Arguing

Instead of having a reputation as being peacemakers, promoting reconciliation, and working towards unity, Christians are known for being loud, argumentative, petty, and contentious. Unfortunately, any semblance of Christ’s gospel message of hope, love, and grace is lost within the endless noise, debates, accusations, division, and hatred.

Christians need to stop obsessing over being right and having all of the answers and start focusing on following Christ’s example: sacrificially serving, helping, comforting, and loving everyone around us.

For Christians, it’s often easier to yell and scream instead of doing the very hard—and humble—work of loving others. Arguing is addictive because it feeds off of our need for self-glorification, self-righteousness, pride, power, and recognition.

Acting like Jesus, a person who ultimately died on a cross and devoted His life to selflessly helping others doesn’t seem that appealing—it isn’t. But we need to try—and the first step is to stop being combative and start focusing on being a peacemaker.

SOURCE: Six Things I Wish Christians Would Stop Doing | Stephen Mattson | Red Letter Christians.

Stephen Mattson’s posts frequently weigh heavily on me. He is a true kindred soul. Arguing is the first of six things on this post. Click on the source above if you want to see the entire post. I will likely be posting on some of the others in the coming weeks.

Insistence of being right is certainly not an exclusive Christian quality. Almost, if not all, religious institutions are heavily involved in “being right”. Wars have been fought throughout human history of one religious group fighting and killing another for their insistence on the other group being wrong. If anything would reverse the seemingly decline in Christianity around the world arguing and particularly being right is probably a primary cause.

I am becoming fully convinced that the principle of coexistence is the path for me. That is to agree to disagree on some topics without having to argue that I am right. Little changes when we insist that we are right and they are wrong. It only stiffens up resistance to learn anything from the encounter.  It is a turnoff for many who just might otherwise find some answers through the teachings of Jesus.  If only we Christians started actually doing what Jesus demanded and quit arguing with everyone who thinks differently. Actions speak MUCH louder than words in my mind. Let’s all do a better job of acting like we are his followers….

It Is Never About Race….

November 1, 2014

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In an interview with NBC News on Thursday, Landrieu was quoted as saying that the South “has not always been the friendliest place for African-Americans.”…

State Republican Party Chairman Roger Villere issued a statement late Thursday calling Landrieu’s remarks “insulting to me and to every other Louisianian.”

“Louisiana deserves better than a senator who denigrates her own people by questioning and projecting insidious motives on the very people she claims to represent,” he said. “Senator Landrieu and President Obama are unpopular for no other reason than the fact the policies they advance are wrong for Louisiana and wrong for America.”

Being that we are three days away from our two year congressional elections I am going to forego by picture post today for more politics. Anyone who says that part of our political partisanship is not motivated by race is in my mind the most naive person on earth. Of course race bigotry is still very much present in our country in the north, east, west and particularly in the south. I am old enough to remember when the south changed wholesale from the Democratic party to the Republican party totally due to race. When a Democratic president (LBJ) started pushing civil right as one of his highest priorities a very large portion of the southern States population made the shift. It was all about race. To somehow believe that all racial bias somehow evaporated since those years is utopian dreaming.

I admire Mary Landrieu for blurting out the truth even though she probably didn’t intend to do that. It doesn’t take a political scientist to figure out that some hate our president primarily because of the color of his skin. Now, I am not saying that all people of the South are racial bigots or even a majority but I am saying that it is still present especially in the older pre-Civil Rights southern population. Racism is not an in-born thing so I’m sure some of it was passed down to later generations.

I personally saw racism at its worst when I used to visit Senator Landrieu’s State on business during my corporate life. I was totally embarrassed to see how blatant it was back then and am thankful that it is at least moved under the radar now. That is definite progress but I know it hasn’t miraculously disappeared for the entire southern landscape.

If you want to see change in our political system then you must do two things. Get out to vote next Tuesday and to vote the “In” “out”.  That seems to be the only message they will not be able to twist into some political spin. If you are really disgusted with the politics of today you can change it wholesale with your vote on Tuesday. Now I realize that my reader base is small especially compared to all those radical pundits but that doesn’t mean that my reader can’t do their part to affect changes needed in our great country…

2014-10-24_07-43-33With the approach of the 2014 midterms, perhaps the least consequential American election season in a generation, it’s worth asking a perennial question: should you even bother to vote? Many people have basically given up on the democratic project, arguing that the American system is completely rigged by the rich and that nobody on the ballot truly represents their interests….

Still, we know for a fact that low-turnout elections dominated by the enraged white paranoiacs of the Fox News set will keep power in the hands of the rich. If America had a turnout rate of 100 percent, our political situation would look very different than it does now….

Republican attempts across the country to disenfranchise voters and suppress Democratic efforts to register and organize black and brown voters. The fact that the party of organized money thinks the right to vote is worth taking away says that it must be worth quite a lot.

SOURCE:  The case for voting even if America is a corrupt plutocracy rigged by the rich – The Week.

