Omaha’s Wilderness Park

ISOA Banner   One of the most impressive city projects I have ever seen is the Wildnerness Park that extends through downtown Omaha Nebraska. I goes on for about a mile with bronze after bronze celebrating the buffalo that once populated so much of that State.   Here is a rather extensive gallery/slideshow but it is still nothing like actually seeing them in person.

As usual click on any picture to see a larger slideshow view.

The Danger of a Dominant Identity aka Labels

David Brooks is perhaps my favorite news columnist. He just has a way of understanding  the heart of the matter. I don’t usually miss a Friday PBS Newshour show where he and Mark Shields discuss the week. In order to make sure I see all his articles I just started an e-subcription to the New York Times.  Here is what he says about dominant identity:

We’re even seeing a wave of voluntary reductionism. People feel besieged, or they’re intellectually lazy, so they reduce themselves to one category. Being an evangelical used to mean practicing a certain form of faith. But “evangelical” has gone from being an adjective to a noun, a simplistic tribal identity that commands Republican affiliation….

The only way out of this mess is to continually remind ourselves that each human is a conglomeration of identities: ethnic, racial, professional, geographic, religious and so on. Even each identity itself is not one thing but a tradition of debate about the meaning of that identity. Furthermore, the dignity of each person is not found in the racial or ethnic category that each has inherited, but in the moral commitments that each individual has chosen and lived out. Getting out of this mess also means accepting the limits of social science. The judgments of actual voters are better captured in the narratives of journalism and historical analysis than in the brutalizing correlations of big data…

But there has to be a rejection of single-identity thinking and a continual embrace of the reality that each of us is a mansion with many rooms.

Source: The Danger of a Dominant Identity – The New York Times

I have to admit up front that the word Evangelical is a very negative one for me.  It means only caring about one issue and abandoning everything that Christianity really means to me.  Being an Evangelical, like the word liberal, was once a noble label to wear proudly but it has now come to mean a completely different thing.

I am a person of many labels. I could probably fill up the rest of my 500 word limit on this post with them. Yes my labels are primarily things I am passionate about; I will simply not be defined by any one of them alone.  But as David Brooks says above too many have done just that and almost hang their total being on one label.  Are they just intellectually lazy as he suggests?  I kind of think so.

When we fix labels to people it is just easier to put them on one particular cubby hole and disregard the rest of the person.

  • If you are deaf you must therefore be dumb. I run across this one quite frequently.
  • If you are a liberal you must be a Communist or at least a Socialist.
  • If you are a Christian you must be anti-science.
  • If you voted for Trump are either a narrow minded Evangelical or a card carrying member of the KKK and bent on the destruction of our country.

Labels allow us to put each other into very small boxes that are easier to despise and hate. To identify with a dominant identity is to belittle ourselves. It takes work to step back and see the total person. The intellectually lazy will never make the effort. But I hold out hope that most of us can see beyond the labels people attach to us.

I am a dreamer in that, and many other regards I guess….

Sasha in Utah..

For this 5 star Monday I wanted to show you a picture of one of my girlfriends. My wife doesn’t mind my love affair with her. I got her in April 2012 and she had only 7 miles on her. This picture was taken somewhere in Utah but I can’t really remember where.but I know it was her maiden voyage out west. This pic has been used on Chevrolet’s blog site so I guess they  must have been impressed.  I think “Sasha my sassy Sonic “looks pretty good with the like colored bluffs in the background.  She now has about 40,000 miles on her, mostly from our vacations but still looks just as good as the picture below. She will likely be my last girlfriend of this variety so I wanted to show her off here.

sonic

To Those Who Need It The Most…..

2016-12-17_15-19-24.pngToday I thought I would talk to you about my struggle with the inconsistency of the Bible. Philip Gulley who has written several books on this topic is a well know Christian author of the Quaker persuasion. He is one of my favorite authors of any genre. Let’s start this topic with a quote from one of his books.

For what good is grace—this unconditional love of God—if it is not extended to those who deserve it the least but need it the most? God is love. Holiness and justice are not competing commitments. God has not chosen to turn his back on us or to punish us as our sins deserve. God has chosen to redeem us. Nothing requires God to condemn us, so God has not. Rather, in his sovereign freedom, he waits patiently for the day of our redemption.

Gulley, Philip; Mulholland, James (2009-03-17). If Grace Is True: Why God Will Save Every Person (Plus) (pp. 87-88). HarperCollins. Kindle Edition.

The above quote comes at the end of a chapter entitled “The Character of God” in Philip Gulley’s book “If Grace Is True”. I must admit that I have had many of the same painful questions about the character of God as Mr. Gulley.  When I was told to believe that absolutely everything in the Bible is literally and in absolutely true I simply could not reconcile much of the god of the Old Testament to the person of Jesus. Until I was willing to weigh scripture the dichotomy of a vengeful God vs. Jesus of “love your enemy” I was racked with doubt about all things the church pronounced. Could any of it really be true?

I must admit that the God of the Old Testament scares me.  When he supposedly in the tenth chapter of Joshua told the Israelites to kill every man, woman and child in the town of Libnash this horrified me. This simply didn’t sound like the God of Jesus I had come to know in the New Testament. I heard various rationalizations trying to reconcile the two gods. One was that God was trying to protect the Israelites from the corrupting influence that intermarriage would have caused. That sounds much like what Hitler used for destroying the Jews. That couldn’t be the answer…

Here is another quote from Mr. Gulley relative to weighing scripture, that is deciding that some parts are just more important than others, much more important.

Weighing Scripture allows for the possibility that some descriptions of God and his behavior are inaccurate. It is not merely counting how many Scriptures say “this” about God and how many Scriptures say “that” about God and believing whichever one receives the highest score. Weighing Scripture is what Jesus taught when he was asked, “What is the greatest commandment in the law?” If Jesus had believed that all Scriptures were of equal worth, he would have answered, “All the commandments are equally important.” Instead, he replied, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 22:37–39). Then Jesus added a pivotal footnote. He said, “All the law and the prophets hang on these two commandments” (Matthew 22:40). In other words, these two verses exalting love are as heavy as the rest of the Bible. Jesus tipped the scales irrevocably in favor of love.

When we finally reject the idea of every word in the ancient and pretty much unverifiable text is absolutely true and applicable for eternity then this contradiction between two gods goes away. I, as Mr. Gulley quotes above, believe  Jesus showed us that all scripture is not equal or inerrant.  There are just too many places where he taught us a much different way than was recorded in the Old Testament.

Joe Biden to Donald Trump: ‘Grow up, Donald’

Snippet Banner  I have always liked Joe Biden. He is one of us plain spoken people who say what they believe and believe what they say. There is nothing Post-Truth about him.  The quote below sums up the total reason for so many of us to be afraid of the upcoming administration:

2017-01-06_09-01-47“He’s not a bad man,” Biden said at the time. “But his ignorance is so profound, so profound.”

Source: Joe Biden to Donald Trump: ‘Grow up, Donald’ – CNNPolitics.com

Of course the response to this message from the target and his handlers is that Joe is just upset about LOSING but as you and I know that isn’t the case.  It is just Joe being Joe.  In some ways I would have liked to see how good a president he would have made but he just doesn’t have the temperament necessary to throw all the mud to get to that high office. Given what I know about Mr. Pence, I will definitely miss Joe as the second in command.

I have to close with the cover of one of my favorite printed news sources.  The folks at The Week don’t hold back when it comes to much of anything. I am looking forward to reading this issue when it appears in my mailbox tomorrow. That is if I can get through the snow to get it. 🙂

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Yeah, its all about ignorance…

GOD SAVE THE COUNTRY…