genocide. 
3.        He writes on page 1307 of his manifesto: “If you have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ and God then you are a religious Christian. Myself and many more like me do not necessarily have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ and God. We do however believe in Christianity as a cultural, social, identity and moral platform. This makes us Christian.” (This quote can be found on the Huffington Post as well as Christianpost.com and I am sure many other venues). 
Please note that he does not say he has a relationship with Jesus Christ and God, in fact he denies a personal relationship… something highly unlikely for a devoted Christian to do

4.      “[T] hough he admits he is “not going to pretend I’m a very religious person,” he calls himself a “cultural Christian.””.  Sally Quinn, Jul 26, 2011 5:51 PM- Washington Post

So what is a Cultural Christian?  We could spend hours debating this, and many are doing that now.  Instead how about we focus on healing and love?  It is not for any of us, Christian or non, to judge this man’s heart or beliefs.  This event should not be used by anyone as an opportunity to push personal agendas. This tragedy should spark love inside us all and mourning at the lives no longer with us.

That we have allowed this heartbreaking occurrence to result in a media field hay day of pointing fingers and playing the blame game is almost, if not a greater, catastrophe than the shooting itself.   The loss of life should be mourned as we all look at this event trying to understand what could lead someone to such a desperate act in the name of religion or politics.  It should help us to reach across the isle of difference and embrace each other as fellow humans.  Our differences should not tear us further apart during this time, instead it should help shed light into our hearts and help us to realize how precious all life is.

Reaching Out

Recently my son has started reaching for things and people.  It makes my heart swell with joy and pride when he reaches for me in times he wants to share his happiness. And it causes my heart to ache with the need to hold him when he is crying, it longs to reach out and take away whatever is causing the tears. 
When I hear him crying in his crib and I see his tear streaked face pleading for me to come hold him it causes my heart pain.  As I approach I say, “Come here baby, let me hold you.”  Scooping him up he buries his head in the crook of my neck, holds on tightly and as the tears start to subside I say, “I’m sorry you’re crying, what can I do to make it better?”
 Now being a good parent I am going to reach down into his crib and pick him up weather he reaches for me or not, but how good it feels when he does reach out, trusting me in his pain.  Seeking comfort when I so long to give it.  I scoop him up and hold him tight as he cries and eventually his tears stop and a smile breaks through and for one small moment I feel Queen of the world.  His world at least, he needed me and I came through. 
These emotions make me think of how God must feel toward His children.  How His heart must burst with happiness when we reach for Him.  And how sad He must be when we refuse to reach for Him when we are hurting.  How He must long to hold us, to wipe away our tears, to comfort us when we need Him most.  And how wounded He must be when His arms are reaching for us as we reach for something else. 
I can’t begin to imagine the magnitude of God’s emotions when we cry out to Him and He holds us near.  How His heart must break when we cry and how it must sore when we make it through the battle and smile upward appreciably.
I wonder how many times He calls out, “come let Me hold you.”  
How long before we finally come?
What must He think of us when we refuse those outstretched arms for the embrace of something else?  How it must pain Him to watch us choose something that will only hurt us more, but like a good parent He allows us to make mistakes while never letting go.  His arms are always reaching down, He is always ready to pick us up when we fall, ready to go to battle for us.  There is nothing He wouldn’t do for us and nothing He hasn’t done to take our hurt away.  No limit to the times He pleads with His children to, 
"Come to Me all you who are weary and heavy laden and I will give you rest” Matthew 11:28

My Prayer:  Lord may we always reach up to Your waiting arms, may we always come and let You hold us.  I pray we make You feel like the King of Kings that You are both in this world and in the world to come.