I wanted you to notice this message so I gave you an extra large image to go along with it.  The reason that America might have a corrupt plutocracy rigged by the rich is because too many of us don’t take our right to vote seriously enough. This fact is not lost on the Republican party. They are doing everything they can to stifle the vote, especially those who will probably be voting against them!

As the quote above says if America had a turnout rate of 100 percent our political situation would look very very different. Sadly at least half of us seem to only want to shout very loudly about how corrupt and rigged things are but they are not willing to take a half-hour of their time every couple of years to actually do anything about it. If only their actions matched their words…

2014-10-16_07-36-09You know the more you read and observe about this Politics thing, you got to admit that each party is worse than the other. – Will Rogers, 31 December 1922

You know Will it took me a lot of years to discover what you did. I finally gave up on both political parties after it was obvious that those yahoos in congress were not going to allow President Obama to accomplish anything beyond ACA. Forget that it would have made us a better nation. Forget that much of it would have solved many of the driving issues of today. They simply won’t allow anything of any meaning to happen in that gridlocked city.

I started out as a Republican when I voted for Richard Nixon and moved to a Democrat after I saw the effects of Reagan. Now I am an independent I suppose but more to just vote the “ins” out. We gotta send a message to those who currently represent us that they have failed miserably. The only way to do that is to keep voting them out of office until they finally get it.

Round 1 next Tuesday……

2014-10-11_08-51-14Americans have a thing for starting over. We love the idea of breaking from the past, beginning from scratch, getting a new life, setting out on a fresh path.

No wonder, then, that some of us seem to be taken with the idea of solving our political problems by calling a constitutional convention to craft a new founding document — one that is less… well, it sort of depends on what you find intolerable about the present system.

Conservatives spend their days dreaming of a balanced budget amendment, term limits for Supreme Court justices, and special protections for the free enterprise system.

Libertarians worry about ever-expanding executive power.

Liberals agonize over the influence of wealthy special interests on all branches of government.

Centrists fret about generalized governmental dysfunction and the danger that it will lead to the kind of breakdown that we’ve seen in presidential democracies throughout the developing world.

I have sympathy for a number of these complaints, especially the ones highlighted by the liberals and centrists. But that doesn’t mean calling a constitutional convention is a good idea. On the contrary, it’s an atrocious idea — and one that would be likely to make our very real problems far worse.

SOURCE:  The myopic folly of demanding a new constitutional convention – The Week.

I thoroughly agree with the folks over at “The Week” that a constitutional convention in the U.S. is a bad idea right now. With all the partisan groups running around the country with their heated rhetoric and not listening to anything anyone else says this is especially a bad time to be fiddling with our foundation documents.  I’m not sure that there is really ever a good time to do it but for now it is best to stay away from the foundations.

But it would be nice to get some people in charge who don’t have a battleship full of baggage! All those guys in Washington seem to have a personal agenda of one sort or another that often trumps the people’s will. All this “right to bear arms” stuff is totally illogical if we take all the words of that amendment seriously. The amendment was to protect militias not guns.  All the gay marriage antagonizers must come to realize that the government is not in the religion business. They simply create legal documents that bind us together. If you want to tag homosexual unions as immoral that is fine but that is not the government’s business.

Until we can manage to at least get along with each other at some of the most basic levels we need to step back from anything that has any long-term consequences. I’m not personally sure that we will ever come to any level of agreement about anything now but at least we can hold out some hope that our children or grandchildren will be able to manage that feat. As long as we don’t pollute their thinking too much maybe they will see a common cause when they take the reigns of power. I don’t know but at least I am hoping that to be the case.

But what do I know….

About The Invaders…

October 28, 2014

2014-03-02_16-18-10“Somebody would have found America though, even if he [Christopher Columbus] hadn’t, for you couldn’t hardly get around without running into it. Why they didn’t find it sooner is more than I will ever know. . . Being an Indian, I don’t mind telling you personally I am sorry he ever found it. The discovery has been of no material benefit to us, outside of losing all the land.” – Will Rogers, 1 August 1926

I have enough “Indian” in my heritage to understand where Will is coming from here. I wonder what this country would be like now if Columbus had not accidentally bumped into it so many years ago? But also as Will said here someone was bound to have found the new world if he hadn’t.

I know Europe’s history is full of conquests and overthrow but for the most part the people invaded usually, at least in the end, managed to keep hold of their land. Since native-Americans believed that the land could not be owned but only rented they were naive enough to think that they too could keep hold of it. Instead all of therm were rounded up and put on the least wanted patch of ground now called Oklahoma.

To the victor belongs the spoils as they say, for us native Americans that seems especially true…

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They say that deafness is a hidden handicap in that it is not an obvious affliction. Maybe I should wear a sign :) .  Sometimes when I tell people I am deaf it doesn’t seem to get through to them. What many do is to apparently just speak louder. For those who I have difficulty reading their lips,and that seem like most people, I hand them a pencil and notepad and ask them to write they just don’t seem to understand.

I know that a common misconception is that deaf people aren’t able to talk. That is often true of those who were born deaf or went deaf at a very early age but for the 80% of us who went deaf later in life almost all of us maintain at least some ability to speak. I thank the Lord that most people can still understand what I say, at least when I slow down and try to speak very clearly and am not too tired. But it seems like many refuse to believe I am deaf because I talk so clearly. Maybe I should shut up and wear a sign.

 

The Two-Sided Coin….

October 26, 2014

I am again going to talk about the two-sided coin of Christianity. The last time I mentioned it was to relate the idea of faith and works.  That is practicing what we preach or accepting Jesus as the Lord of our daily lives as well as our savior. This time the two-sided coin concept will take on a different topic.

When Jesus told us the law of God and all the past prophets boiled down to only two things: to love God and to love each other, he gave us another linked duality for our existence on this earth.

The first side of the coin is to love God — To love God also means to love and take care of everything that He gave us.  The earth, at least for us humans is a very important part of the gift. We are to be good stewards of this planet and that currently means reducing our carbon footprints.

Another important part that God gave us is the laws of nature. In Jesus’ day very little was understood about these laws but over the last two millennia we have learned much. It starts with what are now considered simple things such as gravity up to the latest revelation of DNA. All of our scientific advances happen because God allows it.

And finally we are to take care of the essence of our very being. To me that means that we must constantly be trying to discern between for the basic truths that God has engrained in us verses those things that we have taught ourselves. We must very careful not to do things in the name of God that didn’t really come from God.

The second side of the Christian coin is his command to love one another –  He told us very clearly that we are to love one another and that means all of us not just fellow believers, not just Americans but all of humanity. I upset some when I tell them that my love of country comes pretty far down the list of my priorities. First I love my God, second is humanity, third is family, fourth is trying to do what Jesus commanded of me, and finally I love my country. And I do love my country. I wouldn’t wish to have been born anywhere else.

For me humanity comes before country. If something hurts other but help us in America then I am likely opposed to it. Our senseless wars in the Middle East are an example. We have as collateral damage killed thousands of innocent people in our thrust to get rid of the “bad guys”. Many times that very act simple creates more “bad guys” than it destroys.

Christianity is a two-sided coin and we must pay attention to both sides. It is simply not good enough to just say you are for something you must put some action into your words. That is what we seriously seem to miss in our present times.  It is easy to sit back and complain but hard to actually get down in the trenches and act….

 

The Changing Seasons…

October 25, 2014

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When I glanced out one of the back windows this very crisp morning I was again reminded of the changing season and of the upcoming holidays.  The burning bush and the fir bush juxtapositioned next to each other was a red/green delight.

2014-10-11_08-11-13There’s another benefit to having this outlook. The developmental psychologist Carol Dweck has shown that having a growth mindset — where you think your outcomes come through effort rather than innate talent — leads to success for kids and grownups alike.

Thinking about your thinking dispositions — rather than how innately smart you are — helps cultivate that attitude.

SOURCE:  Harvard Says The Best Thinkers Have These 7 ‘Thinking Dispositions’ – Yahoo Finance.

Sometimes I am leery of what Harvard puts out as truth. After all don’t many of our high level political leaders have Harvard degrees? I suspect that the majority of the CEOs that almost caused the 2008 meltdown were also Harvard alumni. But this list does make sense to me and it seems to be very much opposite to typical Wall Street thinking.

I am going to give you a redacted version of the seven reasons given in the article the original version just had too many words in it that clouded the list itself. To me it almost turns the list into “Blah, blah, blah”. In order to keep things straight I wanted to separate my redacted list from the original quote above. So here goes…

1. Be broad and adventurous: Be open-minded, to explore alternative views; an alertness to narrow thinking; the ability to generate multiple options.

2. Sustained intellectual curiosity: The tendency to wonder, probe, find problems, a zest for inquiry; an alertness for anomalies; the ability to observe closely and formulate questions.

3. Clarify and seek understanding: A desire to understand clearly, to seek connections and explanations.

4. Be planful and strategic: The drive to set goals, to make and execute plans, to envision outcomes; alertness to lack of direction; the ability to formulate goals and plans.

5. Be intellectually careful: The urge for precision, organization, thoroughness; an alertness to possible error or inaccuracy; the ability to process information precisely.

6. To seek and evaluate reasons: The tendency to question the given, to demand justification; an alertness to the need for evidence; the ability to weigh and assess reasons.

7. Be Reflective: The tendency to be aware of and monitor the flow of one’s own thinking; alertness to complex thinking situations; the ability to exercise control of mental processes and to be reflective.

Maybe it is vanity rising up here but I kind of think that I have most of these qualities. :)  I definitely didn’t go to Harvard; I could never have afforded to pay for even a semester there let alone the time it takes to get a degree. My State college Purdue was fine with me.

I like to the think that some of my strongest qualities are that I am open-minded and can see narrow thinking from a mile away. As I have mentioned many times here the first thing that often pops into my mind is “why?”. I have a zest, maybe an infliction, for inquiry. That is what primarily drives this blog. So, as it turns out I can see I have 1,2 and 6 down pat and the other four to lesser degrees.

How about you? Where do you stand on this list?